The Moore American

March 26, 2014

What does it mean to wear the name Christian?

By H.D. Matheson
The Moore American

MOORE — Greetings to all Moore American readers, welcome back to our weekly visit. We hope you’ve had a good week. Create plans to attend the spring gospel meeting at East Ridge church of Christ, 728 S.E. 12th St. in Moore, with Jerry Roberts of Texas. The meeting will be April 2-6. Meeting times will be 7:30 p.m. Wednesday to Friday; and 6 p.m. Saturday; and Sunday 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

We will start with the question today, “Who Are We and What Are We About?”

In order to attract and gain others for the cause of Christ, we as members of the church of Christ must know who we are and what we are about.

We are Christians, nothing more or less. Isaiah predicted the day when God would give his people a new name “which the mouth of the Lord shall name” (Isaiah 62:2). Luke tells us that it was in Antioch of Syria that the disciples were first called Christians. This was a sacred name bestowed by God upon the followers of his Son. Jesus said, the Father glorifieth the Son (John 8:54) and this is a name that glorifies Him.

Although he was unwilling to embrace the message, King Agrippa understood that Paul sought to make him a Christian (Acts 26:28). Peter reminds us of the glorious distinction and value of that holy name. “Christian” is a name of which we should never be ashamed, even if wearing it brings persecution upon us (1 Peter 4:16).

What does it mean to wear the name Christian? It reminds us that we are a people striving to be like Christ in all we say and do (1 Corinthians 11:1). Christ’s will is our will (Matthew 28:20). We proudly wear this glorious name because we love and serve Christ with all our heart, soul, mind (Matthew 22:37). As Christians, we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness in our daily lives (Matthew 6:33).

In becoming a Christian we took up our cross and followed Jesus (Matthew 16:24). There are two aspects of being a Christian. First, in His church, we honor and obey Christ in our faith, worship and activities (1 Peter 2:5). Secondly, we live our daily lives according to His standard. As Paul puts it, “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” (Colossians 3:17).

What it means to be “Christians only.” To attach any other religious name or to assign some additional name to that of Christ demonstrates disrespect to the Founder, Head and Savior of the church. It distracts from Jesus the Christ, to whom we owe our all.

Others have recognized this great truth, which I have found published.

· Martin Luther said, “I pray you to leave my name alone and call not yourselves Lutherans but Christians.”

· John Wesley said, “I would to God that all party names and unscriptural phrases and forms which have divided the Christian world were forgot … that the very name Methodist might never be mentioned more, but buried in eternal oblivion.”

· George Whitefield was a famous English preacher who was associated with the John and Charles Wesley. One of his often used illustrations pictured a man approaching the gates of heaven and inquiring of Father Abraham, “Are there any Methodists here?” Abraham answered, No. Well are there any Anglicans? Again the answer was, No. He asked about Catholics and Baptists and got the same reply. Finally, in exasperation he, asked, Just who is here? And Abraham replied, “We have Christians here, that’s all.”

As a body of people we identify ourselves as churches of Christ. These words were used by Paul in his letter to the Romans. He said, “The churches of Christ salute you.” (Romans 16:16). We do not claim this is the one exclusive name of the church. Paul addressed the church in Corinth as “the church of God” (1 Corinthians 1:2). In 1 Timothy 3:15 he called it “the church of the living God.” Although it is not the exclusive name of the church, it certainly is an appropriate scriptural name.

The name “church of Christ” recognizes the church’s relationship to Christ as founder, purchaser, head and savior of the church. It gives him the honor He deserves. We do not denominate ourselves or take a name that honors some man (Lutheran, early 1500’s A.D.), some doctrine (Free Will Baptist, mid 1700’s A.D. and Mormon’s a.k.a. The church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints, mid-1850’s A.D.), some practice (Pentecostal, in 1900’s A.D.) or some nation (Church of England, in 1534 A.D). All such names take away the honor and glory that is Christ’s alone.

Just who is a Christian? Luke tells us “the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch” (Acts 11:26). A disciple is a follower, student of the master teacher (Matthew 16:24, 10:38). In Christianity, a disciple is a baptized believer. Jesus said, “Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit:” (Matthew 28:20 ASV). When in faith he is immersed, a man is born again and enters Christ’s kingdom (John 3:3-5). He is a person in whom Christ dwells (Colossians 1:27). He is daily being transformed into the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:18). His sins are forgiven and God’s Holy Spirit fills his heart (Acts 2:38). The gift of the Holy Spirit, received at his baptism, is the seal of his salvation and the sincerity of his ultimate home in heaven (Ephesians 1:13-14). When baptized, a person is added to Christ’s church and none other (Acts 2:47). Only those who have believed in Christ, turned from their sins and been buried with Christ in baptism (Romans 6:3-4) can rightfully claim this sacred name.

As members of the church of Christ we like to say, “We have no doctrine but Christ, no creed book but the Bible, no name but Christian.” Our mission is summed up in the words of Paul, “we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20).