Recently I was reading the results of a poll on the internet of the American people on the subject of religion. I generally don’t put much stock in polls and I doubt this one is right either, but we can use it as an example. When queried on how many considered themselves to be Christians, a whopping 86% said they were Christians. When the same folks were asked what it meant to be a Christian, they gave a variety of answers. The most common answer was, “just be a good person.” Some said not to cause harm to anyone, along with helping your neighbors. Last and with only 7% of the vote was to love and follow Christ. I will be the first to admit that these are all commendable traits that a Christian must have, but they are not what defines us as Christians. If we are only to be nice good mannered people, not harming anyone, we should change our name or change our calling. The ending “ian” means of or belonging to the party of. If we are of the party of Christ, then we must be followers of Christ. First of all saying we are a Christian does not make us a Christian. As with all matters let us look to God’s word for the answers.
In Luke 9:23 Jesus says “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me”. If we are to be followers of Christ, then it stands to reason that we love him. Jesus tells us in John 14:15 “If ye love me keep my commandments”. Most of those who claim to be Christians simply have not kept the commandments of Christ. First of all we must realize that we are in a lost state and cannot simply rely on our good works to save ourselves. Second, Jesus came to this sinful earth to shed his blood and die that we might be cleansed of our sins and reconciled to the Father through him. Third, As stated in II Timothy 2:10, salvation is in Christ and therefor outside the body of Christ we are lost, no matter how good we try to be, or think we are. We must have the desire to know the Father and the Son. Remember the “If ye love me keep my commandments” part of what Jesus said. Let us ask, exactly what does Jesus command us to do? In John 6:45 we read that we must “hear” to learn of the Father if we want to come to Christ. John 8:24 tells us we must “believe” that Christ is the Son of God or we will die in our sins. Another commandment in Luke 13:3 is that we “repent” and turn from our sinful ways or we will perish. In Matthew 10:32 Jesus tells us that whoever will “confess” him before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. Now we come to the commandment that is the culmination of hearing, believing, repenting, and confessing. The commandment that most of the world denies and ignores as non-essential, irrelevant, and totally unnecessary. Mark 16:16 plainly states, he that believes and is “baptized” shall be saved, but he that believes not shall be condemned. This commandment is as simple, straight forward, and important as any in the bible and is impossible to misunderstand without a lot of outside help. Gal. 3:27 tells us that baptism puts one into the body of Christ and Eph. 5:23 confirms that Christ is the savior of that body. So we see that being a Christian involves much more than most people are being taught. A Christian is a mind through which Christ thinks, a heart through which Christ loves, a voice through which Christ speaks, a hand through which Christ helps. Think about it friends and neighbors, have you kept the commandments of Christ to become a Christian? If not I urge you with all urgency to do so today, for tomorrow could be eternally too late.
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