How would you answer this question? Most people would focus on what they think a Christian should be ‘doing’: someone who goes to church, who reads the Bible, who prays, or someone who believes in God. But this is a great misunderstanding! Whilst a Christian will surely look to do these things, what they do does not tell us what a Christian truly is. For before a Christian ‘does’ anything, he ‘is’ something. In true Christianity, being comes before doing and doing flows from being.
I want to examine a few things that are true of every Christian, however long or short a time they have been converted. Whatever their background, age, rank or nationality, all these things will be true. Neither will these things ever change as they describe the Christian’s status, and that status is unchanging and unchangeable.
Christianity is not ‘a lifestyle choice’, it is new life! We are born physically at our natural birth, but we are born again spiritually as Christians. As we had nothing whatsoever to do with our physical birth, so we have nothing to do with our spiritual rebirth; it was a work of the Holy Spirit in the inner being (John 3). This new life is so radical that the Bible uses a rare word to describe it – ‘newness’.
‘Newness of life.’ The Christian has new life that remains new, it never grows stale, it’s always fresh. Remember that new car smell? Fresh ground coffee or fresh baked bread? They all fade, but the Christian has life that is always new.
A child of God
This really gets to the heart of true Christianity. Real Christianity is relational. God is our Father; Jesus is our elder brother; the Holy Spirit dwells within us. Here is the intimacy of deep relationship. We were all made for relationships, family and friends are vital to us. But deep down, the most fundamental relationship we were made for and need is our relationship with God. The true Christian has this relationship; the creator of the universe is our Father in Heaven.
Our greatest problem is sin. Every one of us, Christian or not, has sinned, sins daily and will continue to sin. All sin is primarily against the Almighty God, the holy triune being who dwells in depths of burning light. God has judged, does judge and will finally judge sin and the punishment for sin is death. Spiritual, physical and eternal death. Our greatest problem is sin and our most urgent need is to be forgiven. The Christian is forgiven.
What a relief! The Christian is not only forgiven, but completely and fully forgiven; past sins are gone; present sins (for every Christian will sin every day) are gone; and future sins are gone.
Not only is the Christian forgiven, but they are also clean. God has not just forgiven all my sins, but more than that, he also views me as clean. Actually, the Bible uses a much more powerful word than clean, the Bible calls me ‘righteous’. God views the Christian in such an awesome way that not only does he forgive my sin, but he counts me as having kept every bit of his holy Law. The Christian is seen as a righteous person.
The Christian is free, totally free from sin. Free from sin’s penalty, there is no judgement ahead for the Christian. We are forgiven. The Christian is free from sin’s pollution: God views us as righteous. The Christian is also free from sin’s power. Here is a most wonderful thing, and it is something of a litmus test of my claim and your claim to be a Christian. Although sins still trouble and harass me, although I still do in fact sin, sin’s dominion and power over me has been broken. I no longer habitually scheme and plan and delight in sin and there is a new desire within me to serve God and to keep his law. Do you feel that freedom which springs from the newness of life? Jesus said, ‘He who the Son sets free, is free indeed’(John 8:36).
I could write so much more about what a Christian is. They are saved, Heaven bound, secure, protected, loved and so much more. But, how does this happen? How can any human being gain such a remarkable status?
How to ‘be’ a Christian
Now we come to the heart of Christianity! How can anyone gain such a status? Well, it all happens in and through Jesus Christ. We are all sinners and under God’s just wrath, hell bound and deservedly so. But Jesus, God’s eternal son, came to this planet and did two great things for us. First, he lived a perfect life of righteousness and he lived it for me, because I can’t. Then, he willingly died the death that my sin deserves. Calvary was a physical death, but it was so much more than that. Calvary was ‘hell on earth’ as Jesus died the sinners’ death.
His physical resurrection three days later is the proof and the seal that the gospel is true. Jesus lived and died for you.
What must you do? In a sense, nothing, because Jesus has done it all! However, once you do realise that it is all true, you will repent towards God, and you will trust fully in Jesus to save you. As you do this, you will be a forgiven, righteous, free, Heaven-bound child of God … and so much more besides. And this status can never and will never change.
This is what a Christian is!
If you want to know more I have recorded a series of 7 one minute videos on my YouTube channel. Search for ‘Just a Minute’ by Andy Christofides on YouTube.