Thursday, March 06, 2014

T.T. 62 - How many types of Christians are there?

T.T. 62 - How many types of Christians are there?

The answer is ONE. You need to understand what a Christian really is. If you ask most people what a Christian is, they will probably reply something like "A person who goes to church", or, "A person who prays a lot and reads the Bible", or, "A person who does lots of good deeds and is always kind to others". All these things are good, but none of them make a person a Christian. Rather, these are some of the things that Christians do - because they already are Christians! Real Christians do these things because they can't help themselves. They are "natural" to them because Jesus has changed them on the insides, and given them a God-given desire to do these things, which is simply an outward expression of their new love for both God and other people.

Of course non-Christians can also do some or all of the above things, but that doesn't make them Christians. Some people do these things to try and please God - because they don't understand that God's forgiveness and acceptance can never be earned, no matter how 'good' they are, or how hard they try. Others do these things to try and impress people, so that they will think well of them, or be good to them in return.

One of the best ways of understanding what a real Christian really is, is to consider the three words :- CHRIST IN PERSON. When you condense these words into one, you are left with CHRISTIAN.


In other words, a Christian is a person in whom Jesus Christ is living. And He can only live in you if you invite Him to do so asking Him to forgive your sins (wrongdoing) and to come and take charge of your life.

I understand why somebody could ask the above question. There are thousands of different religions in the world, the followers of some of the best known being the Moslems, Hindus, Buddhists and Jews. Even among the Christian faith, there are many different Denominations or types of church. It can all be rather confusing to the outsider.

The first thing to realise is that Christianity is not a religion. In fact, it is the opposite of religion. Religion is all about us trying to please God, to reach Him by doing good works. On the other hand, Christianity is all about God coming down to us as Jesus and meeting us where we are. All we are required to realise that it is impossible to please God by our own good deeds and to accept what Jesus has done for us on the cross. It is the difference between trying and trusting. (See Figure below).
No matter how hard we try, we can never reach God by our good deeds.

There are two radical differences between all religions and Christianity.

1. Religions teach that our only way to God and Heaven is through our own Good works.
2. Religions deny that Jesus is God. (Many believe that Jesus was a good man or a Prophet, but they deny His divinity).

At the centre of the Christian faith is the belief that Jesus is God, and that we can ony reach God and Heaven through Him (see John 14.6).

Different Christian churches.

There are three different types of Christian churches. They differ because of what they have as their FINAL AUTHORITY for what they believe and consequently the way they live.

1. The Roman Catholics.

Roman Catholics have as their final authority their church leaders, in other words the declarations of their Popes, past and present. They believe that the Pope is God's spokesman on earth, and that therefore what the Pope says is what God says. Also, as God is infallible, so must be the Pope's declarations.

The problem arises when one Pope may contradict what a former Pope had declared, or what is taught in the Bible.

2. The Liberal churches.

This group have as their final authority human reason. They respect the Bible and what various church leaders have said, but if this is against what their mind tells them is true, they reject it. For example, they may deny most of the miracles recorded in the Bible such as the bodily resurrection of Christ and attempt to explain them away. Unfortunately, if you remove the miraculous from the Bible, you are just left with a few interesting stories and some good moral teaching.

3. The Evangelical churches.

The Bible is their final authority. They use their human reason, and they appoint leaders, but when these contradict the Bible, they submit to the authority of the latter, believing that it is the inspired and infallible Word of God.

Even among the Evangelical group of churches, there are many different denominations, and variations in what they believe and teach. However, many of these differences are 'minor doctrines' and ultimately not important to our salvation. Such 'minor doctrines' include Water Baptism - i.e. the Baptism of infants or 'Believers', the present day operation of the gifts of the Spirit, the method of Church government, the role of women in the church and the correct interpretation of the 'End Times'.

I would suggest, however, that there are six 'Major doctrines' that Evangelical churches have in common, and around which they can have true unity. These are:-

1.The Divinity of Christ.
2. The substitutionary death of Jesus on the cross for our sins.
3. The bodily resurrection of Jesus.
4. Our need to be 'Born Again'.
5. God accepts us on the basis of our faith in Jesus alone.
6. The Bible, as first given, is the divine and infallible 'Word of God'.

We should remember, however, that true Christians can be found in all these three types of churches. The type of church you attend doesn't determine whether you are a Christian or not. A true Christian (CHRIST IN PERSON) is simply someone with Christ living within them, because He has been invited to do so.