A true Christian is one in whom the Holy Spirit
dwells. His attitude of mind and behavior are consistent with the
teachings and life of Jesus Christ; he follows God's way of life as
expressed through His laws and respects his fellowman by being concerned
with "giving" rather than "getting." A Christian strives for success in
all areas of his active, abundant life.
The early disciples of Jesus Christ strove to imitate
His actions, teachings and way of life. It was for this reason they were
labeled as "Christians" (i.e. followers of Christ) by nonbelievers to
whom the disciples' way of life was obvious (Acts 11:26). During the
time of the early New Testament apostolic Church, the term "Christian"
was certainly in every way accurate-for the disciples were indeed
imitators and followers of the person and teachings of Jesus Christ. But
today in the 20th and 21st
centuries, the word "Christian" is extremely loosely and
inaccurately used, the description being frequently applied to any
person or group that simply Professes a belief in the person of
Christ and acknowledges Him as the Savior. The appellation "Christian"
is even applied to all people, irrespective of their religious
convictions, who are simply born and reared in a "Christian" culture.
These usages are far from adequate when we consider the original meaning
of the term "Christian," which is: "one who actually follows the life
and teachings of Christ in detail." Even a cursory examination of our
ostensibly Christian culture in general and the many purportedly
Christian groups in particular brings out little dependence on the
teachings of Jesus Christ and even less resemblance to His actual life.
To be a Christian, a person must have God's Holy
Spirit dwelling within him. "Any one who does not have the Spirit of
Christ does not belong to Him" (Rom. 8:9). Before one can be baptized
and receive this Spirit, he must repent of his sins, express faith in
Christ and then accept Him as his personal Savior. This deep
identification with Christ must precede the receipt of the Holy Spirit.
In addition to having the Holy Spirit, one must live
and act by the teachings and values of Christ if he is to be considered
a Christian. He must live "by every word that proceeds from the mouth of
God" (Mt. 4:4). "He who says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same
way in which He walked" (I John. 2:6). The greatest expression of that
obedience is a wholehearted demonstration of love toward God and toward
neighbor. In this regard, Christ said His disciples would be known
because of their love, especially for one another (John. 13:35;
15:10-17). Ultimately, of course, it is through the Holy Spirit that one
can obey God and express love. In turn, God will give His Spirit only to
those who are willing to obey Him (Acts 5:31). Therefore, the basic
qualities of Christianity go hand in hand with being a true Christian
and cannot be separated.
Christianity is a Way of life. It is more than just
believing. It is the attitude of mind which leads an individual to
follow God's directives for social conduct and for personal behavior.
Indeed, before the name "Christian" took over as common terminology, it
was their way of life that set Christians apart as different
(Acts 9:1-2; 19:9; 24:14).
Christianity revolves around clear, demonstrable
actions which reveal the intents and beliefs of a person trying to live
as Jesus lived. Mere belief in a name or title in and by itself, as
James points out, is valueless: "You believe that God is one; you do
well. Even the demons believe-and shudder" (Jas. 2:19).
A Christian is one whose whole outlook and frame of
mind is in the process of transformation from "carnal" to "spiritual."
When one rises from baptismal waters he becomes a "new man" by taking on
a whole new spiritual lifestyle, created after the likeness of God in
"true righteousness and holiness" (Eph. 4:24). Whereas before his
conversion he armed himself to face life with his own pride, ego,
strength and intellect alone, the true Christian now adds the "whole
armor" of God-the girdle of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the
shoes of the gospel, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and
the sword of the Word of God (Eph. 6:13-17).
These fruits or characteristics of the Holy Spirit
become progressively more manifest in the life of a Christian. Hate is
replaced by love, anxiety by peace, fearfulness by faith, indulgence by
temperance, and pride by meekness. All these and the other fruits of the
Spirit work together to overshadow the natural, carnal characteristics
of adultery, idolatry, strife, envy, wrath and the many other aspects
and variations of human nature.
As the Christian begins to express godly qualities,
he grows in the appreciation of their superiority over his own human
qualities. From this appreciation grows the goal of expressing, more and
more of the righteousness of Christ living within him (Gal. 2:20) while
he roots out, with God's help his own disobedience and self-righteousness.
He struggles to move closer to the basic essence of "pure and undefiled"
religion: an outgoing concern for others with no thought of recompense
for the self: this godly attitude is exemplified in James' admonition in
1:27: "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to
visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself
unspotted from the world."
The Christian will strive to avoid some of the
pitfalls of close human associations. Judging one another (Rom. 14:13),
making spiritual comparisons (II Cor. 10:12), offending those who are
weak, gossiping and spreading rumors (Jas. 3); none have any place in
true Christianity. On the contrary, each Christian must do his or her
best to "never ... put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a
brother" (Rom. 14:13), to compare ourselves only with "the stature of
the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13), to strengthen those who are weak,
and to "bear one another's burdens" (Gal. 6:2).
Likewise, the Christian will grow in the knowledge of
God's Word and begin to express the wisdom which comes from this
knowledge as understood through God's Spirit. The Spirit of God united
with the "spirit of man" within him opens his mind to comprehend godly
things (I Cor. 2:9 ff). It gives him understanding and insight and
reorders his values and priorities so that God and His knowledge are now
first in his life (cf. Prov. 1:7).
Having God and His plan primary in one's life in no
way denigrates the physical cares and requirements of normal living.
Quite the contrary, a Christian addresses himself to these things with
new understanding of their place in his goal of following God's way in
this present physical life as he strives toward gaining eternal life and
entering the God family.
The Christian knows, that one who will not provide
for his house is worse than an unbeliever (I Tim. 5:8). Thus, the
physical cares of life are no longer an ephemeral end in themselves, but
are a means of developing and expressing love through giving. Christians
should certainly be the greatest examples of both spiritual and
physical success. For a Christian to accomplish less in his physical
life than he is able is not only a waste of his own abilities but a
neglect of his God-given potential.
The true Christian views his secular education, the
establishment of a career and subsequent professional development as
vital keys for building the successful life exemplifying the
characteristics of God. Additionally, the opportunity to become
professionally accomplished and prosperous by the world's traditional
standards-to gain a good reputation in one's field, a position of
responsibility, social recognition and financial rewards-are not only
good but desirable, as long as God and His laws always come first. God
wants His children to be successful in all aspects of their physical
lives. To develop the full range of our God-given human potential as
responsible, mature, effective adults is something all Christians must
strive for. To do any less neglects these God-given gifts and squanders
opportunities for both physical and spiritual growth. Indeed, a
successful Christian makes a powerful witness to the practical,
efficacious veracity of God's way of life as revealed in the Bible.
A Christian life is thus in no way passive. It is
full of challenges, both physical and spiritual. It requires great
resolve to obey God, to shun both the overt and the subtle evils and
influences of human society.
The true follower of Jesus Christ will strive to
prove the superiority of a godly way of life through his own example.
A Christian does not debate religion with others; he does not try to
twist their arms into believing as he does, nor does he try to "convert"
them in an antagonistic manner. He is, however, prepared and happy to
answer questions about his beliefs when asked by an interested person.
As Peter stated, "be ready always to give an answer to every man that
asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear"
(I Pet. 3:15). A Christian strives to be a "light" to the world by
allowing his actions to speak for themselves. He knows that one who
tries to love his neighbor as himself will win that neighbors love in
return and may, according to God's will, encourage that neighbor toward
following Christ as he himself does.
Thus, a Christian has many positive qualities. The
most basic summary of these qualities is to say they comprise a life of
giving as opposed to getting, of serving others instead of being
served, of loving instead of selfishness, and of accomplishing and
building instead of tearing down and destroying. It is the way spoken of
by Christ in the beatitudes and in the sermon on the Mount. It is the
way naturally produced by the motivation of God's Holy Spirit. It is the
way Jesus lived and acted; and a Christian is one who follows Christ in
But the requirement for a Christian to adhere closely
to the principles of Christ does not mean that all Christians must be
totally identical in personality, personal tastes or preferences. Quite
the opposite is true. God, as the Creator of mankind, was the One who
designed the potential for wide differences in human proclivities and
personalities, likes and dislikes and even in our physical and mental
makeup. He intended from the beginning that differences in environment
and heredity should allow (and even cause) great variety within the
human species. And God intends that these differences should be
expressed (within certain limits).
We are required to lead a life of personal
responsibility and character before God and our fellow man-a life that
is pleasing and obedient to our Creator and one that enables the
individual to find and reach his greatest personal potential and
God's great love for man has given man the basic
guidelines for living life which, if followed, will ensure a full,
abundant physical life and the growth of godly character in every
pursuit and activity. These fundamental instructions, as revealed in the
Bible, allow for great individual variation so that all can still
maintain their own personal identity, preferences and individuality.
The two overriding principles one should consider in applying God's law
to the everyday cares and pursuits of life involve the continuing and
conscious recognition that: 1) Christianity is a way of life; and that
2) everything we do as Christians should be done as if under the
scrutiny of Christ (Col. 3:17). In different areas of life, these
principles take on different meanings.
For example, the Bible clearly recognizes the arts as
representing some of the highest expressions of man's potential.
Obviously any art form which encourages the breaking of any of God's
laws is wrong, but beyond this, the Bible makes little distinction as to
"right" or "wrong" in art, music, literature, poetry, architecture,
etc., other than to emphasize positive purpose in their expression. The
application of God's laws in these areas of artistic expression is more
complex today than it was in biblical times. The key principles,
applying the fundamental standards of God's Word, are balance and
beauty, elegance and harmony, inspiration and skill, sensitivity and
creativity. (Cultural differences may necessitate that certain criteria,
"beauty" and "quality," for example, be subjectively determined. What is
beautiful music to an Asian or an African might seem discordant to a
European and vice versa. The unifying principle is to be found in an
affirmative answer to the question, "Is it edifying to the individual
Christian?" As in other matters, each person must use wisdom and
discretion based upon these general guidelines and make his own
decisions for himself)
A godly way of life must include the basic aspects of
physical health: good nutrition in a balanced diet, proper amounts of
exercise and sleep, living in accord with public health ordinances and
principles, and taking care to avoid bodily injury. While eschewing
faddism or fanaticism of any kind, the church encourages everyone to eat
natural foods as much as possible and to avoid those processed foods and
preservatives which can have debilitating physiological effects. In this
context, a Christian will avoid the use of tobacco or illegal drugs in
any form and drink alcoholic beverages only in moderation. If illness or
injury should occur, a Christian has a great advantage over the
nonbeliever; he can ask for God's help in healing, in addition to
seeking the most competent medical aid available.
In matters of dress and style, the church teaches and
emphasizes the biblical principle of modesty. Balance, good taste,
quality and modesty are stressed in the use of all clothing and bodily
decorations such as hair styles and makeup. How a person looks and what
he wears is a personal matter, but an individual should attire himself
in such a way as to be presentable to Christ. We are told in I
Corinthians 10:31: "Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all
to the glory of God." The church encourages its members to look
"normal," in keeping with the styles and customs of their times and
places. Church members should not look overtly different from other
people in their immediate surroundings, though they should always be
striving to improve themselves, being representatives of God, in all
areas of their lives. In all such matters the members are encouraged to
avoid extremes and to use common sense. This sound-minded, temperate
approach is what a Christian will develop as he grows in God's Spirit
(II Tim. 1:7; Gal. 5:22-23). The use of balance in these areas is
essential, though the church does not police its members' personal
In the area of celebration of nonreligious holidays,
the Church of God has never taken any stand against the observance of
various and sundry days during the course of each calendar year, whether
they be national or personal. In all countries around the world, our
members keep nonreligious days which are special to their countries or
themselves. For example, the majority of American church members
celebrate Thanksgiving Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, Memorial Day,
Columbus Day, Washington's Birthday and the like. Other personal days
have long been commonly observed by Church of God members, days such as
Mother's Day, Father's Day and wedding anniversaries. These are commonly
observed either through the exchanging of gifts (as in Mother's and
Father's Days), the celebration over a family meal (as in Thanksgiving),
or merely abstaining from work or going on an outing (such as Labor Day,
the Fourth of July, etc.).
The Church of God, likewise, has no specific
statement of doctrine concerning the common custom of the celebration or
the observance of birthdays. The Bible itself keeps careful track of the
ages of the patriarchs and of the kings of Israel and Judah (especially
at the beginning of their reigns). Levites worked in the service of the
tabernacle of the congregation from thirty to fifty years old (Num.
4:23). Our society also requires that we continually list the date of
our birth in everything from job applications to the national census.
To some families, the passage of the birthday of a
child at age six is quite an important occasion with congratulatory hugs
and kisses and the sending of a proud little boy to his first day in
grade school. Perhaps, in other families, the event is comparatively
unimportant, and there is no special note taken of the passage of any
particular year. In all of our memories, it is safe to say that some
birthday observances have retained special meaning: perhaps it was a
particular plateau of life at which a certain achievement or
accomplishment may have been on the horizon, such as entering into
teenage or reaching the age of legal responsibility.
Of course, these national or personal holidays should
never overshadow the observance of God's holy days. They are not on a
par with, nor should they be elevated to, the importance of the
festivals of God which reveal His plan and thereby convey great
Taken all together, the Christian life is one of deep
religious conviction coupled with vigorous activity, serious
accomplishment, sound-minded balance and common sense. As he applies
God's principles to every facet of his life, the Christian strives to
meet the challenges of becoming fully successful while living above
reproach before both God and man.
-Disciples called "Christians"
- One without the Holy Spirit is not of Christ.
Matthew 4:4 - We must live by every
word of God.
1 John 2:6 - We ought to walk the
same way in which He walked.
John 13:35 - True disciples love one
John 15:12 - True disciples love one
Acts 5:32 - God gives His Holy
Spirit only to those who obey Him.
James 2:19 - Demons believe too and
Ephesians 4:24 - Christians put on
the new man.
Ephesians 6:13-17 - A true Christian
puts on the armor of God.
Galatians 2:20 - Christ lives in
James 1:27 - Pure religion is to
visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction and remain unspotted
from the world.
Romans 14:13 - Do not judge one
2 Corinthians 10:12 - Do not make
James 3 - Do not gossip or spread
Ephesians 4:13 - Compare yourself to
the fullness of Christ.
Galatians 6:2 - Bear one another's
1 Corinthians 2:9 - The Spirit of
God makes us to know Godly things.
Proverbs 1:7 - The fear of God is
the beginning of knowledge.
1 Timothy 5:8 - A true Christian
provides for his own family.
1 Peter 3:15 - Be ready with an
answer for those that ask of the hope in you.
Colossians 3:17 - Do all in the name
of Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 10:31 - Do all to the
glory of God.
2 Timothy 1:7 - God has given us a
1] A true
Christian is one...
a] who is baptized
b] who has accepted Jesus Christ as savior.
c] who has the Holy Spirit dwelling in them.
d] who attends church regularly.
2] A true Christian...
a] has an attitude of mind and behavior that is consistent with the
teaching and life of Jesus Christ.
b] follows God's way of life as expressed through His laws.
c] respects his or her fellowman.
d] strives for success in all areas of his or her active, abundant life.
e] all of the above
3] Disciples of Christ were called "Christians" because they were
imitators and followers of the person and teachings of Jesus Christ.
True or False?
4] The term "Christian" today is extremely loosely and inaccurately
used. True or False?
5] Which statement describes a true Christian?
a] one who is born and reared in a Christian culture.
b] one who professes a belief in the person of Christ and acknowledges
Him as savior.
c] one who is an imitator and follower of the person and teachings of
d] all of the above.
6] To be a Christian, one must have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them.
True or False?
7] Before one can be baptized and receive the Holy Spirit, he or she
a] repent of sins.
b] express faith in Christ.
c] accept Christ as personal savior.
d] all of the above.
8] A true Christian must live by every word that proceeds out of the
mouth of God. True or False?
9] The greatest expression of obedience to God is demonstration of love
toward God and toward neighbor. True or False?
10] To express love and obedience to God, one must have the ____ _____
11] Christianity is...
b] a way of life.
12] A Christian is one whose whole outlook and frame of mind is in the
process of transforming from carnal to spiritual. True or False?
13] What scripture speaks of "pure religion undefiled"?
a] Galatians 2:20
b] James 1:27
c] Romans 14:13
d] Galatians 6:2
14] The Christian should strive to avoid...
a] judging others.
b] making spiritual comparisons.
c] offending those who are weak.
d] gossiping or spreading rumors.
e] all of the above.
15] Complete this sentence:
According to Ephesians 4:13, a true Christian is to compare himself or
herself with ______ [who or what}?
16] Through the power of the Holy Spirit we are made to know Godly
things. True or False?
17] A Christian strives toward gaining eternal life and entering the God
family. True or False?
18] Christians are to be great examples of both spiritual and physical
success. True or False?
19] Christians should take every opportunity to...
a] gain education.
b] establish career and professional development.
c] gain a good reputation in one's field.
d] gain social recognition.
e] gain financial rewards.
f] all of the above.
20] God wants the Christian to be successful in all aspects of their
physical lives. True or False?
21] Which of the following are false.
a] Christians should debate religion with others.
b] Christians should get others to believe as they do.
c] Christians should try to convert others.
22] Which positive qualities should a Christian demonstrate?
a] giving as opposed to getting.
b] serving instead of being served.
c] love instead of selfishness.
d] accomplishing and building rather than tearing down.
e] all of the above.
23] In the final analysis, all Christians should be totally identical in
personality, personal tastes or preferences. True or False?
24] The first of two overriding principles for the Christian that
involve continuing and conscious recognition are...
One] Christianity is a way of life.
According to Colossians 3:17 what is the other?
25] Which of the following should be part of the Christian life?
a] use of tobacco.
b] good nutrition in a balanced diet.
c] consumption of alcoholic beverages in other than moderate amounts.
d] proper amounts of exercise and sleep.
e] avoiding bodily injury.
f] use of illegal drugs in any form.
26] In matters of dress, the Bible teaches balance, good taste, quality
and modesty. True or False?
27] The church polices its members to insure proper dress codes.
True or False?
28] The church has never taken a stand against the observance of
non-religious days such as (using the U.S. as an example):
Fourth of July
True or False?
29] The church has no specific doctrine concerning the celebration or
observance of birthdays. True or False?
30] National and personal holidays should never overshadow the
observance of God's Holy Days. They are not on a par with nor
should they be elevated to the importance of the Holy Days of God.
True or False?