God Defines Who Is A Christian
There are various definitions given of a Christian. The only one that is worthwhile is God’s definition. The only kind of Christian worthwhile is the one as defined by God. The reason for saying this is God’s definition of a Christian is because of the meaning of chrematizo, translated “called.” It is not a nickname, claimed by some. “And it was in Antioch that the disciples first received the name Christian.” Weymouth).
The Greek word rendered called implies a divine source. It is “to be divinely instructed, to receive a warning or revelation from God” (Green’s Greek-English Lexicon). “To give a response to those consulting an oracle, to give divine command or admonition, to teach from heaven; to be divinely commanded, admonished, instructed; to be the mouth-piece of divine revelations, to promulgate the commands God” (Thayer).
The word is found nine times in the New Testament (Mat. 2:12; 2:22; Luke 2:26; Acts 10:22; Heb. 8:5; 11:7; 12:25; Rom. 7:3; Acts 11:26). In all of these instances it has reference to divine revelation, unless Acts 11:16 is an exception. The meaning of the word fits Isaiah 62:2: “Which the mouth of Jehovah shall name.” Compare Romans 7:3: “She shall be called an adulteress.” Who calls her an adulteress? Compare “defer not, for thine own sake, my God, because thy city and thy people are called by thy name” (Dan. 9:19). In Israel, we have the root of Elohim, the Hebrew name for God, which supplies an explanation for the statement, “Thy people are called by thy name.” Amos 9:12 and Acts 15:17 are equivalents. Thus the subject: “God’s Definition of a Christian.’
Why was not this name given at Pentecost? We may not know, but I can think of a reason. Christian is the sum of Christianity. Christianity is not Jewish, not peculiar to Jews. This is implied in the very fact that the term that most describes Christianity was not given until Gentiles were brought in. Thus, those who think of Christianity offering something yet for Jews in a special way have not properly understood Christianity.
A Christian is one who heard the Gospel and believed it (Acts 11:19-21). Why were there no Christians in Antioch prior to this time? There were not any that had heard the Gospel and believe A Christian is one that assembles (Acts 11:26; Heb. 10:25; Acts 2:42). The Christians at Antioch assembled. The Christians in every place assemble.
A Christian is one that accepts responsibility (Acts 11:29). Note the words – every man – determined – according to his ability. They did not seek to do as little as they could but as much as they could. Many seem to think today that a Christian is one who does as little as he can.
A Christian does not shirk responsibility. A Christian is one in the Lord’s church (Acts 11:26). There were no Christians in Antioch that were not members of the church. There were no Christians in Antioch that were members of any other church. “I give in mine house and within my walls…a name” (Isa. 56:5). The church is God’s house (1 Tim. 3:15; Acts 2:42; Gal. 3:26-27).
The question is: are you a Christian defined by God?