Faith in Focus: What it means to be a Christian
Faith in Focus

Faith in Focus: What it means to be a Christian

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I have often said and prayed, “How wonderful it is to be a Christian.” So, I thought I would write about it in this column.

I have too often read and heard of folks who say they would never want to be a Christian, and then there are often excuses given like “They are all hypocrites,” or “they are weak people who need a crutch,” or “I’m not interested in any list of do’s and don’t’s.”

There is a grain of truth in all those excuses.

All true believers fight against their own hypocrisy. We confess it was far more than a crutch that we needed. We were dead in our sins, blind to who we were and who God is and our hearts were stone dead toward the living God. We needed a resurrection, our blind eyes opened, and a new heart given us in place of our own wicked hearts.

But this is exactly what God has given each Christian.

There is a lot of empty talk about miracles and spirituality nowadays, but when God through the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the mighty power of the Holy Spirit makes a person, a new creature in Christ, it is the same almighty power that created the universe. A miracle every time it happens.

Many know the first verse of the hymn “Amazing Grace.” Far fewer ever experience it.

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a a wretch like me,

I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see.”

That’s it in a nutshell. This was written by a man who was both a slave trader and a slave. By God’s great power, he was made a new creature in Christ and was later helpful in abolishing slavery in Great Britain.

Saul of Tarsus was perhaps the greatest human persecutor of Christians ever and hater of Jesus Christ until God blinded him and then opened his eyes to see. He became the Apostle Paul who, by the Holy Spirit, wrote more books of the Bible than anyone, and by God’s grace spread the gospel from Syria to Italy and possibly Spain, suffering perhaps more than anyone for his Lord and Savior.

John Newton and the Apostle Paul are two extreme examples, but the same thing that happened to them happens to every genuine Christian. God makes us new creatures in Christ.

What makes it so wonderful to be a Christian? Well, because every Christian knows that by nature, we are all just as evil as those two men before God changed our hearts, and we are no better than anyone else either.

Perhaps you have heard the expression, “There but for the grace of God go I.” That is from a statement by John Bradford speaking of prisoners being led to their execution. He was himself later burned at the stake on July 1, 1555 by order of Bloody Mary, the Roman Catholic queen of England for preaching the gospel of Christ he loved.

But this statement can be spoken by any genuine Christian when thinking of any person who is not a Christian. Because it is true. We did not make ourselves Christians. God did. He chose us, but not for anything good in any of us. We have no merit of our own. All our merit is in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. God didn’t and doesn’t need us. We need Christ, and we need His perfect righteousness. Apart from Him there is no salvation for anyone. Christians did not always believe that, but we do now.

We can’t impress God in any way and we don’t live to impress God or other people, but we all once did. And in our blindness, we often thought we were successful.

Christians don’t love God and love other people to impress anyone. That is not why we do certain things and don’t do other things. God has given us these two great commandments to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and love our neighbor as ourselves.

Sadly, we fall short in so many ways, but we know it and we hate it. We want to love God more. We want to love everybody regardless of what they do or say. We know how short we fall. But we also know that God already punished all our sins when he laid them all on our precious Savior on the cross those three dark hours in the middle of that one day outside Jerusalem. We know to repent and go to Him for forgiveness.

God turned us from our sins and gave us the gift of faith to trust in Christ alone, and thus by God’s grace we are declared righteous in His sight having the righteousness of Christ put to our account. And we know God will never change that, because he doesn’t change and His promises are all guaranteed by Christ’s death and resurrection. It is a glorious thing to know the Lord and so much more wonderful to know his love for us is everlasting. I’d rather be a Christian than anything in all the world.

Charles Fitzpatrick is a retired pastor from Reibers Reformed Baptist Church near Shermans Dale.

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