Biblical or Traditional
What Kind of Christian Are You?
by Ken Swiger
Are you a Christian? Are you sure? What exactly does it mean to be a Christian? Is everyone who claims to be a disciple of Christ actually saved? In this eye-opening article we will examine what it means to be a "Christian".
Multiple millions of people on this earth consider themselves to be Christians. For many being a Christian means association with a church organization. Many are Christians by default, that is they were born into a Christian family. Still others believe that they are a Christian because they have been led in a prayer of repentance by a minister or baptized as a child by a minister or priest.
But just what does it mean to be a Christian? According to the dictionary in my computer, a Christian is:
- One who professes belief in Jesus as Christ or follows the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus.
- One who lives according to the teachings of Jesus.
- Manifesting the qualities or spirit of Jesus; Christ-like.(New American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language.)
I believe the best dictionary answer combines definitions two and three. To be Christlike; living according to his teachings, that describes a Christian pretty well. After all anyone could profess to believe in or follow the Lord. But the scriptures tell the demons believe in Jesus, and we know they are not saved. Also it is rather vague to say you follow a "religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ."
The Teachings of Christ
What are the teachings of Jesus? We will allow him to answer that himself, from the pages of the Bible:
"If you love me, keep my commandments." (John 14:15)
"If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments,and abide in his love." (John 15:10)
"And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked." (I John 2:3-6)
Jesus said that we should live by every word which proceeds out of the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4). These verses give us the definition of a Biblical Christian. A Biblical Christian is very different from most professing Christians.
Most professing Christians erroneously believe that Jesus came to do away with his Father’s commandments. But from his own words we see that it not so. In fact, in Matthew 5:17-18 Jesus said that he did not come to destroy the law, and that as long as there is a physical creation the law will not be diminished in the least! That includes the Sabbath day.
But with those verses, the very words of Christ so clearly spoken in the Bible; how is it that most people believe the very opposite? There is a good reason; Tradition!
Traditions and Half-Truths
Christ describes Satan the devil as the one who comes to snatch away the seed of the gospel when it is planted in the hearts of men. One of the methods by which he has been most successful in stealing the truth is by using religion.
Satan was already hard at work in religious circles long before Christ came to earth. He has long ago established a system of religious practice based on traditions. He has been very good at infiltrating the ranks of God’s people. His religion is present in Judaism, Catholicism, Protestantism and in every pagan religion.
In Christian and Jewish religion he mixes in just enough Biblical truth to give it an air of authority and make it look like the true religion. Those who are in Satan’s church are deceived into believing they are in God’s true church.
But if those deceived folks have some truth, won’t God take that into account and still consider them his children? What about all their good intentions? Is it possible to love Jesus Christ, live a good life and still be lost? Yes, I’m afraid so.
In Mark the seventh chapter Jesus told a group of very religious people that they were worshipping him in vain (wasting their time) because they were rejecting the commandments of God in favor of the traditions of men.
What About Traditional Christians?
Because we in God’s Church are so different from most professing Christians we often feel we have nothing in common with them. Our beliefs often cause us to be separated from them because of the things they do in which we cannot in good conscience participate. Moreover, our Biblical Christian practice of obeying the laws of God causes us to be rejected by traditional Christianity. Often we find ourselves in the uncomfortable position of feeling judgmental towards those who refuse to obey God. We know the Bible says that "by their fruits ye shall know them...", and when we see someone who doesn’t measure up to the Biblical example we may feel compelled to say that person is not a Christian. But I have something to say to you which you may find shocking. They are Christians too!
What? Even those who do not obey God’s commandments are Christians? Yes, but they are not Biblical Christians, they are Traditional Christians.
They may do things in Jesus name. They may live good moral lives and do great charitable works in the name of Christ. But if they observe traditions of men which nullify the commandments of God, turning their own hearts from obedience to his law and teaching others to disobey, then they are not true Biblical Christians. These folks exemplify those who have a form of godliness, but deny his authority in their lives (II Timothy 3:5).
Yes, they are clearly Christians in the eyes of the world. But how does God see them? Jesus warned that many false prophets would come, claiming to be sent by him. He said that they would say that Jesus is Christ (the anointed one, the Messiah) and yet would deceive many (Matthew 24:5).
Today we see and hear vast numbers of Traditional Christians spreading the news that `Jesus is Lord’. They won’t make themselves subject to the authority of God, but they are very religious. They build great cathedrals and family-life centers dedicated to the name of Jesus. They promote great healing crusades and appear to heal the sick. They practice deliverance theology to cast out demons. They carry on tremendous revivals in which they pass on a special anointing to other believers. Many of them have become `slain in the spirit’ or spiritually `drunk’ and laugh uncontrollably. Surely these are manifestations of God’s true church aren’t they?
"Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity (lawlessness)." (Matthew 7:19-23)
No, I’m afraid that for all the good they do in the name of religion, Traditional Christians who do not repent of their sins, (sin is the breaking of God’s holy law, his commandments) become baptized and receive the true gift of God’s Holy Spirit, will be eternally lost.
Who has God’s Spirit?
It may seem incredible to you, but God does not give his Holy Spirit to practicing sinners. Peter said in Acts 5:32 that God gives his Holy Spirit to those who obey him. Now Listen to the words of Christ in Revelation 22:12-15:
"And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward [is] with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie."
The obedient will be in the New Jerusalem with God and with Christ. But all the sinners will be outside the city. Well, that doesn’t seem so bad does it? If we don’t make it into the kingdom, how comforting to know that we can be just outside the city, right?
Outside the city of Jerusalem is a ravine called the valley of Hinnom. In ancient times this valley was the site of human sacrifice where the people burned their children in the fire to Molech, a traditional middle-eastern god. In this valley high-places were built to honor the false god Ba’al. In the book of Jeremiah God promises to fill the valley to the top with the carcasses of the idolaters and sinners. This is what awaits those who are unrepentant and refuse to submit themselves to obey the living God. A fiery death within clear view of eternal life.
Jesus never disobeyed God. He was our example. As Biblical Christians our goal should be to walk like him, talk like him, think like him and forgive like him. When the traditional Christians judge you harshly and persecute you, forgive them. When you see them go against God’s will, pray for them.
But most of all let your gospel light shine brightly in their presence; be a witness. Perhaps in time they will be called into the glorious truth of God. Perhaps then they will set aside their traditions, repent of their sins, and begin to live an obedient life. Then they will become a Biblical Christian too.