Webster’s Dictionary defines a Christian as “a person professing belief in Jesus
as the Christ or in the religion based on the teaching of Jesus.” While this is
a good starting point in understanding what a Christian is, like many secular definitions,
it falls somewhat short of really communicating the biblical truth of what it means
to be a Christian.
The word Christian is used three times in New Testament (Acts 11:26, Acts 26:28,
1 Peter 4:16). Followers of Jesus Christ were first called “Christians” in Antioch
(Acts 11:26) because their behavior, activity, and speech were like Christ. It was
originally used by the unsaved people of Antioch as a kind of contemptuous nickname
used to make fun of the followers of Jesus. It literally means, “belonging to the
party of Christ” or an “adherent or follower of Christ,” which is very similar to
the way Webster’s Dictionary defines it.
Unfortunately over time, the word "Christian" has lost a great deal of
it significance and is often used of someone who is religious or has high moral
values instead of a true follower of Jesus Christ. Many people who don’t believe
and trust in Jesus Christ consider themselves Christians simply because they go
to church or they live in a "Christian" nation. But going to church, serving
those less fortunate than you, or being a good person does not make you a Christian.
As one evangelist once said, “Going to church doesn’t make one a Christian anymore
than going to a garage makes one an automobile.” Being a member of a church, attending
services regularly, and giving to the work of the church cannot make you a Christian.
The Bible teaches us that the good works we do cannot make us acceptable to God.
Titus 3:5 tells us that it is “not by works of righteousness which we have done,
but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and
renewing of the Holy Spirit.” So, a Christian is someone who has been born-again
by God (John 3:3, John 3:7, 1 Peter 1:23) and has put their faith and trust in Jesus
Christ. Ephesians 2:8 tells us that it is “by grace you have been saved through
faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.”
A true Christian is someone who has repented of his or her sin and put faith and
trust in Jesus Christ alone. Their trust is not in following a religion or a set
of moral codes, or a list of do’s and don’ts. A true Christian is a person who believes
in the absolute authority of the Holy Scriptures, in the deity of Jesus Christ,
in the virgin birth and resurrection of Jesus Christ. A true Christian believes
in a salvation that is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. True Christians
also believe in the return of Jesus Christ for the purpose of judging the living
and the dead. A true Christian develops a personal relationship with God as the
"Father", the "Son", and the "Holy Spirit."
John 1:12 tells us: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become
children of God, to those who believe in His name.” A true Christian is indeed a
child of God, a part of God’s true family, and one who has been given new life in
Christ. The mark of a true Christian is love for others and obedience to God’s Word
(1 John 2:4, 1 John 2:10).