And believers were the more added to the Lord.
If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.
Ye shall be witnesses unto me.
What is a New Testament Christian? He is a heart-believer in a crucified and risen Saviour and Lord. But our churches are filled with believers who do not continue in His Word and so are poor disciples. Salvation is free – not cheap- and we have only to trust Christ to be believers. But discipleship calls for all we are and have.
We have unwittingly created an artificial distinction between trusting Christ as Saviour and obeying Him as Lord. The New Testament recognizes no such false compartments of experience. “Believe on the LORD Jesus Christ,” said Paul to the jailer. No man can be a Christian by knowingly and willfully taking Christ on the installment plan, as Saviour now, as Lord later.
And we are all His witnesses, witnesses unto Him (Acts 1:8) and witnesses to the truth about Him (Lk. 24:48). We are witnesses of His death and resurrection in our own experience and witnesses to Him in testimony. By life and lip we declare Him; we know Him and make Him known.
The All-Inclusive Loyalty
Married to another…to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
If the issue is Christ, then surely for us the issue is just to be Christians. A Christian is a Christ-ian, and his supreme loyalty is to Christ. Better than that, his loyalty to Christ is all-inclusive; it comprehends all lesser devotions.
That does not exclude the lesser loyalties. A man is a better citizen of his country if he is faithful to his own family. A man is a better member of the whole household of faith if he is loyal to his own local church and religious group.
But when the lesser loyalty transcends the greater, then there is trouble. There is a place for political parties, but any man who puts party above the country and plays cheap politics in an hour of peril is a traitor. A man should be first as American before he is a Democrat or Republican. There is a place for local and group loyalty in the church, but a man who cannot, and will not, be a Christian first is a traitor to Jesus Christ.
We are married to Christ. A wife takes her husband’s name, and a true wife will make all other human loyalties subservient to that. A Christian bears the name of Christ and his loyalty to Christ includes and glorifies all other relationships. Christ does not merely come first, He is Alpha and Omega, and includes the alphabet of all our interests and affections.