What is a Christian? 

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.                                                                                                  2 Corinthians 5:17

      In Christendom there is a plethora of denominations whose members would claim to be Christians. Each of the denominations would most likely advocate that they  best follow Jesus Christ compared to the rest but clearly they  cannot all  be right  as  there  are  diverse practices  and significant doctrinal differences between some of them.  Whilst some churches may cooperate with other churches having different persuasions for common causes, others do not for a variety of reasons.

      It’s interesting that there were no denominations in the early church; the believers were ‘all one in Christ’ (1). Jesus strongly encourages non-sectarian behaviour and love between all Christians.  It is vital, therefore, for us to grasp fully what a Christian is to avoid travelling along an erroneous spiritual road in life and end up in a denomination which fails to espouse properly the cause of Christ.

      In order to answer the question 'What is a Christian?' we need to understand the character of God our Creator, and His Kingdom.  This Kingdom is a divine realm that is essential to be entered into in order to fulfil the purposes of God’s creation. These purposes are marvellous and eternal. The divine realm requires the regenerating divine life of Christ, and only Christ (2), for entry.   God has no other route for man to enter into His Kingdom.  There are many religions in the world that claim to teach a way for man to enter Heaven but, except for Christianity, they are all made by man. They have a common feature of being based on fear and teach that man seeks God by his own efforts.  The teaching is flawed, because the barrier for entry, namely our sins, is not properly addressed and dealt with.  Christianity is based on love where God first seeks man to deal with his problem of sin (3).

       A Christian has the immense privilege of being adopted into God’s family as one of God’s children (4)  He has experienced and continues to experience the regeneration of his character by the work of the Holy Spirit.  This regeneration is the termination of his old worldly life with all of its sinful deeds, and the germination in this world of a new creation within the divine life. This regeneration is absolutely drastic as the natural man cannot enter into the Kingdom, precisely because God is holy and he is not.  Man’s sins disqualify him from entry no matter how good he thinks he is (5).  If the problem of sin in his life is not dealt with, all that he has left when he leaves this world is judgement, and hell (6).  The Christian has been enabled by God to make that vital transition from being a sinner and having a self-centred life to being a participator in the Kingdom of God.  How do we do this?

       Firstly, we need to confess to God that we have rebelled against Him and that our sins render us powerless to master them.  

       Secondly, we need to repent of our sins and ask Him to forgive us through the only means He has given us, that is through the finished work of His Son the Lord Jesus Christ on the Roman cross.  There Jesus was crucified and died for our salvation.   He chose to do this because He loves us, and wants us to be in His Kingdom  as adopted sons with all the blessings that go with it.  The just punishment for all our sins was executed upon Him. His triumph over sin and death is shown by His resurrection from the grave and His acension back to Heaven

       Thirdly, we need to believe in Christ and to accept the facts of what He has done for us.  This is an objective exercise, but more important than this is the subjective experience of receiving His redeeming life in our hearts by believing into Him by the faith He gives us.    We become dead to the old life and our new lives then are Christ-centred (7). 

       The Christian demonstrates this new life by putting God first in his life.  He is fully identified with Christ, His purposes and with other Christians in corporate activity – that is the true Christ-centred church that promotes sound Biblical doctrines, and by being obedient in witness and service to others.   He experiences the peace of God, and has a right prayerful relationship with Him that leads finally to the joyous eternal life He has prepared for us.  He comes to understand that the Bible, the Living Word of God, is the only effective guide book for his life, and ideas and teaching outside the Bible have little place for his spiritual growth.  He develops spiritual discernment to deal with sin and false teaching. He is fully aware of the tragic lost estate of the unbeliever who faces judgement without the Saviour, and endeavours to tell him the Gospel, God’s power for salvation. He can say as with Paul the Apostle,

 “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but  also to all who have loved His appearing." (8)

1 Gal 3:28. 2 Matt. 7:21-23; 12:30, 25:1-13; Rev. 3:16.  3John 14:6, Acts 4:12. 

4 Rom. 8:15-16.  5 Romans 3:23.  6 Prov. 16:25, Matt. 19:16-17,   Rom 3:23. Heb. 9:27, Rev.20:15. 82 Tim 4:7,8.

      If you have questions about being a Christian and the Christian life, we would be most pleased to help you. Do get in touch with us at Bishopsgate Evangelical Church, Kings Lane, Englefield Green.  Tel: 01784 435578 or 01784 431363