Christian Or Christ Follower?

Posted: October 20, 2008 in Christianity
Tags: , ,

There is apparently a movement happening for people to be called Christ followers instead of Christians. Willow Creek Church held its Reveal Conference last week, and this was heavily pushed at the conference. Some audio is available online. I listened to John Ortberg’s session and was very disappointed. He was really pushing this Christ follower theme. He presented different tiers that people fell into in the Bible. Those who heard Jesus and rejected Him. There were also those who believed Jesus and were admirers. And then there were those who acted out all of Jesus’ commands and they were followers. He used this as a way to attack salvation by grace through faith in Jesus. He says these Christians are merely users of Jesus. Those who are believe in Jesus and follow all His teachings and practices are Christ followers. These tiers he sets up do not exist. There are 2 categories, believers and non-believers (sheep and goats). This is really nothing more than works righteousness that is being promoted. Why is it that people always want to add works to what Jesus has already done? By Mr. Orberg’s standards, no one will make it to Heaven. No one is capable of perfectly following all of Jesus’ teachings.

He also makes mention of the fact that the word Christian is only used twice in the Bible. One of those verses is 1 Peter 4:16 – but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name. I guess being a Christ follower Ortberg must be better that Peter who glorified God as a Christian. These people can label themselves however they would like, but don’t try to insinuate a higher righteousness. We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus and we follow Him as a result of that faith. We do not follow Him as a way to show Him how righteous we are. Salvation is not an act of obedience, but an act of faith. Faith that was granted to us by God. We need to stop inventing new labels to show that we are better than the group that used the old label. The only label I care about is the one on judgment day. Sheep or goat?

  1. Churumingas says:


  2. crazychristcraver says:

    I certainly don’t want to speak for the guy, never heard of him, but I can understand how he would choose to be called a Christ follower over Christian. The term Christian has really become watered down, I mean we live in a society where many, if not most, would call themselves Christians, or at least think they are going to heaven (sorry for the run on). I am not saved by my works by any means, but if there is no difference in my behavior after the transformation from “non-believer” to “believer,” then is that really faith. Look up the definition of the Greek word for faith and you’ll have your answer.

    Surely I am not trying to lecture you, nor attacking you. Shoot, you’re awesome! Be blessed and have a great day.

  3. Jason Taber says:


    I definitely agree with what you say. There are too many false Christians whose fruit prove they were never among us. I have no problem with the label, just the implication that some are more righteous because of their works. I don’t do works to prove my salvation, but I do them out of love and admiration for my Savior. This is a result of truly understanding what salvation is. I think Christianity in general has been watered down regardless of the label.

    Thank you for the comments.

  4. ivankatz says:

    Christian Or Christ Follower – sheep or goat?

    The ‘sheep and goat’ verses are found in Matthew 25:31-46. See link below:;&version=45;

    Note: These verses do not mention salvation by –
    1) faith,
    2) believing correct doctrines,
    3) doing good out of love and admiration for the King,
    4) being immersed, dipped or sprinkled,
    5) praying the prayer of salvation or
    6) being a Christian.

    The Amplfied Bible:
    The King states in v. 34: the sheep are blessed by His Father, favored of God and appointed to eternal salvation.


    Who are the sheep? Why did he say they are blessed, favored and appointed?

    He goes on to tell why.

    35For I was …hungry..thirsty… prison …lonely…naked.. and you fed me, visited me, and clothed me.

    But the ‘sheep’ never helped the King in any of these circumstances! So they ask the King when they had ever helped Him.

    And the King replies – ‘Truly I tell you, in so far as you did it for one of the least of these My brethren, you did it for Me.’


    Am I a Christian, Christ Follower, sheep or a goat?


  5. Jason Taber says:


    It appears you believe in a works salvation. You seem to imply they are blessed, favored or appointed because of their good works. Don’t forget the other verses that show that people were appointed before the foundation of the world. They are appointed because of God’s will and by His grace. Works are a result of salvation, not a means for it. If a person is counting on their good works to make it to Heaven, they will never make it. It is the same lie every of other world religion and non-christian cult believes. Putting trust in self instead of the Savior. Also, if you believe you can go to Heaven without faith in Jesus, that is called heresy.

  6. ivankatz says:


    Thanks for your thoughtful response.

    I agree, salvation can not be earned.

    My Shepherd, my Messiah, has taken care of my salvation.

    Because of His ‘good work’ for me and in me, I am able to trust Him, and do His work on earth. He has done it all – I have done nothing!

    That is what Matthew 25:31-46 is sayng. It is does not imply that we can earn our salvation!

    Am I a Christian, Christ Follower, sheep or a goat?


    PS: If you would like to know me better, read my weblog – ‘Journey to Jordan’

  7. Jason Taber says:


    Thanks for the response clarifying your beliefs. I have actually read a little on your blog. I try to read some of the blogs of people who comment here. It helps me to understand a little about the person. Thanks for the interaction.

  8. Shauna says:

    Labels mean nothing to me anymore. I have asked Jesus to be my everything. To guide me, nurture me, make me whole. He takes it from there. My prayer is that he chooses me.

  9. Sam Clark says:

    “and” He said believe in him and do what he did. Why do we divide ourselves? Is there no bridge being built anywhere? 3 cheers to being saved by Grace and 3 cheers to being transformed through repentance, turning and doing something new and righteous but only for the Glory of God that He might be made much of and that our land (or hearts or houses or families or people) might be healed.


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