"Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadeth me to be a Christian. And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost and altogether such as I am, except these bonds." Acts 26:28,29.
"And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch." Acts 11:26.
Does it pay to be a Christian? What advantage is it? Why should I be a Christian? Maybe these are questions which have flashed through your mind if you are not a Christian.
By being a Christian, I mean a Christian in fact and a Christian only. I do not mean being a member of some denomination that was started by some man, that wears a human name, subscribes to a human creed.
In the New Testament, those who obeyed the gospel of Christ became Christians only, they were added to the church of Christ by Christ. Acts 2:47. They joined no religious denomination. Today we can all be Christians- embrace the gospel of Christ- practice every principle of Christianity and just be Christians as they were in the days of the apostles.
Neither do I mean being a Christian in judgment. Some admit that Christianity is a fine thing, and they rejoice when others become Christians; but they have never become Christians themselves.
Others belong to what is generally known as a Christian nation. In a heathen country they would be called Christians, although they have not obeyed Christ and are not following Him.
A person may believe in the principles of Americanism, endorse the principles, and even live in America and still not be an American in fact. An alien may be an American in judgment, and even in intention, and yet not be an American in fact. He must go through the form required and meet the conditions laid down by the government before he is an American citizen in fact.
The same is true in becoming a Christian. No one is a Christian merely because he endorses Christianity. Each person must subscribe to the conditions required of Christ and obey the form of doctrine from the heart as given in Romans 6:3,4,17,18, before he is made free from sin and is a child of God in fact.
Let us consider some reasons why every person should be a Christian:
I. TO BE SAVED.
No one can be saved without being a Christian. If so, Jesus died in vain. What does it mean to be saved? From what does being a Christian save one?
a. FROM SIN.
The Christian life is a changed life. It is a new life. It means to be saved from the love, practice, and guilt of sin.
Jesus manifested his love for us throughout His life upon the earth, and in His cruel death upon the cross. He wants to win our love for Him and God His Father, and to wean us from the love of the world.
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." 1 John 2:15.
Love for the world leads to worldliness, sin, sorrow, sighing, sadness, disappointment, and death. From these Jesus is trying to save us. He wants us to quit loving sin, and to stop the practice of sin. He said, "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." Luke 13:5. Repentance is turning from a life of sin because of sorrow for having sinned against God. 2 Cor. 10:7. However, the guilt of sin still remains. After a person ceases to live a life of sin, the fact remains that he has sinned in his past life.
Jesus wants to forgive us of this guilt. He will do so if after believing that He died for our sins and that He is the Son of God, we will repent, confess our faith and be baptized for the remission of sins. Acts 2:38; Mark 16:15,16. When a person thus obeys the Lord, he thereby becomes a Christian.
b. FROM FEAR OF DEATH.
Being a Christian, a faithful Christian, saves one from the fear of death. Jesus said: "And fear not them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." Matt. 10:28. The true Christian can meet death with courage and hope. Jesus said for us not to fear them that can kill the body. Many have bravely gone to the stake and given their bodies to be burned. Their faith, hope, and love gave them courage to do so. Perfect love casteth out fear, 1 John 4:18. If our souls are prepared to meet the Lord, death is only a gateway into a better world. It liberates us from these frail tabernacles in which we dwell, and all the pain, sorrow and disappointments that attend us here below. Be a Christian. Be faithful to the Lord. Live close to Him. Be prepared for heaven, and you can pillow your head at night with the assurance that if you never awake all is well with your soul. You may face a roaring cannon with the assurance that even though men should destroy the body they cannot destroy the soul.
c. JESUS SAVES FROM HELL.
No one can read the Bible without being impressed with the teaching concerning hell- future punishment of the unprepared, all those who do not do the will of God. Matthew 7:21-23.
The same Book that tells us of heaven with all its resplendent glory, also tells us of hell with all its horror and anguish.
Jesus saves from hell; but He saves only the obedient. Hebrews 5:9. If a person wants to escape the punishment of hell, he can do so by becoming a Christian and being loyal to Christ thereafter. Our only hope is in Jesus who delivereth us from the wrath to come. This alone is enough to cause a person to want to be a Christian.
II. TO ENJOY ALL SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS.
All spiritual blessings are in Christ. Ephesians 1:3. One must be in Christ before he can enjoy them. We get into Christ by faith and baptism, Galatians 3:26,27; and the obedience that puts us into Christ makes us Christians.
In addition to being saved from past sins, a Christian is a citizen of the Kingdom of heaven, a child in the family of God, and an heir to heavenly home. He can truly pray and say, "Our Father who art in heaven." The night does not get too dark, the way too steep, or the path too rugged for a Christian to go to his heavenly Father in prayer. Through prayer he receives strength, peace of mind, forgiveness of sins, and all petitions Scripturally presented that God sees best to grant.
Furthermore, the Christian enjoys a lively hope of eternal bliss in heaven at last. This the man of the world does not have. To the Christian, hope is one of his priceless possessions. It is an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast. Hebrews 6:19.
III. TO ENJOY GENUINE HAPPINESS.
No one can be genuinely happy without hope; and no one can have a true hope unless he is a Christian. Therefore, no one can be really happy who is not a Christian. The pleasures of this life last but for a season, and they do not give real happiness, nor bring lasting joy.
Solomon, the wise king of Israel, in his search for happiness, tried the pleasures of this life to his heartÌs desire; he tried wealth unsparingly; and he tried wisdom. He said it is all vanity and vexation of spirity, and gives us this further conclusion:
"This is the end of the matter; all hath been heard; Fear God, and keep His commandments; for this is the whole duty of men, for God will bring every work into judgment, with every hidden thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil." Ecc. 12:13,14.
Yes, it pays to live a godly life. It pays to be a Christian. It pays in two worlds: in this one and in the next.
"For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." I Tim. 4:8.
Worldly thrills are deceitful and do not satisfy the deeper longings of the soul. Sin leaves its sting, with the soul mocked and disappointed. The Christian life is the only one that is really worth living- the only life that can bring genuine happiness to the souls of men here, and everlasting joy in the hereafter.
IV. TO BE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD.
Jesus said to his disciples:
"Ye are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a lamp, and put it under the bushel, but on the stand; and it shineth unto all that are in the house. Even so let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." Matt. 5:14-16.
Again we read: "Do all things without murmurings and disputings; that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, AMONG WHOM YE SHINE AS LIGHTS IN THE WORLD." Phil. 2:14,15.
No one can be the right example and influence in the world unless he is a Christian. Therefore, everyone ought to be a Christian in order that he may be a true and shining light for Jesus. Jesus is depending upon His church to hold up the gospel, God's power to save, to a lost and dying world.
If you are merely living a clean moral life, your light is not shining for Jesus because you have not obeyed his religious requirements- you are not a member of His church.
A person owes it to his wife, children, neighbors and community to be a Christian. It is a blessing to the individual to be a Christian; it is a blessing to his home; it is a blessing to his business; it is a blessing to the community; it is a blessing to the nation.
God would have spared Sodom and not have destroyed it if only ten righteous men could have been found therein, Genesis 18:22; but they could not be found and the city was destroyed because of its wickedness.
By being a Christian, a shining light for Jesus, a person can help salt- season- preserve- the earth.
V. TO SHOW LOVE AND HONOR FOR CHRIST
Jesus wants us to be Christians. He loved us with an immeasurable love, and died that we may be saved- wear His name and follow in His steps. His disciples were called Christians first in Antioch, Acts 11:26, and thereafter. Acts 26:28; 1 Pet. 4:16.
"Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by which ye are called?" James 2:7.
"But if a man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God in his name." 1 Pet. 4:16.
We are commanded to glorify God in the name "Christian." The name "Lutheran" glorifies Martin Luther. The name "Baptist" glorifies baptism. The name "Christian" glorifies God by exalting Christ, his Son.
All of our worship and service to God should be done as Christians- and as Christians only. If the name "Christian" is not the new God-given name prophesied in Isaiah 62:2, then what is it?
This name was NOT given in derision; neither was it given by the enemies of God's people, but by the mouth of an inspired apostle. Acts 9:15; 11:25,26.
IF THE NAME "CHRISTIAN" IS NOT THE NEW NAME AND IT WAS NOT GOD-GIVEN, THERE IS NOT A MAN, WOMAN, BOY, OR GIRL, ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH THAT HAS SCRIPTURAL AUTHORITY FOR WEARING IT.
Christ is uttered every time it is spoken; He is honored every time the word "Christian" is spoken with reverence. We ought to be Christians to honor Christ our Saviour.
Since we are commanded to glorify God in this name, love requires that we obey. Jesus said, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." John 14:15. Again Jesus said "If a man love me, he will keep my word." John 14:23.
We should not detract from this glorious name by adding a human name, such as: Methodist, Presbyterian, etc. Why not be just a Christian?
The name "Christian" is the only name that all will accept and that can ever be made a basis of religious unity. Human names help to keep the religious world divided. If you are wearing a human name, would you be willing to discard it and be content to wear only the name "Christian"?
VI. TO BE RECONCILED TO GOD.
Sin separates man from God. Isaiah 59:2. To be reconciled to God one must become a Christian by getting into Christ, into His body which is one and the same thing. One becomes a new creature and reconciled to God in Christ.
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation." 2 Cor. 5:17-19.
Hence, reconciliation to God is in Christ, and Paul says that both Jew and Gentile are reconciled to God in the "one body" Ephesians 4:4 ; and this one body of Christ is the church of Christ. Ephesians 1:22,23; 2:16. Until one becomes a Christian, he is a rebel against God, separated from God, and in reality is a traitor to King Jesus. Therefore, one must become a Christian or remain an enemy of God. Jesus said he that is not with me is against me.
VII. TO REACH THE BLOOD.
Until one becomes a Christian, he has not reached the benefits of the shed blood of Jesus. No one can go to heaven in his sins. John 8:21. "All have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23. No one can be saved without receiving the benefits of the blood of Jesus. When he instituted the Lord's supper, he said: "For this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." Matthew 26:28.
Therefore, a good moral man, whom the world counts good, cannot be saved without having his soul cleansed by the blood of Jesus. The things Jesus commands a person to do to become a Christian bring him into contact and benefits of the blood.
VIII. TO GO TO HEAVEN.
A person must be a Christian in order to go to heaven. There is no promise without it. (Infants and irresponsible persons excepted.) Love for Christ inspires it, the will of god teaches it, duty to God demands it. Are you a Christian, and a Christian only?
Jesus has now gone to prepare a place for obedient and faithful, "for I go to prepare a place for you." John 14:2. He teaches that we should be ready, watching, and waiting, for we know not the day not the hour when He is coming again. Neither do we know when death may snap the thin, brittle thread of life. The only wise thing to do is to be ready when the summons is given.
"For we know that if the earthly house of our tabernacle be dissolved, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal, in the heavens." 2 Cor. 5:1.
"For we have not here an abiding city, but we seek after the city which is to come." Heb. 13:14.
The hope of heaven should inspire those who are not Christians to renounce the things of the world, and become followers of Him who spake as never man spake.
HOW TO BECOME A CHRISTIAN
Maybe you do not fully understand just how to become a Christian. In the first place a person must be lost- in need of salvation. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. Luke 19:10. Hence, babies are not included because they have not sinned and are not lost.
Furthermore, a person must want to be saved; and he must be willing to submit to the Lord's terms of pardon. They are simple, and here they are:
1. One must hear the gospel. Matthew 13:9; Acts 18:8. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Romans 10:17. The gospel is the good news of Christ's death on the cross for our sins, his burial, and resurrection. 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. These are facts to be believed. Commands are to be obeyed. One must open his mind and ears to the truth.
2. One must believe the gospel of Christ and that he is the Son of God. John 8:24.
3. Repent of sins. Luke 13:5. It is repent or perish.
4. We must confess Christ- our faith in Him as the Son of the living God. Matt. 10:32; 16:16.
5. A person must be baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:27), for the remission of sins, (Acts 2:38): "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."
Jesus said: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." Mark 16:15,16.
Baptism is a burial of the body in water and a resurrection of the body. Colossians 2:12; Romans 6;3,4. The Romans were assured that when they obeyed that form of doctrine from their heart they were then made free from sin, Romans 6:17,18- not before. It takes more than just faith to be saved; and a person is not free from sin until he is baptized for the remission of sins.
Becoming a Christian, brings one into the benefits of the shed blood of Jesus. One must reach the death of Christ in order to reach His blood, and salvation by the blood is in Christ- not out of Christ. Note these Scriptures:
"know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." Romans 6:3,4.
Paul further makes it plan that redemption by the blood of Christ, forgiveness of sins, and salvation by grace are ALL IN CHRIST.
"In whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace." Ephesians 1:7.
No one can Scripturally call himself a Christian until he has PUT ON CHRIST. And we put on Christ by a Scriptural baptism: one preceded by faith, repentance, and confession; and by a burial of the body in water. Paul wrote as follows:
"For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." Galatans 3:27.
When a person thus obeys the Lord, He adds him to His church, Christ's church, or church of Christ. Jesus said, "I will build my church," (Matthew 16:18); and He added the saved to it. Acts 2:47. Paul said, "The churches of Christ salute you." Romans 16:16.
AFTER BECOMING A CHRISTIAN
After becoming a Christian, read your Bible daily and study it diligently. Attend worship regularly every Lord's day, breaking bread, (Acts 20:7), the Lord's Supper. Give as you have prospered, (1 Corinthians. 16:2); and engage in the other avenues of worship: praying, teaching and preaching, and singing. Ephesians 5:19. The music of the church of the New Testament was singing only.
The church of Christ today is the church that Jesus built: in name, terms of pardon, worship, and organization.
If you are not a Christian, obey the Lord, be baptized into Christ and thereby put Him on. Be faithful to Him thereafter that you may spend eternity in heaven with the redeemed of the Lord.
"But he that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved." Matthew. 24:13.
"But if a man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God in this name."1 Peter. 4:16
ATTEND THE CHURCH OF CHRIST IN YOUR COMMUNITY!
by A.G. Hobbs
This and other tracks by this same author can be ordered from:
PO Box 14218
Fort Worth, Texas 76117
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