There are a lot of very nice people in the world who would not hesitate to help someone if they needed help or give them money or things if they needed it. Their actions are definitely driven by love, but that alone does NOT make them a Christian. Works by itself will NOT get you into Heaven.
People in general have a very poor understanding of what being a Christian means. Webster’s dictionary defines “Christian” as “one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ”. And the Bible discusses this very belief in great detail.
To be a Christian, we must be followers of Christ, and to follow Christ we have to know Him, accept Him and love Him. After all, how can we follow a person that we don’t know or haven’t seen? John 3:1-5 Jesus explains how we can belong to the Kingdom of God.
“There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
So what does it mean to be born again? How does that happen? Jesus said in Romans 10:9, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
Why do we need to be saved? And saved from what? To appreciate what salvation means, we need to go back in history and learn why Jesus had to come and die on the cross in the first place.
When God made Adam and Eve, He placed them in the Garden of Eden, a land that was perfect in every way and that even in our most exaggerated thoughts we wouldn’t be able to imagine the beauty of it. It says in Genesis 3:8 that God walked with Adam and Eve in the cool of the evening, and He enjoyed their fellowship. It must have been absolutely awesome to have God come into their back yard and talk and laugh with them every day – but then, they were made without sin and so the garden was holy ground and God was able to go there.
God gave Adam one rule in Genesis 2:9 and that was to not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil or else he would die. Adam had no intention of disobeying God because he loved Him, but Eve was tempted by the devil (Genesis 3:1-6) that came to her in the form of a serpent. She was convinced that they would become as smart as God and so she ate the fruit. It was delicious and she didn’t die so she decided to share this with Adam. Unfortunately, Adam took his eyes off of God and put them onto his wife and ate of the fruit.
Their eyes were opened and they knew what good and evil were. Eve may have been deceived because God didn’t tell her directly, but Adam sinned because he disobeyed God. It’s interesting to note that instead of repenting and pleading with God, he blamed Eve (Genesis 3:12). “It’s all her fault, she made me do it”, and this is an attitude that has been carried down throughout history; mankind has not ceased to blame someone else for what they did.
God was more hurt than angry with them because sin had entered the Garden, His holy ground, and He could no longer visit with His children, and He had to cast Adam and Eve out of the garden. But when He did this He also promised them that He would send someone to redeem them back to Himself; to beat the devil at his own game.
“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” … Genesis 3:15
Now Adam faced the consequences of his actions and he and Eve were devastated to have to live in a desolate world without God, but what horrified them even more was that the ruler of the lost world was Satan. Adam had sold his birthright to the devil whose very presence kept him from the only Father he knew, so they clung on to the promise and prayed for the redeemer to come and save their children. And so every child ever born from the very first conceived child, being Able, right down to the last baby that will ever be born on earth, is born in sin and without the presence of God. There is no possibility of a single one of us ever getting back to God on our own. He removed His Spirit and there is only ONE way to get it back.
Jesus! And so the people throughout the generations waited and looked for His coming.
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” … Luke 2: 8-11
Jesus was sent to the cross because Satan knew who Jesus was and thought that if he could persuade the Pharisees to kill Him, then everything would be fine, God’s attempt to regain the world would fail and he would continue to rule the earth forever. The Pharisees also knew that Jesus was God’s Son and they were filled with evil and foolishly thought that if they killed Him on the cross then they wouldn’t have to give up their religious positions and wealth.
What none of them realized is that no one can kill God. Jesus’ human body died on the cross, and because He was without sin He would have risen directly to Heaven at that point. However, that isn’t why He came. He came to take away the sin that we carried – the sin that caused us to be separated from God – and He took that sin upon Himself so that when He died, that sin would drive Him directly to hell. But hell couldn’t hold Him, and so He dropped off the sin and then rose again.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” … John 3:16
When we realize the magnitude of this action by Jesus, and we believe it and receive this truth in our heart, then we receive our salvation. We are saved. We are Christians. We are no longer separated from God. We are given His Spirit and we can walk with God just like Adam did. We are one with God again. Now when we pray God not only hears our prayers, but He answers them. He blesses us. He helps us. He teaches us. He walks with us. He is our Father and our friend.
Christians adopt the heart and mind of Christ so that we want to help others, share with others and encourage others to know Him. We do everything to the glory of God and for the furtherance of the ministry of Jesus. We are not perfect; we are forgiven. Although God will become our purpose for living and the reason for our being, we’ll still fall short and do things wrong or not do things we should. (Romans 3:23) But we can come before God and say sorry and He hears us and smiles at us. He doesn’t have to toss us away like He did with Adam because His Spirit is in us. We are His children and nothing can separate us from Him.
So, good works may be a nice thing to do to help others and share some positive attitude, but they will NOT make us a Christian and they will NOT get us into Heaven. Only a personal relationship with Jesus will make us a Christian, and the good works that we do then are done in love so that others can see the love that God has for us.
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” … John 10:27
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