Thursday, May 20, 2010

What Is It To Be A Christian?

Here is an excellent excerpt from a Samuel Davies sermon entitled The Sacred Import of the Christian Name that was published last week by Grace Gems.

"The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch." Acts 11:26

What is it to be a Christian?

1. To be a Christian--is to depart from iniquity.

To this, the name obliges us; and without this we have no right to the name. "Let every one who names the name of Christ--depart from iniquity!" 2 Timothy 2:19. That is, let him depart from iniquity--or not even dare to take that sacred name!

Christ was perfectly free from sin--He was "holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners." His followers also shall be perfectly free from sin--in a little time! Before long, they will enter into the pure regions of perfect holiness, and will drop all their sins, along with their mortal bodies--into the grave!

But this, alas! is not their character in the present state--but the remains of sin still cleave to them! Yet even in the present state, they are laboring after perfection in holiness. Nothing can satisfy them--until they are fully conformed to the image of God's dear Son!

They are hourly conflicting with every temptation, and vigorously resisting every iniquity in its most alluring forms. And, though sin is perpetually struggling for the mastery, and sometimes, in an inadvertent hour, gets an advantage over them--yet, they are assisted with divine grace, so that no sin has any habitual dominion over them. Romans 6:14.

Hence they are free from the gross vices of the age--and are men of good morals. This is their habitual, universal character; and to pretend to be Christians without this prerequisite, is the greatest absurdity!

What then shall we think of the debauched, defrauding, worldly, profligate, profane 'Christians', who have overrun the Christian world? Can there be a greater contradiction?

A loyal subject in arms against his sovereign;
An ignorant scholar;
A sober drunkard;
A charitable miser;
An honest thief—

Are not greater absurdities, or more direct contradictions!

To depart from iniquity--is essential to Christianity, and without it there can be no such thing as a Christian!

There was nothing that Christ was so remote from--as sin! And therefore, for those that indulge themselves in sin--and yet to wear His name, is just as absurd and ridiculous as for an illiterate dunce to call himself a university professor!

Therefore, if you will not renounce iniquity--then renounce the Christian name! You cannot consistently retain both!

Alexander the Great had a fellow in his army who had his same name--but was a mere coward. "Either be like me," said Alexander to him, "or lay aside my name!"

You servants of sin, it is in vain for you to wear the name of Christ! It renders you the more ridiculous, and only aggravates your guilt! You may with as much propriety call yourselves 'princes' or 'kings'; as 'Christians', while you are so unlike Christ!

You are a scandal to His precious name!

2. To be a Christian--is to deny yourself and take up the cross and follow Christ.
These are the terms of discipleship fixed by Christ Himself:
"He said to them all: If any man will come after Me--let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me!" Luke 9:23

To deny ourselves, is to abstain from the pleasures of sin, to moderate our sensual appetites, to deny our own interest for the sake of Christ. In short, it is to sacrifice everything inconsistent with our duty to Him, when these come in competition.

To take up our cross, is to bear sufferings, to encounter difficulties, and break through them all--in imitation of Jesus Christ, and for His sake.

To follow Christ, is to trace His steps, and imitate His example, whatever it costs us.

This is the essential character of every true Christian.

What then shall we think of those crowds among us, who retain the Christian name--and yet will not deny themselves of their sensual pleasures, nor part with their temporal interest, for the sake of Christ? Who are so far from being willing to lay down their lives, that they cannot stand the force of a laugh or a sneer for the cause of Christ--but immediately stumble and fall away?

Are they Christians--whom the commands of Christ cannot restrain from what their depraved hearts desire? No! A Christian, without self-denial, mortification, and a supreme love to Jesus Christ--is as great a contradiction as . . .
Fire without heat,
A sun without light,
A hero without courage,
A friend without love!

Does not this strip some of you of the Christian name, and prove that you have no right at all to it?

3. To be a Christian--is to be a follower or imitator of Christ.

"He left us an example--that we should follow His steps!" 1 Peter 2:21

Christ is the model for every Christian.

Paul tells us that believers will be conformed to His image, Romans 8:29; and that the same mind must be in us--which was also in Christ Jesus. Phil. 2:5.

Christ's heart glowed with love to His Father! He delighted in universal obedience to Him; it was His food and drink to do the Father's will, even in the most painful and self-denying instances! He abounded in devotion, in prayer, meditation and every pious duty.

He was also full of every grace and virtue towards mankind! He was meek and humble, kind and benevolent, just and charitable, merciful and compassionate towards all.

Beneficence to the souls and bodies of men was the business of His life; for He went about doing good. Acts 10:38.

In regard to Himself--He was patient and resigned--and yet undaunted and brave under sufferings. He had all His appetites and passions under proper government. He was heavenly-minded; above this world in heart--while He dwelt in it.

This is an imperfect sketch of His amiable character; and in these things every one who deserves to be called after His name, does in some measure resemble and imitate Him. This is not only his earnest endeavor--but what he actually attains, though in a much inferior degree; and his imperfections are the grief of his heart.

This resemblance and imitation of Christ is essential to the very being of a Christian, and without it, all profession is a vain pretense!

Does your Christianity, my friends, stand this test? May one know that you belong to Christ--by your living like Him, and manifesting the same temper and spirit?

Alas! Would not some of you with more propriety be called:
Epicureans--from Epicurus, the sensual atheistic philosopher; or
Mammonites--from Mammon, the imaginary god of riches; or
Bacchanalians--from Bacchus, the god of wine; rather than
Christians--from Christ, the most perfect pattern of living holiness and virtue that was ever exhibited in the world!

If you claim the name of Christians--then where is . . .
That ardent devotion,
That affectionate love to God,
That zeal for His glory,
That alacrity in His service,
That resignation to His will,
That generous benevolence to mankind,
That zeal to promote their best interests,
That meekness and forbearance under ill usage,
That unwearied activity in doing good to all,
That self-denial and heavenly-mindedness which shone so conspicuous in Christ, whose holy name you bear?

Alas! While you are destitute of those graces--and yet wear his name--you only mock it, and turn it into a reproach both to Him and yourselves!

"Whoever claims to live in Him--must walk as Jesus did." 1 John 2:6
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5 comments:

ATT said...

Hi there www.sacred-lion.., I read your blog with interest and found that you make a very important point in your assessment of 'what it is to be a Christian' and in particular, you point others to Luke Ch.9 v.23 which raises the issue of the nature of a true follower of Jesus Christ. Sadly, the increase of secularism in the church today reduces the Christian message to nothing more than basic moral codes and removes the importance of living and walking in the Spirit. I have written a blog entiled: THE DAY OF THE TARES. In this blog I also challenge the concept of Modern Christian thinking when they ask questions like 'Is God Dead!' for example. See my blog: http//att-allthesethings.blogspot.com

Teachforever said...

Depart from iniquity, immitate Christ, and deny ones own will are important tenets for Christians to embrace and live out in our daily lives.

Our call is to be like Christ in every way that we can with His help and the power of the Holy Spirit.

When we fall short of being who we say that we are, we must go back to the standard, Christ, and get it right.

JLJ said...

To be Christian is to be Christ like. I don't feel anything more need to be said on that.

Luke 6:38
Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

Let that beautiful verse sink in and surf on over to http://www.hybridhondas.com. Please click on a link or two when you're there. It costs nothing and by doing so you'll be helping a fellow brother out so he can continue helping others.

Please spread the word to other brothers and sisters. Be blessed and thank you :)

Christian Woman said...

Taking up our cross, denying ourselves and following him on a daily basis.

FishHawk said...

"The Christian Journey" has been included in this weeks A Sunday Drive. I hope this helps to attract even more new visitors here.

http://asthecrackerheadcrumbles.blogspot.com/2010/11/sunday-drive_28.html