When someone is called a Christian today, it may be difficult to know what the name means:
- In many parts of the world a person may be considered a Christian only because he is NOT a Muslim, or a Jew, or Hindu, or a member of some other religion group;
- Some people believe they are Christians because they live in a “Christian” country, such as the United States of America;
- Many people think they are Christians because they live good lives, or treat other people kindly;
- There are also many people who think they are Christians because they attend church regularly, or because they are members of some particular religious group.
But when we use the word Christian, we have a different meaning. In Acts 11:20-26 [NIV] we read:
Some believers from Cyprus and Cyrene went to Antioch.…They told them the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord’s power was with them. Large numbers of people believed and turned to the Lord. The church in Jerusalem heard about this. So they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad. He told them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.… At Antioch the believers were called Christians for the first time.
These verses tell us two very important things about the believers who were “called Christians.”
First, these people “believed and turned to the Lord.” Many people think they will go to heaven because they treat others well, or because they do good things, or because they go to church. But the Bible says only those who “believe on Jesus” [Acts 16:31] will go to heaven. This means that you know the wrong things you do (sins) have separated you from God, and you need the blood of Jesus [John 3:16] to bring you back together with God.
Second, these people “remained true to the Lord with all their hearts.” This means that they learned through reading their Bibles, praying, and listening to teachers how Jesus wanted them to live. They chose to live in God’s way in spite of the difficulties they faced.
So, what is a Christian? A Christian is one who believes that Jesus Christ is the only way to be accepted by God; a Christian is one who follows the teachings of God which have been revealed in the Bible. If you would like to know more about being a Christian in this way, please follow these links: