Sunday we talked about what it means to be a Christian. There are two billion people in the world that call themselves Christians. But with so many different denominations and faith perspectives claiming differing definitions of what a Christian really is, it is really important that we understand what the Bible indicates determines a Christian, and that we coldly proclaim it with clarity.
There is no indication in the New Testament that Jesus was starting a new religion. For the most part, religion is about giving definition to practices and beliefs that describe what is believed to be required by a Deity. But Jesus calls us to a relationship. Jesus calls us to follow Him. A Christian is someone who has committed to following Jesus in a dynamic, growing relationship.
The problem is that many who claim to be Christians are mistaken about what it means to follow Christ. Many think they are Christians simply because they believe that Jesus died and rose again. However, even Satan believes that; though Satan will not surrender to following Him as Lord. Numerous others think they are following Jesus when, in reality, they are following a Jesus of their imagination, or tradition they have inherited. In fact, I would suggest that one cannot truly follow Christ without a Biblical understanding of Who He claimed to be and what He claims about His mission and message.
For instance, surveys indicate that there are a sizable numbers of individuals who claim to be Christians, while maintaining that it is arrogant to suggest that Jesus alone is sufficient and indispensable to one’s salvation. But Jesus Himself claimed, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” (John 14:5–7) Not only did claim to be the exclusive way to be reconciled to the Father; Jesus claimed to be one with the Father. A close reading of the New Testament indicates that Jesus was executed because He claimed to be God. In fact, on more than one occasion, He predicted that He would be killed and then rise again in three days. The evidence that He did exactly that is overwhelming, and His resurrection from the dead verifies and vindicates both His person and His claims.
In other words, while people might claim the name of Jesus, if they (we) are to truly follow Him we must believe His claims and respond before Him accordingly. To say that I am a Christian, but that I believe there are other means by which people can get to Heaven and be reconciled to God is to imply that either Jesus is mistaken or deceptive; or just as tragically, that His death on our behalf was, in fact, unnecessary and wasted (if there is indeed another way).
Jesus calls us to an ongoing relationship of walking with Him in the way in which He leads us. If Jesus is the only way, it is imperative that we understand Who He is and how to discern His voice. We dare not trust our imagination. We must allow Jesus to describe Himself and His path for us, and the only place to find that is in God’s Holy Word.