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"Six Facts about Christians" (posted June 1, 2006)

The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.
   - Acts 11:26


1. One who belongs to Christ
The word "Christian" is first found in the Bible in Acts 11:26 (quoted above). This name was given by the world to those who acknowledged Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and followed Him. They were identified with the crucified and rejected Christ. A Christian is a "Christ-man," that is, one who belongs to Christ.

In 1 Corinthians 15:23, Paul speaks of "those who are Christ's at His coming," and in John 13:1, the evangelist speaks of the believers as "His own." What a wonderful privilege to belong to the all-glorious, perfect, and eternal Son of God and Son of Man, Christ Jesus!

2. One who is born again
A Christian is one who is born again by the Holy Spirit. John 3:3-6 declares, "Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. ...unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." This is a spiritual birth whereby one is born into the family of God by the work of the Holy Spirit: "having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God" (1 Peter 1:23).

One thus born of God has received a new nature which loves God and hates sin. This is "the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness" (Ephesians 4:24). Christians have thus been made "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4). A Christian, then, is one who has been born again and possesses a new, divine nature which cannot sin (1 John 3:9).*

* Ed. Note: To further explain this point, the author later writes:
"In the happy enjoyment of the new nature with its desires Godward, the young Christian is soon disturbed by the discovery of evil still present in his heart. The evil nature with which we were born into the world still remains in the Christian after being born again. We need to feed the new nature [through Bible reading and prayer] so that it will grow strong and develop."
3. A converted person
The Lord said, "Unless you are converted ... you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3). "Converted" means "changed," and one who has been born again by the Spirit of God experiences a moral change or conversion. Such a one proves the truth of 2 Corinthians 5:17: "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."

4. A child of God
A Christian is a child of God by new birth and faith in Christ. "You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:26). Christians thus know God as their Father, so the apostle John wrote, "I write to you, little children, because you have known the Father" (1 John 2:13). Wonderful privilege indeed!

5. Indwelt by the Holy Spirit
In addition to being born again and possessing a new nature, a Christian is indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God---the Comforter and divine Teacher. "The Spirit of Truth ... dwells with you and will be in you" (John 14:17). "Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God?" (1 Corinthians 6:19). This indwelling Spirit gives the believer the affections and the consciousness of being a child of God, bearing witness with our spirits that we are the children of God (Romans 8:16).

6. Assured of sins forgiven and eternal life
The born-again believer in Christ is assured of the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. "I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name's sake." "To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins" (1 John 2:12; Acts 10:43).

The Word of God and the Spirit of God within assure the believer that "God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son" (1 John 5:11; compare verses 10-13). Thus a Christian is one who has the blessed assurance of sins forgiven and eternal life. One may be a believer in Christ and lack this assurance and need help as to this, but such assurance is the true possession of a Christian.

A real Christian
Such, dear reader, are some of the essential characteristics of a Christian. Are they true of you? If not, perhaps you need help as to how to become a real Christian.

Repentance is necessary in becoming a Christian. The Lord said, "Repent, and believe in the gospel" (Mark 1:15). Repentance is a change of mind, a complete reversal of one's inward attitude towards self, towards sin, towards God, towards Christ, and towards the gospel. One may think that he is a Christian because he lives a good life, belongs to a church, has been baptized, and does religious works. Yet none of these, and other similar things, will ever make one a born-again Christian, so there must be a change of mind about all this. One must come to God as a repentant sinner and believe on Christ as his Savior to become a Christian.

Accept God's gift of free salvation through faith in Christ and you will become a real Christian!

Raymond K. Campbell
Excerpted from the booklet Essentials of the Christian Life, available through Believers Bookshelf.

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