Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What is it to be a Christian?

"What is it to be a Christian?”

In these days when the Spirit of God is searching the hearts of men and convincing them of sin, the inquiry often arises, “Am I a Christian?”

This question is not to be settled by vague impressions, made in some mysterious way upon the mind. Nor is it safe to permit dreams, visions, or voices to settle this question. Nor will the sudden recurrence of the mind to some passage of Scripture—such as, “Son, daughter, be of good cheer, thy sins which are many are forgiven thee”—be a sufficient reason for regarding the person thus cheered as a Christian. Nor will any amount of happy emotions, which may follow conviction of sin, determine that the person is a Christian. Nor will the cherishing of a hope settle the question. What, then, is it to be a Christian? The Christian is:
  1. One who believes or trusts in Christ as God’s appointed sacrifice for sin, through whom it may be forgiven, and through whose righteousness and mediation all else needful to salvation may be obtained. His whole expectation of salvation is reposed upon the Lord Jesus Christ.
  2. The Christian has the Spirit of Christ. “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”
  3. The Christian is the property of Christ. He acknowledges that he is not his own, but that he is under the highest obligations to glorify God in his body and spirit, which are God’s. He aims to be conformed to this obligation; hence, he strives to eat and drink and do whatever he does to the glory of God.
  4. He loves the service of Christ. He accounts as more than his meat and his drink to do the will of his Father who is in Heaven. In keeping of the commandments he finds great reward.
  5. He loves the kingdom of Christ. The prayer for its full establishment in the earth is prominent in all his supplications at the throne of grace. He seeks it first, as involving all his own highest good, as well as that of others.
  6. He loves the friends of Christ. “Hereby,” said our Saviour, “shall ye know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one for another.”
  7. He is not ashamed of Christ. He is not ostentatious in the profession of religion. Nor is he careful to conceal his attachment to Christ. He knows that he who is despised and rejected of men, is at the summit of power and glory in the heavens; therefore he accounts it his highest honour to be known as a servant and friend of Christ.
Reader, are you a Christian?

From The Presbyterian Magazine, November, 1858. Edited by Dr. Van Rensselaer.