What Does It Mean to be a Christian?


what does it mean to be a Christian?


We all come from different religious backgrounds such as Catholic, Jewish, new age, Buddhist, Baptist, Mormon, atheistic, etc.  There are many different ideas as to how one gets to heaven.  Many of these ideas contradict one another, so they cannot all be right.  To understand what God says about getting to heaven, it is necessary to step back and look at some bigger picture questions.

Most people live their entire lives without ever knowing ‘WHY?’  They exist year after year with no idea of why they live or God’s purpose for their lives.  The most basic question a person can ask is,

“What is the meaning of my life?"

Everyone wants to be happy.  People try many ways—Some look for happiness…

  • …by acquiring possessions.
  • …by experiencing pleasure.
  • …by gaining prestige and power.

The problem with this is that the richest people, or the biggest playboys, or the most powerful people, would be the happiest people.  But we know that just isn’t true.  Real happiness comes from understanding my PURPOSE IN LIFE.  Thus, it is important to understand ‘Why am I here?’


1.  God made me to LOVE me!  The Bible says God is love.  Love is worthless unless it is bestowed or directed towards somebody or something.  You were made as an object of God’s love.  God says,

“I have loved you with an everlasting love!”         Jeremiah 31:3

“Even before the world was made, God had already chosen us to be His through our union with Christ… because of His love, God had already decided that through Jesus Christ He would make us His children—this was God’s pleasure and purpose.”        Ephesians 1:4-5


2.  We were created to enjoy a personal relationship with God and to steward/manage all of the rest of God’s creation!  This makes us special!  This is what separates us from all the animals.

“So God created human beings, making them in His image, He blessed them, and said…live all over the earth and bring it under control.  I am putting you in charge.”        Genesis 1:27-28      (Note: this is the stewardship/management part.)

“God richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.”         1 Timothy 6:17        (Note: this is the benefit of the stewardship/management part.)

Jesus said, “I have come in order that you might have life, and have it to the full.”         John 10:10

This last verse doesn’t mean that God wants everyone to be a millionaire—but to have a fulfilling, satisfying, meaningful life.


3.  When we know and love God, and live in harmony with His purpose for our life, it produces tremendous benefits in our life.  Look at some of these promises:

     Clear Conscience        Life and Peace      Security           

      (Romans 8:1)                 (Romans 8:6)      (Romans 8:39)

      Fulfillment               Purpose             Confidence

    (Philippians 4:19)    (Romans 8:28)   (Romans 8:31)

     Help with Weakness      Freedom      Power & Strength

    (Romans 8:26)               (John 8:32,36)     (Philippians 4:13)

This is the kind of lifestyle God intends for us to live.  Why then aren’t most people really happy? What is the problem?




Man has a natural desire to BE BOSS and to ignore God’s principles for living.  When a baby is born, they want what they want—right now!  We just get more civilized about it when we get older.  We will use phrases like:

“Look out for #1.  Do your own thing.”

“If it feels good, do it—regardless of what God says about it.”

“It’s my life and I’ll do what I please!”

The Bible calls this attitude: SIN

The middle letter of “SIN” is “I”—the real problem is an “I” problem—a selfish problem.  I am going to do what I want to do. I want to be in charge—to be my own boss.  The Bible says we all have this tendency:

“All of us, like sheep, have gone astray, and each of us has turned to his own way.”             Isaiah 53:6

“If we say that we never sin, we are only fooling ourselves, and refuse to accept the truth.”          1 John 1:8


Sin breaks our close relationship with God.  It causes us to fear God and try to live our lives outside of His will.

“The trouble is that your sins have cut you off from God.”                                             Isaiah 59:2

“All have sinned and fall short of God’s glorious ideal.”

 Romans 3:23

This means that even Billy Graham and the Pope are sinners!  ALL have sinned. When our relationship to God is not right, it causes PROBLEMS in every area of our lives—marriage, career, relationships, finances, etc.  In fact, the source of all our national and international problems is because of SIN!




They may try alcohol, drugs, fad diets, fast cars, affairs, becoming a workaholic, etc.

“There are ways that SEEM right to man, but they only end in death.”           Proverbs 16:25

Even when we know that our deepest need is God, we often try wrong ways of getting to know Him.  See if any of these sound familiar:

     ·  “My mother was a Christian so I guess that makes me a Christian.” – This can be called ‘salvation by heritage.’  However, the Bible is clear that you and I have to make a personal choice.  This is like saying that I know you’re married because your parents are married.  You still have to choose to become married.

     ·   “It doesn’t matter what you believe, just be sincere.” – However, you could be sincerely wrong.  You could drink a glass of clear liquid poison sincerely believing that it is water, but it would still kill you.  Sincerity isn’t the answer.

     ·   “I’ll give up all my bad habits.” – However, the Christian life is not based on a bunch of negatives but on positives.

     ·    “I’ll work real hard and earn it.” – Many people think that the good only has to outweigh the bad.  But, as will be seen in a minute, God doesn’t grade on a curve!

     ·    “I’ll be religious and go to church.” – Going to church makes you a Christian about as much as sitting in a garage makes you a car.  Being a Christian is not about keeping a religion—but about a relationship with God.

So how do we solve this problem of sin?  What’s the solution?



God said there is only one way to solve this problem.  That way is through the Messiah, Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ said,

“I AM THE WAY, the Truth, and the Life.  No one comes to the Father, except THROUGH ME!”                John 14:6

Notice that He didn’t say “I am one way”—there are not many ways!  Think about going into a phone booth to phone home.  There is only one phone number that will get you home—you cannot dial any number you want.  It is the same with God’s way to get to heaven—He has provided one way.  God Himself came to earth as a human being to bring us back to Himself.  If any other way would have worked, Jesus Christ would not have had to come.  The Way is a Person!  This is important because I can relate to a person, not a concept.

Jesus has already taken care of your sin problem!

“The wages (penalty) of sin is death, BUT the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”           Romans 6:23

God did this for us because He loves us and wants us to know Him.


“God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were still separated from God by sin, Christ died for us.”         Romans 5:8    (Notice that God took the initiative to solve the sin problem.)

“God is on one side and all people are on the other side, and Christ Jesus is between them to bring them together, by giving His life for all mankind.”      1 Timothy 2:5

God has already done His part to restore our relationship to Him.  He took the initiative.  Now He waits for each of us to individually accept what He has done for us.

So what does God want me to do?




1. ADMIT  that God has not been first place in your life and ask Him to forgive your sins.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from every wrong.”          1 John 1:9


2.  BELIEVE  that Jesus died to pay for your sins and that He rose again on Easter, and He is alive today.

“If you confess that Jesus is your Lord, and you believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”          Romans 10:9    (‘Lord’ means making Him the boss, controller, director of your life.)

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name (Jesus) by which we must be saved.”      Acts 4:12


3.  ACCEPT  God’s free gift of salvation.  Don’t try to earn it.

“For it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”        Ephesians 2:8-9           (The word ‘grace’ means it is a free gift.  All you have to do is accept this gift.)

Our relationship to God is not restored by anything we do, but on the basis of what Jesus already did for us!


4.  INVITE  Jesus Christ to come into your life and be the director (“Lord”) of your life.

“To all who receive Him, He gives the right to be called the children of God.  All we need to do is trust Him to save us.  All those who believe this are reborn—not a physical rebirth…but from the will of God!”      John 1:12-13           (Note that we need to both believe and receive.)

“Jesus says, “Listen!  I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in…”     Revelation 3:20


You can take these steps by praying a simple prayer of commitment to God:

“Dear Jesus, thank you for making me and loving me, even when I’ve ignored you and gone my own way.  I realize I need you in my life and I’m sorry for my sins.  I ask you to forgive me.  Thank you for dying on the cross for me.  Please help me to understand it more.  As much as I know how, I want to follow You from now on.  Please come into my life and make me a new person inside.  I accept Your gift of salvation.  Please help me to grow as a Christian.”     AMEN

“Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”    Romans 10:13


If you prayed the above prayer and sincerely meant it in your heart, God guarantees that you’ll go to heaven when you die.  He will keep His promises.  You are saved not because of feelings, but based on the promise of God’s Word.  You may not fully understand what it means to be a Christian now, but as you grow as a Christian, you will begin to understand the implications and benefits of your decision.  The purpose of the church is to help you to grow.  Because of that, it is important for you to do the following:

  1. Let someone in a leadership position (e.g., a pastor, small group leader, counselor) know about your decision.  This is crucial!
  1. It is important that you become part of a Grow-n-Go immediately.  Someone within this group will begin taking you through a New Believer’s Study that will help you begin your spiritual growth journey properly.


* Much of the above material has been adapted from New Member’s 101, Saddleback Church, Mission Viejo, California.