WHAT IS A CHRISTIAN?
By Pastor Max Solbrekken, D.D
The Holy Bible says: “They were called Christians first in Antioch.” (Acts 11: 26); St. Paul asked: “King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. Then Agrippa saith unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” (Acts 26: 28). St. Peter wrote: “Yet if anyone suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.” (1 Peter 4: 16).
The word Christian means ‘belonging to Christ; Christ-like-ones’. The early Christians were spoken of as belonging to the ‘Family of Jesus’! The first believers in Jesus the Messiah were Jewish and still worshipped in the synagogue, but also met together on the Lord’s Day (Sunday) – that was the day they found the tomb of Jesus empty – and also from house to house!
They were called ‘Maaminims’, a derisive term placed upon them by the Jewish Community. These believers in Jesus as Messiah were as much a part of the religious community as the Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians or Essenes!
Philip went to Samaria – a spiritually perverted people – with the gospel, and the entire city believed in Jesus Christ when they saw the signs, wonders and miracles which he did in Jesus’ name:
“Then Philip went down to Samaria and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice came out of many that were possessed with them; and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. And thee was great joy in that city.” (Acts 8: 5-8).
When Saul of Tarsus was converted, he carried the gospel throughout Europe and Asia Minor with great success: “And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God. But all that heard him were amazed and said: Is not this he that destroyed then which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? But Paul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt in Damascus, proving this is very Christ.” (Acts 9: 20-22)
Cornelius and his family were the first Italians to receive Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord and be filled with the blessed Holy Spirit, after listening to the message brought by St. Peter! The Bible states:
“While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the Word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.” (Acts 10: 44–46).
The Bible admonishes us: “Be ye followers of God as dear children.” (Eph. 5: 1). The Greek gives us the rendering of the following words which refer to our relationship with Jesus Christ, as given in the Pauline Epistles!
1). MIMEITAI – means mimic: The old English word for actor! Christians mimic or act like Him. We should act like Jesus Christ!
2). TUPOES – means ensamples: Christ is the pattern – we are carbon copies. He is the original! We are copies. We follow His example!
3). EKSEIKETAI – means echo: sounded out! We only echo what He has spoken. We sound out the evangel and bring words of reconciliation and healing to the people in His name. We speak His Word!
The Bible says: “For from you sounded out the Word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad… (1 Thes.1: 8); “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example that ye should follow in His steps.” (1 Peter 2: 21)
“But I say, have they not heard? Yes, verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words in to all the world.” (Rom.10: 18); “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them and they follow Me.” (John 10: 27)
1. A CHRISTIAN IS A HEART THROUGH WHICH CHRIST LOVES!
The Bible says: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3: 16, 17). Only those, however, who believe the Gospel and receive God’s gift of eternal life through the shed blood of Jesus Christ can be saved!
St. John declared: “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (expiation, covering, satisfaction) for our sins. We love Him because He first loved us.” (1 John 5:10, 19). God the Father was satisfied by the vicarious (substitutional) death of Jesus Christ on the cross to meet the righteous demands of Divine Justice to forgive mankind’s sins from Adam until the return of Christ.
The Church desperately needs to experience the love of Christ which goes beyond description in kindness, mercy and love! Our Lord stated: “A new commandment I give unto you. That ye love one another as I have loved you. By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13: 34, 35).
Without a miracle, it is impossible to love someone like Jesus Christ loved us! Jesus said: “With men this is impossible, but not with God. For with God, all things are possible.” Mark 10: 27). St. Paul stated: “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? (Rom. 8: 32).
HIS GREAT LOVE AND MERCY MAKES THIS HAPPEN!
“For He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to then that believe on His name.” (John 1: 11, 12).
Since the fall of Adam and Eve, all of us were born in sin. The Bible states: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3: 23); “As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one.” (Rom. 3: 10); “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer.17: 9).
Our propensity to sin – sinners by birth, nature, and choice – demands that we all be freed from sin’s shackles, if we are to love one another as Christ loved us! And Jesus Christ has provided our release from Satan’s Prison House through His shed blood on Calvary’s cross!
Here is how this miracle works: “Therefore if any man be in Christ Jesus, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Cor.5: 17); “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.” (1 John 3:14).
Jesus said: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God...Except a man be born of water (God’s Word) and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3: 3, 7); Being born again, not of corruptible, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” (1 Peter 1: 23).
(11). A CHRISTIAN IS A MIND THROUGH WHICH CHRIST THINKS!
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…” (Phil.2: 5). Wonder of wonders, we mortals can have the mind of Christ! We can think as God thinks; pure, righteous, holy, kind, compassionate and loving thoughts, which emanate from the throne!
The Bible says that Jesus - our High Priest – “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4: 15). He never thought an evil thought nor did an evil deed. He had malice to no-one and was without fear, lust, or pride! And St. Paul states that we can have His mind and be like Him!
The human mind is the devil’s real battlefield and he is a master at deception and trickery! Satan knows that if he can dominate a person’s thought life with foolish fantasies, occult lies or lustful, spiteful, hateful thoughts, he has won! Satan is a liar, deceiver and the enemy of God and man! The good news is that he was defeated by our Lord Jesus Christ’s vicarious death for us and glorious resurrection from the dead!
TEMPTATION COMES THROUGH LUST!
St. James wrote: “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man: But he is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” (James 1: 13, 14).
The mind of Christ is creative, brilliant. and understanding! He imparts knowledge, dispenses wisdom, and gives life to all who receive His mind! God has given us the ability to pro-create children in our image because He created us in His image. He is Father, Son and Holy Spirit and we are spirit, soul (mind) and body. And because we are so constituted, He gives us the innovation, inspiration, and wisdom to concentrate, pray and create things through invention and construction!
The mind of Christ does not waver, change, or deal in ambiguous terms! There is no double-speak! There are no contradictions! The Bible warns: “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” (James 1: 8). “...not with eye-service, as men-pleasers: but in singleness of heart, fearing God: And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” (Col. 3:22).
The mind of Christ is a pure mind! The Bible says: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Phil.4: 8)
The mind of Christ is a sound and stable mind! “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of love and power and of a sound mind.” (2 Tim. 1:7). The purpose of the demeaning, derogatory and abusive treatment King Herod and his soldiers heaped upon our Saviour through verbiage and acts were meant to humiliate and harm Jesus of Nazareth physically and mentally!
When they platted a crown of Jerusalem thorns - the Arabian Nebulae - it was meant to drive our precious Lord insane. Instead of losing His mind through it all, Jesus purchased our peace of mind! He took upon Himself the curse which was brought upon mankind through the fall of Adam! (Gal.3:13).
The Bible says: “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned everyone to his own way. And the Lord hath laid upon Him the iniquities of us all.” (Is. 53: 4-6).
A Christian is a mind through which Christ thinks. As our mind assimilates those godly thoughts, we think about people like God thinks about them. Our thoughts then become the will of God for the people, and we begin to work in accordance with His Word, will and purposes!
St. Paul writes: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Tim. 1: 7).
“But the natural mind receiveth not the things of the spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto Him: neither can He know them, because they are spiritually discerned. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that He may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Cor.2: 14, 16)
(111). A CHRISTIAN IS A VOICE THROUGH WHICH CHRIST SPEAKS!
Jesus spoke to people who were fearful, troubled, diseased, and sinful! His words brought peace to the tormented, forgiveness to the sinner, pardon to the guilty and healing to the sick and diseased! And life to the dead – both spiritually and physically!
He spoke with great compassion, love, mercy, and grace! No man ever spoke like Jesus! His voice of invitation was full of kindness and reassurance! As he rebuked the Pharisees, He spoke with authority and firmness. And when He commanded evil and unclean spirits to vacate the victims whom they had enslaved, the wicked ‘hordes of hell’ obeyed immediately!
His merciful words of invitation and hope also brought strong admonitions against unbelief, false doctrine, hypocrisy, and wrongdoing! Let us look at some of Jesus’ powerful and gracious words!
PEACE: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto thee: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14: 27)
FORGIVENESS: “Jesus said unto her, Woman, where are thine accusers? Hath no man accused thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more.” (John 8: 10, 11).
COMPASSION: “And when the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her, and said unto her, weep not. And He came and touched bier: and they that bear him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up and began to speak. And He delivered him to his mother.” (Luke 7: 13 – 15).
ASSURANCE: “Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly of heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28)
HOPE: ‘‘Looking for that Blessed Hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our servant Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might REDEEM us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar (puchased) people, zealous of good works.’’ (Titus 2: 13,14)
AUTHORITY: ‘‘And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto Me in Heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.’’ (Matt. 28: 18,19)
‘‘And He said unto them, go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe: In My name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues. They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, they shall recover.’’ (Mark 16: 15-18)
INVITATION: ‘‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock: If any man hear My voice and open the door I will come into him and sup with him and he with Me.’’ (Rev. 3:20). ‘‘All that the Father giveth Me shall come unto Me; and Him that cometh to Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from Heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me. And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one whih seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.’’ (John 6: 37-40)
‘‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believth on Me hath everlasting life. I am the Bread of Life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from Heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living Bread which came down from Heaven: if any man eat of this Bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will giv for the life of the world.’’(John 6:47-51)
WARNING: ‘‘And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat upon it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for the. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the book, according to their works.
‘‘And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell (hades) delivered up the dead which were in them; and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lame of fire.’’ (Rev. 20:11-15).
A CHRISTIAN is a believer who sees and hears the lost and needy through Christ's eyes and ears. A Christian is feet that bring Christ's Gospel to a lost world. And a Christian is hands that lift up the fallen and Heal the sick and suffering, for God's honour and glory! AMEN.