Just because a person says he is a Christian does not mean he is a Christian according to the Bible. They may be referring to themselves as American or as a moral person or raised in a Christian home. In Acts 11: 26 is a record when believers were first called Christians. However, that word was not applied to the followers of Christ until two hundred years after Christ’s ascension. Then the word Christian came to be used as we know it today. In those early beginnings people who knew Christ as their Savior preferred to be called disciples, brothers, saints, or believers. Actually, the calling of these people Christians was intended in the beginning to make fun of them. The Romans considered Christians as a movement against their way of life. Today the word Christian is quite acceptable and is haphazardly used by just about anyone. Let us look closer to the Scriptures to discover just what it means to be a Christian according to the Bible from the early days of the New Testament until now.
The Bible Christian has trust in Christ. Ephesians 1: 12 says, “that we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.” For all practical purposes, it is impossible to be a true Christian without a direct trust connection with Christ. This person recognizes the historical Jesus as their own personal Jesus by the work of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, our relationship with God is established as person-to-person.
The Bible Christian has a love for Christ. It says in1 Peter 1: 8, “whom having not seen, you love; in whom, though now you see him not, yet believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” Anytime we have an experience with someone that we believe has become close to us, we develop a love for that person. Love is the first evidence by a regenerated heart for Christ. It is the motivating force for us as Christians in our experience with God – it causes us to continue further.
The Bible Christian has fellowship with Christ. The basis of this fellowship is mentioned in 1 John 1: 3 that says, “that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the father, and with his son Jesus Christ.” Christ is more than a historical figure to the believer. He is real in an actual fellowship with him. Life takes on an order with Christ at the head of priorities, at the cost of sacrificing our own welfare for a better benefit.
The Bible Christian works for Christ. He is our master, and we are his servants. This is stated in Acts 27: 23 that says, “for there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve.” The work that we do for God is not something we manufacture to put in place to please God or appease him. The work that we do is a natural extension of the ministry of Christ. If we do not do the work of Christ, who will do the job?
The Bible Christian has resources in Christ. It would be useless for us to think that we have a place in God’s work if we do not have the means to do it. But anything and everything we need to fulfill his ministry is told to us in Colossians 1: 17 that says, “and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” Whatever material or spiritual tools we need, he will provide so that we might interface and fulfill our spiritual jobs.
The Bible Christian will receive rewards. This point is last to be mentioned because what we do and how we live for God is out of our devotion and love for him; not so that we would ultimately be rewarded in eternity. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5: 10, “for we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things done in his body according that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” This is a summary of two judgments that will occur. The first is a judgment applied to those who have rejected Christ and will experience the bad result. The second is a judgment as a good reward for our witness while still on earth. Rewards will only be given for works done in Christ’s name and for his glory: not any or all works will be rewarded. The rewards we received will be earned with Christ by him fixing the value of the deed we have conducted.
Hopefully everyone can see that there is a significance between anyone who says they can go to heaven on their own merit because they have lived a good life versus the person who is a Bible Christian and has a salvation experience with Jesus. Those Christians are the ones to have on this earth and in eternity an experience for the results of their service to Christ. In other places of the Bible, we are told that there must be a born-again experience in which the believer becomes a new creation in Christ. This cannot be accomplished by human effort or human assumptions. After a born-again experience, we trust in Christ, we have fellowship with Christ, we have a love for Christ, and we are willing to do work for Christ. Where do you stand with Christ; how you relate to Christ?