A Christian is someone who understands that everyone sins, that God is perfect, and that only Jesus can reconcile us to God. Jesus, the man born around 3 BC and who taught around the Israel countryside, is God and the Son of God. God sent Him to earth to die for the sins of the world (John 3:16). Because Jesus is sinless, God accepted His sacrifice and raised Him from the dead. That sacrifice is the only thing that can reconcile us to God. Nothing we can do will ever earn us salvation.
These are the basics, but the word "Christian" means much more. It comes from a Greek word meaning "little Christ." Specifically, it means people who choose to believe in and obey Jesus' teachings, and who strive to live as He did. Living like Christ does not save us, but it does have two very important purposes. The first is so others can identify those who trust Jesus for their salvation (1 John 5:2). The second is that Jesus' actions show us the appropriate way to respond to God's blessing of salvation (John 14:23-24; 15:9-11). Literally, to be a Christian is to interact with God and others like Jesus did.
The modern usage of the word "Christian" does not typically include the original definition. Today, it means someone who trusts Jesus for their salvation. But the word is also used in ways that are completely inaccurate:
- A Christian is not someone who belongs to a cult that mentions Jesus but does not follow the truths in the Bible – Galatians 1:8.
- A Christian is not someone who was born and raised in a Western nation – Galatians 3:28.
- A Christian is not someone whose parents were believers and who went to church as a child – Romans 9:6-18.
- A Christian is not someone who once said a prayer and then rejected God for the rest of his life – Jude 1:18-19.
- A Christian is not someone who thinks Jesus was a good man and did good things, but does not believe that Jesus is God and the Son of God – Matthew 19:17.
- A Christian is not someone who believes he must complete certain duties to be saved – Ephesians 2:8-9.
- A Christian is not someone who does good deeds – Romans 3:23; 6:23.
What is a Christian? Culturally, it is someone who relies on Jesus alone for his or her salvation. Originally, it meant someone who strives to be like Jesus. Ultimately it means both. Being a Christian literally means to believe and follow Jesus Christ. Nothing more and nothing less.
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