What Does it Means to be “Christian”?

Ken Weliever

A recent survey revealed that 71% of the respondents claiming to be a Christian “consider their feelings, experiences, or the input of family and friends as their most trusted sources of moral guidance.”

The study, recently released by the George Barna Group in connection with the cultural research center at the University of Arizona, came to this conclusion:

“The meaning of “Christian” in America today is far from monolithic, with a number of diverse and often conflicting theological views—even beliefs that are thoroughly unbiblical perspectives—among those who embrace the label.”

In addition to specifically lacking a clear authoritative Biblical directive and moral guidance for their lives, here are a few other findings.

  • 66% say that having faith matters more than which faith you pursue
  • 64% say that all religious faiths are of equal value
  • 58% believe that if a person is good enough, or does enough good things, they can earn their way into Heaven
  • 58% contend that the Holy Spirit is not a real, living being but is merely a symbol of God’s power, presence, or purity
  • 57% believe in karma
  • 52% claim that determining moral truth is up to each individual; there are no moral absolutes that apply to everyone, all the time

I supposed we should be shocked, but it ought not to be surprising given the drift of pastors, preachers, and churches in the last 50-60 years toward a social gospel. When churches become more like country clubs or a sanctified Salvation Army doing social work, and preachers can deliver entire sermons without any Scriptural basis, no wonder people lack a Biblical worldview.

Many of our readers might be saying, “I’m glad that’s not happening in our congregation.” However, you might be surprised at the number of young people, and some not so young, who’ve abandoned Biblical authority and are motivated more by subjectivism than Scripture.

Among “us,” we too often hear rationalizations for unscriptural practices or lifestyles that begin with expressions like…

…I feel…

…I think God loves me too much to…

…I don’t believe God will…

…I feel God wants me to be happy so…

From a Biblical perspective wearing the name “Christian” means I am a follower of Christ. A learner. A pupil. His disciple.

Jesus said,” A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.” To become like Him, we must hear Him (Matt. 17:5). And obey Him.

“If you love Me, keep My commandments,” Christ said to the apostles and by implication to all His followers (Jn. 14:15). To know His commandments, Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to reveal His Word that would “guide (us) into all Truth” (Jn. 16:13).

The apostle Paul affirmed that he as well as other apostles and prophets, received the inspired Word, recorded it “in a few words,” so that we can read and understand it (Eph. 3:3-6).

The Scripture, therefore, offers the Lord’s directives for moral guidance, spiritual growth, and a world view that is based on and in absolute divinely revealed Truth. Consider these passages.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3;16-17)

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire (2Pet. 1:3-4).

He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him — the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.” (JN. 12:48-50).

Being a Christian, therefore, is following Christ by obeying His Word. Accepting His moral authority. Being inwardly formed and fashioned by His teaching. And outwardly allowing His Word to govern our lives.

“O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself;

It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.”

(Jer. 10:23).

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