Just nine words introduce our study of the title of this article, “And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch” (Acts 11:26).  In these nine words we find the “family name” of all those who are saved.  On three occasions in the New Testament, we find the use of the word Christian to describe those who sought to pattern their lives after Christ.  First, in the text above (Acts 11:26), secondly, King Agrippa, after hearing Paul preach Christ stated “Almost thou persuaded me to be a Christian” (Acts 26:28), and thirdly, the Apostle Peter wrote, “But if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God in his name” (1 Peter 4:17).  In the scriptures there are many terms telling us what God’s people are, but this name tells us who they are.  In this article we want to briefly look at who is a Christian.

A CHRISTIAN IS A DISCIPLE OF CHRISTFrom Acts 11:26 we plainly see that a Christian is a disciple.  To simplify what that is, a disciple is a follower, a learner, one taught or trained by another.  Jesus clarified this in John 8:31, 32.  The true “badge of discipleship” will be genuine love for all of God’s family. This is love that is not just in word, but also in deed (1 John 3:18).  A disciple is fruitful in the service of God (John 15:8).

A CHRISTIAN IS THE SALT OF THE EARTHJesus taught this in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:13).  Many will agree that nothing can substitute for good salt, but if it has lost is flavor, it is worthless.  In Matthew 5:13, Jesus was not speaking of the saving or preserving factor when it came to salt.  Rather, it seems, he was speaking of the quality of good salt to flavor food and make it more appetizing.  The work for which salt was invented is not to call attention to itself,   but to that which it has been added to.

Likewise, Christians seek not personal glory, but to make the world “hunger and thirst after righteousness” (Matthew 5:6).  An in doing so, they bring glory to God (Matthew 5:16).  As such, true disciples “season” the gospel of Christ by godly lives. 

A CHRISTIAN IS THE LIGHT OF THE WORLDAgain, Jesus spoke of this in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 4:14-16).  The purpose of the Christian’s life before the world is to illuminate the world that all may see the way to God.  Consider what Solomon said concerning the path of the just, “But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day” (Proverbs 4:18).  The light of the Christian is reflected from that “true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:8).  

Jesus was not to be in the world forever, but He promised those who would come after Him that they would not need to walk in darkness (John 8:12).  As long as He was in the world, He was the light of the world (John 9:5).  However, after His ascension, that light was to shine through His disciples (Ephesians 5:8).  Christians must seriously consider their obligation to shine forth that light to a lost world (2 Corinthians 4:6).  His reflected glory must be seen in us as described by Paul (Philippians 1:20).

A CHRISTIAN IS A BRANCH OF THE TRUE VINEJesus is the vine and we are the branches (John 15:1, 5, 6).  Herein we find another relationship to Christ and the world.  Far too many times these passages have been mistakenly used to refer to denominationalism instead of individual Christians.  But it is evident that Jesus was speaking of individuals and not denominational groups.  The Christian, as a branch, draws sustenance and support from the True Vine, Jesus Christ.  As a branch, the Christian is to bear bruit before the world (John 15:4).  Failure to bear fruit will cause the branch to be cut off (John 15:6).  Since Jesus cursed the barren fig tree for its barrenness, what can we expect if we, as vines, are barren (Matthew 21:19, 20)?

A CHRISTIAN IS A MEMBER OF CHRIST’S BODYThe Apostle Paul asked a question that every Christian must consider, as seen in 1 Corinthians 6:15.  It is evident that every Christian is a member of Christ’s spiritual body, the church (Ephesians 1:22, 23).  We are told of this relationship, and how it must be obtained (1 Corinthians 12:12, 13).  The conclusion of this text is found in verse 27.  Think how close the church would be if we fully understood this relationship?

We have noted some of the descriptive terms that apply to the Christian.  The question is will we seek to develop these characteristics in order to be what God wants us to be?