The VISIBLE MARKS of a ‘TRUE’ CHRISTIAN
November 9 Bible Reading: Acts Chapters 10-12
"So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch." (Acts 11:26)
Christianity is ranked as the largest religion in the world today with approximately 2 billion adherents, and 33% of the world's population is considered to be ‘Christian’. According to World Christian Encyclopedia (2001), there are approximately 38,000 Christian denominations in the world. Of the 2 billion Christians in the world today, 648 million (11% of the world's population) are ‘Evangelical’ Christians. Evangelicals have grown from only 3 million in AD 1500 to 648 million worldwide, with 54% being Non-Whites.
Today in America, about 75% of adults identify themselves as ‘Christian’, while there are more than 1500 different Christian faith groups in America. We need to probe a bit further, and get a clear understanding about who can be referred to as a ‘Christian’, and what are the visible marks of a ‘true’ Christian - strictly based from biblical standards only.
The name ‘Christian’ means ‘adherent to Christ’ or, ‘one who sticks to Christ’. From our biblical passage today, we can understand that the name ‘Christian’ was first given to the disciples in Antioch by others who noted their behavior being similar to that of their teacher Jesus Christ. There are two things that defined the early believers or followers of Christ:
- They talked and preached the gospel and the resurrection of Christ to others (v. 20) with the objective of witnessing to them based on the directive of Acts 1:8.
- They taught scriptures to the believers who assembled in the church (v. 26) with the intention of making them disciples based on the ‘Great Commission’ described in Matt. 28:19-20.