The term “Christian” was first used in Antioch in Syria. Here, for the first time, the congregation of disciples was made up of both Jews and Gentiles, and it was clear that the gospel was for all of mankind. God’s people were now ready to be called “Christians.”
Apart from Jesus Christ, there is no way back to God, no certainty of truth about God, and no life other than the desperate yearning of our earthly existence. Jesus Christ is not one of many ways to return to God. He is not even the best way. He is the only way.
On Pentecost following Jesus’ resurrection, a large crowd in Jerusalem heard Peter preach the gospel of Christ. Many were “cut to the heart,” and no one in the history of human inquiry has ever asked a better question than they did: What shall we do?
What is the meaning of the titles associated with the name of Jesus in the New Testament? At least sixty times He is referred to as the “Lord Jesus Christ”? To see fully who Jesus is in the gospel message, we need to understand all three of these designations.
God is at the center of both our problem and its solution. The gospel is not primarily about our broken social relationships. These are but symptoms of the real problem: our broken relationship with God. That is what the gospel wants to fix.
We were created for a perfect, eternal joy with God, a joy not subject to change and decay. By our sin, the human race broke that perfection, but we still yearn for it. And in Christ, that is what is offered to us: restoration of the eternal, unfading life we were designed for.
Light is wonderful, but if we don’t respond to the light of truth obediently, the light will condemn us. “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil” (John 3:19).
As was true in Jesus’ day, people today still “come to Jesus” for a confusing range of reasons. So let’s ask this: in the New Testament, who were those who came to Jesus and were received by Him? If we expect Jesus’ welcome, how (and why) should we come?
We can’t receive the benefits of the gospel ourselves and not want to do something to share those benefits with other people. In some kind of personal way, we should want to reach those around us with the message that has brought us such great joy.
Learning God’s character is a growth process that takes time. In Christ, we “are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18). Surely we must not give up before the process has reached its goal.