by Robert Tuten
There is much confusion in the world today about who is a Christian. In this respect the confusion of ancient Babel is still modern history. The word "Christian" appears only three times in the N. T.—Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Pet. 4:16. In each of these cases the word appears as a noun, never as a verb [or adjective]. In each of these cases it belongs to individuals. By Divine authority there is no such thing as a "Christian nation" or a "Christian church." It is no more correct to refer to the Lord's body as a "Christian church" than a "Saint church" or "Disciple church, " for like the words "disciples" and "saint", "Christian" refers only to individuals in the Lord's church (Acts 11:26; Phil. 1:1).
Who then are Christians? It is well for us to look at the question from a negative standpoint. If we can first determine who is not a Christian we can better determine who is a Christian.
WHO ARE NOT CHRISTIANS?
Not all "good people" are Christians. Some confuse the meaning of the term "Christian" with morality. To be sure, Christians must be moral people. Paul admonishes us to "abstain from every form of evil" (1 Thess. 5:22).
Peter says, "for hereunto were ye called; because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that ye should follow his steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth" (1 Pet. 2:21-22). All Christians are to be good moral people but not all good moral people are Christians. Morality alone never made any one a Christian. Cornelius was a good man described in the Bible as "devout", "feared God with all his house, " "gave much alms to the people," and "prayed to God always" (Acts 10:1-8). This man even saw an angel but the angel told him to send for Peter who would "speak unto thee words, whereby thou shalt be saved, thou and all thy house" (Acts 11:14). Cornelius had not been saved, therefore, he was not a Christian.
Not just a religious person is a Christian. One can be religious and still not be a Christian. The Athenians of Acts 17 were worshipers of idols and did not believe in the true God (v.2:3) nor the resurrection (v.32). Yet Paul said, "Ye men of Athens, in all things I perceive that ye are very religious" (v. 22). Many people in heathen lands are religious but they are not Christians. One can worship and be religious without being a Christian but one must worship God to be a Christian.
Not all church members are Christians. One cannot be a Christian without being a member of the Lord's body the church since all the saved are, by God, added to the church when they obey the gospel (Acts 2:41,47). One can, however, belong to some church and still not be a Christian. "Joining" a church does not make one a Christian. Living "in a church does not make one a Christian.
Old Testament characters were not Christians. Abraham is called "the father of the faithful" but he was not a Christian. Moses was chosen of God to lead His people from Egyptian bondage, but he was not a Christian. "The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch" (Acts 11:26).
WHO THEN ARE CHRISTIANS?
A Christian is one who has been "born anew;" one who has been "born of water and the Spirit" (John 3:5). A Christian is one who "is a new creature" (2 Cor. 5:17), one who has been baptized into Christ, and living the new life in him (Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:27).
A Christian is a "dead man." He is one who has been "crucified with Christ" (Gal. 2:20). Christians are "baptized into his death," they are "buried therefore with him through baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life" (Rom. 6:3,4).
A Christian is a "living man." Christians have died to sin and have been raised to a new life. "We who died to sin, how shall we any longer live therein?" (Rom. 6:2). Christians are dead to sin, but alive to God; Christians have been "buried with him in baptism," wherein they are "also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead" (Col. 2:12). "if ye then were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God" (Col. 3:1).
A Christian is a citizen of the kingdom of God. He has been translated out of darkness "into the kingdom of the Son of his love" (Col. 1:13). A Christian has responsibilities as a citizen in the kingdom of God.
Finally, a Christian is a member of the body of Christ. They are members one of another. "So we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and severally members one of another" (Rom. 12:5), "Now ye are the body of Christ, and severally members thereof" (1 Cor. 12:27). Christians are so related to Christ and to each other that "whether one member suffereth, all the members suffer with it; or one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it" (1 Cor. 12: 26). Christians have no denominational allegiance or loyalty; they belong only to Christ.
Are you a Christian? ~
by Kevin Cauley
The picture showed multiple columns of smoke billowing into great clouds of flame, ash, and dust behind what would typically be considered a sprawling urban neighborhood with houses lined up one after another. In the distance a helicopter could be seen flying in front of the roiling tumult showing the magnitude of the raging fiery torrent. The caption read, "Hell's Doorstep," an apt description.
The word "hell" is used today to describe anything from stubbing one's toe to engaging in a combat operation. Frequently the word is used lightly with little or no gravity at all in respect to its subject matter. Comedians have used it routinely; the word is sprinkled generously in movies; and television hesitates not the slightest to throw it out if it will generate a mild guffaw.
In stark contrast, however, the use of it to describe the recent fires in California seemed appropriate. The intensity of the flames, the smoke enveloping darkness, the completely dismal portrait painted, all testified to exactly the kind of place described in the New Testament that awaits impenitent sinners.
Hell is not a popular subject. While a majority of Americans believe in heaven and believe they will go there, a far fewer number believe in hell. And even if they believe in hell, they don't believe in a hell like the one described in the Bible. For many, the concept of hell is like some ill-advised fraternity where you'll be mercilessly hazed for the rest of your life. While such a concept isn't pleasant, it nowhere near approaches the truth the Bible reveals about hell. Hell is described in Revelation 21:8 as "the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." Mark 9:43 describes it as a place of "unquenchable fire." 2 Peter 2:4 describes it as "pits of darkness." Matthew 25:46 says it is a place of "eternal punishment." Jude 1:7 calls it "the punishment of eternal fire." 2 Thessalonians 1:8 says that it is Christ's "vengeance" "in flaming fire" upon those who "know not God, and that obey not the gospel."
The pictures out of California this past week were stark. That is the exact image that we should consider when contemplating a life in rebellion to God. Let us not think that we can live rebelliously and escape God's eternal retribution. While we extend our sympathies to the people who lost loved ones and property, let us, with sober minds, consider what kind of place hell truly is. ~