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Since "Christian" is a Bible word, we must go to the Bible to learn what it means. Acts 11:26 says, "the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch." So Christians are disciples of Christ. But what is a "disciple"? The word means a learner or follower. A disciple studies the instructions of his teacher, and then attempts to live by those principles.
So, a Christian must believe in Christ. Jesus said, "If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins" - John 8: 24. So a "Christian atheist" is like a "chair" which has no seat, back, legs, or arms — there just is no such thing!
But a disciple of Christ must do more than just believe. Jesus said in John 8:31, "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed." A disciple must live by the principles his master teaches. He must be obedient. The word "Christian," then, means one who is Christ-like.
But another important passage is Acts 26:28, where King Agrippa said to the apostle Paul, "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian." When a person is not a Christian, he cannot be a Christian until he becomes a Christian. There must be some point in his life when he begins to be a true disciple of Jesus. How does a person do this? By obeying the instructions of the teacher. Jesus clearly said in Mark 16:16, "He that believetb and is baptized shall be saved." Are you really a Christian?
(c) Copyright David E. Pratte, 2014
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Scripture quotations are generally from the New King James Version (NKJV), copyright 1982, 1988 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. used by permission. All rights reserved.