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What is a Biblical Christian?
Can you explain all the processes by which a brown cow eats green grass and gives white milk? No? Really? Actually it’s no big deal–you can remain ignorant of how it’s done, even stay indifferent, because not knowing is neither tragic nor fatal. But there are some truths, however, in which ignorance and indifference are both tragic and fatal.
One such matter is the answer to this question–“What is a biblical Christian?” According to the Scriptures, when does a man, woman, boy or girl have a genuine right to the name “Christian”? Do you know how to answer that question? Taking a small break from our verse by verse exposition of Mark, we’re diving into the glorious theology of soteriology, the doctrine of salvation, with our summer series called Gospel Greatness–what Christ has done for us on the cross.
True salvation is what makes you a biblical Christian. And today the theme verse of the book of Romans will give us explicitly and implicitly the correct answer. Open and out, Romans 1:16 to 17 and the teaching of the New Testament will give us four keys to the answer of that crucial question, “What’s a biblical Christian? Who really is a Christian, and who is not? What is a genuine Christian, and what is not?”
You all have friends from other churches, family members, even children, parents, and spouses who are confused over this. And maybe you’re confused about what a biblical Christian is. But face the sober reality that you must not be ignorant or indifferent about the answer to that question. If you are, the results will not only be tragic now, but eternally fatal. So once and for all, get this down today!
You already know that it is not that you walked an aisle, made a decision, prayed a prayer, or had an experience at camp that makes you a Christian. But beware, churchgoer–don’t write this off before we start. Don’t give into the temptation to assume that even though you don’t know the answer to what a biblical Christian is, you’ve already said in your heart, “I’m sure I’m one.”
Maybe you’re a cultural Christian–quite possibly you’re a Christian by your own design. Hear me–the only Christian who is forgiven, born again and headed to heaven is a biblical Christian. And yet some of you can’t even tell me what that is. God warns you in 2 Corinthians 13:5 to, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves.” Make certain your faith and life match the biblical description of a Christian. And make certain you are prepared to clarify to those you love what a genuine biblical Christian is. Own these four keys today–own them.
Are you ready? Read with me Romans 1:16 to 17, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, but the righteous man shall live by faith.”
In this theme verse of Romans, Paul concludes the first 17 introductory verses and summarizes the entire book. But he also shows us the four basic keys to a biblical Christian. Paul begins by telling us he is not ashamed of the Gospel–what an understatement. That’s like saying Jerry Rice was an okay wide receiver, or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was a fair basketball player–understatements. Paul says he’s not ashamed of the Gospel–whoa! Paul was on fire, bold, unstoppable with the Gospel. After being stoned, left for dead, attacked, arrested, beaten, Paul still got up, got out and shouted out the good news. He was fearless about the Gospel, which he defined in verses 1 to 7, and displayed in verses 8 to 15.
And Paul says in verse 16, “This gospel is the power of God.” This Gospel, this good news of what God has done for us in Christ, is fueled by the omnipotent power of God—all power. The Gospel is the most powerful engine that exists, and it’s fueled by the same God who created the sun—power.
So why must the Gospel be so powerful? Because you have an impossible problem, a problem you can’t solve. You need to be cured of a terminal disease, but you don’t have the treatment. You’re fatally poisoned, but no one can make you an antidote. You’re stained with sin, but you can’t clean it or wash it off. In Jeremiah 13:23, the Lord said, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then you also can do good who are accustomed to do evil.” In other words, you can’t fix the problem yourself.
But the power of the Gospel can do what no one else can. The Gospel can rescue you from the penalty, power and eventually the presence of sin. Verse 16, this Gospel is the power of God. Only the omnipotent power of God is able to overcome man’s sinfulness and impart spiritual life–which leads us to key definition #1. A biblical Christian is one who . . .
Key #1 Fully admits to their own PROBLEM with sin
One of the uniqueness’s of the Christian faith, distinguishing it from other beliefs in the world is–Christianity is a sinner’s faith.
• When the angel announced to Joseph the approaching birth of Christ, he said this in Matthew 1:21, “And she shall bring forth a Son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
• The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 1:15, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.”
A Christian is one who fully admits their own problem with sin. Starting in Genesis 3 with man’s rebellion against God and his fall into sin, then tracing the biblical teaching of sin all the way to the Book of the Revelation, you’ll discover that God tells us we have two major problems with sin–the problem of a bad record and the problem of a bad heart.
First What do I mean by “The problem of a bad RECORD”?
The Bible says every human being is guilty because of sin, and we earned a bad record long before we were even born. Romans 5:12 says, “Through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.”
When did we “all” sin? We all sinned in Adam. The entire human race was there in his loins, and he was appointed by God to represent the entire human race. When he sinned, we sinned in him and fell with him. We did what he did–we’d do what he’d done, we sinned in Adam. That’s why Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:22, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.”
Man was created without sin in the Garden of Eden, but from the moment Adam sinned, we too were charged with guilt. We fell in him in his first sin, and like him we are under condemnation. God views every human being as a criminal, and when we stand before Him as our Judge in the future, He’ll sentence us as guilty. Why? (Are you ready?) We come from a bad family–the human family. I don’t care if your relatives came over on the Mayflower, or you’re related to Abraham Lincoln–you come from a bad family.
But you protest, “That’s unfair!” No, it’s not. For along with belonging to a fallen family, each of us have also committed criminal acts. Every one of us has broken God’s law. Ecclesiastes 7:20 teaches us, “There is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins.” Or as Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
God’s law is a reflection of His perfect character, and each of us has offended Him and broken His perfect standard–not just with external acts, but with our motives, thoughts and actions. So much so that Jesus said in Matthew 5 our unjust anger is in essence murder, and our “looks of lust” are adultery.
The judge of mankind, Jesus Christ, will not lack evidence in order to sentence each one of us to eternal Hell. A biblical Christian owns, admits, confesses and repents of sin. That is why feel good churches that don’t talk about sin are bad churches with weak preachers—because true biblical Christians are those who own their rebellion in sin. They admit they have a bad record before God. But the problem of a bad record is not your only predicament. You have an additional problem.
Second The problem of a bad HEART
The problem of our sin arises not only from what we have done, but from what we are. When Adam sinned, he not only became guilty before God, he also became defiled and polluted in his nature, and like Adam we are also defiled and polluted. Jeremiah 17:9 describes this defilement this way, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?”
And Jesus described it this way in Mark 7:21, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts.” Then Christ names all the various sins that can be seen on Fox or CNN every day–murder, thefts, adultery, blasphemy, deceit and pride.
Jesus says these sins rise out of the well of the polluted human heart. Notice what Jesus didn’t say, “For from without, by the pressure of society and its negative influences, come forth murder and adultery and pride and theft.” No, that is what the sociologist tells us. They say it is the condition of society that produces crime. They say it’s the lack of a condom, or the presence of a gun, or the lack of education is the problem. But Jesus says it’s the condition of the human heart.
You are the problem–within you. JP told the story last week about the banana—you are not merely the one with a few spots, still good for making banana bread. No, you’re the one that’s completely black, good for nothing but to throw out. Each of us, by nature, has a heart that is “desperately wicked.” And the reality is, sin is so bad that you are beyond help. In a spiritual triage, you’re headed for the second death of Hell.
So, have you admitted the awfulness of your guilt in the presence of a holy God? A biblical Christian has taken to heart his or her own personal awful problem of sin. The Great Physician never brought His cure to anyone who didn’t know himself to be a sinner–as He said in Matthew 9:13, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”Are you a biblical Christian? Then you are one who fully admits and fully owns their own problem with sin?
This is why Paul speaks of the Gospel as the power of God, for only God has the powerful answer to our deadly sin problem–and what is that answer? Look at Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God . . . for salvation.”
The basic idea behind the term “salvation” is that of deliverance or rescue, and the point here is this–the power of God in salvation rescues people from bondage to end the ultimate penalty of sin, which is spiritual death resulting in eternal torment in Hell. Which leads us to, a biblical Christian is one who . . .
Key #2 Fully admits there is only one CURE for sin
This is why Gospel means good news—the Bible tells us God has taken the initiative to help sinful mankind. He tells us in 1 John 4:10, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” A unique feature of the Christian faith is that it’s not a religious self-help scheme, where you patch yourself up with the aid of God.
The Christian faith is unique in that all other religions require you to work your way to heaven. But Christianity teaches you, as a sinner you can’t earn your way to heaven, so God does the work for you by coming down from heaven to earth to help you, who are impossibly defiled with sin. The Bible tells us God’s remedy has at least three simple, but profoundly wonderful truths.
First God’s remedy for sin is found in a PERSON
The divine cure for human sin is not in a set of ideas, a philosophy, a self-help program or a church, but it’s found in a Person. Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus is God’s provision for us with our bad record and our bad heart. He is THE only Savior, who is both God and man, the two natures joined in the one Person without confusion.
If your terminal sin disease is ever to be remedied in a biblical way, it will be remedied only as you have intimate dealings with the person of Jesus Christ. Christianity is a person to person intimate relationship with Jesus (John 17:3).
Second God’s solution for sin is centered on the CROSS upon which Jesus Christ died
The Bible tells us the divine remedy for sin is centered on the cross of Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself said in Matthew 20:28, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” When Paul evangelized Corinth, he said in 1 Corinthians 2:2 that he “determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
The cross isn’t an abstract idea or a religious symbol—it was the place where God heaped the sins of his people upon his Son, called imputation. There Jesus took the punishment we deserved for our sin–Jesus was our substitute. As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “He made him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” The cross is not an emotional symbol of love, but a monumental display of how God can be just and yet still pardon guilty sinners.
You have to be perfect to get to heaven. So God takes all your sin upon Himself on the cross, then clothes you in His perfect righteousness so you can now be right with Him. At the cross, God placed the sins of his people on Christ, then pronounced judgment upon His Son as the representative of His people. On the cross, God poured out His wrath for your sin unmixed with mercy, until his Son cried out in Psalm 22:1 and Matthew 27:46, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?”
God allowed mankind to treat His Son as a guilty criminal, then covered the earth with darkness–all to show you what He was doing that you couldn’t see. For God was treating His Son as a criminal in your place and plunging His Son into the darkness of Hell, which you deserved because of your sins. Jesus took the punishment you deserved on the cross.
Third God’s cure for sin is ADEQUATE for all people, and is offered to all people without discrimination
Look at Romans 1:16, “It is the power of God for salvation . . . to everyone who believes.” In the crucified Christ, God provided a cure adequate for all people, and offered that cure to all people without discrimination. The work of Christ on the cross is sufficient—“it is finished.”
Jesus took our punishment, and that act is available to everyone equally. Jesus said clearly in John 6:37, “The one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.” Or as Jesus put it so beautifully in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy -laden and I will give you rest.”
Sin is bondage–enslaving, ugly and cruel. Sin promises to satisfy, yet it never does–but God offers you freedom through His Son, and satisfaction of love, joy and peace in Christ. Salvation is found only in Jesus Christ, and a biblical Christian is one who thoroughly admits that there is only one cure for sin.
But how does one get the cure? How is the person Jesus Christ applied to a sinful person in order to be rescued? Look back again at Romans 1:16 and 17, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘But the righteous man shall live by faith.’”
Paul says the power of God working through the Gospel brings salvation to everyone who believes. The word “believes,” pisteuo, carries the basic idea of trusting in, relying on, having faith in. In fact the word “believe” here and “faith” here are from the same root word in Greek–and it is the same throughout the New Testament. Faith and belief mean the same thing in the New Testament.
Now whether you’re a Christian or not, you live by faith every day. When you turn on the faucet to get a drink of water, you’re trusting it’s safe to drink. When you drive across the 15 to 91 overpass, you’re trusting it will not collapse under you–usually going so slow, you have time to think about that. Virtually all of life requires a natural faith.
But Paul has in mind here a supernatural faith, which according to Ephesians 2:8 is given to you by God, a “faith that is not of yourselves but the gift of God.” And it is given to anyone and everyone, as Paul says in Romans 1:16, “to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” To the Jew first, because Jews were God’s chosen people—and to the Greek, meaning everyone else. It’s for everyone. So this tells you what a biblical Christian is . . .
Key #1 Fully admits to their own PROBLEM with sin
Key #2 Fully admits there is only one CURE for sin, and now . . .
Key #3 Fully complies with the TERM(S) for obtaining God’s answer for sin
You ask, “Okay, Chris, what is it? Is it faith, belief, or repentance?” Don’t be ignorant or indifferent about this question either! Answer: The New Testament declares you must REPENT to be saved. In Jesus’ earliest ministry, it says in Mark 1:14 to 15, “Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.’”
After his resurrection, Jesus told his disciples in Luke 24:47 that “repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”
• Then explaining how the first Gentile believers became Christians, Acts 11:18 records, “Well, then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.” [Note: repentance is granted/given]
• As Paul confronted the philosophers of Athens, he said Acts 17:30, “Having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should [what?] repent.”
• And explaining God’s heart, Peter says in 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is . . . patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish, but for all to come to [what?] repentance.” The term of salvation from the New Testament is clearly “repentance”—but . . .
• When explaining salvation to one church, Paul said in Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves, [that faith] it is a gift of God.”
• And Paul says in Romans 3:28, “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.”
• Then the apostle John explains how one becomes God’s child in John 1:12, “But as many as receive Him, to them he gave the right to become children of God, even those who believe in His name.”
Again, belief and faith come from the same root word in Greek, so clearly the term of salvation in the New Testament is ”faith.” So is it repentance or faith? The answer is–YES! Not two different terms, but two different aspects of the same act. You see salvation, God’s answer to sin, is a conversion, a transformation–not merely a decision. Simply stated, genuine salvation is turning from sin (repent) to rely upon Jesus Christ alone (faith).
• As 1 Thessalonians 1:9 tells us how the Thessalonians “turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God.”
• Or as Peter preached in Acts 3:26, “God sent Him [Jesus] to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.”
Salvation is a change. There’s a change of direction–that’s repentance. And there is a change of dependence–that’s faith. Each is a different element of the same act. Picture yourself on this giant cruise ship. Over the loud speaker, the captain announces the ship is sinking, and the only way to be rescued is to get into a lifeboat. You’re shocked by the response of your fellow passengers. They just continue to party, and as water comes in they just climb to higher decks, urging you to come party with them. They say it’ll be safer up higher–there’s still plenty of time.
But it’s as if the captain spoke just to you, for your eyes are opened and you see the water rushing in. So you decide to go a different direction than the crowd (that’s repentance) and put your whole trust in the lifeboat to rescue you by climbing in (that’s faith). And you are saved, while most people decide to remain on the cruise ship–the ship’s name is HMS World.
What are the terms for obtaining salvation? We must turn and trust. We must repent and have faith in Christ, a change of life direction and life dependence. And all of this is from God, not from us. Repentance and faith are not things we work up, but require the power of God and an act of God—they’re gifts from God to us. Faith and repentance are used interchangeably as terms for salvation.
• When Peter was called to share the Gospel to Gentile Cornelius and his household, his message in Acts 10:43 was that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sin.
• Later in Acts 11:18, when Peter recalled the very same event to the church at Jerusalem, the church leaders said, “Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.” Faith and repentance both were used to describe the terms of salvation for the first Gentile converts.
• This is what Paul testified to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:21, “to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”
So then what’s repentance? It means to change your mind, which always leads to a definitive change of life direction. Turn to Luke 15. Repentance is the Prodigal Son coming to his senses in a foreign land. Rather than remain at home under his father’s rule, he asked to receive his inheritance early and left home to party where he squandered all his money.
Reduced to misery because of his sin, his eyes were opened, so he said in Luke 15:17 to 19, “How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me as one of your hired men.”
When the Son recognized his sin, he didn’t sit there and think about it–nor did he send emails home to Dad. The Bible says in verse 20, “He got up and came to his father.” He left his companions (his friends of sin)–he abhorred everything that belonged to that sinful life-style and he turned his back on it.
What was it that drew him home? He was confident there was a gracious father with a large heart and with a righteous rule for his happy home. He did not text home saying, “Dad, things are getting rough down here; my conscience is giving me fits at night. Won’t you send me some money to help me out, or pay me a visit and make me feel good?”
Not at all–he did not need just to feel good, he needed to become good. So he left the far away country. And God describes a beautiful picture in verse 20. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
The Prodigal did not come strutting up to his father, talking about making his decision to come home. There’s an idea today that people can walk an aisle, pray a prayer, and do God a favor by making a decision to accept Jesus. This has nothing to do with true conversion. True repentance involves recognizing I have sinned against the God of heaven, who’s great and gracious, holy and loving, and that I am not worthy to be called His son.
Yet when I am willing to leave my sin, turn my back upon it and come back meekly, wondering if indeed there can be mercy for me, then wow–the Father meets me and throws His arms of reconciling love around me. There is nothing sentimental about it–in all truth, the Father smothers repenting sinners with forgiving love and mercy.
But the father did not throw his arms around the Prodigal when he was still in the hog pens and in the arms of harlots. Are there some here whose hearts are still married to the world’s ways? In your private life or social life, or in your relationship to your parents or at work, do you show what you really are? In most solid churches, there are some who live in the hog pens during the week, then go to church on Sunday. But the terms of salvation demand you leave your hog pens and yours haunts of sin.
Repentance is being sorry enough to quit your sin. You will never know the forgiving mercy of God while you are still wedded to your sins. You’ll always battle with sin, and a sign of genuine conversion is your continued fight against sin. And non-Christian, you don’t clean up your life to become a Christian–no! But when God calls you to Himself, there’ll be a willingness in your heart to turn from your sin. The repentance that’s from God will cause you to change your life direction from sin to Him.
So repentance is the heart’s divorce from sin, but it will always be joined to faith. What is faith? Faith is casting your life upon Christ. It’s no longer remaining on the cruise ship World, but completely entrusting yourself to Christ–putting yourself completely in His hands. It’s 100% reliance on Christ.
Faith is not an intellectual idea that Christ can save you, but embracing and following Jesus in relationship. Faith is not believing the chair can hold me–it is putting my whole life in the chair (without my feet touching). Faith comes to God with an empty hand, taking Christ’s hand alone to rescue me and walk me safely home.
Which brings up a crucial question–can a person who embraces Buddhism, but claims to be a Christian, say to you, “Now I have two gods, Buddha and Jesus”? Is that a biblical faith? Is that person saved? No. Okay, then, can a person embrace the religion of humanism (the worship of self), and claim to become a Christian and say or live, “Now I have two gods, Jesus and me”? Is that biblical faith? Is that person saved? No. You see, faith is reliance upon Jesus alone.
What is a biblical Christian? A biblical Christian is a person who fully complies with the terms for obtaining God’s answer to sin. Those terms are repentance and faith. Are you a biblical Christian?
Finally, look at what Paul says in verse 17 of Romans 1, “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘But the righteous man shall live by faith.’” Paul says the faith/repentance God gives activates the divine power to bring salvation, and in that sovereign act, righteousness, not of but from God, is revealed and reckoned to those who believe in Christ. God punishes your sin on Christ, then gives you His righteousness.
And God’s righteousness (a word used 35 times in Romans) is given only to those who are exercising faith, or as Paul says, “faith to faith.” And God’s righteousness that comes by faith is nothing new, since Paul quotes the Old Testament, Habakkuk 2:4, “the righteous man shall live by faith.” And God’s righteous standing and character are given to us through His continued gift of faith, which will result in a Christian becoming a righteous man, which points to our final key.
Key #4 A Biblical Christian is one who DEMONSTRATES their salvation is genuine
The one who receives God’s righteousness will live righteously–not perfectly, but with a desire and ability to live pleasing to God. As 1 John 3:10 says, “By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious; anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God.” The Bible is frighteningly clear. When repentance and faith are of God, they will produce change/fruit/works in a person’s life.
Repentance produces godly deeds. Paul said in Acts 26:20 that he was, “Declaring to …everyone… that they should repent and turn to God performing deeds appropriate to repentance.”
And Jesus warned us in Matthew 7:23 there will be many who claim to do great things for God, but when there’s no repentance Jesus will say, “Depart from me you who practice lawlessness.” God’s Word also clearly declares that faith produces good deeds. Ephesians 2:8 and 10 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith . . . for we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works.”
Or as Titus 2:11 to 12 says, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in this present age.” Or as Jesus said in John 3:36, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
And James warns, if faith doesn’t produce works, changes or fruit, then in James 2:14, “What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has not works? Can that faith save him?” No–for James says in verse 17, “Faith, if it has no works, is dead.” A biblical Christian is one who shows his salvation is genuine by how he/she lives.
There is a false belief, a lie from the devil, that says you can be rescued by Jesus but not be transformed by Him in your lifestyle–you can be saved but have no desire to live a life pleasing to Christ. In other words, you can be justified without being sanctified–but that is a lie. The Bible doesn’t teach that at all.
Hebrews 12:14 is very clear when it says, “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.” No sanctification means no salvation–no evidence of pursuing Christ along with some measure of victory over sin means you’re not His child.
True faith, true repentance will cause you to go back home and obey your father and your mother, or to love your husband or wife and children as the Bible tells you to do, or go to your school or your job and take a stand for truth against all peer pressure. True faith makes you willing to be counted as a fool, willing to be considered outdated, because you believe in sexual purity or faithfulness in marriage. True repentance will make you willing to be considered crazy because you consider it murder to abort babies, or you believe homosexuality is sin.
Jesus said clearly in Mark 8:38, “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My Words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” What is a biblical Christian? It’s not merely one who says, “Oh, yes, I know I am a sinner with a bad record and a bad heart. I know that God’s provision for sinners is in Christ and in his cross, and that it is adequately and freely offered to all. I know it comes to all who repent and believe.” That is not enough.
Today, if you profess to repent and believe, can you make that profession stick–not by a life of perfection, but by a life of purposeful intentional obedience to Jesus Christ? Jesus said in Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Do you do God’s will?
In Hebrews 5:9 we read, “He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation.” And 1 John 2:4 says, “The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”
Can you make your claim to be a Christian stick from the Bible?
Does your life manifest the fruits of repentance and faith?
Do you possess a genuine relationship with Jesus?
Is your behavior marked by adherence to the ways of Christ?
Not perfectly, no–every day you must pray, “Forgive me my sins as I forgive those who sin against me.” But at the same time you can also say, “For me, to live is Christ.” A true Christian follows Jesus. How many of you are genuine, biblical Christians?
I leave you to answer that question in the deep chambers of your heart and mind. But remember, only answer that question with an answer that you’ll be prepared to live with for eternity. Be content with no answer but one that will find you comfortable in death, and secure on the Day of Judgment. Let’s pray.
Be clear–understand what the Bible says. Salvation is by grace through faith–and faith is given to us by God as a gift. Faith is not mere belief, but an act of dependence involving repentance and trust. When it’s genuine, your heart is transformed so you’re willing to turn from sin and follow Jesus, resulting in a change of lifestyle. A biblical Christian is one who . . .
#1 Fully admits their own problem with sin
#2 Fully admits there is only one cure for sin
#3 Fully complied with the term(s) for obtaining God’s answer for sin
#4 Demonstrates his salvation is real
Are you a biblical Christian–the real thing? If not, cry out for salvation–admit your sin, admit Christ is the only answer, ask for faith and repentance, seek to respond to God and follow Christ in obedience. If a Christian, then follow Him, repent of sin, pursue His Word, serve His people, share His Gospel.