What Is a (Authentic) Christian?
In a world where the term “Christian” is bandied about by everyone, you would think there would be one, universal meaning that everyone would agree on. That’s not the case though. If you ask ten people what being a Christian means, you’ll get ten different answers.
The fact that the definition of being a Christian seems to be up for grabs is more than sad. It’s tragic and there is really little excuse for it. How did it happen?
If you look over the religious landscape of today, any number of people connected with any number of groups believe wholeheartedly that they are legitimate Christian. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
- Seventh-day Adventists
- Jehovah’s Witnesses
- Christian Scientists
- New Age
The above of course are only a few, but they all believe that they are Christians. Consider Mormons for a moment. Their church’s doctrine is such that they believe that between the time the last apostle died and Joseph Smith, there was not one true Christian. According to Smith, God told him that he should join no denominational churches because they were and had been all corrupt since the last apostle.
It was Joseph Smith who was supposedly directly commissioned by God to begin a new movement, to restore purity to the “church.” In spite of this, Smith attended and tried to join at least one denomination and then went to another. Eventually, he got around to starting Mormonism, after the Angel Moroni provided the special glasses that allowed him to translate the golden tablets he allegedly discovered. Thus, Mormonism was born.
So between the time of the last apostle and Joseph Smith, Mormons are taught that there was not one authentic Christian. Now, Mormons look like Christians and they act like Christians. They talk like Christians and they use Christian-sounding verbiage. Unfortunately, they have different definitions than the rest of Christendom has used for centuries.
Jehovah’s Witnesses do the same thing, using Christian-sounding terminology but applying their own meanings to many of the orthodox doctrines. The same applies to each of the above-listed groups, including many within the New Age movement.
Each of the groups has their own definition of what it means to be a Christian. Most believe that in order to become an authentic Christian, works is part of the equation. In other words, earning salvation by completing a variety of good works, combined with faith is the way to become an authentic Christian.
Whether you are talking to an individual from one of the above-listed groups, Roman Catholics, or someone else entirely, good works is part of what it takes to be a Christian. But is this Scriptural? Even with those individuals who believe that salvation can be lost, it all boils down to good works. Good works either earns and/or maintains salvation for all groups even remotely associated with Christianity, except one: authentic Christians.
It would seem a simple matter of going back to the Word to determine what the truth of the matter is regarding being a Christian. The problem though is that people – while reading the same text – understand it to mean different things.
For instance, the plainest meaning of what it means to be a Christian comes from Jesus Himself, as He took the time to explain to Nicodemus in John 3. During that verbal exchange, Jesus explained that in order to be saved, one must be born again, or born from above. Here, Jesus pointed to an event that must happen in order for a person to gain salvation.
In John 3, most are familiar with the words from verse 16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
These are Jesus’ words to Nicodemus, one of the Pharisees of the time. Notice that the one prerequisite to everlasting life is believing. Here is what believing is NOT:
- intellectual assent
- a feeling or feelings
- rumbling in the pit of your stomach
- entering into a lifestyle
Many seem to assume today that being a Christian is nothing more than entering into a lifestyle. You know, a person learns about Buddhism for instance, and they find it interesting, so they begin to practice Buddhism. Because they practice Buddhism, they come to believe that they are drawing closer to godliness. They seem to think that they are becoming more calm and “at one” with the world and even the universe.
One day, they decide that Buddhism is not for them. After months of frustration and no signs of growth, they opt to walk away for something different, something better.
That is how most people define Christianity. Whether it is believing the story of Jesus (whatever that means), doing things that a person believes Christians would do, or going to church, or something else altogether, the fact remains that these people are emphasizing action, or good works, or even plain old works. While it is true that good works will stem from the authentic Christian, our own good works are not what Christianity is based on.
So what is Christianity? In plain and simple terms, it is entering into a spiritual transaction with God Almighty. It is becoming a new creature through the new birth, or the birth from above, as Jesus explains to Nicodemus. Without this new birth, this spiritual transaction, there is nothing within the person that will save them from eternal punishment, not one thing.
Paul speaks of this new birth and explains it in detail in the book of Romans. Here he clearly explains WHAT we are before we come to God to receive His salvation, and what we BECOME after we receive that salvation. If I could sum up the entire first 8 chapters of Romans for you, I would. It is not that easy to do, because of the depth to which Paul goes in detailing the new life that enters into every newly born individual.
Paul begins in Romans by explaining and ultimately proving that ALL individuals are in the position of eternal damnation to start, at the moment of birth or conception. He shows us tragically how bad people can truly become because of he sin nature within us.
As each chapter of Romans goes by, we learn very methodically that even though God has every right to leave us to die in eternal dread and torment, He did not do that. He took it upon Himself to send God the Son in order to die for humanity. Those who come to believe that Jesus is who He says He is, and believe in what He accomplished for humanity, will experience the new birth. God will surgically remove our old natures and replace them with His nature.
If that’s the case, then why do Christians still sin? Simply because God has NOT removed our sin nature. We now have a new nature and it is that nature that fights against our sin nature until the day we die, or rather our sin nature fights against the new nature that God grafted into us.
In my understanding, the individual that has this spiritual transplant is given ETERNAL life from that moment and this is verified throughout Romans as just one book. I HAVE eternal life NOW and I will fully enjoy it AFTER this life is over. So in one sense, though I have eternal life NOW, I still LONG for the day when faith will be sight, when I will not even know what it means to be tempted with sin any longer. I am looking for that city not made with hands. The new nature that God placed within me is striving to get to that day!
The individual who believes Jesus Christ can no sooner walk away from Him than He would have been able to sin during His earthly life. It is not possible. The authentic Christian has the following:
- new nature
- the Holy Spirit living within as a guarantee/deposit
- God conforming us to His image
- eternal security because there is nothing that can separate us from God’s love (including our own “will”)
Unlike the people who believe that they may be, or may have been Christians at one time, the difference between them and the authentic Christian is stark. The authentic Christian has the Holy Spirit living within, and has had the old nature eradicated, replaced with the new nature. Because of the ever-present sin nature, even authentic Christians will still sin from time to time.
Though John speaks of the authentic Christian being “done with sin.” Here is the verse: “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God,” (1 John 3:9). At a glance, that SEEMS to be saying that Christians can and SHOULD become sinless, doesn’t it?
We just spoke of the fact that every authentic Christian has a new nature, a nature that is not touched by sin and cannot sin. We also mentioned that every authentic believer still has the sin nature. When I sin, I am sinning in my SIN NATURE. My new nature does not participate with that sinful event, whatever it happened to be.
When I sin, I am deliberately choosing to do something that God does not want me to do. I am choosing to sin, even though the new nature within me does not want to sin, and gives me the ability through God to NOT sin.
John is pointing out that every authentic Christian has this new nature that is SINLESS and sin will never touch it. At every juncture, I have to make the choice of following the dictates of my SIN nature, or submitting myself to God to follow my NEW nature. It is that simple.
This is why some authentic Christians can SEEM as though they have walked away from God, yet we do not know the outcome, do we? The Prodigal Son literally could not get away from his father fast enough. He lived like a pig in spite of the fact that his father was very wealthy! Finally, when he came to his senses, he was humbled. This humility caused him to realize that what he had done to his father was completely disrespectful. Yet his father had treated him more than fairly, doing things he did not have to do, like giving him his inheritance NOW.
This humility caused the young man to go back to his father with the attitude that said “just let me work as a servant because I am not good enough to be your son.” The father had none of that and was overjoyed that his son had returned (cf. Luke 15).
This is exactly why Jesus told us not to judge, because we can only judge from EXTERNALS. We look at someone who says they are Christian and we judged them based on what they do or say. We have NO clue whether or not that individual is truly saved. None whatsoever! We should never judge the condition of a person’s heart (and Jesus was NOT saying that we can never judge SITUATIONS).
An authentic Christian is someone who has had the new birth, the second birth, or the birth from above. This canNOT be undone under any circumstances. Too many people see “christians” walking away from the faith and they say “See? That proves people can lose their salvation.” No, it does NOT prove anything. Do you know for a fact that the individual you see walking away IS an authentic Christian? Do you know for a fact that they are walking away for a time – as the Prodigal Son did – to return later? You have absolutely NO clue at all, yet you stand there, pointing your finger as if you have the ability to read the condition of someone’s heart. Who are you, God?
The ONLY thing that separates authentic Christians from non-Christians (including professing Christians) is the NEW BIRTH. That is it! There are plenty of “tares” within the visible Church today. They are NOT Christians and will NEVER be Christians (because they were sown by Satan). Yet, they can talk like a Christian. They can pray like a Christian. They can sing hymns like a Christian, give money like a Christian, work in a soup kitchen like a Christian and do a million things that Christians do, yet they are NOT, nor will ever BE Christians.
Can you tell who is a tare and who is wheat? I can’t. If you think you can, you are basing it on what you see in another individual NOW.
If someone walks away from Christianity, and NEVER returns, arriving at a point where they now insist that God does not exist, and then ultimately die without ever negating their anti-religious beliefs, then they are most likely a tare, or simply someone who was never saved. They never had the new birth. They never had the Holy Spirit living within them. It never happened at all. In that case, all they walked away from was a lifestyle that to most people looked as if they were in fact an authentic Christian. That’s it. Nothing more. They LOOKED and SOUNDED like a Christian, but it turns out they were not.
What does Jesus say to all the people who say to Him, “Lord, Lord, don’t you remember, I did this and that and the other thing in your Name! How can you tell me that I am not worthy to join you in paradise forever?”
The Lord’s answer is quick and definitive. “Depart from me…I never knew you.” I NEVER KNEW YOU! (Matthew 7:23). Think about that. Jesus is saying that He NEVER knew that person. He knew they existed because He made that person. He knew about their life because He guided it for His purposes. When He says He NEVER knew them, He means that He was NEVER in relationship WITH them. Do you understand the full implications here? Jesus is saying that He NEVER knew them from eternity PAST. He NEVER knew them.
There are plenty of people today who are walking around saying things that sound Christian. They do things that look Christian. They are NOT Christian. Authentic Christians exist among these people. We go to church with them. We sing with them in the choir. We pray with them. We fellowship with them. We BELIEVE they are Christian.
Authentic Christians are those who have:
- the new birth, the birth from above, or have become born again
- the Holy Spirit indwells them as a DEPOSIT GUARANTEEING their inheritance
- God working through the 3rd Person of the Trinity (the Holy Spirit) to conform us to the image of the 2nd Person of the Trinity (God the Son)
- a guarantee that Jesus will NEVER leave or forsake us
- a guarantee that NOTHING will separate us from Him at all
- a working relationship with Jesus Christ, the God of the universe!
The person who has NOT had the new birth have none of the above. They walk around living a Christian lifestyle, but without the reality of the new birth. When they walk away from Christianity, they are merely walking away from a lifestyle that they USED to live, now exchanging it for something else, usually atheism.
While there will be multitudes of authentic believers in heaven (the only kind of believer in heaven), authentic Christians are a true minority down here. In spite of the polls that say 85% believe this or that, the number of actual Christians is far less than that 85%.
There is NO such thing as a person who can be an authentic Christian one day, and an atheist the next. They CAN be a practicing, or professing Christian one day and an atheist the next. That is very possible and it will be THOSE people who are caught up in the great falling away that Paul speaks about (2 Thessalonians 2:3ff).
If you believe that you are a Christian, take the time to double check. If you have not been given the birth from above, you are not an authentic Christian. If you can look back over the last five, or ten years of your life, with the only difference being that you have somehow gotten WORSE, then you are likely not an authentic Christian. Can I know? Can anyone else know? NO, only YOU and God can know. Find out NOW without delay.
Entry filed under: alienology, Atheism and religion, Demonic, dispensationalism, Eastern Mysticism, emergent church, Islam, israel, Judaism, Life in America, new age movement, Posttribulational Rapture, Pretribulational Rapture, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation, Satanism, Sharia Law, temple mount, ufology. Tags: an authentic christian has a new nature, an authentic christian means being in relationship with Jesus, an authentic christian still has a sin nature, authentic christian means being born from above, authentic christians, authentic christians cannot walk away from god, professing christians, professing christians are not authentic christians, the holy spirit guarantees our inheritance.