How does the world describe or define a Christian or follower of Jesus Christ? There are a lot of definitions of "Christian" in the world. For many it means an intellectual belief that there is a God and He has a son named Jesus, who was some sort of Messiah. Lets ignore the worldly definitions and see how the Bible defines a Christian. We must define the word ‘Christian’ from the Scriptures so that we can strip away the historical and cultural from the term and define it the way God does.
A Christian definition includes someone who puts their complete faith in Jesus. This is more than intellectual assent. With the word ‘Believing’ in the New Testament we have a sense of the word that it is a heart thing, not a head thing. Romans 10:9-11 says, ‘If you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.’
A Christian is someone who has Jesus Christ living in them; who believes, has the Spirit of Christ, and evidences fruit. Also a Christian is someone who is changing daily to become more like Jesus. This has nothing to do with any particular denomination, which are all man made, but only to be a follower of Jesus Christ.
We can also learn from the Scriptures how we can recognize who is a saved person from one who is still dead in sin. The word ‘Christian’ is actually only found three times in the entire Bible. Two of the instances are in Acts 27:28-29 when Paul gave his defence before King Agrippa, ‘Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?’ The other instance is in Peter's letter to the churches in Asia Minor, 1 Peter 4:16 ‘If you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.’
The term ‘Christian’ comes from the Greek word ‘christianos,’ which means Christ-man. It seems the name ‘Christian’ arose as a derogatory term that was given to believers. The term ‘Christian’ was invented, apparently, by unbelievers in Antioch as a label for disciples. In the Bible, this word was first used as a nickname, a term of reproach, because the believers were desiring to live for and follow Christ.
Thus, a Christian is a person who is totally devoted to Christ, occupied by following and living for Christ.
By this definition, many people who call themselves Christians actually are not. They might have believed and received Christ, yet they are not living as adherents of Christ.
The other use of the word ‘Christian’ in the Bible is a real eye-opener. In Acts 11, we read ‘The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch.’ So a Christian is a disciple. The words Christian and disciple mean exactly the same thing. The term ‘Christian’ was invented by unbelievers in Antioch as a label for disciples. According to the Word of God, the only person who can accurately be called a Christian is a disciple.
So let's use the word ‘Christian’ the way God does even though it contradicts the worlds opinions. By looking at the scriptural definition of the word disciple, we will at the same time be defining the term ‘Christian.’ The New Testament uses the term "disciple" almost 300 times. A Christian, then, is to imitate Jesus Christ.
He is a man of faith as he learns and understands Christ’s life.
A Christian is not to be content to be lukewarm, but to be transformed daily into His likeness.
He is to be a man of zeal in season and out of season, willing to suffer and to sacrifice; for Christ’s name.
He is a man of prayer and desired to follow the master in continual prayer to the Father.
He is man of holiness as he follows the Master. He knows that he is redeemed to be holy, to do good works, to follow righteousness. He would not be content with just being saved but seeks to become more unlike the world.
He is a man of love in loving the Father, the brethren, sinners, and to show love at all times, in word and deed.