Did you know that in the New Testament nowhere does it state that the Disciples of Jesus Christ called themselves Christians.
The first recorded use of the term Christians was in the New Testament (Acts 11:26 NIV) and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.
The second mention of the term follows in (Acts 26:28 NIV) Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”
The third and final New Testament reference to the term is in (1 Peter 4:16 NIV) However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.
All three original New Testament usages verses reflect a derisive element in the term Christian to refer to followers of Christ who did not acknowledge the emperor of Rome. The town Antioch, which is said to have given them the name Christian, had a reputation for coming up with such nicknames.
If you were to ask several people if they were a Christian or ask them to describe what a Christian was, you would most likely get several answers. A wide range of beliefs and practices are found across the world among those who call themselves Christian. There are also many denominations that are still in disagreement in what defines a Christian. The term Christian can be defined as anything you want it to be! Are you a Christian?
Are you a Disciple?
A Disciple is a term that can be found several times throughout the Bible that clearly describes the followers of Jesus Christ, they were people who looked to Jesus for direction on how to live their life.
Below are just a few of the recorded uses in the Bible of the Term Disciple.
(Acts 6:7 NIV) So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.
(Acts 9:26 NIV) When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple.
(Acts 9:36 NIV) In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek her name is Dorcas); she was always doing good and helping the poor.
(John 8:31-32 NIV)To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
(Luke 14:27 NIV) And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
A definition of Disciple is suggested by Jesus’ self-referential example from (John 13:33-36 NIV) “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.”
Do you define yourself as a Disciple? To be a disciple of Jesus Christ we must all love one another and live like Christ lived. We need to pick up our cross and follow Him! We need to Look to Jesus for direction on how to live our lives. Follow the Bible and not the rules and definitions that are made up as we go along.
We all fall short of our own set of standards. We all fail and we all need to decide what to do with that failure. We can hide behind the word Christian which could mean many things… or we can call ourselves Disciples. (Follower of Jesus Christ) Are you a Disciple’ of Jesus Christ or are you just a Christian?
Want to know more? Andy Stanley, senior pastor of North Point Community Church shares his thoughts in his 6 part series. Well worth the viewing!
Part 1: Brand Recognition
“Christian” is a brand that can be good, bad, attractive, or repelling. It’s a loaded label no matter whom you ask. But where did the word come from? And did it come with instructions? In this message, Andy reexamines the word “Christian” and revisits the one thing Jesus wanted his followers to be known for-it may surprise you if you’ve been hurt by the church or by a Christian.