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Being a Christian PDF Print E-mail


   The definition of a Christian is one who follows Jesus. The name ‘Christian’ was actually given to the first church as a derogatory term….”Ha, there goes that Christian…He follows JESUS! “ The disciples of Jesus had such a reputation in their following, that it distinguished them. They were identified for their following Jesus.

 

   But today, the water has been muddied. A “Christian” is not as distinguished. The term Christian today, encompasses a vast multitude of different ideas -- many of which it can be said do not belong to Jesus. Some believe that asking a blessing on their food make them Christian. Some believe that exploding bombs against those who oppose their belief system, makes them Christian. Many believe they qualify as Christians because they sympathize with good ethics.

 

   Yet amid this miriad of ideas, what is true Christianity? What is a Christian, and how am I a true Christian.

 

   Well, the answer is actually quite simple, and we will discover it as we go along.

 

   Just before Christ’s ascension into heaven, he gives some instruction to his followers.

 

Mark 16:15  “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”

 

   Throughout the Bible the consistent call is given to us to preach the Gospel.

 

   But what is the Gospel? If we are to proclaim the Gospel then we need to understand what the Gospel indeed is.

 

   If you began to ask different people that question you would most likely get an assortment of answers.

 

   So what is the Gospel that the bible writers so strongly speak about?

 

   Is it an ideal? Is it a creed? Is it just an emotion? Is it something that we can see in daily life? Perhaps it’s all of these?

 

   A 18th century writer once said, "The very essence of the gospel is restoration” (DA p824)

 

   Let me say it another way:  "The gospel is Jesus Christ; His life, his death, his resurrection and his mediation on our behalf in the heavenly sanctuary."

 

   It’s a message of good news from heaven to a lost human race.

 

   The gospel is the greatest message that we can speak. It’s a message so strong that it has altered the course of human history.

 

   But the greatest expression, the greatest evidence of the gospel’s true power, is found not in the way it has shaped the world, not in the way it has moved nations. Its true power is expressed when it manifests itself in the individual. When it takes someone in their deepest despair and greatest depression and lifts them to the very highest experience of human joy. How once the message is heard and received, inspires change in the heart and in the life of the believer.

 

   Let me illustrate. John the Baptist was preaching down by the river Jordan. As he was preaching, a delegation from the Sanhedrin came and, interrupting his discourse, plied John with questions as to who he was, and by what authority he was preaching. In reply, John answers....

 

“I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; he it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose.” John 1:26, 27

 

   Quoting on this again from a 18th century author...  “The message was distinct and unequivocal, to be carried back to the Sanhedrin. The words of John could apply to no other than the long-promised One.  The Messiah was among them! In amazement priests and rulers gazed about them, hoping to discover Him of whom John had spoken. But He was not distinguishable among the throng.”  (DA p136)

 

   But what I find interesting is the effect upon two disciples of John....

 

 “On the day following, while two disciples were standing near, John again saw Jesus among the people. Again the face of the prophet was lighted up with glory from the Unseen, as he cried, “Behold the Lamb of God!”  The words thrilled the hearts of the disciples. They did not fully understand them. What meant the name that John had given Him,--“the Lamb of God”? John himself had not explained it.

 

"Leaving John, they went to seek Jesus. One of the two was Andrew, the brother of Simon; the other was John the evangelist. These were Christ’s first disciples.  Moved by an irresistable impulse, they followed Jesus,--anxious to speak with Him, yet awed and silent, lost in the overwhelming significance of the thought, “Is this the Messiah?” (DA p138)

 

            Why did they follow Jesus?

 

   It was something they did not understand but something they wanted to know more about.  “Moved by an irresistable impulse, they followed Jesus.”  To be a disciple, to be a follower of Jesus, is a simple response to His grace. You do not need complete understanding --- simply respond to the interest sparked within you.

 

   Our 18th century author comments further....

 

"Jesus knew that the disciples were following Him. They were the first fruits of His ministry, and there was joy in the heart of the divine Teacher as these souls responded to His grace. . .”

 

   Following Jesus is not theological, or technical; it is simply a response in your heart of the offer to you from Heaven. Jesus teaches this later in his words to the disciples.

 

Matt. 11:28. “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

 

            Come unto ME, is the invitation from Jesus. To each one of us, these are His words.

 

1)      An invitation is pleasant in nature, and not compulsory. An invitation has the power to transform an outcast into a member; one who belongs. An invitation to you shows that you are precious, and loved by the one inviting, that they want you to share their company. In our verse, Jesus is inviting us to come.

 

2)      The word COME – is both welcoming and decisive. COME unto ME, implies leaving your current place, and moving toward the one inviting. COME however, doesn’t dictate how we should move; nor set from how far away we may respond. COME simply invites us to advance nearer, in any manner, and from any distance.

 

3)      UNTO – also implies moving; it however, has the added purpose of directing attention to the object acting. The word TO prepares us to anticipate with expectation, what it is we are advancing toward.

 

4)      ME – How precious of our Lord, to invite us to be with Himself. ME implies a personal contact, an intimate, spiritual closeness.

 

   You will also notice in our Scripture, that Jesus invites us to come, not to something religious, but to Him.  Jesus is not saying, come to this study, come to this important doctrine, come to an important place, and you will have rest…No, he says, Come to ME. ME removes any other object from discussion, and directs the attention to the speaker. ME is singular and personal.

 

            But you ask, how is this done? How is it that we come to Jesus? How do I know if I am following Him?

 

            I am sure you would like to know.

 

            Well the answer is actually really simple, more so than what you may have thought, or what you have been taught.

 

Sunbaking

 

           How many here like to sunbake?

 

           What do you do to sunbake?

 

           You find a patch of sunshine in a relaxing place, lay down, and open yourself to the sun to do its work. The sun is there, provided, and you lay and relax, opening yourself to the rays. You ‘come’ to the sun.

 

            Sunbaking is an efficient teacher of the gospel.  

 

            How?

 

            Well, in the same way as the sunshine, Jesus is given to the world. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes (has same Greek root as 'come') in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

 

            God gave Him to be to us what we need. My needs, your needs, are all provided for in JESUS. When we accept that, when we relax in that, we ‘come’ to Him. “Coming” is believing that Jesus is to you just what your heart and soul needs. He is the 'sunshine' of your spiritual, emotional, and physical needs.

 

            And what are the results? A nice, well-tanned character, one that shows the lovely character of God through you. Your personal life reflects the beauty and peacefulness of Jesus.

 

            Jesus says, Come to Me, and you will have rest.

 

            But, you might be still wondering, where is Jesus that I might find Him, and go to Him?

 

            Listen to this verse, "And God showed his love for us by sending his only Son into the world, so that we might have life through him. This is what love is: it is not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the means by which our sins are forgiven.” 
1 John 4:9,10 (GNB)

 

            You have an interest in coming to Jesus and following Him. He is attractive to you...you feel He might be able to help you, that He offers something you could do with.

 

             Then know that this interest is already evidence that you believe, that you are 'coming', just has He has invited.

 

              Let’s compare again our sun-baking….

          

             The sunshine is there, every day. You do nothing to provide it. God gives it new every day.

 

             In the same way, Jesus is there, every day. God has given Him to the world. You do nothing to bring Him. The Bible says, God has given Him into the world. Jesus is yours already. If you believe this, you have begun to believe in Jesus, begun to follow Him, begun to be a Christian.

 

             Jesus tells us a story....

 

   A man went down to Jericho, and fell among thieves; they beat him up, they took his clothes, and left him for dead. (Luke 10:30-36)

 

   You and I are that poor man. Personal sin, poor decisions, unfortunate circumstances, has left us nearly dead, far from where God wants us, or even where we want to be ourselves. And yet along comes a kindly stranger, a Samaritan, who takes pity on the helpless man, picks him up, takes him to a comfortable inn, and pays for his recovery.

 

   You can have the peace and rest you desire. You are not hopeless, or as far from God as you feel. Jesus is walking the same road as you. He stops and pities your wounds. He will pick you up. He offers us a comfortable inn, in which to get better. He has paid for our recovery. His coming to us, is the Gospel.

 

“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Isa. 53:5,6.

 

   We may not yet understand the reasons why Jesus should help someone such as you; we may not see why He should love us. That does not matter -- you are loved! Did you not receive an invitation from Him -- Come to Me, and you will have rest. He is helping you already. He loves you. You didnt need to pay Him, or stand in line, hoping to reach Him. No, the invitation is given freely. You are wanted already, valuable in His sight. Your wounds only make His pity and desire to get you home the more earnest.

 

   Like sunbaking, come to Jesus. Allow the sunshine to tan your body. Open your heart to Jesus. Give Him entrance, and He will make you a child of God. He will transform your weak, sinful self into the divine image, giving it beauty and perfection. 

 

   Jesus says,  “I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the Lord, saith the Lord God, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes... I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you." Ezekiel 36:23-27

 

   This is the work He came to do ---the work of restoration. You and I are His patients – to be restored by Him back to the beautiful condition the first Adam enjoyed in Eden.

           

The Rose

 

It is only a tiny rosebud

A flower of God ’s design ,

But I cannot unfold the petals

With these clumsy hands of mine.

 

The secret of unfolding flowers

Is not known to such as I,

The flower God opens so sweetly,

In my hands would fade and die.

 

If I cannot unfold a rosebud

This flower of God’s design ,

Then how can I think I have wisdom

To unfold this life of mine?

 

So I’ll trust in Him for His leading

Each moment of every day,

And I’ll look to Him for His guidance

Every step of the pilgrim way.

 

For the pathway that lies before me

My heavenly Father knows,

I’ll trust Him to unfold the moments

As He unfolds the rose.

 

                        By John Denmark

 

 

   I welcome Jesus to save me. I appreciate the good news, that Jesus connects me with God, and that He will make my life like His. I give Him permission to build and work and beautify my heart, as He is so capable of doing.

 

   So how do we come to Jesus? How do we follow Him? By letting Jesus be to you what His word has said. Rest in the sunshine of His love, and you will receive a well-tanned, good-looking character like His.