The following post was written by T. Austin-Sparks. I’m publishing it on the heels of my Answers to Skeptics series because it’s a natural progression. The term “Christian” was first used in Antioch in the first century to describe the early followers of Jesus. Sparks does a great job redeeming the original meaning of the word in a day where the term has become quite murky.
“And Agrippa said unto Paul, With but little persuasion thou wouldest fain make me a Christian” (Acts 26:28).
Let us say at the outset that we are using the word “Christian” strictly according to what is found in the New Testament, and it is assumed that this will be accepted. Our enquiry will take the form firstly of a process of elimination, and we shall observe
What a Christian is Not
(1) To become a Christian is not to become ‘religious’, or to adopt a new ‘religion’.
Among non-Christian peoples, a turning to Christ is often referred to as ‘accepting Christianity’, and in what are called Christian countries conversion is frequently referred to as ‘becoming religious’. Such expressions, with their associated ideas, are altogether inadequate and indeed fundamentally false.
There was no more religious man on the earth, in his time, than Saul of Tarsus. Read what he says of himself in Acts 22 and 26, and Philippians 3. Here was a man who was just aflame with religious zeal and passion. No argument is necessary, with history before us, to prove how wide of the mark religion can be.
And that is true of ‘Christianity’, when it is merely a matter of religion. To be a true Christian is not to accept a creed or statement of doctrine, to observe certain rites and ordinances, attend certain services and functions, and conform more or less diligently to a prescribed manner of life. Continue Reading…