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Over the past few years my blog has been visited by people from all over the world. Very few know me, or of me, they simply are looking information concerning the Bible and discover my blog. After many years of intense study and teaching, I've come to believe we are vulnerable to misguided and incorrect teaching if we don't understand for ourselves the teaching of God's Word. My 'hot buttons' are - grace, sovereignty, exhortations and sanctification. If you understand these basic principles of Scripture, and apply them to daily life, you will understand what it means to have peace, joy and absolute security in any circumstance.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Who is a Christian?

Summer is in full swing here in Oceanside. My husband is doing very well after his cardiac events. We're fighting with the birds over our tomatoes. They want their share. We keep the birdbaths full so they can bathe and we can have the fun of watching all the splashing. Our little hummingbirds are so jealous and feisty, they can't seem to learn to share their feeder, much squabbling going on! Even the birds are protective of what they perceive to be theirs. I watch the bunnies peeking through our tempered glass fence. They would love to come into the yard and munch on whatever they fancy!

I'll address a few of the comments and questions I've had lately. There is a discussion going on about whether President Obama is a Christian or Muslim. I heard a reporter say,"He's obviously a Christian, he prays everyday". The purpose of this blog is not to figure out what religion the president is, but we've got to ask.....if someone prays everyday, does that make him a Christian? I think NOT; most religions have a form of prayer. It's not the pray that matters, it's who you are praying to, the ONE true God, or one of man's making.

So, who is a Christian? Quite simply, one who follows the teaching of Christ. What did He teach? The Bible shares His story. In order to really understand, you need to be spiritually alive. How does that happen? Well, Jesus said we need to be 'born again'. I know, that sounds 'fanatical'. At least that's what I thought at one time....'here come the fanatics'!

Nicodemus, a Jewish Pharisee, a person of education, respect, probably wealth, had a personal conversation with Jesus after listening to Him speak. He waited until dark. I don't think he wanted his friends to see him talking to Jesus. You'll be able to read this story in John, Chap. 3.

Nicodemus was a very religious man......I'm sure he prayed a lot and he tried his best to live by 'the law', the rules that were in place for his religion. But in listening to Jesus, he became confused and wanted some clarification. He was beginning to understand that Jesus wasn't talking about good, religious people as those who were going to inherit the 'kingdom of God'....we call it heaven. In John 3:3 Jesus told him, ".....no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again'. I didn't know that it was Jesus who said that. I thought a bunch of radical believers had just picked that as a 'hook' to entice people to listen to them.

Jesus goes on to say that we are born the first time physically (of water) and then are born the second time spiritually. If you are a Christian, have you ever wondered why some people don't hear and can't see who Jesus is? It's only when God makes us alive that we can understand. So, how does that happen? Simply, He gives us a new heart and new spirit....Ezekiel 36:26. Have you ever wondered why Jesus so often said, while talking to a group, "those who have ears, let them hear". They all had ears, he was talking about spiritual ears. He knew those were the people who would hear and understand what he was saying.

We must believe, Jesus said. Look at John 6: 28 -29. This conversation took place after the feeding of the 5,000 on the shore of the Sea of Galilee near Tiberias. We were there many years ago, my husband and I. There is a natural 'bowl', like an amphitheater, and it was so easy to picture all those people sitting there listening to Jesus. Actually, women and children weren't counted among the 5,000 so many think there were closer to 10,000 present that day.

Again, these were good religious people who knew they were hearing something different. They came to Jesus personally.....notice how that works?? If we find our self drawn to Jesus, He will respond to us! These Jewish people were interested in following the rules and doing good things and thereby gaining favor with God. They desired a direct answer to a direct question....don't we?

"What must we do we do to do the works God requires?"

We might not ask the question in the same way today.....we may say something like, "What do I need to do to please God and get into heaven?"

Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."

Could it be that simple, just believe in Jesus? What does that look like, how does that work?

First God has to give you the faith to believe. Without faith, it's impossible to believe. God will draw you to Him and give you the gift of faith. We can't earn it, work for it, don't deserve it, we simply receive it. It is a gift! Heb. 12:2 tells us faith comes from Jesus.....so He is the one who we ask to supply us with the faith we need to believe. If you find yourself doing this, He already has given you faith.....or you wouldn't be asking!

Once we believe by faith, we can understand the gospel (I Cor. 15) that tells us Christ died on a cross to pay the penalty for our imperfection (sin), he was buried, and He rose again. He beat death and we who call Him our Lord and Savior are never again under the penalty of the law.

Romans 6:23 "The wages of sin is death, (we will die physically and spiritually) but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord".

It really is that simple! So, a Christian is a person who has been given the gift of faith to believe that Jesus is God, paid the penalty for our sin so we will be acceptable to God, and rose from the dead to show us we too will have new life.

Jesus did not come so we could have a 'religion', He came so we could have a relationship with God, and live eternally with Him.

While checking out a belief, the first question you need to ask is 'Who is Jesus?' There are many groups who call themselves 'Christian' but do not believe that Jesus is divine, that He is God. Don't be misled, see what Scripture says.

Romans 4:21

Thank you Lord that you have a perfect plan and we can rest in that knowing all is under your control.