by Steven Chan
1. What does it mean to be a Christian? Many know how to become a Christian. The Bible tells us that “the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.” (Acts 11:26). Disciples of Christ are those who have heard the gospel, believed that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and have been baptized for the forgiveness of their sins (Matt 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 8:36-39). But what then? What does it mean to be a disciple of Christ, a Christian?
2. The apostle Paul wrote to the churches in Galatia about what is meant by being a Christian: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Gal 2:20).
Let’s consider what Paul wrote.
3. “It is no longer I who live”. The “I”, i.e. our former self has been crucified with Christ when we were baptized. The apostle Paul wrote: “How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?… For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.” (Rom 6:2,3, 5-6). Paul referred to our former life as the “old man”. But it is not just that our old man of sin has been crucified with Christ and that our past sins have been forgiven.
4. It also means that our manner of life has also changed. Our old “self” is to be put aside. Jesus said in Luke 9:23: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Denying self means ‘it is no longer I who live’. That means “I” no longer choose to do what “I” want to do without regard whatsoever to our Lord and Master’s will. I have to consider what my Lord wants me to do. That is “Christ now lives in me”. He is Lord of my life. I am answerable to Him.
Listen to what Paul said in 2 Cor 5:14-15: “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” As disciples of Christ, we “should no longer live for ourselves”. We are not live to please ourselves. We live to please Him who died for us.
When we realize that we are no longer our own and that we belong to Christ (1 Cor 6:19-20), then our focus in life changes. We are no longer to set our minds on the things of this world but on the things that are above (Col 3:1-4).
5. “I live by faith in Jesus Christ”. This means that we no longer live by sight (2 Cor 5:7) or by our own understanding. The Bible says in Prov 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”
Learning to trust God in our everyday life is a real blessing indeed. The apostle Peter wrote thus: “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Pet 5:6-7). Again, in Heb 13:5-6: “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So, we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear.” The world is full of uncertainties. We do not know what awaits us in the future. So, we need to put our trust in God our Shepherd who knows what lies ahead and who is able to help us even to walk through the valley of the shadow of death (Psa 23:4)
Trusting God means being dependent on Him and relying on His promises. We are exhorted thus Eph 6:10-11: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” The source of our strength and power must come from God and not from our own selves.
Being dependent on God requires us to approach Him daily and continually for mercy, grace and wisdom as we meet our daily challenges in life (1 Thess 5:17; Heb 4:16; James 1:5; 1 Cor 10:13; Phil 4:6-7). Too many are too busy rushing about carrying out our daily activities without spending time with God to obtain His help and blessings to navigate these challenges. We forget the exhortation of our heavenly Father which speaks to us as to sons (Heb 12:5).
We will do well to remember the testimony of the Psalmist: “You hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psa 73:23-26)
6. Jesus – “who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
It is good to let Christ live in us, and to live for Him as well as to trust Him because Jesus loved us and had given Himself for us. Jesus has shown us His love: “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Paul puts it in this manner: “If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Rom 8:31-32). “Likewise, the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses…He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. 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.” (Rom 8:26-28)
7. It is truly a great blessing to live a life of faith in Christ. Jesus said: “For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow…” (Matt 6:33-34)
Seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness should be our priority in life. Submitting to God’s will is paramount: “Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?” (Heb 12:9)
“Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Heb 13:20-21)
“The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Cor 15:56-58). Are we doing the work of our Lord? Or, we are too busy doing our own things?
8. The hymn entitled, “Living by Faith” describes very well the blessings of trusting Christ all the days of our lives:
“I care not today what the morrow may bring, if shadow or sunshine or rain,
The Lord I know ruleth o’er everything, and all of my worries are vain.
Living by faith in Jesus above, trusting, confiding in His great love;
From all harm safe in His sheltering arm, I’m living by faith and feel no alarm.
Though tempests may blow and the storm clouds arise, obscuring the brightness of life,
I’m never alarmed at the overcast skies— the Master looks on at the strife.
I know that He safely will carry me through, no matter what evils betide;
Why should I then care though the tempest may blow, if Jesus walks close to my side.
Our Lord will return for His loved ones some day, our troubles will then all be o’er;
The Master so gently will lead us away, beyond that blest heavenly shore.”