Christian? What defines a true Christian? Unfortunately, most Atheists don’t know. Let’s discuss that…
“for God is not a God of confusion, but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints,” 1 Corinthians 14:33 (NASB)
“And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 (NASB)
Having debated the Atheist ad nauseam, I am often confronted by Atheists who lack knowledge relevant to true, Biblical, Christianity. The Atheist oftentimes incorrectly identifies a groundswell of religions, cults, sects, falsely flying under the banner of Christianity as actually being Christian; the Atheist does not understand that these pagan cults and religions reject the core tenets of the Christian faith and Scripture and are therefore, at best, a Christian-cult.
In addition, the Atheist is quick to accuse Christianity of atrocities over the Centuries subsequent to Messiah’s Ascension, but when challenged, these atrocities were not Christian oriented at all, they were deeds performed in the name of Roman Catholicism or by men and women who “claimed” to be Christian but their actions were a direct contradiction to their profession. Jesus has told us that we would know them by their works; that a man or woman can be identified by the way they act (Matthew 7:15-20). So then, what is a true Christian?
Subsequent to the death, burial, resurrection, of Jesus Christ-Yeshua, self-serving, greedy for money and power, men and women throughout the Centuries following that cataclysmic event have sought to re-define the Person and Deity of Messiah-Jesus and His purposes relevant to Time and Eternity.
These self-indulgent men and women polluted and convoluted the Truth of Jesus Christ, the simplicity of His message, the Gospel (Good News); The Gospel, a written Covenant of Grace between God the Father established by the work, obedience and sacrifice of the Son, Jesus Christ-Yeshua at the Crucifixion and said Covenant having been Sealed and Guaranteed as binding by God the Holy Spirit and articulated-chronicled within the written word of God as inspired by the Holy Spirit (John 3:16: Ephesians 1:13-14).
Who is a “true” Christian according to the written word of God?
The Authority of God’s Word
1) A true-authentic Christian is a man, woman, child, who sincerely believes that the Holy Bible, the Scriptures, the written Word of God, is the Holy Spirit inspired mind of God penned on parchment by specific holy men of old who were chosen to chronicle and safeguard those words by inspiration of the Holy Spirit; the Christian believes that the Original Scriptures are the absolute perfect Truth, inerrant, irrefutable, words of God to mankind given as a gift, a love letter, to human KIND from our Creator so that every man, woman, child, can personally know God the Father, God the Son – Jesus Christ, God the Holy Spirit and God’s perfect will for Time, Eternity and our individual lives.
The Christian believes that the same God who created Time, the Universe, the complex human genome, is perfectly capable of articulating, chronicling, protecting and transmitting His written word down through Time so that His creation can know Him, love Him, commune with Him, forever.
2) A true, authentic, Christian is one who has agreed with God the Father that they’re a sinner (Romans 3:23) and has agreed to repent, turn-away from their sin and sincerely believe in their heart, confess with their mouth that Jesus Christ is the Eternal God who died to pay their sin-debt, a debt that they could not pay, and that Jesus Christ was resurrected for their justification leading to eternal life in the Kingdom of God subsequent to death of their body constrained by the Realm of Time (Romans 10:9-10; John 8:24; Philippians 2:8; 2 Corinthians 5:8).
The Guarantor of Relationship
3) It is the true and authentic Christian that has received the indwelling Holy Spirit of Promise as the Seal and Guarantor of the Covenant of Grace with God the Father as established by grace through faith in Jesus Christ-Yeshua as Lord for the mediation of sin (Ephesians 1:13-14; Acts 19:2; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; 2 Corinthians 5:5; Ephesians 4:30).
The Exclusivity of Jesus Christ as Lord
4) A true and authentic Christian believes and understands that there is absolutely NOTHING they can do to earn or deserve the Gift of Salvation that provides a pardon from death in sin and the second death in Hell. The true Christian knows that there is no work, no philanthropic endeavor, no personal sacrifice, that can earn God the Father’s forgiveness of sin (Ephesians 2:8-9).
A true Christian knows, believes and understands that Jesus Christ, through His suffering and death at the Crucifixion, performed the work of Salvation on our behalf i.e. Christ died to provide mankind a pardon from sin and death in Hell (2 Corinthians 5:21).
The true and authentic Christian believes and understands that ONLY by grace (unmerited favor – that which cannot be earned by human effort) through faith (trusting-believing with a sincere heart) that Jesus Christ – Yeshua is God who died to pay our sin-debt; only by believing and so confessing can a man or woman find forgiveness of sin leading to Eternal life with God the Father in the Kingdom of God (Romans 10:9-10).
Caveat: Does water Baptism save?
The Christian understands that the act or work of water Baptism does NOT save anyone but that water Baptism is obedience to the command of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-20) and that water Baptism is a demonstration to the World that the Christian has placed their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.
The Christian understands that water Baptism represents the death-burial-resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and represents our pledge before man and God to walk in a new life, the new birth, received by our confession of Jesus as Lord before the act of Baptism (John 3:3; Ephesians 2:8-9; John 3:16; John 3:36; John 3:18; John 14:6).
Obedience – Validation of Salvation
5) The true and authentic Christian understands and believes that though they cannot work them self into God’s favor relevant to salvation/the forgiveness of sin, the Christian understands that “subsequent” to having entered into a relationship with God the Father by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, alone, the Christian understands that works – obedience – servitude to God is essential because it is the works-obedience of the Christian SUBSEQUENT to salvation that provides validation of the authenticity of the Christian’s relationship with God and the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit (James 2:26; Ephesians 1:13).
Justification and Sanctification
True and authentic faith/salvation i.e. “Justification” will be demonstrated by the process of “Sanctification” as the Christian walks daily, matures daily, by the tutelage, intercession, wisdom, discernment, of the indwelling Holy Spirit (1 John 2:27). Sanctification, the incremental maturation process of the Christian, is achieved by diligent, fervent, study of the written word of God via the tutelage of the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 2:15; 1 John 2:27).
Disdain for Wilful Sin
The true and authentic Christian no longer desires to live in willful sin against God neither in word, thought or deed, but the authentic Christian seeks to live a life of obedience to God’s will and always, continually, seeks to please and honor God the Father through obedience to His written word, the Scriptures and His Living Word, Jesus Christ. (James 2:14-26; Galatians 5:16-23; John 1).
The Struggle between Two-Natures
6) The true and faithful Christian understands that even though they have been “born again” by the Holy Spirit as a result of their belief-faith in Jesus Christ as Lord, the Christian is aware that in the new-nature imparted by the indwelling Holy Spirit they will struggle with the old sinful-nature that remains behind due to the body of death that constrains-houses the spirit of man in the Realm of Time (Romans 7:14-25); therefore, the true and authentic Christian strives for excellence and perfection in their daily walk with God (Galatians 5:16).
Security of the Believer
There is also an understanding that sin is ever-present and in the struggle between the new-man v. the old-sin-nature the Christian knows that unintentional sin does not threaten the security of their eternal relationship with God (John 10:27-29). When the Christian does sin by omission or commission, they are to seek forgiveness for that sin – NOT to reestablish their salvation which is secure in the Holy Spirit forever (John 10:27-30) – but the Christian seeks forgiveness in order to reestablish and reaffirm intimacy with God the Father as the Christian knows that sin fractures intimacy through our conscience and it is intimacy-joy-peace-contentment with our God that is paramount and cherished above all else in the life of the faithful Christian (1 John 1:9; 1 John 2:1-2; Romans 5:1).
So then, we see that a Christian is one who has repented of sin, believed in and confessed Jesus Christ as Lord, exclusively, for the forgiveness of sin; we see that salvation manifests not by works, not by deeds, not by Baptism, not by men, not by Church membership, not by family affiliations, not by indulgences, not by birth, but ONLY by grace through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord – exclusively.
What is False Christianity?
Anything, anyone, who denies the sole-sufficiency of Jesus Christ-Yeshua as God for the forgiveness of sin, that person is NOT a Christian. Any “religion” or “sect” or “cult” or “denomination” that denies the SOLE-sufficiency of Jesus Christ as Lord for the forgiveness of sin is NOT Christian.
There is a plethora of counterfeit “Christian” religions in the World and there are “many” counterfeit Christians in the World (Matthew 7:22-24) and anyone who adds anything to or detracts from the purity, simplicity, of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that demands the sole-sufficiency of Jesus as Lord for the forgiveness of sin leading to eternal life, that person or institution denying the Deity of Christ (John 8:24) or adding works, behavior, deeds, money-indulgences, the Mass, Baptism, the pagan Doctrine of Tongues, to earn or confirm one’s salvation, that person or institution is NOT of God and they are NOT Christian but they are heretical and damned lest they repent of their false doctrines of denying the exclusivity of Messiah-Jesus as Lord (Matthew 24:36; 7:15-20; 2 Timothy 4:3-4; Acts 20:28-30; 1 John 4:1-6; 2 Peter 1:12-21; 2 Peter 2; Ephesians 2:8-9).
A few examples of Cults and Religions that fly under the banner of Christianity but are NOT Christian
1) Roman Catholicism: Catholicism is a “works” salvation, a pagan religion that rejects the simplicity, exclusivity, of Jesus Christ as Lord, Savior, Redeemer. Catholicism has never been Christian. Catholicism was founded by Constantine in 312-313AD via the Edict of Milan by merging Babylonian Paganism/Roman Paganism with elements of Christian and non-Christian (Apocrypha) doctrine in order to make the pagan religion palatable to the masses.
The Mass; The Sacraments; Transubstantiation; Purgatory; The Rosary; Statues in Worship; The Perpetual Virginity of Mary as the Goddess of Heaven; The Idolatry of Mary Worship; calling Catholic Leadership as “Father;” confessing sin to a Priest; The Magisterium; Indulgences; these are NOT Scriptural and undermine the purity and simplicity of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord; thereby, leading the innocent millions/billions in the way of deception and hopelessness. Tragically, the Catholic parishioner never knows for certain if they are saved or condemned due to false Catholic Church doctrine and Church tradition of men.
“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” 1 John 5:13 (NASB)
2) The Church of the Latter-Day Saints – Mormons: Mormonism is a works salvation – Christian cult. Mormonism teaches doctrines that are in direct contradiction to the essentials of the Christian faith. Mormonism denies the true nature of God, the true nature of Christ, and the true nature of salvation.
Mormonism teaches that the forgiveness of sin is obtained by obedience to the laws (works salvation) and ordinances of the Mormon church. Mormons will claim they are Christians because they say they follow the Jesus of the Bible, in reality, they are following a false Christ. Jesus is not the brother of the devil as Mormonism teaches. Jesus is the second Person of the Trinity. Jesus did not atone for our sins in the garden of Gethsemane as Mormonism teaches; Jesus died to pay our sin-debt at the Crucifixion (1 Peter 2:24; John 3:16).
Mormon’s, in their book “Doctrines of Salvation,” vol. 1, page 188, claim that there is no salvation without accepting Joseph Smith as a prophet of God. Joseph Smith is the founder of Mormonism. Jesus Christ said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” John 14:6 (NASB) See: (https://carm.org/mormonism/is-mormonism-cult)
3) The Jehovah’s Witnesses: A works salvation-cult that denies the exclusivity and deity of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Jehovah’s Witnesses reject the doctrine of the Trinity and claim that Jesus was not divine and that the Holy Spirit is an “active force” and not a Person of the Trinity. Jehovah’s Witness’ organization distorts the essential doctrines of Christianity by denying the deity of Jesus Christ, His physical resurrection, and salvation by grace through faith, alone.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses, to support their false doctrines, has altered the Canon Bible to make it agree with its changing and non-Christian teachings. The Jehovah’s Witnesses consider themselves to be Christians because they believe they are serving the true and living God yet they deny the Trinity, the deity of Christ, the person-hood of the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ physical resurrection, and salvation by grace through faith, alone. See: (https://carm.org/is-the-jehovahs-witness-religion-christian)
Jesus said that unless you believe He is God, you will die in your sins…
“Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”John 8:24 (NASB)
4) Pentecostalism – Charismatic non-denominationalism: Though these charismatic Churches do follow Christian doctrine rather closely, far too many make the heretical error of teaching the cultic practice of ecstatic utterances or speaking in an unknown tongue. A pagan practice that finds its pagan roots in Delphi, a town in ancient Greece across the bay from Corinth. The pagan activities-traditions-practices in the pagan temple located in Delphi obviously negatively affected the Christian Church at Corinth.
Intoxicated oracles-utterances offered by a pagan priestess in the Temple of Delphi carried-over into the Christian Church at Corinth creating much confusion and division. Charismatic denominations today teach this pagan practice of speaking in an unknown tongue thereby morphing themselves into a pagan cult; these charismatic Churches err doctrinally when they require their parishioners, even children, to speak in an unknown tongue, unintelligible gibberish, to authenticate their salvation and prove the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Such pagan oriented practices place tremendous burdens on sincere seeking men and women and children, burdens that God the Father NEVER intended for them to bear and when these parishioners are honest with themselves and admit they don’t actually speak in an unknown tongue, confusion, doubt, worry, fret, consume them because they never know for sure if they’re saved or condemned to Hell. This is heresy!
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NASB)
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” John 14:6 (NASB)
The Apostle Paul, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit said,
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 (NASB)
The simplicity of the Gospel must not be defiled by men. It is God the Father who has given the Son, Jesus Christ, to die for the sins of mankind and only by trusting in Jesus as Lord can mankind find forgiveness of sin and life in Eternity in God’s Kingdom. Nothing more, nothing less than Jesus, alone, will find righteousness (a right standing) with God the Father through the forgiveness of sin!