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.’
Saul, who was also called Paul, 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.
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!’
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