What is it to be a Christian?
(Samuel Davies, "The Sacred Import of the Christian Name")
"The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch." Acts 11:26
What is it to be a Christian?
1. To be a Christian—is to depart from iniquity.
2. To be a Christian—is to deny yourselves, take up the cross and follow Christ.
3. To be a Christian—is to be a follower or imitator of Christ.
"He left us an example—that we should follow His steps!" 1 Peter 2:21
Christ is the model for every Christian.
Paul tells us that believers will be conformed to His image, Romans 8:29; and that the same mind must be in us—which was also in Christ Jesus. Phil. 2:5.
Christ's heart glowed with love to His Father! He delighted in universal obedience to Him; it was His food and drink to do the Father's will, even in the most painful and self-denying instances! He abounded in devotion, in prayer, meditation and every pious duty.
He was also full of every grace and virtue towards mankind! He was meek and humble, kind and benevolent, just and charitable, merciful and compassionate towards all.
Beneficence to the souls and bodies of men was the business of His life; for He went about doing good. Acts 10:38.
In regard to Himself—He was patient and resigned—and yet undaunted and brave under sufferings. He had all His appetites and passions under proper government. He was heavenly-minded; above this world in heart—while He dwelt in it.
This is an imperfect sketch of His amiable character; and in these things every one who deserves to be called after His name, does in some measure resemble and imitate Him. This is not only his earnest endeavor—but what he actually attains, though in a much inferior degree; and his imperfections are the grief of his heart.
This resemblance and imitation of Christ is essential to the very being of a Christian, and without it, all profession is a vain pretense!
Does your Christianity, my friends, stand this test? May one know that you belong to Christ—by your living like Him, and manifesting the same temper and spirit?
Alas! would not some of you with more propriety be called:
Epicureans—from Epicurus, the sensual atheistic philosopher; or
Mammonites—from Mammon, the imaginary god of riches; or
Bacchanalians—from Bacchus, the god of wine; rather than
Christians—from Christ, the most perfect pattern of living holiness and virtue that was ever exhibited in the world!
If you claim the name of Christians—then where is . . .
that ardent devotion,
that affectionate love to God,
that zeal for His glory,
that alacrity in His service,
that resignation to His will,
that generous benevolence to mankind,
that zeal to promote their best interests,
that meekness and forbearance under ill usage,
that unwearied activity in doing good to all,
that self-denial and heavenly-mindedness
which shone so conspicuous in Christ, whose holy name you bear?
Alas! while you are destitute of those graces—and yet wear his name—you only mock it, and turn it into a reproach both to Him and yourselves!
"Whoever claims to live in Him—must walk as Jesus did." 1 John 2:6