What is a christian?
What is a Christian?
St Paul answered that question in a letter he wrote to a church in Corinth in about AD50. He reminded his readers that they were Christians because they had heard and responded to Good News:
“Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel that I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise you have believed in vain.
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter and then to the Twelve.” 1 Corinthians 15:1-5
Paul tells us that there are three things that lie at the heart of this good news:
Something to be saved from
Someone to be saved by
Paul says that ‘Christ died for our sins’. Elsewhere (Romans 3:23, 6:23) Paul makes clear that when we ‘sin’ we fall short of God’s glory or standards, and the consequence of this is separation from him – in other words spiritual death. This is a problem that we cannot overcome by ourselves, because we have no way of making ourselves perfect and holy; and if we cannot be like God then we cannot be with God. When Jesus was nearing His own death and was seeking to comfort his friends, he gave them hope by instructing them not to trust in themselves, but rather to ‘trust in God and trust in me’ (John 14:1). He described his own death as a ‘ransom (Mark 10:45) that he was paying on their behalf. Why was he able to do this? Because as the perfect Son of God he was not deserving of death, and death could not hold him. Jesus does something for us that we could not do for ourselves and then offers us the result – eternal life – as a free gift.
In another of his letters Paul puts it like this:
‘God is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.’ (Ephesians 1:7-8)
Something to be saved for
‘No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor human mind conceived, the things that God has prepared for those who love him’ (1 Corinthians 2:9)
In the last book of the Bible St John
writes as follows:
So, a Christian is someone who has heard the good news about Jesus, believed that it is true, and received it for themselves. In doing so they acknowledge their past sins and mistakes and their need for forgiveness and a new way of living, and it is a new life made possible because Jesus promises to be with us every step of the way.
If you would like to understand more about what it means to follow Christ please contact us and we would be delighted to send you a small book that will explain things in more depth.