Who is a Christian?
The designation “Christian” is used three times in the New Testament to describe the people of God (Acts 11:26; Acts 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16). Questions with eternal implications are,
- Who is a Christian?
- How to do you identify a Christian?
- What characteristics does a Christian possess?
- Is it possible to determine who is a Christian?
There are several answers given to these questions.
The World’s Definition
The world usually defines a Christian as,
- “A person who believes in God”
- “A person who believes in Jesus Christ”
- “A good person”
- “One who is kind and loving”
- “A person who does good works”
- “A religious person”
The Dictionary Definition
The dictionary defines a Christian as,
- One who believes or professes or is assumed to believe in Jesus Christ and the truth as taught by him
- an adherent of Christianity
- one who has accepted the Christian religious and moral principles of life; one who has faith in and had pledged allegiance to God thought of as revealed in Christ
- one whose life is conformed to the doctrines of Christ (in Antioch the disciples were for the first time called Christians – Acts 11:26).
The Biblical Definition of a Christian
According to the Bible, a Christian is a forgiven sinner. Sin enters the life of an individual when he/she violates or disobeys God’s instructions (1 John 3:4). The apostle Paul pointed out to the church in Rome, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). The results or payday for sin is also stated by Paul later in the same book. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Death is a separation and the sinner will be separated from God eternally (Matthew 25:46).
Because of God’s grace, mercy, and love He sent His only begotten Son into the world to provide salvation for those who were separated from him bytheir sin (Isaiah 59:1-2; John 3:16; John 1:29). Man’s sin can only be removed by the blood of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 9:22; Hebrews 9:14; Hebrews 9:24-26; Hebrews 10:12; Revelation 1:5).
Please keep in mind that we have under consideration the teachings of God’s Word concerning how one becomes a Christian. When the believing (John 8:24), penitent (Luke 13:3), confessing (Matthew 10:32-33), sinner is baptized into the death of Jesus Christ (Mark 16:16; Romans 6:3-4), he/she contacts the blood of Jesus Christ which He shed at His death (John 19:34; Romans 6:3) and is cleansed from all sins (Acts 2:38).
Being cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ the child of God is added, by God, to the church which is the spiritual body of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:41-47; Ephesians 4:4; Colossians 1:18). This action is illustrated in the obedience of the great multitude in Acts 2.
- The Gospel of Jesus Christ was preached – Acts 2:22-36
- The audience was convinced of sin – Acts 2:36
- They asked what they must do – Acts 2:37
- They were instructed – Acts 2:38
- They obeyed – Acts 2:41
- God added them to the church – Acts 2:47
- It is the church, the spiritual body of Jesus Christ, that God had promised to save – Ephesians 5:23
Jesus Christ clearly sets forth what man must do to obtain remission of sins.
- Believe in Him – John 8:24
- Repent of sins – Luke 13:3
- Confess Him as God’s Son – Matthew 10:32-33
- Be baptized – Mark 16:16
A Christian is a Servant of God
Paul describes himself as a servant of God (Titus 1:1), a servant of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:1), and describes the mission of a servant of Jesus Christ in a very clear manner in his letter to the Philippians, “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21), and to the Galatians, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ that lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Jesus taught His apostles that the servant is to serve the master (Luke 17:7-10).
God expects many things of His servants. He expects them to:
- Love – John 14:15; John 13:34-35
- Live a pure life – Romans 12:1-2; 1 John 2:15
A Christian is a Worshipper
The Christian is a worshipper of the one true God, the Jehovah God of the Bible (Matthew 4:10). This worship is to be directed to God in spirit and truth (John 4:24). Worshipping God in spirit is to worship from the heart or inner man and to worship God in truth is to worship Him according to His word (John 17:17). When man worships God in a way to fulfill his own desires, that worship is vain (Matthew 15:7-9).
The importance of worship becomes evident when we realize that in worship God is honored, reverenced, adored, glorified, and praised. The Bible states, “Holy and awesome is His name” (Psalms 111:9). The word reverend teaches that God is worthy of worship. Also in the very act of worshipping God Christians also teach and encourage each other (Colossians 3:16) in the Christian life. Worship is very important (Hebrews 10:25).
A Christian Helps Those in Need
One of the outstanding characteristics of a Christian is the love which is an integralpart of his life. His love for God is evident by his obedience (John 14:15), his love for all mankind is manifested by his willingness to teach them the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:16; Mark 16:15). A further manifestation of the Christian’s love is seen in his helping those who are in need.
The Christian assists those who are in physical need (Galatians 6:10; James 1:27). A Biblical example of this fact is observed in many passages of scripture (Acts 2:44-45; Acts 4:36-37; Romans 15:26-29; 2 Corinthians 9:12-15).
The Christian also assists fellow Christians who have a spiritual need (1 Thessalonians 5:14; Galatians 6:1).
A Christian Teaches Others the Gospel
The greatest love which can be shown to mankind is to teach him the saving Gospel (Romans 1:16) of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18; Mark 16:16). The Gospel can be taught one-on-one (Acts 8:26), house to house (Acts 20:28), in public places (Acts 17:19), in a religious gathering (Acts 19:8), in a school room setting (Acts 19:9), and by the printed word (2 Peter 3:1). These avenues of teaching coupled with a Godly example, will be effective in relating the Gospel to the unsaved. Not the example of the apostles and the early Christians (Acts 5:41-42; Acts 8:41).
A Christian is a Saint
Writing to the Christians in Corinth Paul refers to them and the “church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints,” (1 Corinthians 1:2). A Christian is sanctified, that is, set apart for a sacred purpose or consecrated to religious use. Paul describes the Christian as a new creature or creation in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), and indicated that God’s children are “created in Christ Jesus for good works” (Ephesians 2:10). The Christian, therefore, is a saint, set apart for the Father’s use to bring glory and honor to God’s name before the world (Matthew 5:16).
A Christian is a Priest of Jehovah God
In the Old Testament, during the Jewish age, priests served the people as they worshipped God daily in the temple (Luke 1:8-10). The high priest entered the Holy of Holies (most holy) annually on the Day of Atonement to make sacrifice for his sins and the sins of Israel (Leviticus 16; Hebrews 9:25; Hebrews 10:1-4).
In the Christian age, in which we are now living, Jesus Christ is the Christian’s high priest (Hebrews 3:1; Hebrews 4:15) who has made sacrifice for our sins (Hebrews 9:11-10:12). As high priest, Jesus is our mediator (1Timothy 2:5). The child of God is a priest, a member of the royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9), who through Jesus Christ as his mediator can enter the throne room of Jehovah God (Hebrews 4:16), and offer his worship unto God.
A Christian is a Member of the Family of God
In His spiritual family, the church, Jehovah God is the Father (Ephesians 3:14-15; Hebrews 10:9), Jesus Christ is the elder brother (Hebrews 2:11-12), and Christians are brothers and sisters in His family (Matthew 23:8; Galatians 6:1-2). As the Christian walks in the light (according to the righteous instructions of God), he enjoys fellowship with God and His children (1 John 1:7). Within this fellowship the Christian experiences a love which is unknown or even understood by the world (John 13:34).
The family of God is made up of many member which compose one body (1 Corinthians 12:20; Ephesians 4:4), which is the church (Colossians 1:18). It is to the church that the saved are added (Acts 2:47) and it is the body which Christ will save (Ephesians 5:23).
A Christian is Married Spiritually to Christ
When John the baptizer declared that he was not the Christ (John 3:28), he identified himself asthe friend of the bridegroom and established the fact that the bridegroom is Jesus Christ (John 3:28-30). The apostle Paul identifies the church as the bride of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:2-3). Paul taught the Romans that they “also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another – to Him who was raised from the dead” (Romans 7:1-4). When one obeys the Gospel of Jesus Christ his sins are removed by the blood of Jesus and then God adds him to the church (Acts 2:36-47) which is the bride of Jesus Christ!
The child of God is to be faithful unto death (Revelation 2:10), and is promised eternal life in heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).
Blessings of Being a Christian
Although there are many blessings which come as a result of being a Christian, the limitation of space will not allow the enumeration of each one. Some of the most familiar are:
- Spiritual blessings in Christ - Ephesians 1:3
- Protection during the time of temptation – 1 Corinthians 10:13
- Abundant life on earth – John 10 :10
- Assurance of eternal life in Heaven – John 14:1-4
The Christian is thankful to God for these and all other blessings which enable him to walk in the light as He is in the light!