What Makes You a Christian?

What Makes You a Christian? In a growing environment of political correctness and the constant cry for tolerance it seems to me that the basic message of Christianity is being lost. Ask any number of religious leaders and for that matter “church” people “what makes you a Christian?” and I would expect that a large variety of answers. 

It is time for some biblical clarity. I begin by telling you what Christianity is not. 

Christianity is not:

 An adherence to a particular political ideology- There may be ideology’s that are inconsistent with the biblical message, but your politics are not the determinant of your Christianity. 

Christianity is not:

 Determined by your family background. Family background will have a major impact on your beliefs, but being raised by a Christian family does not make you a Christian, anymore than standing in your garage makes you a car. 

Christianity is not:

A Philosophy in the sense of a study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, an academic discipline OR a system of thought OR an attitude that acts as a guiding principle for behavior. 

Christianity is not:

A product of your denominational affiliation; God won’t ask you if you were a Baptist, Methodist or Catholic. 

There is a phrase I have heard that captures the essense of Christianity: Christianity is not a Religion; it’s a Relationship. 

What does that mean?

If we were to only focus on our the text from Acts 11:19-26 above, we could draw two solid conclusions. Christianity revolves around (from vv. 20-21): 

  • Belief in the good news of the Lord Jesus

  • A change in direction or turning in faith to Christ 

The text says that some men told the Greeks in Antioch the good news of the Lord Jesus. 

What is the good news of the Lord Jesus?

Message to the shepherds: 

Luke 2:10-11 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 

The reoccurring proclamation in the New Testament (in theological terms known by the Greek work Kerygma), was a specific view of the purpose of Jesus Christ. One who came according to the foreknowledge and plan of God the Father, born of a virgin, lived among us, suffered under Pontius Pilate, Was crucified, died and was buried but rose again for us and for our salvation. 

To the Corinthians Paul said:

By this gospel (good news) you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures… 

In Acts Chapter 2 during Pentecost, after receiving of the Holy Spirit, Peter preached Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected for the forgiveness of sins.  Paul’s message at a synagogue in Pisidian Antioch: 

Acts 13:32 We tell you the good news: What God promised our fathers… 

Acts 13:38-39 “Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the Law of Moses. 

The good news of the Lord Jesus Christ is the forgiveness of sins, the restoration of our fellowship with God. What was lost in the garden, was found through Jesus Christ.  But does intellectual acceptance make you a Christian? Consider again the text from Acts 11: 

men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed …” 

The Greek term translated “to believe” means to have confidence in, faith, to entrust. 

If I just have a mental assent of Jesus Christ as a historical person, much like I acknowledge that George Washington was a real (and worthy) person. Nothing changes. BUT, if my belief causes me to entrust myself to Jesus Christ, there is… 

A change in direction 

The people who heard the “Believed and turned to the Lord.” They entrusted their fate to God. They put their confidence on the finished work of Jesus on the cross. As a result they changed direction. They turned to the Lord! There was a difference in the way they lived. 

I use a GPS a lot when I travel. If I miss a turn or deviate from the route the GPS is giving me, I hear “RECALCULATING” as the device tries to find a new way for me to travel. God does not recalculate. Jesus said, “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me!” (John 14:6). If I keep going in an opposite direction from the GPS device will eventually say, “Make a U Turn as soon as possible.” That’s what we need to do when we believe in the Lord. We need to follow his directions, His lead. We need to make a U-Turn.  

Have you put your faith in Jesus Christ? Are you a Christian?

Bible Quotations are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *