Many in the world profess to be Christians. However, there are many denominations with widely varying beliefs. If they truly believe all the same thing, then why are there so many? Can they really all be Christian?
The surprising answer is “No!” If there truly is only one God, and if He gave us His Word to follow, then either people are following it or not. Instead, many of these denominations contradict each other, even in areas where they claim are essential beliefs.
It is confusion. However, we are told that God is not the author of confusion (1Co 14:33).
Where can we find the answers, then? Would God really not leave a way to sort through all the darkness that surrounds what He wants?
What Is the Origin?
The dictionary say a Christian is “a person who believes in Jesus Christ; adherent of Christianity.” However, is that really all there is to it? And, what is Christianity, then?
In this postmodern world where even “truth” is open to interpretation, these are vital questions. By making all things relative, including truth itself, there are no absolutes. However, by doing away with absolutes, you also do away with any answers to the problems that plague mankind.
So, why not start with where the word comes from? It’s actually found in the pages of your Bible. The Bible is not popular because it deals in absolutes. Mankind, however, prefers to pick from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which is the rejection of revealed knowledge and choosing to experiment and learn things the hard way. Science is nothing new. Eve performed the very first scientific experiment by doing an action and observing the results. The Bible, however, tells us where we can get knowledge without learning the lessons the hard way. It contains the answers from the maker of humanity, God Almighty.
Therefore, why not look into the Bible and see what it says?
25 Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul:
26 And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.
~ Ac 11:25-26
It should be noted that this most likely wasn’t intended as a compliment! However, the term stuck.
The Greek word christos is where we get the word “Christ”, and it means “anointed”. It is the Greek equivalent of “Messiah”. Christianos means “follower of Christ”. The term “follower” was more significant back then that what we normally think of today. Disciples would literally follow their teacher around learning from him, just like Jesus’ disciples literally followed Him from town to town. They traveled together, ate together and slept together.
Why? To learn! A rabbi was a teacher of religious thought. This wasn’t all that unique to Palestine, either. The Greek philosophers had their own disciples who followed them around as well. They didn’t have printing presses or the Internet. That sum total of human knowledge known as “Wikipedia” didn’t exist. There were no radios or TVs. Therefore, potential disciples would literally travel to the location of the teacher and listen, watch and ask questions. The goal was to imitate the teacher and become like him.
Therefore, it shouldn’t be a big surprise that we are exhorted to be like Christ!
21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
~ 1Pe 2:21
11 Be ye followers of me [Paul], even as I also am of Christ.
~ 1Co 11:1
In short, a Christian must be trying to imitate Jesus Christ! What did Jesus do? He did the will of the Father!
30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.
~ Jn 5:30
Jesus became a human, and so He was totally in the hands of the Father, even as we all are. He not only put His life into the Father’s hand, but His death as well. That’s trust! That’s faith!
We are also told to do the Father’s will.
50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
~ Mt 12:50
That sounds all well and good, but now you should be asking, “How do I know the will of the Father?”
20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
~ Isa 8:20
We are told unapologetically that God gave revealed knowledge to mankind through His Law and the written record He inspired to be written down. We are told that anyone who does not follow this word is not of the light.
105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
~ Ps 119:105
When people travel in the dark, they usually take along a torch (a term the English still use even for a flashlight) or some type of lamp. If they do not, they may stumble and fall. They may wander off the path into the woods and get lost. They may come across wild animals and not be able to scare them off. Light is a protection against all these things.
17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
~ Jn 17:17
When Jesus prayed this prayer, the only written words were those of the Old Testament Scriptures! Jesus, over and over again, affirmed the words of the Hebrew Scriptures.
44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
~ Lk 24:44
This covers the entirety of the Scriptures written up until that time. The Jews had three divisions for the Scriptures: The Law, the Prophets and the Writings.
15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
~ 2Pe 3:15-16
Here, Peter is equating Paul’s writings with Scripture! When the first generation began dying off, it became obvious that Jesus wasn’t going to return in their lifetimes, so they began to take measures to ensure that pertinent writings were preserved.
11 Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.
12 And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus.
13 The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.
~ 2Ti 4:11-13
Paul and Peter were obviously working together as much as possible to establish what became the New Testament.
Traditions or Commandments?
People today often claim they are obeying God when in actuality they are following manmade traditions.
The Bible extols the righteous person. Abraham and Noah in particular were held up as righteous. “Righteous” just refers to someone who is right. And Who gets to decide what is right and what is wrong? Us?
25 And if we are careful to obey all this law before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.”
~ Dt 6:25
172 May my tongue sing of your word,
for all your commands are righteous.
~ Ps 119:172
God gets to decide! If we follow His commands, that makes us righteous. Our traditions do not. However, we have all fallen short of this ideal, haven’t we? We will get to that in moment, as we first must figure out what the goal is before we can figure out how to get there.
6 These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, 2 so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. 3 Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you.
~ Dt 6:1-3 (NIV)
Notice! God wants us to keep the commandments for our own good.
32 So be careful to do what the Lord your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. 33 Walk in obedience to all that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.
~ Dt 5:32-33 (NIV)
We cannot change God’s Law! It isn’t up to us when to worship or how to worship.
2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.
~ Dt 4:2
God’s Law is God’s Law! It isn’t ours to change at will. When God says to keep the seventh day Sabbath, we are to keep the seventh day Sabbath – not some arbitrary day set by men!
18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
~ Rev 21:18-19
Jesus likewise gave a warning about those who profess His name but do iniquity – live a life that continues to break God’s Law.
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven,but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?’ 23 Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!’
~ Mt 7:21-23 (HCSB)
In spite of doing many great things, the people in this parable still did not make it into the Kingdom! They were lawbreakers!
Jesus confronted the Pharisees on many occasions, but it seems that most misinterpret what the confrontations were about. Some confrontations were over His claims to be the very Son of God, thus making Himself as equal as God. John lists several “I am” statements that make it clear that Jesus considered Himself the God of the Old Testament! They even picked up stones to stone Him.
52 Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death.
53 Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself?
54 Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God:
55 Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying.
56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?
58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.
59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.
~ Jn 8:52-59
His meaning was clear. He claimed to not just be there when Abraham was alive (“Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?”), but He claimed to be the “I AM” of the Old Testament!
14 And God said unto Moses, I AM That I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.
~ Ex 3:14
This “I AM” was the Hebrew YHWH, sometimes rendered “Jehovah” or “LORD” in our Bibles. It was God’s covenant name with ancient Israel. It is the Tetragrammaton, “The Name” or other devices to avoid saying it, as the Jews were so afraid of breaking the third commandment that they avoided saying it altogether. Eventually, no one knew how to pronounce it, as no one had in so long.
However, that wasn’t the only thing that offended the Pharisees.
6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.
7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.
9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.
~ Mk 7:6-9
The Pharisees’ main problem was that they were self-righteous. We need to keep in mind that righteousness was their goal! For that, they are to be commended rather than condemned. However, they made up their own rules, some of which directly violated Scripture in spirit if not in word!
To make matters worse, they criticized anyone who broke their rules as though they had broken God’s Law. The clash with Jesus was inevitable.
Furthermore, many of the things Jesus taught were shocking to that generation due to their lack of understanding of the intent of the Law. However, Jesus was the perfect One to teach them! As the I AM of the OT, He was the One Who gave it! He understood it perfectly, as it was His Law as much as it was the Law of the Father.
The Pharisees put their faith in their own traditions rather than the words of Scripture. Unfortunately, many do that today. They believe in God, but they don’t believe God! Similarly, many believe in Jesus, but they don’t believe Jesus!
What Type of Belief?
31 And many of the people believed on him, and said, When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done?
~ Jn 7:31
Throughout Jesus’ ministry, people believed “on” Him or even sometimes “in” Him. However, most did not believe Him. In fact, the vast majority did not understand Him. However, even those that did often did not believe what He said.
21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.
22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.
23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.
~ Mt 16:21-23
Even His own disciples often were too hardened against what He said. Even after telling them many times that He must go to Jerusalem and die, they didn’t believe it until it actually happen.
How many “Christians” today believe in Jesus but don’t believe what He actually said?
19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
~ Jas 2:19
According to James, belief that does not lead to works of righteousness is not faith!
6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
~ Heb 11:6 (NKJV)
It isn’t enough to just believe that “He is”, that He exists, but must also have faith that He will reward the righteous. However, it isn’t self-righteousness that will be rewarded, but keeping God’s Laws.
Who Was Jesus?
If we are to be followers of Jesus, then it stands to reason we need to understand who He was!
6 But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says:
“Let all the angels of God worship Him.”
~ Heb 1:6 (NKJV)
As already stated, Jesus was the One Who gave the Law in the OT. We see the writer of Hebrews stating that angels are to worship Jesus. Only God can be worshipped! Anything else is idolatry.
33 Then those in the boat worshiped Him and said, “Truly You are the Son of God!”
~ Mt 14:33 (HCSB)
Jesus allowed people to worship Him even before His death. He did not “become” God by His death and resurrection because He was already God that came in the flesh!
1 In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
2 He was with God in the beginning.
3 All things were created through Him,
and apart from Him not one thing was created
that has been created.
~ Jn 1:1-3 (HCSB)
John identifies a Being called “the Word”, the Logos. We see in Genesis that God spoke. Speaking is creating words, and God’s words created, made things happen. Here we see that “all things”, that is the universe, was created through the Word.
Who was this Word?
14 The Word became flesh
and took up residence among us.
We observed His glory,
the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father,
full of grace and truth.
~ v 14
The Word became flesh and was called the Son of God! The reference is obvious to anyone who has not closed their minds with futile lies! The Word was not Michael the Archangel, nor was He just some good human. No, He was the Son of God!
13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples,“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15 “But you,” He asked them, “who do you say that I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!”
17 And Jesus responded, “Simon son of Jonah, you are blessed because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth is already bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth is already loosed in heaven.”
20 And He gave the disciples orders to tell no one that He was the Messiah.
~ Mt 16:13-20 (HCSB)
In His exchanges with the Pharisees, the Pharisees were often indignant because He claimed the ability to forgive sin, something that only God could do.
2 And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.
3 And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth.
4 And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?
5 For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk?
6 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.
7 And he arose, and departed to his house.
~ Mt 9:2-7
They also became incensed because Jesus called God “Father”, and not in just a generic sense, either.
18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.
~ Jn 5:18
When they accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath, He always pushed back at the hardness of their hearts. However, when they were angry at Him for calling God His Father, He verified that that was exactly what He meant, and He claimed that God the Father gave the Son all these powers and abilities that are only attributable to God.
19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.
20 For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.
21 For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.
22 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:
23 That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.
~ vv 19-23
No matter how you slice it and dice it, Jesus was God in the flesh.
If anyone denies that Jesus was sent from God to come in the flesh, that person is not a Christian.
2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
~ 1Jn 4:2-3
Jesus came from God the Father because, as we saw in John 1:1, He was with God as God.
5 Now, Father, glorify Me in Your presence
with that glory I had with You
before the world existed.
~ Jn 17:5 (HCSB)
Can God Die?
The belief that Jesus was God might seem contradictory to Christ dying. To be honest, since life itself is still quite a mystery to human beings, explaining the mechanics of how any spirit can die is beyond our capability.
However, that does not mean we cannot accept some very basic truths. First and foremost, God is still God, and since He created everything, what can He not do? To say that God cannot die, as long as He is willing, is trying to fit Him into a box of our own making.
And, Jesus made it clear that He was willing.
11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.
~ Jn 10:11, 15
It should be clear from these verses that Jesus willingly gave His life. However, we now come to what might at first appear to be a contradiction:
17 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.
18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.
~ Jn 10:17-18
However, how did He have such power? In what way does a dead man have any power? Also, doesn’t this contradict Philippians 2:7?
7 But he emptied himself
by taking the form of a slave
and by becoming like human beings.
When he found himself in the form of a human,
~ Php 2:7 (CEB)
If He emptied Himself, then He was as human as you or I. So, how was it even possible for Him to have the power to raise Himself up? First, just how did He “empty” Himself?
8 he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
~ v 8
At minimum, it should be obvious that He had given up His spiritual composition and became flesh and blood. In so doing, He became susceptible to tiredness, hunger, cold, sickness and even death itself. He gave up His inherent divine powers.
He Was Raised!
So, then how could He have had power to raise Himself? What does that mean?
18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.This charge I have received from my Father.”
~ Jn 10:18 (ESV)
Other translations use either “authority” or “right” in most cases. That explains a lot of things, when you think about it. Jesus might have been flesh and blood, but He was still the same mind, the same character and in reality the same authority! That’s why demons had no choice but to obey, as He was still God, albeit flesh and blood.
Strictly speaking, it also meant a dependence Jesus upon the Father that was not previously required. It required a dependence upon the Holy Spirit to guide Him away from temptation. However, this would have been natural for Him, as He and the Father were already so close since before time itself that He already would have been practiced at submitting all things to the Father.
23 Though He was delivered up according to God’s determined plan and foreknowledge, you used lawless people to nail Him to a cross and kill Him.24 God raised Him up, ending the pains of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it.
~ Ac 2:23-24 (HCSB)
Notice the Father raised Jesus from the dead (cf Ac 3:15). God the Father decreed it, therefore death could not have a hold on Jesus.
If there was no other Person in the Godhead, then the Giver of all Life was dead and all hope was at an end!If there was no FATHER in heaven while Jesus Christ lay dead – His blood in which resided His LIFE shed from His veins, given for you and for me – then all life everywhere had come to an end! But the Father still reigned in high Heaven! And the FATHER had LIFE INHERENT IN HIMSELF!
Life can come only from life! And Christ Jesus was now DEAD! His life had gone from him – poured out on Calvary’s Cross – poured out from His veins! That’s where His life resided – in His BLOOD, not in spirit! He did not shed a spirit to save us from our sins – He shed His BLOOD, and in so doing GAVE HIS LIFE. But, “as the Father hath life in Himself; so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself” (John 5:26). God the father raised Jesus from the dead!
~ Herbert W Armstrong, “Was JESUS Dead?”, circa 1955
The resurrection of Jesus proves the falsehood of the trinity doctrine. If God were somehow three people mushed into one being, then by one dying, there would be no one left alive!
Jesus’ Resurrection Provides Hope
Not only does it point out the silliness of the trinity doctrine, but His resurrection gives great hope.
13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:
14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.
18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.
~ 1Co 15:13-18
Notice that the Father also plays a role in our own resurrection:
11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
~ Ro 8:11
We will be changed into spirit, even as Jesus was! We will be given a new spirit body to replace this one of flesh and blood.
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
~ 1Co 15:53-54
We will receive glory, even as Jesus had.
2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
~ 1Jn 3:2
This truly is what “born again” means in all its fullness!
There Is No Middle Ground, and No Other Way
There is no middle ground. If Jesus was not God, then He was a fraud and not worthy of being followed. He could not have simply been a good man or a moral teacher. Good men and moral teachers do not lie. As CS Lewis argued, He was either “Lunatic, Liar or Lord.” The first two are not men worthy of being followed, let alone worshiped.
That isn’t the only thing that is black and white, however. Jesus claimed that He was the only way by which mankind could be saved.
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
~ Jn 14:6 (NIV)
The postmodern notion of many ways to God is simply not biblical. There is no other way. It’s important to realize that Jesus died for you and for me. He died to pay the penalty for our sins.
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
~ Ro 3:23
All of us have sinned, from Adam to the newborn just born a few moments ago. Only Jesus, God in the flesh, was able to remain sinless His entire life. He grants us freedom from the slavery of sin.
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
~ Ro 6:23
He showed us how it is done. He submitted entirely to the Father, and the power of the Holy Spirit enables us grow spiritually and overcome.
How Do We Receive the Holy Spirit?
Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to His followers.
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commands; 16 and I will ask the Father, and he will give you another comforting Counselor like me, the Spirit of Truth, to be with you forever. 17 The world cannot receive him, because it neither sees nor knows him. You know him, because he is staying with you and will be united with you. 18 I will not leave you orphans — I am coming to you.
~ Jn 14:15-18 (CJB)
The Holy Spirit is personified as a “Counselor” in that passage. It is parakletos in Greek, which is a legal counsel. It is one who pleads a cause for a person.
5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
~ Ac 1:5, 8 (HCSB)
So, on Pentecost, the Holy Spirit fell upon the disciples. Peter gives a sermon attesting to Jesus being the prophesied Messiah.
37 When they heard this, they came under deep conviction and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles: “Brothers, what must we do?”
38 “Repent,” Peter said to them, “and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
~ Ac 2:37-38 (HCSB)
A Real Christian
It is obvious that in order to become a real Christian, you must recognize Who the Messiah is, recognize your part in His death which paid for your sins, repent, be baptized and receive the Holy Spirit (we see from other Scriptures that this is done through a ceremony where hands are laid upon the convert).
That’s the bare minimum.
Perhaps you’ve seen those stations that have you say a fifteen second prayer and declare, “If you’ve said this prayer, then I believe you are saved!” Unfortunately, that’s yet another example of those who believe in Jesus, but they do not believe Jesus!
So, to recap, a true Christian believes:
- In God, and believes God is faithful to keep His promises to reward those who truly seek Him out.
- The Godhead consists of two Beings: God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son.
- That Jesus was God, the Word or Spokesman, who came in the flesh to die for our sins.
- That we have all sinned and need forgiveness of sin as offered through Jesus’ sacrifice.
- Jesus became human, and He actually died. He emptied Himself of His power by becoming truly flesh and blood.
- Jesus was raised up by the Father, giving us hope for our own resurrection in a body that will not age or know suffering.
- That the path of salvation is to repent, be baptized and have hands laid upon you to receive the Holy Spirit.
- That a true follower of Jesus doesn’t just believe on or in Jesus, but believes Jesus!
- That Jesus requires obedience and not just lip service. Since He was the Word, Who spoke and gave the Law in the OT, His death does not do away with the Law but makes it clear that our sins mean we played a part in His death.
- That we will be given the power to overcome our rebellion and sin through the Holy Spirit.
Why So Much Confusion?
Adam and Eve were swayed by the words of a serpent. To be fair, this probably wasn’t a little garter snake. “Serpent” in Hebrew can mean a large shiny creature as well. This being talked Eve into taking that which didn’t belong to her, in direct disobedience to God’s clear command.
9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
~ Rev 12:9
Satan does not just deceive one or two people. He has deceived the entire planet. No wonder this world is called a world held hostage!
Jesus said His Church is a “little flock” (Lk 12:32). He never claimed it would be a large megachurch. He never promised one-third of the world would be Christian.
The fact is that His real flock would be a small minority.
44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
~ Jn 6:44
The truth is, God isn’t trying to save everyone now. That’s also something most people don’t want to believe. Because they don’t believe their own Bibles, they don’t realize that this isn’t the only day of salvation. In part, they don’t know this because they also do not believe enough to actually obey. By keeping God’s holy days, His plan becomes clearer. However, people generally keep traditions that obfuscate God’s plan. In addition, most of those traditions are in themselves forbidden by God.
I urge you to read the articles on the Plan of God to read how God, the Real God, is loving, merciful and will ensure that everyone who wishes to be with Him forever will have a chance to do just that.
Those called in this age will play a part in this plan. God is preparing a few now to rule and teach when Christ returns. They will also rule and teach when the vast majority of mankind are raised from the grave and given open eyes and open ears.
When Satan is put away from the earth, he will not be able to deceive the nations, and Christ will rule the world in justice and righteousness.
You may also be interested in:
The Church of God Perspective Wiki
Have Christians As a Whole Left Behind the Teachings of Christ?