What Is A Christian?

Christian No Comments

     Was Thomas Jefferson a Christian?  Recently, Daniel L. Dreisbach wrote an article for Christian History (issue 99, summer 2008, p. 15) entitled, “The Wall of Separation” in which he related that Jefferson described himself as “a real Christian” although he was aware that his beliefs were unconventional.  Jefferson said, “I am a sect by myself.”  He believed that human reason was the arbiter of religious truth and rejected key tenets of Christianity, including the Bible’s divine origins, the deity of Christ, and the miraculous accounts in Scripture.  This brings up the question, “what is a Christian?”  Can a person be a Christian and deny that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? 
     The word “Christian” is always used as a noun in the New Testament.  It describes those who are disciples of Jesus Christ.  In Acts 11:26, the first occurrence of this word is found in the New Testament.  “And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch.  And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people.  and the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”  The second time the word “Christian” is found in the New Testament is Acts 26:28, “Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.”  The third time the word “Christian” is found in the New Testament is I Pet. 4:16, “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.”  A Christian is a disciple of Jesus Christ.  A Christian must believe that Jesus is God’s Son and that God raised Him from the dead.  John declares, “And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.  Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God” (I John 4:14-15).  What about those who deny that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?  Jesus answered, “But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 10:33).  The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is a fundamental tenet of Christianity.  Paul wrote concerning Jesus Christ,  “And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:4).  To deny both of these facts–that Jesus is God’s Son and that Jesus was resurrected from the dead –is unchristian.  Thomas Jefferson’s unbelief disqualifies him from the claim to be a Christian.  A Christian is one who has heard the Gospel call and answered it by faith and obedience to the commands of Jesus Christ (Matt. 28:18-20).