“So, You’re a Christian?”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
It was “in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians,” Acts 11:26b. I refer to this verse because in answering the question posed by the title of this article, we must be clear on what it means to be a Christian. Some would immediately point to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, Mt. 5-7. Jesus taught His disciples the perfect Christian Ethic. Jesus lived what He taught. It would be accurate to call the Sermon on the Mount Jesus’ teaching on the economy of the Kingdom. Matthew recorded the event with precision. Jesus taught this ethic to His disciples. It is a general teaching that is meant specifically for those who have been born again. One must be born from above in order to profess faith in Jesus and thereby be a genuine Christian.
But looking to Christ’s perfect ethical standard serves to show Christians our total dependence upon the Spirit of God. Jesus’ sermon drives us to our knees. Only Christ lived the Sermon on the Mount!
A further look at Luke’s definition of a Christian in Acts 11:26 is very helpful. As stated, Christians are disciples. The word “disciple” means a learner and a follower of a master. Therefore, a Christian is a learner and follower of Jesus Christ our Master. Christians live in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit who conforms them to Christ.
There is a side road that must be taken at this point. The Bible teaches that followers and learners of Jesus Christ are made not born. In other words, God makes Christians. No one is born a Christian. The Bible declares that no one is righteous, no one even seeks God. The Bible describes all mankind as naturally children of God’s wrath.
If we consider the biblical definition of salvation which is to be delivered by God from God for God, this important side road, informs our understanding of the Christian Life. Put simply Christians live for God. We have God-centered lives. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth to hold every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, 2Cor. 10:5.
Now back to the main highway for discovering the Christian Life, we turn our attention to the parables of Jesus. Jesus gave a comprehensive view of the Kingdom through the parables. They teach us about the sovereignty and steadfast love of the King. They teach the necessity of living each day before the King expecting His return at any time.
As we read through the parables in Matthew’s gospel, we see them as cumulative. Each one builds toward a climax. The climax is the King’s final judgment revealed in the parable of the sheep and the goats.
Immediately preceding Jesus’ teaching on the final judgment, He taught about living in the Kingdom. That is, how Christians are to live under the Lordship of Christ. We call this teaching the parable of the talents. The Christian Life can be summarized with a single word. The word is investment. I’m sure you all know the story. In summary, Jesus compared the Kingdom of heaven to an owner who went on a journey and gave his property to three of his servants. They were given a specified sum of money, “according to his ability”, Mt. 25:15. The master then left on his journey, returned after a time and sought to settle accounts.
Two servants invested the master’s money and presented him with a return on investment. They hear the master say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. … Enter into the joy of your master.” Unfortunately, the third servant hid the master’s money and had no increase to give to the master. This servant did not hear comforting words. He heard words of judgment.
The two faithful servants represent the Christian Life. Jesus owns everything. He is the Lord of lords and King of kings. He has entrusted His people with gifts and talents and yes, money. God’s call to Christians is: invest what you have been given for God’s glory.
The parable of the talents confronts and informs Christians. It confronts by causing us to examine our lives. We are asked if we are living for God. It informs by giving us a practical means by which we can live for God. We live for God by investing all that we have been given in His Kingdom for His glory while living under His word!