What Is A Christian?
This verse from the Bible epitomizes the gift that we're offered just for asking Jesus to be our savior:
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
Simply put, I would say that a Christian is someone who is saved because they have accepted that gift. Being a Christian is not merely believing that Jesus was born a man and died on the cross. Even Satan believes that. A Christian is someone who has accepted Jesus as their savior. When you accept Jesus as your savior, the Holy Spirit dwells within you, and you accept your true calling as a child of the living God.
We humans try everything in the physical realm to fulfill us spiritually; other people, drugs, careers, money, and even religions, when our yearning isn't of a physical nature. Then we become beaten down and disheartened when those things disappoint us.
When you accept the free gift of everlasting life, that's only the beginning. When you accept Jesus as your savior, it's the start of a close, spiritual relationship with your Him. Everything in your life from that day on is touched by the hand of God. You begin to be molded like clay by the creator of the universe into the person you were meant to be. He guides you, teaches you His ways and from that point on, He's always with you. You are now called to be Gods hands, His voice, His feet and instruments of his love.
Your perspective shifts as you begin to understand the depth and width of a meaningful life with God. I think that being saved takes the focus off of "me, me, me" and puts it on "How can I affect the world in a positive way?". Your focus shifts because the Holy Spirit is alive and at work in you!
Do I Have To Accept Jesus To Be Saved?
Yes. According to the Bible, if someone hasn't accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, the Holy Spirit does not dwell within them. You can be an avid student of the teachings of Christ, and still not be a Christian. I don't understand how this works with someone who's never been exposed to the Bible. I know that cultures around the world were always aware that there was a creator. Maybe those who never heard the gospel are saved in other ways. But we've heard it, so it's up to us to decide if we accept it. This gift is freely offered to everyone:
22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
Being saved means you have invited God to live your heart, and in return, God sends the Holy Spirit to dwell within yours. You are now saved by grace, and no one can take that away from you. You are a new person in Christ. That's what's meant by being "Born Again". The Bible says:
1 There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”
3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
1 John 5:6-12
6 This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. 9 We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
The Messiah opened heaven for the first time. All people can now know the nature and purpose of God. Since Jesus came, He made it possible to pray directly to God; prayers changed from a one way to a two way conversation with the living God. Your journey as a Christian has begun.
Is Christianity A Religion?
No, Christianity is not a religion. No religion can save you. You can only be saved by grace by accepting God as your savior. When you become a Christian, you don't have to earn anything - you are given something freely. You aren't saved by being studious, doing good deeds, or going to church, either. Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car. It's true! The Bible says:
1 Corinthians 2:14
14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.
How Are Christians Supposed To Behave?
Christians should try to be a reflection of Jesus. We are supposed to love people, share who God is and tell people about the gift of salvation. We are not responsible for saving people - that's God's job. We are the "seed planters", if you will. God gave these instructions to his apostles:
13 If the house is worthy, give it your blessing of peace. But if it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace. 14 Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet. 15 Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city.
We are to tell the world about him, but nowhere does it say to force it on anyone. If someone is unwilling to hear about it, we are to "shake the dust off our feet" and move along. You have done your part.
How To Defend Yourself Against Evil
Never take on Satan alone. Arm yourself as Ephesians 6 says(below), and call on God to defend you. When you command Satan, use the phrase "In Jesus name I command you". In the Bible we are shown how sneaky evil spirits are:
43 “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. 44 Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. 45 Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.”
God told us in the Bible specifically how to arm ourselves:
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Pray For Discernment
People will confuse you. Satan and his angels(demons) will confuse you too. Accept Jesus as your savior and God will protect you. Learn from everything in life, but never accept anything into your heart unless you filter it through God's word. Pray for wisdom and discernment, and you will receive it.
23 Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life.
1 John 4:1-6
1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.
4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5 They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. 6 We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
Can We Tell If Someone Else Is Saved?
No, there's no way to know definitively whether or not someone else is a Christian. That is something that only that person and God knows. Some good indicators are:
Look into their eyes -
22 “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
I've seen people before who I knew were saved, just by looking them in the eyes, and others who I knew weren't, because when I looked into their eyes I could feel the negativity.
Look at how they live -
7 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.
25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
No drug, person or anything else this world can provide you with the peace, joy, and hope that comes from being a child of The King. Our lives in this world are only temporary, but as God's children we will live in paradise with him forever.
Here's a beautiful quote by Tim Keller that epitomizes what being a Christian means to me:
"The Christian gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me. This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time. It undermines both swaggering and sniveling. I cannot feel superior to anyone, and yet I have nothing to prove to anyone. I do not think more of myself or less of myself. Instead, I think of myself less." ~ Tim Keller