Are you religious or are you a Christian?

There are thousands of religions in the world, but there is only one Christianity. Religion from a Christian perspective and viewpoint depends upon the doctrine that you hold to, whether it is Mormon, Baptist, Methodist, Protestant, Episcopal, or Catholic or any number of other doctrines in the world. Religion can be anything that you might want to worship and there are enough religions in the world to prove that, and yet other than Christianity none of them have a living Savior! Their founders are dead or imagined, made up in the minds of men, and yet each of those religions may have thousands or millions of followers, some may have billions of followers. The point that I am making is this…has anyone thought about which way, which path or road should you be following?

I am not trying to cause any more divisions between churches or denominations. What I am trying to point out is that true Christians exist in all denominations but there are also many who think that they are believers when they are not.

There are many around the world who claim to be Christians and there are more of them in some areas than there were one hundred years ago according to this graphic:

christianity-graphic-01This graphic is seen more clearly if you open it in a new tab of your browser. Many things have happened in our world to cause this such as airline travel and other technological advances. The point is that there are more people claiming to be Christians but there are also more people who claim to adhere to other religions or even no religion at all.

What, if anything, can we do to help others see that they need Jesus? If people have made up their minds, there is little that you and I can do. It wouldn’t matter if you were the greatest evangelist in the world for some people, they have their minds made up and nobody is going to change their view except God Himself! If God has determined that they are going to be used by Him for some purpose, then He will get their attention eventually.

What about those who are modern day Pharisees? They see themselves as Christians and don’t believe that they need salvation but are not followers of Jesus. I am not trying to be a judge of their faith, but if the fruit is not visible in their lives, then what are they? Usually their reasons go something like this: “I have always been a member of this church, since my youth. I have served as a teacher in Sunday school and on various committees in the church as well as giving my tithes on a regular basis. How dare you question my faith!” Well, as a comical story I heard once went, “I could live in a garage all of my life but I still wouldn’t have four wheels and an engine!” You cannot absorb a faith and live it out for others to see just because you have been in a church and exposed to preaching for years. You have heard the message, but the message has not penetrated your heart!

We are accountable to God for the light that we have heard and read and lived by whether we have taken it into our heart and our life or not. Because of this there will be many who will be astonished on that day when Christ says, “Depart from me, I never knew you.” Don’t let that day be the day that you hear those words, give your heart to Jesus while there is life in your body so that you can serve Him until He calls you home! Then you will hear, “Well done my good and faithful servant”.

Are you justified?

And if you are, by what or by whom did you come by this justification? You did not get through any work or anything on your own, so what makes you think that you are justified?

Romans 5:1
“Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:”

 

The great 16th Century German Reformer, Martin Luther, called it “the article upon which the church stands or falls.”

 

 

The article in question is that of justification by faith alone. To Luther, whether this doctrine was believed and preached or not was the basis by which we judge if it is a true church! A church ceases to be a church when it ceases to declare that sinners are reconciled to God by no other way than by faith.

 

 

It is our faith which defines us as Christians because without it, we have no hope in Christ nor are we justified in Him.

 

 

We live in a day of religious tolerance, when truth, it is said, should be sacrificed on the altar of relationships. May our voice sound with the noble martyrs of generations of the true church who say with the apostle Paul, “If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.’ (Galatians 1:9)

 

The doctrine of justification by faith alone is essential to the gospel. The gospel ceases to be ‘good news’ if it ceases to declare that Christ alone has accomplished our salvation. We are trying to mix our own brand of law with the Grace that comes from the belief that we are supposed to have in Christ. Theologians have always understood that when we say we are justified by faith alone, we are really saying we are justified by the work of Christ alone.

 

 

The work that Christ did on the cross was all that needed to be done, we cannot add anything to it. We are unable to add anything to the perfect sacrifice which Christ gave for us. That’s why this doctrine is so important. If we try to contribute anything more to our salvation than simply believing what Christ has already done, we cheapen His work of grace and declare it insufficient. We are calling Him a liar by trying to add to His work, because He said “It is finished!”, and with those words Christ proved that nothing else was needed except for us to accept it and believe in the saving grace that Christ provided for us through His sacrifice.

 

Paul himself was Saul at first, a Pharisee and a zealot for the Jewish faith. He tried to eradicate the Way as it was called at first but Jesus met him on the road to Damascus and it changed him forever. He became one of the most influential apostles of the first century. Our faith is the path, and it must be in Jesus and the work that He alone accomplished on the cross.

Our justification has always been in Him and through Him and what He did, it has never been based on anything that we can do because nothing that we do is holy or acceptable to God unless we have the holiness of Christ living in us and through us by faith in Him.

The only possible way that we have to be justified in our Christian walk if through faith in Christ and in His sacrifice for us on the cross. If we don’t believe in that, then we might as well decide to be an agnostic and not believe any of the Word of God. Because dis-belief in any part of God’s Word nullifies all of it. Just like not believing in any part of any contract, or disagreeing with any part of it  makes the entirety of the contract useless.