Who Is a Christian?
The term Christian is used broadly, both as a noun and an adjective. Just who is a Christian, according to the Bible?
Not just a good moral person. Mark 10 tells of a man who came to Jesus wanting to know how to inherit eternal life. When Jesus reminded him of the commandments, he answered, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up” (v. 20). This man’s morals were exemplary, yet before the story ended he refused to follow Christ. He was not a Christian. Christians have good morals, but good morals alone do not make one a Christian.
Not just a religious person. Acts 10 tells us about Cornelius. He, too, was a good moral man. And he was very religious, “a devout man, and one who feared God with all his household, and gave many alms to the Jewish people, and prayed to God continually” (v. 2). But despite being religious, he was lost (11:14). He was not yet a Christian. Christians are religious, but being religious alone, just belonging to some church, does not make one a Christian.
Not just a believer in Jesus. John 12 tells of many rulers who believed in Jesus, “but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God” (vv. 42-43). These were not Christians. Christians believe in Jesus, but belief in Jesus alone does not make one a Christian.
Who is a Christian? Only a disciple of Christ can rightly wear the name. “And the disciples were first called Christians at Antioch” (Acts 11:26).
The word disciple means a learner, but even more, a follower. Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20a).
Disciples are those who have quit living for themselves and are living for Christ (Luke 14:25-33). They have been baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:38). They are abiding in Christ’s word, obeying what He says (John 8:31-32; Luke 6:16). They are demonstrating daily in their lives the marks of discipleship (John 13:35; 15:8).
Are you a disciple? Are you a Christian? Salvation is promised only to those who are.