Day 7 – What Is A Christian?
This might sound like an odd question for a devotional book based on evangelism, but before we go any further, I want to be clear, this is NOT answering the questions, “Am I saved?” or “Will I go to heaven?” This is simply looking at the biblical definition of the word “Christian” and how it pertains to evangelism. To the world’s culture and even in modern-day church culture, the definition of what it means to be a Christian has been blurred, skewed, and largely ignored. It’s crucial that we can accurately answer this question, especially when evangelizing. Our answer must not be a subjective, personally determined answer, but one founded and grounded by the Bible (God’s definition).
We have often polled large groups of believers with two questions. First, “Who here would consider yourselves to be a Christian?” Most of the time, everyone will raise their hands. The second question is then, “Who here knows the biblical definition of the word ‘Christian’?” Most could come up with their own definition, but nearly no one knew how this word was defined biblically.
If we can’t answer this question, then how can we truly claim it as our lifestyle? Many can come up with their own idea of Christianity or one that has been given to them by others, but I ask you, have you come to a biblical understanding of what it means to be a “Christian”?
To help us correctly define this word, we can use what is called “The Law Of First Mention.” This is the idea that the closer we get to the first time a word is used in scripture, the more accurate contextual evidence we’ll have to validate its true meaning. A word at its genesis is yet to be tainted by cultural shifts throughout time. This is crucial, especially when dealing with words of such powerful implications and regular use like that of the word “Christian”. In order to use the Law Of First Mention and observe the first time the word “Christian” was ever used, we must go back to Acts 11:26 where it says: “The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” This came about as a result of their conduct, passion, and proclamation of Christ across
the known world. Before this, there was no word being used in reference to being a Christian other than believers, followers, disciples, or those who followed The Way.
Before we look at the Bible’s definition, let’s take a look at what our modern world has done with this word, in contrast, to help us understand where we personally fall in terms of alignment of our Christian walk. The Oxford Language Dictionary (2023) defines the word Christian as “relating to or professing Christianity or its teaching.” Meaning, all we have to do, according to the world today, is relate to Christianity. Seems like a much less potent description than when we compare it to the Bible itself in Acts 11:26 where it’s first mentioned. The Greek word Christianós (khris-tee-an-os’); from Strong’s G5547 is defined as: “a Christian, a follower of Christ”, meaning a person who lives following the example of Jesus.
At first glance, the word “follower” does not sound impressive, until you know who it is we claim to follow. Jesus was the incarnate Word of God, the light of the world, he lived a sinless life, was the perfect expression of God’s heart manifested on earth, even denying His own desires to fulfill the will of the Father. Even so, he was denied, stripped naked, spat on, mocked and nailed to a cross. It is this Jesus we claim to follow.
Challenge: We challenge you to invite the Lord to examine your life and consider if you are living in a manner that clearly identifies you as a follower of Jesus to the world around you. In Acts 11, the Christians didn’t give themselves the title of “Christian”; instead, the crowds themselves recognized them as followers of Christ. Why did this happen? It was because the way they lived reflected the life that Jesus led, and as a result, the people could see the presence of Jesus in their daily lives.
Scriptures: Matthew 16:24, Matthew 26:39, Mark 14:36, Luke 9:23, Luke 22:42, John 8:31, John 13:34-35, Acts 11:26, 1 John 2:6.
Source: Immerse Ministries, Making Him Known – 30 Day Evangelism Devotional. 2023.
Preorder for Making Him Known is available now – Release Date: November 1st, 2023