TOPIC:“The Concept of a Christian”
By Rev. Dr. Reg Dunlap
“And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch” (Acts 11:26)
One of the most challenging questions that people ask is: “What do you mean by the word Christian?” It must be confessed that a great deal of perplexity has developed over the misunderstanding of this word. It was Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, in his book, The Marks of a Christian, who wrote: “The meaning of the word Christian has been reduced to practically nothing. Surely there is no word that has been so devalued unless it is the word of God itself.”
And yet, it is interesting to notice that the word is mentioned but three times in the New Testament. In Acts 11:26, we read: “And the disciples were Christians first in Antioch.” Again in Acts 26:28 we read: “Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” And also in I Peter 4:16 we read: “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, let him glorify God on this behalf.”
The word Christian was coined by the heathen population of Antioch to distinguish the followers of Christ from the worshippers of Caesar. It was a term of derision. Since that day the word has been continuously misused and constantly misapplied. To many people the word is still a puzzle and needs to be solved. I realize, of course, that it is not strange to some of you, but in order for you who have not yet come to encounter what being a Christian means, I direct this topic to you. Permit me to throw some light upon this misunderstood word.
Consider, first of all, those who are confused about what it means to be a Christian. No doubt, if I were to ask several different persons what their concept of a Christian is, I suppose that I would receive many various answers.
There are those who have the faulty idea that becoming a church member makes one a Christian. . . .