What Is a Christian?

A Christian is. . .

A disciple. “. . .The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch” (Acts 11:26). A disciple is a learner, a follower, adhering to Jesus Christ. Disciple is by far the most common New Testament word for designating God’s people.

A child of God. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12). Sometimes the Bible depicts our entrance into God’s family as a birth (John 3:3-5); other times, as adoption (Ephesians 1:5).

A brother/sister. “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart” (1 Peter 1:22). When one becomes a child of God he becomes a brother to the rest of God’s children. Brotherly love is the hallmark of Christianity (John 13:35).

A saint. “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling . . .” (1 Corinthians 1:2). A saint is one who is sanctified or set apart. Every Christian is a saint! Sainthood is not something bestowed by men on dead Christians of outstanding virtue; it is bestowed by God on everyone who responds favorably to the gospel.

A priest. “You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession . . .” (v. 9). Priesthood is not limited to a select group. Every Christian is part of God’s royal priesthood. Each one of us is to offer himself as a living sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1).

A citizen. “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household” (Ephesians 2:19). Too many people think God’s kingdom is still future. To the contrary, Jesus reigns now (Acts 2:30-36). A Christian is a citizen in His spiritual kingdom, where we have forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:13-14).

Being a Christian is described in numerous other ways in the New Testament. We are sheep (Acts 20:28),  builders (1 Corinthians 3:10), branches (John 15:5), soldiers (Ephesians 6:11ff), foreigners (1 Peter 2:11), lights (Philippians 2:15), etc. Each of these pictures helps us see our privileges and our responsibilities, both to the Lord and to others. Each is designed to help us remember who we are.

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