What does it mean to be a Christian? The word "Christian" only appears in the Bible three times. In Acts 11:26, Luke writes "...The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch." In Acts 26:28, King Agrippa told Paul; "In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian." And, in 1 Peter 4:16: "...but if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God." In each case, the Greek word Christianos (khris-tee-an-os') is used, which is translated "follower of Christ."
Being a Christian means following Jesus Christ. It means you have a relationship with Him as your
Savior. Although being a Christian means believing in God, being baptized, being a part of a church, taking communion and practicing good works - those things are not enough to become a Christian. Since Christians accept the Holy Bible as our source for truth, wisdom and guidance, we will take our answer from there.
Man is separated from God: When God created mankind, He created them to be perfect and placed them in the perfect paradise, the Garden of Eden. There was a perfect relationship between the Creator and His creation, but God gave man the freedom to choose his own path. We call that gift, "free will." However, instead of choosing to obey the Creator, Adam and Eve chose to disobey His instructions (Genesis 3:6) and God was placed in the position of having to hold true to His word and punish them. They were cast out of the Garden (Genesis 3:24) and forced to deal with lives of toil, pain and ultimately physical death. But God, in His great mercy, began working out his plan to bring mankind back into relationship with Him. And that plan was to bring them to Him through His son, Jesus.
But aren't there many ways to have a relationship with God? Many people today want to believe in the idea that this life is not all there is; that after they die they will go to heaven, or paradise or some type of after-life of their choosing. Interestingly, most people want to believe in almost any way of getting there except by having a relationship with God, especially if it means going through Jesus. Many are simply afraid of the "label" that Christianity brings and believe that if they name their longing for relationship with God as simply being "spiritual," that somehow it is enough. But the Bible tells us: "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad
is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But
small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few
find it." -- Matthew 7:13-14 You see, many people believe in God and believe that by being a "good
person" they will go to heaven (the wide gate), but significantly less
have a personal relationship with Jesus (the narrow gate). Only those
who enter the narrow gate by way of Jesus are forgiven and will spend
eternity in heaven. Many more people will be surprised to find that
everything they did counted for nothing without that relationship with
"Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy
in your name, and in your name drive out many demons and perform many
miracles?' Then, I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from
me you evildoers!'" -- Matthew 7:22-23
In other words, none of the "things" we do count for anything without
a personal relationship with Jesus. Not going to church. Not giving
money to the church, or to charity. Not doing good deeds. Not being
confirmed or going through catechism classes. Not even being baptized.
All of these things may be done by Christians, but they do not MAKE
someone a Christian. The ONLY thing that matters is whether or not Jesus
knows you, and the only way that happens is by accepting Him as your
personal Lord and Savior. The Bible tells us in Romans 3:23: "...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." And we read in Romans 3:12:
"All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one." That is very clear. We are not good and not capable of being good by our own devices. The Bible also says we cannot earn God's forgiveness. Ephesians 2:8-9 says: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast." The only way we can be saved is through faith in Jesus Christ.
You must be born again: Jesus first spoke of our need to be "born again" when he was
approached by a man named Nicodemus. This religious leader of his day
came to Jesus at night and said to Him: "Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless
God is with him." Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I
say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."
The idea Jesus was communicating was that something brand new had to happen in
our lives in order for us to experience relationship with God. He further
explained this change in John 14:6, when He proclaimed: "I am the way,
and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
Why Jesus? We are told in Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death," The
simplest way to put it is this: sin = death. When Jesus gave His life up for us, He literally paid the price for our sin, and when He rose from the dead, He opened up the way for us to come back to God and have eternal life. That scripture in Romans ends with "but the free gift of God is eternal life
in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Jesus is our answer to establishing a relationship with God our Creator. Jesus literally died for our sins.
The only way for us to be reconciled to God is through Jesus. Know this: "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." -- Romans 5:8
"For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." -- John 3:17
Not only did Christ die for us, but we see that God did this while we were still sinners.
He didn't wait for us to "clean up our act," or "get our life
straightened out." He took the first step. It is up to us to take the
What happens when I make the decision to accept Jesus? When you realize your need to accept Jesus as God's son and your Savior, the next step is simply telling God. You confess that you realize you are a sinner and need Jesus' sacrifice to pay the price for your sins. You do not have to go to another person to speak to God for you. You can go directly to Him and speak to Him without going through anyone else and He will hear you.
We want to encourage you to take this step to eternal life with God: II
Corinthians 6:2, says: "Indeed,
the "right time" is now. Today is the day of salvation."
We want to encourage you to accept Jesus, God's gracious Gift.
Maybe this is the first time you've really understood what it means to be
a Christian. If you have never asked God to give you His free gift of forgiveness
never done this, or you're not sure if you have. Pray this prayer:
"Dear God, I know I am a sinner. Please forgive me. Thank you for
your Son Jesus Christ and His death on the cross for my sins. I believe
that you raised Him from the dead. I accept Jesus, right now, as my
personal Lord and Savior. Please help me to begin living my life in
the way You want me to from this day forward. In Jesus' name I pray.
Perhaps you prayed something like this a long time ago, but you've
fallen away from God. If you would like to recommit yourself to Him,
pray this prayer:
"Dear God, please forgive me for not living my life the way you
want me to. I recommit myself to you right now, and I ask you to help me
start living my life for you from this day forward. In Jesus' name I
If you prayed either of these prayers, then we rejoice over you and more than that, there is great rejoicing in heaven also. Luke 15:10 says: "In the same way, I tell you, there is
joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."