Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 11, 1956
NUMBER 23, PAGE 5,9c

Considering A Christian

Vaughn D. Shofner, Camden, Arkansas

One of our most widely used and misused words is "Christian." People speak of Christian nations, towns and communities. People are referred to, yea, by church members, as Christians with a liberality that includes anything and everything. Despite these frequent uses and misuses, "Christian" is found but three times in the Bible: Acts 11:26; Acts 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16.

There we notice the term is used to name an individual, and that it therefore is not an adjective but a noun.

When we look at this word etymologically we find that it has never been translated from the Greek language, but is a transliterated word — that is, the characters of the Greek alphabet which form the word have been represented by the characters of the English alphabet. Mr. Thayer and Mr. Young say "Christian" means one who belongs to Christ; one who follows Christ.

Since the Lord saves and directs people by teaching them, he certainly must offer an intelligible system of teaching. If he does offer intelligent mankind an understandable system of truth, and he does, then the acceptation of the meaning of this intelligible plan is the only way for man to allow the Lord to direct him aright. When man refuses to accept the meaning of the words which compose the plan of salvation for him, he has rebelled against that plan, essentially, in ignorance or obstinacy, and therefore cannot be saved by it. Gentle reader, shall we consider lightly the meaning of God's utterance to man?

How then, mortal man, can we flippantly attach to the Lord that which does not come within the realm of his purchased possession? A nation cannot be "Christian," because the Lord did not purchase that temporal system. It cannot belong to him. The echoes of his voice today shout that his kingdom is not of this world, and that friendship of the world is enmity with God. How speak ye of a "Christian nation"? Christ came that he might deliver us from this world, and therefore as Christians we live in the nations of this world, but those transient things are never "Christian."

Many people, yea, brothers and sisters in God's family included, attach all the religions of the world to Christ. Any "religion" to them is "Christian? Just another failure to intelligently accept God's intelligible system of truth. In substance, "religion" simply means to bind fast, and its common usages pertain to that which binds man relative to his immortal soul. For example, Paul speaks of his wrong doing when he persecuted the church of the Lord, and declares of that time, "after the most strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee." Being a sect of "religion" did not make him a "Christian," for he was persecuting Christ with all his might.

"Pantheism" is religion, but there is not a Christian in it. Why? "Pan" means all and "Theo" means God, and therefore this religion binds man with the atheistic doctrine that there is no God as a being. God to them is the universe, nature only.

"Polytheism" is religion, but there are no Christians in the system. "Poly" means many, and thus the system is simply idolatry with many gods.

"Roman Catholicism" is religion, but there are no Christians in it. Why? Because the purchased of the Lord have no head but Christ (Eph. 1:22,23); they have no ecclesiastical "Fathers" (Matt. 23:9); they have no creed but Christ and no creed hut the word of God. Catholicism has an earthly head which blasphemes the headship and authority of Christ; parades its priestly pageant of authoritative "Fathers" in complete contradiction to Christ's words; and therefore this system of religion was not purchased by the Lord nor does it follow in its peculiarities a 'single teaching of the Lord. How call you this religion "Christian"?

"Denominationalism" is religion, but it is not purchased by the Lord. The understandable system of truth presented in the Bible teaches that man is not saved by faith only, but denominationalism's departure says faith only is salvation now and eternally. Denominationalism says baptism in water is not essential unto salvation from past sins, but the Lord says, "Whosoever believeth and is baptized shall be saved." Disciplines, manuals, articles of faith, and other things contrary to and in addition to the word of God present denominationalism's creed books. That they are in addition to the Bible, the ones bound by them cannot deny. For, they say "Christians" are found in all churches, but all churches are not subject to their creed books. For example, "Discipline of the Methodist Church" is a compilation of "doctrines and discipline of the Methodist Church" and the "Christians" they admit exist in other churches are not touched by them. Likewise, "Church Manual" is "designed for the use of Baptist churches," and the "Christians" they say exist in other churches are "Christians" in spite of the manual. Just so regarding "The Confession of Faith" "of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America." Why, the "Presbyterian Christians" in England are "Christians" in spite of it. So, the "Manual of the Church of the Nazarene," and all other creeds of man. They all admit a person can be a Christian in another church, and therefore being a Christian does not depend upon being a member of their denomination; but a Christian belongs to Christ, so these man-made institutions, by their own admission, do not belong to Christ!

A Christian has been born again. He or she is the son or daughter of Almighty God. A Christian is a follower of Christ. The gospel of Christ directs the life of a Christian, and in that way he follows Christ. Gentle reader, if you'd be a Christian, you must obey the plan of salvation, by faith, repentance, confession and baptism into the death of Christ for the remission of past sins. If you'd then remain a Christian, you must follow Christ by complying with the system of truth he supplied us, throughout life.

This certainly demands of sons of the Almighty that they accept the meaning of the words of His revelation to man. How then can we speak of a "Christian business, or farm" and attach it to the Lord? Do the businesses, the farms Christians may operate in this world belong to the purchased possessions of the Lord? Christians may be businessmen, but businesses are not Christian. Christians may be farmers, but farms are not Christian. Wholesome recreation must be supplied by Christians, but wholesome recreation is not Christian, and it is a prostitution of God's plan to attach such to the church, the Lord's purchased possession. Christians must supply college education in an atmosphere agreeable with the teaching of Christ, but colleges were not bought by Christ, do not belong to him, and must not be attached to his church, the blood-bought institution where the saved are kept.