Why am I a Christian? What is a Christian?
Why am I a Christian?
First Question: What is a Christian?
A Christian as I am defining the word is a person who accepts and lives by two theologies and has experienced an event in their lives. In the last two chapters I defined theology 101 and theology 102 which forms the intellectual content of the Christian faith.
But to be a Christian as I define it requires more than a mere intellectual understanding but also an existential experience of the living Messiah Jesus in addition to the acceptance of this core theology. So, beyond theology we must have a personal spiritual encounter with the resurrected person of the Lord Jesus of Nazareth.
The verse most used to open people to this experience is found in the book of Revelation where the resurrected Jesus says:
" 'Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. “(Revelation 3:20)
The idea being that we can have a spiritual encounter with the resurrected Jesus through the Holy Spirit in which the presence of Messiah Jesus will come into us and we will have a present day personal relationship and experience HIM inwardly today.
The converted rabbi and Christian theologian Paul describes it this way to a first century community of disciples of Jesus.
"Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my body, I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the community of believers, in filling up what is lacking in Messiah's afflictions. Of this community, I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Messiah Jesus in you, the hope of glory." (Colossians 1:24-27)
So the final step in becoming a Christian is not just to come to the conclusion that one is a moral failure deserving just punishment by God at death and having a conviction that Jesus of Nazareth, was God the Son who became the Son of God to be a pay the penalty through HIS suffering for that immoral life as a substitute by the crucifixion and provide life through HIS historical resurrection, but also to now ask the ascended Messiah Jesus to personally enter our lives to save and transform us from the inside out. To personally trust in “Jesus, only Jesus” to be the one that will bring us forgiveness, purpose for life, and inner healing.
The first century Christian theologian Saul of Tarsus explained this way.
"But what does it say? "THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART"—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, "WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED." For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for "WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED."" (Romans 10:8-13)
To “call on the name of the Lord Jesus” is to pray a desperate prayer asking HIM to save us and to come into our lives. It is to open ourselves to HIS spiritual presence, power, and peace. It is a desire to begin a personal relationship with the Living LORD Jesus as prophet, priest, and king.
The term “Messiah” means anointed prophet, priest, and king and therefore to accept and follow Jesus is to personally accept him in these three ways.
As prophet to be the ultimate source of truth in our lives and the greatest teacher we have in our lives. He is for us “The Truth”.
As priest as the one who paid for our sins and provides now an open door to intimacy to God as our high priest. Because of Messiah Jesus we no longer fear condemnation for our sins but undeserved favor from God at times of need. He is “The Way” to reconciliation with God.
As King, we ask the LORD Jesus to be involved in every decision we make, guide us with wisdom as we face problems, and strive to submit to HIS will in every action. We desire out of gratitude to follow HIM and live a life of loving good works. Jesus is our “Life” from which we gain the energy and impulse to live a life of faith, love, and hope.
This experience and encounter with the Living Christ in prayer and having a fellowship with HIS presence is a vital part of being a Christian. One can be a “Cultural Christian” and formally hold to “Theology 101” and “Theology 102” but only when this theology is applied personally and prayerfully is one converted into being a Christian or disciple of Messiah Jesus.
So, when I use the term Christian I mean a person who has accepted “Theology 101” concluding that they justly deserve punishment for their immoral actions, trust in “Theology 102” in which the Messiah Jesus suffers for them and gives them the free gift of eternal life through HIS resurrection, and personally encounters the living Christ in prayer seeking a spiritual fellowship with the Lord Jesus as their personal prophet, priest and king.
1. Do you think that this "personal encounter" with the Living Jesus is needed to become a Christian? Why or why not.
2. What makes this difficult in our defining of the word "Christian"?
3. What if you tried to "call on the name of the LORD" but it seemed empty and nothing from your point of view happened?
4. How could one develop a personal relationship with the LORD Jesus?
For ideas on how to do this.