What does it mean to be a Christian

This article was originally “Experience Christ again for the First Time”

First shared with a small bible school. Now revised.
Verse List

What does it mean to be a Christian?

Do you simply just “Accept Jesus in to your heart”?
Do you accept Christ and then live a life worthy of Him?
Is it by trying to follow Him?
Is it confessing your sin so that you can get forgiveness?
Is it some combination?
What does it really mean to be a Christian?

In my studies, I believe God revealed to me the mere beginning of what
it means to be a Christian.

It’s sad but I believe that most Christians have been subtlety duped by another gospel.
When most Christians state there beliefs in theory, they usually can agree on the
central precepts of Christianity. However the atmosphere of self righteousness, dead
works and unrighteous judgement reveals that what we believe in theory isn’t necessarily
what we believe in our hearts.

I know that God has begun a process in me to free me from my misconceptions about Him.
From what I have seen among my friends, in local congregations and assorted ministries
it seems that most Christians are mislead. On a personal level it bothers me. It
probably bothers me too much and starts to become my own form of self-righteous judgement.
It seems odd that much of the preaching and teaching that occurs puts people in bondage
as much as it leads them to freedom in Christ.

If you take a good 15/20 minutes and read through the first
handful of chapters in Romans, you’ll figure it out.
To be a Christian means to put your faith in Christ.
Read through the whole New Testament, you’ll see it absolutely

Faith and grace are Paul’s manifesto. Jesus said ‘believe in me’
so many times, it’s almost like a broken record.

Faith is mentioned 219 times in the New Testament, Believe 114,
Accept Christ 0.

So its faith then. Now let me define the faith the scripture talks about.
It is faith in Christ, the person. It is
a faith that draws our heart to Him so that we become dependant on His grace,
His Love, and His power. It is a belief that stems not just from your head
but from your heart as well.

(Added Feb 2000: My point here does seem a little strong. To say
that to be a Christian means to put your faith Christ is over simplified.
There is a whole bible written to describe and guide us through our relationship
with Christ)

Rom 10:10a
“for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness,”

Faith in Christ is not faith in principles, even spiritual principles. Even
biblical principles. One of the most common misconceptions is that believing in the
moral teachings of the bible is faith in God. It isn’t.
I’m not saying you can’t trust the accuracy and truth of God’s word. You should,
but you can’t live your life by mere principles. There is no power in rules. Ultimately
when you do this your faith lies not in Christ or in that word, but in your own ability to apply
truth in your life. You strive in the flesh, and ultimately fail.

This is what most Christians do. People “accept” Christ and try to live a good moral
life by following all the commandments in scripture. Unfortunately righteousness ceases
to be what we’ve received through the cross of Christ and becomes don’t swear, don’t
drink, don’t lie, don’t steal, don’t have sex before your married, work hard, pray,
read your bible, go to church, and be good. Once your married, educated and have a good
job, you can serve the Lord by ushering, or teaching in Sunday school. You have kids,
you retire and die.

This is where we really get messed up it doesn’t work. There is no power in this life.
It carries a form of godliness but lacks the power. Many of us, with a genuine desire
to be good, find our selves failing time
and again. The reason why is also found in the scriptures. John 8:34 and few
other verses in Romans tell us we are in bondage to sin. We are slaves to it.
And it doesn’t matter how willing we are to fight it, we can’t.

We are so focused on what we are doing instead of who we are.
We run about, I have to do this, I have to stop doing that, what does the
Lord want me to do? We get nothing but a cycle of guilt, depression,
effort, and again more failure.

If you really want to know what Jesus wants you to “do”
I’ll tell the two “Commandments” that Jesus has given us.

IJohn 3:23 ΒΆ And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of
his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.

I hate the word Commandment, because implies Law, and the Law has been set
aside as we walk by faith. But the word is used, and is used well to illustrate
the point that first and foremost you need to truly believe in God.

It is through faith we are united with Christ on the cross. We can give our very
nature over to Christ so that our flesh is crucified with Christ. Our bondage
is broken. We can live a life of the Spirit rather than the flesh.

If we hand our lives over to Christ in faith, we are changed by the power of
His grace. It is by Christ’s power our way of thinking, what we do, and say
and everything about us is changed. The doing, is taken care of, as well as
the being.

If this doesn’t make any sense to you. If you believe that faith in Christ is doing
the right things then you probably don’t know Him. You need to set yourself
on a quest to know Him more.

2Cor 13:5
Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not
recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you–unless you indeed fail

Is Jesus Christ in you. Has your Faith allowed Christ to fill you, and change you,
and make you in to a new person. If not, set yourself on a course to find God.
Read the word. For me, Paul’s letters were particularly good for laying out the
truth of salvation, and Christianity.

Come to the word without your blinders on. Many read the word of God because they
feel they are supposed to. And when they do, they see nothing but a big long list
of dos and don’ts. The bible is our guidebook for experiencing God, and gives
structure to our belief system. It isn’t another Law.

The more I read the word, the more I realized there are years and years of junk
that people have put on upon the word of God. People have literally twisted it
with there own little agendas and pet theories, with legalism, and humanism, and
feminism, and any other ism you can think of. It is one of the greatest evils
of the world, to twist the gospel of God for carnal ends.

You are going to have to let God out of your box for Him. Once you start reading
the word without your blinders on your going to discover a lot, that will
challenge many of your misconceptions.

Most of what you learn about God is caught, not taught. Regardless of how
well a preacher might hold to the gospel, if your fellowship is legalistic
your thinking will be legalistic. You just might find that most of your
beliefs stem from your experience, rather than the word of God.

To me, reading the word of God is like flossing my teeth. It might seem
gross to you, but I really like to get at those big clumps of gunk.
In the same way I like to let the word clean out my misconceptions, by
errs. After 10 years of “Christianity” there is lots to get rid of. It
is my joy now to discover how I’ve been wrong. I tell you, the truth
does set you free.

I used to have my agenda. I had a serious
axe to grind with the church. (The axe does pop up once in a while).
My agenda was to convince people that
being conservative wasn’t anywhere near to God as being charismatic,
that people should start to pray, that we should have a big revival,
and that the church structure should all change, and we should
adopt a New Testament style of ministry, etc… If God was in complete
control, some of that stuff might just happen. But its God’s job
to change people, and my job is to point people to Him and His word.

Now I say, look at the word of God, and read it for yourselves.
Let the Holy Ghost teach you. Give your lives to Jesus and let
Him take you. Abide in his grace, in his love, and his power.

Experience Him again, for the First Time.
Now, I’d really like to say that Jesus loves you. He really
really does love you. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, or
what your doing. It doesn’t matter whether
you went to far with your boyfriend or girlfriend, or whether
your addicted to porn, or whether you steal, or swear, or you
abused somebody. Nothing can separate you from the love of Christ.
You don’t have to become good before God accepts you. Everybody was
bad to the core, from the day they were born.

Many Christians have common life stories. They often say things
like the following. “I grew up in a Christian home, and I never
really went through the rebellion stage. I didn’t really do anything bad.”
They view there lives by the church’s standard of righteousness instead
of Gods standard of righteousness.

If you are descended from Adam, which we all are, you were born in sin.
You were born a slave to it. We are painted a picture that if you
don’t do certain things like drink, smoke and swear, then your good, and
if you do them your bad. Wrong. You are bad from day 1. The only
thing that makes you good is Christ. Whatever is not from faith is sin.

You don’t need to put a few days between your
are your sin before you can talk to God again. Realize this, that
everyone is bad, and the only way to righteousness is faith. Abraham
believed and it was counted to him as righteousness. The only way
to become righteous is faith.

Ok, let me sum up some of my main points. You may have some very
serious misconceptions about what it means to be a Christian.
Go to the word of God, without your blinders, and without your
agenda, let the Holy Spirit, guide you to the truth. Faith
in Christ, not faith in principles, is our first step in knowing
God. Righteousness comes to us through faith, and it is not
our goal to change our behavior, but to let God change us.

What I write here is some truths that have truly changed my life
for the better. They have opened me up to experiencing God in many
wonderful ways. Don’t take my word for it though. Go to the
scriptures yourselves. You will find out where I am
in error. Where I have misjudged or promoted misconceptions.
It is my sincere hope that what I write does bless people, and
the Spirit does use it and that it is His purposes that are
being served. That doesn’t mean it is perfect. Keep going back
to the word and the Spirit.

Leighton Tebay

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