Atheist ask me this question often and I find it fascinating. Apparently people are confused on how to determine if a person is a Christian. Are they what they say they are or are they not? And even better, how would we know the difference?
- The term “Christian” originates from scripture found in the bible, thus the bible defines the term
- It is only used 3 times in the bible
- And it is only defined in one verse
Acts 11:26 26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.
A Christian is only one thing: a person who is a pupil or an adherent of Jesus Christ:
This is directly confirmed in scripture:
31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,
There is nothing a person can say that makes them a Christian, they can only be identified via repeatable observation, in adherence to scripture found within the books of the bible. Simply put, If they are not consistently following the doctrines of Jesus Christ then they are not Christian.
A Christian only has one kind of religion, no more no less:
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
A Christian doesn’t judge:
There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?
Anyone that fits any part of this description is not a Christian:
Proverbs 6:16-19 16 These six things does the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: 17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked imaginations, feet that are swift in running to evil, 19 a false witness that speaks lies, and he that sows discord among brethren.
A Christian only treats you in the following ways:
2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.
32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
1 Peter 4:8-9
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.
Christians never announce charitable acts:
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.
A Christian takes good care of foreigners:
10 Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’
33 “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. 34 You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.
Christians have no love of money or possessions just people:
And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.
Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.
Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back.
If someone claims to be Christian (even by faith) but you can clearly see that they behave in a way that goes against scripture, then they are what scripture says they are:
In Christian theology, works, are a person’s (exterior) actions or deeds, in contrast to inner qualities such as grace or faith.
They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.
You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”
A person can believe in Jesus and be saved but still not be a Christian. Salvation is given by grace not by works to those who reach out in faith. So salvation is a gift, one does not need to be a disciple (Christian) to obtain it.
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace
A Christian can go to church but a person going to church does not make them a Christian. A building has no way of showing if you follow scripture since going to buildings is not a requirement in scripture. Christians do fellowship but there are no restrictions for those meetings. They can even happen online or with just a few people.
For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
1 Corinthians 1:9
God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Money has no connection to being a Christian, the opposite is true, the more money — the less chance of being Christian. Money given has no meaning outside of personal intention and sacrifice. This is to say that the money given has no value only what was in the persons heart when they gave it.
24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”
Even giving money to the rich is against being Christian and think about it… the rich oppress the poor.
Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth, or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.
Also keep in mind that people can be good to others… feeding the poor, helping those in need, and so on but not want to follow Jesus, so they are not disciples (Christian) by choice.
You now have a clear way to tell who is a Christian and who is not.