What is a Christian?

Before explaining whether or not a Christian must perform good works in his life, we must examine a more basic question.

Just what is a real Christian? Is he one who “attends Church”—“professes Jesus”—“knows Christ”—has been “baptized?” Is there a single verse that gives the Bible definition of a Christian and eliminates all confusion?

Paul wrote, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:14). A Christian is one who has the Holy Spirit leading him. But is having God’s Spirit absolutely essential to being a Christian? Earlier, Paul had said, “But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His!” (vs. 9).

It is that simple! One either has the Spirit of God and is a Christian, or does not have it and is not a Christian—is “none of His.” All those who are truly converted must have the Holy Spirit in them.

The apostle Peter taught, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy [Spirit]” (Acts 2:38).

As with salvation and faith, the Holy Spirit is a gift! Unless God gives it, one can not have it. But notice! There are conditions to receiving it. Repentance and baptism precede receiving God’s Spirit. Neither of these earn God’s Spirit but they are qualifiers—conditions—that must be met for the Holy Spirit to be given!

Now notice what receiving God’s Spirit means, in terms of eternal life, which will be given later, at the resurrection: “Christ…in whom also after that you believed, you were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession” (Eph. 1:12-14). God’s Spirit, in a person’s mind, is a down payment—“earnest”—of our future inheritance with Christ in the kingdom of God. We are “heirs according to the promise” of salvation (Gal. 3:29)!

Receiving God’s Spirit begins a process that ends in inheritance with Christ. Is this all there is to Christianity and conversion, or is there more?

There is much more!

When Christ kept the Passover on the night before He was crucified, He indirectly, through prayer, explained an important principle to His disciples: “I pray not that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through Your truth: Your word is truth” (John 17:15-17).

A Christian believes and follows the truth. The truth sets him apart (sanctifies him) from all those around him. He is not of the world and its ways, customs, and traditions. Again, what does this mean? Also, what is the truth about how a Christian’s life now relates to what he will be doing for all eternity

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