What is a Christian?

By David O. Lanius, Jr.

The name Christian is one of the most misused Words in our vocabulary. The term is used only three times in the Scriptures (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Pet. 4:16), and each time it has reference to individuals who are followers, disciples, or even trailers of Christ. It is always used as a noun, never as an adjective.

Many have assumed the name Christian rather than having it assigned to them by God. Let us notice that there are many such people today in this generation.

Not all good people are Christians. Just because we are good moral people it does not mean we have met the requirements for being a child of God (Christian). Nicodemus and Cornelius were both good men (John 3:1-5; Acts 10), but neither were born-again believers. Each had to hear and obey to become a child of God.

Not all religious people are Christians. There were heathens during the day of the apostle Paul who were called religious (Acts 17:22). Paul thought himself to be religious before -his own conversion, but he learned that his religion was in vain. There are two types of religion, pure and vain (Jas. 1:26-27), and most religions are vain and false.

Joining or attending a church of your choice does not make one a Christian just as sitting in a corn field will not make one a farmer. This is one of the greatest problems today, thinking one can be a Christian no matter which church they might attend. The Bible speaks of one church (Eph. 4:4; Matt. 16:18; Col. 1:18). There were only Christians in the beginning of the First Century. There were no such things as “hyphenated” Christians. The term Baptist, Catholic, Methodist, Mormon, etc. Christian simply did not exist.

At this point of our article we need to consider a question, “Just who are Christians?” First we would note that all who have obeyed the gospel from the heart (Rom. 6:16-18) are Christians. In obeying the gospel from the heart it means we have done as God has instructed us. Those who are really children of God are those who have heard the word of God (Rom. 10:17); believed the word (Mark 16:16); repented of their sins (Luke 13:3-5; cf. 2 Cor. 7:10); confessed their faith in Christ (Matt. 10:32-33; Rom. 10.:9-10; Acts 8:37; and have been baptized for the remission of their sins (Acts 2:38; Rom. 6:3-5; Gal. 3:26-27). At this point of time one becomes a Christian, a child of God, a member of the Lord’s church (Acts 2:47).

After becoming a child of God it is always very important that we continue in the paths of righteousness. Christ left us the perfect example to follow (1 Pet. 2:21-22), and if we follow this example we will be pleasing to God. There are those who are children of God who really cannot consider themselves Christians because they have fallen back into the world (cf. Gal.5:4). One cannot call himself a Christian if he refuses to follow his leader, and truly Christ is the leader, or head of the saved (Acts 2:47; Col. 1:18; Eph. 1:22-23). If you have been a Christian then why not repent of your sins, and pray to God that they might be forgiven, using Jesus as your Intercessor and Mediator (Acts 8:18-24; John 1:1-2). May we all stop now and ask, “Can I really consider myself a follower or disciple of Jesus”?

Let us be simply Christians doing the Lord’s will in the Lord’s church. Are you a Christian? If not obey today while there is time and opportunity. If you are a faithful Christian continue to help spread this message of Christ. The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.

Truth Magazine XX: 27, pp. 424-425
July 8, 1976