What is the Christian? Everywhere the man who, so far as he comprehends Jesus Christ, so far as he can get any knowledge of Him, is His servant – the man who makes Christ a teacher of his intelligence and the guide of his soul – the man who obeys Christ as far as he has been able to understand him… I would know any man as a Christian, would rejoice to know any man as a Christian, whom Jesus would recognize as a Christian; and Jesus Christ, I am sure, in these old days recognized His followers even if they came after Him with the blindest sight, with the most imperfect recognition and acknowledgment of what He was and of what He could do.
I am His by purchase and I am His by conquest; I am His by donation and I am His by election; I am His by covenant and I am His by marriage; I am wholly His; I am peculiarly His; I am universally His; I am eternally His. Once I was a slave but now I am a son; once I was dead but now I am alive; once I was darkness but now I am light in the Lord; once I was a child of wrath, an heir of hell, but now I am an heir of heaven; once I was Satan’s bond-servant but now I am God’s freeman; once I was under the spirit of bondage but now I am under the Spirit of adoption that seals up to me the remission of my sins, the justification of my person and the salvation of my soul.
“I don’t smoke, I don’t drink. I don’t swear. Hallelujah, I’m a Christian.” If a telephone pole could talk, it might say the same thing. But a series of zeros do not make a Christian. A million negatives do not produce even one positive. We may pity the man with an empty mind. But what about the person with the empty heart?
A Christian is one who recognizes Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God, as God manifested in the flesh, loving us and dying for our redemption; and who is so affected by a sense of the love of this incarnate God as to be constrained to make the will of Christ the rule of his obedience, and the glory of Christ the great end for which He lives.
It is a very common supposition that it is an easy thing to be a Christian. And if to be a Christian were nothing more than going to a place of worship, indulging in pious emotions, subscribing to religious institutions, and professing certain religious opinions – the supposition would be correct – for nothing is more easy than all this! But if the spirit of true piety is poverty of spirit, humility, self-abasement, forgiveness of insults, patience under provocation, penitence, meekness, purity, peaceableness, thirsting after righteousness – then must it be obvious to everyone who knows his own heart, that to be a true Christian is the most difficult thing in the world!
When applied to Christians, holiness or sanctification is not in the first place an ethical concept although it includes an ethical aspect. It denotes first of all a soteriological truth that Christians belong to God. They are God’s people. This is why the most common use of hagios in Paul is to designate all Christians as saints – the people of God.
If conversion to Christianity makes no improvement in a man’s outward actions – if he continues to be just as snobbish or spiteful or envious or ambitious as he was before – then I think we must suspect that his ‘conversion’ was largely imaginary.
To be a Christian is not only to believe the teaching of Christ, and to practice it; it is not only to try to follow the pattern and example of Christ; it is to be so vitally related to Christ that His life and His power are working in us. It is to be “in Christ,” it is for Christ to be in us
How do you know whether a man is a Christian? The answer is that his mouth is “shut”. I like this forthrightness of the Gospel. People need to have their mouths shut, “stopped”. They are forever talking about God, and criticizing God, and pontificating about what God should or should not do, and asking, “Why does God allow this and that?” You do not begin to be a Christian until your mouth is shut, is stopped, and you are speechless and have nothing to say.
A Christian is not one who simply buys “fire insurance,” who signs up just to avoid an unpleasant after life. A Christian…repeatedly, is one whose faith expresses itself in submission and obedience. A Christian is one who follows Christ, one who is committed unquestionably to Christ as Lord and Savior, one who desires to please God. His basic aim is to be in every way a disciple of Jesus Christ. When he fails, he seeks forgiveness and wants to move forward. This is his spirit and his direction.
The Christian is a person who makes it easy for others to believe in God.
I initially examined Christianity in order to write a book making a mockery of it… After extensive research, however, I discovered that Christianity is not a religion of men and women working their way to God through “good works.” Nor is it obedience to a pattern of religious ritual. Rather, it is a relationship with a living God through His Son Jesus Christ. To my amazement, I was confronted with a person, not a religion. Here was a person who made staggering claims about Himself, along with profound claims on my life. Jesus was so different from what I had expected. Other religious leaders put their teachings out in front. Jesus put Himself out in front. Others would ask, “How are you responding to my teachings?” Jesus asked, “How are you related to Me?” (Josh McDowell and Bart Larson).
A Christian is not a person who believes in his head the teachings of the Bible. Satan believes in his head the teachings of the Bible! A Christian is a person who has died with Christ, whose stiff neck has been broken, whose brazen forehead has been shattered, whose stony heart has been crushed, whose pride has been slain, and whose life is now mastered by Jesus Christ. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me!”
Being a Christian involves leaving behind superficial religion for supernatural regeneration.
To be a Christian is to be loved by God, pursued by God, and found by God. To be a Christian is to realize that in your sin, you were separated from God’s presence, and you deserved nothing but God’s wrath. Yet despite your darkness and in your deadness, His light shone on you and His voice spoke to you, inviting you to follow Him. His majesty captivated your soul and His mercy covered your sin, and by His death He brought you life.
I am never ashamed to avow myself a Calvinist; I do not hesitate to take the name of Baptist; but if I am asked what is my creed, I reply, "It is Jesus Christ."
A Christian is a perpetual miracle.
It is a tragedy that the Christian religion is in many minds identified merely with pious ethical behavior and vague theistic beliefs, suffused with aesthetic emotionalism and a mild glow of humanitarian benevolence. This is not the faith which first awakened the world like a thousand trumpets and made people feel it bliss in such a dawn to be alive. Men knew what Christianity really was – the entrance into history of a force of immeasurable range.
Being a Christian involves a personal, vital identification with Jesus Christ, and this union with Him is dramatically set forth in our baptism.
Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you an automobile.
True spirituality manifests itself in certain dominant desires.
1. First is the desire to be holy rather than happy.
2. A man may be considered spiritual when he wants to see the honor of God advanced through his life even if it means that he himself must suffer temporary dishonor or loss.
3. The spiritual man wants to carry his cross.
4. Again, a Christian is spiritual when he sees everything from God’s viewpoint.
5. Another desire of the spiritual man is to die right rather than to live wrong.
6. The desire to see others advance at his expense.
7. The spiritual man habitually makes eternity-judgments instead of time-judgments.
Religion is us trying to prove to God how important we are…spirituality is being humble enough to allow God prove to us how important He is.
As a third-century man was anticipating death, he penned these last words to a friend: “It’s a bad world, an incredibly bad world. But I have discovered in the midst of it a quiet and holy people who have learned a great secret. They have found a joy which is a thousand times better than any pleasure of our sinful life. They are despised and persecuted, but they care not. They are masters of their souls. They have overcome the world. These people are the Christians—and I am one of them.”