Believers were first called Christians at Antioch. The secular Greek speaking communities identified followers of Jesus Christ as Christians. It was much the same way they would have identified the followers of Aristotle as Aristotelians or of Epicurus as Epicureans. The church at Antioch must have distinguished themselves as followers of Jesus Christ above all other names. They were not called by the name of any common man. They were called Christians.
Who is a Christian? The simple answer is one who follows Jesus Christ. How does one follow Jesus Christ? Our Lord answered the question himself, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.”(Matthew16:24) A Christian is one who denies himself. He does not live to protect his own rights, even if that leads to his own cross.
A Christian is one who will not seek his own welfare but that of others. “Open thy mouth for the mute in the cause of all who are appointed unto death.”(Proverbs 31:8) “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”(James 1:27) One very clear example of following the Lord in this way is to decry abortion. To speak and to act in defense of the defenseless is to follow Jesus Christ and his teachings.
A Christian is one who seeks to conform his words and his actions to the words and actions of Jesus Christ. A Christian may fall, but he will “seek to be justified by Christ.”(Galatians 2:17) As the Apostle John said, “If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”(I John 1:9)
A Christian is one who lives by faith in the forgiveness of God our Father. Therefore the Christian will forgive others who do him harm. “If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if you forgive men not their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”(Matthew 6:14-15)
One who is a Christian will live in such a way before both God and men as to move the secular community to say, “That man follows Jesus Christ.” A Christian should be called a Christian in his own Antioch.
How does one become a Christian?
On the day of Pentecost Peter told the people, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…”(Acts:2:38) To become a Christian one must repent of his sins, be baptized in open confession of his change, and follow Jesus Christ.