What does it really mean to be a ‘Christian?’

What does it really mean to be a ‘Christian?’

Prayer and bible

What does it really mean to be a Christian?

The term ‘Christian’ was first used in the province of Antioch, as is indicated in The Acts of the Apostles:

And when he (Barnabas) had found him (Paul), he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.
Acts 11:26 KJV

Antioch, (from the Greek name Antiocheia) was located in modern-day Turkey, being situated in the southern-central region of the country. Many Grecian-Jews (also referred to as Hellenistic-Jews or Hellenists) lived in this metropolis which became a colony under Roman rule. Antioch was also called Caesarea. The word ‘Christian’ was actually used in a derogatory fashion to demean and belittle the early believers living in Antioch. Christians were ridiculed for their pious faith amidst a people who openly and unashamedly practiced and promoted sexual perversion and idolatry and who generally despised the teachings of the Apostles and disciples. The word ‘Christian’ is a translation from the Greek word ‘Christianos‘ (pronounced khrē-stē-ä-no’s) which means ‘follower of Christ.’

The apostle Paul, who was a Hellenistic-Jew with a Pharasaic background before his conversion to Christianity, began his missionary work from Antioch.

Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.
And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.
Acts 13:1-4 KJV

Through the evangelistic efforts of men like Paul, Barnabas, Silas and Luke the gospel spread very quickly throughout parts of Europe and Asia during the times of the apostles. Since then, through the ages until our time in the 21st century, Christianity has spread globally, with a great many people around the world who are now professing to be Christians.
Christianity is one of the twelve major religions in the world, and they are: Baha’i, Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Shinto, Sikhism, Taoism, and Zoroastrianism.
According to recent statistics (as at the time of the writing of this blog) Christianity has the most adherents (or followers) worldwide with a figure of 2.2 billion people (31.50% of the global  population) followed by Islam with 1.6 billion adherents (22.32% of the global population) with the rest of the global population (46.18%) making up the rest of the world religions including aethiasm and agnosticism.

Christianity and Islam both have their roots in Judaism. Judaism is the Jewish faith which is based on the covenant made between Ya’weh and Abram (who was later renamed Abraham). There are similarities, and also differences, between Judaism
and Islam. The major difference is that Jews pray to Addonai whilst Muslims (people of the Islamic faith) pray to Allah. Another difference is the symbols representing each faith – the Jewish faith is often represented by the Star of David, whilst the Islamic faith is represented by the moon and the star. Jews follow the Torah and the writings of Ancient Jewish prophets, whilst Muslims follow the Quraan.

Christianity is comprised of various denominations which are: Catholicism, Protestantism (which is sub-divided in to: Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterianism, continental Reformed Churches, Anabaptism (Amish) and Modern Protestantism (Pentecostalism, Charismatics, Non-demoninational Evangelicalism, new Apostolic, Seventh-day Adventists and Jehovah’s Witnesses).

With just under one third of the global population professing to be ‘Christian,’ and with all the different denominations in existence, along with the great variances in biblical interpretation and practices, the question arises:
What does it really mean to be a Christian?’

A Christian is a follower of Christ …

To answer this question, it is imperative to know that a ‘Christian’ is a follower of Christ, who is Jesus. Peter testified of Jesus saying: “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:36 KJV)

In another place we see Saul preaching who Christ is: ‘And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.’ (Acts 9:20 KJV)

Thus, it follows that you are only a true Christian when you follow Jesus – the Son of God, who is the Christ.

A Christian loves Christ and obeys His commandments …

A follower of Jesus is one who obeys all the commandments of Jesus, which are laid out in the historical accounts of his mortal life in the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Before His betrayal by Judas, Jesus Christ said to His disciples: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15 KJV)

A true Christian proves his love for Christ Jesus by obeying His Commandments. Loving Christ means following him closely and adhering to His words. Loving Christ means acknowledging Him publicly. Jesus Christ stated unequivocally that those people who deny Him publicly, or are embarrassed to acknowledge Him to others will be denied by Him before God, the Father (Ya’weh, the eternal God who is blessed forever and ever):

Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32-33 KJV)

A Christian prays in the name of Jesus …

The Catholic faith practices a non-biblical prayer called ‘The hail Mary’ which is prayed to Mary, the mother of Jesus. This prayer is often quoted by Catholics for help in time of need or upon the instruction of a Catholic priest to obtain absolution (forgiveness) of sins (or wrong-doing). However, true Christians do not call on the name of the mother of
Jesus. Jesus, also on the night of His betrayal stated: “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:13-14 KJV)

Furthermore, forgiveness of sins cannot come to you unless you repent of your sins and are baptized in the name of Jesus, as was stated by Peter to the congregation at Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost:

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
(Acts 2:38 KJV)

Paul, the Apostle reminds us in his epistle to the church at Corinth, that all who call on the name of the Jesus Christ our Lord, are those who are sanctified (made holy) in Christ Jesus and are called to be saints. The true Christian calls on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and non-other. Every true Christian will always aim to live a life of holiness and sanctity for Jesus Christ by consciously keeping himself pure from worldly influence.

Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both their’s and our’s: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:2-3 KJV)

In his epistle to the church at Ephesus, The Apostle Paul writes:

But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.’ (Ephesians 5:3-5 KJV)

A Christian is a born-again believer …

Jesus Christ, in His conversation with Nicodemus, a teacher of Jewish Law (the Torah), stated:

Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3 KJV)

Peter clarified for us the means by which a man can be born-again (saved), when he said:

Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:10-12 KJV)

We see at the end of this text, that ‘we must be saved’ and that our salvation can only come through the name of Jesus Christ. The word ‘must’ indicates a non-negotiable condition from God for a man’s salvation. This indicates that being born-again is not a discretionary exercise, but rather a mandatory requirement if one wishes to enjoy
God’s gifts of the holy Spirit and also eternal life. These gifts are only given through the name of Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ is the doorway to all of God the Father’s great promises and aside from Jesus, no-one can enjoy those promises, even if an individual claims to be Christian.

Jesus Christ is the ONLY way! …

Shortly before His death on the cross, Jesus reminded His disciples that no man can reach or communicate with God, the Father except through Him. ONLY Jesus, AND NOT mother Mary, Allah, Buddha, Krishna or any other god, is the way to God the Father and to eternal life.

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6 KJV)

Not only is Jesus Christ the only route to God, He is also the individual in whom all true Christians are blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly (spiritual) realm. This means that God gives a true Christian both authority and power to operate in the spiritual dimension. Remember that man is a spirit, and he has a soul and a body. Since man is a spirit operating in the natural realm through the agency of a fleshly body, he has the ability to operate in the spiritual realm with the gifts and abilities given by God the Father, through and in Jesus Christ.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3 KJV)

The true Christian worships in spirit and in truth …

Jesus stated, without equivocation that the true followers of God must worship Him in spirit and in truth:

“But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24 KJV)

In his epistle to the Roman church Paul, the Apostle wrote:

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption,
whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. (Romans 8:14-17 KJV)

In this concluding point, it is clearly evident that true Christians:
1) are led by the spirit of God;
2) have received the spirit of adoption;
3) cry (or speak to, address) God as their Father;
4) have the witness of the (Holy) Spirit that they are God’s children;
5) are heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ;
6) suffer in this present life (through trials and tribulations); and
7) will be glorified with Christ Jesus.

If you are not sure of your Christianity, or if you want to become a Christian, say this prayer:

Heavenly Father, I confess that I am a sinner in need of repentance. I confess all my past sins and ask that You will forgive me and cleanse me. I confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord, that he is the son of God, and I believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead. Come into my heart Lord Jesus, wash me and cleanse me with your blood. I pray this in the name of Jesus, amen.’

Congratulations if you have said this prayer – you can now have certainty of your Christianity and you can now live the life of a true Christian by following the teachings of the bible.

If you want to know more about being a true Christian, and worshiping God in spirit and truth, please follow my blogs and check my website for new materials that will help you grow strong as a Christian.

Thank you for reading this article.

God bless.

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Glisson J. Heldzinger is an author, mentor and coach, public speaker and Christian minister who loves to bring out ‘The Inner Winner’ that is inside of people. Glisson enjoys creating educational material that will excite and inspire the individual to ‘Be all you can possibly be, and have all you can possibly have!’

You can follow Glisson on Facebook or read more about Glisson and his educational materials on his website.

Buy ‘You Are Valuable’ here

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The leader who encourages collaborative thinking

Collaborative Thinking

Many of us have encountered leaders who believe that their opinion is the only correct opinion that exists and that the opinion of anyone else is rubbish. These are the leaders who live by the maxim: ‘It is my way or the highway.’ I have known, and still know such leaders. A leader who is genuinely concerned about ensuring that his organization can both survive and thrive in the highly-competitive 21st century will always be open to the ideas and thoughts of others. The truth is that one idea coming from a team member could bring about the solution to a problem or cause the turnaround or acceleration that has been elusive. This is where Sustained Shared Thinking (SST) comes in.

For a leader to admit that he does not know everything, requires tremendous strength of character, and high self-esteem. Having high self-esteem is not about being independent of others. A leader with high self-esteem is prepared to admit the shortcomings in his knowledge and experience, but is also willing to build inter-dependent relationships whereby there can be a free-flow of the exchange of ideas. It is ideas that build organizations, businesses and products, and in the absence of shared-thinking there can be no ground-breaking ideas. Only when the leader has the skill and self-confidence to work with his team through collaborative thinking can the very best of the thoughts and experiences of those in a team, division or department be combined to coalesce into solutions that no one person could have thought up on their own. The power of collaborative thinking is its ability to release tremendous ideas that have previously not existed, but this power can be diminished or killed like a flame that is extinguished when the leader does not have the capacity to make it happen. Powerful leaders do the exact opposite – they fan the flame of collaborative thinking in order to bring about significant positive changes for the organization.

Here are 3 habits, taken from the life of Sam Walton who built Walmart into the global retail giant that it is today. You can implement these ideas in order to be a catalyst for collaborative thinking in your organization.

  1. Always build high esteem in your people. When people are encouraged to produce their best work, and given recognition for their efforts, they blossom. Furthermore, always remember that people are human, and that they have lives outside of their place of employment. Always express sincere interest in the lives of your people, and make an effort to know more about their lives – this will make each employee feel like less of a number or automaton and more like a person. Sam Walton said: “Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish,” but more importantly, he lived by this maxim. It is this sort of thinking that made him a successful leader and that made Walmart a resounding success. A great benefit of collaborative thinking is that people feel more valued when their thoughts and ideas are considered. It has been said that employees will do more for recognition than for reward. I believe that the reason for this that each individual is his/her ideas and that our ideas are not just a part of us, OUR IDEAS ARE US. Since we are our ideas we feel a tremendous amount of self-worth when our ideas are considered and even greater when our ideas are implemented. There is a tremendous amount of healthy pride and personal satisfaction that comes from having your contribution recognized and the knowledge that it made a noticeable difference – to be able to say with confidence: “I did that,” or “That was my idea.” This was what happened at Walmart. No idea was rejected for consideration, although not all ideas were eventually implemented, but morale was boosted a thousand-fold or more because middle-tier and upper-tier managers and other employees were given an ear.
  2. Consider the ideas of others. The leader does not have the franchise on ideas. The most profitable ideas at the majority of companies and corporations did not come from the leader. Walton once said: “Most of us don’t invent ideas. We take the best ideas from someone else.” When the leader is strong enough to be open to new ideas, then the organization will blossom and grow.
  3. Listen to those on the ground. A key characteristic of a phenomenal leader is his propensity to listen more and speak less. Speaking less is especially important when a decision has to be made in an area of business or a department in which others know more and have more experience than the leader. It is at this time that the leader must listen to the concerns and accept the suggestions of those in the affected division. After all, they are closer to the problem than the leader could ever be, and they will be able to create truly pragmatic solutions to the problem. Walton was a pro at listening to the people in his stores, and he often said: “The key to success is to get out into the store and listen to what the associates have to say.” This is a powerful statement because it infers that success does not come solely from the leader’s contributions but from the contributions of his people. When a leader can implement the habit of listening to his people, organizational success becomes less elusive. However, there is no use in just asking people to comment or to make suggestions, if none of the ideas and suggestions are ever implemented. It is important for the leader to be able to work with his people to receive ideas, and then sift through those ideas and implement the best option among those tabled.In my book titled ‘You Are Valuable’ I provide more useful insights and ideas on building high self-esteem within yourself and others and I also discuss the thinking habits of the most successful leaders. Click here to buy a copy of ‘You Are Valuable.’

Thank you for popping by and reading this blog. Please visit again and leave a comment.

Remember – YOU ARE VALUABLE!

May you have a blessed day.

Glisson

Glisson J. Heldzinger is an author, mentor and coach, public speaker and Christian minister who loves to bring out ‘The Inner Winner’ that is inside of people. Glisson enjoys creating educational material that will excite and inspire the individual to ‘Be all you can possibly be, and have all you can possibly have!’

You can follow Glisson on Facebook or read more about Glisson and his educational materials on his website.

You Are Valuable

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I have lectured, coached, taught and mentored diverse groups of people in the past, on many different subjects related to success, happiness and fulfilment. I have created training materials and courses to help students accelerate their academic performance and advised government employees on management-related issues. Click here to visit my website to find out about my latest books, courses and materials.

In September 2014 I started on a journey to capture in a book the concepts behind the most important pre-requisite for a successful and happy life.

In 2015 I was able to publish the book which is titled: ‘You Are Valuable.’ Click here to find out more.

The central idea of this book is based on the fact that people do not understand firstly, that their level of success in any arena of life is predicated by their self-esteem, and secondly, that an individual’s self-esteem is affected by internal and external forces. Internal forces are the thoughts and feelings that we have whilst external forces are circumstances, events and other people.

The noted psychiatrist, Dr. Nathaniel Branden once wrote: ‘The reputation you have with yourself – your self-esteem – is the single most important factor for a fulfilling life.’

There is overwhelming statistical data which proves that if an individual is highly intelligent, but simultaneously has low self-esteem, he will not achieve high levels of success. However, a less smarter individual who has high self-esteem will attain greater levels of success, even if he blunders along. Thus, your level of self-esteem dictates your level of success. This automatically brings into focus the fact that the individual who endeavours to be successful, must first start by building his self-esteem, because self-esteem is foundational for success.

You Are Valuable can help you build rock-solid self-esteem. Click here to find out more.

High levels of success come to those who have high self-esteem. Start by building your self-esteem before you start working on your dreams.

Thanks for popping in …

Remember … You Are Valuable!

Glisson