Can someone actually be a Christian and not believe in God, or Jesus, or heaven, or that the Bible is true? According to Mr. Shuck one needn't believe in anything to be a Christian. Mr. Shuck has also gone on record as saying he is offended when people tell him he is not a Christian. Defining the term as Mr. Shuck apparently does, one need only claim to be a Christian in order to be a Christian, with no other requirements being necessary. But is this true? Is Mr. Shuck and other “belief-less” Christians really and truly Christian? Many would say yes. In fact, there are many who say if one believes that Jesus existed then they are a Christian, and if someone dares to disagree with them, they are accused of bigotry, hatred and judgmentalism.
There are some who believe that since they grew up in a “Christian home,” or because they were born in America, they are Christians. Others believe if they “ask Jesus into [their] heart” they will be guaranteed salvation, while others believe they need only pray “the sinners” prayer to receive salvation. Interestingly, neither of these methods appear anywhere in the Bible. So just what is a Christian – a real, true Christian? Wayne Mack gives even more answers to that question in an article he wrote which appears on the Monergism website:
1. “Well, I certainly am a Christian; I’m doing the best I can. I try to live by the Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule and the Sermon on the Mount.”
2. “Most assuredly, I’m a Christian. If I’m not, I don’t know who is. My mother and father are very religious. I have an uncle who is a minister.”
3. “Indeed I am. I have always gone to church and Sunday School. I have been baptized and confirmed. I joined the church when I was fourteen.”
4. “I know I’m a Christian because when the evangelist gave the invitation I went to the front and made a decision for Christ. My counselor showed me that if I accepted Jesus as my personal Saviour, I would never be lost again. I didn’t want to be lost—hell is a terrible place—so I accepted Jesus, and I know now that no matter what happens, God will never reject me. I know it because I went to the altar and professed faith in Jesus Christ.”
5. I don't don’t know if I am, and I don’t see how anyone can really know for sure in this life. I guess I’ll just have to wait until I die to find out.”
6. “Sure, I’m a Christian. Isn’t everybody? Isn’t God the Father of all men? We may be going by different roads, but all of these roads lead to the same place. It doesn’t really matter what you believe, just so you are sincere—everyone who is sincere in his own religion is a Christian.”
Common answer number one—Salvation is by good works. Scripture—“For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8, 9). From a positive point of view these verses state that salvation is by grace. The word “grace” means unmerited favor. Positively speaking, salvation is the free gift of God. From a negative point of view these verses teach that salvation is not of works lest any man should boast. Again the Scriptures state that it is “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:5, 6). Similarly the Bible affirms that “By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight” (Romans 3:20).
Common answer number two—Salvation is by heredity. Scripture—“But as many as received him (Jesus Christ), to them God gave the authority to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12, 13). This latter verse affirms that physical heritage, blood lineage, family connections or any other such factors, do not have anything to do with whether or not a person is a Christian. Another passage of Scripture which teaches the same truth is Philippians 3:4, 5.
Common answer number three—Salvation is by religious activity. Scripture—“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have not we prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out demons? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me” (Matthew 7:22, 23). Other Scriptures which demonstrate that a Christian is not simply one who is active in religious matters are Mark 7:1-7; John 3:1-8; Luke 18: 9-14; Philippians 3:6, 7; Galatians 1:14, 15; Psalm 51:16, 17.
Common answer number four—Salvation is by profession of faith or by mere mechanical actions such as walking an aisle in an evangelistic crusade or praying a certain prayer. Scripture—“Now when he (Jesus) was in Jerusalem at the Passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not trust himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man; for he knew what was in man” (John 2:23-25). These people made a profession of faith but our Lord would not trust himself unto them because he knew that their profession of faith was not real. Other Scripture passages which teach that merely professing faith or going through certain mechanical actions does not ensure that a person is a Christian are Acts 8: 12-24; John 3:36; James 2:14-26; II Corinthians 5:17.
Common answer number five—You just can’t know whether or not you are saved. Scripture—“For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” (II Timothy 1: 12). “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God” (I John 5: 13). Other Scriptures which teach that a person can know that he is truly a Christian are John 5:24; Romans 8:1; II Peter 1:4-11.
Common answer number six—Every human being is a Christian and will most certainly go to heaven. Scripture—“He that believeth on him (Jesus Christ) is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3: 18). “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36). “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do” (John 8:44). Other Scriptures which teach that not everyone will go to heaven are John 8:3:44 Revelation 20:11-15; Ephesians 2:2, 3; Colossians 3:6.
First of all the Bible declares that a Christian is a person who has been radically changed by the power of God.
Secondly the Bible declares that a Christian is a person who has become and is becoming increasingly aware of his own unworthiness in the sight of God.
Thirdly, the Christian is a person who believes that Jesus Christ is God manifest in the flesh and the only Saviour and substitute of sinners.
Fourthly, the Bible teaches that the Christian is a person who has repented of his sins and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ.
What [does] the Bible [have] to say in answer to the question, “What is a Christian?” Turn from your own opinions and the opinions of others to the infallible Word of God “which is able to make you wise unto salvation which is by faith in Jesus Christ” (II Timothy 3:15). Ask God to impress upon you your own unworthiness and to reveal to you his Son Jesus Christ, who came into the world to save all sinners who would come to him. Call upon his name to save you now, for his promise is that “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved” (Romans 10:13). Ask him to forgive your sins, thank him for dying in the place of lost sinners, confess Jesus Christ before men as the Lord and Sovereign of your life and be assured that if you have sincerely done this or will do this, you may stand up before God and men and confess, “by the all availing and powerful blood of Jesus Christ, and by the power of the Holy Spirit who has now worked in my life, I am a Christian.”
About Wayne Mack:
Wayne Mack is the pastor of Faith Reformed Baptist Church, 110 State Road, Media, Pennsylvania, 19063. He is also the author of The Role of Women in the Church, The Biblical Concept of Church Discipline, To God Be the Glory, and The Sabbath, all of which are published by Mack Publishing Company, Robin Lake Dr., Cherry Hill, N.J. 08003.