WHAT DOES THE NAME CHRISTIAN MEANS IN THE BIBLE
WHO IS A CHRISTIAN? THE PERCEPTION
For others, it means you were born into a Christian nation or born into a Christian family; For some, it means believing in Jesus or the faith based on the teachings of Jesus. Yet others use the word “Christian” to talk of Jesus Christ’s deep and personal relationship with an individual.
WHO IS A CHRISTIAN? THE SCRIPTURAL DESCRIPTION
Since the Bible is the source for the Christian faith, let’s see what it says about the word “Christian.” The term is used thrice in the New Testament, and each instance refers to the early church’s first “Christians. “…And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” (Acts 11:26). “Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” (Acts 26:28). “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.” (1 Peter 4:16).
They were called “Christians” because they were like Christ Jesus in their behavior, activity, and speech. The word Christian implies followers of Christ or belonging to Christ’s gathering.
The Bible says good works don’t render us acceptable unto God. However, a person can live to a high moral standard, give money to feed the poor, go to church, serve his neighbors, and not be a follower of Christ or a “Christian.” Titus 3:3-6 says, “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior;” These verses clearly share that salvation is God’s gift.
A true Christian is someone who has received the gift of salvation from God and has put his faith in Jesus Christ. That includes accepting Jesus’ death on the cross as payment for our sins and His resurrection as evidence of His power over death.
WHO IS A CHRISTIAN? THE BELIEVER’S ANSWER
Once you answer the question, “Who is a Christian,” you have to ask yourself, “What does this mean to me? Did I reject the gift of God or accepted it? What has changed in my life when I accepted the gift of salvation from God. “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” (1 John 2:4-6)
If you’re willing to trust Jesus and become a Christian, believe in Christ and commit to Him the rest of your life. You should know that sin separates you from God (Romans 6:23), and Jesus died as your replacement (Romans 5:8).
WHY “CHRISTIAN” WAS PROBABLY THE WRONG WORD
There are probably two main reasons the early followers of Jesus thought the word Christian was bad. The first is that, since a few centuries, there has been a very strong and mostly militant Messianic movement in Jewish circles, hoping or working towards an independent Israel ruled by a Jewish king (The Anointed One or The Messiah) (Mark 11:10, Acts1:6). In the Greek-speaking world, these Messianic enthusiasts would surely have been known as Christians, a large group of nationalists ranging from liberation theologians to guerrilla warriors and terrorists, all bent on reinstating the Jewish monarchy. Agrippa still believed he was a Jewish king and had little trouble with the Christian movement since he didn’t seek to depose him, which he did not. When Jesus answer to this Messianic movement by making it known that he was the Anointed One and King of Israel and that he had no intention of raising his arms against the Romans, the Christian movement rejected him, his followers rejected the name Christian, and the Jewish monarchy felt safe enough to let all this semantic silence slip. Observers who lacked insight into the difference assumed that the followers of Jesus were nationalist Christians, creating confusion that lasted until today.
Another reason why the followers of Jesus would have rejected the name Christian is a bit more subtle, but not less significant, and truly much more known to the people of today. Followers of Jesus, that is, do not follow Jesus in the way that other member of every school of thought follows a founder or a revered manifesto. The follower of Jesus is not one who studies, promotes or cheers the anointing, but one who takes part in the anointing (2 Corinthians 1:21). Christ’s Followers are not the King’s followers; they are kings with the King of Kings. They are not the Anointed Ones; they are the Anointed Ones.
WHO IS A FOLLOWER OF JESUS?
When you ask people what it means to be a Christian and what quality differentiates a Christian apart from all other people; you’ll get the same answers, which are almost always wrong:
A Christian is a very good person.
Many of the best and brightest human beings (including Socrates) have tried to define virtue and have been forced to admit failure.
When someone called Jesus good, he said that no one is good except God (Luke 18:18-19). A Christian is not a “good” person. In the business world, observers see a growing trend towards what is termed “ethical decision-making,” which also demonstrates a desire to be “good.”
A Christian is a lovely person
Most Christians are sure to be kind, but kindness is not limited to Christianity. It shouldn’t be too difficult to find someone who professes Christianity but considered not kind to peers and a nice person who isn’t a professed Christian.
A Christian is pursuing the truth
This is the work of science. Science has been a sub-discipline of theology for centuries, and hopefully one day it will be again, but today the truth is being pursued by science, and (unfortunately) most scientists are not Christians. Few will deny that Richard5.007 is pursuing the truth, but less will be dubbed a Christian.
A Christian studies and follows the teachings of Jesus
Theologians are not necessarily Christians, and not all Christians are theologians. Jesus said that the secrets of God are withheld from the wise and learned, but are revealed to the children (Matthew 11:25).
The Christian does the will of the Lord through his heart.
The prophet Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things” (Jeremiah 17:9). There is not a single person in or after the Bible, who has followed the Lord’s will all the time (Romans 3:10-12).
A Christian calls on the name of Jesus and does wonders in his name.
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:21-23).
A Christian believes all the right stuff
The devil believes all the right things to do. The devil isn’t a Christian, is he?
The Christian is in the Holy Spirit
That is true, but it is very difficult to determine which behavior is derived from the Holy Spirit and which is not. In his brave and much-needed (though not unchallenged) book Counterfeit Revival (1997), Hank Hanegraaff showed that much of the behavior associated with the Holy Spirit could be seen in pagan and natural societies. Paul lists a few “fruits of the Spirit,” but none of them can be found only in Christian circles (Galatians 5:22-23). It is by no means certain that the Holy Spirit limits his influence to professing Christians (Joel 2:28, Acts 2:17).
A Christian has all kinds of feelings about Jesus.
We should be very careful to direct our feelings towards Jesus because the chances are excellent that we’re just doing the whole thing, and that we’re just building an idol that we call Jesus. The delightful meme on the internet around Chuck Norris illustrates the tendency of fans to attribute notable characteristics to their hero, which stem only from their enthusiasm and not from genuine concern. Or, in other words, the four-hundred-fifty sincerely devoted priests whom Elijah had dealt with in the Kishon Bridge (1 Kings 18:40), had all kinds of feelings about Baal and true love and songs of praise and worship, and some kind of deft theology. Note that the name Baal means Lord; the service of Baal probably sounded quite similar to the gathering of modern evangelicals.
CHRISTIANS AND GENTILES
We human beings are so hungry for categorization we’re sticking to brands which don’t mean anything. Why are we eager to be called be Christian? Is it so that we can call the others “heathens” and feel better about ourselves? “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self.” (1 Corinthians 4:3) Or do we truly expect the gates of heaven to open or close because of some vain label that we might be sporting? Or is there a mailing list we’re on? What a disastrous nonsense! It’s time we grew up and got the Gospel right.
The disciples of Jesus can walk on water, can heal the sick, and also raise the dead. That is right, and those are the things they’re doing at the outreach. Or as the Lord himself said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” (John 14:12). “Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.” (MATTHEW 11:2-5). However, if you are part of a church that does not do any of these things, then you are not part of a church.