The Bible's Definition of a Christian
The Bible isn't a systematic text book. Therfore what it teaches must be gathered from its various parts. You will find Bible passages at the end of most paragraphs from which the various statements have been obtained.
1. A Christian is a person who has come to see themselves as God sees them.
That is, as a sinner, a rebel against His authority - an enemy of God; lost, hopeless, unable to deliver themselves and standing justly condemned under God's righteous law; fully deserving the just punishment of hell.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way (Isaiah Ch 53 verse 6).
The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians Ch 2 verse 14).
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned (Roman Ch 5 verse 12).
All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one." "Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit." "The poison of vipers is on their lips." "Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness." "Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know." "There is no fear of God before their eyes." (Romans Ch 3 verses 12 - 18
The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. (Romans Ch 8 verses 6 & 7)
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.....believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." (John Ch 3 verses 18 & 36
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew Ch 10 verse 28)
2. A Christian has embraced the "righteousness of God through faith".
That is, they have accepted the only means that God offers of being in a right relationship with Him. This is through the perfect life, the sacrificial death and supernatural resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ, God's Son. A Christian trusts what God has done in Christ as satisfying God's righteous justice for their sins and more than this, that the righteous life of Jesus Christ is accepted as theirs.
For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith." (Romans Ch 1 verse 17)
He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. (1 Peter Ch 2 verse 22)
But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. (1 John Ch 3 verse 5)
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans Ch 8 verse 1)
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians Ch 5 verse 21)
3. A Christian is one in whom God has placed His Holy Spirit,
A Christian is one in whom God has placed His Holy Spirit granting them a turning away from their sin and enmity towards God, faith in what God has promised and causing them to live a life in the love of God and obedience to Him. This means they have a love for God's Word, the Scriptures; an obedience to God's will as revealed in the Scriptures; a desire to see God's reign extended in their own lives and the lives of others and a love for God's people, the Church.
. . . . because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. (Romans Ch 8 verse 14-16)
God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. (Acts Ch 5 verse 31)
Thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. (Romans Ch 6 verse 17)
This, then, is how you should pray: "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven". (Matthew Ch 6 vesre 9 & 10)
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. (1 Peter Ch 1 verse 22)
When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off--for all whom the Lord our God will call." With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation." Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. (Acts Ch 2 verses 37-42)
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John Ch 13 verses 35 & 35)
These features of a Christian will be in every believer, sometimes more, sometimes less, but always present, even if just in seed form.
Are you a Christian?
Many people say they are Christians, but does this profession measure up against what the Bible says a Christian is?
If you say you are a Christian, what is the basis for saying this? Your answer might be something like one of the following statements: “I live in a Christian country”; “I have always been a Christian”; “my parents were Christians”; “I have always been to church”; “I don't do anything to hurt other people”; “I am a moral and upright citizen”; “I do a lot of work for Charities”. These, however, are not the answers that the Bible gives to this question.
The Bible deals with our status in God's eyes, the one who made us and keeps us being. It deals with the matters of our heart, our inmost self. Where we were born and the things we have done, even the best things, are not what makes us accepted in God's estimation – and that is what really counts in the end!
My son, give me your heart and let your eyes keep to my ways (Proverbs Ch 23 verse 26)
Many will say to me on that day, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, `I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' (Matthew Ch 7 verses 22 & 23)
"But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. "Later the others also came. `Sir! Sir!' they said. `Open the door for us!' "But he replied, `I tell you the truth, I don't know you.' (Matthew Ch 25 verses 10-12)
We are told by Jesus Christ Himself that there is only one way to God, only one way to be accepted by Him. Jesus tells us that He is the way, He alone.
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John Ch 14 verse 6)
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. (Acts Ch 4 vesre 12)
How is it that Jesus Christ is the only way to God? The Scripture teaches us that all human beings are born with a terrible problem, one they can't resolve themselves. This problem is their own internal enmity against God's rightful and absolute rule over their lives. It's not just an internal problem. It makes us think and do what we want, not what God wants. The Bible uses the word “sin” for this. It means to “miss the mark”. This is what we inherited from the first man, Adam, who started the rebellion. This is my problem; this is your problem too.
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him. (John Ch 3 verse 36)
the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. (Romans Ch 8 verses 7 & 8)
All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. (Ephesians Ch 2 verse 3)
Not only do we have this terrible problem internally towards God, but also we have another one as a consequence. This is God's just condemnation of our sin and rightful anger against us. We have all “missed the mark” and the result is that God has pronounced the “guilty” verdict against us for our sin; yours and mine. The sentence against this guilt is death, both physically and spiritually, ultimately resulting in an eternal separation from God's goodness and an eternal and awful punishment that the Bible calls Hell. A fearful yet just punishment for our willful rebellion.
Then I will tell them plainly, `I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' (Matthew Ch 7 verse 23)
So how is it that Jesus Christ is the only way to God in the face of this terrible situation? Jesus Christ is God's answer to our problem. Jesus Christ is the Son of God who entered this world of ours as a man, a real human being, even being born a baby. He was fully God and fully human, something very hard to understand, yet crucial to dealing with our problem of sin. Because he was God's Son, He didn't start off with an enmity against God, He loved God from the very start and with all His being, He wanted God's rule over Him. He lived out his life as a true human being without ever sinning against God His Father; not once. So He didn't deserve to die, he didn't deserve punishment; but that is exactly what he endured. But why?
Jesus said, "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am [the one I claim to be] and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. (John Ch 8 vesre 28)
As we said before, Jesus Christ is God's answer to our problem. Through the incredible and completely undeserved love of God He accepts the death Jesus Christ died, undeserved as it was, as the punishment for the sin of all those who trust in Him as their representative, their substitute, their advocate, their Saviour. More than that, God accepts the righteous life of Jesus Christ as His peoples. The Bible puts it this way, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God".
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians Ch 2 verse 8 & 9)
God calls us, God commands us to turn away from our rebellion, our sins, and our desire to go our own way and turn to Him trusting what He has done through Jesus Christ to deal with our biggest problem.
In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead. (Acts Ch 17 verse 30 & 31)
So, a Christian isn't someone who has done something to deserve God's favour, but someone who sees they can never deserve it and gratefully accepts and trusts in what God has done in His Son. That's faith.
So, we can ask the question again, are you a Christian? Is your answer that same as before, does it have the right basis; the basis the Bible gives us?
If you would like to know more about God's work of salvation in Jesus Christ, please contact us. We would be happy to help you.