What is a Christian?

A Christian Is . . .

“Christian” is a word that appears only three times in the entire Bible. The three references to it are:

Acts 11:26: “And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. 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 26:28: “Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.”

1 Pet. 4:16: “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.”

Contrary to a popular concept it does not mean “Christ-like.” It is a name that denotes relationship. One may be a Kentuckian or a Rotarian based on the relationship suggested by those terms. The word literally means “of Christ.”

It is never used as an adjective in scripture although in modern communication we hear of “a Christian nation,” “Christian Radio” and similar designations.

Christian always refers to saved persons.

1. The fist time Christian appears in the Bible, the “disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” The verb “were called” is a special technical Greek verb meaning a divine oracle or utterance. God called the disciples of Christ “Christians” by revealing that as a new name for the saved (Isa. 62:2).

2. After our Lord was raised from the dead he commissioned his chosen apostles to “go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20).

3. Sinners become disciples by baptism into the name of the sacred Godhead, based on their faith in Jesus as the Son of God (John 8:24) and repentance (Acts 2:38).

Christians are devoted to Christ.

They are satisfied only with what they find taught in God’s infallible word. They commit themselves to uphold his honor and glory by practicing and teaching only what he authorizes through his word.

Christians refuse to be denominated or sectarianized by human names. The one name they will accept is that which associates them with Jesus Christ. “Christian” is a word that cannot be said without forming the word Christ.

Christians reject all human denominational creeds and confessions of faith. The one and only rule of faith and practice they accept is the New Testament. They are guided by a divine mandate, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Pet 4:11).

Christians will only be aligned and associated with the church Jesus Christ promised to build (Matt. 16:18). They energetically promote it so that ultimately it will supercede any man-made movement in religion. Through this promotion they pray with Jesus that all who believe in Christ through apostolic teaching will be one as the Father and Son are one (John 17:20-22).

They subscribe to a simple plan for religious unity

In Matters of Faith, unwavering conformity to what is written. In Matters of Opinion, liberty of conscience. In all things, pure love and charity for all.

In short, Christians have:

No Book but the Bible;

No Creed but Christ;

No Name but Christian;

No Plea but the Gospel;

No Aim but to Save the Lost.

When Christians Worship

Since Christians are the children of God, they adore and reverence their spiritual father in worship. We get the English word “worship” from an old Anglo/Saxon word meaning “worthship.”

As a kingdom of priests unto God, Christians “as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:5, 9).

There are “true worshipers” and those who worship in vain (John 4:23; Matt. 15:9). God only accepts worship that is “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). Please notice the little word “must” in this verse.

Christians do not worship themselves or seek to entertain themselves in dramatic productions designed to be impressive to the worshipers. It is to God and God alone that worship is directed. Jesus said to Satan, “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Matt. 4:10).

Since it is the Lord who accepts worship, Christians only worship according to what is authorized in the New Testament. They offer no animal sacrifices as one reads of in the Old Testament. They realize that it is impossible for the “blood of bulls and goats to take away sin” (Heb. 10:4). They realize they live under the New Covenant, not the Old (2 Cor. 3:5-11, 13).

When Christians worship, they continue stedfastly in “the apostles doctrine, in fellowship, in breaking of bread and in prayers” (Acts 2:42).

Every Sunday Christians meet to “break bread” in memory of Jesus who died for them (Acts 20:7; Matt. 26:26-28). In their worship they honor God by teaching his holy word (1 Thess. 5:27; Col. 4:16). They give of their means (1 Cor. 16:1-4). They pray together and sing praises to God (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16).

Christians realize God forbids adding to or taking from anything he authorizes (2 John 1:9-11). Thus, when Christians worship, they abide within the authority of the one to whom they offer their worship and praise.