The Truth... What is it?

"I Am A Christian"
What does that mean?

I have been interested in doing this type of outline since the fall of 2001. The congressman from California who is "for" striking "under God" from our nation's pledge of allegiance was interviewed on Fox TV on 1 July 2002 and told interviewer Bill O'Reilly that,  "I am a Christian". Was he claiming a social designation or a genuinely convicted religious belief? If you buy a surfboard, are you a "surfer"? If you view paintings or even buy some and display them in your home or business, are you an artist...or even an art enthusiast? What might "I am a Christian" mean? If it doesn't mean being a true believer (see below), then the person professing being "a Christian" is devoid of all of the power & full salvation that comes with the Good News...the Gospel!

Jesus was always a Jew, & Christians (in the beginning century) were all Jews or had to become Jews & were of a Jewish Sect called the Way until after the Apostle Paul turned from them in Corinth (Acts 18:6) and focused on the gentiles some 3-7 years after the ministry of Jesus began. They were first called "Christians" in Antioch some years after Jesus' death (Acts 11:26). Christianity, today, is a huge "tent" under which there are thousands of variations of "belief". May all of us desire that God be the Judge so that we can quit finding fault with each other in such public ways!

Outright and quiet (1) liars and (2) nominal "Christians":

  • persons who take advantage of Christian missionary food, health or other "help" programs and lie and pretend to be convicted Christian believers, though only having an interest in the "help" (missionaries to the orient, generations ago, often called these "rice Christians") 
  • persons who consciously or subconsciously "act" Christian, even joining the church, because they perceive that it is good for business or social contacts or is "politically correct".

Inexact neutral-status examples (a various mix of "non-Christians", "nominal Christians", and real Christians):

  • citizens of a nation known collectively as a Christian nation (American; Irish; British). 
  • citizen of a non-Christian nation dwelling in an area known geographically within that nation as a Christian area (a Christian area in India). 
  • citizen of a non-Christian nation dwelling among a group known as Christian, either openly or secretly 
  • a person simply raised in a Christian family & considered by others, therfore, to "be a Christian". 
  • a person trying to live by some (or many) Christian standards in the hopes of leading a cleaner, more moral life...consciously & non-spiritual about it 
  • church members driven, shamed, or marketed/advertised into membership in Christian churches & who don't have "true belief" and who "just join up".

Evidences of possible positive status of being Holy-Spirit "drawn" toward "Jesus belief" by God (most are still nominal or worldly "Christians"):

  • never heard of Jesus but becoming interested in spiritual things 
  • one who deliberately tries to be good 
  • those who publicly or privately take positions against God and/or Christianity (hotly interested in spiritual matters)...even atheists who want to contend with Christians. 
  • joins or is a practitioner of some type of religion 
  • somehow becomes interested in hearing or reading about Jesus...example: people attracted to the books or movies about the Da Vinci Code. 
  • attends a Christian church one or more times. 
  • regularly attends a Christian church as a way of having a better life (being religious)...a cultural Christian:
     >does a little participation/helping while attending a Christian church
     >officially joins a Christian church and is confirmed and/or water baptized
     >even prays a/the "sinner's prayer"...but short of consciously and/or subconsciously truly meaning it. 
  • ****The true positive status..."true believer" characteristics...assurance markers & not legalistic check points: [Saved for eternity closely with God...having "saving belief"...having undergone a new birth (spiritual baptism...born again) (***warning: only God actually "knows" who is saved...the individual might other human can truly know)...the "overcomers" of the book of Revelation] 
  1. realizes their lack of power: anyone of the above who, for many different reasons, comes to the point, from the heart, of realizing that they cannot save themselves for eternity, asks (chooses...comes to belief) Jesus (the only savior ever recognized by mankind) to save them (invite Jesus into their heart, etc.) be his/her personal savior; and, 
  2. believes: from the heart, believes God is real and that He sent Jesus to die to pay for our sends with the sacrifice of His life; and, 
  3. repents & submits: from the heart, intends and commits to turn from their old ways (repent) & to submit and surrender self control of his/her life in order for Jesus to be his/her Lord (boss, master, controller, director); and, 
  4. has sincerity: really and truly means it from the heart (you can't lie to, or fool, God); and, subsequently... 
  5. undergoes (& becomes aware of) change: senses and is definitely aware (this may not be immediate) that they have "changed" (this awareness reflects that the Holy Spirit has, indeed, come in to indwell His presence giving a new birthing influence to your spirit...thereby transforming you into that new creation): you've been baptized by the Spirit & born again (I Peter 1:23); you've been released from the enslaving power of sin. Some change dramatically, and many change very non-dramatically...the change may not be visible to others. In time, and with increasing spiritual maturity, others will see Christ in you...Jesus will attract or inspire others through your manner and actions (especially your patience, grace, and love). 

The greatest & immediate change for your time on earth is the change in your identity: you are now a child of God, an adopted joint heir with Jesus to the Kingdom inheritance, and a saint (no longer a compelled sinner)...actually involved in a direct & personal relationship with God Almighty on the coat-tails of Jesus! Jesus is your "great High Priest" intercessor with God. The ability to have faith has been imputed into you by Jesus and the power-enabling Holy Spirit now indwells you.

By way of  II Corinthians 5:17-18 God says through Paul, "If any man be in Christ [the new birth], he is a new creature [new creation]; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ."

Now, though the above 5 things were done from the heart and with sincere, heart-felt intent, the actualization (making real) of that intent is part of the Christian "walk". The key thing is that your "want to" for change of direction was from the heart. And now your "want to" is actually in the direction of the things of God...toward (though incompletely and imperfectly) Godly interests.

Many are truly saved but cannot or will not or do not do anything for the cause of the Body of  Believers  in Jesus and His Kingdom (saved but not effective). Many rise to the next level, "saved and effective".

Saved for eternity with God AND in a spiritual "walk":  with (1) regular fellowship with other believers (in church) and (2) hearing The Word (involved in the study of the Bible & the faith. Therefore, this level is one of being a disciple of Jesus. It is not the number of members on a church roll that is so meaningful. Look at the average Sunday worship service attendance: it is among this group that one finds the greatest percentage of disciples!

 Saved for eternity with God AND effective for Kingdom interests on earth: these are those who have a useful and effective Christianity beyond the above personal rebirth. There is a war going on between good & evil...spiritual warfare; on becoming effective, one approaches the "front lines" of the war wherever one is placed in life. Effective Christians grow and reach out to others...they work and fight  in behalf of others (they do "works"). Their "work" continually justifies being divinely drawn to higher and higher levels of usefulness while on this earth. And, it is a true & divine blessing when that kind of spiritual "work" can be performed from a vocational work life (chosen before or after becoming a believer) that could be categorized as "righteous work"...the type of satisfying work that Solomon referred to (Ecclesiastes 3:24).

To quote the great Oswald Chambers, "What idea have you of the salvation of your soul? The experience of salvation means that, in your actual life, things are really altered. You no longer look at things as you used to; your desires are new, old things have lost their power. One of the touchstones of experience is--Has God altered the thing that matters? If you still hanker after the old things, it is absurd to be talking about being born from above, you are juggling with yourself. If you are born again, the Spirit of God makes the alteration manifest in your life and reasoning, and when the crisis comes you are the most amazed person on earth at the wonderful difference that there is in you. There is no possibility of imagining that you did it. It is this complete and amazing alteration that is the evidence that you are a saved soul."

**** WARNING: If you thought that you were saved and yet Chambers' above quote does not describe you, you may yet still be lost and not born Him with all of your heart and you will find Him (Matthew 6:33)!!

CAUTION: Can you sense that you are (or have been) changed? We aren't talking about completely heart-changed...that life-long process of becoming completely changed into/toward the likeness of Jesus is "sanctification". We are talking about change of "want to" and heart direction (as with taking a turn in direction down a new path). If not, could it be that you are only still in the status of just being "drawn" and are not yet "born again"? Maybe  you have just not yet been willing to come to belief, to truly believe, or truly submit, or truly quit resisting Jesus.  Here is the help you need...please check it out!

TRUE BELIEVER'S LIFE WHILE ON THIS EARTH: A saved Christian then faces the journey (the Christian "walk") of sanctification, or becoming more spiritually real and "like" Jesus: the process of dying to self (self-centeredness...check it out: self will, self sufficiency)...turning from egocentricity...and changing closer and closer into the likeness of Jesus...becoming "other-directed"...the opposite of self-centered. He/she sees more and more clearly that they are not self-sufficient at all! Sadly, the "saved" have bad moments, days, or even seasons of backsliding into sin and are thereby in periods of being a "carnal Christian". But they are still in the irreversible & secure position of earthly & Heavenly salvation but currently hindered in their divine relationship (unless subsequently cured with regular confession and forgiving release). Did you know that the Bible never records Jesus telling a not-yet-saved sinner that, "You are going to hell!"?

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(posted 2 July 2002; modified 31 August 2003; last modified 28 February  2008)