THE WHO'S WHO SERIES
Who is a "Christian"?
Who is the "Church"?
Who is a "Saint"?
Who is "Reverend"?
Who is a "Christian"?
Are you a Christian? "I hope so; I'm trying to be."
Are you a human being? "I hope so; I'm trying to be."
One reply is as unreasonable as the other. Just as you were born with a human nature, you must be "born again" to become a Christian. [John 3:3-8; I Peter 1:23] It is not a matter of trying in either case.
Many confuse Christian behavior with the Christian birth. You must have the Christian life [as to nature] before you can live the Christian life [as to behavior].
A Christian is a "new creature" in Christ. [ II Corinthians 5:17] In short, the one verse biography of the Christian life is "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, Christ liveth in me [this is the Christian life], and the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the son of God ..." [this is Christian behavior]. [Galatians 2:20]
The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch. [Acts 11:26] These were disciples first; this discipleship resulted in an obvious difference in their behavior, a difference that revealed their union with the sin-conquering, life-giving, life-transforming Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus the epithet "Christian" designated their relationship to Christ.
Obviously, this supernatural relationship to Christ is not the result of human efforts - social, moral or religious. "For by grace [undeserved kindness] are ye saved, through faith and that not of your selves, it is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast, for we are his workmanship [made Christians in nature] created in Christ Jesus unto good works ..." [that we might be Christians in behavior, Ephesians 2:8-10]. Christ said, "... make the tree good, and his fruit good, or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt ...". [Matthew 12:33] "... from within, out of the heart of men, proceed ..." the things that defile a man. [Mark 7:21-23] "But the fruit of the Spirit [the Christ life in true believers] is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith meekness, temperance ...". [Galatians 5:22-23]
Who is the "Church"?
Contrary to the widely accepted opinion, "God ... dwelleth not in temples made with hands, neither is worshipped with men's hands as though He needed anything"! [Acts 17:24-25] In the Bible, we read of the "ears of the church" [Acts 11:22], of Saul "making havoc of the church" by persecuting God's people [Acts 8:1-4], of the church in the house of Priscilla and Aquilla [Romans 16:3-5] and of Paul gathering the church together at Antioch [Acts 14:27].
Obviously, "the church" is not a steeple house built by the hands of men, so we ask, "Who [not what] is the church?"
Membership in the church is determined by neither people, preacher nor priest, but the Lord. "... the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. [Acts 2:47] It cannot be joined. All who have been saved by Christ through the gospel [Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4] are the church ... making up its membership.
Those who are "the church" are perfectly organized, having Christ as their "head" and a position that is God-ordained. [Ephesians 1:22-23; 1 Corinthians 12:18] What spiritual folly and ignorance is shown by any of these who believe they need a human "organizer" or that they can improve upon the work of the infinitely wise and powerful God.
Those who are "Christ's body" alone have the divinely appointed ministry of the evangelists, pastors, and teachers. [Ephesians 4:11] They limit and frustrate the work of these Christ-called men when they "call" or "appoint" pastors or teachers of their choice.
This is the only church with divine origin and blessing. It alone can fulfill this prayer of the Lord Jesus Christ for all who believe on him, "I pray ... that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; That the world may believe that thou hast sent me." [John 17:21] All divisions [denominations and sects] show sinful disregard for the will of God and of the "unity of the Spirit" [1 Corinthians 1:10; 3:1-4, 16-17; Ephesians 4:1-6]
Who is a "Saint"?
"Well, I'm no saint but I would never do a thing like that".
Remarks such as this serve to show the confusion that exists as to just who are the saints of God! The problem here is that many do not know the distinction between sainthood and saintliness. Paul said that sainthood was a part of the Christian calling of the people of Corinth [I Corinthians 1:2] reminding them that as saints, they would judge the world; yet rebuked them soundly for their un-saintly conduct. [I Corinthians 6:1-6]
All heart BELIEVERS in Jesus Christ are saints, whether they are on earth or with the Lord. [Philippians 1:23] The spiritual fault of the Corinthian Christians shows this clearly. They were taking their matters before the unbelievers and not before their brethren, the saints.
A saint is simply one who through faith has been "sanctified in Christ Jesus." He has made a covenant by sacrifice [that of Jesus Christ, John 1:29] with God. [I Corinthians 1:2; Psalms 50:5]
The word "saint" means, "a holy one." This sanctity is imputed [given freely] just as is true righteousness. [I Corinthians 1:29-30]
Since saints may be un-saintly, their fellow Christians are told to pray FOR THEM [NEVER TO THEM]. [Ephesians 6:18] Paul's request that the Ephesian saints pray for him could never be regarded as a prayer offered TO THEM!
Saints on earth need to be perfected [as to their walk] and therefore require the ministry of their brethren who have been given gifts to this end by Christ, the church's head. [Ephesians 4:7-14] They need and have the intercession of their great and available priest, Jesus Christ, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. [Hebrews 4:14-16, 7:24-25; Romans 8:27] All "saintly" saints shall suffer persecution as did those at Jerusalem; [Acts 9:13: II Timothy 3:12] others, not "faithful in Christ Jesus" will suffer loss at Christ's judgement seat [Ephesians 1:2; I Corinthians 3:11-15] but none will ever be forsaken of God, "they are preserved forever." Their death is precious in His sight! [Psalms 37:25; 116:15]
So, saints are people like yourself, who have been saved by God's abundant grace thru personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Their citizenship is with Christ in the glory but they serve him on earth as His ambassadors. Are you a saint?
Who is "Reverend"?
The word "reverend" appears only one time in the King James Version of the Bible; Psalm 111:9. There it is used to describe the absolute unique and transcendent name of the Lord of Hosts: "holy and reverend is His name." In the light of this fact, what unholy presumption, yea, what woeful ignorance it is to use this sanctified term to describe the name or person of any man other than the God-Man, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible describes the name of the Lord God as "reverend"; men in positions of leadership in religion are "reverend", "holy reverend", "right reverend" and "most reverend"!! Is this not the apex of blasphemy? If not, how can the name of God be used "in vain"?
"The meek will He guide in judgement, and the meek will He teach His way!' [Psalms 25:9] Could anyone contend that it is a sign of true meekness and humility when one is willing to receive to himself an "honorary" degree or title? The Lord Jesus asked the self-righteous Pharisees, "How can ye believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that cometh from God only??? [John 5:44] Since God promises to guide the meek in judgement, humble Christians respect or have confidence in the counsel of any of the many "reverends", "doctors" and "fathers" of christendom today?
"Christ died for our sins ..., he was buried and rose again the third day ..." [I Corinthians 15:1-4] All true believers in these marvelous facts are "saints". [I Corinthians 1:2] "All ye are brethren". [Matthew 23:8] The distinctions "clergy" and "laity" are man-made. The church has only one place of "pre-eminence"; it is owned and now occupied by its "head", the Lord Jesus Christ. [Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18] All others who would have "the pre-eminence" are condemned by the Word of God in that desire. [III John 9-10]
by James D. Cox
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