Bible Answers: Defining the term, 'Christian'

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“The label is so tossed about by everyone that the definition has become muddled.  What really defines a ‘Christian’?” — Sharon

Let’s begin with a few comments about what does not a Christian make. One is not a Christian by virtue of keeping many rules, following a particular religious tradition or adopting the appellation in order to gain respectability.  
One is not a Christian by dint of attending church, being “against” a host of sins or by being “for” good works, social activism or broad-minded humanism.
Though any of these may characterize certain Christians, a person is a “Christian” only because he is a fully committed “Christ-follower.” This person actually believes the historical Jesus was the son of God and that he truly was raised from the dead (Rom. 10:9-10).
This person has opened his life to grace, the gift of forgiveness God gives freely to those who will accept it (Eph. 2:8-9). This person has chosen to deny himself (his ambitions, his personal agenda, his need to be in control of his own destiny) for the sake of ultimate trust in and obedience to Christ, to the end of his life (Matt. 16:24-26; Rom. 12:1-2).
The Bible calls the Christ-follower a new person; i.e., through this faith in the resurrected son of God, he has come into a relationship with God that effects a fundamental spiritual transformation — death no longer has mastery over him (he has “eternal life;” Rom. 6:4-10; I Cor. 15:35-57; II Cor. 5:17-21).
 Incredibly, the genuine believer is being continually “transformed” into a living reflection of Christ (Rom 8:29; II Cor. 3:18).  
Far from being the stereotypical tradition-bound nay sayer, consumed with politics, positive mental attitude and prosperity, the authentic Christian is found to be growing in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).