CHRISTIANITY

WHAT IS A CHRISTIAN


“For God so loved the world, that he have his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.“ John 3:16

There has always been , since the foundation of the Christian church, discourse and arguments on what constitutes a Christian.
This subject usually emphasizes the various denominations and their ideologies.
This page is only going to address the basic Christian precept and spirituality, I will leave the ‘Pomp and Circumstance” of dogma and ideology to theologians who like to spend hours and days arguing how many angels can dance on the point of a pin or whether or not a store may sell milk on Sunday (Sunday Blue Laws of yore).

Having spent most of a lifetime, studying the Bible, attending Bible study and observing Christians of all ilk, I  have come to believe that we can break down Christians into three basic categories, perhaps four if we include Catholics (more on that later).

BASIC CATAGORIES:

1. Political Christians

2. Functional Christians

3. Spiritual Christians

**  Catholics

POLITICAL CHRISTIANS

Many people who proclaim to be Christians do so only because it is politically and culturally convenient.
They are Christians only because their parents were Christians (or claimed that they where) and because most of the people they associate with are Christians or they live in a Christian nation (or state, city or neighborhood)
At one time nations declared themselves to be Christian, however, this has become “Politically Incorrect” and the last truly Christian nation in the world is in danger of loosing that designation.
These Christians  usually are not members of any denomination and do not attend church. They usually do not pray (amazing what 10 minutes in a foxhole or being in the firing line of a mad shootist like at a college campus or McDonalds can do for causing prayers to blossom like flowers in May).
They usually only use God’s name (and that of  his Son, Jesus Christ) as an expletive.
They recognize the holidays of Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter only because they get the day off and really don’t care what it is called. The term ‘Mid-winter Holidays’ is just fine for them to represent Christmas week.
They may get married in a church and may even have a “Christian” burial. However, that is only because it is expected of them by the other Christians in their culture.
They could just as easily  be a Muslim, Atheist, Hindu or Agnostic, however, when asked, in whatever form, they declare that they are “Christian” and so are counted as such in our secular world.
Jesus will declare to them on judgment day, “I know ye not”.


FUNCTIONAL CHRISTIANS

I created this category to encompass the millions of people who profess to be Christians, attend church regularly and believe that they really are ‘true’ Christians.
However, Satan comes not except to lie and deceive. One of his best ruses is to convince a person that they are a Christian by their works or through their ** church membership, thus causing them to stop searching  for Christ’s salvation and true Christianity.
These ‘functional’ Christians are ardent members of their church, frequently working feverously to perform “Christian Works” thus earning their reward in heaven.
They staff ‘soup kitchens’ and shelters for the homeless.  They collect clothes for the poor. They put in many hours working for their churches, cleaning, supporting ‘functions’ and volunteering for tasks that the pastor feels needs be accomplished.
They dress up in their best clothes, polish their shoes and wash their automobiles and present themselves proudly on Sunday morning and participate in Holy Communion and most have even been baptized in some form.
They love the ceremony and grandeur of the church with the robes, incense, stained glass windows and liturgical form.
They have been convinced that God’s word, the Bible, is a ‘living bible’ therefore we must adapt it’s content and meaning to meet today’s world.
Hence they can support the position of divorce, abortion and homosexuality, all of which God says are abominations to Him.
God said “because you have rejected the truth, I will make you believe the lie”. Thus at some point they fervently believe they are correct.
They adhere to all the strappings of religious worship, but have failed to submit to Jesus’ authority and asked Him for forgiveness and to be their Lord. (see “Salvation” on this site)
These functional Christians, are usually members of the old “mainline” churches, which were founded on the truth, but have let it slip away.
However there are many new  churches/cults that lead their parishioners down the primrose path to darkness and destruction. All in the name of Christ.
I’m afraid they will be cast into outer darkness and there will be a wailing and gnashing of teeth for many of these ‘functional Christians‘.
Fortunately, some of the ‘old mainline’ churches have maintained their fundamental origins in their worship including the Southern Baptist, Wesleyan Methodist, Lutheran (Missouri Synod) and  the Church of Christ.



SPIRITUAL CHRISTIANS

The third category of Christians may be members of the above identified “mainline” churches, but are more likely members of and adherents to fundamentalist organizations.
These churches and Christians, stand firmly on the belief that God’s word is absolute and infallible.
They frequently are identified with terms such as “Free Will”, Pentecostal; Gospel and Holiness.
Jesus commanded us to do good works, to love one another, feed the hungry, visit those in prison, and care for the poor.
However, He was also VERY specific, that NO ONE shall come to the Father except through HIM.
Paul also admonishes us that “by grace you are saved by faith, and not of yourselves: it is a gift of God, not of works lest any man boast (Eph; 2:8-9)
Spiritual Christians are to worship God “in Spirit and in Truth”  {“……when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth”}. John 4: 23-24
Thus my identification of this category as being “spiritual”.
Worshiping God is difficult, for he is so great and we are so insignificant!
Our language cannot begin to exalt him properly.
Thus we must worship him in the “Spirit”, meaning HIS Spirit.
His Spirit will guide us as to what to speak and to fully glorify God on his throne.
We only get this wonderful gift by submitting both to Jesus Christ, making him our Lord, but also to be submissive to the Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost).
That is the way to do it correctly.  {“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you”}. John 14; 26
However, those  who fail to recognize the infilling of the Holy Spirit, may still be spiritual Christians, in that they have submitted to Jesus Christ asking him for his forgiveness and lordship.
They just would be better at worshiping Him with the Spirit’s help.
I once compared trying to be a Christian without the Holy Spirit like trying to dig a post hole without a post hole digger or shovel.
{“And it shall come to pass  in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: Joel; 2:28 and Acts 2:17
We submit to the Spirit by speaking it to him. “I submit my life to the Holy Spirit, come and fill me and be my guide”.
Most spiritual churches subscribe to Paul’s position that those who are filled with the Holy Ghost will began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance”. Acts; 2:4; 19:6 (NOTE: he was speaking not of  the Apostles but of the congregants of Ephesus and Corinth) I Corinthians 14:2-4

Unfortunately, this last category is the smallest of the three, however, it is growing rapidly as God is pouring out his Spirit upon us and mighty works are being performed even as the nation slips into a Godless abyss.



**This fourth section applies to the Catholic Church.

I have on several occasions been surprised  when I have asked people if they were a Christian to have them reply, after a moments hesitation, that they were Catholic.
Almost every time there was that moment of hesitation as they were contemplating just what they were and in most cases they emphasized that they were Catholic.
This is not a dissertation to put down the Catholic Church, however I would like to take a moment and point out what I believe, to me, to be misleading.

First, NOWHERE in the Bible does it say we are to worship Mary nor to ask her to intercede for us.
I am aware that that statement is sacrilege to most Catholics.
However, Jesus was VERY emphatic, that no one comes to the Father except through HIM. (period)
Mary was the mother of the physical body of Jesus Christ which was later transfigured into a holy state.
That does not make her the mother of God. To assume that, is to make a HUGE jump in logic.
Again, the Bible does not refer to her anywhere as being the "mother of God".
If someone says something with regard to God and the Bible, and it is not substantiated by the Bible, then it is probably not true.
This is the reason that we are instructed to study the Bible, and to know what is in it.
NOTE: Satan loves to misquote scripture to achieve his ends. He used the scripture to tempt Jesus when he was in the 'wilderness". We must constantly be alert for that ruse, and can only do so, if we know the scripture extremely well.

Martin Luther got into trouble with the "Church" exactly because of that.
There were very few copies of the Bible (Vulgate) available during his time. He became a priest without ever having seen a Bible.
However, because he was so intelligent he was selected by his mentor to attend university, where in fact there was a Bible. When he read it, he was appalled that there were so many discrepancies between what the "Church" was teaching and what was actually written in the Bible.
His particular problem was that he did not believe that the 'selling of indulgences' or selling forgiveness for sin, was right.
The "Church" was selling forgiveness to make money.
He had no intention of breaking with the church, he was only attempting to bring to the "Church's attention that what they were doing was wrong.
He didn't leave the church, they excommunicated him.

Jesus also instructed us to ‘come boldly before the throne of grace as children of God, and that anything that we ask Him in Jesus’ name shall be done. Jesus  and the Holy Spirit are our intercessors, we do not need anyone else, nor is there any other intercessor. Matt; 21:22, Romans 8;26 and Heb; 4:16, Heb; 5:25.

2ndly, Jesus shed his blood on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. HE is the one that forgives us as He is the one who paid the price. No one has the authority to do that for him.
He made the ultimate sacrifice, no other sacrifice is necessary or required. Heb; 9:11-14
What is important about this is, that He paid the price for our sins, there is NOTHING we can do to change that. Once He forgives us, we are forgiven, totally and completely. As far as He and God are concerned the sin does not exist anymore. We do not have to do penitence pretending that we are ‘earning’ His forgiveness. See Eph; 2:8-9

For us to even think that we can earn our salvation through our works is an insult to Jesus' sacrifice.

And thirdly, another discrepancy, from my perception ,is the prolific numbers of statues that abound in the Catholic environment.
The second commandment is very explicit, "Thou shalt not make unto thee any  graven (sculptured) image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above  or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:"  Exodus 20:4
Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: Exodus 20:5

There is not much I can add to the  preceding, as they appear self explanatory and I believe,  present a serious spiritual problem.



SO WHO IS A CHRISTIAN?

It is not for me to say who is and who is not a Christian as I cannot see the heart and souls of man, only God and Jesus Christ can do that. Salvation is inherently a personal relationship.
However, I can say this, “No man can come to the Father except through Jesus Christ”. If you have not personally asked Jesus to forgive you of your sins and to become your Lord, then you are NOT a ‘saved’ Christian. (period)
I don’t care what denomination you belong to.
And until you do that, you can be rest assured that you will not enter the kingdom of God.  And that is Biblical.


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