What is a Christian?

Fred Dennis

The highest encomium that can be given anyone is to be able to say truthfully that he is a Christian. We have this word three times in the Bible. The first time is in Acts 11:26: “And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” God called the disciples “Christians.” We ought to call them the same thing. That is sufficient. Paul preached the gospel to King Agrippa. After Agrippa had heard the gospel at the mouth of Paul he said, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian” (Acts 26:28). If all preachers would preach the same gospel that Paul preached, it would make the ones who heard and obeyed it Christians. They would be members of the New Testament church. To make something besides a Christian, something besides the gospel of Christ will have to be preached. The gospel only makes Christians only. “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf” (1 Pet. 4:16). Oftentimes it entails suffering to be a Christian. We must not be ashamed of this suffering. We ought to rejoice that we are counted worthy to suffer for his name.

In faith a Christian is a believer. He believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of all that believe. After the apostles had been with Jesus for nearly three years he said to them: “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” (Matt. 16:13). Those who had seen and heard him had some erroneous ideas relative to his identity, but they did not believe he was just another man. He asked the disciples: “But whom say ye that I am?” (Verse 15). Peter answered by saying: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Thus does every Christian believe; thus does everyone who ever will be a Christian believe. Without this faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). Paul says: “I know whom I have believed.” (2 Tim. 1:12.) The devil has a lot of people fooled into thinking that they believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, but in reality they deny him.

In knowledge a Christian is a disciple. A disciple is one who receives instruction from another. He is a follower, a learner. The Christian receives his instruction from Christ. He allows no man to come between him and Christ. He is a follower of Christ. He sits at the Master’s feet and learns of him. He drinks in what the great Teacher says. He remembers that Jesus said: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). He wants the truth, and nothing but the truth. He knows that this truth is the word of God. He knows his Master’s voice. He knows not the voice of strangers. He studies to get the approval of God (2 Tim. 2:15). Well has he learned this lesson. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psa. 119:105). He knows that “the entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple” (Psa. 119:130).

In character a Christian is a saint. We do violence to the Scriptures when we apply the word “saint” to just certain ones of God’s children. All Christians are saints. A Christian’s character is unstained by the contaminating influences of sin. He has pure religion. “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (Jas. 1:27). He loves to help those who need help. He is not spotted with the things of this world. Dirty places of amusement have no attraction for him. He is busy about his Father’s business. The world has lost its attractions for the saint. He has learned his lesson. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever” (1 John 2:15-17). You cannot be a saint and a worldling at the same time. You have to choose one or the other. “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (Jas. 4:4). Character is what God and the angels know about us. Reputation is what men and women say about us.

In influence a Christian is a light. He does not shine his light, but he lets his light shine. Light is attractive. It has drawing power. The very life of a Christian is a powerful influence for good. The darker the night, the brighter the light shines. Christians are lights in this dark world of sin. They go about doing good. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). The light of the Christian shines steadily. The Father can count on his child letting his light shine. This will show others the way home.

In relationship a Christian is a child of God. God is his Father. “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Rom. 8:16-17). Our Father is rich. We are his heirs. We are joint heirs with Christ. What a marvelous thought!

In purpose a Christian is a sojourner. He is a pilgrim here. This world is not his home. With Abraham of old, he is looking “for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11:10). He knows he has no continuing city here. He is looking for a better home. Here he has sorrows and tears. How he longs for that home where sorrows do not come and where tears of sorrow never come! Here he has pain and sickness. There will be no pain and sickness in heaven. Here he sees death on every hand. Every few days he must follow some of his loved ones or dear friends to the cemetery. Over there, no partings ever come.

Kind reader, are you a Christian? If not, O, hasten to the outstretched arms of love and mercy! Believe with your whole heart that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Genuinely repent of every sin and turn from all manner of sin. Make a wholehearted confession of your faith in the Christ. Then be gently lowered with him in the waters of baptism. Rise from the grave of baptism to walk in newness of life. Keep looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith. Do not allow the cares and anxieties of this world to turn you from the faith. Teach others the right way of the Lord. Remember that we are saved to save. God wants us to tell others about the love of Jesus. He has no other tongues but our tongues to tell this old love story. He has no other feet but ours to run the errands of mercy. He has no other hands but ours to do the many things that must be done in this vale of tears.

You want your life to count for something here. It would have been better had you never been born if you live and die without Christ. “Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these. It might have been.” May God help us to be Christians in deed and in truth, and then heaven is waiting for us when we must lay down this mortal body.

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Author: Editor

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