Are You a Christian?

That question can be answered with a “Yes” or “No,” but along with those brief answers there should be an accompanying spoken or unspoken reason for such an assertion.

The label “Christian” is pretty common in today’s world.  Some will assume that if one is not a Jew or Muslim then he is a Christian, assuming he were not an atheist, cultist, Hindu or Buddhist.  In that definition, all sorts of varieties would exist including Protestants, Catholics, Baptists, Lutherans and many others.  But, back to the question, “Are You a Christian?”

My concern by posing this query is whether or not you have a relationship with Jesus Christ.  Many Americans, if not most, would answer in the affirmative to the question.  In fact, a research group determined in one of its studies a few years into this new millennium/century that 80% of the adults in America considered themselves Christians and that six out of ten adults in America said their main purpose in life was to “love God with all their heart, mind, strength and soul.”  The research team concluded that though most Americans enjoyed the “security” of being known as “Christian,” most were not anxious to own up to the responsibilities incumbent upon those who are known by that name.

Followers of Jesus Christ were not always called “Christians,” or “Christ folk.”  First there were Apostles, then a wider group known as followers, then disciples and finally, about the time the converted Christian killer, Saul of Tarsus, later known as Paul, the Apostle, fell at Jesus’ feet on the Road to Damascus and instantly put his trust in the risen Lord, the writer of the book of Acts, Luke, tells us that Jesus’ followers were first called “Christians” at Antioch.  Stott, in his commentary on the book of Acts, notes that the term “Christians,”  was a term of derision, used as a sort of nickname tagged onto those people who confessed their allegiance to Jesus Christ.  (Acts 11:26)  The word is used again in Acts 26:28 where King Agrippa, having heard Paul’s personal testimony and his appeal to the King to accept Jesus as his own Savior, responded to the missionary/evangelist with the words, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” And, in I Peter 4:16 the word Christian occurs a third and final time in the New Testament where Peter admonishes his readers that no one should be ashamed for suffering as a Christian.

So, a Christian, or Christians (“Christ folk”) are those who are disciples or followers of Jesus Christ.  They have acknowledged that He is God and Savior, have believed in Him and called upon Him in repentance for salvation, and are committed to living the Christian life.  The immediate instance that a person becomes a believer he or she may not understand the theology of it all—that will come later with growth—but the convert at least knows that he is a sinner, and that Jesus is the Savior so that by faith and repentance, the sinner in some fashion forms the plea “Lord, save me!”  Unknown to him, no doubt, at that moment he is spiritually baptized into the Body of Christ (the Church) and sealed by the Holy Spirit, a seal that assures him of redemption, now and forever, and he is immediately, instantly, made a son (child) of God with all the spiritual blessings attendant thereunto, including being indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God.  Glory!

A first-century observer described these Christians thusly:  “Christians inhabit the lands of their birth but as temporary residents thereof; they take their share of all responsibilities as citizens and endure all disabilities as aliens.  They pass their days upon earth, but their citizenship is in Heaven.”

That first century historian hit the nail on the head!  Paul said that “our conversation is in heaven,” (Phil. 3:20) and that we are “fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God,” (Eph.2:19) and that “God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ.” (Eph. 1:3)  That is why Paul could exhort us to “set your affections on things above, and not on things of the earth.” (Col.3:2)

A.W. Tozer aptly spoke of Christ folks when he described them this way:  “He feels supreme love for One whom he has never seen.  He talks familiarly every day to someone he cannot see, expects to go to Heaven on virtue of another; empties himself in order that he might be full; admits he is wrong so that he can be declared right, goes down in order to get up.”

A pilot was flying over the Arabian dessert when he had to land at an oasis for fuel.  Upon taking off again he began hearing a scratching, gnawing sound from the fuselage area.  Fearing it might be a rodent that had crept on board during his refueling, the pilot instinctively began to fly the plane at an higher altitude.  Higher and higher he ascended until the scratching and gnawing eventually ceased altogether.  When he landed the plane, sure enough he found the dead rodent which was unable to survive in the heights far above the dessert floor that he was accustomed to.  That is a lesson that Christians learn when realizing that our life is “hid with Christ in God.” (Col.3:3)  We live on a higher plane, yet it is not us but Christ living in us (Gal.2:20).  We cannot survive as believers living on the floor of the dessert of this world’s sin.  We survive, yes, thrive appropriating the truth that God “…hath raised us up together, and  made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Eph.2:6)

So, back to the original question, “Are You a Christian?”  “Yes,” or “No?”  If you answer “Yes,” it is because you are “accepted in the Beloved,” (Eph.1:6), that is, you have experienced justification by faith through the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1). “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not on the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (John 3:36)  The question is, then, do you have the Son in your heart, by faith? “But as many as received Him to them gave He the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” (John 1:12)  Are you, then, a Christian?  Do you have the Son (in your heart)?  The decision is personal, the consequences are eternal.  If you are not now a Christian, receive Him today.  You will never regret becoming one of the Christ folks!

And he (the jailor) brought them out, and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’  And they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.’” (Acts 16:30,31)

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