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”?

An Inescapable Conclusion

An Inescapable Conclusion

The situations we face in life can usually be handled in several different ways.  But, God saw to it that Israel, His Old Testament people, were drawn to an inescapable conclusion in Ecclesiastes 12:13. This is one Old Testament Commandment that is also applicable to those of us in New Testament times.  Of course, all of God’s Directives to man must be “rightly divided” (2 Timothy 2:15). In that way they can be properly understood and followed.

But you may be asking: “Why is keeping the Commandments of God the whole duty of man?” Because man will be judged! And either sentenced to eternity in a place of condemnation or rewarded with eternity with God. When Jesus came to earth, He did not come to judge man (John 12:47). Jesus will become judge after His present reign over the kingdom for which He gave His life on Calvary’s cross. We also know that the kingdom exists now and is not some future entity which is to be expected.

Inescapable Conclusions

The judgment is an inescapable conclusion if one reads and studies the Bible. We do not know when this will occur, except to the degree the Bible tells us. But in 1 Corinthians 15:24-26 we do know that Christ will “rule” and “reign” until the end.

This leads to another inescapable conclusion; that all will die. Hebrews 9:27 makes this clear that death precedes judgment. From these passages, one must conclude all will have died (or been changed) when the judgment will occur (1 Corinthians 15:51).

From these Bible facts, we can conclude the time to make the needed changes in our lives is while we have full access of our faculties. One way of making the changes that are needed within us is to prioritize. Jesus told those hearing Him the “kingdom” (the church) and the righteousness of God would have to be first in their lives (Matthew 6:33). The “these things” of which the Lord spoke were the other necessities of life such as food, raiment, and shelter.

The Choice Is Ours

How do we prioritize our lives to ensure that we seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness first? Well, it must be through that which will judge us after this life is over (John 12:48). It is a choice all must make. We can receive His Word or we can reject it. As we read John 12:49-50, the verses that follow, we can surely “conclude” that God’s Word was what Jesus spoke. If we want the desired outcome at the judgment, we must put the Word of God first in our lives. It is an inescapable conclusion that only the Word of God, rightly divided and properly lived leads to the eternal life.

What is it that is keeping you from doing the things found in the Word of God?   Why can we not see that God’s Word is that which directs us?   The Psalmist wrote, “Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). It is an inescapable conclusion that if we walk the path of this life without the light of the gospel, we will reach a destination we do not wish to reach.

Some Thoughts to Consider with Our Mothers in Mind

by Abraham Smith

Introduction

“For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears” (Hebrews 12:17). This verse holds many valuable applications for the one who would accept them.

The Value of Mothers

The love of mother

How many opportunities will we miss because we did not recognize the value of those things or love ones in our lives that we should cherish? Sometimes we despise what should be most important in our lives until it is too late, like Esau.

Every person who comes into the world has a valuable gift from God, their parents. It was so important to God that we value our parents that He has given numerous instructions demanding our respect, devotion, honor, and love of our parents. Thus we can read, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you” (Exodus 20:12). “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1). “There is a generation that curses its father, And does not bless its mother” (Proverbs 30:11). We all ought to bless our mothers and respect our fathers.

Honor Mother

But the greatest respect we can give our parents is to obey their commands and honor their wishes. So often we offer substitutes instead of obedience. Let us do what they want.

In 1 Samuel 15, we read where Saul king of Israel substituted his wishes instead of God’s wishes. God wanted the sheep and oxen of Amelek destroyed. But Saul and the people saved “the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them” (verse 9). Saul told Samuel, that this was done “to sacrifice to the LORD your God” (verse21). Then Samuel said, “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry” (1 Samuel 15:22-23).

If you love your mother, show her love by obeying her voice. If we do anything else, like Saul, it will do no good.

Mother

My mother died in June of 1995. Before she died, I promised to take her out to eat. But I didn’t. She asked me to move some materials in the yard. like our mothers,ike our motherth,”I’ll get around to it,” I said. But I didn’t while she was alive to see it. She expressed other things that I did that bothered her. “I’ll get better on these Mama.” Perhaps I did get better. After she died! And like Esau, I wept. But it was too late. Too late to send flowers, give gifts or make her smile. To late to send her on that trip she wanted. I’d just as soon have ashes in my hands for what I put my mother off for.

But there are many of you today who do not have to make this same mistake. Won’t you please more frequently call, more frequently write, more frequently visit, and do what your parents want you to do as much as you can?

One of the most important things we can learn from thinking about these things is the necessity of obeying God. Just as we should honor and obey our parents, even more we should honor and obey God!

Conclusion

God commands all sinners to believe the gospel of Christ, to repent of our sins, to confess His Son, and to be immersed in water for the remission of sins (John 3:16; Romans 10:10; and Acts 2:38). If we delay too long to obey the gospel, we might end up like Esau regretting it but unable to do anything about it. “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels,” (Matthew 25:41).

Grace! Is It Possible To Fall

Most of our friends in the religious community want to tell us that when God decides to bestow His grace upon us, we have no choice in the matter. And once a man has entered God’s favor (been saved), his continuing to receive God’s grace is not conditional at all upon man’s teaching, actions or will. Article 9 of the Methodist Discipline states, “Justification by faith alone is a most wholesome doctrine and full of comfort.” I can see where “faith alone” would be a very comforting idea, can’t you? If that were true, you wouldn’t have to worry about anything you might do. In fact, it would leave you the option of doing anything you might desire. Things such as cheating, lying, committing sexual immorality (and all that it implies) or even murder might be engaged in without fear of any repercussions from God.

God’s Grace is Conditional

We see conditions placed on man’s continued salvation all the way through the Bible. In 2 Peter 1:10, Peter says, “…for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble…” In this verse never falling is conditioned by the word “as long as you practice.”

It seems somewhat strange that people believe this, in that we have so much evidence in the Bible, of God placing conditions on mankind. In Gen. 2:16-17 God told Adam, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat…” Is this not a command from God that Adam and Eve were required to keep? Because they transgressed that command (sinned), Adam (and Eve) were driven out of the garden and man was separated from God.

Grace must be Guarded

In Acts 8:13 Simon obeyed the gospel (called gospel of God’s grace in Acts 20:24). Yet after entering into a saved state he fell into sin as to be (1) doomed to parish, (2) having a heart not right with God, (3) needing to repent, (4) being guilty of wickedness, (5) poisoned by bitterness and (6) bound by iniquity. Some will tell us that he was not really saved, but the scriptures do not support such statements. Here is a man who entered the grace of God then turned to his own will and committed sin, refusing to abide by the conditions of the Lord and thus falling from grace. Either that, or with all the things mentioned here against him, he still goes to heaven. But in Revelation 21:27 we read, “nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it.” That means sin cannot enter heaven.

Also in Heb. 6:4-6 we read, “For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.” The writer here is speaking to those who need to go beyond the first principles of Christ (Heb. 5:12-14). It could not be the alien sinner since the sinner needs to obey the first principles not go beyond them. The writer is speaking to those (1) once enlightened, (2) who have tasted the heavenly gift, (3) partook of the Holy Spirit and (4) tasted the good word of God. Not one of these can apply to the alien sinner because the alien sinner has not tasted nor partaken of any of these and certainly not been enlightened, as the Bible throughout speaks of his state as “darkness”. Instead this is describing the child of God who has not born the proper fruits, with the warning he can fall away.

Letters are Addressed to Saved

Peter addressed his second letter to those who have already obtained faith of the same value (just as strong) as the apostles (2 Pet. 1:1). Would I be wrong in assuming that they were saved? After saying that they can pursue the course that will cause them to never fall (2 Pet. 2:10), he then points out that they can be “carried away by the error of unprincipled men” (2 Pet. 3:17). Surely it is clear that remaining in God’s favor (grace) is conditioned on continued obedience to Him. Either these spoken of could fall and be lost or Heaven will have some who have left faithfulness and embraced the error of the wicked. God knew that man would attempt to tamper with His will, so he left us clear statements to disprove these human theories. Read 1 Tim. 4:1-2 and Gal. 5:4.

John 10:28-29 reads, “I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” Some will raise the question, “doesn’t this prove that one cannot fall?” The forces of error will use many passages to try and lull people into security. What is said in John 10:28-29 is true; no man, no force, not even Satan himself, can forcibly remove a child of God from God’s care. No one who hears the voice of the Lord and follows Him is going to fall. And no power can remove such from God’s hand. But in the points, we have already made God’s Word speaks of those who decide to refuse to hear, refuse to follow, and willfully persist in entering a sinful way. No one snatched them from the Lord’s hand: they willfully departed. There is no doubt that one who abides by the conditions of God is enjoying God’s grace and will be saved eternally. Conversely one who decides to not continue in God’s Word will fall from grace (favor) and be eternally lost. Remember Peter’s admonition: “as long as you practice these things.”

Also See: