What Is a Christian?

Authentic-Christianity-1.013

Often sites like this spend time talking about why Mormons are not Christian, and this site of course does spend a lot of time looking at areas in Mormonism that Christians would generally disagree with, and will unashamedly carry on doing so.

However I thought it would be helpful to lay out what a Christian is, without specifically relating it to Mormonism. This will hopefully speak for itself in showing why this issue comes up so often, as ever I would love to hear your thoughts.

I will do this by focusing on these areas:

  • What is our purpose in existence?
  • What is our standing before God by default?
  • Why do we need to become a Christian?
  • What is my definition of a Christian?
1, What is our purpose in existence?
So firstly I think our purpose in existence is totally and utterly to glorify God. Isaiah 43:6-7 says:

I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth;

7 Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.

We are formed or created for His glory, we even see examples in the Old Testament that when God was merciful to His people, this again was primarily for His glory.

Isaiah 48:9-11

For My name’s sake I defer my anger,
for the sake of My praise I restrain it for you,
that I may not cut you off.
Behold, I have refined you but not like silver;
I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.
For My own sake, for My own sake I do it,
for how should My name be profaned?
My glory I will not give to another.

 

For God, the upholding of His name and the declaration of His glory is more significant than anything. I think the reason Christ came and did what He did for us, again was primarily to uphold the glory of God, so that we as forgiven sinners might begin to glorify Him and live in our created purpose. We are entirely secondary in this equation. However we are also created in such a way that we find our complete satisfaction and completion in life from union with Him.

 

Psalm 16:11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

There is nothing in life that compares to union with God, not spouse not kids, not family not friends not objects not anything compares with knowing God. We see Paul’s heart cry in Philippians 1:21-24

21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.22 But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: 24 Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.

Paul’s absolute desire was to die and be with Christ, as He knew that this was better than ANYTHING else. Yet for the sake of His work for the gospel he carried on.

 

God has created us to enjoy Him, glorify Him love Him and produce God honouring fruitful works for Him. My favourite preacher John Piper said this:

“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”

 2, What is our standing before God by default?

So my second area of discussion is what is our standing before God by default or just when someone is not a Christian.

As you likely know the Bible teaches humanity started off in the Garden of Eden with no sin and perfect union with God. However this happened.

Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

This union with God ended, we became dead, not in the physical sense but dead in our sins.

Ephesians 2:1 speaking to Christians but about before they were Christians says:

And you has he made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins

We were dead in our sins, because of this fall, Ephesians 2:3 goes even further to say:

Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

We were by nature children of wrath, meaning the non Christian is dead in their sins and by nature a child of wrath. So here is a problem, God has created humanity for His glory, for this relationship, for these God honouring works yet because of this fall, because of this sinful state, humanity ceases to be able to glorify God. We actually because of this sinfullness are then fully subject to the wrath of God. Many people like to use the phrase, God hates the sin but loves the sinner, lets see what the Bible says about that

Psalm 5:5 The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.

God hates sinners, there is nothing but condemnation coming for them. This idea of God hates the sin but loves the sinner is not Biblical. This does not take away from love the Father displayed in sending His Son to save us, however as we saw above in Isaiah 48:9-11 this was primarily to uphold His glory, making us into children of light rather than children of wrath, no longer separated from God so much that He does not even hear us. (Isaiah 59:2 see below) Rather making us united with Him, righteous in His sight and no longer living in the condemnation of the sin that made Him hate us so much, as we saw so clearly manifest in the days of Noah.

 

Isaiah 59:2 also says But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

God does not even hear us in this sinful state of separation from Him. Sin is actually a nature rather than just simply actions,  Isaiah 64:6 says

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness’s are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

Even the good dead’s (or righteousness’s) of someone dead in their sins is worthless in Gods sight, Something had to be done in order that humanity might be able to have this union with God again. God was not glorified by this humanity As in this position there is nothing we can do to please God, therefore there is nothing we can do to get back into this union with Him. We needed to be saved.

So Christ came and died in our place as the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) and rose again . This is where salvation by nothing but the grace of God starts to be important.

christcrucified-mel-gibson-passion-of-christ

1 Peter 2:24 

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

So moving onto part 3. 

3, Why do we need to become a Christian?

 As I hope I have shown we are totally unable of getting ourselves out of this mess, now finally time for some good news.

 Ephesians 2:8-10 says it all here but I will obviously explain

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

By grace we are saved, meaning saved from the wrath of God, saved from having no connection with God, saved from Him not even hearing us, saved from our inability to do works that Glorify our God, the very thing we were created to do in the first place.

By grace we we are saved through faith not of ourselves, no one can boast we are HIS workmanship. Do you see where the glory is going for our salvation here, He has done it all. We are then created or recreated in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has ordained long before that we should do. 

Romans 4:5 says But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

The reason us evangelicals go on about salvation by faith and grace alone so much is not because we are lazy, but because we know how totally worthless and like filthy rags any works we could ever do are, unless we get our righteousness and salvation first, so that we can then go on to do good works.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says: Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

If your truly in Christ you are a new creation, just like Adam again at day one, made new and able again to please God. Yet this time you are not reliant upon your own righteousness, you carry the righteousness of Christ, therefore there is no condemnation for you (Romans 8:1) and your sin is not counted against you (Romans 4:7-8 make sure you check that one) so the reason someone absolutely must become a Christian as without it, they are dead in their sin and condemned eternally. There is no way out, other than by trusting in Christ, being made a new creation and then carrying His righteousness.

If all of this has truly happened then good works MUST follow as you realize just how much you have just been given

Luke 7:44-50

44 And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.45 Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. 48 And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. 49 And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? 50 And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.

If you are truly forgiven and saved and you truly know the wrath that you have been saved from, by no works of your own then you are going to love and glorify this amazing God a serious amount. If you haven’t and its all lip service, then James 2 has a lot to say to you.

4,What is my definition of a Christian?

So what is a Christian? A Christian has seen the hopelessness of their situation before God, that they have sinned and fallen short of His glory, (Romans 3:23) and in their brokenness have confessed their sin, surrendering their entire self to Him in faith, trusting in what Christ did for them, this lost sinner becomes a saved, redeemed, secure individual, complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10) has no condemnation for their sin anymore, (Romans 8:1), knows they have eternal life (1 John 5:13) and therefore loves Christ and the world a great deal, which will be displayed in their actions (James 2:20). 

 

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