What’s Christian and what’s not?


By what measure do we label something ‘Christian’, or ‘un-Christian’?

Take good works for example. Does doing something good warrant the label ‘Christian’ or must there be something else that makes it Christian? I mean, I know a lot of people who are not Christians but are busy doing good for others. Are they doing something Christian, without being Christian?

I wonder what others think?


6 thoughts on “What’s Christian and what’s not?

  1. When unbelievers perform good acts (after all they do, as I did when I was an unbeliever) I think the theologians call that civil virtue.

    This is not unexpected given the fact that human beings are not utterly depraved, even men like Hitler performed good deeds.

    Some argue that unbelievers that do good deeds are closer to the Spirit of Christ than those who call themselves “Christian” but who are anything but charitable.

    Whether or not that is true I cannot say, All I can say is reaffirm how Scripture defines “Christian”.

    Interestingly enough the word only occurs thrice in the Bible. I believe the first time (Acts 11:26) it was used, the description was given by unbelievers and might have been a term of derision.

    The word means “slaves of Christ” and I think it can only describe those who have truly placed their trust in Christ who saved them. Of course good works must follow (“If you love me you will obey My commands” said the Lord) but good works alone do not make one a “slave of Christ”.

  2. Laz, thanks for your input. Yes, the word christian was used in a derogatory way in the early church (something that’s become quite opposite these days).

    Works can never save someone. And doing good works doesn’t ‘balance the books’ as some believe.

    We also know that the bible teaches that christians are to abound in good works.

    So what makes a christian that does good works, different from a non-christian that does good works? What is it that makes people “praise your Father in Heaven” when we abound in good works?

  3. We’re only privy to the external action so we make our judgments based on that, but God sees the action and the inner motivation.

    Well if God is not fooled by externals (as CS Lewis remarked) then it makes all the difference in the world.

  4. Laz, true.

    I’m inclined to think that there a difference if a Christian does a good work, just because its morally good (based on the ‘law written in our hearts’ Rom1), and when he does good out of love for Christ, with the intention of having the opportunity to show the character of Christ in his life.

    A work that’s morally good, is commendable. But a work that shows the character of Christ, i think that’s preferable. 🙂

  5. There’s only one thing that makes a Christian a Christian…and that’s Jesus! 🙂
    Good works can’t earn one’s redemption. That can come only thru the blood of Jesus…a gift freely given to all. It’s up to us as individuals, however, to accept or reject that gift. Those that accept are Christians. No better than anyone else…just forgiven! 🙂

    • I love your post here! I was about to say the same thing. It’s sad when so many people think good works earn redemption, and that people think they really have to work to earn God’s love. It’s such a huge misunderstanding for many people I know.. they just don’t understand what “Christian” really is… and it really is sad. But also encouraging… how will people ever find out if we don’t tell them..? that always encourages me to share my faith with people around me.

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