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What Does It Really Mean To Be A Christian?

By Rev. Jack Howell

“The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch” (Acts


11:26 NASB).

What does it really mean to be a Christian – a disciple or


follower of Jesus Christ? In the first place, just because one
attends a church, has been baptized, christened, sprinkled,
or has his or her name on a church membership roll, or has
been born into a Christian family, does not make one a
Christian. Just because someone claims to be a Christian
does not make them one no more than claiming to be a
doctor makes a person a doctor. Not everything or everyone
that claims to be Christian is. We need to get that straight
for there are a number of people who think they are
Christians who are not. Being a Baptist, Methodist,
Pentecostal, Catholic, Episcopalian, etc., does not make one
a Christian. Being a Calvinist or Arminian does not make one
a Christian. A Christian is one who has been changed on the
inside as a result of the New Birth (John 3:3-7). One who has
truly been born again of the Spirit and Word of God will
undergo an inward change and no longer be the same
person they once were. The apostle Paul tells us at 2
Corinthians 5:17 that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new
creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things
have come” (NASB). After one has been truly regenerated by
the Spirit and Word of God, their nature changes and they
have a new nature. A nature that is not at enmity with God,
but one that desires the things of God. Old value systems,
beliefs, plans, etc., that are not of God are replaced by those
which are of God and the Believer seeks to please God in all
things, even surrendering himself/herself completely over to
Him because he/she realizes they are no longer their own
person, but have been bought with the shed blood of Jesus
Christ (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). To be a Christian means to
follow Christ, to desire Him, to fellowship with Him, to be
indwelt by Him, and to bring glory to Him in your life. To be a
Christian means to be like Him. One is not born a Christian;
rather, one is REBORN as a Christian. Being a Christian
entails taking up our cross daily and following Him (Luke
9:23). What does “taking up our cross daily and following
Him” mean? The cross was an instrument of death in ancient
times, and for us to take up our cross daily means that we
die to our own will, desires, plans, etc., and submit to the will
of God for our life each and every day no matter the cost.