The Difference Between Religious People And Christians

horse_and_carriageThis is not rocket science. In fact, I’ve written about the difference between people of other religions and Christians on other occasions, but I’ve generally left the door open when someone professes to be a Christian. I mean, I can’t look into their hearts. I don’t know what their relationship with God is. If they say they have been redeemed by the blood of Christ, then who am I to say they haven’t been?

But today on the radio broadcast Truth for Life, Pastor Alistair Begg gave the clearest, simplest way of identifying the difference between religious people and Christians.

Someone who is religious believes and obeys in order to be accepted by God. A Christian on the other hand believes in order to be accepted by God, and obeys. Put in slightly different terms, a religious person works to be justified with God, whereas a Christian works because he is justified with God.

The differences seem small and even hard to tell apart, but the two positions actually are diametrically opposed to one another. It’s the cart before the horse idea. One man has a cart and a horse, the other man has a horse and a cart. What’s the difference? Everything. The first man goes nowhere. The second has a wonderful conveyance that takes him wherever he wishes to go.

So too the religious person is stuck with his own inadequate efforts trying to make himself acceptable to God. It will never happen, in the same way that a cart will never pull a horse. The Christian, on the other hand, confessing his inability to measure up to God’s standard, and accepting the completed, redemptive work of Jesus Christ, receives a full measure of God’s grace and is accepted by the Father. As a result, he obeys God in the strength and through the power of that grace.

So who’s a Christian? Not the person who believes his work is in any way meritorious in bringing reconciliation between him and God. It really is that simple.

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Published in: on December 7, 2012 at 6:59 pm  Comments (4)  
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4 Comments

  1. LOVE Pastor Begg. Every sermon I listen to by him opens my eyes in yet another way to the Word! Makes me wish I lived in Ohio! LOL

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    • I do too, April. He is an insightful Bible teacher. And yes, he would make it worth living in Ohio. 😉

      Becky

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  2. I like the short phrase “It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship.” Even that requires explanation, which you supplied in its simplest terms. Good analogy! Thanks!

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  3. I’ve always liked that phrase too, but like with so many bite-sized explanations, they end up becoming cliched. And as you say, it needs explanation whenever you’re talking to someone who isn’t a Christian.

    I appreciate the feedback!

    Becky

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