by William S. Plumer
"The Christian is a delightful and encouraging work, describing twenty-seven facets of the Christian experience. Altogether, it is an excellent, succinct presentation on what it means to be a Christian. This treatise could serve the believer well as a daily devotional as well as an evangelistic tool to explain the experiential life of a Christian to the inquiring unbeliever." Joel Beeke.
The word 'Christian' is found but three times in all the Scriptures. The places where it occurs are Acts 11:26; Acts 26:28; and 1 Peter 4:16. These read as follows: "And the disciples were called Christians first at Antioch." "Then Agrippa said unto Paul—you almost persuade me to be a Christian." "Yet if any man suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God on this behalf."
The chronology of some of the events recorded in the Acts is not entirely certain, but it seems pretty clear that the followers of our Lord were not called Christians until ten or twelve years after our Savior's ascension to heaven.
I once heard a sermon on Acts 11:26, in which it was assumed that the name Christian, like that of Puritan or Methodist, was first given in reproach, and by enemies; and was afterward adopted by the disciples of our Lord, as a name which they were willing to bear. And it cannot be denied that in every age odious epithets have been heaped upon the godly. It is also certain from the history of the trial and martyrdom of Polycarp, that for a long time the enemies of the Cross employed the term to revile and accuse. But this does not prove that bad men first gave the name.
These things seem to be clear:
1. Christian is a very fit name for all the followers of Christ. They are in Christ. They love and adore Christ. They are ready to die for Christ. He is their Savior and Redeemer. They are not ashamed of Him, and He is not ashamed of them. They are the friends, followers, and redeemed of Jesus Christ. He is all in all to them. They are precious to Him. He says so (Isa. 43:4).
2. Christian is a very appropriate name. It well designates God's people, and in itself sums up the whole matter. Other names are given to God's people, and some of them are very appropriate, but none is more fitting than this.
3. It was foretold by the evangelical prophet that in the latter days the Church should receive a new appellation: "The Gentiles shall see your righteousness, and all kings your glory: and you shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name" (Isa. 62:2). This passage no doubt indicates the great blessing arising from the altered state and prospects of the Gospel Church. But may it not also be interpreted as having been literally fulfilled in the bestowment of the name Christian? Many have so thought.
4. Nor were there lacking in the primitive Church, people by whom the Lord could fitly change the name of His people; for in immediate connection with the historic statement that "the disciples were called Christians first at Antioch," it is added, "prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and predicted by the Spirit that there would be a severe famine throughout the Roman world. This took place during the time of Claudius" (Acts 11:26-28). There were inspired men who were able to make known the mind of God and to speak by His authority.
5. The people of God have ever since, and without hesitation, borne the name of Christians. The inspired historian, Luke, says nothing against it. Peter speaks of it approvingly. Evidently godly men have long accepted it as if it were from the Lord.
Someone may ask, WHAT IS IN A NAME? The answer is, that there is a great deal in a name; and in giving a name, one exercises high authority. It is recorded as one of the acts of the intelligence and authority of Adam that he gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field (Gen. 2:20). Jehovah Himself asserts His prerogative in giving and changing names as He pleases. Thus He changed the names of Abraham, Jacob, and Sarah. Thus He directed that the name of His incarnate Son should be called Jesus. Names are things when properly applied. They are indeed often borne unworthily, often misapplied. But it would shock our pious feelings if the ancient Church had received her names from Cain, or Canaan, or Korah, or any notoriously bad man, instead of being called Jacob, Israel, Joseph, Abraham's seed, and spoken of in other like terms indicative of glory and virtue.
In the Christian name is so much that is precious, that nothing could persuade godly men to give it up. Even bad men love to have the epithet 'Christian' bestowed upon their loved ones who have left this world.
Reader, are you a Christian; a real, living, firm, consistent Christian? You have the name, but are you worthy of it? Is your union with Christ close and vital? Do you live in Him? Do you live for Him? Do you live to Him? Do you wish to live and reign with Him? Have you duly considered the import of the name you bear? It means much more than being born in a Christian land. Worthily to bear the name of a Christian, is the greatest honor and the greatest happiness ever attained on earth.
A Christian is the highest style of man.
Table of Contents
1. The Christian Name
2. The Christian Profession
3. The Christian Life
4. The Christian Doctrine
5. The Christian Character—an Example
6. The Christian Simplicity
7. The Christian's Way
8. The Christian's Temptations
9. The Christian's Victory over Temptations
10. The Christian's Views of Sin
11. The Christian's Besetting Sins
12. The Christian's Sense of Responsibility
13. The Christian's Faith
14. Why Do I Rest Confidently in Christ?
15. The Christian's Hope
16. The Christian's Trust
17. A Christian's Good Resolutions
18. The Christian Lives by Rule
19. The Christian's Enemies
20. The Christian's Shepherd
21. The Christian's Advocate
22. The Christian's Earnest
23. The Christian's Joy
24. The Christian's Sorrow
25. The Christian's Sorrow—more about it
26. The Christian's Hatred of Error
27. The Christian's Glorious Riches
28. Some Musings of an Old Christian
29. What Can I Do?
30. Posthumous Usefulness