Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

What is a Christian?



Ephesians 2:8-10 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.


Today we keep hearing about the problems between Christians and other religious groups such as Muslims or Jews or Hindus. The word Christian means different things to different people.  Some see the Catholic Church as the only true Christians; others see the Protestant churches as the only true Christians.  Some say that the only true Christians are those who are born-again, but they disagree on what that term means.  Some see people who live good lives as Christians.  Some think that ceremonies such as baptism make Christians.  So what is the Biblical definition of a Christian? We will see that a Christian is one who believes in or trusts in the Lord Jesus Christ as their own personal savior. 


There are three references to Christians in the New Testament, These are:

(1) Acts 11:26, “And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”

(2) Acts 26:28, “Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.”

(3) 1 Peter 4:16, “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.”


The normal Bible dictionary definition of a Christian is one who follows Christ.  A secular dictionary may have as a definition one who follows the teachings of Christ, but it will also indicate that a Christian is a moral person or a person having the qualities of Jesus. In other words, most people consider a Christian to be a person who lives a certain kind of lifestyle. 


Now let’s see how the Bible defines a Christian:

In Acts 11:26, the term was used by non-Christians to identify the believers in Christ.  Notice in verse 21 that a great number believed and turned to the Lord. The Christians had been called Nazarenes by the Jews according to Acts 24:5. The Jews had originally considered believers in Christ to be a sect of the Hebrew religion.


In Acts 26:28, King Agrippa uses the term after Paul tells him how he came to trust in the Lord Jesus on the Damascus road. Thus, Paul has explained how he became a Christian.  There is no doubt that King Agrippa understood that Paul was trying to persuade him to trust in Christ so that he too could become a Christian.


Peter uses the term to identify Christians. His writings are clear that Christians are "born-again."  He makes it clear that taking the name of a Christian is going to have certain consequences and responsibilities.  When he uses the term, he is identifying the people who believe in the Lord. 


In summary

A Christian is a person who has received Christ as his or her personal Savior by trusting Him (John 1:12).  A Christian is born-again since one can’t be a Christian without the new birth (John 3:7).  The new birth involves a whole new way of thinking.   A real Christian is one who really trusts in the person of Christ and who has had that affect his or her lifestyle in contrast to one who casually says that he or she believes in the Lord Jesus with no conviction about what that means. No ceremony makes a Christian, though Christians believe in ceremonies such as baptism and the Lord’s Supper. One can’t join a group to become a Christian, though Christians do join together for the purpose of worship, teaching, prayer and fellowship. A Christian is a follower of Christ because he or she has utmost confidence (faith) in Christ and thus knows that his or her sins are forgiven and that he or she has eternal life (1 John 5:13).


We should emphasize that acting like a Christian does not make a Christian; however, because Christians are "born again", they should have a conscience about sin.  Some people say they are Christians but are greedy, contentious, slanderers, drunkards, and immoral.  When they not only do these things as a lifestyle but identify with and defend those who do these things, something is simply not right.


Being a Christian is not a casual thing.  It results from conviction about our sin and conviction about Christ loving us enough to die for our sins.  And while it is faith in Christ that makes a Christian, that faith will normally be reflected in our lives.  We are not saved by works but unto good works as today’s verses say.  So we need to be sure we have trusted in Christ, and those who have trusted Him should act like they have.  Those who have not trusted Him can do all the good works that they want to do but they will still not be Christians.  They can join churches, get baptized, participate in the Lord’s supper, but until they have come to the Lord as guilty sinners and have trusted Him for salvation from the penalty that they deserve because of their sins, they are simply not Christians in the Biblical sense.


Bruce Collins


Meditation for the week of November 6, 2016

1 Comment »

Comment by Rob

November 27, 2016 @ 11:49 pm

This is where I find so much trouble. My life is characterized by anxiety, bitterness and even anger towards God. I do believe Jesus died for my sins and I (the best I can) rest in the fact that God is propitiated by the death of Christ. That’s all I have. But my life definitely doesn’t look very Christian.

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