Paul's Passing Thoughts

What Does It Mean To Be A “Christian”?

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on August 2, 2017

I don’t consider myself a “christian”. That word is thrown about so carelessly these days. Anybody and everybody seems to call themselves a “christian”, and the result is that the word has lost its meaning.

In addition, the term “christian” shares an intimate association with the institutional church. When you consider the scope of spiritual tyranny, abuse, and scandal that exists in the church, the last thing I want is to be labeled as “one of those people.”

There are far more distinct labels that I could use to identify myself such as “child of God”, “child of the Kingdom”, or just simply a “believer”.

Perhaps we need to take back the “Christian” moniker. Since words define reality, why don’t we take a moment and consider just what it means to be a “Christian” rather than just accept how the institutional church has unwittingly redefined it for all of us.

“Christian” – noun

Constructed from the word “Christ”…
(from the Greek word χριστος (chris-tos) meaning “an anointed one”; the title given to Jesus of Nazareth; equivalent to the Hebrew word for “Messiah”)

…and the suffix “ian” (meaning one from, belonging to, related to, or like)

“Christ-one”, “Christ-like”

The etymology of the word is traced back to the city of Antioch in the Roman province of Syria in the 1st Century, probably around 45-50 CE. It was originally used as a derogatory term for those who were disciples of Jesus, or “followers of ‘The Way’”

But even though it was intended to be a pejorative, consider the richness of the Biblical meaning of the word “Christian”:

• One Who Is From Christ
A Christian is an ambassador. He is God’s emissary left here on earth to take the good news of the gospel of the Kingdom to those who are lost so that they may be reconciled to God through the New Birth.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” ~ Matthew 28:19-20

“And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation…Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:18, 20

“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” ~ Romans 10:14-15

• One Who Belongs to Christ
Christ’s death on the cross redeemed all men. He purchased mankind with his shed blood. His death ended sin by ending the law and takes away sin for all those who are born again through belief in Him. Furthermore, every born again believer is a member of the Body of Christ, and Christ is the Head of the Body. So not only did Christ purchase us, but we belong to Him as a member of His Body.

“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the assembly of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”~ Acts 20:28

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”~ 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:” ~ Galatians 3:13

“Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” ~ Ephesians 1:14

• One Who is Related to Christ
A Christian is made a part of the family of God by virtue of the New Birth. He is the literal offspring of God the Father. That means that Jesus is the Big Brother of every believer!

“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”~ Romans 8:29

“For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” ~ Galatians 3:26

“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” ~ Romans 8:16-17

• One Who is Like Christ
Because a believer is the literal offspring of God, he bears the Father’s righteousness just as Christ does. His new nature also gives him a zeal and a love for the Law. His desire is to show love to God and others through obedience to the Law. The believer cooperates with the in-dwelling Holy Spirit in sanctification in order to bring the believer to maturity. Seeking to bring one’s body under control of is part of sanctification.

“Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” ~ Romans 6:4

“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”~ Romans 8:29

“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:21

“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth…Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry…But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:” ~ Colossians 3:1-2, 5, 8-10

“For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour…For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4, 7

• One Who Is a Follower of Christ
To follow Christ means to follow His teaching and to follow His example of how to conduct one’s life and show love to God and others. But many of Jesus’ disciples followed Him to the fullest extreme, for many of them were put to death because of their faith.

“And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” ~ Matthew 4:19

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:” ~ John 10:27

“If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.”~ John 12:26

“Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” ~ 1 Corinthians 11:1

“And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:” ~ 1 Thessalonians 1:6

“That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” ~ Hebrews 6:12

~ Andy

9 Responses

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  1. John said, on August 2, 2017 at 6:37 PM

    A lovely piece, Andy.

    I don’t mind being called a Christian, but, yes, the word has lost its true meaning. Everone is a Christian these days, born-again or not! Whenever I’m in a conversation, and I really don’t care with whom, I say, “Yes, I am a Christian; the born-again kind.” That always makes the other person respond with “Huh? You’re what?” That nicely opens the door to find out where the other person stands, and it gives her/him a clue as to where I stand.

    And of course, I’m quick to point out that I am not a Protestant in any shape, blob, or any other form. And then we start talking and their jaws usually drop when I tell them a little about Calvinism. “What? Yo’ serious?” they usually ask.

    Yes, let’s take back the Christian moniker. I am all for that.



  2. Susan said, on August 2, 2017 at 9:10 PM

    Sigh. So the nice people at a local independent church sent out a pretty little postcard with an invitation to attend their latest sermon series. After the rock band and light display, the motivational speaker/ life coach will talk about how to “Simplify”. Six weeks worth of a practical journey where we learn how to “unclutter our souls”.

    Yes, sadly, I am 100% serious. That is the sermon series/ message.

    Don’t ya know that the entire reason for Jesus’ life, ministry, death and resurrection was so that we could all have organized closets and kitchen drawers and so that our financial papers might be in order. The word “Christian” apparently means nothing. Shall we come together on Sunday morning to mock our Lord? Heaven help us.


    • Andy Young, PPT contributing editor said, on August 2, 2017 at 10:03 PM

      well you know there needs to be something more tangible other than the rock band and light show and fog to get the heathens in the door. These contemporary churches that have given up on “biblical” teaching have done so because the “heathens” have rejected the intellectual dishonesty found in the preaching of religious orthodoxy, so regular sermons just won’t cut it any more. And all the while they will pat themselves on the back and think what a wonderful ministry they have and how many souls they have won to Christ just because they got people to warm their stadium chairs and put money in the offering plate just to keep that fog machine up and running. It’s the only bus going to heaven after all.


      • Susan said, on August 3, 2017 at 4:49 PM

        It is truly amazing to me as to what passes for Christianity these days. I am sure there will be a smattering of verses from The Message to make it look legitimate. But if they think they are going to compete with HGTV and professional organizers, they have another thought coming. And Andy, I would “third the motion” that your article would make a great tract.


    • John said, on August 3, 2017 at 5:14 AM

      Susan, which band is playing at your favorite local independent “church” this Sunday? Nine Inch Nails? Yeah, that sounds pretty Christian enough. Let me know where to get tickets, eh?

      “Simplify”? “Unclutter our souls”? Motivational speaker/life coach indeed, and I bet some other New Age stuff is involved too. Oprah posters anywhere? Or some “Christian counseling”?

      Sorry, I gotta go . . . to unclutter my soul . . . if I can find the darn thing and pin him/her/it down.



  3. Susan said, on August 2, 2017 at 10:01 PM

    Well done Andy. I think I will be avoiding the use of the word Christian. I’ll find another word to use. They can keep the name. I have something much more valuable.


  4. Republican mother said, on August 3, 2017 at 8:44 AM

    This would make a great tract!


  5. lydia00 said, on August 3, 2017 at 11:16 PM

    I struggle with what to call myself in this respect. But excellent post!


  6. Jess said, on August 7, 2017 at 9:38 PM

    I call myself “Bible believer”. I also call myself “saved believer in Jesus Christ”. Both pretty much sum up what I am.


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