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The Truth About ... BEING A CHRISTIAN
"And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch" (Acts 11:26).
A CHRISTIAN IS A FOLLOWER OF CHRIST:
The name that unbelievers in Antioch first gave to the disciples of Christ, was 'Christians', which probably meant, 'followers of Christ'. It was not meant as a commendation but rather as an epithet of derision, for it was well known by the Jews in far away Antioch, that Jesus Christ died a criminal's death upon a Roman cross, and that He taught that a follower off Him must 'deny himself and take up his cross and follow me". (Matthew 16:24)
Today, because the word 'Christian' is an honourable title assumed by almost everyone in the Western world who 'goes to church 'at least once a year, it no longer means what it originally meant, 'a follower or disciple of Christ'. It is necessary for us who are concerned about our eternal salvation to study the Bible, the Word of God, and accept its revelation as to what constitutes a true Christian follower of Christ, as distinct from a modern-day 'Christian church-goer'.
A CHRISTIAN BELIEVES THE GOSPEL AND IS BAPTISED:
Jesus Christ's last command to His remaining eleven disciples, shows what constitutes a true or Bible-founded Christian. "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature [person]. He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. [condemned]". (Mark 16:15-16). Therefore, whoever believes the Gospel as taught by Christ and His apostles, and is immersed, (BAPTISED) IS A CHRISTIAN. Whoever does not so believe and act, IS NOT a Biblical Christian, even though he may go to church regularly and think that he is a Christian.
CHRIST TAUGHT 'THE KINGDOM OF GOD':
The Gospel taught by the Lord Jesus Christ and His disciples, was the "gospel of the kingdom of God " ( Matt. 4:23; Acts 8:12). This is 'the good news or glad tidings' that God will "restore again the kingdom to Israel", (Acts 1:6), "will build again the Tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up". (Acts 15:16). It is God's assurance to all mankind in every age that, " the God of heaven (shall) set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people (non Jews), but it shall brake in pieces and consume all these (human, earthly) kingdom, and it shall stand for ever". (Daniel 2:44)
WHAT THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS TO A CHRISTIAN:
It is to be a Kingdom of, or from heaven, set up on this earth---firstly in Jerusalem and Israel, and finally over all nations, ruled by Christ and His approved and glorified followers. Then the Lord's prayer offered by His disciples down through the ages, "Thy kingdom come , Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven" (Math.6:10), will be answered. Then the many wonderful promises of the prophets of Israel will be intimately
and powerfully fulfilled----wars will cease; peace, serenity and quiet will be universal; sickness, sin and death will gradually be removed; prosperity and plenty will be for all rather than the few; life on earth for all people and all nations will come to be exceedingly pleasant, interesting and blessed. (Psalm 72; Isaiah 9:6-7; Isaiah 65:17-25).
There will then be "glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men"---as it was pronounced at the birth of the Lord Jesus by a multitude of the heavenly host, but still awaiting fulfilment, because it requires the Jesus to return to this earth (Luke 2:14).
WHAT CHRISTIAN MORALITY IS:
The 'morality', or righteous character required by Christ for individuals to inherit this kingdom FOR EVER, is called 'faith' (or 'faithfulness'), after the pattern of God Himself. (Habakkuk. 2:4… "the just shall live by faith"). The Apostle Paul repeats these words exactly in Romans 1:16-17). He also writes of the "obedience of faith" in Romans 16:26, which he describes as, "patient continuance in well doing" (Rom. 2:7). He also speaks of " obeying from the heart that form of doctrine" (Rom. 6:17), the apostles delivered to the early Christians .. Elsewhere that morality is shown to Christians to be the keeping of God's two great commandments. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind"….AND….."Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thy self". (Mat. 22:36-40). The Apostle John sums it up, saying to Christians everywhere, "And this is love, that we walk after HIS COMMANDMENTS". (2 John 6)
HOW TO BECOME A CHRISTIAN:
A Christian believes in the coming of Christ to set up the Kingdom of God on THIS earth, and his life is characterised by love for God by serving Him in truth, and love for others by doing them good, not ill, and by obeying Christ's commands.
The first command of Christ required to be obeyed by would-be Christians, is to be baptised. Baptism, as the Greek word 'bapto' signifies, is a FULL immersion in water of an adult believer in "the things concerning the Kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ", (Acts 8:12). Baptism is "the answer of a good conscience towards God". (1 Peter 3:21), and speaks of a symbolic death and burial of a sinner into the death and burial of the Lord Jesus Christ. As the Jesus Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so a repentant sinner is raised from the water to "walk in newness of life". (Romans 6:4), wherein both habitual sin and even individual acts of sin are put to death in the strength of God's grace, or help. (Hebrews 4:16).
A Christian remains a follower of Christ whilst he maintains his relationship with God through Christ his Saviour. This is done by daily reading the Bible, whereby God speaks to us, and by daily prayers to God's throne of grace, whereby we speak to God through Christ our mediator, intercessor and High Priest. A Christian, also breaks the bread and drinks the wine of the Memorial regularly, usually weekly, with other true Christians who believe similarly, "to shew the Lord's death till He comes" (1 Cor. 11:23-29))
Let us become, or remain, true Christians that we may gain God's kingdom!
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