12 April, 2024

‘What Does It Mean to Be a Real Christian?’

by | 12 September, 2019 | 1 comment

Christian Standard pushed a program called Christian Action from 1934 to 1943 that James DeForest Murch—a name familiar to many—started “as a means of restoring the spiritual vitality in the church during this time of great social upheaval” (from an article about Murch by Jim Estep, available at www.biola.edu).

Perhaps some day we will devote an entire column to Christian Action—and/or to Murch—but today we will focus on a “letter” Murch wrote 85 years ago that was part of that week’s Christian Action section. It seeks to answer this important question: “What does it mean to be a real Christian?”

_ _ _


On Being a Real Christian

By James DeForest Murch
Sept. 15, 1934; p. 9

What does it mean to be a real Christian? To attain the fullest possible realization of Christ in the life?

We have such a meager conception of all that it involves. Our preachers and teachers do not go far enough in informing us. We do not penetrate deep enough in our study of God’s Word to learn all it involves.

Being Christian involves belief in Christ. We must accept Him as the Son of God and very God Himself. We must accept Him with the intellect and with the affections—in fact, with our whole being.

But we must go further.

Being Christian involves obedience to Christ. We must be loyal to His commands—all of them. We must repent of our sin. We must confess Him before men. We must be baptized. We must do all He asks, as He asks it, because He asks it.

But we must go further.

Being Christian involves Christlikeness. We see in Him the perfect example of all that we desire to be, and we must earnestly strive to pattern our lives after His. We must show to the world that we have been with Jesus and learned of Him.

But we must go further.

Being Christian involves the receiving of Christ’s presence through the Holy Spirit. What a glorious thing it is to realize that He is more than a historic character or an absentee Saviour. This glorious gift is a sign and seal of our redemption. Blessed is the Christian who experiences His daily reality through the Holy Spirit.

But we must go further.

Being Christian carries with it the empowering of Christ. He is not only with us, but He gives us power. We are weak in our own strength and unable to cope with the temptations and trials of this life, but our weakness, plus the power of Christ, is able to accomplish all things. There is nothing evil that can defeat us.

But we must go further.

Being Christian is at last best, my life merged with Christ’s until I can say with the apostle Paul: “For me to live is Christ. I no longer live, but Christ liveth in me!” What a sublime attainment! What a glorious victory for Christ in my life!

It is only as we experience this ultimate reality that we know what it means to be a Christian.

Are you a real Christian?

Certainly if all the above is involved in it, most of us are far from it. What we need is CHRISTIAN ACTION. . . .

_ _ _

That’s pretty solid reasoning and writing to bury in the final column on page 9. (By the way, we cut the ending of this letter, 50 or so words that merely sought buy-in among readers to join in the Christian Action plan.)

All totaled, Christian Standard devoted just over a page to Christian Action each week during this time period. In this this particular issue, in addition to this letter, this section also included a lesson (“The Victory Over Self”) and “a Round Table for the Discussion and Promotion of Christian Action.”

—Jim Nieman, managing editor, Christian Standard

Christian Standard used this logo above the “Christian Action” section of materials during the first part of 1934, but was no longer using it by the time today’s column by Murch appeared.
<a href="https://christianstandard.com/author/jimestep/" target="_self">Jim Estep</a>

Jim Estep

Jim Estep serves as vice president of academics with Central Christian College of the Bible, Moberly, Missouri, and as event director with e2: effective elders.

1 Comment

  1. Sandra Ziegler

    The more I read these historic articles, the more I wish I’d spent time in the archives when they were so readily available. I’m glad for these posts. Especially now that I have time to ponder them.

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