To the challenge the late Christopher Hitchens raised “Name one moral action performed by a believer that could not have been done by a nonbeliever”, I would answer this. The very first command given by Jesus while He was on planet earth was recorded in Mark 1:15:
“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”
Could a nonbeliever do this? Would he not at that very moment cease to be a nonbeliever? And the second command Jesus gave is recorded 2 verses later in Mark 1:17:
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”
Likewise, a nonbeliever could not perform this moral action (following Jesus). This action would involve denial of self and yielding to and following the only truly good One who ever was. They may disagree that these are to be classified as moral actions. As a Christian, these are viewed as commands from the Creator God, which by definition are moral obligations to be fulfilled.
As I think about these 2 verses from the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry, I can’t help but see that these 4 commands:
- Repent (v15)
- Believe the Gospel (v15)
- Follow Jesus (v17)
- Bring others to Christ – become “fishers of men” (v17)
These really define what it is to be a Christian!