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Who is a Christian?

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Who is a Christian?

The simplest definition of a Christian is:A Christian is one who has Christ. "He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." A Christian is not one who merely professes Christ, but the one who possesses Christ. He is not one who is a member of a church, but is one who is a member of the body of Christ. He is not one who lives in a certain way, but is one in whom Christ lives.

If a Christian is one who has Christ, how does a person get Him? Christ is the gift of God to all who will receive Him. "But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name." The sinner must recognize his lost, undone condition; he must believe the Gospel that Christ died for his sins, that He was buried, and that He rose again on the third day. When by faith, the sinner invites and receives the Lord Jesus Christ into His heart, he is born into the family of God.

A Christian is one who knows God and Christ. "And this is life eternal that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." A Christian is not one who knows about God and about Christ, but is one who has a personal, vital relationship with God and with Christ. A person may have read several volumes on the life of Abraham Lincoln, and may know many things about him, but of course, does not know him in a personal way. It is possible to know much about God without knowing Him.

A Christian in one who is married to Christ. "Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law of the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to Him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God." Two people are not married until they receive each other as husband and wife. The minister says to the man, "Do you take this woman to be thy lawfully wedded wife?" The man answers, "I do." The minister then says to the woman, "Do you take this man to be thy lawfully wedded husband?" And the woman answers "I do." They receive each other as husband and wife. They were in love before this time, and perhaps had been going together for some time, but they were not married until they received each other as husband and wife. So it is with the Christian, he is not a Christian who merely believes in Christ in an indefinite and tangible way, but he is a Christian who has definitely received Christ as Saviour and Lord.

When two people are married they enter into a new relationship. They have new obligations and new responsibilities. They cannot continue to live as they did in the past. The husband has an obligation to love his wife and to provide for her; the wife has the obligation to love her husband and to make a home for him.

So it is in the Christian life. When we are married to Christ, He loves us and delights to provide for us. Suppose that a poor girl marries a wealthy man. Before marrying she had to subsist on a meager income. Must she continue to live in the same way now that she has a wealthy husband? Of course not. All of his resources are at her disposal. Because of his love for her he wants her to share all things with him. So it is with Christ: because of His great love for us, He desires to share all of His unsearchable riches with us. What a tragedy that so many Christians continue to live as beggars!

The other side of the picture is that we have an obligation to live for Him. We are to yield our bodies completely to Him so that He can live in us and work through us when, where, and as He will. The sinner who is dead in trespasses and sins is brought into this new relationship "by grace through faith." But there are three prerequisites to the sinner exercising saving faith in Christ.

The Sinner Must Be Awakened

The sinner cannot be converted until he is convicted of his sins. He will not be convicted until he is awakened to his lost condition. The Spirit of God uses three things to awaken the sinner: (1) He uses the godly transformed lives of Christians to cause the sinner to see that they have something that he needs. Jesus said, "Ye are the salt of the earth: but if salt has lost its savor - it is good for nothing. Ye are the light of the world - let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven." Gospel radio and literature are effective tools for making known the Gospel of Christ, but Christians who evidence the fruit of the Spirit in their lives are the greatest power in the hands of God for awakening the sinner. Savorless saints are stumbling blocks instead of stepping stones.

(2) God uses Spirit-filled intercessors to awaken sinners. We often wonder why more people are not saved. God is having trouble finding intercessors. "And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none." God is amazed that there is no intercessor. Sinners are awakened to their lost condition when saints pray for them. "For as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children."

(3) God uses a witness to awaken sinners. This witness may be an evangelist preaching to the throngs or may be an individual Christian witnessing to another individual. Jesus said, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." Christ must be lifted up so that men will be drawn to Him. There are two reasons why the average Christian does not witness: He does not have a testimony, and he does not have the power of the Holy Ghost. A witness is one who tells what he knows. If Christ has not done anything for a person, that person will not be able to tell others about Christ. The Christian who has not been filled with the Holy Spirit will be afraid to witness, but the Spirit-filled Christian will be bold to witness.

The Sinner Must Be Convicted of His Sin

There can be no genuine conversion apart from conviction of sin. In our zeal to get converts we have preached an easy believism which has filled our churches with professors of Christ instead of possessors of Christ. The Southern Baptist Church is the strongest and soundest of the big denominations in the South. Dr Robert G. Lee, who for a number of years was president of the Southern Baptist Convention, estimates that only one out of ten members in Southern Baptist Churches are saved. This is because people have wanted a cheap fire insurance policy to escape hell, but have never been convicted of their sins.

About 100 years ago some earnest Bible scholars decided that the Law had no relationship to the preaching of the Gospel, and through their influence they robbed the Holy Spirit of the tool He used to convict men of sin. The Law was given "That every mouth might be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God." "By the law is the knowledge of sin." "The Law entered that the offense might abound." Paul, the champion of grace, said, "I had not known sin but by the law." Please do not misunderstand. Paul did not teach, nor are we teaching, that we are justified by the law or that we are to live under the Law. At the close of his masterpiece on justification by faith Paul concluded, "that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law." He then raises the question, "Do we then make void the Law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the Law." In what sense did Paul establish the law? By putting it in its proper place to be used as a tool of the Holy Spirit in convicting men of sin. Therefore, Paul could say, "The Law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just and good." "We know that the Law is spiritual." In the closing days of this dispensation may God raise up some Holy Ghost preachers who will preach in such a way that men will again be convicted of their sins.

The Sinner Must Repent of His Sins

Many of our fundamental theological seminaries have been turning out preachers who preach an easy believism. It is good to be a dispensationalist, but let us beware of that kind of dispensationalist who robs us of any portion of the Word of God. The New Testament clearly teaches that men must repent of their sins if they are to be saved. Jesus did not come to save us in our sins, but to save us from our sins. Jesus said, "Repent ye, and believe the Gospel." When people told Him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices, Jesus said, "Suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners above all Galileans because they suffer such things? I tell you, Nay: but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." Peter preached, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out." He commanded Simon the sorcerer to repent of his wickedness. When Paul preached on Mars Hill he said, "And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent." Paul reminded the Ephesian elders that he had preached, "repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." When Paul preached before King Agrippa he reminded them that he preached to both Jews and Gentiles," that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance." Repentance means an about face. When a man repents he turns to God from his sins. Repentance is sorrow for sin.

Saving Faith

Now that the sinner has been convicted of his sin, and has repented of his sin, he is ready to exercise saving faith. The New Testament is filled with references teaching that men are saved by faith or by believing. The Holy Spirit is careful to make it plain that the faith that saves us is from the heart and not from the head. Saving faith must be a faith that changes and transforms the life. Any other faith is dead and cannot save. While it is true that we are not saved by understanding but by faith, it is also true that faith that saves must be intelligent. The sinner must know that he is a sinner. He must understand that the Lord Jesus Christ died on the Cross in his place and stead. He must understand that God forgives him on the basis of what Christ has done for him, and not on the basis of his own works. He must understand that he becomes a Christian by inviting the living Christ to come into his heart.

Many splendid illustrations can be given of saving faith. Suppose that a man is trapped on the third floor of a burning building. Every avenue of escape has been cut off, and he seems doomed to die. As he cringes on a window sill, with the flames ever creeping more closely to him, the firmen come and stretch a net below him. They shout, "Jump into the net and you will be saved." He looks at the net and believes it is a good net. He looks at the firemen and believes that they are strong sincere men interested in his welfare. He believes that if he will junp he will be saved. But all of this believing will not save him. If he is to be saved, he must jump into the net. In the same way, it is not enough for the sinner to believe many good things about Christ, but he must cast himself completely on Christ.

Niagara Falls used to be the center of attraction for many daredevils. The strong arm of the law now prohibits such activities. Several years ago a Frenchman came to this country and announced that he would ride a bicycle on a cable stretched across the Falls. A great crowd assembled to see if this man could perform this fantastic feat. One slip would plunge him to instant death in the raging torrent. He placed his bicycle on the rope and carefully and skillfully rode back and forth over the Falls several times. Each time he did the crowd cheered wildly. Then he asked, "Do you believe that I can carry a man on my back across the Falls?" The crowd loudly acclaimed they believed he could do it. Then he asked, "Which one of you is willing to get on my back and ride across the Falls?" Now the crowd shrank back with fear. But at last one man stepped out of the crowd and said, "I believe you can do it." The volunteer locked his legs around the rider's shoulders, and the two slowly started across the Falls while the crowd held its breath. They safely reached the other side, turned around, and came back. So to speak, this one man had saving faith. All of the crowd cried, "We believe you can do it," but just one man was willing to get on his back and ride across. Have you thus committed yourself to Christ?

Steps That Follow Conversion

If we believe on Christ in our hearts we will be glad to confess Him as our Saviour and Lord before men. "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."

Baptism does not save us, but if we are saved we should gladly follow our Lord in baptism. Baptism is an outward manifestation of an inward faith. When we are baptized we identify ourselves with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection.

A sinner may join every church in town and still go to hell, but when a person is born again he should identify himslef with a local, Bible believing church. As a member of the body of Christ, each believer is to be controlled by Christ who is the head of the body. The Lord Jesus Christ came into the world to seek and to save the lost. If we yield ourselves to Him, He will seek and save the lost through us.

Let God speak to your heart through this message. Are you a professor or a possessor? Do you know God, or do you merely know about Him? This is the greatest issue that you will ever have to face. You can know whether or not you are saved, and God wants you to know. If you are not sure, make sure by seeking and finding the Living Christ as He is revealed in the Holy Scriptures. Write to the address below for Gospel booklets that will help you to more perfectly understand God's plan of salvation.

If you are sure of your salvation, keep the message alive by passing it on to others.

Order this tract now, at $10.00/100 copies
(or 200 for $20.00, 500 for $50.00, etc.)

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