8 Beliefs of a True Christian
With so many different denominations, how can we know what a Christian is? Is there such a thing as true Christianity? What do true Christians believe?
It may seem like a simple question—“How do I know if I am a true Christian?”—with a simple answer: “A Christian is a follower of Jesus Christ.”
But if it’s that simple, why are there around 40,000 different denominations from which to choose? Some of those thousands of denominations are very different from one another—with differing beliefs and worship practices. The truth is that there is more to identifying true Christianity than just finding churches that identify themselves as “Christian.”
To learn more about how the Bible defines a Christian, read “What Is a True Christian?”
Throughout His ministry, Jesus Christ emphasized the importance of belief (Mark 1:15; 16:16-17; John 3:12-15; 7:38; 14:1). The truth is that what we believe matters. A true Christian is one who believes—and then practices—the truths of the Bible.
So what are some of the things a person must believe to be a true Christian?
To help you answer that question, we’ll cover eight truths found in the Bible that are necessary for one to believe in order to be a true Christian.
Nearly all denominations and professing Christians would most likely agree on the first four beliefs. But many would likely disagree on the last four.
8 essential Christian beliefs
Here are eight essential beliefs a true Christian will have.
1. True Christians believe God exists.
One cannot be a Christian if he or she doesn’t first believe in an invisible power that created everything (Genesis 1:1; 2:4). It is foundational that a true Christian will believe in a Supreme Being of superior power and intellect who is responsible for all life.
It is foundational that a true Christian will believe in a Supreme Being of superior power and intellect who is responsible for all life.There are some who think they can believe in evolution but also be a Christian. But the truth is that those two things are completely incompatible. You cannot be a Christian and deny that God is responsible for the creation of the universe and all life.
To learn more about the incompatibility of true Christianity and evolution, read “Can Christians Believe in Evolution?”
2. True Christians believe Jesus Christ was God in the flesh.
Christianity is based on Jesus Christ. Christians believe He did exist and walk the roads of Judea about 2,000 years ago. But it isn’t enough to believe simply that the historical figure Jesus Christ lived.
A Christian must believe He was who He said He was—the Son of God. He was God. He was the Word (the being who communicated with mankind in the Old Testament), who came to earth as a human being (John 1:1-3, 14; Philippians 2:5-8).
3. True Christians believe Christ died for the sins of all humanity and was resurrected to eternal life.
“Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). This statement from John the Baptist sums up the Christian belief that Christ gave Himself as a sacrifice so that every human being may be forgiven his or her sins (Hebrews 9:28). But if He had stayed dead, we would still be in our sins and not have a living Savior (1 Corinthians 15:17).
Thankfully, three days and three nights later, Jesus was resurrected to life again by the Father (Matthew 12:40). He is alive today and seated at the right hand of His Father in heaven (Hebrews 12:2). We have a living Savior.
4. True Christians are characterized by having love for one another.
Jesus Christ made this crucial statement identifying His followers: “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). Love, outward concern for others, should be a key descriptor of every Christian.
Love is so important, a whole chapter in the Bible is dedicated to explaining what it looks like in action. That chapter is 1 Corinthians 13. To learn what it teaches us about practicing Christian love, read our article “The Love Chapter.”
So far, so good, right?
The first four are beliefs that most in the Bible-believing community would agree on—with perhaps some slight variations on specifics. But the last four beliefs we’ll cover are a bit more controversial.
Four misunderstood beliefs of true Christianity
The next four items on the list demonstrate why there is, unfortunately, so much division within Christianity.
5. True Christians believe the entire Bible is the inspired Word of God.
Have you ever noticed how many Bibles only include Psalms, Proverbs and the New Testament? There is a misconception among many that the Old Testament is a mix of fictional allegory and boring old law with very little relevance today. Over the past decades, various polls show that the percentage of people who believe that the whole Bible is the inspired Word of God is declining.
A true Christian will believe the Bible is exactly what it says it is—the inspired Word of God. The Bible, however, declares that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Simply put, a true Christian will believe the Bible is exactly what it says it is—the inspired Word of God. The implication of that belief is that true Christians will respect it, take it seriously and strive to live by its words (Isaiah 66:2).
6. True Christians strive to worship God specifically the way He wants to be worshipped.
Hardly any of the holidays and worship practices common among mainstream Christianity are found in the Bible. Why? Because many of these practices come directly out of ancient pagan religions and were adopted into Christianity years after the Bible was written. Christ actually taught that it is possible to worship Him in vain (Mark 7:7).
But the bigger tragedy is that most people ignore the actual days God created for us to worship Him on. God created a weekly rest day, the Sabbath, for His people to worship Him on and to be spiritually rejuvenated. He also created a set of annual festivals that provide not only rest and rejuvenation, but an annual reminder of His plan.
7. True Christians believe faith and works are required by God.
There are many people who believe they are “saved,” but live a life that is anything but Christian. Many believe, contrary to the Bible, that God basically requires only a belief in Him and His Son’s sacrifice. As we saw above, this is essential. But true Christians understand that belief and faith are only starting points. They must lead to something else.
True Christians understand that salvation is a gift of the grace of God, but they also look carefully to the biblical instruction that joins faith and good works. James 2:18 explains that we show our faith by our works: “But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”
God’s 10 Commandments are the basis for the good works a true Christian does.Belief and faith cannot be separated from works of righteousness. They are linked and mutually dependent on each other. Because of our faith and belief, we commit our lives to obedience to God and doing good works.
God’s 10 Commandments are the basis for the good works a true Christian does. Instead of viewing the 10 Commandments as abolished or irrelevant, true Christians view them as their guide to living a righteous life.
To learn more about the connection between faith and works, read “What Is Living Faith?” To learn more about the impact the 10 Commandments should have on a Christian’s life, study our series of articles covering each of the commandments in the section “The 10 Commandments and God’s Way of Life.”
8. True Christians strive to dramatically change their lives.
There are many polls that have shown that the majority of professing Christians do not live a lifestyle radically different from that of non-Christians. Many Christian churches talk about “giving your heart to the Lord” and coming to God “just as you are”—but neglect the full biblical definition of being converted.
One of the clearest definitions of Christian conversion is found in Ephesians 4:22-24:
“Put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”
This passage describes a total transformation of one’s life. That involves leaving our old sinful ways of thinking and acting and instead living an entirely new way of life—a way of life defined by “righteousness and holiness.”
True Christianity is not just professing belief in Jesus or being a member in a church—it is an entire transformation of our mind and conduct (Romans 12:2). It is striving to follow and imitate Jesus Christ’s example in every aspect of life.
To learn more about genuine conversion, read our articles about “Christian Conversion.” To learn more about following the example of Jesus Christ, you may also want to read our Discern magazine series “Walk as He Walked.” You can regularly visit the link to the series or request a free subscription to the magazine.
What should you do?
You may also want to enroll in our free Bible Study Course. It will help you systematically study your Bible—so that you can discover for yourself what it actually teaches.
Are you ready to dedicate your life to becoming a true Christian? If so, we’re here to help you on that journey.