What is a Christian?
No other question is so surrounded with confusion or answered so variously. Ask ten different people this question and you will get five or six different answers. Here are six opinions which are commonly held about the essence of Christianity.
1. “Well, I certainly am a Christian; I’m doing the best I can. I try to live by the Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule and the Sermon on the Mount.”
2. “Most assuredly, I’m a Christian. If I’m not, I don’t know who is. My mother and father are very religious. I have an uncle who is a minister.”
3. “Indeed I am. I have always gone to church and Sunday School. I have been baptized and confirmed. I joined the church when I was fourteen.”
4. “I know I’m a Christian because when the evangelist gave the invitation I went to the front and made a decision for Christ. My counselor showed me that if I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior, I would never be lost again. I didn’t want to be lost—hell is a terrible place—so I accepted Jesus, and I know now that no matter what happens, God will never reject me. I know it because I went to the altar and professed faith in Jesus Christ.”
5. I don’t don’t know if I am, and I don’t see how anyone can really know for sure in this life. I guess I’ll just have to wait until I die to find out.”
6. “Sure, I’m a Christian. Isn’t everybody? Isn’t God the Father of all men? We may be going by different roads, but all of these roads lead to the same place. It doesn’t really matter what you believe, just so you are sincere—everyone who is sincere in his own religion is a Christian.”
These and many other answers have all been given to the question, “What is a Christian?” Who is right? Are any of these answers right? Can we know what it means to be a Christian, or must we be forever uncertain? Well, if we look to the human mind, to human opinion for the answer we will flounder in a sea of uncertainty. One man has as much right to his opinion as another. But, if we look to and are willing to submit to God’s Word, our confusion may be dispersed.
In the Bible you will find many statements such as these: “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119: 105). “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. . . the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes” (Psalm 19:7, 8). “The Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine (to teach us what is true), for reproof (to make us realize what is wrong in our lives), for correction (to straighten out our errors), for instruction in righteousness (to teach us and train us in what is right)” (II Timothy 3:15, 16).
These Scriptures tell us that God has given us the Bible to make us wise in spiritual matters. Therefore, it only makes sense that we should turn to the Bible to find an answer to the question “What is a Christian?” If we want to travel to a certain city, we get a map and discover the best way to go. We don’t turn to some person who has never been there for directions because he doesn’t know any more about it than we do. Nor do we turn to a philosophy or science book for directions. No, we turn to a map of the area in which that city is located because that map was made to give us directions. So it is with the Bible. It was produced by the inspiration and superintendence of Almighty God that we might be made wise concerning the way of salvation.
Look for part 2 soon! And, look through the entire site (standproject.org) for answers!