One who believes, or professes or is assumed to believe, in Jesus Christ, and the truth as taught by Him; especially, one whose inward and outward life is conformed to the doctrines of Christ.
One born in a Christian country or of Christian parents, and who has not definitely becomes an adherent of an opposing system.
One of a Christian denomination which rejects human creeds as bases of fellowship, and sectarian names. They are congregational in church government, and baptize by immersion. They are also called Disciples of Christ, and Campbellites.
One of a sect (called Christian Connection) of open-communion immersionists. The Bible is their only authoritative rule of faith and practice.
Pertaining to Christ or his religion; as, Christian people.
Pertaining to the church; ecclesiastical; as, a Christian court.
Characteristic of Christian people; civilized; kind; kindly; gentle; beneficent.
A Christian is someone who has decided to entrust his or her life to Jesus Christ. A Christian trusts Christ for forgiveness of sin, a right standing before God, and guidance in life.
Christian's are sometimes referred to as "born again" because Jesus said that one must be born of the water (the physical birth) and the Spirit:
[INDENT][INDENT] John 3:3-7 Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." 4 Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born, can he?" 5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 "Do not be amazed that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'
[/INDENT][/INDENT]To be born again--born of the Spirit--a person must place his or her trust in Jesus Christ (See How does one become a Christian?. The Spirit of Jesus Christ actually comes to dwell within the new Christian, giving newness of life--His life.
In sum, Christ makes a Christian a Christian. Going to church does not make a person a Christian. A special ceremony can't do it. And nobody can be a Christian by trying to be a good person. Only Jesus Christ can make a person a Christian:
[INDENT]John 1:12,13 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
[CENTER]Definition of a Christian
[CENTER]He has a mind, and he knows it,
He has a will, and shows it;
He sees his way, and goes it,
He draws a line, and toes it.
He has a chance, and takes it,
A friendly hand and shakes it;
A rule, and never breaks it,
If there's no time, he makes it.
He loves the truth, stands by it,
Nor ever tries to shy it,
Whoever may deny it, or openly defy it.
He hears a lie and slays it,
He owes a debt and pays it;
And, as I've heard him praise it,
He knows the game, and plays it.
He sees the path Christ trod,
And grips the hand of God.
Webster's Dictionary defines a Christian as "a person professing belief in Jesus as the Christ or in the religion based on the teaching of Jesus." While this is a good starting point in understanding what a Christian is, like many secular definitions, it falls somewhat short of really communicating the biblical truth of what it means to be a Christian.
The word Christian is used three times in New Testament (Acts 11:26; Acts 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16). Followers of Jesus Christ were first called "Christians" in Antioch (Acts 11:26) because their behavior, activity, and speech were like Christ. It was originally used by the unsaved people of Antioch as a kind of contemptuous nickname used to make fun of the Christians. It literally means, "belonging to the party of Christ" or an "adherent or follower of Christ," which is very similar to the way Webster's Dictionary defines it.
Unfortunately over time, the word "Christian" has lost a great deal of it significance and is often used of someone who is religious or has high moral values instead of a true born again follower of Jesus Christ. Many people who don't believe and trust in Jesus Christ consider themselves Christians simply because they go to church or they live in a "Christian" nation. But going to church, serving those less fortunate than you, or being a good person does not make you a Christian. As one evangelist once said, "Going to church doesn't make one a Christian anymore than going to a garage makes one an automobile." Being a member of a church, attending services regularly, and giving to the work of the church cannot make you a Christian.
The Bible teaches us that the good works we do cannot make us acceptable to God. Titus 3:5 tells us that it is "not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit." So, a Christian is someone who has been born-again by God (John 3:3; John 3:7; 1 Peter 1:23) and has put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2:8 tells us that it is "by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God." A true Christian is someone who has repented of his or her sin and put faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone. Their trust is not in following a religion or a set of moral codes, or a list of do's and don'ts.
A true Christian is a person who has put his or her faith and trust in the person of Jesus Christ and fact that He died on the cross as payment for sins and rose again on the third day to obtain victory over death and to give eternal life to all who believe in Him. John 1:12 tells us: "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name." A true Christian is indeed a child of God, a part of God's true family, and one who has been given new life in Christ. The mark of a true Christian is love for others and obedience to God's Word (1 John 2:4; 1 John 2:10).
Battersea Town Hall under the auspices of the South London Branch of the National Secular Society, England. Bertrand Russell-
As your chairman has told you, the subject about which I am going to speak to you tonight is "Why I Am Not a Christian
." Perhaps it would be as well, first of all, to try to make out what one means by the word "Christian." It is used in these days in a very loose sense by a great many people. Some people mean no more by it than a person who attempts to live a good life. In that sense I suppose there would be Christians in all sects and creeds; but I do not think that that is the proper sense of the word, if only because it would imply that all the people who are not Christians -- all the Buddhists, Confucians, Mohammedans, and so on -- are not trying to live a good life. I do not mean by a Christian any person who tries to live decently according to his lights. I think that you must have a certain amount of definite belief before you have a right to call yourself a Christian. The word does not have quite such a full-blooded meaning now as it had in the times of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas. In those days, if a man said that he was a Christian it was known what he meant. You accepted a whole collection of creeds which were set out with great precision, and every single syllable of those creeds you believed with the whole strength of your convictions.
Nowadays it is not quite that. We have to be a little more vague in our meaning of Christianity. I think, however, that there are two different items which are quite essential to anyone calling himself a Christian. The first is one of a dogmatic nature -- namely, that you must believe in God and immortality. If you do not believe in those two things, I do not think that you can properly call yourself a Christian. Then, further than that, as the name implies, you must have some kind of belief about Christ. The Mohammedans, for instance, also believe in God and immortality, and yet they would not call themselves Christians. I think you must have at the very lowest the belief that Christ was, if not divine, at least the best and wisest of men. If you are not going to believe that much about Christ, I do not think that you have any right to call yourself a Christian. Of course, there is another sense which you find in Whitaker's Almanack and in geography books, where the population of the world is said to be divided into Christians, Mohammedans, Buddhists, fetish worshipers, and so on; but in that sense we are all Christians. The geography books counts us all in, but that is a purely geographical sense, which I suppose we can ignore. Therefore I take it that when I tell you why I am not a Christian I have to tell you two different things: first, why I do not believe in God and in immortality; and, secondly, why I do not think that Christ was the best and wisest of men, although I grant him a very high degree of moral goodness.
But for the successful efforts of unbelievers in the past, I could not take so elastic a definition of Christianity as that. As I said before, in the olden days it had a much more full-blooded sense. For instance, it included the belief in hell. Belief in eternal hell fire was an essential item of Christian belief until pretty recent times. In this country, as you know, it ceased to be an essential item because of a decision of the Privy Council, and from that decision the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York dissented; but in this country our religion is settled by Act of Parliament, and therefore the Privy Council was able to override their Graces and hell was no longer necessary to a Christian. Consequently I shall not insist that a Christian must believe in hell.
As far as I can tell, after thirty years of experiencing God and life as a "Christian" and after thinking about this experience from several perspectives, a Christian is...[INDENT]a person who has a personal heart-to-heart relationship with the living God, characterized by warm and active acceptance on God's part; our honesty and dependence on the activities of Jesus Christ.
[/INDENT]Let's look at this a little more closely.
"A personal heart-to-heart relationship":
The point of this is to exclude 'religious' relationships, in which an 'object' is revered 'from afar' but not approached in a personal way. God is indeed an 'awesome entity' but he is nonetheless a Person. A personal relationship is a reciprocal relationship, not a one-way deal. There is real interaction, real disclosure, real closeness that develops. The 'heart-to-heart' aspect intends to convey the honesty and openness of this relationship. There are no 'games' that can be played with an all-knowing God(!), no secrets withheld, no area of life concealed. (The interesting thing about this is that, even though God knows all about an area of our life, we might NEVER open it up to Him in discussion, in our efforts to 'hide' from His feedback!)
I cannot emphasize strongly enough the personal character of this relationship. I see so many aberrations and stunted-growth versions of it. It is not a formal relationship, a primarily legal one, or even simply a 'creature-Creator' relationship. (I find the human tendency to relegate God into a religious icon or image or object to depersonalize the relationship and short-change the possibilities of such a relationship--much as we do in other significant personal relationships in our lives.)
"The living God":
The subject of God is quite a vast one, but the main point here is that He is LIVING. There are feelings, and thoughts, and decisions, and actions, and initiatives, and responses, and values, and commitments... all the aspects of personal existence. He is not a force or an attitude or a "perspective on the universe". We walk around our lives 'face to face' with this One-- even if we ignore Him.
"Characterized by warm and active acceptance on God's part":
From God's side, He accepts us. But this is not merely a 'political' acceptance--it has a warmth and joy to it. He 'smiles' upon us. He delights in us(!). This is more than simply the very important 'peace with God'; it is an active
relationship. He gets involved in our lives for good--for our growth, our development, our character, our fulfillment, our stability, our significance in the lives and futures of others. He is always 'glad to see us'.
"Characterized by our honesty and dependence on":
From our side, the relationship is one of honesty about who He is and who we are. We are not 'gods', and as such need
our Maker for the realization of the purposes for which we appear in this universe. We are a people dependent on the universe He has produced, and we are people whose goodness has been severely compromised by our regular moral failures and pervasive spiritual apathy.
The main thing in the universe that God the Father loves...is God the Son. When we are honest with the Father about who his Son is, and what he did in history for us, God welcomes us into this warm relationship...We simply have to be honest with Him about his dearly-loved Son.
The second part of this is dependence
. We depend on Him for the 'repair' of our relationship WITH Him. He is the active one, coming in history to earth and taking upon Himself the consequences of our moral failure. We simply are honest about those actions/events to the extent that we rely upon
those actions/events as an adequate basis for God's warm acceptance of us. In other words, we agree with God that his Son's life and work are sufficient grounds to accept us into this special relationship. It's that simple.
"The activities of Jesus Christ":
The basic 'core' truth of Who he was/is and what he did are simple. He was God the Son, who took on human flesh, lived among us, suffered at the hands of His Father (on the cross) as our substitute, came back to life after his execution, and transported himself 'outside' space-time to 'heaven'. He will return to earth visibly in the future, but for now, He is involved invisibly in the macro-forces of history, and the micro-events of our lives. His death satisfied God the Father's just moral demands upon us, and 'freed' God to lavish his warm acceptance upon us.
This is the beautiful truth of what a Christian is...a beloved child of the living and loving God...and it starts with a simple conversation with God...telling Him that you accept "His version" of who his Son was, and what He did for you...