What is a Christian?

We see these same two concepts in John chapter three. As the Lord Jesus spoke to Nicodemus, He used the word "must" two times. Two things "must" happen. These two imperatives show us again, what a Christian is.

In John 3:7, Jesus said,

"Do not marvel that I say to you, 'You must be born again.'"

This birth, Jesus said, "was of the Spirit." We are born of the Spirit when the Spirit comes to indwells us as a result of believing God concerning His Son, Jesus Christ.

Just a few moments later, in verse 14, Jesus said,

"As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted upů"

The term, to be "lifted up" is used by Christ, and understood by the people to describe crucifixion. Not only must Nicodemus be born of the Spirit of God, His sin must be borne by Christ on the cross.

Here is another place in John's gospel where Christ used the term, to "be lifted up." In John 12:32-34 we read that Jesus again said,

"'And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.' But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die. The multitude therefore answered Him, 'We have heard out of the Law that the Christ is to remain forever; and how can You say, "The Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?"'"

We see here that the term, to "be lifted up" was used by the Lord to describe His coming crucifiction, and it was also understood by the multitude to describe crucifixion. They could not make sense of Him being crucified, if He was indeed the Christ, the anointed one, Messiah. So they asked Christ who this Son of Man was.

There is no question that Jesus spoke of His own death on the cross in John 3, when He revealed the reason that Moses lifted up of the bronze serpent on the standard, "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted upů" The people were healed by God when they looked to this symbol of Christ on the cross. (Numbers 21:4-9)

His death and our spiritual healing are connected in Isaiah's prophecy, chapter 53:4-5

"Surely He bore our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed."

It is the theme of the whole Bible, that God Himself would bear the pain of His creatures' sin, so that we could be forgiven. Indeed, forgiveness only comes when the one who is offended against (be it God or man) bears the pain of the offender without exacting payment from them.

So Jesus showed that He would bear our sins on the cross so that we can be borne of the Spirit of God. Again, a Christian is a person who has been forgiven by God, on the basis of Christ's death in his behalf, and a person who has received the Holy Spirit of God, God's very own eternal life, living in him.

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Updated 6/1/2010