A well adjusted person must know who he is and what his is about. In order to attract and win others, we of the Church of Christ must know who we are and what we are about.
We are Christians, nothing more nor less. Isaiah predicted the day would come when God would give his people a new name "which the mouth of Jehovah will name" (Is. 62:2). Luke tells us that it was in Antioch of Syria in 44 A.D., that the disciples were first called Christians. This was a sacred name bestowed by God upon the followers of his Son. Jesus said, the Father glorifieth the Son (John 8:54) and this is a name that certainly glorifies Him. Although he was unwilling to embrace the message, King Agrippa understood that Paul sought to make him a Christian (Acts 26:28). Peter reminds us of the exalted merit and value of that holy name. "Christian" is a name of which we should never be ashamed, even if wearing it brings persecution upon us (I Pet. 4:16).
What does it mean to wear the name Christian? It reminds us that we are a people striving to be like Christ in all we say and do (I Cor. 11:1). Christ's will is our will (Matt. 28:20). We proudly wear this glorious name because we love and serve Christ with all our heart, soul, mind an strength (Matt. 22:37). As Christians we seek first his kingdom and his righteousness in our daily lives (Matt. 6:33).
In becoming a Christian we took up our cross and followed Jesus (Matt. 16:24). There are two aspects of being a Christian. First, in his church, we honor and obey Christ in our faith, worship and activities (I Pet. 2:5). Second, we live our daily lives according to his standard. As Paul puts it, "And whatsoever ye do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus..." (Col. 3:17).
What it means to be "Christians only." To wear any other religious name or to attach some additional name to that of Christ shows disrespect to the Founder, Head and Savior of the church. It distracts from him to whom we owe our all.
Others have recognized this great truth.
· Martin Luther said, "I pray you to leave my name alone and call not yourselves Lutherans but Christians."
· John Wesley said, "I would to God that all party names and unscriptural phrases and forms which have divided the Christian world were forgot...that the very name Methodist might never be mentioned more, but buried in eternal oblivion."
· George Whitefield was a famous English preacher who was associated with the John and Charles Wesley. One of his oft used illustrations pictured a man approaching the gates of heaven and inquiring of Father Abraham, "Are there any Methodists here?" Abraham answered, No. Well are there any Anglicans? Again the answer was, No. He asked about Catholics and Baptists and got the same reply. Finally, in exasperation he, asked, Just who is here? And Abraham replied, We have Christians here, that's all.
As a body of people we identify ourselves as "Churches of Christ." These words were used by Paul in his letter to the Romans. He said, "All the churches of Christ salute you" (Rom. 16:16). We do not claim this is the one exclusive name of he church. Paul addressed the church in Corinth as "the church of God" (I Cor. 1:2). In Acts 20:28 he call it "the church of the Lord." Although it is not the exclusive name of the church, it certainly is an appropriate biblical name. The name "Church of Christ" recognizes the church's relationship to Christ as founder, purchaser, head and savior of the church. It gives him the honor he deserves. We do not denominate ourselves or take a name that honors some man (Lutheran), some doctrine (Free Will Baptist), some practice (Pentecostal) or some nation (Church of England). All such names take away the honor and glory that is Christ's alone.
Just Who is a Christian? Luke tells us "the disciples were called Christians" (Acts 11:26). A disciple is a follower, student of another (Matt. 16:24). In Christianity, a disciple is a baptized believer. Jesus said, "Go... make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 28:20). When in faith he is immersed, a man is born again and enters Christ's kingdom (John 3:3-5). He is a person in whom Christ dwells (Col. 1:27). He is daily being transformed into the image of Christ (II Cor. 11:18). His sins are forgiven and God's Holy Spirit fills his heart (Acts 2:38). The gift of the Holy Spirit, received at his baptism, is the seal of his salvation and the earnest of his ultimate home in heaven (Eph. 1:13-14). When baptized, a person is added to Christ's church and none other (Acts 2:47). It is fair to say that only those who have believed in Christ, turned from their sins and been buried with Christ in baptism (Rom. 6:3-4) can rightfully claim this sacred name.
As members of the Church of Christ we like to say, "We have no creed but Christ, no book but the Bible, no name but Christian." Our mission is summed up in the words of Paul, "We are ambassadors therefore on behalf of Christ, as though God were entreating by us: we beseech you on behalf of Christ, be ye reconciled to God" (II Cor. 5:20). We invite you to worship and serve God with us. We will be Christians, nothing more, nothing less.
Return to the What Is The Church page
Home / Bible studies / Bible Survey / Special Studies / General Articles / Non-Bible Articles / Sermons / Sermon Outlines / Links / Questions and Answers / What Saith The Scriptures /Daily Devotional / Correspondence Courses / What is the Church of Christ / Book: Christian Growth / Website Policy / E-mail / About Me /