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To be a Christian.

Notes & Transcripts

Title: To be a Christian.

Readings: Genesis 1:1-5. Psalm 2. Acts 2:1-4, 11:19-26. John 1:1-5.

Outline:

1) Introduction. The need for Christ here and now!

2) How do we become a Christian? How do we know for sure that we are Christians?

3) How should a Christian live? Call to action!

In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

1) Introduction.

‘…and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called “Christians...” [1]

We must speak today of a matter most pressing!

It has to do with the most important decision a human being will ever make!

Travelling around and speaking to many people; it never ceases to amaze me that some people are either unsure of their Christian standing, or else, they are professedly not Christian at all!

This must be resolved!

Of all things a person may choose to do, clarification of this ‘ONE’ matter is the most valuable!

It is the single most important decision of a person’s life.

Nothing comes close to it!

Nothing!

Let us investigate:

Firstly, all are called to be Christian!

That is, all people, everywhere!

Secondly, once confirmed Christian, one can never be anything else!

Thirdly, none of us were, or will ever be, worthy of the title Christian!

This is the beauty of the Christian Gospel!

Christ died for us all.

Christ is with us to the end.

In Christ we are atoned!

Let us define the word ‘Christian’.

A Christian is a confirmed follower of Jesus Christ the Lord.

The first and the last, the holy one of Israel, the author of eternal salvation, the deliverer, firstborn of all creation, the Word of God, the wisdom of God, the way, the truth, and the life, King of Kings and Lord of Lords! Glory, Alleluia!

Jesus is the almighty creator and redeemer of the world.

The Bible calls Jesus: ‘…The Amen, the faithful and true witness, the source of God’s creation…’ [2]

And praises him: “…Amen. Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving, honour, power, and might be to our God forever and ever. Amen... (Revelation 3:14)” [3]

Jesus is the blessing of God, Jesus is the glory of God, Jesus is the wisdom of God, he is the thanksgiving, he is the honour, he is the power and he is the might of our God!

Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews, Son of the Most High God!

This is the Christian heritage!

This is the Christian God!

This is he who saves!

Jesus and no other. Amen!

How do we know that?

2000 years ago, this Jesus lived as a man.

This we know for sure!

He was crucified on a cross.

This we know for sure!

The fact that he rose on the third day and ascended to the heavens; this we believe!

Not only us, but a third of the world’s population, for two thousand years, has held that this Jesus is the Saviour of all creation!

Christ has died.

Christ has risen.

Christ shall come again!

Amen. Thanks be to God!

Some will say: “How can you know this for sure?”

Well, we don’t know for sure, and we cannot prove that these things are true!

We don’t need to prove it!

The Spirit of God which dwells within every single believer in Christ demonstrates to this perishing world, time and time again, that Jesus Christ is Lord!

Jesus Christ is the truth.

Jesus Christ is the author of all creation!

Throughout the history of the Christian Church the evidence of Christ’s presence in the world has been manifested by those who believe in him, time and time again!

Christ said to those around him, if you do not believe me, at least believe the signs!

Jesus’ identity was promoted by the signs which accompanied it!

For 2000 years those signs have been evident to the whole world.

What is the greatest of all signs?

Which miracle stands out above all other possible scenarios?

That Christ loved us: ‘...God had such love for the world that he gave his only Son, so that whoever has faith in him may not come to destruction but have eternal life (John 3:16)...’ [4] Amen. Thanks be to God!

The evidence that the world seeks so virulently, dwells within each and every Christian through all time!

Jesus loves us, and in turn we love each other through him!

A person can seek to the north, south, east and west; to the furthest corners of the cosmos, and will ultimately find this one truth!

Only Jesus has done this!

Only Jesus is love!

Only Jesus was prepared to do what was necessary to redeem us all.

We cannot prove the Christian message through any other means than our love for each other!

Love is the only way to show this perishing world the power of Christ!

It is Jesus’ love which overcomes all evil.

It is Jesus’ love which saves.

It is our love in turn, from him and through him, which demonstrates Christ’s presence to the world of today.

It is love that makes the Christian, a Christian!

2) How do we become a Christian? How do we know for sure that we are Christians?

There are two ways that a person may be assured that they are a member of the body of Christ; thereby confirming themselves absolutely and without a doubt, never to be revoked, a Christian soul and assured of the salvation of Christ forever. Amen, Amen and Amen!

These two methods are instituted by Christ, and are indeed sacraments in the true sense of the word.

As such they are ineffable, infallible, and guaranteed by the Word of God. Amen. Thanks be to God!

The first method is to experience a personal encounter with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

This method calls for acceptance of Christ Jesus as Saviour and Lord of all the world, repentance of prior offences to him, and the willing sacrifice of self to Jesus as the rightful Lord and Master of one’s own will.

This method is often dramatic in nature.

It usually occurs when there is a prior sense of distress or anxiety.

It calls for intimate prayer with Jesus and may be assisted at any time by a follower of the Way.

The penitent soul cries out to Christ for Salvation, becoming increasingly aware of the fallen nature of the world around them.

The Holy Spirit intercedes on behalf of that soul and reveals to them the nature of Christ Jesus.

The second manner through which one may be assured of their Christian status is baptism.

This may take place at infancy, via the sprinkling of water and utterance of baptismal rites; or it may take place as an outward sign of inner transformation sometime throughout life.

Be assured, both ministries hold the same vital authority of Christ.

For the commission we work under, from Christ as Christian people states: ‘“…All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age Matthew 28:18-20)…”’ [d]

The Christian community has been baptising in Jesus’ name for nearly 2000 years.

This is our joy, this is our inheritance, this is our invested right as adopted children of the Most High God!

The symbolic cleansing of the body with water is the outward sign of spiritual transformation within.

The rite of baptism embraces the soul of the receiver into the body of Christ.

The new Christian is born anew into the family of God forever and nothing can separate that soul from the love of Christ.

Nothing!

Note: This is a revelatory factor for the individual soul. It is a renewal and invigoration of the consciousness. All creation has its existence in Christ Jesus. He is in all and through all things eternally. That which is necessary is the recognition and affirmation of this fact. Until the soul recognises by the grace of God, that it is indeed acting aside from the perfect law of freedom, the conviction of unlawfulness increases by multiplying gradients. The soul is perpetually convicted of its sin. This is the precursor to the ‘hellish’ realms and full ‘separation’ from God. Although Christ is in all, it is possible to experience a sense of separateness both in this world and the next. The eschatological fire is the conclusion of this process, hence the exhortation for repentance and acknowledgement of Christ. It must be understood that we are not ‘attempting’ to ‘convert’ people to any form of ‘Christianity’, they already belong to Jesus; we are simply reminding them of a fact that somehow has been lost to their consciousness.

Once redeemed by the ceremonial act of baptism and embraced into the body of Christ; that soul can never again be said to be separate from the love of Christ.

It can never be snatched away.

That soul is in Christ and for Christ eternally.

The confidence we have in this through the Word of God is irrevocable.

Christ Jesus has done it!

The Christian community is at liberty each and every day to perform this rite and invite into the Heavenly Kingdom as many souls as it possibly can of Christ’s behalf.

This was not a suggestion.

It was not an invitation to do something nice.

It is a perpetual command until Christ returns!

We are to baptise the whole world!

In infant baptism, and indeed any other forms of Christian baptism where the recipient cannot speak for their self, the Church acts on behalf of that soul.

The soul is prayed for, and confirmed into the body of Christ instantly, by the body of Christ.

The Church banishes sin, invokes the Holy Spirit, and takes responsibility for that soul for all time.

That soul is now in Christ, and will remain in Christ, along with all that are saved, eternally.

Amen. Thanks be to God! (See Romans 8:38 ff.; nothing can separate)

The first method mentioned, that is, the conversion experience, should be precursor to the act of baptism.

The Holy Spirit leads that soul to the outward expression of inner transformation.

Although the norm however, this is not an absolute necessity; for Christ came to baptise with the Holy Spirit and with fire. (See Matthew 3:11)

Baptism with the Holy Spirit is in place through Christ between Pentecost and the Eschaton.

The Baptism of fire is reserved for the non-repentant.

I tell you the truth; the non-repentant already feel the heat of those flames!

John Baptised with water, Jesus baptises with the Holy Spirit, and the fire leads souls to Christ.

If there is a hell to come, I assure you that the sinner is already in payment for their debts, here and now.

There shall be no peace for the wicked!

[If you have not yet been baptised into the body of Christ, I would encourage each and every one of you here today to receive this blessing from God, as soon as you possibly can...]*

Baptism is your blessing from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

It is for your empowerment.

It is for your confirmation into the Christian faith.

It is for your communion and sharing in the body of Christ.

All Christendom welcomes you in the name of Jesus! Amen!

3) How should a Christian live? Call to action!

The first requirement for living the Christian life is prayer.

Once established, that wondrous facility for communicating with our Lord is never closed.

As Christians, we are at liberty to pray with our beloved Saviour all day, every day, for the rest of our lives.

There is nothing for which a Christian may be more grateful than this wondrous gift of prayer.

Prayer softens the heart of a believer to the point at which the Lord can use it for his purposes.

The believer learns to pray inwardly to their Saviour, thereby allowing the Holy Spirit to instruct and guide the heart toward joyous outpourings of utterance in thanks to God.

The second requirement for living the Christian life is study of the Bible.

Without feeding the mind and heart scriptural nourishment, there will be little or no growth in the Christian faith.

We must, as Christians, use those beloved texts available to us.

This is our own responsibility and none other.

Our whole path to spiritual maturity in Christ is founded upon our knowledge and address of the Bible.

We come to knowledge of Jesus predominantly through the beloved Gospels.

There are four Gospels, but one can do worse than understanding Luke and Acts together, as they help us to understand an overview of the beginnings of our faith.

The Christian message stems back many thousands of years through time, but our starting point for exploration is first century Palestine.

Luke’s Gospel and the Book of Acts cover this very well.

The third requirement for living the Christian life is discipline.

This is not some silly ascetic notion of ‘Puritanism’ or the likes of it; but simply allowing the love of Christ to transform us in every aspect of our lives, to the love that he shares through us with the world.

Our first calling as Christians is to love our Heavenly Father with all that we are, and to love our neighbours as we would have them love us.

Jesus is light, Jesus is love, and Jesus is life.

We are to shine the light of Christ into our world, demonstrating Christ’s love and the eternal nature of life in him.

We are no longer perishing, but moving eternally onward to our blessed assurance in Christ.

We are to come to the acknowledgement that all creation must be loved above ourselves.

We can only achieve this through submission to the perfect will of Christ.

No compromise.

All for Jesus! All for Jesus! Amen, Amen and Amen!

Finally: In order to live the Christian life, we must acknowledge our unification into the body of Christ.

We must recognise that all are ‘ONE’ in Christ Jesus.

There is no separation in Christ.

All are equal and enveloped in him.

We and Christ are ‘ONE’.

This manifests itself in a love of the community.

As Christians, we are called upon to bring change.

We bring change through sharing in the body of Christ.

The work is not ours alone, but we perform it through our recognition of a great cooperation to manifest the Kingdom of God.

We achieve this through praying for each other, recognising and catering for each other’s needs, worshipping together, sharing communion together, and simply being together in Christ.

We press on together in unity, to achieve social goals, things that will benefit the whole.

We conquer injustice.

We conquer prejudice.

We conquer oppression.

Where there is hatred and pain, we bring love and healing in Jesus’ name.

Where there is war, we bring peace.

Where there is violence and strife, we bring harmony and restoration.

There is so much to achieve, and so little time to achieve it.

We must press on together.

The harvest ripe, but the labourers are few.

Let us then join together then, in the love of Christ. Amen!

Remember the gifts of the Spirit, what they are, and how you will implement them as you go back into the world today!

Wisdom, faith, right judgement, courage, knowledge, reverence, wonder and awe of the Lord; these gifts accompany every Christian believer as they go about their daily lives.

Make a stand in Christ, and he shall make a stand in you!

Recognise these powers within yourself and present them to this perishing world.

Say with fire in your bowels: “...These gifts are mine because of what Jesus has done for me, and what he has done for you...” Amen. Alleluia!

Jesus has put them there for you to change the world.

Change this world in Christ Jesus.

Sweep the garbage off the streets.

Bring the Gospel Message to every aspect of your daily lives, and together we shall claim this world for Christ! Amen! Alleluia!

Let us pray:

Lord Jesus Christ, we renew our faith in you.

We come before you now.

You know all about us from before our birth.

We acknowledge the joy of your salvation and say thank you Jesus for loving us.

Thank you Jesus for dying for us.

Thank you Jesus for rising from the tomb.

Blessed be your victorious resurrection and ascension.

Blessed be your sending of the Holy Spirit and fire.

Baptise us now with your Holy Spirit.

Bath us in your love.

Renew our hearts and our minds in the power of your love!

We offer you all that we are, as we acknowledge that we are yours.

We thank you as you forgive our sins and empower us to live for you.

Thank you Jesus. Amen, Amen and Amen.

Jesus Christ Is Lord! Amen, Amen and Amen! Thanks be to God!

Bibliography:

The original source for this material was Sermon 13 (also became 14 through to 15), first Preached at Tewkesbury Methodist Church, Tewkesbury; Morning Service, Sunday 15th August 2010.

Unless otherwise stated all Bible quotations are from: The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. 1989; Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

BBC.Co.Uk, http://www.bbc.co.uk/

Biblecommenter.com, http://biblecommenter.com/

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Confraternity of Christian Doctrine. Board of Trustees; Catholic Church. National Conference of Catholic Bishops; United States Catholic Conference. Administrative Board: The New American Bible : Translated from the Original Languages With Critical Use of All the Ancient Sources and the Revised New Testament. Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, 1996, c1986.

Enjoy the Bible.Org, http://www.enjoythebible.org/

GOD'S WORD ® Translation 1995.

gotquestions.org, www.gotquestions.org/

Henry, Matthew: Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume. (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1996, c1991).

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Morrish, Furze, Outline of Metaphysics, Rider & Co. (London, 1949).

Morrish, G., New and Concise Bible Dictionary, C.A. Hammond Trust Bible Depot, (London, no date attached).

Encyclopaedia Britannica, http://www.britannica.com/

Imitation of Christ, Of that which is profitable to the soul (Of evil temptations, Book 3 Chapter 6 paraphrased,

Thomas à Kempis ca.1380 –1471).

Journey with Jesus.net, http://www.journeywithjesus.net/

Libronix Digital Library System, 3.0e Copyright 2000-2007 Libronix Corporation http://www.libronix.com

New Jerusalem Bible, Doubleday, (New York, 1990).

Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary, (Oxford University Press, 2005).

Radmacher, Earl D.; Allen, Ronald Barclay; House, H. Wayne: Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Commentary. (Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers, 1999).

soundofgrace.org, www.soundofgrace.com

Stanford.edu, http://.stanford.edu.

Southgate, Christopher, The groaning of creation, Westminster John Knox Press, (London 2008).

The Everyday Bible, New Century Version. (Nashville, TN.: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2005).

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The Holy Bible, New Revised Standard Version. Nashville, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989).

The Holy Bible, King James Version, electronic ed. of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version. (Bellingham WA : Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1995).

The MacArthur Study Bible, The women’s study Bible, The believers Bible commentary, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the whole Bible, Libronix Digital.

The New York Times, http://articles.latimes.com/

Library System, 3.0e Copyright 2000-2007 Libronix Corporation http://www.libronix.com.

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Thomas Nelson, Inc: Woman's Study Bible. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1995).

Tyndale House Publishers: Holy Bible: New Living Translation. 2nd ed. (Wheaton, Ill., Tyndale House Publishers, 2004).

Vine, W. E.; Unger, Merrill F.; White, William, Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. (Nashville: T. Nelson, 1996).

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Wesley, John, Explanatory notes on the New Testament, (Bristol, Hot Wells, 1754).

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Commentaries Consulted:

Henry, Matthew: Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1996, c1991.

KJV Bible Commentary. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1994.

MacArthur, John Jr: The MacArthur Study Bible. electronic ed. Nashville: Word Pub., 1997, c1997.

MacDonald, William; Farstad, Arthur: Believer's Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1995.

MacDonald, William; Farstad, Arthur: Believer's Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1995

McGee, J. Vernon: Thru the Bible Commentary. electronic ed. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1981.

Radmacher, Earl D.; Allen, Ronald Barclay; House, H. Wayne: Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Commentary. Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers, 1999

Wiersbe, Warren W.: With the Word Bible Commentary. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1991.

Dictionaries Consulted:

Kurian, George Thomas: Nelson's New Christian Dictionary: The Authoritative Resource on the Christian World. Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson Pubs., 2001.

Morrish, G.; A New Concise Bible Dictionary: C. A. Hammond Trust Bible Depot, London 1949.

Packer, J.I.; Tenney, Merrill Chapin; White, William: Nelson's Illustrated Manners and Customs of the Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1995.

Parallel Gospels.Org, http://biblecommenter.com/

Pierce, Larry: Tense Voice Mood. Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship.

Smith, William: Smith's Bible Dictionary. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997.

Vine, W. E.; Unger, Merrill F.; White, William: Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. Nashville: T. Nelson, 1996.

Vine, W.E.: Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary Topic Finder. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1996.

Visual Survey of the Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1985

Youngblood, Ronald F.; Bruce, F. F.; Harrison, R. K.; Thomas Nelson Publishers: Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville: T. Nelson, 1995.

Youngblood, Ronald F.; Bruce, F. F.; Harrison, R. K.; Thomas Nelson Publishers: Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville: T. Nelson, 1995.

Other resources consulted:

Chronology of Paul’s work, http://www.matthewmcgee.org/

Traditional footnotes have been converted to endnote form merely in order to make more accessible:

1. The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989, S. Ac 11:26. Note: sometime prior to 42 CE. We know this due to other sources highlighting that during the reign of Claudius Caesar in the second year of his reign a famine began, thus reigning from 41 – 54 CE we know the prophecy of Agabus took place sometime prior to 42 CE. See notes Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary Acts 11:27 ff.

2. Confraternity of Christian Doctrine. Board of Trustees; Catholic Church. National Conference of Catholic Bishops; United States Catholic Conference. Administrative Board: The New American Bible: Translated from the Original Languages With Critical Use of All the Ancient Sources and the Revised New Testament. Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, 1996, c1986, S. Re 3:14.

3. Confraternity of Christian Doctrine. Board of Trustees; Catholic Church. National Conference of Catholic Bishops; United States Catholic Conference. Administrative Board: The New American Bible: Translated from the Original Languages With Critical Use of All the Ancient Sources and the Revised New Testament. Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, 1996, c1986, S. Re 7:12.

4. Eerdmans, William B.; Eerdmans Publishing Company (1989) Cassirer NT, Tyndale House, Cambridge, United Kingdom. John 3:16.

[d] Other ancient authorities add Amen.

*[Sentence should be excluded if those present are known to have already received Christian Baptism; a Covenant Prayer is recommended for inclusion in such an instance].

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