Jesus said . . . Go therefore and disciple all nations, baptizing them into the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to treasure all that I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:18-19)
A disciple is a baptized individual who treasures what Jesus commanded the Apostles to teach.
The primary mark of a healthy Christian, then, is their love and concern for the teachings of Jesus as handed over to us by the Apostles. It is absolutely true that treasuring His teaching logically leads to a desire to obey the commands of our Lord. However, such obedience is the fruit of a healthy tree, not the means by which the tree is made healthy.
The Healthy Christian Youth (and Adult) lives, moves and has their being in the Jesus who forgives their sins.
Therefore, the healthy Christian, young or old, is one who recognizes his sinful condition and with repentant faith, receives from Jesus the forgiveness He won on the cross outside of Jerusalem nearly 2000 years ago. The means through which God delivers His Holy Spirit to work faith and trust in that forgiveness are called, “the means of grace.” They are also known as “the Word and Sacraments.”
The Healthy Christian Youth (and Adult) relies on the things that Jesus gives to strengthen and keep us believing in Him.
The healthy Christian regularly remembers her baptism, where she was brought into the family of God by the washing of regeneration and rebirth from above. The healthy Christian recognizes his need for forgiveness and finds himself seeking that forgiveness through the words of absolution. Healthy Christians are fed and nourished by the living bread that comes down from heaven as they eat His body and Drink His blood as He bids us to do in His own testament.
The Christian Youth (or Adult) is unhealthy where these things are lacking.
In On the Councils and the Church in 1539, Martin Luther identified “seven marks of the Church,” to describe what to look for if you desire to find a gathering of the One, Holy, Christian, and Apostolic Church. Having been drawn from the teachings of the Apostles in the Holy Scripture, these serve as a guide for finding the Church in this world and can be used as a means to identify Healthy Christian Youth (and Adults).
Seven Marks of the Healthy Christian Youth (or Adult).
- The Healthy Christian Youth (or Adult) is one who has been Baptized as Christ instituted. Throughout the life of the Healthy Christian, Christ’s work in Baptism is relied upon as the means through which the regeneration of the sinner is worked.
- The Healthy Christian Youth (or Adult) is one who uses the Word of God and relies upon is as an effective means by which God beats back the devil, the world, and the Christian’s own sinful flesh.
- The Healthy Christian Youth (or Adult) gathers with Christ’s flock around the Lord’s Supper to receive the true body and blood of Christ for the forgiveness of sins.
- The Healthy Christian Youth (or Adult) hears the voice of God pronounce his sins forgiven through the voice of one who has been entrusted by the Church to administer the Office of the Keys publicly as well as privately.
- The Healthy Christian Youth (or Adult) hears Christ through the lips of a Pastor/Minister who has been called by Jesus and sent through the Church to preach the Word and administer the Sacrament in accordance with the qualifications in Paul’s epistles.
- The Healthy Christian Youth (or Adult) faithfully attends the public assembly of the congregation where the Word is rightly preached and the Sacrament is rightly administered and those gathered busy themselves during that time with prayer, praise, and giving of thanks to God.
- The Healthy Christian Youth (or Adult) bears Christ’s Cross by suffering and enduring scorn because they confess the name of Christ as God and Savior from sin.
The Healthy Christian Youth (and Adult) do many other things as they live in this world.
Because the Holy Spirit is active in their lives through these things, Healthy Christians love and serve their neighbor wherever God has seen fit to place them. Though it is imperfect in this life, the Healthy Christian shows forth the fruit of the Spirit, namely, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. However, while these things are present in the life of a healthy Christian Youth (or Adult), these things are not, themselves, the distinctive marks of the Healthy Christian.
Since the Church is holy believers and sheep who hear the voice of their Shepherd, as the Scriptures teach, we know that Christians are those believers and sheep who hear the voice of their Shepherd who delivers His mercy and grace through His Word and the Sacraments that He instituted. For it is through these, as through means, that God delivers His Holy Spirit to work faith and make Healthy Christian Youth (and Adults) where and when it pleases Him of those who hear the Gospel.