Watchman Willie Martin Archive

                                                               What Makes A Person A Christian?

Someone asked a very good question. So you call yourself a Christian. A lot of people consider themselves to be Christians. But clearly, God declares that not all those who may think they are Christians are, in fact, Christians. (Matthew 7:21-23) If you believe you are a Christian, and you believe in a life hereafter, no doubt you consider being a Christian a very important matter; the most important matter in life. Am I right about this?

Well, if you consider this the most important matter in life, it ought to clearly be evident in how you live how you think, remote, act, eat, drink, sleep, and breathe. Is this also correct? I mean, you either are a Christian or you are not; you can’t be just partly a Christian; you can’t be a Christian part of the time, or just in certain ways; it’s all or nothing. Would you not agree? (And honestly, whether you agree or not, this is what God’s Word tells us) Just what do you think makes a person a Christian? What gives you reason to believe you are a Christian? Let us briefly look at how some people might answer these questions.

First of all, the average, unchurched (That is, people who have for the most part, lived only secular lives: they went to public (or private, secular) schools; rarely or never attended church or weekly revival meetings, Bible Conferences, vacation Bible school, summer Christian camp, Bible College or Christian college; they listen to secular music, and read secular literature; basically, the only thing about them which has any reflation to Christianity is that they for some reason call themselves Christian; even though they do not even know what makes a person a Christian, and even though there is no physical, tangible proof that they are Christians. To them, more than anyone else, applies the old saying, If it were a crime to be a Christian would there be any evidence to convict you? Many Christians might answer this question, Well, I have always been a Christian.

Unfortunately for such an individual, this is merely a confession that he is not a Christian; for being a Christian is not something with which one is born, and it is not something which transforms a person unknowingly sometime during his formative (That is, very early childhood, in the critical stages of growth and development) years of development. Christianity is not like a disease people catch, or some type of spiritual fever that overcomes a person without their realizing it.

It is not just something which happens to a person sometime early in his life, to cause him to think he is or has always been a Christian. Can a person really be a Christian without even knowing he made this choice somewhere along the way? Without even knowing when or how? Without even knowing what it is that makes him a Christian? Of course, these are rhetorical questions and the answers are clearly and emphatically No! Christianity is not something you passively inherit from your parents, or some environmental factor which gradually qualifies you to the state of being a Christian.

So we see that being a Christian is not a passive occurrence which transpires in a nondescript fashion in some vague period of time. A person becomes a Christian at one distinct, specific time in his life when being drawn by God’s Holy Spirit he has chosen to forsake the world’s and his own ways, to take upon him instead God’s ways through coming into a personal, convenental relationship with Christ Jesus (YeHoShua) (From here on, when speaking of Jesus Christ, we will be speaking precisely, by referring to Christ YeHoShua. Christ is a title like president, which precedes a name; therefore, it should always be first. Secondly, Jesus is a weak translation from the Greek.

The Greek word used in the New Testament is revealed in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance to be the Greek version of the Hebrew name YeHoShua. As vowels were not written in Hebrew, but supplied by the reader, we have capitalized the consonants, leaving the appropriate vowels in lower case: YeHoShua. God tells us His Name is holy. It ought to be reverenced by distinction and by proper interpretation) in response to the atoning work Christ performed on the Cross for His people.

Secondly, no doubt, the average catholic (as well as many of the average unchurched christians) would probably say that he considers himself a Christian because I try to live a good life. However, though superficially this sounds much more admirable and realistic, sadly, this type of person is no more a Christian, than the unchurched Christian, because he does not even know the simple instruction from Scripture, which tells a person what it takes to be a Christian.

By way of a simple comparison, what makes a doctor a doctor or a lawyer a lawyer? Is a doctor a doctor because he tries to do good surgery or because he tries to make good diagnoses and implement good therapies? Is a lawyer a lawyer because he tries to win cases and argue points of law? No, obviously, doctors and lawyers are doctors and lawyers not because of what they do, but because of what they are as a result of what they have done at some specific point of time in the past: They studied to become doctors and lawyers; their practicing these professions does not make them what they are; rather, they practice such because they are.

Since this is not a perfect analogy and lest the reader become confused, let me offer a more precise analogy: If a man who was convicted of a crime and sentenced to prison was granted a full pardon and released from prison, what is it that makes him a free man? Does his good behavior after having left prison make him a free man? Certainly not! It was his failure at this which landed him in prison from the start. Does his attempt at acting like a free man, make him a free man? Certainly not! People can pretend and act like anything they want, but this does not make them those things. I can bark like a dog and chase a cat, but that does not make me a dog. So what makes the convict a free man? Obviously, the merciful judge granting that man a pardon is what makes that man free.

Some people may think that it is not just the judge’s ruling which makes the man free, but also the man’s accepting the judge’s gracious offer and leaving prison is what makes him free. But this is not true. The judge’s ruling is what makes the man free; and the judge’s ruling alone. Valid authority alone has power to make such determinations. If the man chooses not to leave the prison, that does not cause him to still be a prisoner, because he chose to stay of his own free will, and thus he is free where he chooses to remain. The man’s leaving does not make him any more free; he is free regardless of what he does. He is free because of what the judge did.

How would the typical Catholic or unchurched Christian reply if I were to challenge the answer I am a Christian because I try to live a good life, by asking him the following, direct questions: How well do you actually try to live a good life? What constitutes your trying? By whose rules do you base your behavior and trust it to be acceptable? And acceptable to whom? What is it, which actually makes a person good? What specific things are good things to do, if a person wanted to try and live a good life? More precisely: What are the standards or requirements for goodness, and who determines them? (God’s Word sets forth these standards known as God’s Law; contained in both the Old and New Testaments, none of which has ever been canceled)

Now, please note: we am not asking such pointed and revealing questions to humiliate, insult, or upset anyone. I am simply asking these questions, because I, like you, feel this is the most important matter which could ever command our attention in life; and since it is the matter of supreme importance, it behooves us that we are actually reaching that goal which we consider so important. Would it not be an eternal shame, for us to have been so well intentioned, yet in vain lived in such a fashion which did not usher us to our desired destination? Would it not be a dreadful shame for us to have been wrong in thinking we were Christians, when in reality we were not, because we neglected the simple truth of what God requires? True justice, though not unsympathetic, cannot bend the rules. Right is right and wrong is wrong. There is no middle ground. Good intentions or simple mistakes do not change the nature and demands of reality. A holy and perfect God cannot go against His Own Nature.

These questions are not asked, and this book is not written to insult, denigrate, or shame a person; but to cause a person to actually see where they are, in terms of where they would like to be, and to reveal the simple requirements for them to reach this goal free of toil, strife, fear, confusion, uncertainly, or equivocation. (That is, being mistranslated) And since it is understood that truly being a Christian is important to the reader, it is the purpose of this book to point out doctrinal errors which keep the reader from knowing what God truly requires.

The third type of person who would call himself a Christian is the mainstream Protestant (Which is itself also classified into two main groups: Fundamentalists (Baptists, New Testament, Independent, and Bible Churches, and a few others) and Evangelicals (Presbyterians, Methodists, Episcopalians and Anglicans, Lutherans, Wesleyans, Churches of God and Christ, Pentecostals, and others) There may be some overlapping of these groups, or a few individuals of those as listed above, who would think their particular church belongs in the other category, as they may differ in some respects to the main representation of their denominational label) denominational churchgoer. This type of person seems more confident in his belief of being a Christian. If asked what makes him a Christian, he might say, because I have been born again; I asked Jesus to come into my heart, or because I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior.

Now, for certain, this type of person seems to have a greater mental grasp on the topic, but this answer is not complete nor fully valid; and sadly, the average denominational Christian for the most part, lives no differently than the unchurched nominal Christian or the typical Catholic; except that he goes to church on a regular or semi-regular basis, and maybe talks a better talk.

However, for the most part, the average mainstream Protestant churchgoing christian lives a secular life; keeping Christianity separate from his daily routine, as if he were only role-playing the part of being a Christian a few times a week when he is in a church service (or when he must uncomfortably try to step into the role of being a christian in an impromptu fashion, should he inadvertently bump into a real Christian outside of church).

Sadly, the average christian, as mentioned, lives a secular life. God is not a part of any area of his life, unless it is specifically designated as a religious area. Consider a house where there are many different rooms, but God is only allowed to be in one room. The door of that room is kept tightly shut, and God is forced to stay in that room alone, until the homeowner decides to pay God a short visit ritualistically at a specific time each week, or in cases of emergency. God is not allowed into any other rooms of the house: They are off limits to Him. However, the house that God has built looks much different, for He is an integral part of every room. God is not only in each room, but He is an integral part of each room; and actually, He is the homeowner who is in charge, being the one who makes the decisions and rules.

Now, no doubt, the average mainstream denominational Christian, (even more than the unchurched nominal and Catholic Christians) will seem confused about this matter. For he, more than those in the other two groups, seems to understand the matter of being a Christian a little more clearly, and perhaps grasps it a little stronger. How then can it be that I thus challenge the average mainstream denominational Christian, that he possibly is not really a Christian, even though he says that he has accepted Jesus Christ,has asked Him into his heart, and has been born again?

Before I address this confusion, some very simple groundwork must be briefly laid; and I am certain most everyone will agree with this presupposition. I purport that what makes a person a Christian, is what God determines makes a person a Christian; not that which each particular person individually reasons in his own mind, makes him a Christian. Would anybody disagree with this? If someone believes in the true God, then God’s Word is the only and final authority. The Bible says God cannot lie or change His mind; and He cannot change His Nature or go against His Own standards of holiness. God’s Word is final and eternal.

Now, the Bible says that Faith comes by...the Word of God. (Romans 10:17) Faith does not come by human reasoning, human emotion, human well-wishing, human opinions or human endeavors. Faith is a gift from God; God’s self-revelation. Faith is the vehicle of Grace which is a prerequisite essential for salvation. (Necessary for being a Christian)

Scripture itself tells us that true faith (by which we are to believe and live) comes solely from the facts revealed in Gods Word. In order for any doctrine of faith to be true or valid, it must be in perfect accord with the Word of God. Sadly, most people are not in possession of true or valid faith. Most people base their belief system on their feelings, their personal rationalization, their well-wishing, or the beliefs of their parents, pastor, church denominational convention, or some other form of ancestor worship or following of the traditions of men.’”

Note this clearly: Such is not faith; it is superstition. Again, this is not faith; it is superstition. Those who base their belief-system on such phenomena are no different than primitive Indians who worship rocks and trees and wind and rain according to their fears, lusts, and ignorance; theirs and their ancestors. In True Faith (If one has actually had a confrontation with the truth) one will not believe in something just because it feels good; or because that is the way his church believes; or because that is the way his family believes; or because that is the way he has always believed; or because it seems fair or nice to believe that way, no; if one has genuinely had an encounter with the truth, he will believe in something solely because it is right; because it is t rue; because God’s Word says so; regardless of the opposition or the cost. To believe otherwise is not genuine faith or commitment; it is merely the luxury of complacement convenience: a self-serving, hedonistic, (The worship of pleasure), humanistic, (man-centered; the worship of man directly or indirectly {by projecting worship onto some other object, while man himself is on the throne of the soul as the determiner of worship protocol; a false piety professing to worship another, while ultimately worshiping self through choosing the dictates of worship via pseudo-altruism}), socialistic, and utterly pagan religion of superstition and the basest of human urges.

So what does God say about the matter? What makes a person a Christian? Well, the Protestant denominational churchgoer will quickly parrot the verse,, Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Acts 2:21) While this may be true at face value, it must be understood in context. This whosoever is not a universal, all-inclusive, every-last-one, all-the-time whatsoever.

Now, no doubt, there will be some who will be very upset by this statement; and the reason they will be upset is because they are allowing their emotions to control them, rather than allowing the Holy Spirit of God to guide their thinking according to the Divine Will of God to guide their thinking according to the Divine Will of God as set forth in the Holy Scriptures: the Word of Truth.

Before we go any further, such a person must pause here, ask himself the following question and honestly answer it to himself: If this is what Gods Word really says, am I willing to lay aside my own personal feelings, opinions, prejudices, preconceived ideas and erroneous conclusions regardless of who taught them to me; (regardless of how long I have held them) submitting myself to the Sovereignty of God, and accept the clear Truth of Gods Word?

Please Pause and pray...

First of all, this is what the Bible has to say in regard to this and every other question: Let God be true, and every man a liar. (Romans 3:4) This is not an exhortation (for man to lie), but a statement of reality. Of course, in this verse the phrase, Let God be true,meansGod will always remain true, or God will always be found to have always been true. It obviously is not a matter of our exercising control over God and thus permitting Him to be true. The let is a personification of Nature, as God Himself, bearing testimony to this perfection of faithfulness to God’s own nature.

Thus, it is the Record of History and Eternity that is bearing this witness that: God has always remained true, though every many has been untrue. Thus, whom shall we believe in this matter? Shall we believe god’s Very Own Testimony in Scripture? Or will we stoop so low as to accept man’s word over God’s? And thus exercise dishonesty in that very choice.

Okay, so let us return to the question of the whosoever in Acts 2:21 not being universal. The most powerful testimony comes from the lips of our Savior Himself. Christ YeHoShua declared, Not all who saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who doeth the Will of My Father which is in Heaven. (Matthew 7:21) How much more clear can it get? Further, for an even more shocking denunciation, continue reading the passage: Christ then relates that on that Day (that day when some people find out they are not allowed into the Kingdom) many will in shock declare, but Lord, Lord have we Thy Name done many wonderful works?(Matthew 7:22)

However, Christ will profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Further, in another passage Christ says Why do you keep calling me Lord, Lord and do not the things I have told you? (Luke 6:46) Again, the remainder of this passage relates the sad tale of those who thought they were Christians, but found out they were not. We need to also remember the fact that: No man can come unto Christ, except the Fathers (Spirit] draw him. (John 6:44) God’s spirit does not draw everyone. This matter is clear in Scripture. (Matthew 13:24-30; 15:24; John 8:47; 10:26; Romans 9:11-23) Regardless of blind, well-wishing people or evil people who say otherwise (regardless of their reasons).

So how can we tell if we are truly Christians? Well, the key is clearly found in both of the verses we just saw, revealed by Christ’s own lips: ...those who do the Will of My Father which is in things I say.

We are told that we will know we are Christians by our love, in keeping Gods Commandments. (1 John 5:2-3; 2 John 1:6) Unfortunately, most people misinterpret this verse, because they do not know what love is. Christ defined love for us as obedience when He admonished us, If you love me, keep my commandments. (John 14:15) Christ also told us that He knows who His sheep are: they who hear His voice and obey Him. (John 10:27)

1 Corinthians 13 describes true love for us, and it is clear that in order to qualify as love, a lot is required; and unless one is totally without the Spirit of Truth, there can be no denial that these enumerated requirements of love point to total submission and obedience to the Father, through both His Revealed Word, and His guiding Spirit of Truth. Scripture is clear, that in order to truly be recognized as Christians, we must be in obedience to God’s Commandments. (1 John 2:5; 3:18) Jesus said if we are truly in Him, we will bring forth fruit (obedience) (John 15) unto which we were called. (Ephesians 2:10)

Scripture tells us that God is love, (1 John 4:8, 16) and God’s love is revealed through His self-sacrificing, (1 John 4:9-12) in which He set the example for us. We know that Christ YeHoSHua died for us because He loves us; and Scripture reveals that this live was obedience. (Philippine 2:5-8); And again, in His obedience, He set the example for us) Part of God’s Nature is His constancy; His never-changing faithfulness (or obedience) to His Own Nature, maintaining His Own Standards of Holiness, Perfection, Righteousness, and Order. We, the true sons of Adam were created in God’s Image. We are His light-bearers in this world; reflectors of His Image. Thus, if we are truly of God, we will mirror this faithfulness (obedience) to Divine Constancy, by keeping His Law (His Standards).

We are also told that perfect love (obedience) casts out fear. (1 John 4:18) Obviously, one who is in perfect obedience has nothing to fear, while those who are in disobedience have great and just cause to fear. (Romans 8:1; Hebrews 10:26-31)

Finally, under direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived uttered the most profound, yet concise answer to this question: Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His Commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. (Ecclesiastes 12:13)

It should be noted that the latter (keeping God’s Commandments) is the fruitful evidence of the reality of the former (fearing God). One who does not keep God’s Commandments cannot possibly fear God; for he does not even understand the basic elements of God’s Holiness or Justice. It needs to be noted that the concept of fearing God is not the typical fear we understand in the world today; such as fearing evil people. In fearing God, we are to be sober in understanding that although God loves us (for God is Love), God is also Holy and Just, if we sin, He must punish us. Those who have come under Covenant through the atoning blood of Christ, need not fear punishment (eternal judgment), for Christ bore this for us; however, we still need to fear God’s chastening when we sin: for if we do not receive God’s correction when we sin, it is proof we are not His children. (Hebrew 12:6-8)

Bless YaHWeH, O my soul: and all that is within me bless His Holy NAME...Who forgiveth all thine iniquities...He made known His ways unto Moses, His acts unto the children of Israel. YaHWeH is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy...He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded according to our iniquities. For as the Heaven is high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, so Yahweh pitieth them that fear him...But the mercy of YaHWeH is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and His righteousness upon childrens children; to such as keep his covenant and to those that remember his commandments to do them. (Psalm 103:1,3,7-8,10-13,17,18)

Clearly, fearing God is not possible apart from keeping His covenant, and his commandments which He made with our fathers.

Reference Materials