By Mike Riley

The disciples in Acts 11:26, were first called “Christians” at Antioch somewhere about A.D. 43. They were known to each other as, and were among themselves called, (1) brethren (Acts 15:1, 23; 1 Corinthians 7:12); (2) disciples (Acts 9:26; Acts 11:29); (3) believers (Acts 5:14); (4) saints (Romans 8:27; Romans 15:25).

Let us ask ourselves this question: “What does being a Christian mean?” Being a Christian means that:

We Are Saved From Sin – God forgives our sins when we obey the gospel that Jesus and the apostles preached. Jesus gave them the command to “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). They did as Jesus commanded, beginning in Jerusalem (Luke 24:47). Thousands of lost people obeyed their doctrinal message (Acts 2:17-47), were saved and added to the Lord’s church by the Lord (Acts 2:47).

We Have A New Relationship With God – A Christian is referred to as God’s child. Paul said, “we are the children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:16-17). Paul in his letter to the Galatian brethren states, “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:26-27). God also calls Christians “sons and daughters” (2 Corinthians 6:18). Being children of God means we have “fellowship” with the Father and the Son (1 John 1:3; 1 Corinthians 1:9). That relationship causes God to love and care for us (1 Peter 5:6-7).

We Have A New Life – Paul states, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). By baptism, we are raised to walk in newness of life, being “born again” (John 3:3-5; Romans 6:3-6). The Christian has “put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:24). The Christian no longer lives a life of sin. He has become “dead” to sin and “alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:11).

This is what makes the Christian live so wonderful and great. The Christian is “made free from sin” (Romans 6:17-18). He now has heaven as his daily hope (Colossians 1:5; 1 Peter 1:3-4)

We Are To Be Filled With Joy, Happiness and Peace – Christians are happy because “the spirit of glory and of God rests upon us” (1 Peter 4:14). Jesus said we can be glad with “exceeding joy” because we know that one day He will come again and usher us into the Father’s heavenly home (John 14:1-3; 1 Peter 4:13; 1 Peter 1:3-4).

Conclusion

The last question we must ask is: Are you a Christian? Do you have the joy and hope found only in Jesus Christ? If you are “in Christ Jesus,” you are not under the condemnation of God (Romans 8:1). Remember, “There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12). Become a Christian today (2 Corinthians 6:2) and enjoy the blessings of God, “who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3).

Would I Be Called A Christian?

By Mike Riley

Would I be called a Christian if everybody knew
My secret thoughts and feelings and everything I do?
Would they see the likeness of Christ in me each day?
Oh, would they hear Him speak in everything I say?

Would I be called a Christian if all could know
That I am found in places Christ would never go?
Oh, could they tell the difference in the songs I sing?
In my eating, drinking, dressing — in everything?

Would I be called a Christian if judged by what I read?
By all my recreation, and every thought and deed?
Would I be counted Christ-like in my work and play,
Unselfish, kind, forgiving others every day?

—Author Unknown

By Mike Riley

The following questions are good indicators of spiritual growth:

  • Do we spend time reading God’s word and talking with Him each day in prayer? (2 Timothy 2:15 ASV Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a worker who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth; 1 Thessalonians 1:2  We always give thanks to God for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers).
  • Do we look forward to fellowshipping with the Lord? (Hebrews 10:23-25  23 Let’s hold firmly to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let’s consider how to encourage one another in love and good deeds, 25 not abandoning our own meeting together, as is the habit of some people, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near).
  • What “fruit of the Spirit” is apparent in our life? (Gal. 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,).
  • Do we talk about Jesus with people who don’t know Him? (Luke 14:23 And the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the roads and the hedges and press upon them to come in, so that my house will be filled).

How are we using our God-given talents? (Matthew 25:14-30 14 “For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them. 15 To one he gave five [a]talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. 16 The one who had received the five talents immediately went and did business with them, and earned five more talents. 17 In the same way the one who had received the two talents earned two more. 18 But he who received the one talent went away and dug a hole in the ground, and hid his [b]master’s money.19 “Now after a long time the master of those slaves *came and *settled accounts with them. 20 The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have earned five more talents. 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter the joy of your master. 22 “Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have earned two more talents.

23 His master said to him, well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter the joy of your master. 24 “Now the one who had received the one talent also came up and said, Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed. 25 And I was afraid, so I went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you still have what is yours. 26 “But his master answered and said to him, ‘you worthless, lazy slave! Did you know that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter seed?  27 Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. 28 Therefore: take the talent away from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents. 29 “For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. 30 And throw the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth).

  • Do we have a generous and giving spirit? 2 Corinthians 8:1-5  Now, brothers and sisters, we make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia, 2 that in a [a]great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality. 3 For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave voluntarily, 4 begging us with much urging for the favor [b]of participation in the [c]support of the [d]saints, 5 and this, not as we had [e]expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God.).
  • How much better do we know God today than we did a year ago? (1 John 2:3-5  By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His command-ments. 4 The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him;5 but whoever follows His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him).

A child seems to grow up all of a sudden, but it’s actually a continual process. Just as Jesus grew in both wisdom and stature (Luke 2:52  And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and people), we are to continue to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18  but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen).

We are no longer to be children, but are to “grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ” (Ephesians 4:14-15). Have we measured ourselves by God’s divine standard lately? (2 Corinthians 13:5  5 Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test; cf. John 12:48).

When I was growing up, Sunday was a day set aside for rest and reverence. Most stores and businesses were closed and most folks got together with family for Sunday lunch. There were “blue laws” which allowed only basic necessities such as food or gasoline to be purchased. Yeah, Sunday’s were different back then. Nowadays, it’s hard to tell Sunday from any other day of the week (other than a lot of people are off work). Every conceivable business or recreational activity is available, allowing us to purchase or do most anything on the “first day of the week”. As convenient as this is, it poses a great challenge to the disciple of Christ. Instead of Sunday worship taking priority, it would seem that “going to church” is something we do as long as there’s nothing else happening. This is especially true when it comes to the evening services. But as we continue to strive for spiritual growth, we must make the commitment to place God’s service first and not just work it in when we can.

Let’s remember to:

By Mike Riley

In Titus 2:14 – KJV, Christians are deemed as a “peculiar people”. For most folks, this term means “weird” or “unusual”, and in a sense this meaning is not altogether foreign to the common English translation. However, the idea behind this adjective in the Greek use of the term, is that such a people has been chosen by God, to be possessed by Him, and therefore as a result are a “special people” (Titus 2:14 – NKJV) Also note 1 Peter 2:9; Deuteronomy 14:2; 1 Chronicles 17:22; 2 Corinthians 6:17-18. Christians may indeed be a bit unusual in this world, but it is not because we seek to be artificially weird. Instead it is because we are aware of the sacrifice made by God on our behalf (John 3:16-17), a sacrifice that has made us “peculiar” in a very unique way – His own people (literally, “A people as an acquisition”). How then might we practice this properly understood peculiarity?

In Paul's letter to Titus (Titus 3:1-11), Paul gives us a list of behaviors that ought to characterize people who are God's unique possession. This is not an exhaustive list, simply because Paul had in mind the needs of the folks Titus was working with in Crete (Titus 1:5; cf. Acts 27:7-12). But these things surely do apply to us in principle. Other such lists of properly “peculiar” behavior are found in Ephesians 5:1-11; Colossians 3:10-17 and Galatians 5:22-26.

1) Be subject to the proper authorities (Titus 3:1) – Government has a role as God's servant (see the example of Cyrus (2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-4; Ezra 5:13-17), as well as Romans 13:1-7 and 1 Peter 2:13-16).

2) Be ready to do and maintain every good work (Titus 3:1,8).

3) Speak evil of no man (Titus 3:2).

4) Do not be involved in senseless brawls – Instead, manifest your quiet strength as a child of God (Titus 3:2).

5) Remember the sins of your past and that you have been saved by God's grace in Christ when you obeyed the conditions of salvation as set forth in the gospel – This remembering will help you keep in mind who you were, who you now are, and to Whom you belong (Titus 3:3-7).

6) Avoid foolishness – This admonition has in it the idea of thinking seriously before one speaks. Rapidity of thought is not nearly as important as careful consideration of what one says (Titus 3:9).

7) Reject the influence of people who would divide the church and divide you from God – Such people are self-condemning (Titus 3:10-11).

In these most perilous of times, we must never forget that we belong to God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). It is said that a wise grandfather used to keep his grandchildren in line by telling them as they left the house, “Remember who you are!” God, in using the word, “peculiar”, is telling us the same thing.

In the letters to the churches of Rome, Corinth, Colossi and Philippi, the Apostle Paul expressed his deep gratitude for those congregations. He was thankful for their faithfulness, fellowship and spiritual growth. Even though these groups of Christians struggled with temptation and sin, Paul appreciated his relationship with the church. Can we say the same about ourselves? Are we thankful for the church? If so, how do we express our appreciation? Here are a few ways and reasons we should be eternally grateful for this great institution

  • Jesus Christ Died for the Church -Acts 20:28; Eph. 5:24-25
  • The Benefit of a Spiritual Family —Eph. 3:14-15
  • Love for One Another is Found in the Church —1 Peter 1
  • Forgiveness is Found in Church Fellowship—I John 1:7
  • Gratitude Shown by Consistent Fellowship -Acts 2:42