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What is a Christian?


Today we hear that the problems in Kosovo as well as the current war on terrorism are because of a conflict between Christians and Muslims. In Littleton, Colorado. a girl is shot because she is a Christian. Sometimes we hear of real Christians, or born-again Christians. You have asked a question that bothers many since the term means different things to different people.

There are three references to Christians in the New Testament, These are:

[1] Acts 11:26, “And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”

[2] Acts 26:28, “Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” [3] 1 Peter 4:16, “Yet if [any man suffer] as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.”

The normal Bible dictionary definition of a Christian is one who follows Christ, A secular dictionary may have as a definition one who follows the teachings of Christ, but it will also indicate that a Christian is a moral person or a person having the qualities of Jesus. In other words, most people consider a Christian to be a person who lives a certain lifestyle because of his or her belief in the teachings of the Lord Jesus.

Now let’s see how the Bible defines a Christian:

In Acts 11:26, the term was used by non-Christians to identify the believers In Christ, Notice in verse 21 that a great number believed and turned to the Lord. The Christians had been called Nazarenes by the Jews in Acts 24:5. The Jews had originally considered believers in Christ to be a sect of the Hebrew religion.

In Acts 26:28, King Agrippa uses the term after Paul tells him how he came to trust in the Lord Jesus on the Damascus road. Thus, Paul has explained how he became a Christian and now Paul has said in verse 18 that his commission is “to open their eyes [understanding], in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified [set apart as special] by faith [trusting] in Me [the Lord Jesus]. (The brackets are mine and the quote is from the New King James Version.) There is no doubt that King Agrippa understood that Paul was trying to persuade him to trust in Christ so that he too could be enlightened, freed from the power of Satan, forgiven and sanctified by faith in the Lord Jesus,

Peter definitely uses the term as identifying Christians with the name of Christ as we compare verses 14 and 16 in 1 Peter 4. The name of Christ has to do with His character, reputation and authority.

in summary, being a Christian is not a lifestyle as much as it is a relationship formed by trust. A Christian has received Christ as his or her personal Savior by trusting Him [John 1:12]. A Christian is born-again since one can’t be a Christian without the new birth [John 3:7]. A real Christian is one who really trusts in the person of Christ and who has had that affect his or her lifestyle in contrast to one who casually says that he or she believes in the Lord Jesus with no conviction about what that means. No ceremony makes a Christian, though Christians believe in ceremonies such as baptism and the Lord’s supper. One can’t join a group to become a Christian, though Christians do join together for the purpose of worship, teaching, prayer and fellowship. A Christian is a follower of Christ because he or she has utmost confidence [faith] in Christ and thus knows that his or her sins are forgiven and that he or she has eternal life [1 John 5:13].

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