WHO IS A CHRISTIAN?

by Jerry Henderson

Who is a Christian

The word “Christian” is used 3 times in the New Testament (Acts 11:26; Acts 26:28 and 1 Peter 4:16). It is both noble and honorable to wear the name of Christ (James 2:5-7). The “name” the rich were blaspheming in James 2:5-7 was without a doubt the name of Christ. The name by which they were called was “Christian” which is a combination of “Christ” and the suffix “ian” and when put together means a follower of Christ. A Christian is more than just a baptized person; church member; weekly worshiper or just a good person. There are many counterfeits, but few that are real or genuine (John 8:31).

Some considerations about the name Christian

First, we want to consider the origin of the name “Christian”. God promised to give a “new name” (Isaiah 62:1-2). It would not be an old name with new significance, it would be a new name. It would be given when the “Gentiles would see the righteousness of Zion. It would be given by the mouth of Lord not by the enemies of the Christians. Isaiah 56:5 says it was to be “within my house.” God’s house is the church according to 1 Timothy 3:15. Therefore it is unscriptural to call one a Christian who is not in the Lord’s church. This name was to be an “everlasting name” (Isaiah 56:5). That means it is to last forever.

Now consider the meaning and use of the name “Christian”. As noted above, the name means: a “Follower of Christ” (Thayer’s Greek English Lexicon); or an “Adherent of Christ” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary). It is not used in Scripture in a hyphenated way as it is used today: such as, “Baptist-Christian; Methodist-Christian or some other man-made name attached to the name “Christian”. There are no “conservative Christians” or “liberal Christians.” The Lord never prefixed or suffixed the name Christian. “Christian” is a noun, not an adjective! Yet the word “Christian” is tacked on too many things – homes, schools, colleges, Sabbath, etc. The term “Christian Atheist.” is even used. It is thought if a person was a good moral Atheist, he or she was a Christian Atheist. People even talk about Jewish Christians, but a person can’t be both a Jew and a Christian. One can be of Jewish descent but not a Jew from the religious standpoint.

Let’s answer the question, who are not Christians

Just who are not Christians? Certainly, those not in God’s family, the church, can call themselves a Christian. Obviously, someone can appropriate a name and wear it even though they are not entitled to. One could call themselves “Jones” when not in the “Jones” family. They have “assumed” a name rather than it being “assigned” to them because they are a part of the family. Identity theft or the stealing of a name and or the identity of another is a major problem in our society today. Abraham Lincoln is said to have asked: “If you call a cow’s tail a leg, how many legs does she have?” Most answered five, but he replied: “No, four, calling a tail a leg does not make it one!” So, neither does calling someone a Christian make them one! Not all “good” people are Christians. Yes, one must be good, but that in and of itself does not make one a Christian. Nicodemus was a good man but had to be born again to be a part of the Kingdom (the church or family) of God and thereby be called a Christian (John 3:1-5). Cornelius was a very devout man, but he had to hear words to be saved (which made him a part of God’s family and a Christian) (Acts 11:14). Not all “religious” people are Christians. Even those who are heathens are religious (Acts 17:22). The apostle Paul, before his conversion, was very religious, but he was holding on to what was false (Acts 26:5, 9). He even persecuted Christians. So, even though he was very religious he was not a Christian before his conversion. There are, in fact, two kinds of religion, “pure” and “defiled” (James 1:26-27). Not even all church members are Christians. Just joining or attending a church does not make one a Christian. There are even some who call themselves members of the “church of Christ” who are not Christians (John 8:31).

Then who are Christians?

Then just who are Christians? Wearing the name “American” involves duty: such as upholding the constitution, obeying laws, good citizenship, etc. Those who do not obey laws, burn flag, and try to destroy this country we call “un-American” because they are not demonstrating the characteristics of an “American”. Wearing the name “Christian” involves a life of duty to Christ. A Christian is something a person IS, not just something they are called. A Christian is a person who has obeyed the gospel – been baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38) and is therefore “in Christ” (Galatians 3:26, 27)

Questions to ask yourself

The following are some questions a person can ask themselves in their effort to determine if they are, in fact, a Christian. Have I obeyed the gospel (2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17)? One is not a Christian if they have not put on Christ by obeying the commands He has set forth in His Will, the Gospel. Did I obey the gospel out of conviction or convenience (Romans 6:17)? If a person did what they did just for family, prestige, or for any reason other than their desire to submit to the Lord and His will, they are not a Christian. Am I willing to suffer as a Christian (1 Peter 4:16; Hebrews 10:32-34)? A person willing to suffer for something has conviction. A person unwilling to suffer for Christ is not a Christian. Am I separated from the world in recreation, language, conduct, apparel, etc. (Romans 12:2; 1 John 2:15-17)? A person cannot serve God and mammon (material things) (Matthew 6:24). Am I truly devoted to Christ? Do I love the brethren, or do I have no time for my brethren or others (John 13:34-35)? Do I attend services as much as I can or as little as I think I can get by with (Hebrews 10:25)? Do I give liberally or miserly or do I give the leftovers to God (2 Corinthians 9:6, 7)? Am I truly interested in leading others to Christ? Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10) and if we are Christians, we are followers of Him (1 Peter 2:21). Do I appreciate strong preaching or am I offended when the Bible condemns my sins? What is my reaction when error is exposed (Galatians 4:16; John 6:66)? Am I growing in the faith (2 Peter 1:5-8)? Am I concerned about my spiritual development and that of my family? We are taught that we must “glorify God in this name” (1 Peter 4:10-11). Therefore, everything we do must be such as would bring glory to God or I am not a Christian even though I might call myself such.

What’s Important

When our spirit leaves our body, the important question will not be “was he or she rich, a great athlete or a scholar, etc. etc…” But rather the important question will be “was he or she a faithful Christian?” So, are we really Christians, or are we just wearing the name? If you are not a Christian, you can become one by obeying the gospel of Jesus Christ. That means you must hear the Word (Romans 10:17); believe in Jesus Christ (John 8:24); repent of your sins (Luke 13:3); confess your faith publicly (Matthew 10:32, 33); and be baptized for the remission of your sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16). You will then be added by the Lord to the church, the family of God (Acts 2:47) and you will be a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ. There is an old spiritual song that says “ev’rybody talkin’ bout heav’n ain’t goin’ there.” There are also a lot of people calling themselves Christians who are not. ARE YOU A “CHRISTIAN”?

What Must I Do to obtain remission of sins (be Saved)?

What must I do to he saved?  How can I receive forgiveness (remission of sins)?  What does God demand of me?  This question, in one form or another, has been asked over and over since God put mankind on this earth. This is the very same question that many Jews on the day of Pentecost wanted answered. These are the very same people who, some forty days earlier had cried out for the torturous death of Jesus. So, through the power of the Holy Spirit, Peter spoke the words needed to pierce their hearts (Acts 2:22-36).

Baptism

The people, instead of reacting to this accusation with anger, as some today, reacted with godly sorrow: “Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). They were asking the question of universal interest to all. What shall we do? How do we gain atonement for our sins’? They wanted to know what was necessary to remove the stain of blood from our hands’?

But remission of sins comes by grace

What shall we do? Do; was it possible that there was something that they (or we) could do? People for ages have insisted quite strenuously that there is nothing we can do in order to have our sins forgiven. Their rational is, “If we must do something, salvation is not of grace – it is not the free gift of God.”

Is it possible that salvation can be of grace and that we still must do something to obtain it? An illustration used to make the point go something like this: Two men were sitting at the table talking. when one noticed the other had a very nice pen. Upon the man commenting about the nice pen, the owner of the pen held it out and said, “You may have it.” Here is a gift. This is an act of grace. The man did not pay for the pen. the other simply gave it to him.

But, if this man took the modern notion of grace he would have simply sat there and stared at the pen. Why? If the gift is of grace, there is nothing for him to do to obtain the gift. If he so much as reached out his hand to take the pen he has “worked” for it and the gift is not of grace.  He, however, not burdened by this false notion of grace, would take the pen and thank the owner for his gracious offer. He did something.

Those on Pentecost understood remission of sins and salvation

And indeed, on the day of Pentecost there was something the crowd had to do. In fact, there were several things. First, they had to recognize (believe) that Jesus was indeed the Christ. Notice, something they had to do. They demonstrated this by their reaction to Peter’s sermon. Having believed, they felt they must do more. Peter, guided by the Holy Spirit, agreed.  His directions were simple: “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

They were commanded to repent; change their heart and ways. Also, they were commanded to be baptized. The result? The remission (blotting out) of their sins. As straight forward as this seems. many who would call themselves Christians claim forgiveness of sins is not contingent upon baptism.  Their reasoning goes; baptism is a “work” and if remission requires you to do anything, it cannot be of grace. They fail to comprehend what was said in John 6:28-29 about belief.

If we say baptism paid the price for sin, the argument would have some merit. But the fact is, I know of no one who teaches that baptism earns forgiveness of sins. Simply being obedient to God earns us nothing. We are His and this is our duty (Luke 17:10). Every one I am acquainted with (regardless of religious affiliation) accepts the necessity of belief and repentance for forgiveness. But these are things one must do. So, also, must one be baptized.

When does remission of sins come?

One objection continually raised by some is; Acts 2:38 says “because of the remission of sins . . .” instead of “for the remission of sins ….” Their reasoning; A person is baptized because he is saved, not in order to be saved. Circular logic comes into play at this point. The proponents of this reasoning argue salvation happens when they believe (and repent), otherwise salvation is of works, not faith. Despite this claim, not one single respectable translation of the Bible contains this reading! For comparrison refer to the KJV, NKJV, ASV, NASB, MV, NCV, RSV, NRSV and any other acronyms that you can think of.

In fact, Peter’s words properly translated into English remain: “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). Three thousand people understood that day and were baptized (Acts 2:41). There is a similar passage when Ananias is instructing Saul (later known as the apostle Paul) as to what was necessary for the remission of sins in Acts 22:16. If you want remission of your sins, you will believe, repent, and be baptized.

If You Were To Die Today, Would You Go To Heaven
Somethings Never Change

Raccoon John Smith on Baptism

John “Raccoon” Smith was a (pioneer) gospel preacher from Wayne County, Kentucky, near Albany. He was completely converted to Christ and to the idea of restoring religion to nothing more than one finds in the New Testament. He was ardent in opposing the practice of baptizing infants. He had a practice of digging steps down to the water’s edge at the place where he immersed those who desired to obey the gospel. A Methodist preacher happened to be in the crowd on a particular day when Smith was baptizing people. Smith learned of his presence and came up out of the water and forcibly took the Methodist preacher by the arms and led him toward the water. The Methodist preacher strongly protested. “What, in the name of sense, are you doing Sir!” “Why, I intend on baptizing you, Sir”, Smith replied. “But I do not want to be baptized by you, Sir.” Smith responded, “You believe in the Lord, do you not?” “Of course, I do.” Then, come along, Sir. Believers must be baptized. ” “But it is against my will. I do not want to be immersed. It will be of no value at all. Please let me go,” the reluctant preacher begged. At this point, Smith held his victim firmly and with a voice loud enough for the entire crowd to hear said, “Did you not, this very last Sunday, baptize a helpless baby against its will, although it shrank from your touch and kicked against your baptism? Did you get its consent first, Sir?” With a powerful grip he pulled the preacher closer to the water’s edge. The preacher’s protests grew more frantic until at last, Smith released the poor man. Smith then said, “You think, Sir, that it is all right to baptize others by violence when you have the physical power to do it; but, when you yourself are made to be the unwilling subject, you say it is wrong and will do no good. You may go for the present. But, (addressing the audience) brethren and friends, let me know if he ever again baptizes others without their full consent; for you yourselves have heard him declare that such a baptism cannot possibly do any good.

Taken from a book titled: Life of Elder John Smith

Infant Baptism, Is It Right?

Many in the religious world today say that infants are born sinners and must be baptized so that they may be saved.  Those same people will tell us we inherit sin from our ancestors all the way back to Adam.  Yet, God says in Ezekiel 18:20, “The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity…” God tells us that children do not inherit sin from their parents, grandparents, or any of their forefathers, all the way back to Adam.  God says, “The son will not bear the punishment for the Father.”  Each person is responsible for his own sins.
So, what is sin?  I John 3:4 says, “Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.” We do not inherit sin. It is something we do. And we commit sin when we commit lawlessness.  An infant has not broken any law of God and thus has not committed any sin.  How is sin committed?  In James 1:14-15 we read, “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” A baby cannot be drawn away and enticed into lustful sin.
One error leads to another.  Men say since infants have inherited the sin of Adam, they must be baptized or they will be lost.  Not only are infants not lost but they are not suitable candidates for baptism, since they cannot believe.  Jesus says in Mark 16:16, “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved…” Here He shows one of the prerequisites of being saved is to believe, which is impossible for an infant to do.  Also, one of the prerequisites of being baptized is one must repent.  The apostle Peter told a group of people to “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins…” (Acts 2:38).  Can an infant repent?  It would be absurd to think an infant could believe or repent, but it is just as absurd to think an innocent infant, who is without sin, must be baptized for the forgiveness of sins, which he does not have.
Parents who have their infants “christened” are being deceived by the false doctrines of men.  Satan has many ways through his lies in fooling people into being lost.  When a person who was baptized as an infant becomes accountable, he doesn’t think he needs to be baptized again so he can be saved.  Satan knows infant baptism accomplishes nothing.  Satan knows when people who were baptized as an infant become accountable, at that time they begin to sin and will be eternally lost in the burning fires of Hell if they don’t obey the Lord.  When a person becomes accountable he must “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38), not before.  If a person misses Heaven by believing the lies of Satan, he will only have himself to blame.