What is a Christian?
A Christian is someone who, having understood the ABC of the gospel of Christ, has received Christ, has taken his or her stand upon Him, and experiences salvation through Him.
The gospel that has to be understood.
The appointed time, concerning which the prophets in the Old Testament had spoken and to which the people of God had looked forward, has come. Through Christ, God has visited and redeemed His people (Acts 2:14-21).
This act of God, intervening in human history, is to be seen in the life of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, sent by God, rejected, and put to death by men, and raised to life by God (Acts 2:32-36).
By His death and resurrection Jesus Christ has conquered sin and death and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. In no one else is salvation to be found (Acts 4:12).
Just to believe that there is one God does not make a person a Christian.
The proofs of God's present power in the world are to be found in Jesus' resurrection and the evidences of the Holy Spirit's working in the Church (Acts 4:33; Romans 1:4; Ephesians 1:19-20).
This is but the beginning of God's kingdom. Christ will come again as Judge, and God's kingdom will be finally established (Acts 3:19-21; Acts 17:30-31; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10).
Therefore all people everywhere should repent and be baptised in the name of Jesus the Messiah for the forgiveness of their sins, and thus receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).
Fundamental to people's understanding of the gospel is their appreciation, therefore, of at least the following truths:
Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (John 11:27; 20:31; 1 John 4:15).
Christ's purpose in coming into the world and in dying upon the cross was to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). Christ's resurrection was God the Father's declaration of Christ as His Son and His satisfaction with His saving work (Romans 1:4).
To enter into the benefits of Christ's work - to know forgiveness, the gift of God's Spirit and a place in His kingdom - repentance and public acknowledgement of Christ are required (Acts 2:38).
Christians recognize their personal sinfulness (Romans 7:24; compared with Luke 18:13).
Christians know their personal indebtedness to Christ in that He gave His life a ransom for them (Mark 10:45; Galations 2:20; 1 Peter 2:24).
The benefits the gospel promises.
Deliverance from condemnation (John 3:18; Romans 8:1).
Justification (1 Corinthians 6:11).
The gift of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:12).
Eternal life (John 3:16, John 3:36).
Reconciliation with God (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).
Membership of the people of God (1 Peter 2:9-10).
Membership of the kingdom of God's Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:13).
The resurrection of the body (1 Corinthians 6:14).
Endless fellowship with Christ (John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:17).
A Christian is someone who, having understood the ABC of the gospel, has received Christ.
The words 'believe' and 'receive' are more or less identical (John 1:12; 1 Corinthians 15:1-2).
The call to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation comes home to the individual with deep conviction by the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:1-5; 1 Thessalonians 1:5).
The call of God to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ is responded to (Acts 16:31-34; 1 Corinthians 1:9, 1 Corinthians 1:23-24; Romans 10:9).
Jesus Christ is received into the individual's life, and spiritual birth takes place by the Holy Spirit (John 1:12-13; 3:3-7).
A Christian is someone who, having understood the ABC of the gospel, has received Christ, and takes his or her stand upon Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1).
They recognize that being bought with a price, they do not belong to themselves any more (1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Corinthians 7:23).
The word 'stand' speaks of assurance: they know that they have eternal life (1 John 5:13; compared with 1 John 2:3, 1 John 2:5; 1 John 3:14; 1 John 4:13).
The expression 'taking a stand' implies action: their stand is seen first by baptism (Acts 2:38, Acts 2:41; 1 Corinthians 1:13), and the confession of their lips that Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:9).
They take their stand by identifying themselves with all who have similarly received the gospel (Acts 2:41-47; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 1 Corinthians 6:1-2).
They recognize themselves to be members of the body of Christ, the Church (1 Corinthians 12:13, 1 Corinthians 12:27).
They recognize themselves to be God's Church - those whom He has made holy through Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:2; 1 Corinthians 6:11).
They love the Lord Jesus Christ and show that love by obedience to Him (1 Corinthians 16:22; John 14:21).
They wait expectantly for Christ (1 Corinthians 1:7; 1 Corinthians 11:26; 1 Thessalonians 1:10).
A Christian is someone who, having understood the ABC of the gospel, has received Christ, and, having taken his or her stand upon Christ, experiences salvation through Christ.
When Christians first believed, they experienced salvation, e.g. they were washed, sanctified and justified (1 Corinthians 6:11), they were enriched by Christ (1 Corinthians 1:5); they found the cross the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18), and Christ became to them all they needed (1 Corinthians 1:30).
But salvation is also the present experience of Christians: they continue to call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:2); they continue to receive God's grace and to be enriched by Christ (1 Corinthians 1:4-5; 1 Corinthians 15:10; 1 Corinthians 16:23).
Their sins have been forgiven (1 Corinthians 15:17) and they are freed from the power of sin (Romans 8:2; 1 Corinthians 6:12; 1 Corinthians 8:9).
They know the power of the Spirit in their life (1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 1 Corinthians 12:7).
They are kept by God's power (1 Corinthians 1:8; 1 Peter 1:5).
Being a Christian is not simply trying one's best to please God by good works.
Being a Christian.
Just to believe that there is one God does not make a person a Christian (James 2:19).
Being a Christian is not a matter of being born in the right country or belonging to the right race (John 1:13).
Being a Christian is not just being zealously religious, for one can be such without being a Christian (Romans 10:2-3).
Being a Christian is not simply trying one's best to please God by good works (Ephesians 2:8-9).
A Christian knows that what matters is not self-achieved righteousness gained by obedience to the law, but rather that genuine righteousness that God gives as we put our faith in Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:8-9).
The word 'Christian' began as a description of the disciples of Christ (Acts 11:26; Acts 9:1).
A Christian is not self-made, but Christ-made (2 Corinthians 5:17; compared with John 3:3, John 3:7).
All Bible definitions or descriptions of a Christian have one thing in common: they all imply a personal relationship to God through Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 John 1:3; Colossians 3:1).
The name 'Christian' is something that the Christian is to live up to (1 Peter 4:16).
The desire of a Christian is that others might come to faith in the Lord Jesus and be saved (Acts 26:29; Romans 10:1).