MINISTUDY: What Is a Real Christian?
Good News Magazine
September 1980
Volume: VOL. XXVII, NO. 8
Issue: ISSN 0432-0816
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MINISTUDY: What Is a Real Christian?

   What is a real Christian? Could you give the Bible definition?
   Jesus gave us the very basis of real Christianity in what is commonly called the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew, chapters 5 through 7. He pointed out those characteristics, often called beatitudes, which would clearly identify His true followers.
   Before we pick up the story in Matthew 5 and focus on several of these Christian characteristics, you should read the entirety of chapters 5, 6 and 7.
   1. What did Jesus say about the poor in spirit? Matt. 5:3. When He spoke of the "poor in spirit," did He mean they would lack the Spirit of God? Rom. 8:9; Luke 11:13.
   No, Jesus wasn't suggesting that the "poor in spirit" would be lacking God's Holy Spirit, as did the five foolish virgins in the parable of Matthew 25. Rather, He went on to show that those who are truly humble in attitude of mind are blessed because they will be in God's Kingdom.
   2. What are the meek in Christ destined to inherit in addition to being born into God's Kingdom? Matt. 5:5. Was Jesus meek? Matt. 11:29. Will a real Christian exhibit meekness in the way he conducts his daily life? Eph. 4:1-2.
   There is a difference between being meek and being weak. Jesus was meek but not weak! He endured abuse and injury with patience and without resentment. He didn't deliberately try to stir up arguments and trouble.
   A meek person will not try to justify the self when wrong. Neither is he revengeful. And he certainly does not feel superior to others.
   3. What will a true follower of Christ — a real Christian — be "thirsting" for? Matt. 5:6. What is the Bible definition of "righteousness"? Ps. 119:172.
   To "hunger and thirst" for righteousness is to be deeply motivated to obey God — to keep His laws, which are given to us in loving concern for our own good.
   Those who are truly hungering and thirsting for righteousness will be studying for true understanding, and will be willing to change when they see they've been wrong, admitting their wrong beliefs, their mistakes, their sins. "Study to shew thyself approved unto God" is the apostle Paul's admonition to Timothy and to all Christians (II Tim. 2:15). "Prove all things" said Paul to the Thessalonians and to all of us today (I Thess. 5:21).
   4. Who did Paul say are justified before God — the hearers or the doers of God's law? Rom. 2:13. Did Paul make it plain that even though the unmerited pardon of our sins is by the grace of God through faith in Christ's sacrifice, nevertheless a Christian is still obligated to God to keep His law? Read Romans 3:31 and all of chapter 6.
   5. Who did Jesus say will enter the Kingdom of God? Matt. 7:21. What did the apostle Paul plainly say was most important for a Christian to be doing? I Cor. 7:19.
   Notice that in order to enter God's Kingdom there is doing required — not only the confession of Christ as our Savior. God is also very much concerned ab9ut our spiritual "works" after becoming Christians. He plainly states that we cannot make it into the Family of God by just sitting back and thinking Christ has done it all for us!
   6. Unless we have the love of God, can we really be a Christian? Read all of I Corinthians 13. (The word charity in the King James translation means love). What are we if we lack the love of God? Verse 2.
   7. Will God's love, which He imparts through His Spirit (Gal. 5:22), lead one to keep His Ten Commandments — all 10 of them? Rom. 13:8-10. In what way did God inspire John to confirm Paul's statement — what is the Bible definition of God's love? I John 5:2-3. How is God's love perfected in one? I John 2:5.
   8. Is a real Christian one who strives to follow Christ — to imitate His example — to "walk" with Him? I Pet. 2:21; I John 2:6.
   9. Who is one of the first men in the Bible who "walked" with God? Gen. 5:22-24. What else are we told about Enoch? Heb. 11:5, last part. Will he be in the resurrection? Heb. 11:13, 39-40.
   10. What other great patriarch walked with God? Gen. 6:9. Did Noah therefore find grace in God's sight? Verse 8. Was Noah clearly a faithful and righteous man, pleasing before God? Heb. 11:7.
   11. What was God's command to Abraham? Gen. 17:1. Why could it be said that he did indeed walk with God? Gen. 26:5; Heb. 11:8-10.
   12. Was Abraham consequently the friend of God? II Chron. 20:7; Isa. 41:8; Jas. 2:23. How can we become Christ's friends? John 15:14-15.
   13. Did God especially command His Church in the wilderness (Acts 7:38) — the nation of Israel — to walk in His ways; that is, to obey His laws? Deut. 5:32-33; 8:6; 10:12; 11:22; 13:4; 26:17-18; 28:9.
   14. Did God promise to walk with them if they walked with Him? Lev. 26:3, 12. Would He greatly bless them if they walked with Him? Verses 4-11.
   15. But if the people of Israel chose to walk contrary to God — refused to walk in His ways — what did God say would happen to them? Lev. 26:14-39.
   To "walk with God" clearly means to obey His commandments and laws, and to do those things that are pleasing in His sight. It is the only way to really be a Christian!
   16. What will be a real Christian's attitude toward the sinning society around him? I John 2:15-17; I Pet. 4:1-4; Rev. 18:4. What will he rather be striving to live by? Matt. 4:4.
   A real Christian will no longer be able to conscientiously follow all the customs and practices of the society around him. Where he formerly "went along with the crowd," thoughtlessly indulging in various social activities and business practices, he will now begin to seriously question his lifestyle. He will begin asking: "What is God's will? How does God say I should live?" He will begin saying, with Christ, " Nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done." And he will be diligently searching the Bible to learn the will of God, and following it.
   Of course, God's people must live in this world (John 17:15-16). And while striving to fully obey God — not being conformed to this world's ways (Rom. 12:1-2) — they should strive to "live peaceably with all men" (verse 18). And if a Christian has to disagree because of biblical teaching, he does so without being disagreeable or self-righteous about it.
   17. What further responsibility do Christians have toward the world? Matt. 5:14-16.
   While not "of the world" in the sense that Christ meant, those men and women of God having the Holy Spirit and a knowledge of His truth and abundant way of life have a responsibility to be bright "lights" in the world. Far from just "quietly glowing" like a 25-watt light bulb, or hiding their light "under a bushel," God's people should be exhibiting the "fruit," or characteristics, of God's Holy Spirit within them (Gal. 5:22-23).
   Each one can reach out with friendliness and with a helping hand toward his neighbors and those he comes in contact with every day. People not as yet called of God will be encouraged as they witness some of the mind and character of God in action through the living example set by individual Christians.
   18. What steps has a real Christian already taken to be recognized by God as one of His children? Acts 2:38. What has God bestowed upon him as a free and unearned gift according to his willing obedience? Same verse and Acts 5:32. ("Holy Ghost" is an archaic rendering in the King James Version and should rather read "Holy Spirit.")
   A real Christian has been conquered by God. His "carnal," antagonistic attitude toward God (Rom. 8:7-8) is now broken. He came to realize he had sinned against God, having broken His holy, righteous law (I John 3:4). Therefore he cried out to God and asked His forgiveness for those sins through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and a lifting of the death penalty that every sin incurs (Rom. 6:23). Then he submitted to the ordinance of baptism that illustrated to God his deep sincerity.
   And as he expected God to stand behind His promise to beget him spiritually by the Holy Spirit, as a result of his repentance, baptism and the laying on of hands, he was indeed imbued 'by the Spirit of the Father and became a spiritually begotten child of God. It was then that he became a real Christian!
   19. Can one be a true Christian without having the Holy Spirit of God? Rom. 8:9-10.
   20. What does God call the person who claims to "know" Christ, who says he is a Christian, but refuses to walk in His ways — refuses to keep His commandments? I John 2:4. What will the one who is indeed a real Christian actually be doing? Verses 3, 5-6.
   A real Christian has sincerely repented of his sins and is striving, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to live by his Savior's teachings. He is walking with God, seeking to do His will in every aspect of his life. And he is becoming a recipient of the happiness and blessings that come with obedience to God!

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Good News MagazineSeptember 1980VOL. XXVII, NO. 8ISSN 0432-0816