Monday, September 29, 2008

What Does A Christian Look Like?

Acts 11:25-26 – the word Christian is only used 3 times in the New Testament.

The early Christians called themselves brothers, disciples, believers, saints, The Way, and finally Christian.

In the past weeks we’ve looked at Assurance of Salvation and Security of the Believer.


What does a Christian look like?

1/3 of the world (2 billion) plus 80% of Americans identify themselves as “Christian”.

But…. What constitutes Christianity? What makes one a Christian?

Answers from the person on the street include:

I’m a Christian because….

1. I choose Christianity as my religious preference (as opposed to Jew, Islam, etc.)

2. My family is or has ben Christian (roots/tradition)

3. I live in the USA – which is a Christian nation

4. I attend church (in contrast to synagogue or mosque) when I do worship.

5. I belong to a church or have been baptized in a church, etc.

6. I read the Bible

7. I believe in the person and teachings of Jesus

8. I believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ

9. I’ve accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior

There are many definitions. Which is correct? How do we decide or “measure”?

Answer: We don’t have a New Testament definition.

However, we do have a New Testament description!

This description is not found in any one text , BUT if we take in the New Testament, here’s what we’ll find.

Summary statement: A Christian is one who identifies with: Jesus Christ.

A. as Savior

B. As Lord

and C. with Christ’s people

D. with Christ’s cause

I. A Christian identifies with Jesus as Savior.Luke 2:11 Matt. 1:21 Luke 19:10

(using the bridge illustration – a Christian believes in the bridge, and a Christian crosses the bridge.)

This means recognition of self as:

A sinner

In need of salvation The cross is central in the New Testament message

In need of correction – we are seriously flawed Rom. 3:23

In need of instruction – how am I supposed to live? What am I supposed to do?

This leads to:

II. A Christian identifies with Jesus as Lord. (Master, leader, boss, one in charge) He has the wisdom and answers that I need.

This includes: A. Universal Lord – He is Lord over everything. He chooses now to only be King and Lord of those who accept Him.

B. Personal Lord – which means that I recognize:

1. His authority over me

2. my accountability to Him. If He is my Lord, then I am personally responsible to His authority over me.

NOTE: Personal Lordship requires: 1. Knowledge of His Word. Hos. 4:6

2. Response to His Spirit

We can accept Him as Lord without knowing His will, but we cannot follow Him without knowledge of His Word. We can’t do His will if we don’t know what that will is.

III. A Christian identifies with Jesus’ People. Matt. 16:13-18 Eph. 4:4-6

New Testament experience was when people believed, they gathered to fellowship, learn, teach, pray, worship, reach others. The “Lone Ranger” Christian is totally NOT scriptural.

New Testament description of a Christian is, or includes:

A. association with other Christians

B. affection for the body/group/gatherings

C. Cooperation with the others for ministry

IV. A Christina identifies with Jesus’ Cause. (kingdom) Matt. 28:19-20 Acts 1:8 Matt. 5:13-16

The Cause is: reveal God, reconcile men, change hearts, transform society, promote His teaching, establish His Kingdom….

In the New Testament view, A. Christianity is more than good for some. It is essential for ALL. That is God’s will.

Therefore, Christianity which is NOT evangelical is NOT the New Testament description.

If, consequently, it is narrow and exclusive, so be it. That is the design, not the intent.

ADD: V. (according to the New Testament description) A Christian is one who is serious about this!. (It’s more than a head nod or verbal assent.)

QUESTION: If a person doesn’t meet these criteria, does that mean he’s not Christian?

Answer: #1. All are sinners – none “measure up” 100%.

#2. We have no “Christometer” to measure with

Therefore, #3. External (fruits) is all we have to measure by. James 2:18 & 26

So, #4. This is the criteria we should look for.

#5. This is the criteria we should strive for.

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