What Is a Christian and Why Does It Matter?

Text: Revelation 2:9-10

The world is becoming more hostile toward “Christianity.” While we should certainly sympathize with those who suffer unjustly, the reality is that most news reports about those suffering for being Christians are not Christians in the New Testament sense. What does that mean? Why does it matter? This lesson will answer those questions.

What Is a Christian?

  • Not everyone who claims to be a Christian is one (Luke 6:46) – to be in the kingdom, we must do God’s will (Matthew 7:21-23); the kingdom is the church (Matthew 16:18-19); the Lord adds people to His church (Acts 2:37-47)
  • How one becomes a Christian – hear (Luke 8:8; Romans 10:17), believe (John 8:24; Hebrews 11:6), repent (Luke 13:3, 5; Acts 2:38), confess (Romans 10:9-10), be baptized (Acts 2:38; Mark 16:16; Galatians 3:27; 1 Peter 3:21); most “Christians” reject baptism as being necessary for salvation
  • Disciples were called Christians (Acts 11:26) – a disciple is one who has been baptized (Matthew 28:19)
  • Paul tried to persuade Agrippa to become a Christian (Acts 26:28) – as he was, having been baptized to wash away his sins (Acts 22:16)
  • We may suffer as Christians (1 Peter 4:16) – those that Peter was writing to had been baptized (1 Peter 3:21)

Does It Matter?

  • We hear of many who claim to be “Christians” suffering for their faith – does it matter that they are not Christians in the New Testament sense?
  • It matters to God – He wants all men to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4); if they have not been baptized into Christ for the remission of sins, they are not saved (Acts 2:38; Mark 16:16)
  • It should matter to those claiming to be Christians – they are not saved [previous point]; nothing else matters (Matthew 16:26); those who do not obey the gospel will be punished (2 Thessalonians 1:8)
  • It does not matter to the one oppressing the Christians – persecutors often do not differentiate between groups (cf. Acts 18:2); the claim of being a “Christian” is enough
  • On one hand, it matters to us – we are not to have fellowship with those who do not abide in Christ’s teaching (2 John 9-11)
  • On the other hand, it does not matter to us – even if they are not New Testament Christians, they are suffering as Christians (1 Peter 4:16); if they can be persecuted, we can be; they are not being persecuted for being Baptists, Methodists, or anything else; they are being persecuted for claiming to be Christians

What Should We Do?

  • Pray for peace (1 Timothy 2:2) – best condition for the gospel to spread (1 Timothy 2:3-4)
  • Prepare for persecution (1 Peter 4:12) – be faithful until death (Revelation 2:10)
  • Teach the lost (1 Thessalonians 1:8) – including so-called Christians (cf. Acts 18:24-26)

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