What is a Christian?
|Created by Gerard de Vos|
Category: Christ related
There is a lot of confusion about what a Christian is. One often finds that in a census a large percentage of people in the Western world designate themselves as Christians, yet they seldom visit a church, have no idea what the Bible is about, and in general give no indication that they have a personal knowledge of and relationship with God. They think a Christian is some one that is not a Jew, Moslem, Buddhist or Hindu. A far better designation of what a Christian is would be ‘people of the Way’ (Acts 9:2). The Way was regarded as a way of living for those who belonged to Christ (‘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 your and your children and for all who are far off - for all whom the Lord our God will call’ - Acts 2:38). A Christian is some one who has repented and has received the gift of the Holy Spirit.
It is very important that there is no misunderstanding about what a believer in Jesus Christ is, because we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ to give an account of our lives (Romans 14:10b, 12). Some people think that there is only one requirement: ‘Call on the name of the Lord, and you will be saved’ (Romans 10:13). That is the beginning, the birth process of a believer, but a baby born, is not a baby full grown, able to run, work, think and make decisions. The Scriptures exhort the baby Christian to drink from the pure milk of the Word (1 Peter 2:2). This means dependence on and using the Scriptures, because we grow by them.
A few characteristics of a believer, a follower of Christ, are:
1. He is saved by grace (‘Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - 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 2:4-5,8-9).
2. He is sanctified (separated from the world and to God). (‘Sanctify them by the truth. Your Word is truth’ - John 17:17; 1 Corinthians 6:11).
3. He is in the process of being made holy (conforming to the character of God) (Ephesians 4:21-24).
4. He is separated from the world, though living in the world (1 John 2:15-17). This world is not his home.
5. He is filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38; John 14:16).
6. He is a person of the Book. He is inspired, guided and helped by it (Acts 20:32). There is no communication with God without the Book. No leading of the Holy Spirit without the Book. The Book is the foundation of the believer’s walk with God.
7. Jesus says that He knows who loves Him, because that person obeys His commands (John 14:21; 1 John 5:3). Faith without works is not faith (James 2:26).
8. He has fellowship with the Father and the Son (John 14:23; 1 John 4:13,15).
9. He has faith (Hebrews 11:6) and therefore prays (Matthew 6:9-13).
We can become discouraged and think that it is impossible to adhere to and comply with such a daunting list of do’s. Take heart, the Holy Spirit is there to help. As long as we understand that our lives should be in His hands, relying on Him, asking, waiting, praying, reading with His help, we are on our way. God did not design a system where the wonderful, the disciplined, the learned, the professionals are the overcomers. He made provision for all people, and only if we are led by the Holy Spirit will we find that it is exciting, fulfilling and wonderful to be a follower of Christ. Every small problem, every temptation, every hindrance to growth, is an opportunity for calling on the Lord and seeing Him in action.