What Really Makes Someone a Christian


Ask a number of people: “What makes someone a Christian?” You are likely to get a variety of answers. But the honest answer is something surprisingly fundamental and straightforward.

Do these things make someone a Christian?

Here’s an experiment you can try on several people (and once you finish this article, you’ll know the real answer and can have fun explaining it to those who give you different answers).

Ask a variety of people to tell you: “What is it that makes someone a Christian?”

Here are some of the likely answers you can expect to hear:

  • Someone who goes to a Christian church.
  • Someone who has been baptized.
  • Someone who reads and believes the Bible.
  • Someone who keeps God’s commandments.
  • Someone who prays to God, Jesus, Virgin Mary, the Saints.
  • Someone who believes in Jesus Christ as the son of God.
  • Someone who believes that Jesus Christ lived, died, and rose from the dead.
  • Someone who believes Jesus Christ is also is God.
  • All of the above.

We could list more, but you get the idea. None of these is the true definition.

Defined: What makes someone a Christian

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

– John 15:5

The answer to what makes someone a Christian is someone who has become one with Christ.

The late Reverend Billy Graham defined a Christian as the following: “the difference in Christians – followers of Jesus Christ – is that God Himself lives within them by His Holy Spirit who does a transforming work in the life of every true believer.”

“On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”

– John 14:20

Jesus said that not only is the Christian believer part of him but connected to the father, God as well:

“Then Jesus cried out, ‘Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me.'”

–John 12:44

The apostle Paul wrote that Christians are part of a whole – the larger body of Christ.

“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.”

– 1 Corinthians 12:12

Becoming one with Christ is also the key for Christians in resisting the temptations and sins of the world. 

The apostle Paul wrote that when one becomes one with Christ, one also adopts a Christ-like mindset, which informs every action and thought they take, turning them away from sin.

“Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.”

– Romans 13:14

Jesus said that Christian believers, through faith, will receive God’s grace and forgiveness.

“Truly, truly, I tell you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment. Indeed, he has crossed over from death to life.”

– John 5:24