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What is a Christian – Part 5

I love books. I love hardcovers, paperbacks, old books, and new. I even like ebooks because they let me take a huge library wherever I go. Whenever I move I have to really gear up to pack and transport my library, and at the new home one of the first decisions I make is where to put the bookshelves so I can unpack my texts as soon as possible.

I think you can learn a lot about a person by what they read. One of the first things I try to do when visiting someone’s home for the first time is to get a look at their library. What is on the shelves tells me what information they think is important to have, what they consider as reliable sources, and how they choose to spend their precious time. I find this can help discover common interests and guide conversations, especially if our acquaintance is new. It can also tell me whether there is likely to be much spiritual fruit garnered in time spent together.

It should be no surprise that my favorite book is the Bible. I have copies all over my house and one is never far from reach. I even have spares if a guest has a need. I have one for travel, one on my iPhone, one on my Kindle, and a couple bookmarked in my internet browser. I don’t think a guest in my home would have difficulty figuring out where my interests lay.

This is not to boast. I simply appreciate the freedom I have to keep God’s thoughts right at my fingertips whenever and wherever I choose. I personally know Christians who have suffered the hatred of men toward God’s Word through beatings, imprisonment, and impoverishment. If they are willing to suffer this to have a copy of the Bible, I will certainly use my liberty to do the same and make it clear to others the value I place on it. I believe a Christian should covet God’s Word and seek to really know it for what it is: His mind revealed to sinful mankind.

Remedy for Doubt

Several years ago I noted the results of a survey1  that found a surprising level of unbelief among those claiming to be born again. Although all the findings were alarming, a few stand out as particularly troubling:

Only 46% believe in absolute moral truth.

Only slightly less than half strongly reject the idea of earning salvation through works.

Only 62% believe that Jesus Christ was sinless.

Only 79% firmly believe that the Bible is accurate in the principles it teaches.

I had to wonder at the source of their faith to be so uncertain about such distinct Biblical truths. God’s Word clearly states that His Word is truth (Jn. 17:17); that salvation is not by works (Eph. 2:8-9); that Christ knew no sin (2 Cor. 5:21), did no sin (1 Pet. 2:22), and in whom is no sin (1 Jn. 3:5); and that the Bible is accurate and reliable (2 Tim. 3:16). I could only conclude that those responding this way were not basing their faith on the Scriptures and might be a bit confused about what it really means to be a Christian, much less born again.

Our faith is not blind belief as some suppose; it is absolute trust in God and His Word. Where else do we have God’s mind revealed to us with such certainty? What else can we trust in so thoroughly? Certainly not the sin-stained teachings of men! 

Of paramount concern should be what we believe the Scriptures say about the Lord Jesus Christ. Revelation 19:10 tells us that …the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” In addition, the exchange between the Lord and Peter in Matthew 16 shows the absolute importance of the revelation of Jesus as the Christ—the sinless One sent to die for the sins of mankind (1 Jn. 2:1-2). This truth was not brought out by men, but by the Father in Heaven (Matt. 16:15-17). We, too, have that sure witness engraved for us in the Scriptures today, set firmly for all time.

We can conclude that the fundamental aim of Scripture is to reveal Jesus Christ and point sinful man to Him as God’s vessel of reconciliation. How fundamental to faith then is the Christian’s trust in the Bible. God has not left mankind with some fuzzy notion of Himself for which we must don our intellectual goggles to gain clarity on the way of salvation. We may not see all things clearly, but “we see Jesus” (Heb. 2:9). That really is enough.

So we can see that a Christian is a person who has accepted God’s testimony in His Word about His Son. They do not rely on an outside source, their feelings, or some emotional experience to satisfy their souls as to the reality of their salvation; they know it is sure because God has told them so in His Word. 

This is the great point brought out in 1 John 5:6-13. God has given the testimony of His Son in the Scriptures, His witness, and it is then a matter of believing what He has said and not waiting upon some experiential proof. We either believe what God has said or we do not. If we refuse to accept God’s witness then we are effectively calling Him a liar. 

The Christian believes what God has said.

Are you as surprised as me to discover such apparent unbelief among professing Christians?

1.  The survey was conducted by the Barna Group and was accessible by a link that is no longer operable. A recent review of similar surveys among professing Christians indicate a further shift from these biblical truths (see https://www.georgebarna.com/research/282014/americans-see-many-sources-of-truth%E2%80%94and-reject-moral-absolutes and https://www.barna.com/research/what-do-americans-believe-about-jesus-5-popular-beliefs/)

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