Summary: Christian is a fallen term cheapened by common usage. It now covers a multitude of religious ideas, error as well as truth, paganism as well as the revelation of God’s divine truth. This term Christian has been stretched to the extent that it covers rat
What Does It Mean to Be a Christian?
Christian is a fallen term cheapened by common usage. It now covers a multitude of religious ideas, error as well as truth, paganism as well as the revelation of God’s divine truth. This term Christian has been stretched to the extent that it covers rationalistic modernism on one hand and a frothy sentimentalism on the other. It is ascribed to that which in some instances is gross worldliness and in other instances to that which is anything short of pharisaic self righteousness. The term is used to describe that which is coldly ritualistic but also that which is nothing more a distinctive impact due to our failure to understand what it means to be a Christian?
Some apply the term Christian to all who have high moral standards and at the same time believe in the existence of God. Others claim this title simply because they are members of a church. Still others claim the privilege of wearing this title because they have had a conversion experience. Ideally, they have a right to do so. However, the great test comes in what others think of our witness. When they see our lives, are they able to call us Christian? Do they see the evidence of the presence of Christ in our lives? If so, only then should we claim this title for ourselves.
The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch. This was probably a term of derision because they were followers of the crucified Galilean. Evidently they thought and talked and acted in a manner that reminded their contemporaries of the Christ. What would your neighbors say about you? Is it possible for them to see features and characteristics in your life that resemble Jesus Christ? A government official in India once said to some Christian leaders, “If Christians would act like Jesus Christ, India would be at his feet.” It is time for us to cease being satisfied with a low level of Christian living. We must demonstrate that genuine Christianity is something more than cushioned pews, enjoyable music, and comforting sermon on Sunday, and business as usual during the week.
I. To become a Christian one must first be saved.
a. It is absolutely impossible for one to be a Christian who does not have a personal redemptive relationship with the person of Jesus Christ.
b. Jesus said to Nicodemus in John 3:7, “You must be born again.”
i. Individuals must repent – change their minds about the nature of God and the nature of sin and about self and others.
ii. Inseparable from genuine repentance, sincere faith must be placed in Jesus Christ as the Lord of life.
iii. As people respond to the gospel with repentance and faith, the Spirit of God brings about the miracle of the new birth within the soul.
iv. Believers become children of God
v. They are now new creations.
c. The new birth alone does not produce Christ likeness.
i. The new birth makes possible a growth and development into Christ likeness.
ii. It is absolutely impossible for one to be genuinely Christian who has not first had an experience of commitment and conversion.
II. To be genuinely Christian one must be surrendered.
a. Jesus was surrendered completely to the will of God.
i. John 4:34, “Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to accomplish His work.”
b. His surrender led to Gethsemane and Calvary.
i. Luke 22:42, “Father, if you are willing remove this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
c. Jesus spoke to the Galilean fishermen and said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him”
i. As they forsook their nets, they began the journey that would lead them to the place were others would be able to bestow upon them the title Christian.
d. To be considered Christian, the convert must be identified with Christ through baptism.
i. This is a visible symbol of an institutional relationship to Christ in which the individual accepts the demands and discipline of his lordship.
ii. To be genuinely Christian, the convert must be sincerely committed to the task of living the teachings of Jesus Christ.
iii. He or she must have a deep concern about keeping God’s holy law.
iv. The Sermon on the Mount will be something more than just a beautiful passage of Scripture, it will become a guide to life.
e. Commitment to the will of God will express itself in the home, throughout the community, within the business, and in every other area of life.
III. To be genuinely Christian the convert must be serving