What Defines a Christian?

There are many people today who think that just because they go to church, or were baptized as an infant, or were raised by godly parents, that it earns them the title of “Christian.” But what does the Word of God say? The word “Christian” only appears three times in the Bible. Those three times help us to define what a Christian is from God’s perspective. Being a Christian involves:


“And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch” (Acts 11:26b). Notice that it does not say that the disciples called themselves Christians. Rather, it was their enemies that identified them as “Christians.” Several things in the context of this passage earned them that title – their preaching (vv. 19-20), their power (v. 21), their purpose (vv. 22-26), and their passion for people (vv. 27-30). It is important to understand that none of these things made them Christians – they were Christians already by virtue of their faith in Jesus Christ. These things were the fruit of their faith!

  1.  A CONSCIOUS DECISION – Acts 26:28

Here we have the record of Paul testifying before King Agrippa. “Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian (Acts 26:28). Being a Christian involves being persuaded to make a conscious decision to trust Christ. The truth is, people are not “born” Christians and people do not “evolve” into being Christians! You will not find any of those scenarios in the Bible. What you will find is people making a conscious decision to trust Christ alone for salvation.


“Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf” (I Peter 4:16). In this chapter, Peter makes it clear that being a Christian involves a before (v. 3) and an after (v. 4). Though we are far from perfect, a Christian is a new creation in Jesus Christ ( see II Corinthians 5:17). This consecrated direction after salvation involves separation, submission to God’s will (vv. 7-11), and even suffering (vv. 12-19).

So, here is my question — Are you a Christian by God’s definition?