Who is a “Christian”?

Are you a Christian?
“I hope so; I’m trying to be.”

Are you a human being?
“I hope so; I’m trying to be.”

One reply is as unreasonable and illogical as the other. Just as you were born with a human nature, you must be “born again” to become a Christian. (John 3:3-8; 1 Pet. 1:23) It is not a matter of “trying” in either case.

Many confuse Christian behavior with the Christian birth. You must have the Christian life (as to nature) before you can live the Christian life (as to your behavior).

A Christian is a “new creature” in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17) In short, the one verse biography of the Christian life is “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, Christ liveth in me (this is the Christian life), and the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the son of God…” (this is Christian behavior). (Gal. 2:20)

The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch. (Acts 11:26) These were disciples first; this discipleship resulted in an obvious difference in their behavior, a difference that revealed their union with the sin-conquering, life-giving, life-transforming Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus the epithet “Christians” designated their relationship to Christ.

Obviously, this supernatural relationship to Christ is not the result of human efforts — social, moral or religious. “For by grace (undeserved kindness) are ye saved, through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast, for we are his workmanship (made Christians in nature) created in Christ Jesus unto good works…” (that we might be Christians in behavior, Eph. 2:8-10). Christ said, “…make the tree good, and his fruit good, or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt…” (Mat. 12:33). “…from within, out of the heart of men, proceed…” the things that defile a man. (Mark 7:21-23). “But the fruit of the Spirit (the Christ life in true believers) is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith meekness, temperance…” (Gal. 5:22-23).

See: Who is the Church?

Reprint from: issue of: "Sound Words"