At no point does the issue in the modern religious world appear in more characteristic fashion than just here. Many persons hold up their hands in amazement at our assertion that Jesus was not a Christian, while we in turn regard it as the very height of blasphemy to say that He was a Christian. “Christianity,” to us, is a way of getting rid of sin; and therefore to say that Jesus was a Christian would be to deny His holiness.
“But,” it is said, “do you mean to tell us that if a man lives a life like the life of Jesus but rejects the doctrine of the redeeming work of Christ in His death and resurrection, he is not a Christian?” The question, in one form or another, is often asked; but the answer is very simple. Of course if a man really lives a life like the life of Jesus, all is well; such a man is indeed not a Christian, but he is something better than a Christian- he is a being who has never lost his high estate of sonship with God. But our trouble is that our lives, to say nothing of the lives of these who so confidently appeal to their own similarity to Jesus, do not seem to be like the life of Jesus. Unlike Jesus, we are sinners, and hence, unlike Him, we become Christians; we are sinners, and hence we accept with thankfulness the re-deeming love of the Lord Jesus Christ, who had pity on us and made us right with God, through no merit of our own, by His atoning death.
That certainly does not mean that the example of Jesus is not important to the Christian; on the contrary, it is the daily guide of His life, without which he would be like a ship without a rudder on an uncharted sea. But the example of Jesus is useful to the Christian not prior to redemption, but subsequent to it.