By Lewis Willis
That seems to be a good question. I know what people in the world frequently think of us. They think we are “just another denomination” among the many others that are there. Some think us to be extremely radical be-cause we stand for what the Bible teaches. We would expect such from people who neither know nor respect the Divine Revelation.
No matter what the world might think, the important thing is, what do we think. Who are we? What are we? Do we have a clear view of who we are? I am convinced that we will never succeed in the view of God, either individually or congregationally, until and unless we understand who we are. Thus, let’s study together on this important theme. I will list some things the Scriptures say we are.
We Are Disciples of Christ
The word translated disciple, mathetes, is a word that literally means “a learner” (Vine, 316). Jesus invites us, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matt. 11:28-29). Because we are to learn of him, Jesus commanded the apostles to go forth teaching all nations (Matt. 28:19). We are taught so that we can learn and be disciples of Christ. Unless we realize that we are disciples or learners, we will not take the time to study or put ourselves in a place and position to learn as in Bible classes, worship, gospel meetings, etc.
We Are Servants of Christ
Paul called himself “a servant of Jesus Christ,” whom God had separated for the work of preaching the gospel (Rom. 1:1). Paul was a servant because he had a work to do. Obviously, servants are to serve or work. All Christians are to serve (Gal. 5:13). We have a work to do: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58). Who are we? We are servants who do the work of the Lord. If we are not doing that work, how could we think we are acceptable as servants?
We Are Soldiers of Christ
Here is the evidence, “Thou there-fore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Tim. 2:3). Also, Paul charged Timothy, “. . . that thou by them mightest war a good warfare” (1 Tim. 1:18). He told him to “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Tim. 6:12). To the Ephesians he said that this was a spiritual battle (Eph. 6:12). To Corinth, Paul said “. . . we do not war after the flesh: for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal . . .” (2 Cor. 10:3-4). We are soldiers of the Cross. We are peace-makers with everyone except Satan and sin. With them, we are in a war!
We Are Saints
The word translated saint, hagios, “fundamentally signifies separated …, and hence, in Scripture in its moral and spiritual significance, separated from sin and therefore consecrated to God, sacred” (Vine, 226). The word is also translated “holy.” Now what does all of this mean? It means that in “character” we are saints, that is, we are separated from sin and consecrated to God. We are holy. Twice Paul says that Christians are “called to be saints” (Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:2). Again, what does this mean? If we have problems fitting the things of God into our lives, we have not yet recognized what it means to be a saint. Being separated unto God, his demands on us take priority over all other demands. How can we live as saints without understanding this? Let each of us examine himself.
We Are God’s Children
I particularly like the statement of Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:18. He said when we separate ourselves from the world (by obeying the Gospel) that God will be our father, and we will be sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty. Also, Paul said the Holy Spirit (through the Divine Revelation) bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God (Rom. 8:16). In every thought, word and deed, Christians are to demonstrate that they are God’s children. What a blessing! What a responsibility!
We Are Brethren to Each Other
When Jesus rebuked the scribes and Pharisees who wanted special treatment and titles, He said, “. . . all ye are brethren” (Matt. 23:8). Throughout the New Testament, reference is made to “brethren” (Rom. 12:1; 1 Cor. 15:58; 2 Cor. 8:1; Gal. 1:2; Phil. 3:1). There is no place for the elevation of one of us over the other. None of us is deserving of titles which make us more important than others. We are all brothers and sisters in the great family of God equally blessed.
We are Christians
Let me again define the word. The word for Christian, christianos, signifies “an adherent of Jesus.” Webster says an “adherent” is a follower. So a Christian is a follower of Jesus. The word is used three times in the New Testament (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Pet. 4:16). Peter said that Christ left us an example, “that ye should follow His steps” (1 Pet. 2:21). Christ is not to follow us, we are to follow him. We should each look at our lives, as we try to figure out who we are, and determine if we are indeed following Christ.
We Are Heirs of God
This simply says that we are a people living in the hope of being with God after awhile. God’s children are his heirs (Rom. 8:17). Note how Pe-ter refers to the Christian’s estate: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet. 1:3-5). Paul says we are saved by this hope (Rom. 8:24). He also says that faithful Christians will receive their inheritance because God does not lie (Tit. 1:2). We are a people waiting to receive the inheritance of eternal life in heaven which God has promised to his children who live as he appoints.
We Are Pilgrims on the Earth
Note that Peter says, “Dearly be-loved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” (1 Pet. 2:11). As “strangers and pilgrims,” we are only here a brief time (James 4:13-14; Job 14:1). Sometimes we put our “roots” down too deeply in this world. We act as though this world is all there is. Christians know that we are only visiting here; we are actually on a journey to heaven.
In conclusion, I pointed out that we will never live as we should until we know who we are. These things we have looked at summarize who the Christian is. Does your life resemble the kind of life described in this article? If not, hasten to make it conform to the will of God.
Guardian of Truth XL: No. 18, p. 16-17
September 19, 1996