Christianity is an overarching identity that covers a wide range of beliefs. Society lumps all Christians together, from Hitler to Jehovah’s Witnesses to Mormons to a man in Florida who claims to be Jesus Christ incarnate.
The world will quickly bring charges of hate on those who call ISIS (who claim to be true Muslims) Muslims, and they are just as quick in disparaging all Christians as a group. There are clear and major differences between those who claim to be Christian.
Here are some reasons people identify as Christian
- Born in a Christian family (Anglican, Protestant, Catholic, Evangelical, Pentecostal…)
- Jehovah’s Witness
- Baptized as a baby
- Majority of the country is Christian
- Went to Sunday School
- and so on
Christian is far too broad a term to know anything about what a person may believe or not believe. Atheists regularly use Hitler as a battering ram to pummel the Christian religion. Even a cursory study on Hitler will reveal, though his mother was Catholic and he was baptized as a child, he was quite antagonistic to Christianity in adulthood. Hitler formed his own brand of Christianity called “Positive Christianity”, divesting it from any Jewish connection and making himself messiah. His new Nazi religion didn’t even require belief in the divinity of Christ, so calling Hitler a Christian is disingenuous.
Being a Christian is to be a Believer in and disciple of Jesus Christ. According to Wikipedia;
(Christianity) is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, who serves as the focal point for the religion. It is the world’s largest religion, with over 2.4 billion followers, or 33% of the global population, known as Christians.
How many of those 2.4 billion meet the biblical criteria of being a disciple of Jesus? Only God knows.
- Oxford English Dictionary; An acceptance that something exists or is true, especially one without proof
- 1828 Webster Dictionary; To believe on, is to trust, to place full confidence in, to rest upon with faith; to have full persuasion
- 1828 Webster Dictionary; to believe, to obey; The sense of the verb, from which that of rope and binding is derived, is to strain, to draw, and thus to bind or make fast; Belief; the assent of the mind to the truth of what is declared by another, resting on his authority and veracity
- Merriam-Webster; one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another
- 1828 Webster Dictionary; A learner; a scholar; one who receives or professes to receive instruction from another; A follower; an adherent to the doctrines of another
To get the full meaning of a word, we must consider the original context of the Greek and Hebrew. For example, English has one word for love, Greek has several depending on the context and application.
In Romans chapter 10 verse 9 we read;
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
The modern definition is a little vague and could include an intellectual limited conviction. However, the Greek word used here is transliterated “pisteuó” which means to believe or entrust. The Greek means more than just an intellectual assertion. It is belief supported by action as you entrust that belief. For example, say that someone hands you a bullet proof vest and asks you if you believe it will stop a bullet. You will probably say yes you believe it. But will you put it on and let someone fire a round at you, entrusting the bullet will not penetrate the vest? Now that is belief being put the the test. Your belief in Christ will be tested.
Hebrews 11:6; “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.”
Biblical faith and belief will inspire action. Say your car is stopped on some train tracks and the train is coming. You believe severe bodily injury is coming your way, you move the car. This is your genuine belief and faith inspiring action. You believe you are going to die because you have no faith in the car door keeping you safe.
James 2:18; “Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”
What the bible calls saving faith is faith is faith that leads to action. Faith is putting on that bullet proof vest. If the vest fails (and our minds surmise it could fail for any number of reasons) I’m dead. If I put my faith and trust in Jesus and he fails me (Mind goes to the same place), if my trust in him is misplaced, I am dead in my sins. Never the less, the faithful are willing to put that vest on (Jesus) and take the rounds that come my way, entrusting this life and their eternal life to him.
Faith isn’t the absence of fear, am I scared at times yes I am. In today’s world your faith can cost you your life. In 2015, twenty one Coptic Christians were beheaded for their faith. There is a Christian genocide taking place and no one is reporting it.
(CNN)Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday that the United States has determined that ISIS’ action against Christians in Iraq and Syria constitutes genocide.
Being a Christian today is as dangerous as it was in Jesus day, but we are called to look beyond this life to the victory that is ours through faith in Jesus Christ.
Revelation 2:10,11; “Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer. The devil will throw some of you into prison to test you. You will suffer for ten days. But if you remain faithful even when facing death, I will give you the crown of life. “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. Whoever is victorious will not be harmed by the second death.”
Hebrews 11:6; “…it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.”
I thank God that I live in a country free of violent persecution but the faith of those above is a wake up call for me and stretches what I have considered being faithful. Faith is more than an intellectual belief in Gods existence. If we believe he exists, than the proof is in our actions, put on the vest.
James 1:22; “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.”
A disciple is is someone who’s faith and belief is demonstrated by his/her actions. Modern dictionaries are a little vague, but the 1828 Webster dictionary describes the disciple as a “learner”, “Scholar”, an “adherent” to the doctrines of another. OK, what is adherent. Webster defines it as Sticking, uniting, as glue or wax. This paints a picture of studied knowledge of the one you have stuck yourself to. Adherent speaks of no space between us and what we are adhering to, Jesus. We are affixed, attached, indistinguishable from the one who we are following.
Many followed Jesus, some from a far and some very closely. Some followed him because he was feeding them or they were getting some other physical need met, while others were learning what he was teaching about.
John 6:26,27; “Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you.” – Jesus
Today, many take what they like from the bible and leave the rest. They feed on what they want and ignore the deeper teaching that leads to eternal life. A person can follow Jesus Christ and not be a disciple of Jesus Christ.
There are other elements to consider. Who is the Jesus you believe in? Is he a Christ, the Christ, a god, a prophet or just a great teacher? Maybe you don’t think it matter much. If you believe the bible is the word of God, then it certainly does matter. If you a sinner, and we all are, only one Jesus can save you. He is the difference between an eternity of peace and an eternity of unpleasantness.
LINE OF DEMARCATION
Jesus Christ has been and always will be the line of demarcation between Christianity and heresy. It was important to Jesus that his disciples know who he is. The Jesus Christ you follow, is the difference between eternal life and the second death.
Matthew 16:13-17; “When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.” Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being.”
Revelation 20:14,15; “Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.”
Only one Christ is the door. That is offensive to many of you reading this, but there is one Father in heaven and he has only one Son who died for us. As I have mentioned in another post, there are twenty Donald Trumps in America, but only one has the authority to pardon certain crimes, that is President Trump. Why, because he has been given the authority by someone else. Jesus has been given the authority by his Father God.
“I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Jesus
- Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God (John 1:1)
- Believer must be born from above. (John 3:7 – Jesus)
- He is God, who came to earth with a human body, died and rose after three days paying for the sins of mankind. (Romans 10:9)
- He was conceived by the power of God through the virgin Mary (Matthew 1:18-23)
- Jesus Christ is the only way to get to the Father (God). (Acts 4:12)
- Mankind can do nothing to earn entry to heaven, it is a gift from God through the finished work of Jesus Christ, the Son of God (Ephesians 2:9)
- Jesus Christ is part of the Trinity consisting of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit (this is a mystery that is a clear teaching of the the word of God. Please visit my other blog, “The Mystery of the Trinity” for an explanation of the Trinity Doctrine
For a Christian, these tenets are the foundation of every believer. Changes or deletions of the above tenets separates you from Christianity. If you do not believe who Jesus says he is, you are not a disciple. If you are not a disciple, by definition, your not a Christian.
James 2:19,20; “You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?”
Christians believe God is the Almighty creator of the heavens, the earth and every thing in them. He created the universe, time, space, energy, matter and put in place the laws of physics and the cosmological constants. Christians believe there is nothing God cannot do. Why then do some accept that was unable to keep the authenticity of his message of salvation from becoming corrupted by mere men.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses (who identify as Christian) founder Charles Russel claimed God chose him to restore the bible to its true message. Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon religion who also identify as Christians, made the same claim. Both these men interestingly have kept most of the bible intact, but have rewritten the path to salvation by redefining the true identity of Jesus Christ.
Both religions have demoted Christ to a created being like Satan. They each claim their faith is firmly placed in the enduring word of God. But their future rests on an interpretation of an edited word of God, a rewritten gospel according to one man, their founder.
Mormon and JW faiths are incompatible with each other. Each claim divine anointing and divine enlightenment, so each follower will say he/she has the correct interpretation. Neither can cite any authoritative evidence other than their founders edited version of the bible.
The bible is not difficult to understand the main points. The salvational message is plain and clear so a child could understand yet the bible is so deep a life time could not uncover all God’s glory. The depth of the bible is in the depth of God and we spend our lives learning. The message of acceptance and love is simple and clear.
Matthew 18:3,4; “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” – Jesus
Proverbs 2:1-6; “My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands. Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures. Then you will understand what it means to fear the LORD, and you will gain knowledge of God. For the LORD grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”
Like a child the Christian accepts what the Father says in regard to our condition. We are sinners and he has supplied our remedy in Jesus Christ his Son. Once in the kingdom, God opens up his word to every believer and we mine the bible for God’s character and glory as he reshapes our lives according to his will. The mouth of God is his word to us, the bible. If he ever allowed it to be corrupted, we would be lost. He is well able to keep the veracity of his word intact. At least the God I serve is able.
Matthew 24:35; “Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.”
The bible is true or it is not. If anyone claims some parts are true while others are corrupt, there is no basis to determine which parts to believe, other than the say so of the claimant. That is why Christianity stands on the authenticity of the original texts that were written by those who where there.
The Biblical Jesus Christ
Matthew 24:5, 23-25; “for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many.”
“Then if anyone tells you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah,’ or ‘There he is,’ don’t believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones. See, I have warned you about this ahead of time.” – Jesus
Jesus is warning that there will be many claiming to be him and many claiming they have seen him, so be forewarned. Here he is in this text, or that text, don’t believe it.
There is a man in Florida today who says he is the reincarnate Jesus Christ on earth. He has thousands of followers, millions of dollars are given to him every year by those convinced he is Jesus Christ.
There is only one Jesus Christ who saves.
Acts 4:12; “There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”
“Therefore, God elevated him [Jesus] to the place of highest honor
and gave him the name above all other names,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.”
The Biblical Father
God the Father is defined differently between sects that call themselves Christians and it important to know who he is. Scripture clearly tells us that the Father has never been seen, he is spirit and has no body. There are metaphorical discriptions some use to make other claims but on the whole of scripture, this is what it taught.
John 1:18; “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son”
John 4:24; “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” – Jesus
John 6:46; “No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father.” – Jesus
1 John 4:12; “No one has ever seen God;”
1 Timothy 1:17; “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
Scripture speaks figuratively about God the Father so we can better understand. Verses that talk about Moses speaking to God face to face, or someone has done well in his eyes, or Jacob wrestled with God and finally God told Moses that if he saw God’s face he would die. If these verses are to be taken literally, then the verses above have to be ignored, and so do these;
Hebrews 12:29; “for our God is a consuming fire.”
Deuteronomy 4:24; “For the LORD your God is a consuming fire”
Isaiah 66:1; “Thus says the LORD, “Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest?”
Psalm 139:9-10; “If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”
Scripture interprets scripture and revelation comes from the whole of scripture, not just those verses that may support your theology. The father is Spirit, has never been seen, he is omnipresent, something that could not be possible if he had a physical body and he is eternal. God the Father has no beginning and no end. He has always been and was before there was anything at all.
Jeremiah 23:23-24; “Am I a God who is near,” declares the LORD, “And not a God far off? “Can a man hide himself in hiding places So I do not see him?” declares the LORD “Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” declares the LORD.”
1 Kings 8:27; “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You, how much less this house which I have built!”
Psalm 90:2; “…from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”
1 Chronicles 29:10; “Praise be to you, Lord, the God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.”
If you are interested in what the bible has to say about who Jesus is visit these previous posts called the “Who is Jesus Series”;
- What others Claimed about him
- What Jesus Claimed about himself
- Which Jesus are you talking about?