Summary: What’s in a name? What is a Christian? What is a Christian and what makes a Christian a Christian?
What’s in a name? “christian” or Christian
Acts 11:21-26 NIV
21 The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.
22 News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.
25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.
This morning I want us to consider What’s in a name?
What is a Christian?
What is a Christian and what makes a Christian a Christian?
Christian. Christian is a term that has been cheapened and confused by common usage.
The word Christian is now an expression that covers a wide range of religious ideas, error as well as truth, paganism as well as the revelation of God’s divine truth.
The meaning of the term Christian has been so stretched that it covers everything from rationalistic modernism on one hand to frothy sentimentalism on the other.
Everything from worldliness to self-righteousness.
The term Christian can be used to describe that which is coldly ritualistic or that which is nothing more than emotionalism.
Is Christianity failing to make a distinctive impact due to a failure to understand what it realy means to be a Christian?
Some apply the term Christian to those who have high moral standards and believe in the existence of a God. Others may claim the title simply because they go to church at Christmas or Easter.
Others claim the privilege of wearing this title because they have had a conversion experience. Ideally, that is the category we should be in this morning. But, the test comes in what others think of our witness.
When people see our lives, are they able to call us Christian?
Do others see the evidences of the presence of Christ in your life?
If so, only then should we apply or claim this title for ourselves.
Let’s look at a little history. The early church did not come up with this term Christian.
They didn’t call a meeting and say, we need to market ourselves, we need to get some better branding, we need a name that can be on everyone lips, they did’nt go out on the street with a clipboard and survey the first 100 adults to find the top 3 possible names.
The disciples did’nt say “what should we call ourselves?”
and have someone answer, “How about Christians”.
It was unbelievers that came up with the term Christian.
In 116 AD, there was a Roman historian who wrote about the persecution under the leadership of Nero, of the common people called Christians.
2000 years ago it was not a good thing if someone called you a Christian.
The term Christian is only found in the Bible 3 times. The term “believer” is used 80 times. The word “saint” is found 60 times.
The word “disciple” is found 30 times. But the word Christian is only found 3 times. However the three times that this word is found can tell us a lot about a real Christian is. So we are going to look at the 3 times we find the term Christian and find out if we should apply or claim this title for ourselves.
And we will do so under 4 simple headings:
1. You are a Christian if you have been saved by Christ
Acts 11:26 The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch.
This is the first time the term Christian is mentioned in the Bible.
The interesting thing is where Christians were first given the name Christians, in Antioch. Antioch was an important city in the Roman Empire, about 300 miles north of Jerusalem.
Antioch became the headquarters for Paul’s missionary journeys.
When Paul would get tired or need refreshed, he mainly went to Antioch.
It was a very religious city but in a very pagan way.
In Antioch 2000 years ago you would not find many churches but what you would find is a bunch of statues and carvings of Caesar. The god that was primarily worshiped was Caesar. As a matter of fact, Caesar built a Temple to honor all of the “little g” gods of Rome. But as you went into the Temple, no matter which temple it was, the greatest most elaborate statue was one of Caesar.