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6 Things Every Christian Does According to the Gospel

6 Things Every Christian Does According to the Gospel

Meet Paul. He was born like you and me—a sinner, with a tiny fist curled in rebellion against God that grew to be a giant fist that declared, “I hate Jesus so much, I’m going to persecute his followers.” An incalculable antagonist to Jesus, Paul wanted to squelch his following. He wanted Christians dead, and he worked against them every step of the way.

And then Jesus found him and said, “Paul, you are mine” (see Acts 9). Like the sudden snap of a switch, the Jesus-hater became a Jesus-follower.

Everything in Paul’s life swiftly and radically changed. Once persecuting Christians, he now became their greatest champion.

He also authored thirteen books of the New Testament. In one of these books, Philippians, Paul gave a definition of what a Jesus-follower—a Christian—is.

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (Phil. 3:8–11)

What is a Christian? According to Paul, a Christian is someone who does six things: (1) treasures Christ, (2) devalues everything else, (3) puts faith in Christ alone, (4) knows him, (5) suffers for him, and (6) becomes like him.

1. Christians Treasure Christ

Paul suggests that everything—even the most valuable, mind-blowingly awesome treasure out there—is worthless when compared with Jesus.

Jim Elliot knew this well. A missionary to Ecuador in the 1950s, Jim was murdered by Huaorani Indians, the very people he was serving, before he turned twenty-nine years old. Here was a man who adored Jesus so much, he was willing to lose everything to tell others about him. Jim wrote a famous line that stands as a statement of his life: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

2. Christians Devalue Everything Else

When Paul says that he counts “everything as loss,” maybe you think that he doesn’t mean everything.What about popularity? Comfort? Friends? To Paul, that’s like comparing fruit cores to a king’s feast. They are indescribably inferior. No, that doesn’t mean all of those things are necessarily sinful or unimportant; what it means is that when they are compared to Christ, they’re nothing only because Jesus is everything.

Paul was the quintessential example of devaluing everything because of how much he treasured Christ. He suffered brutal shipwrecks and bloody beatings, lashings and imprisonments, starvation and snake bites, thirst, discomfort, loss, loneliness, and pain all because Jesus was worth it (2 Cor. 11:23–28). All because Jesus was better.

3. Christians Have Faith in Him Alone

We live in an age of self-help, where following your heart is the contemporary path to salvation. If you can just muster the strength and summon the courage, you’ve got this. You’re the hero. We’re consistently told, believe in yourself.

Yet there may be no message more destructive to biblical Christianity. It is one so hideously and thoroughly rotted with self-idolatry that Jesus came to destroy it. Jesus came instead to call us to die daily to ourselves and trust in him as the true and perfect Savior (1 Pet. 2:24).

4. Christians Know Him

You cannot be a Christian unless you know God. Not just know about him. Even the demons know about God (James 2:19). You have to know him as Savior, as Lord, as Redeemer, as Justifier, as King, as Friend. This relationship is not one-sided, impersonal, surface-level, or long-distance. It’s present and active and messy and real and fearful and divinely wonderful. It is a holy God loving imperfect humans and making a way for authentic communion with them.

5. Christians Suffer for Him

To say that Christians won’t suffer is a lie. Suffering is a reality as certain as salvation itself. Just ask Paul or Jim Elliot . . .  or Jesus. When God saves you, you sacrifice a life of ease. “Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me’” (Matt. 16:24). Christians should expect suffering, while also recognizing that we have a great responsibility in the midst of it—to glorify God (1 Pet. 4:12-13).

6. Christians Become Like Him

Jesus-followers strive to become more holy as God’s Spirit works in our hearts to make us more like him. We demonstrate our allegiance to Christ by daily conforming to his image (1 Pet. 1:15–16). The gospel changes everything.

That means we understand the beauty of the gospel. That means we join with the community of his church, and we become a family who lives to worship God together. That means that we run from sinandrepent and glory in grace. That means we cultivate disciplines in our lives that make us more like Jesus.

That means we grow in maturity and use our time in a way that is profitable. That means we foster relationships that will build us up by rejoicing in our family, nurturing good friendships, and considering romantic relationships from God’s perspective.

What is a Christian?

Being a Christian means that we love God more. Every day we die a little more to our old selves and live a little more like Christ (John 3:30). That’s why we are called Christians, because we are of Christ, for Christ, with Christ, and in Christ alone.

This post is adapted from the book This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years by Jaquelle Crowe, published by Crossway 2017. 

Jaquelle Crowe (BA, Thomas Edison State University) is a young writer from eastern Canada. She’s the lead writer and editor in chief of TheRebelution.com and a contributor to the Gospel Coalition, desiringGod.org, and Unlocking the Bible. Her first book is This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years.

Image courtesy: ©Thinkstock/4maksym

Publication date: April 6, 2017


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