What is a Christian?E.W. Bullinger
If this question was addressed to six people it is possible that six
different answers would be given: one might say he is a good living man,
another that he is a member of a church or chapel, or that he is a
person who does charitable work in aiding needy people, and so on. Let
us look at the word `Christian’ again, and suppose we pronounce it
differently, calling it CHRISTian, it will remind us that such a person
has some relationship to Christ in the first place.
If we ask in what way, we shall be wise if we turn to His own divine
statements and give them serious consideration. The answer to our
question is not to be found in the various opinions which come from the
human mind; these will only lead us into error and disillusionment. What
more reasonable than that we should turn to the `fountain head’ Himself?
Why did Christ come to this world of ours? These are His own words:
` The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost’ (Luke
` I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on Me
should not abide in darkness. … I came not to judge the world, but to
save the world’ (John 12:46,47).
These words are surely clear. Christ came to dispel darkness and doubt
and to give LIGHT. Christ came not to condemn but to SAVE. This being
so, it is obvious that there must be a fundamental need in the human
heart for enlightenment and salvation; but what is salvation? As you
begin to consider this please put from your mind all thoughts of
churches, reformation, ordinances, baptism, whether infant or adult, for
in its essence the salvation which Christ spoke of has nothing to do
with these things. Many there are around us whose idea of salvation is
that it results from a way of living, moral or religious, and is
intimately connected with some religious rite or ceremony. Multitudes
have conceived their own conditions of salvation or have accepted the
conditions laid down by others and, having fulfilled these requirements,
they rest in the false security of self deception. They may have met the
requirements of men, but they have fallen short of the requirements of
In this study we wish to avoid theological language and to use great
plainness of speech so that all who read can understand. The subject is
so vastly important–actually there can be nothing more important–that
at all costs we must avoid having our minds clouded by human opinion.
Consequently, we shall turn away from men however good they may be and
go direct to the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ.
From the verse already quoted (Luke 19:10) He has stated that the
purpose of His coming was to SAVE, and those to whom this work applies
are described by Him as LOST. Let us add another statement of His
regarding this purpose:
` They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are
sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance’ (Mark
It is clear from these words that Christ’s mission was not directed to
good people but to the unworthy, those whom He described as LOST and as
SINNERS. Now this is not flattering to human nature, but before you turn
away from it, my dear reader, just ask yourself honestly whether, in
spite of any good behaviour which you strive after, perhaps these terms
truthfully describe you? It is not a question of big sinners or little
sinners. One sin makes a sinner just as one lie makes a liar. Even if
your self-control is so strong that you never commit any act or speak
any word that is wrong (which is improbable), what about the
inside–your thinking? Have you never indulged in sinful thoughts?
Remember that of Christ it is said:
` He knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for He
knew what was in man'(John 2:24,25).
He sees inside and knows every thought, and while men may deceive one
another with externals, there is no deceiving Him. Apart from this, as
one looks around and considers the present appalling condition of world
affairs with its mounting armaments and gigantic weapons of destruction,
its terrible threat of war, suffering and death, one would have thought
that these things of themselves would prove that there is something
radically wrong with the human mind. There can be no doubt that
salvation is a necessity and it was for this express purpose that
Christ came. A sinner needs a saviour whether he knows it or not,
but this saviour must be the one of God’s providing, and the one He has
provided is the Lord Jesus Christ. Saving the lost is His business. He
has never failed nor can He fail.
There are no exceptions in connection with sin and failing for `All have
sinned, and come short of the glory of God’ (Rom. 3:23) therefore all
need a Saviour and that includes YOU. Do not turn away because this does
not pat you on the back and flatter you. Do not indulge in wishful
thinking, but be absolutely honest with yourself in this matter. You can
settle the question of your own salvation by answering the following
questions: Is the Lord Jesus Christ my personal Saviour? Do I as a
sinner belong to Him? Have I put my trust in Him and in Him alone? If
the answers are `YES’, you are saved, because you are linked by simple
faith with Him who is the only Saviour of mankind. If the answers are
`NO’, you are lost and the final condition of the lost is one of
condemnation and perishing eternally.
` For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that
whosoever believeth in Him should not PERISH, but have everlasting LIFE’
` I am come that they might have LIFE’ (John 10:10).
` He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not
is condemned already’
So, in all solemnity, it is a question of LIFE or DEATH and that
eternally. To be linked with Christ means life eternal for you; to be
divorced from Him means eternal death. Note that salvation comes to you
from Him by the avenue of faith. You are not saved by faith itself–it
is the object of faith, the Lord Jesus Christ that saves. Your faith is
merely the channel by which His salvation reaches you and becomes your
own possession. Faith, belief and trust mean the same thing. If you have
faith in a man, you trust him. If you trust him you have faith in him.
If you have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ you have all that God
requires of a sinner in order to be saved.
It may be asked–is there no other way of salvation? In the words of
Christ Himself the answer is
` I am the door: BY ME if any man enter in, he shall be saved’ (John
` He that entereth not by the door … but climbeth up some other way,
the same is a thief and a robber’ (John 10:1).
` I am the WAY, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father,
but BY ME’ (John 14:6).
Men may talk of working out their own way of salvation, but all such
efforts in the light of these words must end in deception and death
because they ignore the only way God recognizes, i.e., Christ Himself.
There is a further question that may be put: How can God save me through
Christ? It is entirely beyond the capabilities of the finite mind to
grasp this in all its fulness, but the Apostle Paul summed it up when he
` For He (God) hath made Him (Christ) to be sin for us, Who knew no
sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him’ (2 Cor.
There is a wonderful transference here. He takes your sin and bears it
away and pays the penalty in your stead, which is death. Hence His
atoning death on Calvary’s cross. You take His righteousness by simple
trust in Him and the free gift of eternal life in the place of
condemnation and death; and not only this, but His almighty power which
will enable you to live, in the fullest sense of the word, a life of
peace and joy, in spite of all circumstances.
God’s way of salvation then is plain. You are a failing creature, a
sinner. You need a Saviour. There is only one Saviour, and He is Jesus
Christ. When you put your trust in Him and rely entirely upon His all
sufficient work and merit, you are saved and that for all eternity and
the question which heads this study is then answered as to what a real
Christian is. It is YOU if you have taken this one vital and necessary
step. If you have not, then we would urge upon you, with all the
earnestness at our command, that you do it NOW. You cannot guarantee
to-morrow, therefore let not this day pass before you go to God quietly,
simply, and in all sincerity and tell Him that you are a sinner; that
you realise your need of salvation and will put your trust in the only
Saviour of sinners, the Lord Jesus Christ. The peace of mind, the joy,
the sense of a real purpose in life which will surely follow have to be
experienced to be believed.
If you turn away and reject Him, things can never be the same for you
again. At least, you will not be able to say that you did not know. Do
not be concerned or afraid of what other people may do or think. What
does this matter when eternal things are at stake? Never mind how much
you have sinned and failed in the past; remember He said that He came to
call sinners not righteous people, and therefore He came for YOU. He
will not turn you away for He has given you this promise:
` Him that cometh to ME I will in no wise cast out’ (John 6:37).
` He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by
Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them’ (Heb. 7:25).
He can be your Saviour here and now, and you can be a Christian in the
truest sense if you will put your trust in Him and receive His salvation
and transforming power. This can only be done by yourself.
No one can do it for you. The question is:
Think well before you say NO, FOR YOUR ETERNAL DESTINY HANGS UPON YOUR