The Mark of a Christian?


What classifies one as a Christian? What are his or her characteristics? To answer these questions one has to first look at the word Christian since it is a grossly misused and misunderstood term today. We find it first in the Bible in the book of Acts,

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. Acts 11:26

A key point should be noted here, it was the disciples who were called Christians. There were two types in those who followed Jesus, one were the disciples and the other were called the crowds or multitudes who followed Christ for self gain. It was quite simple to separate the two groups since the slightest discomfort was sufficient to cause the multitudes to fall back. A distinct example is seen in Matthew chapter five verse one where Christ desiring to teach His disciples sees a multitude following him.

And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him. Matthew 5:1

Notice the simple stress of climbing a mountain separated the multitudes from the disciples. Generally multitudes follow Christ for personal gain like a healing, personal problems, etc. However, today this distinction has been lost and we carelessly call the multitudes as Christians. However, God has called us to be disciples and to make disciples of the multitudes that would seek Him.

Next let us note the character of a disciple. Jesus said,

And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, 26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? 29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, 30 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. 31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. 33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. 34 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? 35 It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. Luke 14:25-35

The contextual meaning of the hate is explained by Christ,

He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. Matthew 10:37-38

Thus a Christian or disciple of Christ is one who denies himself, takes up his cross daily and follows Jesus Christ living a life consistent with God's Word, the Bible. This concept of  total surrender and devotion to God is seen in the Bhakthi movement which developed in India under the influence of Christianity. Thus Hitler was certainly not a Christian, but rather was influenced by Manu Dharma which caused his insanity.

James also defines three evidences in a person's life that clearly show that he is a Christian,

  1. Compassion for those in need - What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. James 2:14-17
  2. Obedience to God - But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. James 2:20-24
  3. Willing to risk one's life for another - Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. James 2:25-26

The Church which was meant to be a living organism, instead has become an organization run on worldly wisdom and principles. This organization which many think of as the church has martyred many Christians who questioned its wrong practices over the years. A detailed account of this dark history can be found in Fox's Book of Martyrs obtainable in any good Christian book shop and is now available on the web at http://www.ccel.org/f/foxe/martyrs/home.html.


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