The term “Christian” is a term that is often misused and mistranslated. It is a term that so many people may consider others or themselves. It is used so often and it seems as if sometimes, we perceive “Christian” to mean the same as a “believer”. Well in this article, we are going to explain the difference between the two, and define exactly what a Christian is. So let’s get started.
The difference between a believer and a Christian is a small but major difference. A believer is simply someone who believes that Jesus is the Christ, and that God sent him down to this earth to save save us from our sins. Look at John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” So according to this verse, all we have to do is believe in Christ and we’re saved right? Wrong. If this was the case, then the Bible could end right here because that would be all the information we need. But it doesn’t end there, and it doesn’t because there is more to it than just believing. To be saved, we must be Christians, so what is a Christian?
In a general statement, a Christian is someone who believes and follows the word of God. In other words, a Christian is not someone who just has knowledge of the Scriptures, but applies that knowledge in their lives. They obey God. If we look at the steps to baptism (becoming a Christian), we see that believing is only one part of becoming a Christian.
- Hear the Gospel- Romans 3:23, 2 Thess 1:8, John 14:6
- Believe in God- Hebrews 11:6, James 2:19, Matthew 7:21
- Repent of your sins- Acts 3:19
- Confess Jesus is the Son of God- Romans 10:9-10
- Be Baptized for the remission of our sins- Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16
If we do these things then we become part of Christ’s body (Romans 12:5). However, we cannot be baptized and go on living the same way we did before and still be pleasing in the Lord’s eyes. Ephesians 4:22-24 says, “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” Paul here, explains a difference between an old and new self. We must put off the old self before we were baptized and put on the new after we are baptized.
We can look at James 2:18-19 to get a better understanding of the difference between a believer and a Christian. James 2:18-19 states, “But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that-and shudder.” We see here that faith without works is dead (v.17). In other words, this is someone who may have faith and believe in Jesus Christ but does nothing beyond that. They may go to church every now and then, but these “actions” go way beyond church attendance. These are believers. James makes the excellent point also about the demons believing as well. Even the demons believe in God, but they are not going to be saved. Faith in God goes far beyond believing in Him.
So, as you can see, there is one major difference between a believer and a Christian. That difference is actions. Faith without works is dead. We cannot simply believe in Christ and be saved. We must live a life dedicated to Christ and God’s word.