Our inquiry is a personal one. “Why are we Christians?” Indeed, each of us owes an enormous debt to those who have gone on before us, from the faith of Abraham to the courage of restorationists like Guy N. Woods. Many of us would not be Christians if it were not for our familial heritage, which seemed to be the case with Timothy (2 Tim. 1:5; 3:15). Yet when it boils down to it, each of us is a Christian because each of us chose it.
The inspired physician tells us “in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians” (Acts 11:26c). Since that day, this name “Christian” has bound all disciples together, whether Jew or Greek, whether male or female, whether black or white. In a short time, this name infiltrated the houses of royalty and spread across the Roman Sea (Acts 28:14ff). By sharing some of the reasons that we are Christians, we might persuade those who hear us each day to become just as we are (Acts 26:28-29).
We Are Christians Because God Has Called Us
No list would be complete without mentioning God. The apostle Peter wrote that we are Christians because of God who called us “out of darkness into His marvelous light” (2 Pet. 2:9). Our English word “call” is quite vague, but the Greek word kaleo can either refer to the act of naming (e.g., as in Acts 11:26 mentioned earlier, or “He was called Jesus” [Luke 2:21], or summoning as in a court summons). Peter uses the latter sense. How does God summon us? He beckons to us through the preaching of His gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ (2 Thess. 2:14). When people believe and surrender to the gospel call, God has called them out of darkness into His marvelous light.
The apostle Peter repeatedly refers to our calling (i.e., when man responds to His calling) as a point of reference for the excellence of moral character. His calling sets the precedence for our holy conduct (1 Pet. 1:15); that we may proclaim His excellencies (1 Pet. 2:9); for our following in Jesus’ steps (1 Pet 2:21); for how we retaliate (1 Pet. 3:9); and His calling is how we will inherit His eternal glory (1 Pet. 5:10; cf. 2 Pet. 1:3).
Let us “give the more diligence to make [our] calling and election sure” (2 Pet. 1:10) by living up to His holy calling.
We Are Christians Because We Believe In Jesus
At the very heart of Christianity is the person and work of Jesus Christ. After all, He is the namesake of our religion. Fifty days after Passover during the Jewish festival of Pentecost, the apostle Peter stood up and preached, “God hath raised [Jesus] up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it” (Acts 2:24). The Christ, “though he was a Son, yet learned obedience by the things which he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became unto all them that obey him the author of eternal salvation” (Heb. 5:8-9).
At the center of Christianity are Jesus and His resurrection. The fact of Jesus’ present living gives Him precedence over all false religions. Indeed, as one poet writes, “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow/Because He lives, all fear is gone/Because I know He holds the future/And life is worth the living, just because He lives.”
By inspiration, Peter and John declared boldly before the Sanhedrin, “This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation is no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:11-12).
We Are Christians Because It Matters
The motivation for the Christian walk is the prize. This was the case for the apostle Paul. He wrote, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14). This was Paul’s driving force behind all that he did. Paul pressed on because he understood his labors mattered. As the apostle concisely wrote after discussing the general resurrection, “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58).
“The uttermost hevel, says the Preacher, the uttermost hevel! All is hevel!” (Eccl. 1:2, paraphrased). This word hevel is a difficult to translate (and it is repeated several times in the Hebrew, simply underscoring the intensity of the word). In an effort to translate it, some have rendered it “meaningless” (NIV, NLT); “vanity” (ESV; KJV; NASB; YLT); “futility” (HCSB); “pointless” (ISV). While these words try to capture the meaning of the Hebrew word hevel, the point is not the life has no meaning, but that its meaning is not always readily apparent. The Hebrew word hevel literally refers to “smoke.” Just like being in a thick cloud of smoke, the meaning of life is not readily visible. Yet there is meaning in what is concluded: “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the totality of man” (Eccl. 12:13).
One day when Jesus returns, He will clear the smoke (hevel) and all the pains of this life will dissolve into eternity. As we often sing, “Soon we will see our dear loving Savior/Hear the last trumpet sound through the sky/Then we will meet those gone on before us/Then we shall know and understand why…Farther along we’ll know all about it/Farther along we’ll understand why/Cheer up my brother, live in the sunshine/We’ll understand it all by and by” (W.B. Stevens, “Farther Along”).
While this list is by no means exhaustive, it contains sufficient reason for this writer to be a Christian. We are Christians because God has called us, because we believe in Christ, and because it matters. If you have never surrendered to Jesus Christ, I encourage you to do so. If you have any questions, the writers of the Carolina Messenger publication would be pleased to give you a Bible answer to any query you may have.
Stephen is a 2012 alumnus of the Memphis School of Preaching in Memphis, TN. He is currently living in Dublin, GA, where he is seeking to further his education in ministry. He is married to Rebekah and they have two children, Emmett and Edison.