Webster's Dictionary defines a Christian as "a person professing belief in Jesus as the Christ or in the religion based on the teaching of Jesus." While this is a good starting point in understanding what a Christian is, like many secular definitions, it falls somewhat short of really communicating the biblical truth of what it means to be a Christian.
The word Christian is used three times in New Testament (Acts 11:26; Acts 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16). Followers of Jesus Christ were first called "Christians" in Antioch (Acts 11:26) because their behavior, activity, and speech were like Christ. It was originally used by the unsaved people of Antioch as a kind of contemptuous nickname used to make fun of the Christians. It literally means, "belonging to the party of Christ" or an "adherent or follower of Christ," which is very similar to the way Webster's Dictionary defines it.
Unfortunately over time, the word "Christian" has lost a great deal of it significance and is often used of someone who is religious or has high moral values instead of a true born again follower of Jesus Christ. Many people who don't believe and trust in Jesus Christ consider themselves Christians simply because they go to church or they live in a "Christian" nation. But going to church, serving those less fortunate than you, or being a good person does not make you a Christian. As one evangelist once said, "Going to church doesn't make one a Christian anymore than going to a garage makes one an automobile." Being a member of a church, attending services regularly, and giving to the work of the church cannot make you a Christian.
The Bible teaches us that the good works we do cannot make us acceptable to God. Titus 3:5 tells us that it is "not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit." So, a Christian is someone who has been born-again by God (John 3:3; John 3:7; 1 Peter 1:23) and has put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2:8 tells us that it is "by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God." A true Christian is someone who has repented of his or her sin and put faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone. Their trust is not in following a religion or a set of moral codes, or a list of do's and don'ts.
A true Christian is a person who has put his or her faith and trust in the person of Jesus Christ and fact that He died on the cross as payment for sins and rose again on the third day to obtain victory over death and to give eternal life to all who believe in Him. John 1:12 tells us: "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name." A true Christian is indeed a child of God, a part of God's true family, and one who has been given new life in Christ. The mark of a true Christian is love for others and obedience to God's Word (1 John 2:4; 1 John 2:10).