The Biblical "Christian" | Not a Title But a Way of Life
- Summary: What defines a true “Christian”? Going to church? Doing good works? No, because there are millions of people doing these things who are not biblical Christians. How about believing in God? No. The bible says even demons believe in God (James 2:19), and they are certainly not Christian! Let’s look today at some characteristics of a Christian according to the Scriptures. The first one listed below ("saved, born again") is the all-important, absolute necessity. But there are many more facets to true, biblical Christianity, and the follower of Jesus Christ should desire to press into all of them.
Saved, that is, genuinely born again
John 3:3, 7 Jesus replied … “No one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again” …  You must be born again.”
Acts 16:31 Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.
2 Corinthians 7:10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation.
- • You can grow up attending church and still not be saved, not be born again. That was my situation until, at age 25, I came to my first real, personal experience of faith in Jesus Christ and repentance for my many sins. In my room at McChord Air Force Base in 1969, the truth of the Scriptures about Jesus broke through to me. I called out to God, confessed my utter sinfulness, and asked Jesus to save me. He did! I felt total forgiveness and acceptance from Him. I was, as the bible says, “born again” and my life has never been the same!
- • Jesus said you must be born again. The Scriptures tell us to believe in Jesus the Savior and to confess and forsake our sins. When we do so, even in brief, simple words from our hearts, He forgives us, receives us, saves us, and makes us children of God (John 1:12-13).
- • Once we are genuinely saved by heart-felt repentance and faith in Jesus Christ and His blood shed for us on the cross, we are heaven-bound! But there is so much more that characterizes the Christian life and walk.
Baptized in water
Acts 2:37-38 “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
- • On that first New Testament Day of Pentecost, 3,000 new believers in Christ got saved and were immediately baptized in water (vs. 41).
- • In the early Church (a pattern for us today) the new believers were quickly baptized in water, burying the “old man” of sin and arising to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:3-6).
- • And in water baptism they took on the triune name of their Savior — “And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 10:48, Lamsa).
Baptized with the Holy Spirit
Acts 1:5; 2:1-4 …In a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit … [2:1] When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place…  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
- • The Christian should not be content only to be born again. There is so much more God provides for us to live a full, spiritually fruitful life on earth. As shown above, we are to be water baptized.
- • God also has another baptism for each believer — the baptism with the Holy Spirit, with the biblical evidence of speaking in other tongues by the enablement of the Holy Spirit. This opens the door to the manifestation of a variety of supernatural spiritual gifts in your life. Every Christian should seek the Lord for this wonderful Holy Spirit baptism.
John 8:31, Amplified Jesus said to those Jews who had believed in Him, If you abide in My word [hold fast to My teachings and live in accordance with them], you are truly My disciples.
- • The true disciple of Jesus Christ bases his or her life solidly upon the Word of God, the bible. In a parable, Jesus said the difference between the “wise builders” and the “foolish builders” was that only the wise built upon the foundation of His word (Matthew 7:24-27).
- • The biblical Christian will be diligent to read, study, and live according to the teachings of the bible, and thereby to be “truly [Jesus’] disciples.”
Luke 11:1 “Lord, teach us to pray…”
- • That petition is in my heart, too. Most Christians, in my experience, desire a deeper prayer life. I do. That two-way conversation between God and His children is essential to maintaining a close relationship with Him.
Mark 11:22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered.
Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
- • Jesus Himself was amazed at people’s lack of faith (Mark 6:6). Even after His resurrection, Jesus rebuked His closest disciples for their lack of faith (Mark 16:14).
- • Read the Word, pray, ask God, “Lord, increase our faith!” (Luke 17:5). Desire to have the testimony that Paul spoke of the Thessalonian believers: “Your faith is growing more and more” (2 Thess. 1:3).
Motivated by love
1 Corinthians 13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
- • When they asked Jesus which was the greatest commandment in Moses’ Law, He replied that the greatest was to love the Lord our God, and the second greatest was to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40). Think of that. Of the more than 600 commandments in the Law, Jesus said #1 was to love God, and #2 was to love our neighbor. Love in both instances! True Christians should be motivated in all we do by love for God and love for our fellow man.
1 John 5:3 In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands.
John 14:15, NASB If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
- • This is an often-overlooked aspect of Christian love. The love that characterizes a true Christian is not simply a feeling towards the Lord or towards others. It also includes faithful obedience to His commandments in the Scriptures. Those who truly love Jesus will be diligent to pattern their lives after the clear commands of Scripture. No platitudes such as “Jesus just wants me to be happy” as a cover-up for sin! No, if you love the Lord, you will obey what the Lord has taught in His word — “…teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20).
Hebrews 12:14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
Ephesians 4:24 …put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
- • How holy should we desire to be? — “…like God in…holiness”! That’s a high calling, but God doesn’t give us a pass on this. Rather, He commands, “I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy” (Leviticus 11:44).
- • I would strongly caution any believers who think that loose living is acceptable to God to look closely at Hebrews 12:14 — “…without holiness no one will see the Lord”! That’s a far cry from the anti-biblical, loose-and-easy grace taught in many Christian churches in America today.
Witnessing our faith to others
Acts 1:8 [Jesus told them] “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
- • As God gives opportunity, we Christians will look for occasions to share our faith with others. We will not only desire “to witness” with our words, but also to “be witnesses” with the entirety of our lives lived before others.
Assembling together as a church
Hebrews 10:25, TLB Let us not neglect our church meetings, as some people do…
KJV: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together…
- • A believer who is in a healthy relationship with the Lord isn’t looking for reasons to skip church, but is motivated to gather with the other believers for word, worship, and gifts of the Spirit.
Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man [Jesus] did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
- • There is the supreme example — Jesus the Server! He who is worthy of all worship and adoration came to earth as Isaiah’s prophesied Suffering Servant (chs. 52-53). Jesus washed His disciples’ feet, giving us an example of serving others. He died on the cross to serve us by purchasing our redemption.
- • The committed Christian seeks to follow after our Lord and to “serve one another humbly in love” (Galatians 5:13).
Manifesting spiritual gifts
1 Corinthians 12:1, 8-11 Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed… [8-11, KJV] For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
- • These are “gifts of the Spirit,” given by the Holy Spirit to Spirit-filled believers. They are as available and needed today as in the first century.
- • The Lord’s Church, in its worldwide Great Commission from the Lord, has much need of these supernatural gifts. I recall one heaven-sent revelation — I call it the two-beer word of knowledge — that instantly changed the course of a man’s life one Sunday morning. True believers will be open and available to the Lord for His use in these and other Holy Spirit-inspired ways.
Characterized by spiritual fruit
Galatians 5:22-23, KJV But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.
- • Finally, the dedicated Christian will remain open to the Holy Spirit’s growing these godly character traits in us. Remember, as born-again Christians, we are called to “be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24). Jesus told us that we will know people by their fruits (Matt. 7:16, 20).
Certainly more could be said in drawing a portrait of the fully devoted, biblical Christian. But if you are diligently pursuing the things we’ve looked at above, you are well along the road to developing the Christlike life that will be greatly pleasing to the Lord. May He bless and inspire you in this godly pursuit.
Check out our related sermon: Take Your Christianity into Your Culture
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©2015, James H. Feeney.
Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.