The word “religion” means “the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.” With that definition in mind, Christianity is indeed a religion, for Christians do BELIEVE in and WORSHIP God as He has been revealed in the Holy Scriptures.

Christianity, by its very name, is centered in the Person of Jesus Christ. It is the truth about who He is (the Son of God who became a sinless Man, while still retaining His deity) and what He has done (His atoning work on the cross to “put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself”—see Hebrews 9:26 along with 1st John 3:5). It also includes the truth of His present work in heaven as the Head of the Church (see Ephesians 1:22 & 23), the believer’s Great High Priest (Hebrews 3:1; 4:14) and Advocate (see 1st John 2:1). The word “Christian” speaks of “one who believes in and follows Jesus Christ.” Acts 11:26 bears this out, “And for an entire year they (Barnabas and Paul) met with the church and taught considerable numbers; and the DISCIPLES WERE FIRST CALLED CHRISTIANS in Antioch.” The church at Antioch was made up of followers of Jesus Christ and their testimony in that community was so strong and effective that the term “Christian” (follower of Christ) was coined to describe them. In light of what we have seen, it is clear that Jesus Christ was NOT a Christian, for He did “NOT follow Himself.”

The word Christian is also found in Acts 26:28 which reads, “Then Agrippa said to Paul, ‘You almost persuade me to become a Christian’.” Paul had given his testimony of his conversion to Jesus Christ and Agrippa was obviously moved to say this. We learn from this that a Christian is one “who preaches Christ” to the unsaved around them with the hopes of them turning to Christ as their Savior and Lord. The third and last time we find the word Christian is in 1st Peter 4:16, “Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.” Here we learn that a Christian should expect to suffer for being a follower of Christ. The Lord Jesus forewarned believers of this in His Upper Room ministry. In John 15:18-20 Jesus said, “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you…if they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.”

In closing, the word “religion” has come to be viewed as “outward forms and ceremonies that one must observe to earn eternal life.” All of the religions of the world (Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, etc.) except for Christianity subscribe to this belief; in other words they believe there is something YOU MUST DO to earn your way to heaven. In contrast, Christianity teaches the sinner that there is nothing you can do to merit salvation, but that ALL HAS BEEN DONE BY JESUS CHRIST when He died for sinners on the cross of Calvary (see John 3:16; 10:11, 17-18, 27-28; 19:30). The moment you believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins so you could have eternal life YOU BECOME A TRUE CHRISTIAN. (297.1) (DO)