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What is a Christian?

30 October, 2007 (12:25pm) | Blog

Excerpt taken from What Is A Christian? by Wayne Mack. Please read the whole article.

What is a Christian? Here are some common misconceptions:

Salvation is by good works.
“Well, I certainly am a Christian; I’m doing the best I can. I try to live by the Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule and the Sermon on the Mount.”

Salvation is the free gift of God.

“For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast”
Ephesians 2:8-9

The word “grace” means unmerited favor.

Salvation is by heredity.
“Most assuredly, I’m a Christian. If I’m not, I don’t know who is. My mother and father are very religious. I have an uncle who is a minister.”

Physical heritage, blood lineage, family connections or any other such factors, do not have anything to do with whether or not a person is a Christian.

“But as many as received him [Jesus Christ], to them God gave the authority to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God”
John 1:12-13

Salvation is by religious activity.
“Indeed I am. I have always gone to church and Sunday School. I have been baptized and confirmed. I joined the church when I was fourteen.”

a Christian is not simply one who is active in religious matters.

“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have not we prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out demons? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me”
Matthew 7:22-23

Salvation is by profession of faith.
“I know I’m a Christian because when the evangelist gave the invitation I went to the front and made a decision for Christ. My counselor showed me that if I accepted Jesus as my personal Saviour, I would never be lost again. I didn’t want to be lost–hell is a terrible place–so I accepted Jesus, and I know now that no matter what happens, God will never reject me. I know it because I went to the altar and professed faith in Jesus Christ.”

“Now when he [Jesus] was in Jerusalem at the Passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not trust himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man; for he knew what was in man”
John 2:23-25

These people made a profession of faith but our Lord would not trust himself unto them because he knew that their profession of faith was not real.

You just can’t know whether or not you are saved.
“I don’t don’t know if I am, and I don’t see how anyone can really know for sure in this life. I guess I’ll just have to wait until I die to find out.”

“For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day”
2 Timothy 1:12

“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God”
1 John 5:13

Every human being is a Christian and will most certainly go to heaven.
“Sure, I’m a Christian. Isn’t everybody? Isn’t God the Father of all men? We may be going by different roads, but all of these roads lead to the same place. It doesn’t really matter what you believe, just so you are sincere–everyone who is sincere in his own religion is a Christian.”

“He that believeth on him [Jesus Christ] is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God”
John 3:18

“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him”
John 3:36

When tested by the standard of God’s Word these six common answers to the question, “What is a Christian?” are proved to be inadequate and false. All of them are contrary to the Word of God. According to the Bible if your answer to the question “What is a Christian?” is any one of the six opinions that we have just considered, you are wrong. According to the Bible if the basis for your hope of heaven is founded upon any one of these opinions, your hope is based upon a wrong foundation and you are not a Christian. Why? Because a Christian is not simply a person who performs good works; or a person who has been born of Godly parents; or a person who is active in religious matters; or a person who has made a profession of faith; or a person who has been baptized; or a person who has responded to an invitation.

So how can we know what a Christian really is?

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”
Psalm 119:105

“The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. [...] The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.”
Psalm 19:7-8

“[...] the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching [to teach us what is true], rebuking [to make us realize what is wrong in our lives], correcting [to straighten out our errors] and training in righteousness [to teach us and train us in what is right].”
2 Timothy 3:15-16

These Scriptures tell us that God has given us the Bible to make us wise in spiritual matters. Therefore, it only makes sense that we should turn to the Bible to find an answer to the question “What is a Christian?” If we want to travel to a certain city, we get a map and discover the best way to go. We don’t turn to some person who has never been there for directions because he doesn’t know any more about it than we do. Nor do we turn to a philosophy or science book for directions. No, we turn to a map of the area in which that city is located because that map was made to give us directions. So it is with the Bible. It was produced by the inspiration and superintendence of Almighty God that we might be made wise concerning the way of salvation.

Here is what the Bible says a Christian is:

A Christian is a person who has been radically changed by the power of God.
2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:9-10; Ephesians 2:10; Galatians 6:15; 2 Peter 1:2-4; James 1:17;
1 John 2:29; 1 John 3:7; 1 Peter 1:15-16; James 1:18; 1 John 5:1; John 1:12-13; Titus 3:5; John 5:24-25; Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13; Luke 15:24,32

A Christian is a person who has become and is becoming increasingly aware of his own unworthiness in the sight of God.
1 John 3:4; Romans 7:24; Romans 7:21-23; Psalm 51; Jeremiah 17:9; Luke 18:13; Romans 8:7-8; John 3:7; Romans 3:9-19; Romans 3:23; Romans 8:7-8; Psalm 10:4; Psalm 53:1-3; Psalm 58:3; Psalm 143:2; 2 Chronicles 6:36; Ecclesiastes 7:20; Genesis 6:5; Proverbs 22:15; Jeremiah 13:23; Mark 7:21-23; John 3:19; John 8:44,34; Ephesians 2:2-3; 2 Timothy 3:4; 1 John 1:10

A Christian is a person who believes that Jesus Christ is God manifest in the flesh and the only Saviour and substitute of sinners.
Romans 5:15; 1 Timothy 2:5; 1 Corinthians 15:21; John 8:40; Romans 3:21-26; Hebrews 4:15; John 14:30; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5; 2 Corinthians 5:21; John 8:29; John 17:1-4; Luke 1:35; Matthew 3:17; Matthew 27:4; Matthew 23:41; Luke 1:35; Mark l:24; 1 Peter 1:19; Hebrews 7:26; 9:14; John 1:1,14; John 10:30; John 14:9b;Hebrews 1:8; Romans 9:5; John 20:28; 1 John 3:16; Titus 2:13; 1 John 5:20; Isaiah 6:1-4; John 12:41; Joel 2:32; Romans 10:13; Matthew 10:32,37; Matthew 18:20; Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 2:5-12; Luke 4:16-21; Luke 24:27,44; John 1:1,3,29; John 2:25; John 3:13,36; John 5:17,46; John 6:35; John 8:12, John 56-58; John 10:27-30; John 11:25-26; John 14:9-11; John 21:17; Acts 10:43; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Galatians 1:3; Philippians 2:5-6; Colossians 1:14,16,17; Colossians 2:9; 1 Timothy 3:14-16; Hebrews 1:3,10; Hebrews 4:12-13; Revelation 1:8; Isaiah 9:6; 1 Timothy 1:15; Luke 19:10; Matthew 1:21; Luke 2:10-11; John 14:6; John 3:18; John 3:36; Acts 4:12; Matthew 5:17; Romans 5:19; Philippians 2:8; Hebrews 5:8-9; Romans 10:4; John 8:29; 1 Corinthians 15:3; Isaiah 53:5-6; 2 Corinthians 5:19,21; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 Peter 3:18; Romans 3:24-26; Romans 5:6-11; Ephesians 1:6-7; Galatians 3:13; Galatians 3:10; Romans 3:9,19; James 2:10;

A Christian is a person who has repented of his sins and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ.
John 3:18,36; John 10:25-26; Luke 13:3; Luke 5:32; Mark 1:14-15; Luke 24:46-48; Acts 3:19,26; Acts 10:36-43; Acts 11:18; Acts 17:30; Acts 20:17-21; Acts 26:19-20; Revelation 3:17-20; Isaiah 6:5; Luke 18:13; Luke 23:40-41; 2 Corinthians 7:9-11; Joel 2:12; Jeremiah 31:18; Psalm 119:104; Ezekiel 20:43; Isaiah 55:7; Proverbs 28:13; Ezekiel 36:25-32; Zechariah 12:10; Luke 15:18; Psalm 51:1-12; Luke 22:59-62; Luke 13:3; Ephesians 2:8-9; John 3:36; John 3:18; Acts 16:30-31; Romans 10:9,10,13; Luke 14:27;

What then, in summary, is a Christian?

A Christian is a person who has been radically changed by the power of God. A Christian is a person who has been deeply convicted by the Holy Spirit of his own unworthiness before God and of his desperate need of God’s mercy. A Christian is a person who believes that Jesus Christ is the God-man who came into the world to be the only Saviour and Substitute of sinners. A Christian is a person who has genuinely repented of his sins and savingly believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. He has actually looked unto Jesus Christ for salvation and called upon Jesus Christ for salvation.

Having seen the clear teaching of Scripture on the essence of Christianity, I want to press home a very personal question at this point—can you honestly say that you are a Christian? Remember the essence of Christianity is not any of the things that we mentioned at the beginning of this article. We have seen from the Bible which is the only book to which we can turn for an answer to the question, “What is a Christian?” that these are false answers. If you have been clinging to these illusions about Christianity, turn from them to believe what the Bible has to say in answer to the question, “What is a Christian?” Turn from your own opinions and the opinions of others to the infallible Word of God “which is able to make you wise unto salvation which is by faith in Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 3:15). Ask God to impress upon you your own unworthiness and to reveal to you his Son Jesus Christ, who came into the world to save all sinners who would come to him. Call upon his name to save you now, for his promise is that “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved” (Romans 10:13). Ask him to forgive your sins, thank him for dying in the place of lost sinners, confess Jesus Christ before men as the Lord and Sovereign of your life and be assured that if you have sincerely done this or will do this, you may stand up before God and men and confess, “by the all availing and powerful blood of Jesus Christ, and by the power of the Holy Spirit who has now worked in my life, I am a Christian.”

Read the whole article here.


Comment from emmasometimes
Time: 23 February 2008, 10:30 pm

Well said. At times I have difficulty in saying that I am a Christian just because it means so many things, stereotypical and otherwise, to others. I just want people to know I have a personal relationship with God and read and follow the Bible.

Christian is ‘follower of Christ’ so in the true definition, I gladly proclaim I am.

Comment from Michael
Time: 23 February 2008, 10:46 pm

Thanks. My favorite part of this post is “A Christian is a person who has been radically changed by the power of God.” So many people think that being a Christian means you do this, or believe that, when really, it’s just a word that describes your relationship with Christ. If you have the time, read the full article. It’s really good.

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