by Richard Mansel
We often hear when someone dies, He didn’t go to church but he was a good Christian man. Millions consider themselves Christians even though a large percentage have no religious affiliation. Let us consider what a Christian is in light of Scripture.
First, is someone a Christian if they believe God exists? In Genesis 3, Satan speaks of God as alive. Therefore, saying that we simply believe God exists does not make us a Christian, because that would make Satan a Christian.
Second, are we a Christian if we believe God is powerful? In Job 1:10, Satan acknowledges that God controls what happens to man. Satan was there in heaven, saw creation and knows the power of God.
Accordingly, simply believing God is powerful is not enough to make one a Christian because that would make Satan a Christian.
Third, are we a Christian if we read the Bible? In Luke 4:10,11, Satan quotes Psalm 91:11,12. So reading the Bible, in itself, does not make someone a Christian because then Satan would be a Christian.
Fourth, are we a Christian if we believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? James 2:19 says, “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons believe, and shudder” (NASB).
On several occasions demons spoke to Jesus or others affirming their belief in the deity of Christ (Matthew 8:28-31; Luke 4:31-35,40,41; Acts 19:11-17). Therefore, simply believing Jesus is the Son of God does not make someone a Christian because then Satan would be a Christian.
Fifth, are we a Christian if we attend church? Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 11:12-15 that Satan transforms himself into an angel of light while demons transform themselves into ministers of righteousness.
Where would these ministers go to steal the flock away from God? At least part of the time they would be at church with the saints. Accordingly, simply attending church does not make someone a Christian, or Satan would be a Christian.
Sixth, are we a Christian if we do good deeds? When we do good deeds we often have personal motives for doing them. Besides that, we notice Matthew 4:1-11 when Satan tempted Jesus. Satan’s motives were evil, but consider that he was willing to feed Jesus, protect him if he fell and fulfill Jesus’ desires. Consequently, simply doing good deeds does not make us a Christian, or Satan would be a child of God.
All of these things are part of being a Christian. But none of them alone makes a Christian. Instead, we must become a new creature (John 3:3-5), which is accomplished by dying to self and being born again in Christ (Acts 2:38; Romans 6:3,4; Galatians 3:27). When we arise from baptism, we are a Christian through the gift of God.
A Christian will live for God by bearing fruit for his kingdom (James 2:20-26; Revelation 2:10). Scripture requires that we express love for God by bearing fruit in service to God in a variety of ways (cf. John 14:15). When we coddle people by perpetuating the image that anyone who is a good person is heaven-bound, we further Satan’s plans and dilute the cause of Christ.
Serving God is an absolute not subject to the whims, emotions, and reasons of men. We are a Christian by the plan of Christ, not by the changing definitions of men. Let us always stand for that truth.