Monday, June 2, 2014

Who Are Christians?

The word “Christian” seems to be getting broader and broader in its intended meaning. Webster’s New World Dictionary defines the word as “a masculine name ... A Christian person professing belief in Jesus as the Christ.” Bunyan in his Pilgrim’s Progress depicts a refugee fleeing the City of Destruction and calls his name Christian. Webster further defines Christians as those who profess the religion based on Jesus’ teachings.

The word “Christian” appears only three times in the Bible. In Acts 11:26 we are told that Barnabas went to Tarsus looking for Saul. He found him and brought him from Tarsus to Antioch. There Saul and Barnabas worked with the local church for a year. They were blessed of God and many Jews and Gentiles became believers in Christ and became His disciples and were called Christians for the first time.

In Acts 26:28 King Agrippa said to Paul the apostle that Paul might in a short time persuade him to become a Christian. Whether he became a believer later or not, we do not know, however.

Peter reminds his readers, “If you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name” (1 Peter 4:16).

 It is very clear that in all three of these texts the term Christian refers to those who follow Christ. They belong to Him. They are His people. The Bible also makes clear that one becomes a Christian, a “follower of Christ,” when he/she accepts Jesus as the One who died in his, the sinner’s, place. One does not become a Christian by simply doing good or being good. Christians are children of God because they have been born again.