What does Biblical Christianity look like? Are there indications, in a person’s life, that we might be able to observe which would enable us to conclude, be reason of evidence, that a person was indeed an actual disciple of Christ?
The Bible says there is. Jesus taught there was.
“By this will all men know you are my disciples,” said the Lord, “If you have love one for another (John 13:35).”
Likewise, Paul, writing to the Ephesians, testified, “…you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds… They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ! (Ephesians 4:17:19-20; ESV)”
So yes, according to the Bible, Biblical Christianity has certain traits that can be observed in order to gauge its authenticity. Therefore, we can conclude that there are ways for us to show, clearly that we have learned Christ properly, that we are actually His disciples and likewise, there are ways to demonstrate to the world that we have failed to properly grasp what it means to be a follower of Christ.
This makes a certain sense, for a disciple is one who is trying to be like his teacher. Christ, the master and teacher, was both loving and righteous. A true disciple of Christ, therefore, is going to himself strive to exhibit love while at the same time eschewing immorality and impurity.
Consider also the following verse, with a similar theme: “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving (Colossians 2:6-7; ESV)
The apostles taught Christ in a certain way, and Christ was a received in a certain way by the first converts, and this manner of doctrine, and this reception of Christ was to be carried forward in a consistent manner. The faith of Christ, also called the Gospel or Good News of Christ, was delivered to the world via inspiration, and recorded in the written word (cf. Romans 10:10). Those that desire to follow Christ and to have a close relationship with Jesus, must therefore walk in the faith and doctrine of Christ (cf. 2 John 1:9). But doctrine alone is not enough. Attitude also speaks volumes. Or more properly, right doctrine, received rightly, will produce a right attitude.
Jesus said, “love one another,” and the quality of love speaks to an attitude of affection and compassion. In a similar manner, Paul tells us that we should be “abounding in thanksgiving.” It is expected that the disciples of Christ are going to be overflowing with joy and gratitude.
Did we receive Christ with joy and gladness? The early Christians did. They heard the word and understood it was not just Good News, but the Very Best News: God had a message of salvation for a lost and dying world. They obeyed it (cf. Acts 2:41) and then, having obeyed, went on their way rejoicing (Acts 8:39). They were filled with gratitude to God, and joy in what God had done for them, through Christ. Their joy was overflowing and it overflowed into praise and adoration and a desire to live pleasing to God.
Doubtless, being human, the first century Christians also had their down days, and their moments of discouragements. Which is why Paul reminded the Colossians to remember how they had learned Christ, to remember how they had received Christ, and been established in the faith of Christ, and thus remembering, to strive to so continue in Him, abounding with Thanksgiving.
If we find ourselves lacking in thanksgiving, it is then that we might want to question our own faith, and our true proximity to our Lord and Savior who died on our behalf. Are we really following Christ as He would want us to be? For just as love is a hallmark of the true follower of Christ, so too is thankfulness. If we truly believe the good news of Christ, and if we have been obedient to the Gospel of Christ, and if the hope of Christ abides in our hearts, how can we help but be abounding in Thanksgiving and Joy?
If you would like to learn more about the joy that comes from Christ, the church of Christ invites you to come worship and study with us, at 234 Chapel Drive, Gallipolis, Ohio. Likewise, if you have any questions or comments, we invite you to share them with us at chapelhillchurchofchrist.org.
Jonathan McAnulty is minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ.