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Are You A Christian?

by Bernie Parsons

Are You A Christian? 

Bernie Parsons  

Presented to the Westwood church of Christ on 08/15/02 

Acts 11:26: "And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch." 

For all the talk we hear about Christians, and Christianity, there seem to be widely held views as to what it means to be a Christian. We see from our opening verse, that the disciples—that is, students—of Jesus were called Christians. They were identified by the designation of the man whom they followed, Jesus, the Christ. They were known as Christians because others identified them by their beliefs, their talk, and their actions. 

Acts 4:8: "Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel,
9: If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole;
10: Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.
11: This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.
12: Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
13: Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus." 

Those who study and adopt the ways of Jesus are recognizable. Others take note that they “have been with Jesus”. Christians are not merely people who claim that title. A Christian is a disciple—a student, a follower—of Christ.  

John 8:31: “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
32: And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” 

When one becomes a disciple of Christ—a Christian—he or she continues in the word of Jesus. This is important, because Jesus did not think up His own words, but rather obtained them from His heavenly Father. 

John 8:26: “I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him.” 

John 8:40: “But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.” 

John 15:15: “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” 

And Jesus had this to say about those words that came from His heavenly Father: 

Matthew 4:4: “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” 

It is behooves us, as the Hebrew writer says, to listen to Jesus, because God has in our times spoken through Him.  

Hebrews 1:1: “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
2: Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
3: Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
4: Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
5: For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?” 

This same writer told us to seek God with diligence—and diligence means steady, careful work. Therefore, we are to seek God constantly, and carefully. 

Hebrews 11:6: “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

That, my friends, is what it means to be a Christian! One who listens to every word that God speaks, one who carefully and unceasingly seeks God—one who listens to His son, Jesus, whom He sent to speak for Him. There is careful and tireless work to perform in this study of Christ, our Savior. 

2 Timothy 2:15: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 

Friends, there is work to be done if we are to call ourselves Christian. Christian means to be like Christ, and if we are to be like Christ, we must learn of Him. Jesus said: 

Matthew 11:28: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29: Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30: For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." 

Jesus has asked that we learn of Him. A disciple is a student. What do students do? They study that they might learn. How are we to be Christians? By studying the life of Christ, so that we may be as He was. Let me tell you about two sisters, Mary and Martha.  

Luke 10:38: “Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.
39: And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word.
40: But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
41: And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
42: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” 

Like many of us, Martha was concerned about her busy life, the things that she considered important. But Mary sat at the feet of Jesus, listening to His every word. She was interested in what He had to say. She wanted to learn of Him, and from Him. 

When you learn the Lord, your life will change. Let me tell you of a man, one Saul of the city of Tarsus, and how his life changed when he learned of our Lord. 

Acts 9:10: "And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.
11: And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,
12: And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.
13: Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:
14: And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.
15: But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:
16: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.
17: And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
18: And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.
19: And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus.
20: And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.
21: But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?
22: But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ." 

People were astonished at the change wrought in Saul, later known by the title and name of the Apostle Paul, once that he had encountered Jesus. The Bible teaches that when we study Jesus, our life is changed. 

2 Corinthians 3:12:"Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech:
13: And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:
14: But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.
15: But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.
16: Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.
17: Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
18: But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 

You can see that when we look into the scripture, it is like looking in a mirror that shows a reflection of the face of Jesus. We see two images—ours, and His. But as we grow in the Lord, our image changes until the images in the mirror match. We no longer see Jesus and ourselves, but begin to see only Jesus. 

So, when we say that we are Christians, we are saying that we are disciples of Christ, students of His. We are saying that we study the Lord, learning of His holy ways, and that we are adopting those same characteristics into our own lives. 

John 8:28 "Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.
29: And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.
30: As he spake these words, many believed on him.
31: Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
32: And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
33: They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?
34: Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.
35: And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.
36: If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” 

If we learn of Jesus, we can be free from sin, and free from fear of eternal death. If we are blinded to the truth of God’s teaching, it is because we don’t want the truth. Jesus said, “The truth shall make you free.” 

Are you free from sin? Are you free from the fear of dying? Are you free from fear of eternal damnation? You can be, in Christ Jesus. You can be a Christian. 

Mark 8:34 "And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
35: For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it.
36: For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
37: Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
38: Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” 

There is a cost to following Jesus. We must give up our old ways, and learn the new. We might even be required to give up our lives, as our Lord’s remark about taking up our crosses indicates. What we have to weigh is this: What if we lose our souls, and torment eternally in that place prepared for the Devil and his angels? What then? What would you give in exchange for your soul? 

If we are ashamed to own Jesus as our Savior and guide, He will be ashamed to acknowledge us before His heavenly father.  

Jesus said: 

Mark 16:15: “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
16: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” 

Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God? If you do, come repenting of your sinful life, a life that is not centered around and built upon Christ. Give your heart to God, and let Him be your guide. Confess your faith before men so that Christ will confess you before the Father. 

Be buried in the waters of baptism, wherein the old sinner is buried, and a new child of God arises, born of water and Spirit. Be a newborn Christian, and learn of Jesus—and you will be a Christian.

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