What is a Christian?
For many people being a Christian is about trying to live a good life. It may involve going to church. It may mean someone who is
particularly kind and helpful. Perhaps someone who doesn't get drunk, doesn't swear and is known for being honest. Whatever it involves,
ask someone to tell you what it is to be a Christian and their answer will often relate to the way someone lives their life.
Actually, such an understanding contains an element of truth but it is a bit like "putting the cart before the horse" - in other words, getting
things the wrong way around. What makes a person a Christian is, very simply, what they believe about Jesus Christ. What they believe will
often result in changes in their lives, but those changes will come because they are already a Christian and do not actually make them a
So what is it that we believe that makes us a Christian?
There is a passage in the Bible that nicely sums up what we are supposed to believe about Jesus and what, if we do believe it, makes us a
Christian. The passage, written by the Apostle Paul, is in 1 Corinthians 15:3-11. It says:
"For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that 1Christ died for our sins 6according to the Scriptures, that 2He was buried, that
He was raised on the third day 6according to the Scriptures, and that 3He appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, He appeared to
more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to
James, then to all the apostles, and last of all He appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. 4For I am the least of the apostles and do not
even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and 5His grace to me
was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them - yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. Whether, then, it was I or they, this
is what we preach, and this is what you believed."
These then are the basic truths of Christianity:
1. That Jesus died for our sins.
2. That He was buried and then He rose again.
3. That He appeared to many of the disciples after His resurrection.
4. That He is gracious to those who don't deserve it.
5. That receiving that grace makes us the people we become and enables us to achieve great
things for God.
6. That all these things happened in accordance with what the Bible had already prophesied
The good news about Christianity is that the focus is always upon Jesus. It is about what God, through Jesus, has done, is doing and will
continue to do for mankind. It is not about what man is seeking to do for God - that is, live a good life! And that's good news! The word
"Gospel" means "Good News" and it is easy to see why it is called that.
Of course, the starting point for believing that Jesus died for our sins is first of all to accept that we are all sinners. No-one is better, or
worse, than anyone else. We all need a Saviour, and Jesus is that Saviour. We may think we are quite good people - accepting that there are
a few things wrong in our lives but reckoning that the good in our lives outweighs the bad. That, though, is only as we measure ourselves
against other people, against other sinners. God measures us by His standards, and that leaves every one of us falling far short of the
mark. If you are not sure of God's standards, one passage in the Bible that outlines some of what God expects is Matthew 5:21 through to
chapter 7 verse 5.
If that seems unfair, it should be remembered that God created us for a face-to-face relationship with Himself. It was we who messed
things up - it started with Adam and has been going on ever since. It should also be remembered that God Himself has provided a way for
us to solve the problem. He has provided Jesus as a Saviour; He simply wants us to believe Him.
If we examine our lives, particularly against God's standards as He lays them out in the Bible, it's not really hard to come to the point of
agreeing with God that we are sinners and that we need a Saviour - because we simply cannot live to the standard God requires.
The next step is to choose to believe in Jesus - and it is a choice. At this point you may say, "I am a sinner, I want to believe but I just don't."
There was a man in the Bible in a similar position (see: Mark 9:24). That man's cry can become yours, "I do believe, help me overcome my
The best way to express your choice is to talk to God about it. "Praying" is simply another word for talking, or having a conversation. It
would probably be helpful for you if you had a conversation with God and told Him about your choice, about any doubts you may have,
about any help you may need and about anything else that comes to mind while you talk with Him. You may experience something, you
may not. You may feel that you are talking into thin air, you may feel that God has in some way responded. One thing a Christian learns is
to live by faith and not by depending on experiences or feelings. If you have spoken to God, you have the Bible's promise that He has heard
you and will respond to you.
If you do decide to become a Christian, or if you are a Christian who feels like you need a fresh start, and you'd like to ask any questions or
receive guidance on what to do next, do use the e-mail facility to contact me. I will be delighted to hear from you. Your e-mail will, of
course, be treated with confidentiality and I will be thrilled to encourage you and help you develop your relationship with God through
If you have read through the "Just curious" section and aren't ready to make that choice, but would like to know more please do e-mail with
any questions or doubts you may have.
Deciding about Jesus is the most important decision anyone will ever make. It is not wrong, in any way, to have questions and/or doubts,
but I would encourage you to find answers to your questions and doubts. And I would be truly delighted to help you in that process.
You may also find it helpful, whether or not you have made a decision for Jesus, to start to use the Bible studies available through this
website as these will provide a way for you to gain more knowledge and understanding of the Bible and of Christianity.