ARE YOU SURE THAT YOUR ARE A CHRISTIAN?
1. Many words of the English language have been misused and abused; among them the words church and Christian stand out among the worst to be abused and/or misused.
2. People do not realize that Abraham, Moses, John the Baptist, etc. were not Christians.
3. They do not realize that the tabernacle, temple or buildings we have today do not make up the church.
4. In the newspapers many years ago, there was a columnist named J.P. Alley. He wrote short pithy sayings under the heading: "HAMBONE'S MEDITATIONS".
A. Hambone was an elderly colored man.
B. Here are a couple of his meditations: "Everyone talking about heaven ain't gwine dere." Let me put in a meditation of my own just here: "Everyone who calls himself a Christian, ain't." Another of Hambone's meditations says: "Wonduh how come hit take so many diff'unt kinds of chu'ches t' teach jes' one kind o' 'ligion?
5. Here are some more thoughts from other clippings from newspapers and other sources:
A. WARNING BY POPE. Pope Paul VI told Roman Catholics yesterday to work for Christian unity but warned them against warping their own faith in the process. The Pope indicated Christian unity would only come about when other churches had reconciled themselves to Roman Catholicism rather than the other way round. "We must try to dispel in them (non-Roman Catholics) the instinctive fear which many of them nourish toward the Catholic Church." the Pope said. B. Paul Wagner, in the Tampa Tribune, under the title: IS RELIGION TOO DEEP TO DEFINE? Asks the question: What is religion?
1) He proceeds to answer by saying: "I wish I could put it on paper, pour the content into words and say, "This is it." But I can't. The answer is too big for words, the feelings too rich for definition. I can tell in part. It's like listening to a symphony that moves your soul into speechless motion. It's like reading a line of poetry that illumines your mind with its truth. It's like love that warms the deepest depth of your being. It's all that, but it's more. The more is the most of it, the beyond is its most real dimension. Now, of course, this is not true of everyone's religion. To some it brings harshness and easily develops faultfinding habits. When a man's belief in God shuts him off from other people who don't believe as he does it's time for serious searching of the soul. It means God is too small. Small like a peanut, sour like a lemon. But the great God of the universe doesn't chop himself up and put his truth into the minds of little men who try to make themselves His only guardians. He is the Creator of all life and those who believe can only bow in reverence before what He has created and live in the warmth of the sacredness of it all. When I find someone castigating and hurting human life because of harsh religious views I recall a little story that goes like this: Every morning St. Peter found in heaven a horde of undesirable aliens who he was certain he had never admitted at the regular hours. Some had never been baptized; some were ignorant of the Bible; many were soiled and damaged souls who clearly had no right in the celestial precincts. He decided to discover just how this leakage occurred and one night prowled about the ramparts of heaven. At last he discovered a dark corner where a few stones had been removed from the wall since his last inspection an hour before, and a crowd was steadily creeping in. He rushed at them with indignation, but was amazed to find the Saviour there, helping some of the cripples over the wall. "I'm sorry, Peter," the Lord said, "I know it's against the rules. These poor souls aren't all they should be. Some were never baptized. Some of them were not quite orthodox in their opinions about me, and all of them were miserable sinners. But they are my special friends, and I want them here." Great religion enables one to say to another, "I want you here." It does not prescribe the conditions upon which the other must live before he can be here and before love and acceptance is given. It rejoices in the other, senses the sacred in the other and affirms the right of the other to be.
6. For a man who is supposed to be a religious editor of a large newspaper, I am amazed that he did not use one scripture to verify what he said. But, he is writing for the majority of the people and this is the way they think. But it is by no means the way that it is and the way the Lord thinks and speaks. Matt. 7:19-27.
7. Here is a little article that I clipped from a bulletin and it has to do with what we are talking about in this sermon:
A. WHY BE A CHRISTIAN? I have heard of a man who said he was going to decide the question of becoming a Christian in a reasonable way, and that he would write down on one piece of paper all the reasons he ought to be a Christian, and on the other all the reasons why he ought not to be a Christian, and then weigh the matter in a rational way and decide like a reasonable man. And so he began. He wrote the first reasons whay he ought to be a Christian, and his pen just flew down the paper and up the other side until it was full of reasons; and then he began with the reasons why he ought not to be a Christian. He put down the figure one and there his pen stopped. He could not think of one single reason why he ought not to be a Christian. And you can't either. There are no such reasons.
1) Man's troubles lie not so much in threats from without as in weakness and lack of faith from within.
I. ONE MAY BE RELIGIOUS, AND NOT BE A CHRISTIAN -- BUT ONE CANNOT BE A CHRISTIAN WITHOUT BEING RELIGIOUS.
A. There are many heathen religions that will sacrifice their own children to the Nile, crocodiles, fire, etc. are they Christians?
1. I remember standing in the very place where heathen, Ju Ju, teachers and their people worshipped their idols and there preached the true gospel to them.
B. Consider Paul on Mars Hill in Athens. Acts 17: 16-28.
C. No, just to be religious does not make one a Christian.
D. Many today claim to serve Christ and be Christians, but yet have exalted their own peculiar creeds and doctrines above the simple teaching of the Bible, thereby confusing and misleading the simple at heart. Matt. 7:15-27.
E. Denominationalism is a religion, but not the true religion of Christ and the New Testament.
1. During the time of the apostles there were no such things as denominations.
a. Even though there were those who at that time were perverting the gospel and teaching falsehoods. Gal. 1:6,7. Paul rebuked this type of teaching, vss. 8-12.
b. But someone asks: "What about the seven churches of Asia?" They were all congregations of the Lord's church, meeting in different localities. Just as congregations of the Lord's church do today.
F. We must be pure in our religious practices: Jas. 1:26,27; 1 Cor. 15:58; 16:13,14.
II. ONE MAY BE A GOOD MAN AND NOT BE A CHRISTIAN, BUT ONE CANNOT BE A CHRISTIAN WITHOUT BEING A GOOD MAN.
A. The world places a high standard on morality.
1. At least they did when I first preached this sermon over 40 years ago, JWS.
B. Some think morality is enough to save a man.
C. No better moral man to be found than Cornelius, but yet he was not saved. He had to do certain things to be saved. Acts 10:1,2; 11:13,14.
D. All the spiritual blessings are in Christ: Eph. 1:3.
E. Regardless of how good one is he must glorify God as a Christian. 1 Pet. 4:16; Acts 4:12.
F. Some good moral men lead more to hell than an old reprobate does.
1. Because he has a greater influence on those about him.
a. But if he does not follow the Lord, even though he migh be good morally, he will fall into the ditch and so will those that are following him.
2. It is true that all people, regardless of manner of life, will influence some one to follow him or her.
G. A Christian must be good: Titus 2:11,12.
1. Barnabas was called a good man. Acts 11:24. 2. Read 2 Pet. 1:5-12.
III. ONE MAY BELIEVE THE GOSPEL AND NOT BE A CHRISTIAN, BUT ONE CANNOT BE A CHRISTIAN WITHOUT BELIEVING THE GOSPEL.
A. Many people who have believed that the gospel is for our salvation, have been led into worldly organizations instead of the true church, because they did not investigate the matter before entering to see if the teaching was so. Acts 17:11.
B. Many believe but do not obey, they are hearers of the word only and not doers. Jas. 1:19-25.
C. The demons or devils believed and trembled. Jas. 2:19.
D. The chief rulers believed but did not obey. Jno. 12:42,43.
E. Faith is essential to our salvation, but it must be an obedient faith. Heb. 11:6; Jno. 3:16,36.
IV. ONE MAY REPENT AND NOT BE A CHRISTIAN, BUT ONE CANNOT BE A CHRISTIAN WITHOUT REPENTING. Acts 17:30.
A. Many criminals on death row repent, but never become Christians.
B. Many on their death beds repent, but usually it is too late to obey God.
C. Many religious people have been taught that they are saved when they repent and believe. Mk. 1:15; Acts 20:21.
D. But if we repent and never go on and do the remaining things to obey God, then we are not Christians.
E. Repentance is truly necessary in becoming a Christian, but it is not the only thing that is necessary. Lk. 13:3; Acts 2;38; 17:30.
F. John the Baptist told those that came to him for baptism, especially the Pharisees and Scribes, to go and bring forth fruits worthy of repentance before they were baptized. Matt. 3:7-9.
V. ONE MAY GO THROUGH AN ACT HE CALLS BAPTISM AND STILL NOT BE A CHRISTIAN, BUT ONE CANNOT BE A CHRISTIAN WITHOUT BEING BAPTIZED.
A. Many call sprinkling and pouring Baptism. But such is not true baptism. True baptism is a burial in water. Rom. 6;3,4; Col. 2;12
1. The word baptism, is not translated from the original Koine Greek, it is only transliterated, given an english ending, so what it meant in the Koine Greek, it means the same thing now. It means a burial, or immersion.
a. There are other Koine Greek words that are translated sprinkling (cheo) and pouring (rantizo) but never refer to baptism.
B. Many are immersed or buried in water, but they do it having been taught the wrong purpose of it. Most religions baptise people telling them that they are already saved before they are baptized.
C. To many it is just a formality and not from the heart and for the right purpose.
D. One must be buried in baptism for the right purpose with the right attitude and understanding of it before he can become a Christian. Acts 2:38; Mk. 16:16; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21.
VI. ONE MAY BE A CHURCH MEMBER AND NOT BE A CHRISTIAN, BUT ONE CANNOT BE A CHRISTIAN WITHOUT BEING A MEMBER OF THE CHURCH OF THE LORD. Acts 2:41,47.
A. Many people belong to religious institutions that have done what it takes to be a member of that denomination, but have not done what is required to become a Christian.
B. It is very easy to become a member of some church and not have to do what the Bible teaches one to do to become a Christian.
C. According to the Bible the same things that make one a member of the church cause him to be a Christian and vice versa, and the same things that he does to be saved from his past sins is the same things that puts him into the church. Acts 2:47.
D. Many people have their names on the church roll as a member that do not have their names written in heaven, in the Lamb's Book of Life, as a Christian.
VII. ONE CAN WORSHIP GOD AND NOT BE A CHRISTIAN, ALL UNDER THE OLD TESTAMENT DID, BUT ALL THAT ARE CHRISTIANS ARE TO WORSHIP GOD.
A. Most Jews still worship God according to a part of the law of Moses, and according to their many traditions, but they do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ.
B. Many who acclaim one supreme God, known to them as Allah, do not acknowledge Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God. 1 Jno. 2:23. (The Muslims).
C. Many worship God in institutions started and guided by men therefore their worship is vain, empty, void. Matt. 15:9.
D. Christians must worship according to the pattern, without adding thereto or subtracting therefrom. Rev. 22:18,19.
E. If anyone does not go according to the teaching of Christ, he hath not Christ nor God. 2 Jno. 9; 1 Cor. 4:6.
1. It pays to be a Christian, not only in this life, but moreso in the life to come.
2. It is the only thing that really does pay.
3. But we must be very sure that we are true Christians according to the Bible definition of the word.
4. There is only one way to be doubly sure, and that is to consider what you have done in religion and test it by the true pattern laid down in the Word of God, the Bible.
A. If what you have done or are now doing does not match up to the pattern of God, then change and do that that God commands. Saul of Tarsus did. And he was a very zealous, religious, man prior to learning the truth. But he was a sinner that needed to have his sins washed away. Acts 22:16.
5. TO BECOME A CHRISTIAN ONE MUST DO THE FOLLOWING THINGS:
A. Hear the Word of God: -- Rom. 10:17. Believe in Christ and His Word: -- Jno. 8: 24. Repent of his past sins: -- Lk. 13:3. Confess Christ as God's Son before men: -- Rom. 10:9,10. Be baptized by a burial in water for the remission of he sins: -- Acts 2:38.
B. When he does the above, the Lord will add him to His church, he will then be a Christian. One in the position to serve God in the right way. Acts 2:47.
C. Then he must worship God regularly and acceptably with other Christians: -- Acts 2:42.
D. This worship consists of: Preaching, teaching, singing (without mechanical instruments of music) giving as propered, breaking of bread (partaking of the Lord's Supper) praying to the Father through His Son. This is to be done regularly and steadfastly upon every first day of the week, the Lord's Day, (Sunday). One must not forsake the assembling together with other Christians to worship and serve the Lord. Heb. 10:25.
By Jim Sasser
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