WHO IS A CHRISTIAN? by DAVIDSON ARINZE

INTRODUCTION by EDITH OHAJA
After the Lord Jesus Christ was taken up to heaven following His crucifixion and resurrection, his disciples began to preach the gospel to others, first among the Jews, but later among the Gentiles also. In one of the Gentile cities where they were thus engaged, people called them Christians, alluding to the fact that they were like Christ.

“… 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.” – Acts 11:26

Today, about two millennia later, we see a more varied interpretation of the word that creates some confusion as to its correct meaning. For instance, many people will readily check the box against the word “Christian” when asked to identify their religious affiliation on a form. Of this number, some will tell you they have been Christians all their lives because they were born into Christian homes while others will tell you the church they attend as proof of their Christianity. Some others will inform you they are born again Christians.

So who actually is a Christian? Is it something one is born into or acquires by association or is there a process for becoming a Christian?

To help us clarify these issues, we have this guest post from a beloved brother, Davidson Arinze, who is a seasoned preacher and teacher of the word of God. A whale of thanks to him for sharing from his wealth of biblical insight to us and abundant grace on his ministry in Jesus’ name. (You can learn more about the ministry of the servant of God at the end of this post.)

Can a person be a Christian all his or her life or is there a process for becoming one? Click To Tweet

THE GENESIS OF THIS POST
In the late 1980’s, an indigenous Christian association was formed in Akpugoeze, a town in Oji-River Local Government Area of Enugu State in South Eastern Nigeria, known as Akpugoeze Christian Union. However, this name was later considered by most members of the association as being an all en-compassing name for all churchgoers in the town.

Due to the all-inclusive name of the association, there was that problem of determining which churches in the town were qualified to be members, especially as the association was meant for only born again, indigenous Christians of the town.

Consequently, in December 1989, a seminar was organized, and I was privileged to be appointed to deliver a paper or message entitled: WHO IS A CHRISTIAN? And by the grace of God, through the revelation of God’s word on that topic, not only were members of the union present helped, it also became very clear who a Christian was as well as who were qualified to be members of that association.

Today, that seminar message has become a book, published in 2014, under the same topic. The ensuing post is an edited extract from the first chapter of the book. God bless you as you read!

WHO IS A CHRISTIAN?

Properly stated, a Christian is that person, male or female, who believes in, and practises the teachings of Jesus Christ of Nazareth (Matt. 28: 19-20). Notice that he or she does not stop at believing and confessing such a belief, but goes further to practise those principles in his or her daily life. For the Lord Himself said in the Gospel according to St. John: 14:15:

“If ye love me, keep my commandments.”

And His half-brother, James, instructed the Christians of his day in his General Epistle along this line when he wrote:

“But be ye DOERS of the word, and not HEARERS only, deceiving your own selves” (James 1 :22, emphasis, mine).

In other words, James advised that we should not only claim to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, rather, we should substantiate our faith in Him by “walking as he walked” or practising what He (the Lord) taught us in the Word of God (I John 1 :7). It is pertinent to state here that this is different from struggling to keep the Ten Commandments without the love of God in our hearts (Romans 10:14; Jam.2:8).

HOW DOES IT START?

It must be borne in mind that none of us was born a Christian. No man, woman, boy or girl was born a Christian even if the birth happened in a sanctuary and on a Sunday morning. We were all born with, and in sin, whether or not our parents were born-again before we were born. And this is in agreement with the words of King David in the book of Psalms:

“Behold, I was sharpen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5).

Apostle Paul in trying to prove that no flesh could be justified by works of the law, made this truth very clear in his letter to the Romans in this way:

“For all have sinned (through Adam and Eve), and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23, words in bracket, mine).

So, none of us was born a Christian. We can only become Christians at a point in our lives. Hence the question is: “How does one become a Christian, and at what point in time?”

In the Gospel according to St. Mark, we read as follows:

“And he said unto them, go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that BELIEVETH and is baptized shall be saved; but he that BELIEVETH NOT shall be damned” (Mark 16:15-16, emphasis, mine).

This is Mark’s account of the Great Commission which the Lord Jesus gave to His Church – His Body, of which He is the Head. And that was in the period between His resurrection and ascension.

He commanded the church then and the church now, to ‘go’ into the world and meet sinners out there. He neither commanded His disciples then nor does He command us now, to ‘go into all the churches’, but into all the world – the unbelieving world. But today many of us have not gone out into the world where the sinners are. And because we have not gone out into the world to meet sinners as we have been commanded, they (sinners) have come into the churches, as it were, to meet us. And this is the reason we seem to have almost more “goats” than ‘sheep’ in many of our congregations today, whereas if we had met them outside with the gospel they would have entered the churches as “sheep” and not as “goats”, so to speak (John 10:27-30).

This may account for some avoidable problems encountered by some pastors in their churches today. A pastor by definition is a shepherd. And we know that the primary role of a shepherd is to shepherd or take care of sheep, and not to rear goats. So then, if a flock or a congregation is made up of sheep, the pastor finds it easier to cope. But where you have a flock dominated by goats rather than the normal sheep, the pastor has to bump a lot of skulls or face serious challenges in trying to cope with the situation.

The Lord Jesus said in the Gospel according to St. John: 10:27, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”

He had introduced Himself as the good shepherd earlier on in this chapter, who would give His life for the sheep. And here He said, “My sheep hear my voice …” Goats will not hear but the sheep will and, follow. Goats would not follow because they would not hear in the first place. And this is because the pastor or the shepherd is not primarily anointed to rear goats, but to shepherd or care for the sheep (Jeremiah 23:1).

My point is that many of those goats are there because we have not obeyed the Great Commission to ‘go out’ to preach to them. So they found their ways into the churches. May be they came to enjoy our Christian music (which is not bad in itself) or they have come in for any other reasons.

Having said this, we need to understand that there cannot be any perfect congregations right now on earth otherwise, they (such congregations) would not need pastors. So there are bound to be goats scattered here and there amongst the sheep of the flock till the rapture. It is only unfortunate where there are more goats than sheep in a particular assembly. But there cannot be a goat-free-congregation in our present church groups. That was why in the parable of the tares, the Lord – the Master – instructed the servants to let both (tares and wheat) grow together until the harvest. The reapers, knowing the difference between tares and wheat, will not make any mistake as to gather both tares and wheat together into the same place (Matt. 13: 24-30).

So we must go out into the entire world and preach the gospel (not politics or human philosophy) to every creature. Then when anyone hears the gospel and accepts it into his or her heart, his or her journey of Christianity has properly begun. The person has become a Christian. And as he or she grows or develops in his or her new life and starts living out the indwelling life of Christ on a daily basis, he or she has become a Christian both in principle and also in practice (Mark 15: 16).

Therefore, whether one becomes a Christian outside or inside the church, it must be as a result of one’s faith in the Christ as must have been presented in the preaching of the gospel, either directly or indirectly (Romans 10:17). Another truth is that any church that ministers the way Jesus did will always attract the unbelievers most of whom would later become Christians inside the church. ​

Jesus told Nichodemus in St John’s Gospel that a man needed to be born again in order to see the Kingdom of God: because no one was born a Christian. As it is written:

“Jesus answered and said unto him, verily verily I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

One becomes a Christian when one is saved or born again. - Davidson Arinze Click To Tweet

So, one becomes a Christian when one is saved or born again, just like one became a sinner when one was born the first time (Psalm 51:5; Rom.5:19). When we refer to some people as ‘Christians’, and refer to some others as ‘born-again Christians’, the latter is tautological, because there is no other way to become a Christian except through the new the birth (John 3:3-5). In other words, if we used the word “Christians” appropriately in the first place, we wouldn’t have the need to make such a distinction. And the new birth occurs when we believe the gospel, repent of our sins, receive and confess Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. As Apostle Paul declares in his Epistle to the Romans:

“… if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).

This is what entitles us to call ourselves children of God.

“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12).

This experience is accompanied by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who witnesses that we are saved by enabling us to call God Abba Father. Whereas we were born physically of our natural parents before, we have now been born spiritually of water (the word of God) and the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:25 & 26, Titus 3:4-7).

“For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Romans 8:15-16).

The Holy Spirit also serves as our Teacher guiding us into all truth and enabling to live right if we would hearken to His counsel (John 16:13, 1 John 2:27).

So do not just claim to be a Christian; do not be a mere churchgoer. Repent of your sins and turn to the Lord Jesus today. If you have already done this, live a life that honours God; do not grieve His Spirit who lives in you (Ephesians 4:30).

You are richly blessed, in Jesus’ name!

PRAYER FOR SALVATION:
Almighty God, thank you creating me in Your image and sending Your Son, Jesus, to die in my place to pay the debt for my sins. I hereby repent of every wrongdoing and accept the free gift of salvation and eternal life through Christ Jesus. I receive Him today as my Lord and personal Saviour. I also receive the grace to live according to Your word through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
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Note that all scriptural quotations in this post are from the King James Version of the Holy Bible.
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ABOUT THE WRITER:
Davidson Arinze has been in full-time gospel ministry for the past thirty years; and has been with All Christians Fellowship Mission, for twenty-five years. He is a pastor, a theologian and an educationist, by the grace of God, and has served as Resident Pastor, Area Overseer and District Overseer in various churches and sections of All Christians Fellowship Mission, Nigeria. A prophetic teacher, preacher and writer, his ministry has touched and transformed many lives and ministries both within and outside All Christians Fellowship Mission to the glory of God.

He is married to Mrs Tina Arinze and they live and serve God in Jos, Nigeria with their son, Favour Osinachi Arinze.

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I am a university lecturer. I teach Mass Communication, mostly writing courses like Feature and Interpretative Writing, Magazine Article Writing and News Writing, and let’s just say I’ve been doing this for a long time. As you have probably guessed, I am a born-again Christian.

68 thoughts on “WHO IS A CHRISTIAN? by DAVIDSON ARINZE

  1. A very successful teamwork and a clear message of salvation and discipleship! God’s blessings upon you, your ministry and blog, in the Mighty Name of Jesus!

  2. First of all, I’ll like to state that Christianity is not religiosity. The term religion in my own opinion was created by man to differentiate the various beliefs of man, hence we sometimes have to indicate our religion in some forms we fill. I’ll boldly state that there are no born christians, a christian is one who hears and practices the word of God, one who models his life after Christ. But it is also important to note that since we are humans it is in our nature to be imperfect even after accepting Christ.

    • You’re right. We keep growing in grace and in our knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus, if we walk humbly with him. God bless you, Ginika!

  3. Great message! The only thing I would add to the statement where the author said, “But today many of us have not gone into the world where sinners are,” I disagree because believers are in the world ? we live on this earth after all. Matthew 5:16 tells us to let our light shine before men to point them to God.

    There are several ways to show the evidence of God in lives outside of direct conversations in the form of teaching and preaching. Our deeds and behaviors as well as our lifestyle show to others that we have repented from our sin and model to the world the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to change lives.

    Edith thank you for sharing this beautiful message. Love you and I ask God to bless you greatly beloved sister ?

  4. Soul lifting message. A Christian need not be found wanting of those qualities mentioned above. I guess it’s high time we looked inward and know where each and everyone one of us fit in, sheep or goat? knowing this will urge us up as so many of us don’t even know where they fit in, in as much as we attend church programmes and do other things in church, we now take it that we are Christians. Such people should read the lips of the author, THERE’S MORE TO IT, YOUR WHOLE BEING IS NEEDED BY CHRIST TO BEAR THE NAME ‘CHRISTIAN.’

  5. indeed christians must believe in and practise the teachings of Christ but if we just do this for people to see and praise us and in secret we are equal to the people of the world, then such is in vain.

  6. Abi? Christians of modern times seem to be Christians in word and name only. To be real Christians means that we all have to accept Jesus and do the will of the Father (i.e God) in our lives.
    We also need to endeavor to show that our life reflects His will, when we sit down, when we walk, when we eat, when we sleep and wherever we are; we must never forget that we are for God!

    • Beautifully put! Thanks a whole lot, Onyinyechi! May God make your life a sweet-smelling savour in Jesus’ name.

  7. Every single word contained in this write up is nothing but the truth. Often times people misunderstand this concept of being a Christian. But I believe that this message will make impact as well as change the mindset of people who think otherwise of the being a Christian phenomenon. God bless u, Pastor Arinze, 4 such an eye opening message to the ignorant. Bless u, Aunty Edith, 4 using ur blog to promote the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  8. what validates our claims as Christians is our belief in Christ Jesus as clearly stated in John 14 and our continuous walk in Christ. I also love this reminder that we must do the work of He who saved us which is the great commission.Thanks PASTOR DAVIDSON ARINZE FOR THIS WORK

  9. God bless your ministry sir. I am soooo glad that I am a christian. To me, being a christian is being just like Christ Jesus.

  10. A Christian should be one who truly believes in God, accepts his word and practices it. This implies not only “hearing” the word of God but also “doing” it. So, a christian should be one in principle and in practice. I have learned something new from this post, thanks for sharing.

  11. The message is clearly delivered to everyone who knows the truth, we should not allow ourselves to be entangled by denominational or religious dogmas, making us not to reason in the right direction. People think that being over religious is the gateway to heaven, nay! Christianity is the doctrine and footprints of Christ. Thank you for the message ma.

  12. He had introduced Himself as the good shepherd, who would give His life for the sheep,this is how the life of a Christian should look like, to be honest am guilty of this post, I ones believed that if your born into a Christian home then your one later did I realize that I was totally wrong then it is earned, I urge our Christian to always practice than just words from mouth

  13. A christian is not that individual who comes from a home that his/ her parents are born-again but the individual has not yet accepted Jesus. A christian is not that individual who goes to church nor that individual who is morally sound but does not belief in Jesus. A christian is that individual who believes that Jesus died foe his/ her sins, who confesses and forsakes his sins, accept Jesus as his/her saviour and willing to obey/carryout His will.

  14. Yes, a christian is one who is born again and not necessarily a mere church goer. what a superb post. God bless you man of God.

  15. Our believe in the supreme existence of God is what makes us Christians and the constant dwelling in his presence validates our believe in him.

  16. Nobody in this world is naturally born a Christian. Even though a person may associate with or approve of Christian principles, that does not make him a Christian.
    in my own view, Christianity means saved from something evil to something good. This does not happen in one moment. A Christian may receive the forgiveness of sins in one momentum, but that is only the beginning of a constant work of salvation thereafter. After conversion, he is saved little by little from more and more of all the sin that clings so firmly to him.

  17. A christian is one who heeds to the teachings and commandments of Jesus.
    But believers of this day are only Christians by religion.As christian we are supposed to be ambassadors and representatives of Christ here on earth. God help us.

  18. A lots of Christians don’t no the meaning of word Christian, meaning little Christ. Christ which is Jesus is known for his humble and impeccable behaviors. He was humble even to the point of death. People think that going Church on Sundays is what qualifies them as child of God Almighty. For me what Jesus said in the book of John, which described LOVE as ultimate Certificate for passing through Heaven.

  19. Thank you very much ma for this wonderful post that tells the true meaning of who a Christian really is. “Properly stated, a Christian is that person, male or female, who believes in, and practises the teachings of Jesus Christ of Nazareth (Matt. 28: 19-20). Notice that he or she does not stop at believing and confessing such a belief, but goes further to practise those principles in his or her daily life. For the Lord Himself said in the Gospel according to St. John: 14:15:” i urge everyone to read this post and have an idea what Christianity is all about. you are blessed ma.

  20. People should not be blinded with the conception that a Christian is some one who goes to church. It good we go to church,but it does not end there.A Christian is a believer who is ever willing and ready to pick up his cross daily to follow jesus.these entails working fervently well to do the will and teaches of christ.what a wonderful poem ma.I feel blessed with this ma.

  21. Thanks for clarifying this issue of being a Christian and being a born again Christian and also who is a christian. The first question most Christians on evangelical assignment ask people is: are you a born again Christian? When actually somebody can not be a Christian without being born again. This bone of contention breeds segregation among various churches in the world because while a particular church believe that salvation is for them who are born again, it believes otherwise for other Christians whom they believe are not born again.

  22. “A Christian is that person, male or female, who believes in, and practises the teachings of Jesus Christ of Nazareth”. That’s the central theme and I’m happy I got to know it today. I never knew the true definition of Christianity until now.
    So many people including myself have the notion that you are a Christian when you go to church or if you are born into a Christian home. But I thank God that today; I am able to find out the true definition of Christianity. And funny enough, I have been a Christian for a long time without even knowing what it’s all about.

  23. Yes,True christians must believe in and practise the teachings of Christ but if we just do this for people to see and praise us and in secret we are equal to the people of the world, then such practice is false.

  24. Nowadays christianity is a competition, few people including spiritual leaders are actually following the teachings of christ.it is not meant to be so.may God help the christians of these generation!

  25. A Christian is someone who not only hears the word of God but does it..our victory as Christians is in us living the life, being an example to unbelievers, is not enough to profess being a Christian but for the life to be seen in us..

  26. Being born into a Christian home or going to church does not prove that we are Christians. A Christian is someone who walks in the way of Christ. Winning and converting souls, bringing them to church and also following them up. These are the things a true Christian does.

  27. Being Christian I learnt is not just by confession. First we believe the gospel then we identify ourselves as such by our behavior and that is living the life influenced by Christ. We should remember that it is not the apostles that called themselves Christians but people that saw them acting like Christ. We should learn to live an exemplary life.

  28. To be a Christian is to abide in the precepts and vestiges of the Bible; anything outside the Bible is not true.

  29. I’m really inspired by this write-up, it has helped clear my misunderstanding. I have learnt that a christian is one who is Christ-like. Thank you very much ma for letting this post get to us.

  30. I’m really touched by this post, at least I’ve learnt that wearing long skirts and moving around with your Bible always doesn’t make you a Christian, it is by behaving like Christ Jesus. Thank you Ma for this wonderful write up

  31. This is a very nice post, at least I’ve learnt that wearing long skirts and moving around with your Bible always doesn’t make you a Christian, it is by behaving like Christ Jesus. Thank you Ma for this wonderful write up

  32. The fruit of being a Christian is not that you have believed the right facts of the Bible —for even the demons do that (James 2:19). But true Christians exhibit the fruit of loving the God who saved us and show the joy that is found only in walking with him.

  33. Most christians follow the traditions of men rather than the footstep of jesus christ.And that is why mountain moves us instead of we moving mountains.I thank God for reserving some people who have not bowed down to demons.

  34. Thank you ma for this special guest post by Davidson Arinze. It has succeeded in making it clear to me that to be a christian is not just for the sake of nomenclature, but the ability of one to depict Christ in his or her relationship with other people.

  35. Very inspirational, I believe Christianity is not a religion, rather it’s a life style. People think Christianity is all about going to church….it’s very far from that.

  36. To really understand who a Christian is, one must understand the concept of faith and works, because a real Christian is not only known by faith alone but by putting it into work. Father Abraham is a clear explanation. He not only had faith in God alone but he illustrated his faith through work of obedience. Therefore being a true and real Christian one have to live exemplary life to both believers and unbelievers. A Christian is not one who is born into a Christian family or one who is a church goer, it is one who is pure in heart.

  37. Christianity is not all about how many times you go to church in a day or week. It’s about believe and practicing God’s will. Thank you pastor Davidson Arinze for sharing this biblical insight with us.

  38. Christianity is in the doing and not in religion or birth. It is a relationship between oneself and God as well individuals and not a surname. Synonymous to love and not a certificate of mere belonging. It is important that we are like Christ(Christians). Our life should be the reflection of Christ. Thank you.

  39. Going to church does not determine your Christianity,these days so many people go to church and still live in sin.But rather upholding the will of God,repenting of our sins and turning to God for salvation.Until we do these things we cannot call oursepves christian simply because we found ourselves in christian homes.

  40. In my understanding christian means Christ like. So from this wonderful writeup, I understand that anyone can be a christian as long as you keep up the good works of our lord Jesus just like his apostles.

  41. Christians are to take after Christ while on earth. We are to follow His footsteps and do as He did on earth. Christians possess a unique behaviour and have a j
    distinct aura.

  42. Christians are to take after Christ while on earth. We are to follow His footsteps and do as He did on earth. We are representatives of Him on earth. Christians possess a unique behaviour and have a distinct aura

  43. This write up have cleared my mis interpretation of whom a Christian is. This actually implies that being a Christian is not only by word’s but also our ability to prove it by being in good terms with God with our everyday activities.

  44. indeed christians must believe in and practise the teachings of Christ but if we just do this for people to see and praise us and in secret we are equal to the people of the world, then such is in vain.

  45. This post has show me a new light of who a Christian is and ought to be. I am thankful for the knowledge I have gained from it

  46. Now we know who a christian is, let us now ask our self the big question, am i a christian?if yes thank God and continue living the christian life but if no thank God for opening your eyes so you can amend your life and ask for his grace to live the christian life.

  47. In my opinion a Christian is someone who lives a God kind of life. It’s not all about professing that you christian your lifestyle should also prove it. Although by our power it is not easy that is why the grace have been made available to us. This post actually threw some light in some areas that I actually wanted to know more about.

  48. Reply In my understanding christian means Christ like. So from this wonderful writeup, I understand that anyone can be a christian as long as you keep up the good works of our lord Jesus just like his apostles.

  49. Most times in my life I have always hoped to be a strong follower of Christ but I noticed I dwindle a lot,this piece of art has taught me a whole lot on who I am and that we have taken the true meaning of Christianity as something else,I hope to be a good Christian.

  50. John 1 vs12 says for those who believed and received him he has given power to be called children of God, and acts of apostle emphasized on who a Christian is and how a Christian should behave .

  51. Many people thinks that Christianity is a thing of being just a church member or Sunday morning worshiper. You don’t identify your self to be a Christian, people see it in you. Christianity is all about having faith in Christ and also showing it through work, which can be done by keep good relationship with one another.

  52. “… 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” – Acts 11:26
    I remember this bible verse, most people or rather, the Christians of this day bear the tag Christians as a title it’s a shame that they do not emit the light of Christ.

  53. Nice piece!
    Christianity goes beyond bearing the name alone,action should also be seen and the presence of the Holy spirit in a Christian’s life should be felt.

  54. It’s true, Christianity is a conscientious living of the life and teachings of christ. It is a life that when one is living it, transforms the person to be worthy of heaven. To do this, the person really has to overcome many evil demands of the flesh and the world.

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