What is a Christian? If you asked the Apostle Paul, he might say it was not his favorite term. Yes, it did become a term for the Christ believers, first in Antioch, which means it was used in other places as well.
The long-held opinion has been that it was not a decision by the Antioch church to be called Christians, but rather that they were tagged with that label by those around them. They were never referred to as the Christian Church. In fact, Paul never refers to himself as a Christian, or anyone else, for that matter. As Jerry Sumney points out in his book, “Paul” Paul prefers the idea of being members of the “church.”
Along with the mention of “Christian” in Acts11:26 (Antioch) the only other connection of the term to Paul, is in Acts 26:28, when he is before Festus, Governor of Judea and King Agrippa in Acts 26. After hearing Paul’s testimony, Agrippa asks Paul if he thinks in such a short time, did he expect to make him a Christian? Regardless all the “almost persuaded” sermons and songs, Agrippa is using the term “Christian” in the derogatory, everyday street use of the word.
The final use of the word is in I Peter 4:12. Here the term “Christian” (“If you suffer as a Christian…”) does not hint that it is the term used by the followers of Jesus to describe themselves. It simply says they suffered because of the label they were called by those persecuting them. If you think I’m saying to discard “Christian” I’m not. I just want to set up the rest of this article.
Since “Christian” is the now universally accepted term for a follower of Jesus, what makes such a person a Christian?
Belief in God
Belief in the inspiration of scripture.
Belief that God created the universe.
Belief that God created humankind.
Belief in the Virgin birth.
Belief in miracles.
Belief that Jesus walked on water.
Belief that Jesus died on a cross.
Belief that God raised Jesus from the grave.
Belief that Jesus was raised alive.
Belief in baptism.
Belief in the trinity, or Godhead.
Belief in the resurrection of the dead.
Belief in the return of Christ.
A person can believe all of these things and not be a Christian. A Christian is not someone who believes something. A Christian is someone who lives some thing. A Christian is someone known by their results, not their beliefs.
We can thank James, who said in a context about the quality of the believer, that even the demons believe and shudder. James 2;19. He asks for visible results.
A Christian is someone who takes seriously the answer Jesus gave to a man in Luke 10, when he asked what he needed to do to have eternal life. Jesus asked him how he read the Law. The man knew on what hangs the law and the prophets, and said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus said, “Do this an you will live (eternally).” But the man has a problem with the “neighbor” part. So Jesus tells the story of the (good) Samaritan. By the way, Samaritans were not considered “kosher.” They were hardly an example of a person who could have eternal life.
At the end of the story, when the man admitted that it was the Samaritan who fulfilled the Law, Jesus said, “Go and do likewise (and you will have eternal life).”
Was the Samaritan and the Jewish questioner Christian? No. Or were they? If the Jewish man did the same as the Samaritan did, were they not fulfilling what Jesus said would give them eternal life?
At the end of Jesus’ life, as he ends a string of parables in Jerusalem, he talks about the coming of the “Son of Man.” He says all the nations will be gathered before him and he will separate the people as one would separate the sheep from the goats. To those on his right (sheep) he will say they can enter the kingdom prepared for them since the creation of the world. The reason? They treated those in need as a neighbor and in so doing treated Jesus himself. The goats who did not receive the kingdom were those who did not care for those in need, and therefore did not care for Jesus, the Son of Man.
Were all these people Christian? If they were they are not called that. They were called the “righteous.” That’s another way of saying they lived and loved and thought “right.” That’s what a Christian is, or tries to be.
It’s not a matter of getting a perfect score of the “Christian” exam. It’s knowing what answers are righteous, and then wanting to do them.
CONCERNS: Judy Hall is in Lewis Gale Medical Center ICU. She may be moved to room 546 . She developed an abscess in her Jaw and it had to be opened and drained on Wednesday. She will remain in ICU for awhile and requests no visitors until she improves. Deanna McRoy is dealing with a serious reoccurrence of cancer. Scott Blessing is having continuing back problems. Abby Keeling has finished her last leukemia treatment. Both Teryn Gaynor’s parents are having health problems. Remember both Alan and Joni Beach’s parents, Jamie Cole, Joni’s niece; Del Bolin’s mother; Tolly Nicklas, Leena Bolin’s cousin, (late stage ALS). Josh Thirston (kidney transplant) Laura Schreiner has been unable to attend lately. Melisha Scruggs friend, Jeanie, who has a child with various health issues. Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver, Melanie Gentry. Wayne Phlegar, Ray and Darnel Barns, Gil Richardson, Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder.
OUR DAILY BREAD: DEC. 18-23
Monday: I Samuel 16:1-13
Tuesday: Mark 15:1-20
Wednesday: Luke 12:1-12
Thursday: I John 2:1124
Friday: I Peter 4:1-19
Saturday: Psalm 11:1-7
OUR DAILY BREAD: DEC. 25-30
Monday: Joshua 24:14-28
Tuesday: Acts 9:1-9
Wednesday: James 5:1-18
Thursday: I John 1:5-2:6
Friday: Hebrews 12:1-14
Saturday: Psalm 138:1-8
The worship service today will be conducted and directed by Del Bolin. It will be a service of praise in which we may have the opportunity to learn some new songs. Thanks Del for doing this.
SUPER SUNDAY CHRISTMAS SPECIAL
Today is also Super Sunday. It is also the time when our concentration is on Christmas. The annex has been arranged in a festive way, as well as a warm fire in the fireplace. You may also visit Judy McWhorter’s New England Village as well as seeing the quilts displayed on the walls. Plan to stay.
Next Sunday is the day before Christmas. We will have only the morning service, (just as always) but the service will consist of the annual Christmas Eve service.
The songs of the season will be sung by the congregation and the corresponding scriptures will be heard by way of a professionally recorded reader.
The congregation will read the call to worship and the benediction. Communion will be at the end of the singing service, with Let There Be Peace on Earth as the closing song. The order of the service will be in the hand-out next Sunday.
The folks at Panera Bread told Mike Branch that some of those who have picked up the bread in the past are not doing it. This means there are one or two other days it can be picked up by us, or if you know another group who can use it to help out in the way the Rescue Mission does, let him know if you know someone, or you will pick it up.