What Is A True Christian? :: by Grant Phillips

Perhaps the most misunderstood word in existence is “Christian”. Its origination is found in Acts 16:31, “…And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” We see in the previous verses to verse 31 that the disciples were preaching the Lord Jesus, and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord. They were exhorted by Barnabas to cling unto the Lord. Barnabas left and brought back Saul (who was later called Paul) and they taught the people about Jesus. So, simply put, Christians are followers of Jesus.

It did not take Satan long though to muddy the water. People began seeing a Christian as one who was religious. However, religion and Christianity are not the same. Religion is man seeking a god, through his own works. Christianity is all about Jesus Christ and what He has provided for those who will follow Him.

Today, generally speaking, we are so far away from the real truth of being a Christian, it is no wonder that those who do not know Jesus (the world) can tell little difference between themselves and a Christian.

Politicians (not all) use Christianity when it is convenient for them. When it is not convenient, look out. Many politicians will say, “I am a Christian. I pray. I read the Bible. I go to church.” Does that make them a Christian? Maybe when we arrive in Heaven, we should ask the millions of babies who have been murdered in the wombs of their mothers. Maybe God Himself will have something to say to the politicians and their followers about how He has been legislated out of every area of our lives.

The Hollywood crowd (not all) lives as if anything and everything goes. The raunchier they can live, the better. The more garbage they can put on the screen, the better. Most are very spoiled people who live in one big sex play pen. Many have no more morals than a stray dog. There are a couple of Internet sites that provide the pictures and names of celebrities who have died each year. To me it is very sad that many of them die without knowing Jesus. To read and listen to the remarks made about them posthumously, just breaks your heart. They achieved so much in life; films, books, handprints on a sidewalk, etc., and now all they have is an eternity in an everlasting hell. I cannot imagine the shock they experienced one second after death. Sadly, it is getting worse day by day.

Many in the music/art  theater (not all) are living the same type of lives. Alcohol, drugs, sex, perversions, etc. just make their rounds in destroying people’s lives.

What can I say about sports? Sports players (not all) no longer try to set a good example for children, but indulge in the same sins of other celebrities. Tantrums, cheating, sex, drugs and booze seem to be their lifestyle.

I want to emphasize at this point that I am not referring to all politicians, or all of the Hollywood crowd, or all music/art people, or all with a career in sports. I have read and/or heard of a few in each of these categories that seem to be truly living for Jesus Christ. Generally speaking, most celebrities have a totally different view of true Christianity. They seem to think that a Christian is one who believes that there are many ways to God, is one who tolerates and/or endorses homosexuality, is one who believes in a woman’s right to abortion, basically has a socialistic mentality, and when they die all will be well because of all the “wonderful” things they accomplished while upon this earth, or simply because they were a “good person”. Constantly I hear that “they did this or that and left this or that for posterity. Their memory will live on in their work”.  But I always wonder how many would give up all that, just to come back to life and have one more chance with God through His Son Jesus Christ.

Well, what about those of us who are not celebrities, and obviously, are not well known? Just considering those who go to a church service somewhere on a Sunday morning, is eye-opening when compared to God’s Word. I notice that many who gather on Sunday morning are not seen again until the next Sunday morning, maybe. They seem to have no interest in studying God’s Holy Word, but can tell you anything you want to know about sports, movies, and their favorite television show. Their lives are spent satisfying their own lusts. By lusts, I am simply referring to all the pleasure seeking activities they may be involved in. Such a simple thing as asking God to bless their meal, whether in private or public, is usually omitted. These things, in themselves, do not save anyone, but you would think that for those who are truly saved, they would have a different attitude.

Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” In John 15:14 He said, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatever I command you.” In Matthew 11:29 He said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls”. He said in Philippians 2:12, “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”, simply meaning to actively pursue, by obedience to God, the process of sanctification that He is working in you. So would not a true Christian be interested in the things of Christ? Would not he/she strive to be obedient to His will? Would not a true Christian long for righteousness (Matthew 5:6)?

If we are a true Christian, then where does our interest lie? Is it to say that every true Christian is perfect? Of course not (Romans 7), but should we not aim to think like our Savior (Philippians 2:5)? Should we not be content with Him (Philippians 4:11)?

From what I see in the Word of God, the Bible, a Christian is one who has seen his/her need to be saved from God’s judgment; has repented and is saved by His grace by faith in His Son Jesus Christ who paid our sin debt; who is not perfect in this life, but strives to be like his/her Savior by knowing Him more intimately and obeying His commandments, the greatest of which is to, “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)

Should not every true Christian be a disciple? We were called disciples prior to being called Christians. The word disciple means to be a follower, a believer, or a student. If we call ourselves “Christians”, do we follow who we say we believe in? Are we a student of His Word? I find it alarming that many who claim the name of Christ (Christian) barely give a token nod of acknowledgment to the One they say they follow. I am aware of many who “walk the talk”, but they seem to be in the minority. (Actually, it has always been that way.) It seems that the large majority, by far, merely give lip service to God at best. When I read Jesus’ responses to others, I find every time that He always puts people on the spot. There is no compromise with Him. It is either all or nothing. We are either with Him, or we are against Him. I am reminded of Matthew 8:22, Matthew 19:21, Luke 9:23, Luke 9:60, Luke 10:27, Luke 12:26, just to name a few. Today however, many want to put themselves first, and if there is anything left (and there usually is not), then maybe Jesus can have what is left … maybe, unless something else comes up.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon says it well when speaking from 1 Kings 19:8, “All the strength supplied to us by our gracious God is meant for service, not for wantonness or boasting. When the prophet Elijah found the cake baked on the coals, and the cruse of water placed at his head, as he lay under the juniper tree, he was no gentleman to be gratified with dainty fare that he might stretch himself at his ease; far otherwise, he was commissioned to go forty days and forty nights in the strength of it, journeying towards Horeb, the mount of God. When the Master invited the disciples to “Come and dine” with him, after the feast was concluded he said to Peter, “Feed my sheep”; further adding, “Follow me.” Even thus it is with us; we eat the bread of heaven, that we may expend our strength in the Master’s service. We come to the Passover, and eat of the pachal lamb with loins girt, and staff in hand, so as to start off at once when we have satisfied our hunger. Some Christians are for living on Christ, but are not so anxious to live for Christ. Earth should be a preparation for heaven; and heaven is the place where saints feast most and work most. They sit down at the table of our Lord, and they serve him day and night in his temple. They eat of heavenly food and render perfect service. Believer, in the strength you daily gain from Christ labour for him. Some of us have yet to learn much concerning the design of our Lord in giving us his grace. We are not to retain the precious grains of truth as the Egyptian mummy held the wheat for ages, without giving it an opportunity to grow: we must sow it and water it. Why does the Lord send down the rain upon the thirsty earth, and give the genial sunshine? Is it not that these may all help the fruits of the earth to yield food for man? Even so the Lord feeds and refreshes our souls that we may afterwards use our renewed strength in the promotion of his glory.”

So let us ask ourselves, what is a true Christian? Am I a true Christian? Do I long for Him and all that is about Him? Should we not all examine ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5)?

I have noticed many in church services from the pulpit to the pew put on an act they think is righteous. They have learned the words to say, the tone of voice, the artificial smile, but if they meet you on the street, they cross to the other side so they won’t have to speak. It seems they put on a mask, as they did in the Victorian theater, then promptly remove it once the “worship” service is ended and they depart the building. The same crowd will knock you down to feed at the trough of their favorite restaurant. My wife and I have been told by several servers at restaurants that the “church crowd” are many times the most rude and demanding, leaving a meager tip, if any, when they leave. I wish to be clearly understood that not all church folk are like this, but those who are leave a bad taste in the mouth of the world. Obviously, a true Christian is honest and genuinely kind to others. Why? Because that is how Jesus is, and the true Christian wants to be like his/her Lord.

Lastly, how truly Christian are we, when we fuss and fight among ourselves within the Church? Do we not know that those outside the Church witness this? No wonder they say, “Why should I go to church? They’re all just a bunch of hypocrites?” Is it wrong to be angry within the Church? Is it wrong to stand up and speak out? “No” to both questions. It is not wrong, but it should be under the control of the Holy Spirit, and thereby handled with love and forgiveness. When we put the other person before ourselves, we could care less what color the carpet is. It doesn’t matter. However, if it is an issue that is scripturally wrong and would hurt the cause of Christ and His Church, then we should speak up, but in love and forgiveness, not carrying a grudge. How many “lost sinners” have been turned away from Jesus Christ because “saved sinners” acted like immature children? And then again, that brings us back to the question, what is a true Christian? Folks, there are far too many people within the churches who need to either spiritually grow up or get saved.

I will close with this verse, “Examine yourselves, whether you are in the faith; prove yourselves. Know ye not yourselves how Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobate?” (2 Corinthians 13:5) The New Living Translation puts it this way, “Examine yourselves to see if your faith is really genuine. Test yourselves. If you cannot tell that Jesus Christ is among you, it means you have failed the test.” (NLT)


Grant Phillips