by Kevin Rutherford
The word “Christian” is only found three times in the New Testament (Acts ; 26:28; 1 Peter ). This word simply means “a follower of Christ.” Only those who follow Jesus can properly wear the name Christian. Who is following Jesus? There are many different groups that refer to themselves as Christians, but they are all teaching and practicing different things. Can they all be “Christians” in the true sense of the word?
Jesus Christ said His word will judge men in the last day (John ). This word that is to be our standard of judgment was given to the apostles by inspiration of the Holy Spirit (John ). The word they received was revealed to men through verbal teaching and through writing (1 Corinthians 2:1-16). They confirmed the truth of their verbal teaching by the performance of miracles (Mark -20; Hebrews 2:1-4). The inspired written word became the standard for the church (2 Timothy , 17; 1 Corinthians ). The written New Testament is the Word of Christ. It is the word He gave to men through inspiration. To follow Christ is to follow His Word. Therefore to follow Christ is to follow the New Testament. Anyone who follows the New Testament is a Christian. Those who do not cannot truly call themselves Christians.
There are many in the world who call Jesus Lord, but they are not followers of Him because they do not obey the Word of God (Matthew -29). They are not Christians even though they refer to themselves as such. Therefore, the term “Christian” is used in a much more narrow way in the New Testament than it is used by most people today.
Only Jesus Christ had the authority to establish a church (Matthew , 19; 28:18). The church which He established is the one you read of in the New Testament (Ephesians , 23; 4:4). It is the one that was established on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ (Acts 2:1-47). Because Jesus is the only one with the God given authority to establish a church, all other churches are sinful. None of the churches started by men have the authority to exist. None of the churches started by men are truly following Christ. Therefore, the members of those churches cannot truly refer to themselves as Christians, and there are no faithful Christians in any man made denomination.