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Unread 07-05-2007, 01:03 PM
 
Location: Anchorage, Alaska (most of the time)
1,162 posts, read 2,243,275 times
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Default What makes a Christian?

I am raised Protestant, half my family works in church, and I do believe in Him and His son.
But, even if I would like to, due to location (I live in a village, miles from the closest Church) I do not attend church every sunday, nor do I pray every night.
I do my best to follow His words, but to the extent succeded, I don't know.
I always defend Him and the Bible when someone tries to talk it down.
I have not yet read the entire Bible, cover to cover, even if I hope to do so sometime in the near future (have actually bought it so I can listen to it on my mp3 during my daily walks).

My question is: what are the "basics" for being a Christian, or even, are there any basics? Besides from accepting and believing in Him and that Jesus is His true son?

And, can you be "half-Christian", living as you like, thinking that you can always become "better" one day in the future? Is that hypocritical or ok?

Me and my friends have had many discussions about this, and I would love inputs from others. Thank you in advance for any kind of response.
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Unread 07-05-2007, 01:06 PM
 
Location: Mississippi
3,927 posts, read 5,314,220 times
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I am the Way and the Life. No one comes to the Father except thru Me.
paraphrased.

To be truly Christian, is so very simple, accept Jesus as who He says He is and believe in His teachings.

Half-Christian? No, it must be all or nothing.
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Unread 07-05-2007, 01:20 PM
 
7,767 posts, read 8,831,492 times
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Half - Christian is wholly lost.

But regarding your post, there's no work, actions, or tasks that are required by a Christian except receiving the free gift offered by Christ Jesus and believing(committing) on Him. He loves us in spite of our short-comings. In Him, all things are possible. Even saving sinners.
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Unread 07-05-2007, 01:29 PM
 
Location: Plano, Texas
8,640 posts, read 13,473,140 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alpha8207 View Post
Half - Christian is wholly lost.

But regarding your post, there's no work, actions, or tasks that are required by a Christian except receiving the free gift offered by Christ Jesus and believing(committing) on Him. He loves us in spite of our short-comings. In Him, all things are possible. Even saving sinners.
I would just second what Alpha has said here. I think to become a Christian we believe that Jesus is who He said He was. We believe He died for our sins and as Alpha said, we accept the gift of salvation He offers. We commit our life to Him the best we know how. I would call that "becoming a Christian," being "born again" or whatever term someone cares to label it. From that point on, God has given us the Holy Spirit who does help us to get "better and better"--sometimes called "sanctification." But it isn't our "works" that save us or make us right with God. It is Jesus' death on this cross and consequently, our faith in Him that makes us right with God.
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Unread 07-05-2007, 01:40 PM
 
Location: Pikeville, Kentucky
12,265 posts, read 13,663,675 times
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Sweden..I believe you already are practicing the basics of being a christian..There is no half christian, or any other part christian. You either are or aren't You are his child as we all are, and he loves us
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Unread 07-05-2007, 01:41 PM
jco
 
Location: Austin
2,106 posts, read 4,298,149 times
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Honest and great questions, Sweden.

The Bible does state that we need to be in fellowship with other believers. Your situation makes it very difficult. We were just talking to a couple who returned from several years living in various parts of Europe, and they too expressed their frustration with finding a solid, Biblical church within a reasonable distance. There are online communities now that help you to be plugged in to the Christian community, but I cannot see how this could be a great substitution for belonging to a church. When we were first married, my husband and I could not find a close enough church that was Biblically sound. We ended up moving for this and several other reasons. I realize that this probably isn't an option.

Sweden, since you have an mp3 player, you can download FREE podcasts of great sermons on iTunes and listen to them on your mp3 player. This will help you a great deal to know what is and isn't true in the Bible and it will help you live the life you're called to as a Christian. Some speakers I've personally listened to a great deal that I can recommend as solid teachers are: Alistair Begg, R.C. Sproul, Mark Driscoll, John Piper, and you might search for Vintage21 pastor, Tyler Jones. Each are intellectually stimulating while making the Bible practical for today's culture.

Your goal to read (or listen to) the Bible is an awesome one. People often try to replace opening the Word with other "Christian" activities, but there is simply no substitute for this.

As far as what you need to believe to be a Christian, many will say that all you have to do is believe that you are a sinner and Jesus died on the cross to pay the price of that sin so that you can have a relationship with God. This is true, but not all of it. It makes me remember being a child and closing my eyes really, really tight and praying that I believe in Jesus and opening them and feeling no different throughout my day. What I didn't understand for many years is that the sort of faith in Jesus that saves is the type of faith that produces a life of sacrifice to God. In other words, believe, yes, but also follow it up by living the Christian life.

This leads us right into your question about believing but living another way. This is what Christians commonly refer to as "lukewarm" and this is what Jesus has to say about it in Revelation:
Quote:
So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.
There is not a middle ground.

Sweden... PLEASE bring on the questions. Feel free to PM me as well.
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Unread 07-05-2007, 01:49 PM
 
Location: South Carolina
401 posts, read 429,757 times
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Your purchase of the Bible on CD, shows that you desire to improve so I am not worried to much, if you find yourself getting closer and closer to Christ you probably are a Christian. If you find yourself drifting away from him, then it is time to worry.

Please start listening to those Bible CD's. We have allot of people in the world talking about allot of different Jesus-es. Only the one found in the Bible can forgive you of your sins.
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Unread 07-05-2007, 02:10 PM
 
Location: Kentucky
6,758 posts, read 13,697,602 times
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It is my belief that if you come to Christ and then continue to live like you did before... you didn't truly turn your life over to him. I feel that if you truly convert than it will be your DESIRE to live for him and it will truly change your life. Will you never stumble? Absolutly not but you will do your best and strive to be more like Christ.
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Unread 07-05-2007, 02:20 PM
 
Location: Bronx, NY
1,289 posts, read 1,896,775 times
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In addition to the above, feed on His Word, the Bible. The words of the Bible are the spiritual food we need to live on. You cannot go wrong if you follow what is in there.
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Unread 07-05-2007, 04:00 PM
 
Location: land of quail, bunnies, and red tail hawks
1,463 posts, read 2,025,457 times
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Excellent questions, Sweden! There's a whole lot of different opinions about what it takes to become a Christian, so you are on the right track by listening to your tapes and reading the Bible. Rely on your Bible (and tapes) for the truth, not what your friends, the church, or people on the internet tell you.

I really like JCO's explanation. Many people say all you need to to is believe in Jesus, but the book of James says that even the demons believe! The other side of the coin for true salvation comes from repentance. That's when you determine that you're not in charge of your life anymore, but Christ is. You determine to walk in submission to what His Word says, not doing what you want or think is right in your own eyes. When the people here talk about "trying" to live right, this is what they're saying. Yes, we will stumble and really mess up on occasion (sometimes lots!), but we always get back up and attempt to do what we know is right.

In case you're still confused, I'll try to boil Christianity down to the very basics:

God loves everyone in the entire world and wants a relationship with them.
However, everyone who has ever lived (except Jesus) has sinned and, therefore, deserves to die.
Because of this sin, we are separated from God. That sin has become a barrier between man and God.
There is nothing we can do to cross that barrier. (It doesn't matter how good we are, how often we go to church, how much we help the poor.) Nothing we do will assure us a place in heaven.
Knowing that mankind would never be able to reach Him on their own, God provided a way for man to reach Him. In the Old Testament, it was through the sacrifice of animals. Why animals? Because they were a substitute. Since we all deserve to die, our blood needs to be shed. However, God was merciful and allowed a substitute. Actually, the Old Testament tells us that if we were able to perfectly obey God, a sacrifice wasn't needed; however, since no one can perfectly obey God, the sacrifice was instituted. In the New Testament, Jesus became the Ultimate Substitute. He was the perfect sacrifice. Why? Because He is God. He chose to come to this earth because He loves us. He lived a perfect human life, which means He never sinned. He was the only human that ever perfectly obeyed the Father in heaven. Because He never sinned, He didn't need to die but He chose to become our substitute so we would never have to perform animal sacrifices again.
We are told that if we receive Him and believe in His name, then we will be given the right to become children of God. We already talked about how the demons believe, so that obviously isn't enough to become a Christian. What does it mean to receive Him?
Repentance (turning away from our selfish lives and determining to live by God's rules) is also necessary for salvation. That's how we "receive" Him. This is a conscious act. I John 1:9 says that "if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." This confession goes hand in hand with repentance. The confession must be a true desire to repent of our actions; it's not a "Get Out of Hell Free" card.

That's the salvation message in a nutshell. How do we know if we are truly Christians? Well, the book of James says that faith without works is dead. If we truly believe truly desire Christ to be in control of our lives, our actions will bear this out. Slowly but surely, we'll see the changes in our lives because we want to obey God. Our actions will follow our desire to obey. The more we read the Bible and pray for guidance, the more our lives will be changed to conform to God's image. This isn't an overnight procedure, that's why so many Christians are far from perfect in the world's eyes.

How do we tell we're not truly saved? That's a little harder. I'll give you some of my opinions, but remember, that's all they are--opinions. True Christianity is about a relationship with God. When we are in a relationship, we want to know about the other person, so we talk to that person, we talk to others about that person, and we try to find out more information about that person. So a true Christian will talk to God (pray), talk to others about Him (at church? talking to friends?), and read their Bibles to get to know Him better. None of these things will make us Christians (remember there's nothing we can do), but they will indicate whether or not we have a true relationship with God. When we are in a relationship with another person, we also try to do things for that person. For Christians, that's were doing good works, loving our enemies, etc. comes in. Our lives will reflect our relationship with God. No one else can tell you if you are a Christian; that is something you will have to determine for yourself -- just be sure to seek a Biblical answer.
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