What is a Christian? What does it mean?
Am I a Christian or a disciple of Jesus? I need to think this through. It is an important question. I think it is fine to use the term Christian. I am concerned that it is confusing to non-believers. That is why I personally favor other terms like disciple or follower.
I am a slave to Jesus. Jesus is my King and Master. Now that is some good news. I have been freed from being a slave to missing God’s goal for my life (aka sin).
Jesus used the term disciple but never Christian. The first instance of the word Christian is found in the book of Acts: “The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch” (Acts 11:26).
Most Bible scholars agree that it is unlikely that the believers themselves thought up the name “Christians.” The early church had other names for themselves, such as “disciples” (Acts 13:52; 20:1; 21:4) and “saints” (Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1; Ephesians 1:1) and “brothers” (1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 Peter 3:8).
Jesus was quite explicit about the cost of our following Him. Discipleship requires that we have a totally committed life:
“Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33).
Sacrifice is expected:
“Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).
Jesus is our Master. We are His slaves. That is the demand of discipleship.
“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master.“ | Matthew 10:24 (NASB)
Not all of Jesus’ followers were able to make such a commitment. There were many who left Jesus after a while.
“From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him” (John 6:66).
As disciples, are we learning from Jesus? The Greek term for “disciple” in the New Testament is mathetes, which means more than just “student” or “learner.” A disciple is a “follower,” someone who adheres completely to the teachings of another, making them his rule of life and conduct. The Pharisees prided themselves in being disciples of Moses (John 9:28).
Jesus’ followers were called “disciples” long before they were ever called “Christians.” Their discipleship began with Jesus’ call and required them to exercise their will to follow Him (Matthew 9:9). Jesus demanded they become slaves of the Master (aka Owner). This isn’t optional even though it sounds repugnant.
History of the Christian Training Center
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In the early 1970’s, Jay and Sally Fesperman had a vision to open a retreat center for businessmen. It was from this desire that they founded the Inn of Last Resort. In the simplest of words – “Life is Relationships” – Jay Fesperman defined the heart of the ministry. Since its inception, “The Inn” has been involved in training and giving counsel to numerous families, pastors and lay people. The “Inn of the Last Resort” aptly alludes to the condition of many people who have found their way to this sanctuary in the rural Smoky Mountains. As word of the ministry spread, our name was revised to Christian Training Center International. Learn more here.
In 1980, Larry and Susan Pons joined the Fespermans in the ministry. Before Jay’s passing in 1992, CTCI had grown to be more global in its influence. Expansion of the ministry’s impact began to reach overseas and has subsequently brought scores of fellow Christians here for training and renewal. During its existence, over 70,000 people from more than 60 nations have come through the doors seeking a deeper reality of God in their lives.
Our prayer and focus has remained the same for years. First, that Jesus be Lord over all, through all and in all. Secondly that healthy, Godly relationships will always be the driving force of this ministry. This is the heartbeat of the ministry that the Lord has given us, and it is one we trust the Lord will continue to lead us in until He returns.
Learn more here.