There have been many articles written and many sermons preached on the identity of a false teacher, but what are the identifying characteristics of a faithful Christian? More imperatively, do you possess these characteristics?
ALL CHRISTIANS HAVE OBEYED THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST
There has never been anyone declared to be a Christian in the New Testament who did not first obey the gospel of Christ. The gospel of Christ is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 15:1-4). One obeys the gospel by first hearing it taught or preached (Rom 10:17). Secondly, after hearing the gospel one must believe in their heart that Jesus is the Christ and confess such with their mouth before men (Rom 10:9,10). Thirdly, one must repent and be baptized for the remission of their sins (Acts 2:38). Lastly, one must remain faithful unto death (Rev 2:10).
ALL CHRISTIANS ARE ADDED TO THE CHURCH
All New Testament Christians were added to the Lord’s church. All Christians are baptized into the body or the church of Christ and are members thereof (1 Cor 12:13, 27). Take note, no Christian joined the church of their choice. Jesus himself adds those who have obeyed the gospel of Christ to His church (Acts 2:47).
THE IDENTITY OF THE LORD’S CHURCH
This is a very imperative identification. There have been many who have obeyed the gospel and then began attending either a denominational church or an errand church of Christ. First of all, the Lord’s church was built by Christ himself (Matt 16:18). Jesus is the head of the body, the church of Christ (Eph 1:22,23 f; Col 1:18). The church of Christ abides in the doctrine of Christ (also called the apostle’s doctrine and the doctrine of God) (2 Jn 9 ff; Acts 2:42; Jn 7:16,17). The church does not teach for doctrine the commandments and doctrines of men (Matt 15:7-9). The church does not change the Word of God (1 Cor 4:6 ff; Gal 1:6-9; 1 Pet 4:11; Rev 22:18,19). The church worships God in Spirit and in truth (Jn 4:23,24). The church assembles each first day of the week to remember the Lord’s death by the partaking of the Lord’s supper and to give of its means (Acts 20:7 f; 1 Cor 15:1-3). The church sings and makes music in their heart to the Lord (No Instrumental Music) (Eph 5:19 f; Col 3:16). The church sings and prays with the Spirit and understanding also (1 Cor 14:15). The church hears the Word by the means of teaching and preaching (2 Tim 4:2-5).
ALL CHRISTIANS LIVE A MORAL LIFE
Christians live a moral and godly life. This means Christians do not commit the works of the flesh which include such sins as adultery, fornication, and homosexuality, etc (1 Cor 6:9,10 f; Gal 5:19-21). This also means Christians do not kill, steal, or lie (Rom 13:9). Christians must obey the laws of the land as long as they are in agreement with the Word of God (Rom 13:1-9 f; Acts 5:29). Christians do good unto all men, especially fellow Christians (Gal 6:10).
ALL FAITHFUL CHRISTIANS ARE PERSECUTED
Jesus and his apostles made one thing perfectly clear, that all faithful Christians will suffer persecution (2 Tim 3:12). Jesus said that all Christians must take up their cross and follow him, and anyone who refused to do so cannot be a Christian (Lk 14:27). Christians follow in the steps of the Savior who suffered for us (1 Pet 2:20,21). No servant is above his Master and a Christian’s Master is Jesus Christ (Matt 10:24). If they hated and persecuted Christ, they will also hate and persecute Christians (Jn 15:18). The prophets were persecuted (Matt 23:24 f; Jam 5:10), the apostles were persecuted (Matt 10:22-25 f; 2 Cor 11), Christ was persecuted (Jn 15:20) and so shall every faithful Christian (1 Pet 4:12,16).
Conclusion: There are many ways to identify a Christian which this lesson only touches the surface. Nevertheless, all Christians obey the gospel, are added to the church of Christ, continue in the doctrine of Christ and his apostles, live a godly life, and are persecuted for the cause of Christ. If there is any thing more than these it is this, that all Christians must love one another even as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us. This is how the world identifies us as Christians (Gal 2:20 f; Jn 13:34,35).