What does it mean to be a Christian?

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…And there was evening and there was morning – the first day…God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning – the sixth day.
(Genesis 1: 1,5,31)

Is it a name that makes a person or group “Christian”? My parents named me “Christine”. I have looked up the meaning of my name in the baby name books and the definition reads, “Follower of Christ”. What an honor! I don’t know if mom and dad knew the meaning of my name when they gave it to me, or if they just liked it.

For me the name fits perfectly. Although I am a sinful human, and there are times when I don’t live up to my name, I am a follower of Christ. I also know that many people share the same name as I, and that they are not all Christians. This tells me that my name, although it has meaning for me and I am proud to bear it, is not what makes me a Christian.

I am fortunate in that I was born into the WELS (Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod). My Great Grandfather and Great Grandmother came from Altenweddigen, Germany on a ship named “Elbe” in September of 1882. They arrived in New York, were taken by train to Bay City, Michigan and from there by boat (so it would seem from the information I have) to Tawas City, Michigan which is where I lived until age 10. My Great Grandfather, Emil Buch was a strong Lutheran. I thank God everyday for that. I have been taught the truth from the beginning. Many people have not been as fortunate.

So just what does it mean to be a Christian? Does it mean I have to be Lutheran to be saved? The answer to that of course is “no”. I am very thankful to have been born into the WELS, but I realize that it doesn’t give me my ticket to heaven and that other church bodies teach God’s truth also.

For me, being a Christian means that Jesus Christ is my personal Savior from sin. Because of His perfect life and innocent death on the cross I and all people have been forgiven for every sin we have ever commited, even those which we are not aware of. Through His resurrection from the dead on Easter Sunday, He conquered death so that all believers have the promise of eternal life in the mansions He has prepared for us in heaven. Jesus tells us in John 3:16, For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life. This is the heart and soul of the Gospel.

So does that mean I can knowingly pick and choose what else I want to believe from the Bible?  Does that mean that as long as I believe John 3:16 I am good to go? John 3:16 is a promise of God made to all people and he does not break his promises. But do I truly believe this promise if I doubt other promises and truths from God’s word? Do I truly have faith or have I rejected it for the sake of my own human reason?

The seriousness of this issue was brought home to me a few months ago in a conversation with a  friend. This friend, a person I have looked up to as a strong Christian, admitted to me that he does not believe God created the universe in six days. He believes that God made all things, but that we evolved over time. He pointed out to me that he is firm in this belief and that there is no point in trying to change his mind set. He also stated to me that he believes all he needs to believe for his eternal salvation.

This was devastating to me. In my naive mind I thought all people who professed Christianity believed in six day creation. If a person believes that Jesus rose from the dead on Easter Sunday, why would it be difficult for him to believe that the Triune God created our universe in six days? If one believes all the other miracles told in the Bible why would it be so hard to believe the story of Creation? What God teaches us about Creation is clearly written so that a child can easily understand it.

Then I began to wonder, “What other things from God’s word does he not believe as it is written?” Does he truly have faith? Only God knows the answer to these questions, but The Apostle Paul tells us in Hebrews 10:26, If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God, and in verse 31, It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. I know from His word that our God is a loving and forgiving God, but He is also a just God. The “truth” is there in the Word for all to see.

I believe that the Bible in it’s entirety is the true and inspired word of God. In Genesis Chapter 1, God tells us how He created the world. After each day He tells us, “And there was evening and there was morning…the first day…the second day… the third day etc. all the way through the sixth day. That sounds like a 24 hour day to me.

I rejoice that I am saved by grace through faith, (Ephesians 2:8,9) and I thank God for my Christian/Lutheran heritage and for the faith He has given me through his word (The Holy Bible) and sacraments (Baptism & Holy Communion). In John 17:17 Jesus, as He is praying for his disciples, asks the Father to; Sanctify them [make them Holy] by the truth; your word [The Bible] is truth”.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for  and certain of what we do not see…By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. (Hebrews 11:1,3)

If you have questions, fears or concerns after reading this article please feel free to email me at grandmapoz@yahoo.com.

By Kristeen – To God be the Glory!

2 thoughts on “What does it mean to be a Christian?

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