Saturday, November 11, 2023

Who is a Christian?

By Bill Brandstatter
   The word “Christian” is used today to describe a wide variety of people. Some believe a Christian to be anyone who believes in Jesus. Others might declare themselves a “Christian” because they are not Jew or a Muslim. Some might believe they are a Christian no matter how much or how little of the Bible they believe. We often hear the statement that the United States is a “Christian nation;” yet, there are many in our country of other religious faiths. So, certainly everyone in our nation would not classify themselves as such. We will often hear about battles in the Middle East between “Christian” and Muslims. Needless to say the term “Christian” is used in a variety of ways to refer to a variety of people.
    What does the Bible say? Can a person be just a “Christian” in the way in which the Bible uses the term? It is interesting that the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus stated, “Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works-a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure……And the tribe of Christians so named from him are not extinct at this day” (Antiquities of the Jews,18:3.1). It is interesting that a Jewish historian around 90 A.D. recognized those called “Christians” who were named from Christ. How did this come about?
    The name was picked by God. Isaiah tells how this would happen. “The Gentiles shall see your righteousness and all kings your glory. You shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD will name” (Isa. 62:2 NKJV). Three significant points are made by Isaiah. First, the Gentiles would seek the righteousness of God. Second, they would be called by a new name. That means they would not be called Jews or Gentiles, but something new. Third, the Lord would give them that name. Later, Isaiah mentions this again. He states: “You shall leave your name as a curse to My chosen; For the Lord GOD will slay you, and call His servants by another name.” (Isa.65:15) This time Isaiah indicates that the old name will be left and a new name given. When did this happen?
    In the New Testament history book of Acts, we learn of Isaiah’s prophecy being fulfilled. Gentiles seeking God’s righteousness begins in chapter 10 with the account of Cornelius. Then in chapter 11, we read, “The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch”. (Acts 11:26) It does make a difference how we identify ourselves religiously. 

Bill Brandstatter preaches for the Marion Church of Christ in Marion, IL. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

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