Summary: We find in the New Testament Scriptures that those who obey the Gospel are designated by various names or titles. Each one gives us a picture of who and what we are.
We find in the New Testament Scriptures that those who obey the Gospel are designated by various names or titles. Each one gives us a picture of who and what we are. Let’s look at four of these names:
This first name was actually invented by unbelievers. In Acts 11:26, we learn that it was in city of Antioch that “the disciples were first called Christians.” It was meant to be a derogatory term and its use by non-Christians became wide-spread. If you study history, members of the Church didn’t adopt it as a badge of honor until well into the second century.
No other name unites us closer in identification to Christ Jesus. To wear the name Christian means that we are proud of our relationship with Christ Jesus. It sets us apart from those who recognize others as their Lord and Master.
To wear the name Christian is to say that we agree with what Christ said in John 14:6, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.” To wear the name Christian means that we agree with the assertion, found in Acts 4:12, that when it comes to Christ Jesus "there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved."
Are we proud to wear the Name above all other names? Are we proud to identify ourselves as being a Christian? We are living in times when the Name is becoming unpopular and once again a term of scorn. More and more, to identify oneself as a Christian is met with a sneer or brings ridicule. Let us remember the words of Peter, found in 1 Peter 4:16, “Yet if any one suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.”
The name that the early members of the Church wore most often was disciple. It is a term of humility that means we recognize ourselves as being learners in need of a Teacher.
We have much to learn. We have a need to know more about our God. We have a need to know more about His plan. We need to know more about the Church and the doctrines we are to believe and observe. And, we need to know how to develop the Christian graces or fruit of the Spirit in our life - “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, [and] self-control.” Peter talks about our need to acquire both book knowledge and life knowledge in 2 Peter 3:18, commanding us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
How much time do you spend in the Word of God as a dedicated disciple of Jesus Christ? How much diligence do we show in studying the Example of Jesus Christ? How much effort to we put into applying to our lives the lessons we have learned? How often do we truly and sincerely ask ourselves in our everyday lives - ‘What would Jesus do?’
Only living as He lived do we show that we are His disciples. Only living as He lived do we bear the fruit that glorifies the Father. Jesus said, in John 15:8, “By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.”
One of the greatest blessings of the Gospel is that when we submit to it, we become the children of God. When we place our faith in Christ and obey the Gospel, we are born again into the family of God. 1 John 3:1, “See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God.”
I don’t think I fully appreciated this until I became a father to my own children. I love my children dearly and they mean the world to me. Now I think I have better understanding of the kind of love that God the Father has toward me.
I know that my heavenly Father will not withhold any good thing that I need. Matthew 7:9-11, "Or what man is there among you, when his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he shall ask for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!”
As their father, I know that my children look up to me and will imitate my example. Being human, I may not always be a worthy role model. However, we have the best of examples in our heavenly Father. We ought, says Ephesians 5:1, “therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.”