Millions of people today, throughout the world, claim to be " Christian". This term literally means "a follower of Christ". However, if we weigh the evidence, and examine the fruits of any who claim the name Christian, we will find many falling short of Biblical Christianity. I would ask that you approach this study with an honest and good heart; (Luke 8:15) "But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience." In no way am I trying to belittle or insult anyone. I am not your judge, but God's word is: (John 12:48) "He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day." And if we stray from Biblical realities in our spiritual dealings, then terrifying eternal consequences await our arrival on the other side of this life. Let the words of Jesus be our wake up call to non complacency: (Mat 7:14) "Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." (Mat 7:21-23) "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. {22} Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? {23} And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." Here Jesus gives the example of people who profess Christ, and even do many wonderful things in his name, yet in the end are cast out of his presence. The key is in verse 21: "doeth the will of my Father".

What does it mean to be a follower of Christ, a Christian? The Greek translation of "follow" is "To be in the same way as". Well, let's take a look at some examples of Jesus' life that we should strive to be "in the same way as" or to follow after in order to be a true Christian. (Phil 2:5-12) "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: {6} Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: {7} But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: {8} And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. {9} Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: {10} That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; {11} And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. {12} Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." Just as Jesus was obedient to the Father, so we are called to be obedient to the Son. (John 14:15) "If ye love me, keep my commandments." (John 15:10) "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love." (John 15:14) "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you." Have you been taught that God's love is unconditional? I didn't put the "ifs" in there, God did. But what about grace? Well now, there's something that is unconditional, God's grace. (Rom 5:8) "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." God's grace is such that He supplied a remedy for man's sickness (sin). (2 Pet 3:9) "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." God doesn't want anyone to miss out on his glorious promise of eternal heaven. And by his grace he has supplied a once and for all sacrifice to reconcile man to God. He has done his part. He has made the prize of eternal life attainable. However, man must do his part. He must come to God on his terms. (Rom 6:16-17) "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? {17} But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you." Don't let anyone tell you that you don't have to do anything to be saved. Faith is found only in obedience. Hebrews 11 is known as the faith chapter. Let's take a brief look at it here: (Heb 11:4) "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh." Note: "Able offered". (Heb 11:7-8) "By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. {8} By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went." Note Noah "prepared an ark". Also note how Abraham "obeyed". Review the whole chapter and see how faith and obedience go hand in hand.

What does all this have to do with you and your being a Christian? Beloved, it has everything to do with it. The majority of "Christendom", so called, teaches the exact opposite of what the Bible teaches. "Faith only" is the cry of many. James says: (James 2:24) "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only." It doesn't matter how you worship as long as it's sincere, many say. Yet the Bible says: (Mat 15:9) "But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." (John 4:24) "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." What is truth? (John 17:17) "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." True faith comes through obedience to God's word. (Acts 5:32) "And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him." Feelings can not be our guide. (Jer 10:23) "O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps." (Prov 14:12) "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." It just doesn't matter if something seems right. Only God has the right to determine right from wrong. Only the Bible conveys God's word to us. Therefor the Bible only should be our guide. If you do not stand by, and live by this principle, than you are standing on sandy soil! The only other alternative to Bible only authority is trusting in men and emotions. Remember John 12:48, we will be judged by the words of Christ. Excuses such as "my Pastor told me this or my Priest told me that" will not hold up against the Word of God. Just look at these few passages: (Phil 2:12) "--- work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."(2 Th 1:8) "In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:"(Acts 5:29) "Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men." (Rom 2:8-9) "But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath," {9} "Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;" (Rom 6:16) "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?"(Gal 3:1) "O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?"(Gal 5:7) "Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?" Get the picture?

Beloved, one of the fundamentals of salvation is baptism, yet Christendom (so called) today rejects that it is even necessary to salvation. Many who would shudder at the thought of leaving belief, repentance, or confession out of the plan of salvation (and rightly so), do not even think twice about proclaiming someone saved who has never been scripturally baptized! What is scriptural baptism? In summary, it is the complete immersion of an accountable (to God), repentant believer into a body of water for the forgiveness of sins (by contacting the blood of Christ). Please read the following verses:

(Mark 16:16) "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."

(Acts 2:38) "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."

(Acts 8:35-37,39) "Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. {36} And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? {37} And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. [39} "And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing."

(Rom 6:3-5) "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? {4} Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. {5} For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:"

(1 Pet 3:21) "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:"

(Col 2:12) "Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead." There's more, but this should suffice. Look them up. Salvation and baptism cannot be seperated! Beloved, it doesn't take a genius or a theologin to understand those verses. Read them again for what they are - God's word.

The right mode and reason are also essential; The word "baptism" has been altered from it's original meaning by the traditions of men. "Baptized" comes from the Greek word "baptizo" meaning to immerse/make fully wet. This is the biblical mode of baptism! The reason for baptism is also of the utmost importance. We see this in Acts 19:3-5 = "And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. {4} Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. {5} When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus." Through baptism by immersion in water, we participate in the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the only way to procure salvation by the blood of Christ! Look again at the above scriptures concerning baptism, especially Romans 6: 3-5. Let it be stated here that there is nothing magical about the water. The water doesn't save. Look at 1Pet 3:21 and Col 2:12 above and see how faith in the operation of God brings us through the watery grave of baptism into a new life with Christ!

Just hearing the word of God won't save you. Just believing the word of God won't save you. Just repenting of your sins won't save you. Just confessing Jesus as Lord won't save you. And just being baptized won't save you. All these things together go hand in hand with God's plan of salvation. They are all scriptural. There is no "sinners prayer" or "asking Jesus into your heart". These things are man's inventions, or, additions if you will. Are you trusting your eternal destination to man's fleeting ways? Or, are you going to trust the Word of God that abideth forever?

Beloved, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the differences between biblical Christianity and the majority of Christianity (so called) today. We have looked briefly at obedience to God's word and how to become a Christian. There are other issues such as the maintaining of your salvation, taking the Lord's supper every Lord's day, worshipping the way God has authorized, the women's' role in the church, names worn by churches and people, the structure/government of the church, and many more. These things are all dealt with in God's word. For further study, I urge you to contact us for a correspondence course or an in depth Bible study in your home at no cost or obligation. Please review this article before making any decisions. True love is presenting truth to any who are in error or in danger of damnation. (James 5:19-20) "Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; {20} Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins."

I'll close with these words from Paul: (Rom 10:1-2) "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. {2} For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge."

Please feel free to contact The Susquehanna Valley Church of Christ (Rms 16:16) at 743-1533 or Mike at 1-800-696-1055, or write PO BX 350 Hummels Wharf Pa 17831.