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Let’s go ahead and pick up where we left off.
What is a Christian? part 3
First of all the Bible declares that a Christian is a person who has been radically changed by the power of God. Many different Bible phrases enunciate this truth about a Christian. Some verses assert that a Christian is a person who has been created anew in Christ Jesus (II Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:9, 10; Ephesians 2:10; Galatians 6:15). Other Bible verses aver that a Christian is a person who has become a partaker of the Divine nature (II Peter 1:2-4). This means that when a person becomes a Christian he receives a new nature from God. It Is divine In two senses. It is created and put within us by God (James 1:17); it is divine in that it is a holy nature even as God’s nature is holy (I John 2:29; 3:7; I Peter 1:15, 16). Still other Bible verses testify that a Christian is a person who has been begotten or born of God (James 1:18; I John 5:1; John 1:12, 13). Then too, the Bible states that a Christian is a person who has been regenerated or made to live again (Titus 3: 5) In addition to this, the Scriptures affirm that a Christian is a person who has passed from death unto life and been quickened from the dead (John 5:24, 25; Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13; Luke 15:24, 32).
These various Biblical phrases describing a Christian abundantly testify to the fact that a Christian is a person who has been radically changed by the power of God. Becoming a Christian is a supernatural operation of God upon the spirit of man. Becoming a Christian is not merely a matter of outward reformation; it is not merely a matter of turning over a new leaf and endeavoring to live a new life; it is not merely a matter of education or of religion. Nature may be educated to the highest standard attainable but it cannot be developed into something of a totally different order. There is no process by which a man may be developed out of a horse nor a beast out of a bird. Likewise, there is no process by which a spiritual man can be developed out of a sinful man by education. I may gather some weeds out of a field and transplant them into my garden; I may fertilize and irrigate them, but no amount of attention will transform them into rose bushes. Education and religion cannot change man’s sinful nature. They can only refine it.
Becoming a Christian is the implanting of an entirely new nature within man. It is being born again, being born from above, being made a new creation, being remade and reoriented at the center of being. J. C. Ryle described the change that takes place when a person becomes a Christian like this:
Once he could see no beauty or excellence in the Lord Jesus Christ, he could not understand some minister speaking so much about Him. Now he would tell you that Christ is the pearl of great price, the chiefest among ten thousand, his Redeemer, his Advocate, his Priest, his King, his Physician, his Shepherd, his Friend, his All.
Once he found no pleasure in the means of grace. The Bible was neglected. His prayers, if he had any, were a mere form. Sunday was a tiresome day. Sermons were a weariness, and often sent him to sleep. Now all this is altered. These things are the food, the comfort, the delight of his soul.
Once he disliked earnest-minded Christians. He shunned them as melancholy, low-spirited, weak people, now they are the excellent of the earth, of whom he cannot see too much. He is never so happy as he is in their company. He feels that if all men and women were saints, it would be heaven upon earth.
Once he cared only for this world, its pleasures, its business its occupations, Its rewards. Now he looks upon it as an empty, unsatisfying place, an inn, a lodging, a training school for the life to come. His treasure is in heaven. His home is beyond the grave.
See what an amazing gulf there is between the man who is a Christian in name and form; and the one who is a Christian in deed and truth. It Is not the difference of one being a little better, and the other a little worse than his neighbor; it is the difference between a state of life and a state of death. The meanest blade of grass that growest upon a highland mountain is a more noble object than the fairest waxed flower that was ever formed, for it has that which no science of man can impart—it has life. The most splendid marble statue In Greece or Italy is nothing by the side of a poor, sickly child that crawls over the cottage floor, for with all its beauty, it Is dead. And the weakest member of the family of Christ Is far higher and more precious in God’s eyes than the most gifted man of the world. The one lives unto God, and shall live forever; the other, with all his intellect, is still dead in sins.
I do not hold that all must have exactly the same experience. I allow most fully that the change is different, in degree, extent, and Intensity, in different persons. Grace may be weak, and yet true; life may be feeble, and yet real. But I do confidently affirm we must all go through something of this kind, if ever we are to be saved. Till this sort of change has taken place, there is no life in us at all. We may be living church men, but we are not Christians.
Watch for our next post which will be a video and then keep your eyes out for part 4 of “What is a Christian?”.
Find answers and truth throughout our site here at The Stand Project.
Till the next time,