Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Midweek Meditation: "Marks of a Christian" - Basil of Caesarea

Basil of Caesarea (329-379 AD) is a significant figure in the fourth century. Revered by both the Eastern and the Western Church, he had played a huge role in defending the doctrine of the Trinity, Christ, and the creeds that have defined Christianity through the ages. For more on Basil, you can read my review of a recent book on him here. Below is a short and pertinent description of the basic marks of what it means to be a Christian.


"What is the distinguishing mark of a Christian? Faith working by love. What is the mark of faith? Unhesitating conviction of the truth of the inspired words, unshaken by any argument either based on the plea of physical necessity or masquerading in the guise of piety.

What is the mark of a believer? To hold fast by such conviction in the strength of what Scripture says and to dare neither to set it at naught nor to add to it. For if what is not of faith is sin, as the apostle says, and faith comes from hearing and hearing through the word of God, then everything that is outside inspired Scripture, being not of faith, is sin.

What is the mark of love towards God? Keeping His commandments with a view to His glory. What is the mark of love towards one's neighbor? Not to seek one's own good, but the good of the loved one for the benefit of his soul and body.

What is the mark of a Christian? To be born anew in baptism of water and Spirit. What is the mark of him that is born of water? As Christ died to sin once, that he should thus be dead and unmoved by any sin, as it is written: 'All we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death. We were buried therefore with Him through baptism into death; knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away, that we should no longer be in bondage to sin.'

What is the mark of him that is born of the Spirit? That he should be, according to the measure given him, that very thing of which he was born, as it is written: 'That which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit.'

What is the mark of him that is born again? To put off the old man with his doings and lusts, and to put on the new man, which is being renewed unto knowledge after the image of Him that created him; as it is written: 'As many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ.'

What is the mark of a Christian? To be cleansed from all pollution of flesh and spirit, in the blood of Christ, to perfect holiness in the fear of God and love of Christ, and not to have spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but to be holy and without blemish, and so to eat the body of Christ and drink His blood. 'For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment unto himself.'

What is the mark of those who eat the bread and drink the cup of the Lord? To keep in perpetual memory Him who died for us and rose again.

What is the mark of those that keep such a memory? To live unto themselves no longer, but unto Him Who died for them and rose again.

What is the mark of a Christian? That his righteousness should abound in everything, more than that of the Scribes and Pharisees, according to the measure of the teaching of the Lord in the gospel.

What is the mark of a Christian? To love one another, even as Christ also loved us.

What is the mark of a Christian? To see the Lord always before him.

What is the mark of a Christian? To watch each night and day and in the perfection of pleasing God to be ready, knowing that the Lord cometh at an hour he thinketh not."

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