Thoughts to Ponder

What is a Christian?

This past election (if you can call it past at this point) really brought some questions to my mind. One of them was what do most people consider a Christian. This question came to my mind because of the varied views of people who claim to be Christians.

I want to head something off right at the start. I am not claiming to know anyone's heart, only God knows a person's heart, however, I do believe we can take a look at what people do and say and confer some things about their spiritual condition. Since I am sure someone will try to tell me that I am judging people and that the Bible speaks against that, let me make my case right now. I am only judging the talk and actions of those who claim to be Christians: (1 Corinthians 5:9-13 NIV) I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people-- {10} not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. {11} But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. {12} What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? {13} God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked man from among you." There is a standard that those who profess to be Christians must meet, if they do not then we should not support them or call them brother. That standard is what I am attempting to show in this devotional. If you look at what Paul wrote you can see that basically what he is saying is that anyone who claims to be a Christian but does not live a holy life is a wicked person and should be expelled. So that is the basis for the standard I am using. We must understand further that Paul is talking about people who are unrepentant not those who stumble and repent and then continue to live holy lives.

To show you want I am talking about, let's look at the election for President. Both candidates profess to be Christians. Both have sinful pasts: i.e. Governor Bush's DUI and Vice President Gore's admitted drug use both testify to their sinful nature before claiming to accept Christ as their Savior. Those are not the things I am talking about. Not one of us could stand up to the scrutiny of our whole lives. If we could we would not need a Savior.

Now look at what today (as professing Christians) their views and actions tell us. Contrary to popular belief there are very clear differences between the two men. I will list a few of those differences. Abortion: Gore - pro-choice; Bush - pro-life. Partial birth abortion ban: Gore -against; Bush - for. Gays in the military, special protection for gay lifestyle: Gore - for; Bush -against.

There are many other issues where they disagree but I wanted to use those as a baseline because the Bible makes God's point of view very clear on these issues. On Abortion: (Proverbs 6:16-19 NIV) There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: {17} haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, {18} a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, {19} a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers. I would call an unborn child innocent blood, wouldn't you? On homosexuality: (Leviticus 18:22 NIV) Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.

How can a Christian support abortion? How can a Christian support homosexual so called rights? Is it that these Christians don't know God's view of such things or are they in open defiance to the Lord who bought them at the price of His life? Or could it be that the label Christian is very loosely used? One last how, how can a real God fearing Christian support someone with those views? Talk to your "Christian" friends and I doubt it will take you long to find a couple who voted for Gore. Am I saying Bush is perfect? By no means, but that does not give us the right to vote against what God stands for.

I have had people tell me that I am too much of a fundamentalist, like that was a bad thing. I am proud to be a fundamentalist. When you talk to those people they will tell you that they are 'liberal Christians.' Here is what I have found most of them believe or should I say don't believe. They don't believe that the Bible is inerrant, even in its original form. They don't believe in a physical place called hell. They don't believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven. They don't believe that God would punish anyone for anything, because He loves us all. They don't believe that one sexual orientation is any more natural then another. They don't believe that mankind is born with an evil nature, they believe humans are basically good until outside circumstances change them.

My question is, what makes these people think they are Christians? Why would a true, born again Christian think these people are Christians? You don't have to judge them, they condemn themselves without your help.

Just a couple of days ago I received a message from a young girl which I want to discuss. The following is her message to me:

Hi. I don't really know what to write except what I am feeling. Since my eighth grade year, I started noticing some unusual things about me. I would cry for no reason and I found myself writing in my diary things like "I am so depressed! I hate myself and my life." I didn't know why. I didn't really talk about it with my friends or parents. My first year in high school, I made many more friends, yet, I felt the same way. About half way through, I started cutting my wrists. It felt good because I was physically hurting myself, releasing the emotional pain. I eventually told my friends, and later on, my mom started noticing my arms. I tried my hardest to wear nothing but long sleeves, but that was difficult. We started seeking professional help after I vaguely explained to her my unconditional sadness. They put me on medicine right away claiming I suffered from depression and there was a chemical imbalance in my brain. I couldn't stop crying. I eventually picked up the hobby to write poetry about my feelings. I've written many that are related to suicide and gory things. I've also written death notes, but tucked them away so no one could find them. Anyway, I am now a junior in high school and to this day, I am still on meds, cutting not only my wrists, but my stomach and neck as well, and I still take up the hobby of writing. I now have a boyfriend, and have unfortuntately grown apart from my close friends.

Now when I have a problem or want to talk, I have no one to turn to except my mom. From time to time, I still want to consider suicide. I am not scared, I just want to see what's ahead in life, although it probably won't be anything to exciting. Also notice my self esteem and confidence...I have none! If you decide to write me back, I would greatly appreciate it if you didn't say anything about God or quotes from the Bible. I am a Christian and I believe what I have been taught. Thank you for listening.

Does it strike you as strange that a Christian would ask me not to talk about God or quote from the Bible? It should. But beyond that look at what she wrote. How can a person who has been saved by the blood of the Lamb live such a life? I get many such letters every week from people who claim to be Christians who basically want me to tell them that God will forgive them if they kill themselves. I won't do it!! First of all how do I know that they are Christians? Nothing in their life shows the power of God. I am attacked often because I believe that God has the power to pull us out of the miry clay and set us on solid rock. It is not just that I believe this, it is that I know it to be true. He did it for me. Secondly if they write me and are thinking about suicide that shows a certain amount of rational thinking and deliberateness in their decision making. (Hebrews 10:26-27 NIV) If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, {27} but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. I will not tell someone that God will forgive them for suicide. I believe it is a deliberate sin if done with a rational mind. It is up to God if He over looks it or not, but I won't patently say it is okay, because it is not.

There was a point in my life when I had thoughts of suicide. Life was not worth living. I had wanted to be a Police Officer all my life and I made it. I attained what I always wanted and it did not make me happy. I still felt empty and lonely. I dealt with death on almost a daily basis and I began to think of those lifeless bodies as being at peace. I longed for that peace and rest.

I am here to tell you today that the idea that death outside of Christ brings peace and rest is a lie from the pit of hell. It is told by the father of lies!! The only peace and rest anyone can get is from God. If God can't help you then you are lost and without hope of any kind. You don't need drugs, you don't need counseling, you don't need 'how to' books you need the power of the God of the universe and nothing else! All else is foolishness.

We do no favors when we point people to other things other then God. Paul warned us about this too: (2 Timothy 3:1-5 NIV) But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. {2} People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, {3} without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, {4} treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God-- {5} having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.

Either God has the power to free us from all our burdens or those burdens are more powerful then He is. Do you have marital problems? Take them to the Lord. Do you have problems with lustful thoughts? Take them to the Lord. Do you lie, cheat, steal, cut yourself, have depression, hate your life, feel alone, want to die, or feel hopeless? Take it to the Lord. He is your only hope.

If the person is not a Christian then the first place they need to go is the cross. If the person has been to the cross in the past maybe they need to go back. You can't be at the cross without being at Jesus' feet. Also if you are a Christian, maybe God is trying to tell you something. Look at another thing that Paul said: (2 Corinthians 1:8-11 NIV) We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. {9} Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. {10} He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, {11} as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

Was Paul saying he was almost at the point of suicide? I am not sure but it sure would fit. And what was his solution? Rely on God and the prayers of other believers! What a concept!! I have been accused of telling people that if they read the Bible enough and trust God enough they won't be depressed or have problems. No, I am not saying that, but I am saying that if you rely on God and read His word (through which faith comes [Romans 10:17 NIV] Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.) before you get into this type of problem then you will be better prepared to deal with it when it comes.

So what is a Christian? Is it just a name that people call themselves? Or is it a lifestyle which reflects a life changing event in the person's life called Salvation? Don't think that all this is minor stuff and of little concern for a Christian. If you are a true born again Christian then you have been forgiven of your sins, but that is not to say that you will not one day answer for your actions after you accepted Christ: (2 Corinthians 5:10 NIV) For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. That includes the votes you cast, the things you stand for and support, the witness you present to the world, and what form of godliness you exhibit (whether a godliness denying its power, or a godliness full of power).

The Barna Research Group has found that George W. Bush won the Christian vote by a 57% to 42% margin over Al Gore. This translates into an estimated 7.1 million votes. However, Vice President Al Gore won more than 80% of the born again votes that were decided between Labor Day and Election Day. In addition, among born again blacks, more than nine out of ten voted for Al Gore (92% to 7% for Bush).

E-Mail Ralph

These devotionals are written by Ralph Dettwiler, and reflect his views.

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