Vol.XI No.V Pg.4
July 1974

What Is A Christian?

Robert F. Turner

"Daddy, what is a Christian?" a boy once asked. His dad described the "good neighbor, honest, kind" person usually associated with the name; and then the boy asked, "Dad, have I ever seen one?" Thats a good question son; a very good question!!

We have obligations of a social, civil, domestic and economic nature because we have such relationships in life whether we are "Christian" or pagan. As the pagan can sin in these realms (ROM.1:28-f); he could also be friendly, obedient to government, a good husband and father, and honest in business-yet not be a Christian. "Christian" relates the individual to Christ (as "Caesarian" to Caesar; see Deissman, LAE, p.377) and can rightly apply in no other way. Vine says the primary significance of the word was to express "business dealings with Christ. (p. 164, Chrematizo).

ACT.11:26 says "disciples" were first called "Christians," but these were more than just "learners." JOH.6:60, 66, tells of "learners" who would not receive Jesus teaching, so they "walked no more with him." Only when we apply Jesus definition of an acceptable "disciple" do we begin to appreciate the requirements for this noble position. We must love Him more than father, mother, wife, children — than our very life — or we cannot be His disciple. (LUK.14:26-f.)

To be a "Christian" one must be an acceptable "disciple;" and to be an acceptable "disciple" one must put Christ absolutely first — love Him above all else (LUK.9:57-f.; MAT.10:37-39). But what does this entail? Jesus said, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me..." "If a man love, he will keep my words..." (JOH.14:15, 21, 23). Christ has content. He is our Prophet (ACT.3:22-f.), and there is no separating "Christian" from doing truth" (1JO.2:3-6, 3:7, 10).

But there is more! If we stopped here some might get the idea that one who does this and that is thereby a "Christian." Examination of passages cited would show we are not saying a Christian is one who punches the correct buttons. The "doing" is there as act of faith (JAM.2:17-f.) but in the process one becomes something. We must not simply "do" — but we must BE A CHRISTIAN, for "Christian" tells what we are — tells of our character and peculiar nature. God intended for those who would to "conform to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren" (ROM.8:29). We "beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image ..." become "partakers of the divine nature" (2CO.2:18; 2PE.1:4).

A "Christian" is "of Christ" "in Christ" and "belongs to Christ." He moves in that realm, is motivated by his love for Christ — or, as Paul tells the Corinthians, "the love of Christ (His love for us) constraineth us" (2CO.5:14). Again "For to me to live is Christ," and "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." (PHI.1:21; GAL.2:20).

Have You Ever Seen A "Christian"?