What is a Christian?
What is a Christian? The Perception
The answer to the question “What is a Christian?” will vary greatly depending on whom you ask. To some, it means you were born in a “Christian” nation or you come from a “Christian” family. To others, it means you believe in Jesus or the religion that is based on Jesus’ teachings. Yet others use the word “Christian” to speak of a deep personal relationship between Jesus Christ and an individual.
What is a Christian? The Biblical Definition
Since the Bible is the authority for the Christian faith, let’s see what it says about the word “Christian.” The word is only used 3 times in the New Testament and each instance is referring to the first “Christians” of the early church.
“…So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch” (Acts 11:26).
“Then Agrippa said to Paul, ‘Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?’” (Acts 26:28).
“However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name” (1 Peter 4:16).
The Bible says that good works do not make us acceptable to God. In other words, a person can live to a high moral standard, give money to feed the poor, go to church, and serve their neighbors, and yet not be a Christ follower or “Christian.”
Titus 3:3-6 says, “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”
Ephesians 2:8-9 explains further, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”
What is a Christian? The Believer’s Response
Once you answer the question, “What is a Christian,” you have the personal responsibility to ask yourself, “What does this mean to me? Have I rejected or accepted God’s gift?”
If you’ve accepted God’s gift of salvation, how has your life changed? Do you have the marks of a follower of Jesus Christ, a Christian? If so, your life will be characterized by love for others and obedience to God’s Word. 1 John 2:4-6 says, “Whoever says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.”
If you’ve never accepted God’s free gift, we encourage you to continue your investigation. What is holding you back? What questions do you have? Please write and let us know.
If you are ready to trust Jesus and become a Christian, believe in Christ and commit the rest of your life to Him. Understand that sin separates you from God (Romans 6:23) and Jesus died as your substitute (Romans 5:8). You can have faith in Jesus to forgive you and give you eternal life with Him, rather than eternal death.
Talk to God and tell Him that you want Him in your life. Remember, saying a prayer will not save you. You are simply expressing your faith to God through prayer.
“Father, I know that I have broken your laws and my sins have separated me from you. I am truly sorry, and now I want to turn away from my past sinful life toward you. Please forgive me. I believe that your son, Jesus Christ died for my sins, was resurrected from the dead, is alive, and hears my prayer. I invite Jesus to become the Lord of my life, to rule and reign in my heart from this day forward. Please send your Holy Spirit to help me obey You, and to do Your will for the rest of my life. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.”
If you decided to receive Jesus today, welcome to God's family. Now, as a way to grow closer to Him, the Bible tells us to follow up on our commitment.
- Get baptized as commanded by Christ.
- Tell someone else about your new faith in Christ.
- Spend time with God each day. It does not have to be a long period of time. Just develop the daily habit of praying to Him and reading His Word. Ask God to increase your faith and your understanding of the Bible.
- Seek fellowship with other followers of Jesus. Develop a group of believing friends to answer your questions and support you.
- Find a local church where you can worship God.
What is your response?
Yes, today I am deciding to follow Jesus
Yes, I am already a follower of Jesus
I still have questions