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The First Christians

The name “Christian” is only found three times in the Bible

Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian” (Acts 26:28). “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed” (I Pet. 4:16). “And it came to pass…the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch” (Acts 11:26).

What is a Christian? The world view and the Bible view of a Christian differs much today. A Christian is a believer who is “in Christ.” Some may have the “actions” but not be a Christian, some Christians may not have the “actions” of Christ. The world can only ID’s by your actions. Christian means Christ-ian, a follower of Christ. Example: Buddists follow Buddha. Christians follow Christ. The first time the name Christian was used was in AD 42 in the city of Antioch. The people in the city watched followers of Jesus Christ and “called” them Christians. People daily watched these strange followers of Christ. They saw the difference Christ made in their lives (Acts 11:26). Ten years had passed since the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but the people continued to follow Christ. They were called Christians simply because they followed the teachings, actions and ways of Christ. They were different than other religions and Jewsish traditions. They had the actions of Christ. They were Christians!

What is the difference in a Christian and a Muslim? What is the difference between a Christian and a Jew? What is the difference between a Christian and a Buddhist? The difference is “Christ.” No Buddha – No Buddhist. No Mohammed – No Muslims. No Joseph Smith – No Mormons. No Christ – No Christians or Christianity.

Christians follow the teachings and ways of Christ. Without the Bible there would be no Bible teachings. Only the Bible teaches and explains God, creation, mankind, sin, and the fall from God. The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is the way to be restored to God. Those “in Christ” are Christians who follow the Christ. Those “not in Christ” are not Christians. Today God only recognizes two groups of people “Those in Christ” and “Those without Christ.” No one is saved without the Word of God – No one! No one can come to God without Christ – No one!Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).


By Lewis S. Chafer

Christians were the names given by the Gentiles to those “in Christ” serving in Antioch. If the Jews had given a name it probably would have been “Messiahists” as they followed “The Messiah.”

The word “Christian” is only found three times in the Bible

Brethren = About 200 times — Saints = 60 times — Disciples =30 times — Believers = 80 times

“A Christian is not one who does certain things for God, but instead one for whom God has done certain things; he is not so much as one who conforms to a certain matter of life as he is one who has received the gift of eternal life; he has a perfect standing before God because he is in Christ Jesus. Thirty-three simultaneous and instantaneous divine undertakings and transformations which constitute the salvation of a soul have been named in the Bible. All of these are wrought at the moment saving faith is exercised in Christ.”

The World View: There are many religions but they are all under the one same God.

The Bible Only Refers to Three Kinds or Groups of People

  1. Gentiles
  2. Jews
  3. Christians

Three-fourths of Bible refers to Jews One-fourth to Christians/Church
Very little reference to Gentiles. – — Lewis S. Chafer

The Bible View of the World Today: Two Groups…

  1. Those “In Christ”
  2. Those “Without Christ

World Internet Views on Christianity

FYI: Disclaimer: This page added only FYI – SWM does not necessarily endorse these views ~

How the Military Views Religions – In the past a dog tag was issued to all military personnel for identification purposes. They were called “dog tags” because they resembled ID tags worn of dogs.The tag is used to identify the dead and wounded and basic medical information, along with religious preference. During World War II, a dog tag could indicate only one of three religions “P” Protestant (Christian), “C” Catholic, or “H” Jewish (Hebrew). In the Vietnam War dog tags or ID tags were changed to the various religions of Protestant – Catholic – Methodist – Baptist or No Preference – Wikipedia.

How the World Views Church Worship – Glide Memorial Methodist Church in San Francisco has this Call to Worship in their printed bulletin to be recited: “We are all of us Christians, Jews, liberals, Bolsheviks, anarchists, socialists, Communists, Keynesians, Democrats, Civil Righters, Beatniks, ministers, moderate Republicans, pacifists, teachers, doctors, scientists, professors, Latin Americans, New Africans, Common Marketers, even Mao Tse-Tung. Doubtless. From Lyndon Johnson to Mao Tse-Tung, we are all Christians.” Today, many services are performed in the mode of the modern dance. Suggestive gyrations. The church has become a haven for dope addicts, hippies, and homosexuals.” – Tan, Paul Lee, Encyclopedia of Illustrations, (Bible Communications, Inc.1996.) – Carm.org

How the World defines a Christian – In the past if you were not Jewish or Hindu or Buddhist, it was assumed that you were a Christian, whether Catholic or Lutheran or Episcopal or Baptist. But it seems now that the name “Christian” means something more specific. Is it considered to be an actual religion other than Catholic or Lutheran or Episcopal or Baptist or whatever. If so, what makes it different? So what is a Christian? The answer is not as easy as you might think. Everything depends on how you define the word. You can’t really tell who is a Christian and who isn’t until you know what the term means. To muddy the waters further, recent polls report that 92% of all Americans believe in God while 83% call themselves Christian. If you went to any major American city and asked, “Are you a Christian?” you would get all sorts of answers. “Of course I’m a Christian. I was born in America.” “I was raised in a Christian home.” “I’m a baptized Catholic.” “I’m a Methodist.” “I go to a Baptist Church.” “I read my Bible every day.” “I raised my hand, walked an aisle, said a prayer, and signed a card.” Some say, “A Christian is anyone who calls himself a Christian.” This is how the pollsters came up with 83%. It’s very American to say, “I’m a Christian if I say I am.” Some say, “When I use a term, it means whatever I choose it to mean–nothing more, and nothing less.”

Included in these “Christian” groups are: the Roman Catholic church; the Eastern Orthodox churches, conservative, mainline, and liberal Christian faith groups; The church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons); Jehovah’s Witnesses and many other religious organizations that identify themselves as Christian. Also included are those who consider themselves to be Christian even though they do not identify themselves with any particular religious group. The Bible only mentions the word Christian three times (Acts 11:26; Acts 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16).

What is a Christian? A Christian is someone who chooses to follow Christ. A Christian is someone whose life has been genuinely changed by Jesus Christ. The name “Christian” was not invented by early Christians. It was a name given to them by others. Christians called themselves by different names as disciples, believers, brethren, saints, the elect. It literally means “Christ-followers” or “Christ-ians.” A Christian is a person who has been truly converted to Jesus Christ.” – Dr. Ray Pritchard – Christanity.com

How a Real Christian is DefinedA Christian is a person who follows Christianity. Christianity is based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ as recorded in the New Testament. “Christ-ian” comes from the Greek word Christ, and the Hebrew word Messiah. Jesus is His human name, and Christ is His holy name. Central to the Christian faith is the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Gospel is the preaching and teaching that salvation is through the finished work of Jesus, His death, burial and resurrection to save sinners. Christians believe in the doctrine of the Trinity of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The name “Christian” is used to describe anyone associated with Christianity, or who is considered Christ-like.” – Wikipedia Encyclopedia.

One-Line Messages
Christianity is not a religion, but a relationship with Christ.
There are many religions, but there is only one Gospel.
No one is saved without Christ or the Gospel – No one!
Without Christ there would be no Christianity!

Review: Two Groups of People in World

  1. Those “In Christ”
  2. Those “Without Christ

How God Views People Today – After Adam all were Gentiles. After Abraham all his descants were Hebrew or Jew. After Pentecost all believers in Christ were Christians. Both Gentiles and Jews after they are saved become Christians. Today all are either “In Christ” or “Without Christ.” All “In Christ” will be at the Judgment Seat of Christ. All “Without Christ” will be a the White Throne Judgment. One Family – All people are descendants from Adam and Eve. All people belong to one family with Adam and Eve as their first father and mother. Adam is the head of the human family. God does not see races and nationalities but only people in one human family. “One blood of all nations.” There is a difference in the (blood) of the human family and the (blood) of the animal family. You are born once into the (Adam) the human family and once into the (Jesus Christ) the holy family of God.

Christians Should Act Like Christ

This was the first time the name Christian was used in the Bible. Notice the first Christians did not call themselves Christians but their name was given to them by the world. The first Christians were good examples. The leader was a man named Barnabas. The Bible says he was, “…a good man, and full of…faith: and much people was added unto the Lord” because of him (Acts 11:24). Remember, a Christian is a follower of Jesus Christ. A Buddhist will follow the teachings of Buddha. A Muslim will follow the teachings of Mohammed and the Koran. A Jew will follow the teachings of the Old Testament. Law. What does it mean to say, “I am a Christian?” It means that you are a follower of the Christ and His Bible teachings. It is important for the cause of Christ that the unsaved world and other religions see the difference between Christians and other religions. Christians should be good examples of Christ. The greatest witness for Christ is the changed life. The greatest testimony for Christ is a good consistent Christian who follows the Lord. The greatest hindrance is a Christian who follows the world. A good Christian is different than the world. The world needs to see Christ in Christians!

All Christians are Not Good Christians – All saved people are “in Christ,” but not all who are “in Christ” follow Christ. Some who are “in Christ” are bad examples of Christians. Barnabas was “a good man, full of the Holy Ghost and of faith.” A good Christian will have a good testimony. Early Christians knew the importance of the name Christian. Many died just for the testimony of saying, “I am a Christian!

A Christian Should Grow Spiritually

As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.” –1 Peter 2:2

Desire Milk of Word – Christians, as newborn babes, should desire the sincere milk of the Word of God. A newborn baby is born with a natural desire for milk. New born Christians should also have a natural spiritual desire for the Word of God. A baby will not grow without milk, and a newborn Christians will not grow without the Word. You do not force feed a hungry baby and also you should not force feed the Word of God to Christians. You do not say to a baby, “If you eat this you will grow.” Words are not necessary, you just put a bottle to its mouth and he sucks the milk. Who taught him to suck milk? He was born with natural desires to suck milk. Christians are also born with a natural spiritual desire for the Word of God. The desire cannot be taught but comes from within. God puts a desire within all Christians to grow in the Lord. Desire is the first step in growing in the Lord. “As newborn babes desire…” Desire the things of God. Desire to follow the Lord. Desire to be faithful. As you go, you will grow and be used of the Lord more and more. When there is no desire there will be no reading and studying the Word of God. Desire cannot be taught but it must come from within. The devil cannot make you sin and God cannot make you serve. No one can grow without the Word of God, No one!

The process of growth.As newborn babes, desire (1) the sincere milk (2) of the word, that ye may grow (3) thereby.What growth is not: Growth is active and can be seen. Growth is not idle, dormant, inactive, unproductive. Growth is increase, wax, cultivating, rising, breeding, sprouting and producing. Growth develops in stages as growing, grew and grown. Growth is a natural developing process of increasing in size and changing physically. Growth is progress from the sprout to maturity. Growth involves the “sincere” milk of the word. What does “sincere” mean? Sincere is a Bible word to use to prove true the Word of God. In Bible days sculptors repaired broken statues with wax to sell as new, but the sunlight revealed the used wax hiding the defects. When the statue was examined thoroughly in sunlight and found to be without faults, blemishes or defects it was declared “sincere” or without “wax.” The Word of God can be examined in the light from all directions and it will be found “sincere” without “wax” and without “fault.” The sincere word of God is without blemish. Truth never conflicts with truth – Never!

Are You A Good Christian?

Ten Test Questions to See If You are a Good Christian

  1. Are you saved? (Romans 10:9).
  2. Have you been baptized? (Acts 2:38)
  3. Do you faithfully attend all church services? (Hebrews 10:25)
  4. Do you give your time and money to the Lord? (II Corinthians 9:7)
  5. Do you avoid worldly, and sinful habits? (I Corinthians 6:19)
  6. Do you daily read your Bible? (II Timothy 3:15)
  7. Do you daily pray to God? (I Thessalonians 5:17)
  8. Do you practice Christian living in your daily life? (Joshua 1:8)
  9. What do others say about your Christian life? (Matthew 5:16)
  10. Would you be ashamed to meet the Lord today? (I John 2:28)

Christianity in This Present World

Christians should follow Christ and be Christ-like and like-Christ.

A Good llustration: In a Communist country, soldiers went into a church and demanded the people to leave. An officer stood at the door and asked each person, “Are you a Christian?” In order to have freedom, he demanded they spit upon a picture of Jesus Christ and deny Him. The soldiers waited outside the door with guns ready to kill those who refused to deny the Lord Jesus Christ. The first man looked at the soldiers with guns, bowed his head with fear. He finally denied the Lord and spat upon the picture. Three other men followed his example and also spat upon the picture. Finally, a young girl came forward. She looked at the soldiers and then looked at the picture. She wept, took the picture in her arms and said, “I love Him, I cannot deny my Lord.” She waited for the soldiers to shoot, but the officer was touched and said, “I have never seen such faith. Free the girl and kill the four men.” He saw true Christianity. The greatest testimony to the world is a changed consistent Christian life.

The Purpose of Christianity – The first Christians were called Christians because they acted like Christ. The people in Antioch saw Christ in their lives. They knew that these Christians were different. They knew they did not have what these Christians had. They saw the fruit of the Holy Spirit in their lives. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance:and kindness” (Galatians 5:22-23). It is sad that some Christians are the opposite of Christ. As one man said, “A bad Christian is one who is the opposite of the fruit of the Spirit.” Each Christian needs to be a “light” into the dark world. “Ye are the light of the world… Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16). The light is within but you must let it come out and shine to others. People will either see your good or your bad works, but they will see it. Christians are to display and show Christ to their daily world. Do people want what you have? Do people not want what you have? All Christians are saved, but all are not good Christians. When you are “in Christ” you are a Christian. Let Christ come forth to shine in your life and testimony. Anyone can be a bad Christian, but it requires discipline and character to be a good Christian. Being a good Christian is a choice not a calling. When you are saved that is what God did for you, after you are saved that is what you do for God. Real Christianity is nothing more than a series of new beginnings. There are times in all our lives that we need a new beginning. You cannot change others, but you can change yourself. Think of your family, friends and co-workers who need Christ.


As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.
– II Peter 2:2

Peter is teaching that Christians need the Word of God to spiritually grow. Without the Word of God there is no growth. No one can grow without the Word of God – No one! Christians should desire the sincere milk of the Word of God as a newborn baby desires milk. A newborn baby is born with a natural desire for milk. No one taught him to cry for milk. New born Christians should also have a natural desire for the Word of God. A baby will not grow without milk, and newborn Christians will not grow without the Word. You do not need to force feed a hungry baby with milk. Also you should not need to be force fed with the Word of God. You would never say to a baby, “If you eat this, you will grow.” No words are necessary, just put a bottle to its mouth and watch him suck the milk. Who taught him to suck milk? No one! The desire cannot be taught, but it must come from natural desires from birth. God also puts the desire inside a Christian for the Word of God that he might spiritually grow in the Lord. Desire is the first step in growing in the Lord. When there is no desire, there is no growth. “The Scriptures were not given to increase our knowledge, but to change our lives” – D.L. Moody.

Four Ways To Spiritually Grow

How exciting it was when Eve watched Cain and Abel as they grew from babies into adults. It is very sad when a child does not grow but remains as a child all their life. Christians need to spiritually grow into maturity. Everything that has life must eat to grow. If it does not eat, then it will die. This is true for the large elephant or the smallest germ. It is right that anything that has life should grow. Are you spiritually growing? What have you learned about the Bible, God, and the Christian life in the past twelve months? A child in the fourth grade is promoted into the fifth grade. Some Christians have remained the same for many years and have never grown.

Jesus Christ Increased In Four Areas of Life

“And Jesus increased (grew ) in (1) wisdom and (2) stature, and in favor with (3) God and (4) man.”
— Luke 2:52

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