Acts 10:38 “You know about Jesus from Nazareth. God made him the Christ by giving him the Holy Spirit and power. You know how Jesus went everywhere doing good. He healed those who were ruled by the devil, for God was with Jesus.” (ICB)
When I first read this verse in the International Children’s Bible, I thought they got it wrong. I balked at the thought that God made Jesus“the Christ” by giving Him the Holy Spirit and power. It made it sound like Jesus was not God’s anointed one that came down from heaven. But then I realized that even though Jesus was indeed God in the flesh,He became the “Anointed One” when He was baptized with the Holy Spirit and received power. That marked the beginning of His ministry on earth. Before that time, He was simply known as the son of Joseph, a carpenter.
The word ‘Christ’ means ‘anointed one.’ Christ is not Jesus’ last name. He was actually known as Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. But when He was baptized in the Jordan river, the Holy Spirit came upon Him, He was filled with power – and became known as Jesus, the Christ. Jesus, the Anointed One.
Isaiah prophesied that would happen 700 years earlier. He wrote this in Isaiah 61:1a “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me…” Jesus read that very passage in Luke 4 at the beginning of His ministry. The moment Jesus was baptized, He was anointed by the Father to fulfill His mission on earth. He became the Anointed One! The same thing happened to His disciples on the Day of Pentecost. They too received the Holy Spirit and were filled with power. When that happened, they became true Christ followers – God’s anointed ones.
The word ‘Christian’ was originally designated as a negative term. “There goes those Christ-like ones or little Christs” Even though it was intended to make fun of and ridicule those disciples, it stuck. Why? Because that’s what they were – little Christs! They acted like God’s anointed ones. They went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, because God was with them. They too had received the Holy Spirit and power.
The term ‘Christ Followers’ has become popular in churches today. Many believe the word ‘Christian’ has become a religious designation with little meaning. Yet perhaps there is nothing wrong with the word ‘Christian.’ Maybewe have just failed to understand what it means to be a Christian. According to the Bible, a Christian is someone who has surrendered their entire life to Jesus Christ and has received God’s Spirit. Then, when they are baptized with the Holy Spirit, they receive power to fulfill Christ’s ministry on earth. At least that’s the Biblical definition of a Christian..
So, why are we not seeing more of God’s power today? Is it possible that we have failed to grasp and fully experience what it means to be a Christian?Have wecreated a gospel that is more acceptable to the world, than it is to God? I don’t hear a lot about Christians in America being ridiculed or made fun of for following Christ. Yet, for almost 2,000 years in other parts of the world, Christians are ridiculed, persecuted, tortured, and imprisoned for their faith.
Recently, the Chinese government stated that there are over 100 million Christians in China – mainly in the underground Church. That is a surprising statement considering that the Chinese government has diligently tried to stamp out Christianity in their country. And by the way, it is still illegal to be a Christian in China – and yet, it’s the fastest growing religion there. How is that possible? How is it possible that Christianity is growing exponentially in China while declining in other parts of the free world? One possibility is that the believers in China are all in! They understand that to become a Christian they must surrender their entire life to Christ. They know there is a cost in following Christ…yet they do it anyway!
So, here’s a question: Why is it so costly to be a Christian in China – yet not so in America? Have we watered down the gospel to make it as easy as possible, a “No Cost Christianity?” Have we taken away the cost in following Christ? Jesus did tell His disciples, “If you truly want to follow me, you should at once completely reject and disown your own life. And you must be willing to share my cross and experience it as your own, as you continually surrender to my ways.” Matthew 16:24 (TPT)
I don’t know about you but have a different ‘gospel’ in America than the one in China and other parts of the persecuted world bothers me. Why would it cost a person everything to become a believer in China and nothing in America? They use the same Bible we do, except their translation is in Chinese. Maybe it’s not the Bible – maybe it’s what they preach that makes the difference…
Today, there are churches in America that avoid words like conviction, repentance, holiness, and the fear of God. Many leaders feel those words are too offensive and would cause people to leave the church. Instead, they are convinced their job is to create a positive experience so people will keep coming back. After all, isn’t the main goal on Sunday morning is to make everyone feel good about themselves?
I can’t help but wonder what Jesus might say to us today? Is it possible He would repeat the warning He spoke to the religious people in His day? “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell you yourselves are!” (Matthew 23:15 NLT) I can only imagine how difficult it must be for the Holy Spirit to convict the hearer – when our message is based on a “feel good gospel.”
You can probably tell I’m very concerned about the church in America. If persecution comes, or should I say when it comes, will we withstand the test? Jesus warned us that in the last days many will fall away. (Matthew 24:10 ESV) If our faith is not built on the full teaching of God’s Word, I’m not sure we will stand in difficult times. Maybe that is the difference between the believers in China and many in America. They seem to understand that the road that lead to eternal life is narrow, and few are those who find the way. Matthew 7:14
There doesn’t seem to be any way to avoid the cost of Christianity in China – and yet, it’s almost impossible to determine if there is a cost in America. Let’s pray for God’s mercy to awaken the church in America. That Christians in our country would begin to count the cost and truly follow Jesus Christ. Can you imagine what would happen in America if believers would be all in?
The Bible tells us, “The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9a) God is still searching for those He can anoint with the Holy Spirit and power. The question is: Are we willing to become the anointed ones in this our generation?
Written by Paul Moore