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The Word "Christian" Is Not a Broad, All-Inclusive Term
Cult or Christian?
The Word ‘Christian’ cannot include Those That Dabble In The Occult or Other Religions
What a "Christian" Isn't
For Example, reading your Bible everyday or attending church doesn’t make you a Christian
What a "Christian" Is
Since the terms "Christian", "saint" and "believer" originated with the Bible, it is to the Bible that we have to turn to define what the words really mean.
The Word "Christian" Is Not a Broad, All-Inclusive Term
Perhaps many would be surprised to hear that the actual word "Christian" occurs only three times in the New Testament, in Acts 11:26, Acts 26:28 and 1 Peter 4:16. While the first church did not usually speak of themselves as Christians, but disciples, saints, believers, brethren etc.. the terms are synonymous. And since all of them originated with the Bible, it is to the Bible that we have to turn to define what the word really means.
Unfortunately, the definition of the word Christian has become so all inclusive that it has been rendered almost meaningless. An article on the website religioustolerance.org says
We accept as Christian any individual or group who devoutly, thoughtfully, seriously, and prayerfully regards themselves to be Christian. That is, they honestly believe themselves to be attempting to follow the teachings of Yeshua of Nazareth (a.k.a. Jesus Christ) as they interpret those teachings to be. 
Under this extremely wide heading, they include the "Roman Catholic church; the Eastern Orthodox churches, other conservative, mainline, liberal and progressive Christian faith groups; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons); Jehovah's Witnesses, the Unification Church, Christian Science, progressive Christians, and other religious organizations".
I have no idea how people who hold what, in many cases, amounts to radically different beliefs can possibly be grouped together under the heading of "Christian". Some of these organizations were started by out and out charlatans, and most of them either have teachings that flatly contradict God's Word, or have come up with ideas that were new to the Father Himself. So called churches whose teachings and practices completely contradict the Scriptures can hardly be called "Christian". (Sadly, even some so called orthodox Protestant churches have adopted some ideas that stem directly from the occult, or have been 'borrowed' from Greek philosophy).
See The Modern Church's Literal Doctrines and Practices of Demons
And Is God A Trinity?
The article also makes an extremely misleading statement. It says...
Also included within our definition as Christians are those who regard themselves as being followers of Jesus even though they do not affiliate themselves with any particular religious group. They appear to be growing in numbers as increasing numbers of North Americans are abandoning religion in favor of a personal spirituality 
Christianity does not stem from, and does not necessarily require, any connection with an organization or group. It finds its source in what God Himself has said... the Bible. Therefore, a person can be a Christian/disciple of Christ without any affiliation to church or denomination. In fact, I happen to be one of those people. However, those who abandon religion in favor of a 'personal spirituality' usually tend to invent their own spiritual path (hence the word "personal") which, all too often, is in complete contradiction to what the word of God teaches.
As the article goes on to say, these groups... [Emphasis Added]
"... all feel that they are trying to follow Jesus' teachings; they all identify themselves as Christian. In fact, many regard their group as the only "true" Christian church. Yet they, and their followers, have very different beliefs about the life, events, teachings, actions, sinlessness and expectations of Yeshua". 
And therein lies the problem.
Christian or Cultist?
Christianity is rooted in, and inseparable from, the Scriptures. Everything a Christian knows about God, everything he believes and practices, is based not on human knowledge, insight, or experience, but rests solely on God's word to man, recorded in the Scriptures. Therefore, any group that appears to be Christian, but significantly, and consistently, deviates from what the Scriptures teach concerning the key doctrines of the Christian faith, cannot possibly be genuine Christians. They are, in fact, cults. Some of the deviations are that they ...
Add to the word of God, often in the form of other books which they claim were given to their leaders by angels.
Their teachings often detract from the Deity of Christ whom they portray as a created being.
All too often they impose on their followers a number of requirements by which pardon from sin and eternal life is to be obtained.
And, to keep the flock in order, they teach that questioning the 'anointed' leaders is akin to questioning God Himself.
And no! The Bible cannot be interpreted however the reader wishes to.
The meaning of any Biblical passage was determined by the original author, and unless the original author was double minded (which would render him very unreliable and someone we can safely ignore), he would not have intended to convey more than one meaning. Therefore, "interpretation" has to be strictly limited to the meaning that the original author intended to convey, and it is our job as readers to discover what that meaning is. [See Context is Crucial]
Someone's wrong interpretation of a Biblical passage does not change the fact that every single Biblical text has only one legitimate meaning and, therefore, only one legitimate interpretation. You have the "right" to interpret Biblical text any way you want, but that does not change the fact that your interpretation is either right or wrong.
When all is said and done, words say what words say. I will give you a very simple example of this.. The book of Isaiah, chapter 43, verse 10, has God Himself saying... "Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me". This is a very simple sentence that even a child can understand Yet, the Mormons teach that everyone can become a "god".
See Section on Cults and Section on The Contemporary Church
No One Who Dabbles In The Occult, or Flirts With Other Religions Can Be Called A ‘Christian’
For example a March 14, 2010 article on the online Press-Enterprise Company, entitled Many Christians Believe In Reincarnation, Astrology, The "Evil Eye," says
"a recent survey by the nonpartisan Washington, D.C.-based Pew Research Center found that more than 1 in 5 U.S. Christians believe in reincarnation, astrology and in the presence of spiritual energy in physical objects like trees. Many also consult psychics or believe in the "evil eye."
The poll of more than 2,000 U.S. adults revealed that Christians are only slightly less likely than the general population to hold such beliefs. As an example they talk about one individual who is supposed to be a Christian, yet has...
"an altar with a Buddha statue in her Riverside condo and practices meditation based upon Buddhist principles" and "what is most important for her as a Christian is following Jesus' teachings on love, kindness and compassion. She said her embrace of some Buddhist practices complements and does not contradict Christian tenets". 
Apparently this person, and possibly millions more like her, haven't the foggiest idea of what being a Christian means, apparently because they haven't actually read the Bible. If they had, they would have realized two things.
1) While the Savior did speak of love, He also spoke of hell and the wrath of God. In fact, love and compassion were not anywhere near as high on His agenda as people have fooled themselves into believing. Jesus had ONE overriding message... God's kingdom was on its way and you could choose to be a part of it, or not.
2) Idolatry, usually defined as worship of any cult image, idea, or object, as opposed to the worship of a monotheistic God is singled out in the Bible as the most abominable of sins. So much so that the first two commandments state...
Then God spoke all these words, saying, "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. "You shall have no other gods before Me. "You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. "You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. (Exodus 20:1-6 NASB)
Note: The English word "jealous" has changed in meaning over time. Although the words jealousy and envy have become synonymous in general modern usage, they used to refer to different emotions. Envy is when we covet another's qualities, talent, achievement, success, possessions, etc. Jealousy, on the other hand, can mean we are vigilant in guarding something. For example, we are jealous of our good name. It can also mean being intolerant of disloyalty or infidelity and often occurs when a special relationship is threatened. In other words, God does not want anything we have, but demands exclusive devotion.
In fact, from cover to cover, Biblical condemnation of 'other gods' is very strongly worded.... the penalty for flirting with other gods severe. Please note that an "idolater" is not necessarily a person who falls on their face in front of a statue, but a devotee of other 'gods'.
"You shall not follow other gods, any of the gods of the peoples who surround you, for the Lord your God in the midst of you is a jealous God; otherwise the anger of the Lord your God will be kindled against you, and He will wipe you off the face of the earth. (Deuteronomy 6:14-15 NASB)
"Beware that your hearts are not deceived, and that you do not turn away and serve other gods and worship them. "Or the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you, and He will shut up the heavens so that there will be no rain and the ground will not yield its fruit; and you will perish quickly from the good land which the Lord is giving you. (Deuteronomy 11:16-17 NASB)
Because they have forsaken Me and have burned incense to other gods, that they might provoke Me to anger with all the works of their hands; therefore My wrath will be poured out on this place and it shall not be quenched."' (2 Chronicles 34:25 NASB)
Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols. (Acts 17:16 NASB)
You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the mute idols, however you were led. (1 Corinthians 12:2 NASB)
For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come. (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 NASB)
The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk; (Revelation 9:20 NASB)
But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." (Revelation 21:8 NASB)
And in case you are wondering, there is a very good reason for this ban. There is only one God as we should know by now, which means these other ‘gods’ are not gods at all. So what are they? Please read Idol Worship... The Spirits Behind The Idols
What a "Christian" Isn't
According to polls, more than 80 percent of all Americans call themselves Christian, but far too many people do so on the basis that they are generally 'good' people who haven't actually murdered anyone or, that they are "religious"/ have high moral values. If asked why they call themselves Christians, many people would give you one or more of the following reasons...
I was born in a Christian country.
I was raised in a Christian home and/or have an uncle who is a minister.
I am a member of a church and attend church services regularly.
I was baptized in a Christian church.
I responded to an altar call and even signed a card.
I made a decision for Christ/accepted Jesus as my "personal Savior"/prayed the Sinner's Prayer.
I read my Bible every day.
I keep the Ten Commandments, follow the Golden Rule and have read the Sermon on the Mount.
I live a good life and help people in need.
These answers fall into a few broad categories..
A Basic Belief in God and/or Jesus:
A large number of non-believers know that someone called Jesus once lived. However, just as believing that Adolph Hitler once lived does not make you a Nazi, simply believing that Jesus did, does not make you a Christian. In fact, the Scriptures themselves tell us that the devil himself believes in Jesus, but it would be a very safe bet that he is not saved...
You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. (James 2:19 NASB)
There is a little more (okay! a lot more) to it than just believing certain things.
(born into a Christian family/country)
As shown by the following verses the Bible teaches that a person does not become a Christian (a son of God) through heritage or connections. God, adopts as His sons and daughters, only those that believe in, and follow, Jesus.
and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham for our father'; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. (Matthew 3:9 NASB)
Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God. (1 Corinthians 7:19 NASB)
for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either. Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God's kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. (Romans 11:21-22 NASB)
Mechanical Action/Profession of Faith
(Walking an aisle to answer an altar call, signing a card, or praying a certain prayer)
The apostle James' argument was simple... people act according to their beliefs. He emphasized that there is more to faith than agreeing with a set of facts or having the correct beliefs since even demons have that. There is only one kind of saving faith... the one that obeys. Any other 'faith' is nothing more than paying lip service to the Gospel. In his classic and well known words, Christ’s earthly brother wrote
(14) What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? (15) If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, (16) and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and be filled," and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? (17) Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. (18) But someone may well say, "You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works." (19) You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. (20) But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? [James 2:14-19 NASB ]
In short, if you do not obey and bear fruit... the Bible does not consider that you believe. It doesn't matter how much you move your mouth, or how much emotion you stir up, it's what you do that counts.
[Also See Is The Sinner's Prayer Effective?]
(Reading the Bible, Attending Church, Supporting Missions etc)
A number of Bible verses well demonstrate that a Christian is not simply a person who is active in religious matters, nor one who, in His name, does wonderful things... Christianity starts with a changed heart, which then shows up in actions. God is simply not interested in rituals alone.
(1) The Pharisees and some of the scribes gathered around Him when they had come from Jerusalem, (2) and had seen that some of His disciples were eating their bread with impure hands, that is, unwashed. (3) (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the traditions of the elders; (4) and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves; and there are many other things which they have received in order to observe, such as the washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots.) (5) The Pharisees and the scribes *asked Him, "Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?" (6) And He said to them, "Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: 'this people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me. (7) 'but in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.' (8) "Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men." (9) He was also saying to them, "You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. [Mark 7:1-9 NASB]
(7) Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' (23) "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.' [Matthew 7:22-23 NASB]
(10) Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. (11) The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: 'God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. (12) I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.' (13) But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, the sinner!' (14) I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted. [Luke 18:10-14 NASB]
The Scriptures are plain.... good works, by themselves, cannot gain salvation.
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
(Ephesians 2:8-9 NASB). Also See Titus 3:5-7.
The Bible Tells Us What A Christian Is
While people have the right to identify themselves any way they like, it does not change the fact that the word "Christian" has a very precise meaning according to the Scriptures. If you have been clinging to one or more of the above illusions about what makes you a Christian, it is well time to stop fooling yourself and see what the Bible has to say in this regard.
The core beliefs of Christianity are summarized by 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. Jesus died for our sins, was buried, was resurrected, and thereby offers salvation to all who will receive Him in faith. Yet, this is not all. There are additional components that are an integral part of the whole package. A Christian is a person
who believes the Bible is the inspired, "God-breathed" Word of God and that its teaching is the final authority in all matters of faith and practice (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21).
who is deeply convicted of his own unworthiness and of his, literally, life and death need of God's mercy.
who believes that Jesus Christ is God who came into the world to be the only Savior of sinners.
who has genuinely repented of his sins and thus, knows his sins have been paid for by Jesus' sacrificial death on the cross.
who acknowledges Jesus to be Lord of all and, wholly and unreservedly, commits himself to Christ, for as long as he lives.
who knows that 'without holiness' no one will see God.
who has been radically changed by the power of God, i.e. been "born again" of the Holy Spirit into a new life.
who knows Christ will return (1 Thessalonians 4:16) to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
While there is no particular order in which any of the above happen, none are expendable. Christians also aim to tell others the good news that Jesus has provided a way to have their sins forgiven, be adopted into God's family and thus, heir to eternal life.
The first two quotes are Jesus' words, the third Peter's...
1. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. (Luke 5:32 NASB)
2. The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." (Mark 1:15 NASB)
3. Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; (Acts 3:19 NASB)
Obviously, before a person can repent they have to become aware of their own shortcomings and realize that they are sinners both by nature and practice. All too many people think that, while not exactly perfect, they are certainly not sinners. However the Bible tells us that "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of the Lord" [Romans 3:23], and the wages of sin is death [Romans 6:23].
Repentance alone does not save us. Biblical repentance is a turning from sin to God, not merely a matter of turning over a new leaf.
[See Sin and Repentance]
2) Believing in Jesus:
Jesus Christ said...
"He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:18 NASB)
"He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." (John 3:36 NASB)
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26 NASB)
The apostle Paul said,
that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. (Romans 10:9-10 NASB)
Note that this does not include trusting in our own goodness, the wonderful things we have done, whether we profess the faith, have been baptized or attend a church. Nor does it mean we believe some facts about the Lord Jesus... we have to believe in Him, acknowledge Him to be the Lord of our lives and wholly and unreservedly commit ourselves to Him for the rest of our lives. [See Two Part Article on Salvation]
See Salvation on THIS Page
When all is said and done, virtually all humans have two things in common. 1) Almost everyone is searching for a 'better life', if not a perfect one. 2) No one wants to die - our spirit rebels at the thought that no matter what we have accomplished in our seventy odd years here on earth, we are eventually going to become worm food. However, if your defenses are well honed and you claim to be satisfied with the short life given to you then don't bother with this article, written for those who do not wish to arrive at death's door without being certain of where it leads. The fact is Christianity alone offers you something you cannot get anywhere else - life without end in God's kingdom. In fact, Jesus said the reason He was sent to earth was to announce this Kingdom which, by the way, is no pie in the sky ethereal place 'somewhere out there' but matches, in every respect, the world most men and women would choose to live in. However, there is one stumbling block that keeps you (and everyone else) out of God's kingdom.
3) The New Birth:
Again the Bible is crystal clear that no one will see the kingdom of God unless they are begotten... or born again of God.
A Christian is a person who has been radically changed, which is not merely a matter of turning over a new leaf, pulling up one's socks, doing good deeds, or even attending church. It is not putting a fresh coat of paint on the old sinful nature, but a radical transformation which is actually receiving of an entirely new nature.... God's Divine nature.
While you don't have to do any of the things people think they must do... get an education, get married, have children, carve out a career etc, and you don't have to have all of the things people think they must have... a home, a car etc. The one thing you have to do during your lifetime is be born again... your future for an entire eternity hangs on it.
Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:3 NASB)
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13 NASB)
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. (2 Corinthians 5:17 NASB)
Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him (Colossians 3:9-10 NASB)
Admittedly, being 'born again' is not the easiest concept to understand, or explain. While THIS article on will tell you something of what people experience, there may be solid scientific grounds for the born again transformation. See Original Sin and Epigenetics
Salvation can never be achieved by anything, other than simply trusting Christ to have paid the penalty for our sins. It is God's grace... a gift from Him that we cannot earn. However, once saved, good works, obedience, and holiness will become a part of a Christian's life... not to earn salvation, but because of it. They are joined at the hip... one cannot happen without the other.
None of which means Christians are perfect. They may be saved and forgiven, but they are not instantaneously transformed into saints. As long as we live on this earth, we will constantly struggle with temptation and sin. The process of perfection (sanctification) in a Christian's life is an ongoing exercise that can take a lifetime, with complete success only in the world to come. The Bible says two things...
If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8 NASB)
However... the very next verse says...
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 NASB)
I strongly suggest you read the following articles on this page, which include
What is Holiness?
In the 21st century, the word "Holy" often coveys some very negative connotations. It is often used to describe someone who is self-righteous, smug, sanctimonious, goody-goody, priggish etc. To most Christians, the word "holy" implies moral goodness. However, even this is only part of the meaning.
The Christian and Worldliness
What does Christian separation mean? Your effectiveness as a Christian hangs on your concept of what separation means.
The Myth of Faith Alone
Perhaps one of the all time greatest delusions in the Christian world, is the innumerable number of people who are under the impression that, in order to be forgiven their sins, and thus inherit eternal life, all they have to do is believe Jesus died for their sins on the cross. If one were to ask the vast majority of Christians what one has to do to be saved, you would get a number of answers like "accept Jesus as your personal savior", "ask Jesus into your heart" etc. However, while the terminology may vary, the answers would almost all boil down to all you have to do is believe... all you have to do is have faith. What one never, or very rarely, hears is that anything other than faith is required to be saved. In fact the suggestion that anything other than faith is required for salvation, is not only militantly opposed by most of Christendom, but denounced as an unbiblical, works based, false teaching. But is this true? While it is certainly a fact that the Bible teaches that faith is an essential ingredient, without which it is impossible to please God, it never ever teaches that faith is the only requirement for salvation. In fact the Scriptures point to a number of things by which a person is saved.
Rewards in Heaven
Apparently there are those that will make it to heaven, but who have earned little or no additional rewards.
Continue on to Part 16: Myths About Christianity
It is truly amazing how many people reject Christianity on grounds that have absolutely no basis in reality, such as Christians suppressed the 'lost books of the Bible', all Christians are opposed to critical thinking and scientific investigation, Christianity is a crutch for the weak and stifles personal freedom... blah blah blah! All these misconceptions stem from knowing too little and, in all likelihood, assuming too much about the religion. CLICK HERE
Endnotes (Chapter 15)
 B.A. Robinson. Who Is A Christian? Which definition is correct? http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_defn3.htm
 David Olson. The Press-Enterprise.
http://www.pe.com/localnews/religion/stories/PE_News_Local_N_faithmix14.4d42a50.html (link is now invalid)