Pastor Mike Cepela
Updated June 2015
If you were to ask a great deal of people “What is a Christian”, they would say something like:
1. It’s a person who believes in Jesus Christ as the Savior of Mankind.
2. It’s a person who has been forgiven of all their sins and transgression.
3. It’s a person who now reads the Bible and goes to Church.
I believe that the greatest dilemma we the Church are facing in this current age is the redefining of the actual definition of what, and what does not constitute an accurate definition of what a Christian is, and what a Christian isn‘t. We as Christians must be able to, with great clarity, answer this question. We must believe that there’s one and only one answer. And while pondering this, we must resist the political correctness so as to believe that many answers to this question are all acceptable. Think about it; would the Lord God Almighty give us the very gift of Eternal Salvation and leave the very definition of such a thing foggy, ambiguous and hard to understand.
When you look at the current trends of Christianity, we must ask, does it show us the vastness of God and the depth of His diversity, or is it simply a sign of the times and the ever present influence of postmodern, political correctness combined with the simple struggle of mankind having his way?
Is being a Christian being forgiven? Christianity is being forgiven. But, our identity is not being forgiven, because being forgiven is a state of being and it’s not what a Christian does or does not do.
What Does a Christian Do?
I think if you asked a large number of Christians if they agree that a Christian is someone who has been forgiven, a vast majority would say that they agreed with that assessment. If you then asked for agreement as to what a Christian is supposed to do, it’s there that the agreement would end, and where the confusion would begin.
It seems that a great deal of American Christians mistake the state of being a Christian (forgiven as well as being loved by God) with what it is the Bible says Christians should do. When you consider that Jesus said in Luke 6:44, that every tree is known by it’s fruit, it would seem a great tragedy for Christians to run around mistaking their state of being with what it is that they are to be doing as Christians.
It seems as though many times, your average Christian is running around celebrating their state of being, while either ignoring or missing what they are supposed to be doing because of their state of being. Here’s a great beginning as to getting an insight as to what a Christian does as a Christian. We find Jesus speaking in Matthew 16:24, “Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me."
We see this verified by the Apostle Paul when He writes in 2 Corinthian 5:114,15, which says, “For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.”
One thing we know that a Christian does is that he or she does not live for him or herself anymore, but is now living for the very will of God through Jesus Christ.
Many times, if you begin to talk about what it is that a Christian is supposed to do, people will respond by talking about the love of God and possibly accusing the last statement of being legalistic. They will begin to talk about the love and grace of God and will once again be mistaking the state that they live in (God's forgiveness and love) with what it is that a Christian does.
In truth, the Scripture spends a great deal of time defining and exhorting God's people as to what the state of grace and forgiveness causes in the way of what the Christian does and does not do.
James 2:18 says, “But someone may well say, "You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works." This verse tells the believer about the intention of grace as opposed to the state of grace, and it reminds the believer that there’s a huge difference between our state of being and what that state calls us to.
Romans 12:1 says, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”
As well as, Matthew 5:16 says, "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works." You are reading a biblical mandate to respond to the intention of grace that the state of grace has enabled us to do!
More Definitions of a Christian
Another clear indicator as to what defines a Christian as to what he or she does is simply found in some of the titles that are given to the Christian in the Scriptures. These are:
The Bride of Christ: Could you see a Groom or a Bride, when challenged to have a healthy working marriage, respond by explaining their state of being married alone as their duty and function?
Soldiers: Could you imagine being an war and as you needed reinforcements came, they would begin to tell you that they have become soldiers and that their identity as such is the same as their call to duty, fulfilling all there responsibility to that state of being a soldier. They would be arrested and charged with derelict of duty. That soldier claiming that being a soldier was the equivalent of fulfilling a soldier’s duty would be laughed out of the court. Even a high school student would recognize the difference.
Children of God: When you think of a human child you realize that it not only implies what he will look like, but it also defines the abilities and behaviors he or she will be able to do. For example, I am a human being, but that’s what I am and not what I do. So being an actual Child of God not only implies my origin, but also gives you an idea of my capabilities and potential.
This is not to say that some of the titles given to Christians are not states of being. Some titles, such as forgiven, redeemed, righteous, cleansed, are describing states of being. Brothers and Sisters in Christ, we live in a time when it’s so essential that we understand what it means to be a Christian (the state of being as well as the mandate that it calls us to) so that we might be able to run the race that the Lord has called us to do which He has set before us. The biggest tragedy we face in this confusion is the simple reality that when one believes the state of being fulfills his or her duty, there will be a complete failure to fulfill one's biblical mandate which will in turn:
1. Deny people the witness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
2. Confuse people as what a Christian really is, causing a greater confusion as to how to become one.
3. It testifies that the Lord wasn’t clear as to show us our mission as believers and shows a gross negligence and casts God as less then He is. This creates an out and out lie concerning the Person of Jesus Christ concerning what He’s made us to be as Christians.
It’s our state of being that gives us the privilege of fulfilling our God-given biblical mandate. We must not be swayed by the current flood of confusion accompanied by the culture of ambiguity that is so prevalent in the Church today. Christian, be clear, be concise; refuse ambiguity and never confuse your state of being with the biblical mandate of that state. God Bless You.
Pastor Mike Cepela is the Senior Pastor of New Life Assembly.