1 Peter 4:16
James Smith, 1849
A Christian is not a very common character, for though there are many who are called so, but comparatively few can prove their claim to the title. A Christian must be like Christ. But how few who call themselves Christians have the Spirit of Christ, or imitate the example of Christ — yet without this, all profession is vain. A Christian is one . . .
who believes God's testimony concerning Christ,
who cordially embraces the doctrines of Christ,
and heartily loves the person and word of Christ.
A Christian is a disciple, one who has a child-like and teachable disposition, and sits at the feet of Jesus to be taught by him; who desires . . .
to think just as Christ thinks,
to feel just as Christ feels, and
to act just as Jesus acted when he was here below.
A Christian has the Spirit of Christ, who . . .
convinces him of sin,
produces repentance for sin,
leads to exercise faith in Christ, and
consecrates the entire person to the praise and glory of Christ.
A Christian depends entirely on the mediation of Christ, both for the acceptance of his person and performances before God; he allows nothing to come between him and God, but Jesus and his glorious work. He will trust in no sacrifice, but the sacrifice of Christ. He will plead no righteousness, but the righteousness of Christ. He will look to no one as a mediator between him and God, but the Lord Jesus Christ. To him, Christ is all:
all his hope,
all his confidence, and
all his dependence.
He loves Christ's person supremely, and trusts in his word and work implicitly.
A Christian is willing to suffer for Christ; yes, he would rather suffer — than that Christ should be dishonored. He is prepared to meet opposition, reproach, and persecution — for the sake of Christ; and his principal desire is, that he may suffer as a Christian — for Christ's sake and in Christ's spirit. He would rather suffer — than sin. For sin alone is the object of his hatred and dread, and to all sin he wishes to show the most determined and constant opposition.
A Christian studies the precepts of Christ, that he may understand and do them; for he wishes to do whatever Jesus commands him; and to do it heartily, cheerfully, and promptly. This proves the sincerity of his love and the truth of his faith, as the Lord has said, "You are my friends — if you do whatever I command you." He who will not obey Christ in his life — does not believe in Christ in his heart; for faith without works is dead, being alone. In vain do we call Jesus Lord, if we do not obey the things which he commands us.
Once more, a true Christian is looking and longing for the second coming of Christ — the new testament represents every believer as standing in this posture. The coming of Christ is the most glorious event which is before us, for he is coming to collect all his people in one glorious assembly; to fulfill all the predictions of his word; and to be glorified with his church forever.
Reader, are you a Christian?
The privileges of the Christian are unspeakably great:
Look within him, there, the Spirit of God dwells as in his temple, works as the Spirit of holiness, and cries Abba, Father, as the Spirit of adoption.
Look above him, and there is the Savior pleading for him before the throne as his Advocate and Intercessor.
Look around him, and there is a special providence at work for him, causing everything to work together for his welfare.
Look before him, and there is a kingdom prepared for him, a kingdom unspeakably glorious and eternal.
He is blessed in his person, blessed in his state, blessed in his comforts, blessed in his sorrows, blessed in life, blessed in death, and blessed for evermore. He is blessed by the Lord who made heaven and earth — with his richest, greatest, choicest blessings. Such are the privileges of the real Christian.
Again, reader, we ask, are you a Christian?
Have you received the Spirit of Christ?
Are you resting your eternal all on the infinite atonement of Christ?
Do you daily strive to copy the example of Christ?
Is your principal object the glory of Christ?
Do you love the people, the word, and the ordinances of Christ?
Do you ever feel that you could give up everything for Christ?
Do you live like a Christian in your family, in your business, and in the church of Christ?
Would men take you for one?
Do those who know you best — feel most confident that you are one?
These are solemn questions, let them sink into the heart, and with them search into your true state. Only true Christians will be acknowledged by Christ at last; to all others, whatever profession they may have made, he will say, "Depart from me! I never knew you — or I never approved of you, I never owned, or acknowledged that you were mine!"
May the good Lord preserve us from such a fearful doom, and make us Christians indeed. The name of Christian, if we have not the nature of Christ — will avail us nothing. The form of godliness without the power — will stand us in no stead. We must be born again — or be lost for ever. We must be united to the person of Christ, and copy the example of Christ — or we are eternally undone!