Get ready you guys, because I have some serious things I want to share with you. So I hope you’re ready. I want to talk to you about what a real “Christian” is. A lot of the time you hear people say, “Hey, I’m a Christian. I believe in Jesus. I go to church.” And things like that. But have you read in the Bible what a Christian is? There have been times when I’ve read what the Bible says a “Christian” is, and I look around me, at the people in this world who call themselves “Christians”–and they don’t look the same. It just doesn’t look the same; at least most of the time. I’m not saying that everyone who calls themselves “Christians” in this world don’t line up with what the Bible says a “Christian” looks like. I just think most of the real Christians are hard to find. I dare say, 10% of the people who call themselves “Christians” are probably even saved! Which brings me to the first thing I want to say.
1. The Bible says a Christian is saved. What does “saved” mean? The best place I know to look is in the Book of Romans. Its the one book in all the Bible that deals with how to get “saved”; what being “saved” means; and what a “saved” person looks like. Romans 5:9 says that Christians are “saved from wrath” through their faith in Jesus. But what does this mean?–saved from wrath? It means that Christians are people who are saved from the wrath of God. The Bible says, “God is a just Judge; and God is angry with the wicked every day” (Ps. 7:11). In the future, there will be a day when God judges all the people in the world, based on whether they lived right, and put their faith in the Son of God, Jesus Christ. But there’s something else: its not just that God wants us to believe that Jesus is real, or that He exists. Romans 5:9 says there’s something very specific, something special that we need to believe about Jesus: “Having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” What this means is, we are made right with God by believing Jesus died on the cross, and shed all His blood, for the purpose of bringing us peace with God–so that the righteous anger of God at our sins could be softened and done away with. This is some serious stuff–right? Yes, it is very serious. The Bible says, there is “a time to weep, and a time to laugh” (Eccl. 3:4). How unpopular! These days people only want to laugh! Only want to be happy, be positive, and have fun, and ignore all the serious things in this life. But the Bible doesn’t say that! It says there is a “time to weep, and a time to laugh!” (Eccl. 3:4). What a time to weep when we look at Jesus on the cross dying for your sins! What a time not to joke around! Completely out of place! But would you believe that Jesus’ enemies, the ones who put Him on the cross–GOD’S SON ON THE CROSS–actually made fun of Jesus, and laughed at Jesus when He was suffering on the cross: “the chief priests also, mocking among themselves with the scribes, said, ‘He saved others; Himself He cannot save. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe!'” (Mark 15:31-32). Can you believe the nerve of those guys! I’d hate to be them right now! You know they’re in Hell: in “everlasting fire” with “the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41).
2. The Bible says a Christian has peace with God. Romans 5:1 says, “Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Have you ever heard someone use the word “justified”? You might have heard someone say, “I know she was going through some hard times, but it doesn’t justify what she did.” You hear some terrible things on the news sometimes, if you watch the news. Stories like: “Depressed Mother on Drugs Drowns Her Five Children in a Bathtub”–all kinds of horrible evil, wicked things. I tell you what folks: if you haven’t learned it yet, you will eventually: PEOPLE DO SOME EVIL, EVIL THINGS IN THIS WORLD. Certainly the mother who did this horrible act–and I am referring to a real, true story–the story of Andrea Yates; something that really did happen. Certainly this mother who drowned her children must have been messed up in the head, very sad, depressed, or angry; but that doesn’t justify what she did. She was totally wrong, and totally wicked to do such a thing. She deserves the full penalty of the law: the death penalty. The Bible says, “Whoever kills any man shall surely be put to death” (Lev. 24:17); and it says that the man who works for the government is from God, to punish those who do wrong: “He is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer” (Rom. 13:4). If you don’t want to think about Andrea Yates and her horrible sin, then don’t. Think about your own sins. Andrea Yates broke the sixth commandment: “you shall not murder” (Exod. 20:13). I doubt any of you have broken that commandment. But more and more kids these days are joining gangs, and listening to gangsta rap, and taking drugs–and killing people for drug money. What a time to weep! (Eccl. 3:4).
Before I got saved–I did something stupid. Let me confess my sin. When I was 14, me and a friend broke into our middle school at nighttime when nobody was there. We thought it would be a rush. It was; oh, it was so fun. We ran all around the halls in the night with our socks only; sliding around down the halls–WEEEEEEEEEEEEE! My friend said, “‘Hey, John. Tee. Hee. Let’s take this book from the Health room downstairs and put it in the Social Studies room upstairs! No one will know but us!” And so we did. SO DUMB! MAN, WE WERE DUMB. SIN IS DUMB, ISN’T IT? Man it was fun though; but sin, although it is pleasurable, only lasts for a season (Heb. 11:25), then its all over. It was all so fun till we saw the cops running after us in the night! Shouting at us to stop. We got caught. The cops arrested us–and I got put into the back of a police car…ME! After that, they punished me to teach me a lesson…I had to do 24 hours of community service. I had to clean up all the junk at the Lake Lynn Community Center in my hometown, Raleigh. I also got detention for a week. Shortly after that, I heard a Hell-fire preacher; he preached the Gospel to me and I got saved. I knew I wasn’t living right. I knew I was on my way to Hell the way I was living–because I was stealing cigars and smoking them, and cussing, and looking at porn. I was a really bad kid! But after I heard the preacher, from that moment on I said in my heart, “I’m going to live for God the rest of my life.” You guys, we simply cannot turn a blind eye to the evil and sins of this world, if we are to understand what the Bible means when it says a “Christian” is someone who has “peace with God” (Rom. 5:1).
Perhaps you are guilty of breaking one of the Ten Commandments: “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord” (Exod. 20:7); “Honor your father and your mother” (Exod. 20:12); “You shall not steal” (Exod. 20:15); “You must not tell lies about your neighbor” (Exod. 20:16, NCV); “You shall not commit adultery” (Exod. 20:14).
I’ve really been laying down the law, haven’t I? All of these commandments were given to Moses directly by God on Mount Sinai. Who can stand before such a holy and righteous God? But I thought “God is love!” (1 John 4:8). He is love; that’s what the Bible says. But we often forget: God is also light. The Bible says, “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). In the Bible, “darkness” is a word that means evil or wickedness, and “light” is a word that means purity and righteousness. So many people these days have such a wrong view of God. They think of God as a lovey-dovey, sappy, sentimental guy that just loves and accepts everybody, no matter what. Really? That’s not what my Bible says. It shows me that He is the righteous Judge of Heaven and Earth (Isa. 6:1-5), and that He created Hell for those who are wicked; and Heaven for those who are righteous. But who is righteous? Who? Those who have “believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God,” Jesus (John 3:18).
And what does it mean to “believe”? It is to believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins, in your place, because you are too wicked to pay back to God all that you have done wrong. Only the perfectly holy and righteous Son of God can come in your place, and be punished by His own Father for your sake. Only Him. The Bible says: “He was wounded for the wrong we did; He was crushed for the evil we did. The punishment, which made us well, was given to Him, and we are healed because of His wounds” (Isa. 53:5, NCV). That’s what Jesus did on the cross for you and me. God, who is His Father, is so righteous and holy, that it angers Him so much–this much–when we sin–that the only thing that can ever make Him not angry at us–is for Him to have Jesus brutally tortured and killed, and punished for the sins that we committed! Instead of us being punished! And the first thing God requires of us, is that we would only believe this, and live by faith in this. And that, by this only, we have “the forgiveness of sins” (Matt. 26:28, NIV) and “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1, NIV). Only in this way, and under these circumstances–by our faith that we are forgiven of our sins, because Jesus died on the cross for our sins–only in this way, does God stop being angry at us for our sins, and we can have peace with God. As the angels said so long ago: “Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace to men on whom His favor rests” (Luke 2:14, NIV). Praise God!
3. The Bible says a Christian lives a holy life. After we come to believe by faith that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, and that God has forgiven our sins because of that–God commands us now that we are forgiven: “go and sin no more” (John 8:11). You see, if we don’t try to live right, after we’ve received God’s forgiveness, that means we don’t really love God. The Bible says, “Loving God means obeying His commands. And God’s commands are not too hard for us” (1 John 5:3, NCV). If you don’t even try to do what God says in the Bible–then what would you be saying to Jesus hanging on the cross? I think some so-called “Christians” today, would say to Him, “Hey, thanks buddy for dying for me. It feels great to be forgiven. Thanks a lot! But I’ve got my whole life to live, and I’m gonna be happy, and have lots of fun now. I sure am glad you died for me Jesus. I know that I don’t have to worry about any of the sins I do, because when I die I’ll go to Heaven.” You guys, there is no way someone like that is a real Christian. A true Christian loves God and keeps His commandments from the heart, because he doesn’t want to go to Hell, and he loves God sincerely from the heart, because God has forgiven his sins. The real Christian thinks to himself, “THE LEAST I CAN DO IS TRY TO OBEY GOD’S COMMANDMENTS!–and do what God says! After all He did for me on the cross, dying for my past sins (Rom. 3:25), what more do I have but to live the rest of my life pursuing righteousness, holiness, purity, and godliness?”
And, this is exactly what God wants; and He will put the Holy Spirit in your heart to help you live right: “that the righteous requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Rom. 8:4). How is this? If you become a real Christian, then “the love of God” will be “poured out in your heart by the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 5:5). You will bear good fruit in your life: just as an orchard has good orange trees; as a vineyard has juicy grapes; as a strawberry patch has bright plump strawberries; as a blackberry bush has big juicy blackberries. The fruit of the Holy Spirit will come out of your life: “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering [patience], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23). The Holy Spirit in you will drive you to do all sorts of good things: going to prayer meetings, praying by yourself in your room, taking the Lord’s Supper, studying the Bible for yourself, fasting, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, showing hospitality to strangers, visiting those in prison, visiting the sick, and preaching the Gospel to all people. And if you sin by accident, God is always there, in His great love to forgive you of your sins. Just look to the cross of Jesus. To the real Christian, God is his Father; and he can’t wait to see Jesus when he dies and gets to Heaven! (Php. 1:23).