Summary: Answer to the question what is a Christian?
What is a Christian?
In acts 11:26 we read at the end of the verse that “the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” Keep in mind that Jesus didn’t label his followers as Christians, in fact the time period in Acts 11:26 was about 43A.D. that’s approximately 10 years after the crucifixion of Christ.
The word Christian is misunderstood and misused in a lot of ways these days. It seems few people really know what a Christian is. People tend to think that they can call themselves Christians just because they belong to a church. Maybe they don’t even go to church but they think because they know a little about Jesus and who he is they can claim Christianity, because after all they do believe in him. What they don’t know is that in James 2:19-20 it says “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that-and shudder. You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless.” You can’t play Christian by claiming a belief in Christianity!
Then there are those who will even attack real Christians because they don’t fit the mold of what people think Christians should be. Which more cases than not people think a Christian should be perfect. That too is based on their idea of perfection, not necessarily from a biblical view on what perfection is. Take the pastor in Colorado who was recently in the news. He had an awesome ministry but he let the devil get a hold of him. The world sees this and thinks, this guy was a preacher, he is supposed to be perfect, how could he do such a thing. But we need to remember, Jesus was the only perfect man who has ever set foot on earth.
So today I want to look at the word Christian and see what it really means. So I have titled this message is “What is a Christian?” “The definition of a Christian is-a disciple or follower of Christ.” And no one wants to follow or be discipled by someone that they don’t believe in. So a Christian is a believer, a follower, and a disciple.
The first thing about a Christian is that they are a believer. What they believe in is God and his word. Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” For a Christian there is no debate as to if there is a God. There simply is to much evidence that God is real. Romans 1:20 NLT says “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.”
As Christians we believe that God created man to be like him. But man turned his back on God and in doing so death was brought into the world. But God did not make man to be destroyed in death. God loved us so much that he made a way through his son Jesus Christ for us to be brought back to God. Ours sins of turning our back on God needed justice for them to be forgiven. The justice that had to be done was a perfect sacrifice. Jesus was that perfect sacrifice. He died on the cross to pay for our sins so we could come to God again and live.
What we believe is that whoever believes in what Jesus has done and accepts him as Lord and Savior will be saved from the wrath of and eternal separation from God according to John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” These are the things that a Christian believes. We believe it because in our hearts we know it is true. God has caused us to know it by the conviction that we feel in our hearts. This conviction is caused by the Holy Spirit. This belief is what causes us to turn to Jesus and make him Lord of our lives.
Secondly a Christian not only believes, but follows. We follow Jesus as he commanded in Mark 8:34-35 “Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.” We are to lay our lives down. To follow Jesus is to have a personal relationship with him. It isn’t just a Sunday thing. Everywhere we go Jesus is there. We must take him with us. It’s like having American express credit card, we shouldn’t leave home without him. Going to church because Jesus is there isn’t following Jesus. Jesus is at church but you should have him at your house, in your car, at work, and any other place you are. We also need to spend time with him and be discipled of him. True Christians follow Jesus!