What is a Christian?

Acts 11:26


I believe most people think they know what a Christian is, but this very common word just may have a different Bible definition than we think.  The reason I say this is because one time I was preaching in my church and made a remark such as, "A person cannot do so and so and be a Christian."  A member of the church got very upset at me, declaring they were saved and knew it.  This person that had been saved at least 25 years, and didn't know the difference between a saved person and a Christian!  The reason he didn't know the difference was because he was using a modern definition of the word "Christian", not a Bible definition.


I.    The word "Christian" as it is used today refers to a person that is:  tender, altruistic, benevolent, bountiful, caring, charitable, compassionate, generous, giving, good, humane, a humanitarian, kind, lenient, and merciful.


II.   Define a saved person and a Christian.

A.  A saved person is one who is redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.  Their sins have been forgiven by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, and they are completely sinless (perfect) in their spiritual standing before God.  They have an eternal home in heaven.

B.   A Christian is a saved person who is living like Christ.  It is not a name he puts on himself, but a name others put on him.  It is a name given in derision, when people make fun of his trying to live close to the teachings of Jesus.  A good name for Christians today would be "fanatic", or "ultra religious", an "extremist", a "religious revolutionary", a "religious conservative", who is extremely happy in his worship and tries to convert others to his belief.


III. Compare a saved person and a Christian.

A.  Many people use the term "Christian" and the term "saved" as being the same, but they aren't.

B.   A saved person can commit many grievous sins, and still be saved.

1.      King David committed adultery with Bathsheba and murdered her husband.  He kept his salvation, but lost the joy of his salvation.  I don't suppose anybody would deny his salvation.

2.      King Saul kept his salvation, but lost his kingdom because of disobedience.  I believe Saul was saved because Samuel said, "...to morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me:", I Samuel 28:19.  And the next day, Saul and his sons were dead and in eternity.

3.      Righteous Lot, (II Peter 2:7,8) retained his salvation, but lost his life, his entire family and all his wealth. 

C.   A Christian is a saved sinner, who follows the teachings of the Bible, not necessarily in the letter of the Word, but in the Spirit of the Word.

1.   He reads his Bible daily.

2.   The scripture is continually on his mind and it shows in his daily life.

3.   He has all the characteristics of the modern definition, plus an unrestrained love for God and his fellow man.


IV. The characteristics of a Christian in the Bible.

A.  The word "Christian" is used only three times in the entire Bible.

1.      Acts 11:26, "And when he had found him, 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."

2.      Acts 26:28, "Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian."

3.   I Peter 4:16, "Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf."

B.   A Christian in action:

1.      Acts 11:26:

a.   They go to church.  It is impossible for a person to be Christian and fail to attend church services.  A Christian will be consistent in their church attendance, for these people went to church for over a year, not just Christmas and Easter!  A Christian will not only attend all the church services, they will also be on time, ready to worship.  They won't come into the church building, sit down, and expect people to come to them and welcome them to services.  They will get there early enough to welcome others to the services.  If some people treated their jobs like they treated Christ and His worship services, He would chastise them severely!  He may be chastising some people, and they don't realize it!

b.   They are willing to be taught.  Many people won't listen to what the Bible, or preachers or Bible teachers, have to say.  They figure they are wiser than ten men that can render a reason.

2.      Acts 26:28:

a.   A Christian tries to convert others to Christ.  They willingly tell the gospel story to anybody, even if it's not convenient.

b.   Paul was in jail for preaching, and when he went before Agrippa, who was his judge, he preached to him, not consulting a lawyer to get him out of jail.  Paul was more concerned with spreading the gospel than anything else.

c.   Acts 26:27, Agrippa believes the prophets, but not what the prophets say about Jesus.  If Agrippa converted to Christianity, he would forsake everything and go "whole hog" for Christ.

3.   I Peter 4:16:

a.   There is suffering that goes along with being a Christian.

b.   Not that a Christian is looking for trouble, but when he tries to be obedient to Christ, he finds trouble.

c.   When he suffers, he does not hang his head in despair, but raises his voice in glory to God, giving thanks that he is counted worthy to suffer for the cause of Christ.


V.  What are some of the things Agrippa would give up to serve God?

A.  His religion.  Agrippa was a lost Jew, who believed the prophets, but not what the prophets said about Jesus.

B.   His family.  There were at least four children in the family of Herod Agrippa I, who was described as one who "vexed the church", Acts 12:1.  The brother of Herod Agrippa I is Herod Antipas who beheaded John the Baptist.

1.      Agrippa, son of Herod Agrippa I.

2.      Bernice, oldest daughter of Herod Agrippa I.  (Read her history in "All the Women of the Bible", page 36,37.)

3.      Drusilla, grand daughter of Herod the Great and youngest daughter of Herod Agrippa I.  She had a son by Felix who was named Agrippa.  (Read her history in "All the Women of the Bible", page 48-50.)

4.      Mariamne (not mentioned in scripture).

C.   His wicked way of living.  (See the story of Bernice.)


So Agrippa would have to leave his father (Herod Agrippa I), his uncle (Herod Antipas), and his sisters (Bernice, Drusilla, and Mariamne).