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Reflections: Defining ‘Christian’
rick haworth

What does it mean to Christian? There’s a minimum definition.  

Many of the ancient confessions state what that is. Let me create the definition from Bible verses alone. The Scriptures I will use in this reflection are only references with summaries because of space constraints, but if you will take the time to look up these verses in the Bible, you will see that it is absolutely essential to include these six truths to answer the question.   

The Bible is God’s Word.

Jesus claims it is reliable, Matthew 5:18. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 claims it came from the heart and breath of God. 2 Peter 1:21 claims that the Holy Spirit guided the process so that the Bible, although written by people, accurately explains God’s intent, 2 Peter 1:21.   

God is an eternal Trinity.

The Bible claims God is one, James 2:19. Yet John 1:1, Hebrews 1:1-3, and John 16:13 clearly show God is a Trinity. Jesus Christ, although a man, must also be God to perfectly be able to make the proper sacrifice for our sin, 2 Corinthians 5:21 and defend us in our weak moments, 1 John 2:1-2. The Holy Spirit raised Jesus from the dead showing he is not just God’s spirit, he is also God, which we call the 3rd person of the Trinity, and it gives us confidence he will one day raise us from the dead, Romans 8:11.

All humans are sinners that will face God’s wrath unless peace is made between us and God.

We must accept that we are sinners, Romans 3:23, and our sin separates us from God, Isaiah 9:2, and because of that we will face God’s wrath, Ephesians 5:6-7. But, we must also believe that God offers us peace, not on our terms, but on his through Jesus, Romans 5:1.

God offers all humans salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

We do not have faith in our ability to make things right with God, Ephesians 2:8-9. We have faith that God’s sacrifice of his son, Jesus, will satisfy his requirements for our salvation, John 3:16. 

Jesus will return one day to unite us with our heavenly father, John 14:1-3. And, his place will be everything we want and need, Revelation 21:3-4.

From an attitude of worship, we desire and try to be an instrument of holiness to God and each other, Romans 12:1, 6:12-13.

To eliminate any of these six points would weaken the definition to be Christian, and destroy the significance that God loves us deeply and wants to be a part of our lives. We must trust his process to make that happen. Please rethink your definition of what it means to be Christian if it doesn’t include these six truths. 

— Reflections appears regularly on the religion page. The column features a variety of local writers, coordinated through the Monroe Area Clergy Group. Rick Haworth is pastor of Hope Evangelical Free Church in Monroe.