Who is a Christian?
What would your answer to this question be? Would you say, A Christian is one who has joined the church? or, One who has been baptized and confirmed? or, One who is sincerely trying to live up to the Golden Rule? or, Any one who acknowledges that there is a God? Perhaps you have a different answer, but after all it is not what we think, but what God has said, and the following is an examination of God’s answer.
A Christian Is First of All One Who Has Faith in God, or in other words, one who believes God. “Without faith it is impossible to please Him.” Hebrews 11:6. It is evident that one must first know what God has said before he can believe Him; so we read: “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” Romans 10:17. The Bible is the Word of God (John 14:24; I Thessalonians 2:13; II Timothy 3:16; II Peter 1:21, 3:15, 16; etc.). Therefore a Christian is one who believes the Bible. This is absolutely imperative.
A Christian Is One Who Has Acknowledged What God Has Said About Him: namely that he is a condemned, lost, hopeless sinner by nature. “All have sinned.” Romans 3:23. “Them that are lost.” II Corinthians 4:3. “Were by nature the children of wrath, even as others” “at that time ye were without Christ… having no hope, and without God in the world.” Ephesians 2:3,12. Paul said: “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” I Timothy 1:15. Therefore only sinners can be saved and become Christians.
A Christian Is One Who Has Received Christ His Own Personal Saviour. “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” John 1:12. To believe on is to receive Him. When we believe on Him and open the door to Him (Revelation 3:20), He comes into our hearts by His Spirit, and our bodies become the temples of God (I Corinthians 6:19). “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.” Romans 8:9. We know that we have His Spirit, because “the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” Romans 8:16.
A Christian Is One Who Has Been Born Again. “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” John 3:3,7. The necessity for the new birth, or more literally, the birth from above, is seen in the words of Christ: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” John 3:6. Religion, morality, and education cannot change the fleshly nature of man into a spiritual nature. Not even God can do that (Romans 8:5-9). Instead He creates a new spirit within us. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation.” II Corinthians 5:17. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.” Ephesians 2:10. “Ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Ephesians 4:24.
A Christian Is One Who Is Relying One Hundred Percent Upon Christ and His Finished Work for Salvation. You will notice that we have not said, as is so often stated, that a Christian is one who has been baptized and confirmed, or who has joined the church, or who lives according to the Golden Rule, or who keeps the Ten Commandments. All of these things are human works, and God expressly tells us: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us.” Titus 3:5. “For by grace are ye 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. “If there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.” Galatians 3:21,22. If any good thing that man can do could make him a true Christian, then Christ died in vain (Galatians 2:21). Any one who is trusting in his own good works has been bewitched (Galatians 3:1-3).
A person is a Christian, not because of what he himself has done, but because of what he has allowed God to do for him through faith in Christ Jesus. There are no degrees of being a Christian. You are either a Christian, or you are not one. Either Christ is in you, the hope of glory, or Christ is not in you. The question simmers down to this: Are you a Christian according to the Word of God? You say: I am trying to be. Then that is proof that you are not. You cannot become a Christian by trying. God alone can make you a Christian, and He will do it the moment you trust in Christ.
Chas. F. Baker.
“Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” II Timothy 1:9