There are many in the world today who profess to be Christians; Some even claim to be so while dismissing just about everything written in the Bible. Others who regularly violate the commandments of God insist that they too are followers of Jesus Christ. Since anyone can claim to be a Christian how are we to distinguish between those who are truly God's children and those who simply claim to be His. How do we separate the real Christians from those who are self deluded, lying, or perhaps misinformed about the subject? This places us in a very peculiar spot because only a real Christian would or could give us the truth of the matter; yet how is it possible to know for certain when we have found one? Jesus himself warns us,

Many shall come in my name, saying,
I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

How does God expect us to know the difference? To find the truth we have no recourse but to look to God's Word to see what He says on the matter. This is the only way that we can assure ourselves that we are not being deceived.

First of all let's find out how the word "Christian" came to be and what the word signifies. In the book of Acts we are told the origin of the word. It says in Acts 11:26b, "And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch." The term disciple; means a follower, a devotee, one who holds to the teachings of a master. So the word "Christian" according to its use in the New Testament means a committed follower who holds steadfastly to the doctrine taught by Jesus Christ. Lets go on and examine what Jesus says about how we become His disciples. In God's word it says, "Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his."(Rom.8:9b) So unless we have received the Spirit of Jesus we do not belong to Him. Jesus, in another place says, "Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." So a person must be born again and receive the Spirit of God to become God's own as opposed to - remaining a child of darkness. Let's examine what the Bible says about this essential step called "born again."

The subject is discussed in depth in the first three chapters of the book of John. I am going to list verses dealing with this subject and underline certain key passages that help to define exactly what Jesus meant by the term "born again."

"He was in the world , and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
(John 1: 10-13)

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water,and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh: and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
(John 3: 5-6)

So far we have learned that to be "born again" one must believe in Jesus and receive Him in order to be spiritually born of God. Notice that Jesus says that you CANNOT enter into the kingdom of God without being born of the Spirit of God. It would be rather pointless and foolhardy to be a "Christian" only to land in Hell. Leaving out this absolutely essential step means that you will not be permitted entry into the kingdom of God. Imagine traveling a great distance to participate in a very special event only to have the door closed in your face because your name was never entered into the guest list. Millions of "professing Christians"down through the centuries have landed in Hell because they obviously didn't believe Jesus the very one they claimed to be following. They chose instead to believe in what others were saying instead of what Jesus said. They chose to believe a lie and so were damned having never known Jesus at all.

There is a big difference between knowing about someone and actually having a personal relationship with that person. Imagine for example you were a fan of a famous celebrity. You have carefully studied their life story, you travel extensively to watch them perform, and your home is filled with pictures and articles honoring them. Then one day while passing by his or her residence you approach the front door and ask to be granted entrance. Imagine now being told to leave because the owner does not know you.

Jesus explains what happens when men try to be Christians apart from the "new birth."

No man seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filleth it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse. And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.

In both illustrations the Lord Jesus tells us that trying to be Christian without being born again results in actually making matters worse. So you have to start with a new garment and you must become a new bottle. Now obviously only a miracle from God can accomplish this. When we realize our utter hopelessness apart from God we can then cry out to Him trusting in Jesus to cleanse us and change us by transforming us by His Spirit. Now that is simple isn't it? Man however in his pride thinks that God should accept him on the basis of his own works and efforts to transform himself so as to be acceptable to God. The problem there is the fact that God is Holy and he will not accept into His kingdom anyone who is less than Holy. To qualify a person would have to live a perfect life without sinning even once. That includes your thoughts as Jesus explained when He revealed that what goes on in your heart constitutes sin when such opposes God's ways. Oh! oh! I guess you know what that means don't you! According to God's perfect standards we are all headed for Hell!!!.

Unless of course He Himself were to live the perfect life for us and provide a way to remove the ugly stains of evil from us. The (Gospel) good news is that God did just that. God came down unto us as Jesus the Son of God and lived the perfect life then took our sins upon Himself shedding His Holy Blood to cleanse us from all evil so He could bring us into His eternal kingdom that was prepared for all those who would place their trust in Him. Only a Holy God would do such a thing. The Holy Bible tells us that death entered into the world when man first turned away from God to practice evil. Jesus however having never sinned was not himself subject to death and therefore didn't have to die. When He died upon the cross he died for us in our place on our behalf to restore us unto God. He vanquished death itself for all who truly believe in Him. Those who trust in Jesus will be raised from the grave and given bodies that are no longer subject to death or corruption. Those who have turned down God's plea to turn to Him will share the Devil's fate to be eternally tormented in the Lake of Fire. To reject God's salvation through Jesus is to condemn yourself to be eternally tormented as an accomplice of Satan. That is the punishment that God has reserved for all who refuse to acknowledge His absolute authority as Creator.

Wait; what about all those men who think you can be a Christian without being born again? There are thousands who teach that you only have to; try your best to be good, attend a church, say nice things about Jesus, sing some hymns, follow the prescribed rituals, and oh yes, don't forget to leave money in the plate.

Are you sure you want to follow a "Christian" who doesn't believe Jesus?

Since he left out something that Jesus said; you cannot do without he can't possibly be headed in the right direction regardless of his credentials. The religious leaders that opposed Jesus had all the proper papers to preach so why is it they instead of following Him plotted to get rid of Him? Must be that they just didn't like God's way of doing things. Could it be that they were jealous? Perhaps they decided He wasn't their kind of guy because He called them hypocrites? What would you call a religious leader who taught a "false gospel" that resulted in his followers being eternally damned? Hypocrite sounds like an appropriate word; because if by trusting in him they land in Hell having expected to be accepted into Heaven then he has committed against them the most horrific form of fraud imaginable.

But lets not be hasty; let's check to make sure that we haven't used the word incorrectly. The word "hypocrite" comes from the Greek word "Hupokrisis" which means acting under a feigned part. So a hypocrite is an actor pretending to be something he is not. So a man who claims to be a follower of Jesus but refuses to accept God's only way of becoming one must be a pretender and thus a hypocrite.

What do you think would happen to these men and their prestigious positions, their fine homes, fancy cars, and fat wallets, if their congregations realized that they were actually leading them towards Hell? Now wait! How is it possible for men who have committed themselves to teach about Jesus and promote moral standards derived from God's Word to actually be, in 'reality', false shepherds misleading the people? ( Because as stated above they themselves left out an essential requirement in becoming a child of God.) The Bible reveals that even in the early days of the Church many men attempted to transform themselves into the servants of Christ something which is utterly foolish because only God Himself can choose and appoint His ministers. These sobering words are found in 2 Cor. 11:13-15.

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

Because of their love of man's praise it seems unlikely that they would admit to the truth, unless of course they were to realize the seriousness of their situation and turn to God for forgiveness, in accepting Jesus as their Savior. "What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world but lose his own soul." Many well known religious leaders, having found a true relationship with God renounced the vain traditional path they once promoted to preach the true Gospel. Their testimonies reveal that they prior to their acceptance of Jesus were trusting in religious works and the traditions of their fathers. They, never having had an understanding of the truth; while perhaps being sincere, were nevertheless simply 'blind men' leading the blind.

Man, apart from God's Holy Spirit is 'dead' spiritually and so has no real strength to effectively oppose Satan nor has he any true understanding of spiritual matters. (Romans 8: 5-8) "For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God." Until a man is "born again" of the Spirit of God his mind is held captive to Satan. (Held in abject bondage under the insidious influence of thousands of years of accumulated lies.) His spirit because of sin is dead; held in captivity, to selfishness and rebellion against God. By his very nature he is guilty of the same crime as Satan and as such justice demands that he share in Satan's fate. To overthrow Satan's rule in a man's life man must first be reconciled to God. " Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life, no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." To try any other way is to call God's Son a liar therefore insuring that you remain under Satan's power. To attempt to be a "Christian" having never truly accepted Jesus according to Jesus' own directives means that Satan is still running your life and will use you as a counterfeit to oppose the true Gospel.

Churches made up of those who are not born again and not holding to the truth of God's Word to obey it are in God's eyes simply dangerous cults regardless of how large they may be, regardless of how majestic and dazzling their presentations, regardless of how long they have been around; regardless of how holy or spiritually powerful they appear to be, and regardless of the sincerity of those so involved. (Proverbs 16:25) "There is a way that seemeth right unto a man; but the end thereof are the ways of death." Now contrast that with, "He that believeth in me shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death into life."

It is my prayer that everyone that reads this will stop and set aside every other concern he or she may have. {IE. - What will others think. - Material and monetary issues.- Concern over temporary earthly positions.} Now see yourself standing all alone before God and consider that He in His love is holding out His hand to you. Will you acknowledge the desperation of your situation and like the lost wretch you are reach out to Him? Many before you have and the earth is now filled with their joyful songs honoring such a merciful and all-powerful Creator. Praise be unto Jesus who loved us and gave Himself to deliver us from so great a death that we should live in His sight and behold the wondrous works of God.

Will you ask Jesus, God's Son, to be your Saviour?

Copyright © 2001 by Light of Life Ministries.
This page was created on the 23rd. of August 2001