Tag Archives: Christianity

What is a Christian?

bible“Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” (Acts 26:28)

A Christian is a person who intelligently believes that he is by nature a sinner, that by Divine grace Jesus Christ the Righteous died for his sins and that through faith in the atoning blood and obedience to the Redeemer’s -teachings he has become “a New Creature in Christ Jesus.”  For such, “Old things have passed away, and all things have become new.”  Such New Creatures are separate and distinct from all other members of the race.  Instead of earthly aims, ambitions and hopes, theirs are Heavenly.

Getting Into Christ’s Body

It is not sufficient that these should make the proper start of faith in Christ and full consecration to do God’s will and not their own wills.  It is incumbent upon them, after having made such a start and after having been begotten of the Holy Spirit, that they shall grow in grace, knowledge and love. (2 Peter 3:18)  This is styled “putting on Christ”; that is to say, adding the graces of character which God will accept and reward with association with the Lord Jesus Christ in His Kingdom.  For these God has made provision of spiritual food in the Bible–“meat in due season for the Household of Faith.” (Matthew 24:45)  These are represented as at first “babes in Christ,” requiring “the milk of the Word,” but if faithful gradually attaining full stature–“strong in the Lord and the power of His might.”

Such spirit-begotten Christians must needs “fight a good fight”–not with others, but with themselves–overcoming the weaknesses and besetments of their own fallen flesh, the allurements of their environment and the wiles of the Adversary.  Such as are faithful in these respects are Scripturally styled “overcomers,” “the very Elect.”  The promise to them is that they shall have part in the Chief, or best, Resurrection, and thereafter be no longer humans, but spirit beings of the highest order–“partakers of the Divine nature.”  These in death are “sown in weakness,” “in dishonor,” human beings, but are raised from the dead “in glory,” “in power,” spirit beings. I Corinthians 15:43.

Jesus’ promise to these overcomers reads, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My Throne, even as I overcame and am set down with My Father in His Throne” — “I will give him power over the nations, etc.  Again He says, “Blessed and holy are all those who have part in the Chief Resurrection: on such the Second Death hath no power, but they shall be priests unto God and unto Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” Rev. 3:21; 2:26; 20:6

All Jesus’ teachings are applicable to this special class; namely, those who become His disciples, His followers, His pupils.  He did not assume to be a Teacher of the world, but merely of those who leave the world, sacrificing all to become His disciples.  To these He said, “Ye are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”  Again, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you.”  The great Teacher did not include the nominal church as His disciples, but rather counted them in with the world.  In evidence of this, we note the fact that the world which persecuted Him was the Jewish nation, professedly God’s consecrated people; and that those who have persecuted the followers of Jesus have like-wise been nominally people of God, but really of the world.

Duties, Rights and Privileges of Christians

These are the Christians addressed by the Master, saying, “I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other, also.  And if any man shall sue thee at law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.  And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.” Matthew 5:39-42.

The thought of non-resistance is here, yet not to the extreme degree supposed by some.  The turning of the other cheek, as illustrated by Jesus’ own conduct, was a figurative expression, signifying the willingness to have both cheeks smitten rather than to do injury to another.  Christians are to be law-abiding, whether they consider the laws just or unjust.  If, therefore, the law deprive them of a coat, they are to yield it up.  If it go still further and deprive them of their cloak, they are still to be non-resistant to the law, but submit to it with good grace, knowing that hereunto they are called.

Be it noted that neither the coat nor the cloak was to be given up upon demand merely, but only after the law, justly or unjustly, had so decreed.  Similarly with respect to the compulsory walking of a mile; the Christian is not to submit himself to every whim of everybody; but, seeking to do the will of God, he is to go about his own business, unless the opposition to him amount to a compelling.  And this compelling, under ordinary circumstances, would mean a legal compelling; for the protection of the laws of the land in which he lives may be sought to protect his rights and liberties, as St. Paul appealed to governors and kings.

Christians Live for the Future

Christians are to love their enemies in the same sense that God loves the world–sympathetically.  They are not to love their enemies in the same affectionate love and tenderness, such as they bestow upon their families, friends and lovable persons.  Their love for their enemies, as defined by Jesus, should be such as would lead them to feed their bitterest enemy if he were hungry, to clothe him if he were naked.  They should not pray against their enemies but for their enemies in the sense of wishing, desiring for them enlightenment and true wisdom, which would turn them from being enemies and evil-doers, to make of them followers of Jesus or, at least, well-doers.

Christians are not to lay up for themselves treasures on earth; for they renounced the earth and all hopes of a future life upon earth.  Their walk in the footsteps of Jesus signifies that as He cast aside earthly ambitions, hopes and aims, so would they, taking instead the Heavenly ambitions, hopes and aims.  In other words, they live for the future.  This will not hinder them from the ordinary pursuits of life to the extent that may be necessary in “providing things honest in the sight of all men”–in providing for their families, etc.  But, with these Christians, any over-plus above life’s necessities represents so much opportunity for serving the Lord and His cause; and in so doing these are laying up treasure in Heaven–a future reward.

This does not signify that they must live “from hand to mouth” nor that, if they have possessions, they must riotously distribute these to others.  On the contrary, they are to seek in all things to have the mind of the Lord-to do God’s will.  God’s mind is a sound mind; and these Christians, in seeking to do God’s will, are said to have “the spirit of a sound mind.”  This dictates that they should live wisely and economically.

Christian Stewardship and Citizenship

To these Christians, everything that comes to them or that they possess by nature is considered a thing of God, because in becoming followers of Christ they make a full consecration of their wills–their all–to God.  Hence from that moment forward these Christians are stewards of God’s mercies-stewards of their time, their talents, their influence, their property, their all.  According to the way they use their stewardship, investing their talents to the Master’s praise, will be His commendation of them, as represented in the parable.  Whether many talents are possessed or few, the commendation is to those who have done well, have been good and faithful in the use of their talents, not for self-aggrandizement or show, or worldly accumulations of treasure, but faithful in the service of God, showing forth God’s praises in the assisting of others and themselves to the knowing and doing of the Divine will.

Christians are to “lend, hoping for nothing in return,” and not, as the world, merely to be willing to do good and to lend to those who would do as much or more in return.  Christians are thus to illustrate the fact that they are children of the Highest, that they have been begotten of God, that they have His Holy Spirit and disposition, and that it is shining out more and more in their words and conduct as they grow in the character-likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Christians are not to go to war.  Their fight is not to be with carnal weapons, but with “the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.”  They have the most powerful weapon known in the world for their warfare.  This does not signify that they may not put bolts and bars upon their doors to prevent robbery.  It does not signify that they may not call for police protection; for this is a thing they pay for in taxation and are entitled to according to the laws of the world.  They may not claim of their own nation anything than an alien might not claim; but they may claim all that an alien may claim.  Indeed, Christians are styled aliens, stranger, foreigners, so far as the present government of the world is concerned.  Their citizenship, according to the Bible, is the Heavenly one, which they will fully enter into when they shall have shared the Chief Resurrection.

No Christian Nations

The Bible knows nothing of Christian nations or of a Christian world.  The Bible puts the Christian as separate and distinct from the world and from all nations.  Christians are a nation, or people, by themselves, in the same sense that the Jews are a nation, or people, by themselves.  “Ye are a Royal Priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people”–a people for a purpose. (I Peter 2:9)  The term Christian nation comes from a serious doctrinal error which crept into the Church about 800 A.D.  At that time, Pope Leo III began to recognize as Christian nations all the nations which recognized his Pontificate.  The custom has prevailed and is still in vogue amongst Protestants and Catholics; but it is wholly unscriptural.

A Christian conscripted to the army or the navy would be “subject to the powers that be,” and obeying the Master’s words would go, as in Math. 5:41, “Whosoever shall compel thee to go.”  The Christian compelled to enter the army or the navy might properly request service as a noncombatant in the Quartermaster’s Department or in the Hospital Department; but, if required to kill, he is to obey God rather than man, and not kill.  He may comply with his orders to the extent of going into the trenches and being shot at, but no further.

Is it urged that such a view of Christianity would wreck our present civilization?  We reply that nothing in the Bible implies that our civilization is Christian or that the Lord ever expected it to be Christian.  God’s time for saving the world from its sin and weakness has not yet come.  The present is merely the time for calling, finding, testing and delivering the Elect.  The Elect, when glorified, will constitute Messiah’s Kingdom, and with Him will be empowered fully with spiritual control for the government of the entire world.

Then will come the time for the enlightenment and uplift and blessing of the whole world of mankind–the non-elects.  Theirs will not be a blessing of the same kind that the Elect will secure, but a blessing which they will appreciate equally.  The world’s blessing and salvation will not signify a change of nature from human to Spirit, but a Restitution to human perfection. (Acts 3:19-23)

What are today styled “Christian nations” are in the Bible styled “kingdoms of this world”; and their complete disintegration is Scripturally outlined as incidental to the establishment of God’s glorious Kingdom under Messiah, for which we pray, “Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth, even as in Heaven.”

Some may wonder how it ever came to pass that all the people of civilized lands are enumerated as Christians–except Jews and professed infidels.  Statistics tell us that all the inhabitants of Italy are Christian; that more than ninety-nine per cent of the population of Great Britain, France, Germany, Belgium, etc., are Christians; and that the total number of Christians thus reckoned is nearly five hundred millions.  Surely it is time that intelligent people realize that some great mistake has been made and that more than ninety-nine per cent of these “Christians” make no pretense of being followers of Jesus.

The error arose in the now long ago, when Pope Leo III, recognized a king as a Christian king and his kingdom as a Christian kingdom, he recognized that king’s subjects as Christian.  There we have the matter in a nut-shell.  The whole thing was a mistake.  The king was not a Christian, did not know the meaning of Christianity and was not taught it.  His kingdom was not a Christian kingdom, and his people were not Christians.

Meantime, here and there, obscured to the world, there have been true followers of the Lord Jesus Christ in every denomination.  They have been out of accord generally with the great leaders of the church systems as well as with the political leaders of the world.  It has been true of them as the Apostle wrote: “The world knoweth us not, even as it knew Him not.” (I John 3:I)  The world does not yet know, understand or appreciate that the Church of Christ is not to be found in any of the professed churches of various names–Roman, English, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, etc. The Church of Christ is composed exclusively of those who have made covenant with the Lord through faith in the precious blood, who have been accepted of the Lord by the begetting of the Holy Spirit, and who are seeking to walk to the best of their ability in the footsteps of Jesus. I Peter 2:21.

Heaven, Hell and Purgatory

The theory that Christians only are saved from eternal torture has had much to do with the error of counting all civilized people Christians.  The creeds save Christians only–Jews, Mohammedans, heathen, all go to Hell, to roast eternally.  Roman Catholics provide a Second Chance for members of their church, in Purgatory; and many Protestants hold to a Second Chance for the heathen who have never heard of Christ.  All the while, however, the Bible declares for only one chance, but that a full one for every member of the human family.

The only chance offered during this Gospel Age is the opportunity of becoming a member of the Church–a true follower of Jesus.  Such are to get the Heavenly inheritance, but not until the Resurrection.  The remainder of the world will be offered an earthly future; and this offer will begin with the establishment of Messiah’s Kingdom of a thousand years.

The Bible nowhere teaches that either saints or sinners pass to a conscious condition at death.  The Bible declares that they all “sleep,” and that the awakening time will be at the Second Coming of the Redeemer to establish His Kingdom.  The Fist Resurrection will be the Church, and subsequently “every man in his own order.”  When once the fact is grasped that the Bible Hell is the grave–Sheol, Hades–then all is plain.

The great Divinely arranged Purgatory, to last a thousand years, will be glorious.  All the heathen and the ignorant, superstitious millions of Christendom, who were taught to call themselves Christians, but who knew that they were not, will have the opportunity of coming to a knowledge of the true God and of His gracious provision for them.

Why Are You a Christian?

Are You A ChristianWho is a Christian?

The vast majority of people in North America identify themselves as  Christians. Do you? Perhaps you are not sure. Perhaps you are very sure and wonder about others who do. For example, even the majority of criminals in the U.S. prison system identify themselves as “Christians.”

Just how far back in time can “Christians” be identified? The name “Christian” was coined in the First Century A.D.-about five years after Pentecost. “And the disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” In the “church at Antioch” these Christians were also called “disciples.” Acts 11:26; 13:1, “Church” means “called out ones” while “disciple” means “learner or pupil” and/or “adherent and
follower of a teacher.” Therefore, “Christians” are defined as ones “called out” from the world to be followers and pupils of Jesus Christ.

Can 200 million people in North America all be true Christians? Jesus said, “I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:19). He identified the quantity of his followers as a “little flock” (Luke 12:32). Jesus placed very restrictive terms for discipleship.

What Do Christians Do?

Jesus’ disciples would know and obey the truth. John 8:31,32, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed. And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” Jesus’ disciples would continue in his word, that is, daily study the Bible. They would receive a knowledge of his truth that would so enthrall them that they would forsake all that they have (Luke 14:33) in materialism and goods to be his disciples. In Mark 8:35 Jesus said, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.” This means consecrating our all to the Lord and using it in his service as he directs.

Further stringent conditions of discipleship are found in Luke 14:26: unless a man “hate” (love less) his father, mother, wife, children, brethren, even his own life, “he cannot be my disciple.” Again in Luke 9:23: “If any will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”

Jesus’ terms of discipleship for being a Christian, indeed, are demanding. Is it any wonder he predicted that only a “little flock” would qualify? Oh yes, many would call themselves Christians as Jesus predicted in Matthew 7:22,23: “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name and in thy name. . .done many wonderful works? And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you. . .” (as Christians). Yes, the terms of
discipleship are demanding. The faithful Christian does not
actively seek financial and health blessings. But the
compensating spiritual blessings are a hundredfold in this
life and then life eternal (Mark 10:30).

In western civilization “Christian” denotes a culture to which the majority belong. In Scripture, “Christian” denotes a lifestyle characteristic of an extreme minority. Certainly 200 million people have not left all to follow Christ. But have you left all to follow Christ?

Why Some Become Christians

Some become Christians for fear of eternal judgment. After all, “The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) But God saves us and forgives our sins “for His name’s sake.” (Psalm 25:11) Similarly, Paul observes in Ephesians 1:7,12 that “we have redemption through his blood. . .that we should be to the praise of His [God’s] glory.”

Then there are those who become Christians in order to gain health and prosperity, believing that faith in a “secret kingdom” and its power will grant their desires. How sad! The height of Christian concern should not be “what can God do for me” but rather “what can I do to glorify God.” Remember the words of Psalm 31:3, “For thy name’s sake lead me and guide me.”

Self-Centered vs. Christ-Centered Christians Evidently the church at Corinth included many self-centered Christians. Paul had to chide them in 1 Corinthians 4:8-14: “You are already filled, you have already become rich, you have become kings without us; and I would, indeed that you had become kings so that we also might reign with you. . . We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor. To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless; and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; when we are
slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now. I do not write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children.” (New American Standard Translation – NAS)

Then Paul admonished these self-centered Christians to be Christ-centered. “I exhort you therefore, be imitators of me just as I also am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 4:16;11:1, NAS) Paul’s economic poverty and persecution in the Lord’s service were merely results from following the example set by Christ. Did Christ experience poverty in the Father’s service? “Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” (2
Corinthians 8:9) But, exponents of the idea, “God wants Christians to be wealthy,” are quick to reply that Jesus experienced “relative
poverty.” Jesus was prosperous, they say. Only by comparison with his previous heavenly glory, he was poor.

However, Jesus spelled out his poverty on earth in Luke 9:58. “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” This statement of Jesus’ poverty is all the more meaningful because it was his reply to a person in the preceding verse who said, “Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.” Following Jesus does not mean automatically living in poverty, but it does require sacrificing economic interests for his cause, yes, committing all wealth to him.
Have you committed all your means to God?

For those who would use Christianity for financial gain, the Devil, who is the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), is anxious and able to give them “the world on a silver platter” as long as they are willing to live a self-centered lifestyle instead of a Christ-centered lifestyle. Matthew 4:8-11

Actually Jesus’ ministry was a life of sacrificing all personal and earthly interests in doing the Heavenly Father’s will, as he “poured out his soul unto death.” (Hebrews 10:9; Isaiah 53:12) The Scriptures use several symbols to illustrate this life of sacrifice. For example, there is the sacrificial death of an animal in the tabernacle.
Also Jesus’ water baptism (immersion) pictured his complete submersion into his Father’s will. Three years after his water baptism Jesus said, “I have a baptism to be baptized with and how am I straitened [stressed] till it be accomplished.” (Luke 12:50) Yes, Jesus’ complete submersion into his Father’s will meant sacrificing self in the interest of others (Acts 20:35), suffering for truth and
righteousness (Psalm 69:7-9) and enduring the cross (Hebrews 12:2,3).

When James and John asked if they could sit on his right hand and left hand in his glory, Jesus replied, “Can ye drink of the cup that I drink of and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” (Mark 10:35-39) Like James and John we must drink of Jesus’ cup of suffering and share his baptism of sacrificial death. Thus the Apostle Paul said, “If we be dead with him, we shall also live with him. If we
suffer, we shall also reign with him” (2 Timothy 2:11,12). Becoming a Christian does not mean preserving and prospering self, but yielding self even to the point of suffering with Christ.

The Reason We Are Christians

In Romans 6:3, Paul speaking of our real baptism said, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?” Yes, we must follow Jesus’ lifestyle of sacrificially dying to self interest. This will mean sacrificing worldly pleasures and interests that are not even sinful while serving the cause of the Lord. Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:29 speaks of Christians being “baptized for the dead.” From God’s standpoint the whole human race, except Christians, are “dead in trespasses and  sins” (Ephesians 2:1). That’s why Jesus said, “Let the dead bury their dead” (Matthew 8:22). Why are you a Christian?

Sharing in Christ’s sacrificial death will benefit the whole human race. If you suffer and die with Jesus (being baptized for the dead) you will live and reign (2 Timothy 2:11,12) with him as king and priest a thousand years (Revelation 20:6) for the benefit of the dead (and dying) world of humankind.

In summary, thus far, the Scriptures reveal that:
· True Christians will be numerically few, a little flock.
· The terms of discipleship are stringent.
· Christians reign with Christ in his 1,000-year Kingdom
on earth for the benefit of the dead world of mankind.