Interactive Flash presentation of the Gospel:

Monday, March 30, 2009

Being a Christian

Are you a Christian?

The first time the word "Christian" is used in the Holy Scriptures is in Acts 11: 26. The disciple Barnabas traveled from Jerusalem to Antioch, a distance of 300 miles, where he had heard the Good News was being preached everywhere. Barnabas then traveled to Tarsus to find Paul and together they returned to Antioch, where they preached the Gospel for a year.

"And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch."

What does being a Christian mean to you? Does it tell others who Jesus is? Are you hungry for His word? Do your actions bring honor or shame to Christ's name?

"Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God." (1 Peter 4: 16)

A Christian is not someone who merely follows the rules and regulations of the Catholic Church handed down by the Pope, or attends church or belongs to a particular denomination.

Being a Christian is a big responsibility. We shouldn't treat it lightly.

A Christian is a follower of Jesus Christ. Jesus, the person.

"As fellow believers, we are co-laborers with Christ to spread the Gospel," says Phil Winfield, senior pastor of Grace Church, Des Moines.

When we are one with Him, the Son of Man, "we cannot fail," said Winfield, who presented the morning message Saturday, March 28, at an evangelism conference in Cedar Rapids. His message was from Matthew 13: 36-43 where Jesus is explaining the parable of the wheat and the tares.

Verses 37-43 follow: "He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteousness will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!"

"The very gates of hell will not hinder the word of God," Winfield says.

God is mightier than any act of Satan, and when we are one with Jesus, we will never fail.

Jesus Christ is He, the Son of Man, who sows the Good News into the hearts of mankind. Some receive and grow and so do not. Those who do are the good seeds, the sons of the kingdom, the workers, the co-laborers. Those who do not are the tares, the sons of the wicked one, Satan.

God places workers where He wants them. It may not be where we think, but our ways are not God's ... we are imperfect. Only God... only Jesus is perfect. God knows where the best place is for us.

If we profess to be a Christian, a follower of Christ, then we must pursue as God leads, we must grow wherever the Lord puts us.

Winfield noted that only those who are fruitful ... growing and reaping ... may be sent, moved, transplanted elsewhere.

If we're not being fruitful where we are, moving elsewhere will not accomplish it either. We may want to move, we may think because job opportunities are lacking where we are we need to move, but if we are only to move when God says so, then our only recourse is to wait. No matter what.

Sometimes, Winfield said, even when we are fruitful, God wants us to stay put.

Sometimes we can follow Christ and be fruitful, yet still have a door shut because God doesn't want us to go down that particular path. He has something else in mind. We have to trust that He knows what is best for us. We have to believe. We have to have Faith.

In Acts 16: 6-10 the apostle Paul was instructed by the Holy Spirit not to go to certain places on his second missionary journey. Verses 6 and 7 say, "Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them."

We must follow Jesus, not our feelings.

When we become a Christian, a follower of Christ, a believer in Christ, God's purpose for us becomes clearer ... to love Him with all of our being, to trust and follow Him wherever He leads, to be obedient to Him alone.

Being a Christian means the promise given in Romans 8: 28 is ours to claim. "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."

Do you claim it?

Are you a Christian?

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"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will direct your paths." - Proverbs 3:5-6