How Does the Bible Define A Christian?

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How Does the Bible Define A Christian?

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Though slipping in overall percentage, Christianity remains the world’s largest religion with around 2.4 billion adherents—about 30 percent of the globe. Yet it’s severely divided, with widespread disagreement on interpretation and acceptance of the religious text it’s based on. In America, the largest professing Christian nation, the majority of Christians (58%) say the Bible is the inspired word of God but not everything in it is to be taken literally, while 25 percent say it should be interpreted literally (“Fewer in U.S. Now See Bible as Literal Word of God,” Gallup, July 6, 2022).

The fact is, no matter which country we are from and what those around us believe, we as Christians need to look to God’s expectations for us—and these are found in the Bible. How does this vital resource, which is indeed the Word of God, define a Christian?

1. Christians have faith in Christ

In Romans 10:9 Romans 10:9That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved.
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we are told “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9 Romans 10:9That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved.
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).

When a man from Ethiopia learned from the deacon Philip of Christ’s fulfillment of prophecy in dying for our sins and asked what he needed to do to be baptized, Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may” (Acts 8:37 Acts 8:37And Philip said, If you believe with all your heart, you may. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
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). The man answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (same verse). The man expressed faith in who Christ was and in Christ’s sacrifice for his sins.

The Bible clearly states that we are saved by the grace of God “through faith” (Ephesians 2:8 Ephesians 2:8For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
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). Without faith we cannot be called Christians. The faith we have is a gift from God that begins with our calling from Him.

2. Christians abide in God’s Word

The Bible is our guide in life. Its message leads us to faith (Romans 10:17 Romans 10:17So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
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). Jesus Himself said that His disciples abide in His Word, which came from the Father (John 8:31 John 8:31Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed;
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; John 12:49 John 12:49For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.
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). Christians are those who study and actually do their utmost to live by God’s Word in its entirety as their guide for life (see John 17:6 John 17:6I have manifested your name to the men which you gave me out of the world: your they were, and you gave them me; and they have kept your word.
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; John 17:17 John 17:17Sanctify them through your truth: your word is truth.
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).

This fact is made abundantly clear in the book of James. James was inspired to ask the question, “But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2:20 James 2:20But will you know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
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).

Abiding in the Word of God requires acting on our biblical faith. Christians must “be doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22 James 1:22But be you doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
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). We must follow the example of Jesus Christ in life and “walk just as He walked,” becoming obedient to the Word of God and its commandments (1 John 2:3-6 1 John 2:3-6 [3] And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. [4] He that said, I know him, and keeps not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. [5] But whoever keeps his word, in him truly is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. [6] He that said he stays in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
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).

3. Christians repent of their sins

In preparation for Christ’s ministry, John the Baptist preached a message of repentance. Many people came to him to be baptized and have their sins forgiven by God. Besides confession of sin, a vital aspect of repentance is beginning to live a life of obedience to God, or, as John explained to the unrepentant Pharisees and Sadducees who came to him, we must “bear fruits worthy of repentance” (Matthew 3:8 Matthew 3:8Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:
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).

Part of walking as Jesus walked is striving to live a life without sin. Christians must be willing to turn from their sins, changing the way they live.

The Father and Christ demonstrated supreme love for us in Christ’s death in our place for our forgiveness. We demonstrate our love for Them, and our acceptance of that sacrifice, by repenting of our sins and living a changed life of obedience. Jesus told His disciples: “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (John 15:10 John 15:10If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.
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).

4. Christians are committed to God

Repentance is a prerequisite to baptism and receiving the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands of Christ’s ministry (see Acts 2:37-38 Acts 2:37-38 [37] Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said to Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brothers, what shall we do? [38] Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
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; Acts 8:17 Acts 8:17Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
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; 2 Timothy 1:6-7 2 Timothy 1:6-7 [6] Why I put you in remembrance that you stir up the gift of God, which is in you by the putting on of my hands. [7] For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
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).

Sins separate us from God (Isaiah 59:2 Isaiah 59:2But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
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), and to have a relationship with Him those sins must be forgiven by Him and rejected by us. Christians must commit their lives to God by entering into a covenant with Him—the New Covenant relationship Jesus introduced to His disciples on the eve of His death (Matthew 26:28 Matthew 26:28For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
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).

His death would make possible their forgiveness, and soon His resurrected life in them through the Holy Spirit would enable God’s laws to be written on their hearts and minds, empowering continued obedience (see Hebrews 10:16-18 Hebrews 10:16-18 [16] This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, said the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; [17] And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. [18] Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.
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).

5. Christians are guided by God through the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is the power that proceeds from God the Father and from Jesus Christ. It is the projected essence, mind and life force of God through which God the Father is creating His spiritual family. His children are those who live according to guidance He gives through that Spirit.

Through the indwelling of God’s Spirit we can truly be changed from the inside out. Christians are connected to God through the Holy Spirit and live according to that Spirit (Romans 8:6-9 Romans 8:6-9 [6] For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. [7] Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. [8] So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. [9] But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
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).

In fact, we are directly told that only those with that Spirit, who are led by it, truly belong to Christ as God’s converted children (Romans 8:9 Romans 8:9But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
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; Romans 8:14 Romans 8:14For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
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).

6. Christians live the Way

Before his own calling to the truth, the apostle Paul zealously hunted and persecuted the people “of the Way” (see Acts 9:2 Acts 9:2And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
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). This description of Christ’s followers shows a group of people on a spiritual journey along a spiritual path.

The disciples were later called “Christians” (Acts 11:26 Acts 11:26And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.
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)—apparently by others but they soon embraced the name, referring as it did to the fact that they were followers of the Way led by Jesus Christ.

He is the head of the Church of God, which means He directs the way we go, how we live our lives and what kind of people we are supposed to be. Christians live according to the way of life Jesus Christ has taught and shown through His words and example.

7. Christians show the love of God

Jesus came and died for our sins, showing the great love both He and His Father have for mankind. We show our love to Them by keeping Their commandments (John 14:15 John 14:15If you love me, keep my commandments.
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; 1 John 5:3 1 John 5:3For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
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). We are called upon and expected to show that love toward one another. Jesus commanded us to “love one another” as He first showed us love (John 13:34 John 13:34A new commandment I give to you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
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). And He pointed out this characteristic as an identifier of His followers, stating, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35 John 13:35By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.
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).

Of course, the Bible also makes it clear that Christians will not always live up to what we are called to, but they continue repenting and striving to live according to God’s way with His help (Romans 7:14-25 Romans 7:14-25 [14] For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. [15] For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. [16] If then I do that which I would not, I consent to the law that it is good. [17] Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me. [18] For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. [19] For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. [20] Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me. [21] I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. [22] For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: [23] But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. [24] O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? [25] I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
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; Romans 8:1-4 Romans 8:1-4 [1] There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. [2] For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. [3] For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: [4] That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
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; 1 John 1:8-10 1 John 1:8-10 [8] If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. [9] If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. [10] If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
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; 1 John 2:1-2 1 John 2:1-2 [1] My little children, these things write I to you, that you sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: [2] And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for our's only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
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).

What should be clear is that belief and profession alone do not define a true Christian. James 2:19 James 2:19You believe that there is one God; you do well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
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reminds us that even the demons, rebellious angels under Satan, believe in God.

Jesus asked the question, “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46 Luke 6:46And why call you me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
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). We must not only call Jesus our Lord but actually accept Him as Lord—as Master and Ruler—of our life. And we must then live as He has called us to, following what the Bible, the Word of God, says about what it truly means to be a Christian!