By Carol R. Lumpkin
Becoming a Christian is one of the honored privileges all alien sinners have offered to them. This is accomplished only when the sinner is obedient to God’s power to save, the gospel of Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:16). There are some who claim to be Christians, yet the gospel has not been obeyed; in fact most do not know what the requirements of the gospel are. Christians are people who have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine (Rom. 6:17-18; 6:3-4). People in the first century A.D. who followed Christ were his disciples, Those disciples were first called Christians at Antioch (Acts 11:216). This was the new name the prophet Isaiah said they were to be called (Isa. 62:2).
Just because a person is religious (those in Athens were – Acts 17), just because a person is good morally (Cornelius was – Acts 10:2), just because a person claims Jesus as his savior (denominationalists do), just because a person attends worship some place (must worship in the proper spirit according to truth – Jn. 4:24), by no means concludes said person to be a Christian. If the above be true, then God would view a person as a Christian while practicing most anything. This is not the nature of God at all. Peter said, “Of a truth I perceive that God is not a respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness is accepted with him” (Acts 10:34-35). If it was essential for both the Jews and Greeks to obey the gospel in the first century to be saved (it was), then it is likewise necessary for all alien sinners to obey the same gospel to be saved today.
All saved people are disciples of Christ, Christians. We know that we Christians may and do sin. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 Jn. 1:8, 10). If a Christian leaves Jesus and his word for the world (sin), he ceases to be a Christian, a follower of Christ. “For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world” (2 Tim. 4:10). Was Demas still a Christian? No! Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3). Where they still Christians? No! Hymenaus and Alexander made shipwreck of their faith (1 Tim. 1:19-20). Where they still Christians? No!
When a saved individual turns his back upon the Lord and his word, he errs from the faith (Heb. 3:12), when a Christians departs the living God (Heb. 3:12), when a Christian falls away from God, abides not in the doctrine of Christ (2 Jn. 9), he cannot be a Christian while abiding in that lost state. The door is open for his confession (1 Jn. 1:9), repentance and prayer (Acts 8:22). Without doing the above he will never be a Christian again.
I often hear a preacher say, “If you are already a Christian and have sin in your life you need to confess, repent and pray.” The fact of the matter when a person has sin in his life he is not a Christian. A Christian is one who is in covenant relationship with God. When one ceases to follow Christ he is not a disciple of Christ, nor is he a Christian in the truest sense of truth.
Words are vehicles of thought. We must be ever so careful as to not leave the impression in the minds of those we teach that one is still a Christian while being in sin. Christians are saved people, those who follow the Lord.
Guardian of Truth XXXVI: 16, p. 495
August 20, 1992