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Are You a Christian?

One of the questions that I get asked from time to time is what is the requirement to be considered a “Christian.” It turns out that if you ask most people why they think that they are going to heaven, they will insist it is because they are a “good person” and, therefore, will spend eternity with God. Sometimes, people will tell me that they are going to heaven because they were baptized – or because they had joined a church.

Believe it or not, this is not a new problem. It has been around since right after the beginning of the church at Pentecost. Of course, back in those days, people were anxious to learn about the church after the exciting events of Pentecost. This was soon after the ascension of Jesus back to heaven and Peter became the first vocal spokesperson for the church. In fact, he is credited with preaching the first sermon in the new church!

The next thirty or forty years dealt with the church trying to survive outside influences and attempts to destroy Christianity. In about 64 A.D. Nero, the Roman emperor, actually impaled Christians on pointed stakes, dipped them in tar and then lit them on fire to light his gardens at night. To say the least, it was a discouraging time and the book of 1 Peter deals with Christian suffering and how the community of believers is to support one another.

As time went on, and the church survived the onslaught of attempts to destroy it, an even more sinister threat emerged. It was called Gnosticism, a movement from within the church to discredit church leaders and turn people from a life with Christ. Itinerant preachers, under the pretense of preaching the Word of God, travelled throughout the countryside and made strong attempts to break up and destroy the local communities of believers.

Near the end of the first century, around 90-95 A.D., the apostle John was the last surviving disciple who literally walked with Jesus and he took it upon himself to address this issue of problems within the church itself. He was an elder, and one of the very few people who were still living almost 60 years after the time or Jesus on earth.

John’s epistles were written to tell the truth about Jesus ands to express the love of Jesus to the world. While Paul was concerned about grace and peace, John’s message was one of love and truth. Truth was very important. What is the truth about Jesus? After all, John was there. And he sets up a very specific question to ask those who profess to teach about God.  That question, quite simply, is this – “Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God – the Christ?

Our verse for tonight comes from the book of 1 John. In fact, when learning Greek, this book is the first one that most new students translate into English. John has a way with words that can sound very simple yet as you walk through the years with Christ, rereading the epistles can shed additional light on the theology of John and how to grow closer to Christ.

The apostle, as an old man, still found the truth compelling. So he tells us, and his readers, in 1 John 2:20-22, “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son.”

My encouragement this evening is that Jesus wants us to acknowledge that He is, in fact, the Christ! Jesus is God! My prayer is that we will all help others to see the light of Christ and help lead people to a place of belief. Because its not that you are a good person, or that you were baptized that you are headed to heaven – as a Christian, it’s because you believe that Jesus is the Christ – period… Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…

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