Who Is A Christian?

In our day we are fond of studying public opinion about one thing and another. We seem to attach great importance to what others think or do. What do you suppose would be found by a Gallup poll on the question, “Who is a Christian?” It is safe to say there would be some amazing answers.

Who is a Christian anyway? Some think of a Christian as one who is not a Jew. Others think a Christian is anyone who lives a decent, respectable sort of life, as judged by human standards. Some feel that being baptized makes one a Christian. Still others consider going to church the sum of being a Christian. In a recent house-to-house survey one man, when asked about his religious preference, replied with conviction, “American!”

Who is a Christian then? No Gallup poll will furnish the answer. Only God’s word can tell us that. In the simplest of terms the Bible indicates that a Christian is one who has acknowledged Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord. “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). Again, the matter is put in such clear-cut terms that it is a wonder so many fail to get the point: “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (I John 5:12).

A Christian is one who exercises saving faith in Christ. As it is so splendidly expressed in the Shorter Catechism: “Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation as he is offered to us in the gospel.” A Christian is one who has come to see that in his natural condition he stands condemned by the holy law of God. He trusts in Jesus, the Son of God, as the one who kept the law perfectly and died upon the cross in the place of sinners. With Augustus Toplady, he sings,

“Not the labors of my hands
Can fulfil thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and thou alone.”

Of course a Christian will not reject Christ as the messiah of Israel, Surely a Christian will live an upright and respectable life. Certainly he will obey the Lord’s command to be baptized and will be faithful in his church attendance. But his being a Christian depends on something far deeper than any of these. It hinges on a personal commitment to Jesus as his Savior and Lord.

Do you know such a commitment in your own life? Is Christ your Savior from sin?

Are you a Christian?

Additional reading: Who is God?