What The Bible Says About Being A Christian
Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian (Acts 26:28).
These are the dreadful words of a powerful king who had just heard a lowly prisoner confront him with words of truth and soberness which pricked a heart that had become callous by wanton living. Paul the prisoner, with great boldness, answered the king, I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains (Acts 26:29).
Paul s compelling motive in life was to persuade men to become Christians. The purpose of gospel preaching today is the same as in the day when Paul stood before King Agrippa. Gospel preaching is to produce obedience to the faith (Rom.16:26), to persuade men to become Christians. The only way one is persuaded to become a Christian is by hearing words of truth and soberness.
What is involved in being a Christian ? There are a number of important principles which one may consider in discussing this subject. However, due to limited space, I wish to address two of these principles–the blessings and responsibilities of being a Christian. An understanding of these two principles will help to persuade one to become a Christian and to faithfully endure the trials of life so as to receive the crown promised to those who love the Lord (James 1:12).
THE BLESSINGS OF BEING A CHRISTIAN
The blessings available to the Christian are of infinite worth. Paul declares he was chosen to preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ (Ephesians 3:8). These blessings are available only to those who have been obedient to the gospel of Christ–to those who are in Christ (Ephesians 1:3).
Following are some of the blessings enjoyed by the Christian:
BEING A CHRISTIAN MEANS ONE IS REDEEMED BY THE PRECIOUS BLOOD OF CHRIST.
Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold…but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot (1 Peter 1:18,19 N.K.J.V.).
How valuable is the soul of man? This question can be answered only by looking to God s word. The most dramatic means of depicting the value of the soul is through the figure of redemption. Man was created to glorify his Creator. Here is where the problem arises. When man yields to sin he becomes a slave to sin (Romans 6:16). He is under the dominion of the devil. If man is to ever regain the right relationship with God, something had to be done to effectively deal with the problem of sin. The blood of Christ is the price God paid to make redemption possible. Through the vicarious death of Christ, God can deal justly with sin and at the same time justify the one who accepts his provisions for justification (Romans 3:25,26). One receives the benefits of Christ s blood (redemption), when he is
buried with Christ through baptism. At this point one becomes dead to sin, freed from the dominion of sin (see Romans 6:4-7). Being freed from the dominion of sin, one can then be used as an instrument of righteousness in service to God (Romans 6:12,13).
The blessing which the Christian enjoys as a result of redemption is that of forgiveness of his sins. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins… (Ephesians 1:7 N.K.J.V). Sin is pictured as a debt of such magnitude that man has no hope of ever being able to repay. This point is illustrated in a parable taught by Jesus beginning in Matthew 18:24. The Lord tells of a king who had a servant who owed his master a great sum of money which he could not pay. The master had compassion on the servant, released him, and forgave him the debt (Matthew 18:24-27). Man can never repay the debt incurred by his sin. If one were able to live a perfect life after committing only one sin it would not make up for his transgression.
The guilt of sin upon the conscience keeps man from approaching a holy God. THE SINNER DESPERATELY NEEDS FORGIVENESS. A provision of the new covenant which God made with his people contains the promise, their sins and iniquities will I remember no more (Hebrews 8:12). The forgiven sinner can be assured of standing before God as if he had never transgressed God’s law. The conscience is cleansed of all the guilt of sin. As one walks in the light of God’s truth he has the assurance that the blood of Christ continues to cleanse him of all sin (1 John 1:7). With great confidence we can say with Paul, Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered (Romans 4:7 N.K.J.V).
BEING A CHRISTIAN MEANS ONE CAN ENJOY PEACE WITH GOD.
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1). So much of the turmoil in the lives of men today is the result of an awareness that they are not living in harmony with the will of God. The world desperately searches for peace, but peace eludes them. The Christian can say, It is well with my soul because he has been reconciled to God through Christ. He not only enjoys peace because all is well with him spiritually, but he can overcome the anxieties of this life because of the assurance that the Father is aware of the needs of his children and has promised to provide for all his needs. After Paul’s instructions to the Philippian Christians concerning overcoming anxieties through prayer to God, he then says, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7). The Christian can be assured of the promise of the Lord that he will never leave nor forsake his child (Hebrews 13:5). What a great blessing to know that when all
around the soul gives way, one can enjoy the peace given by the Lord to his faithful disciples (John 14:27).
BEING A CHRISTIAN MEANS ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO COME TO THE THRONE OF GOD S GRACE.
One can have confidence that he will be able to find grace to help whatever may be his need (Hebrews 4:16). The Son of God serves as the great High Priest for the children of God. He can sympathize with the weaknesses of man because He has experienced temptations in the flesh. He stands ready to always intercede in
behalf of those who approach God through him (see Hebrews 4:15; 7:24,25). Every thing which is of anxiety to the Christian is that which can be taken to God in prayer with the assurance that He will provide for man s needs. Truly, one of the greatest blessings enjoyed by the Christian is that of casting his cares on the Lord, knowing he cares for his people (I Peter 5:7).
BEING A CHRISTIAN MEANS ONE HAS THE HOPE OF ETERNAL LIFE.
Through the mercy of God the Christian has been begotten to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 2:3). In speaking of the hope of the resurrection, the apostle Paul declares, For we are saved in this hope (Romans 8:24). It is the hope of eternal life that gives the Christian the motivation to patiently withstand the difficult trials of life (Romans 5:4,5).
The Hebrew Christians were able to see the temporary nature of earthly possessions and to take joyfully the spoiling of the same because they knew they had an enduring substance in heaven (Hebrews 10:34). Paul says the hope of being with Christ forever is that which can give comfort to the heart of the Christian in time of great sorrow (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
Should not these blessings provided by God for his people cause one who is not a Christian to desire to enter into Christ where all spiritual blessings are found?
RESPONSIBILITIES OF BEING A CHRISTIAN
Every relationship where blessings are enjoyed will also require corresponding responsibilities. There are responsibilities which are inherent to the blessings enjoyed by the Christian. It is imperative that one know these responsibilities if he is to experience the favor of God.
Following are some of the responsibilities to be met by the Christian:
BEING A CHRISTIAN MEANS ONE MUST FULLY COMMIT HIS LIFE TO FOLLOWING THE LORD.
Jesus set forth the decisive terms of discipleship when he said, If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me (Matthew 16:24). The decision to follow the Lord must be made without reservation. The disciple cannot bargain with the Lord to follow him when it is convenient. The apostle Paul captures this view of discipleship when he said, I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God… (Galatians 2:20).
Resolute commitment to follow Christ is essential if one is to be worthy of the kingdom of God. Jesus illustrated this truth by saying, No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62).
Failure to commit oneself fully to the Lord s cause results in one missing the enjoyment of the blessings provided for the Christian.
When one is unwilling to pay the price of discipleship he knows he has no hope of receiving the promised blessings. The commandments of the Lord become a hardship for man without whole-hearted commitment.
BEING A CHRISTIAN MEANS ONE’S CONDUCT OF LIFE MUST BE DIFFERENT FROM THOSE IN THE WORLD.
The apostle Paul graphically contrasts two life-styles in his letter to the Ephesian Christians (see Ephesians 4:17-ff). The Gentiles are described as those. …being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness (4:19). One who has been taught the truth that is in Jesus has the responsibility of putting on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness (4:21,24). In the closing verses of fourth chapter and the first verses of the fifth chapter of Ephesian, the contrast is drawn with regard to specific practices in the life of the Christian and the unbeliever. The Christian is warned against being deceived into thinking evil deeds will not incur the wrath of God (Ephesians 5:5,6).
There is the concept in the religious world that God loves man regardless of the sin he may commit. Although God loves all men, He still says that no one who practices unrighteousness will enter the kingdom. The Christian must realize the responsibility to follow after peace and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).
BEING A CHRISTIAN MEANS ONE MUST PATTERN HIS LIFE AFTER THE EXAMPLE OF THE LORD.
Someone has said the difference in the teaching of Christ and other religious teachers is Christ lived what he taught his followers to do. The New Testament writers frequently appeal to the life of Christ as the example for the Christian imitate.
Consider some areas where we are instructed to follow his example:
We are to walk in love as He loved us (Ephesians 5:2).
We are to be humble as He humbled Himself (Philippians 2:5-8).
We are to be forgiving as He was willing to forgive (Luke 23:34).
We are to be obedient as He always pleased the Father by doing His will (John 8:29).
Surely, we can say that being a Christian means that one is being transformed into the likeness of God s Son (Romans 8:29).
BEING A CHRISTIAN MEANS ONE MUST PRODUCE FRUIT THAT GLORIFIES GOD. I
n the parable of the vine and branches (John 15:1-8), Jesus taught the purpose of the disciple s relation to Him was that God might be glorified by the fruit produced in the life of the disciple.
The fruit one produces as he abides in the vine may be the development of the qualities of life referred to by the apostle Paul as the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
The fruit that glorifies God will be the influence one has on others as he serves as the salt of the earth and light of the world (Matthew 5:14-16).
The fruit which pleases the Father will be the teaching which results in souls become obedient to God s will.
Being a Christian involves the enjoyment of the most precious blessings experienced by man. At the same time, being a Christian involves the greatest responsibilities which can be imposed on him.
Do you enjoy the blessings promised to God s chosen people? Have you been persuaded by words of truth and soberness to become a child of God? If not, make your commitment now to serve God with all your heart, mind, strength, and soul.