"He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him."

- John 14:21 NASB

"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.
Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?'

And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'

- Matthew 7:21-23 NASB

"And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him;"

- 1 John 2:3-4 NASB

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied."

- Matthew 5:6 NASB

"because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.

But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;"

- Romans 3:20-24 NASB



BASIC TERMS: Let's start by speaking the same language
2) Christian and righteousness


"The wise are instructed by reason; ordinary minds by experience; the stupid, by necessity; and brutes by instinct."

- Cicero

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.

- Proverbs 12:15 NASB

6.4 What is Christian?


Anyone can describe themselves as Christian and many people do. Yet Christian is not a subjective description, rather it is a definite state of being. This state is defined by the Bible, which thereby serves as our guide to determine who is and is not a Christian. The Bible defines a Christian as one who has spiritually been born again of the Spirit of God. (See also "What is the gospel?")

This is a once in a lifetime spiritual birth, subsequent to natural birth, that removes a person from spiritual death and begins their eternal life. A Christian believes in the person and deity of Jesus Christ, is indwelt with the God's Spirit, and seeks to follow his teachings as given in the Bible. A Christian is evidenced by a love for God, the denial of self relative to the will of God, and the increasing desire and ability to carry out God's will.


Though many who observe a believer's desire to obey God might conclude that Christianity is a matter of being good so as to earn one's way to heaven, that conclusion is totally wrong. Moreover, the concept that God's love and grace is somehow earned or deserved is one of the most pervasive errors in all of non-Christiandom. Godly obedience is the result of being born again, not the cause.

C.S. Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity, said this of Christians: "God does not love us because we're good, He makes us good because He loves us."

Christians generally acknowledge that:


No one is a Christian because their parents were Christians, or because they were baptized, or are a good person, or go to church, or because the're Catholic or Protestant or anything else. As Billy Sunday once remarked, "Sitting in a pew no more makes you a Christian than sitting in a garage makes you a car."

Church attendance and good deeds are all peripheral issues to this: being spiritually reborn into the family of God, and then sharing a daily intimate and active relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ as empowered by his Holy Spirit.

How can the Lord do this for you? Once you believe in him, and come to him in humilty, sincerity, and awe of his holy being, you will know God has surely moved to secure a place for you in heaven with him.

6.5 What is righteousness?


The Bible indicates that everyone will spend eternity in only one of two places; heaven or hell. Only those in right standing with God (the righteous) will spend their eternity in heaven.

As stated previously, the most common misconception about Christianity is that this right standing or approval is some relative measure that has to be earned with one's goodness or keeping God's commands. But in truth, God does not give eternity to anyone who shows a little goodness, or who weighs out more good than bad, or even to those who are 99.999% good. Heaven is for perfection, and God does not grade on a curve. Only those with God's righteousness, his very own quality of perfection, can exist in his presence in heaven.

God's unwillingness to bring into his presence anything less than perfection is somewhat like our unwillingness to drink poison. While we would obviously not drink a glass full of lethal poison, neither would we find a glass that is only half or a quarter full of lethal poison any more appealing. For us, the key word is poison. For God, the key word is sin.

Like our concern for the purity of what we take in, God's holiness requires perfect righteousness in those whom he takes in. Of course, there are only two ways to have this quality of righteousness. One way is to have never sinned, the other way is to receive it from God.


To have never sinned, we would have to have never deviated from God's laws for our entire lives. However, God's laws are not easily kept, nor is there anyone who comes close to being perfect.

Why did God furnish these laws if they are too difficult for us to keep?

The laws were given to us

1) so that we might better understand his perfection and purity (ultimately our goal),

2) for our own well-being, and

3) that we might come to recognize our need for God's help (by the fact that we are unable to perfectly keep those laws). The degree to which we have broken God's laws is also the measure by which he will condemn us unless we come to a right standing with him.

One deviation from a single law and any self-righteousness is worthless. After a single sin, there is nothing we can do to restore ourselves. This is as futile as a baseball player trying to achieve a 1.000 career batting average after suffering a strikeout his or her first time up. Not even a lifetime of perfect playing will erase that one imperfection.

Similarly, a perfect driving record amounts to nothing once a court convicts you of driving over the speed limit. For when an officer pulls you over, he or she does not weigh the months or years you spent obeying the law against the minutes or seconds you spent breaking them. In this sense, traffic laws are very much like God's laws in that they do not exist to grade you on how you act most of the time. You broke the law once and that is enough; neither a perfect past nor the promise of a perfect future will get you out of trouble.


Because all of us have sinned, self-righteousness is inadequate and insufficient to qualify us to come into God's presence. So in order to gain the necessary right standing with God, we have no alternative other than faith. Specifically, we must achieve that right standing by faith (extending our trust) in Jesus to have been sufficient payment for the penalty for our sins. For with our sins paid for and Christ's righteousness imputed to us as promised, God's legal charge against our sin is satisfied and we are free to stand before God as though we had never sinned.

Of course, only if Christ were God could he have done what no one else could do: meet his own perfect standard and thus be able to die (pay the penalty) for our sins rather than his own. And by rising after death, he put on display the fact that his sacrifice on our behalf was accepted and that we can follow in his footsteps. Thus our faith is not merely in the reality of his having lived, or having died for our sins, or having risen again as proof our sin was paid for. Our faith is actually interactive with both his living person and his principles for the rest of eternity.

In the Bible's words, "If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, 'Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.'" (Romans 10:9-11 NASB, emphasis mine)


(top of page)


See also:

Principles of God's judgment

What is the gospel?

Printing Tips, Contact, Search,
Links & Bibles,
The Gospel






Clarifying terminology is important because common words carry unique associations with every person.

Some words also have both good and bad connotations.

And other words are so frequently used and seldom explained that the definition is lost on the hearer, and even sometimes on the speaker.

1. What is Christian?
2. What is righteousness?