Perhaps you think that a Believer and a Christian are the same things, many do. However, after you finish reading this post, I challenge you to take another minute to ponder on the title’s question again. Your honest response will make a difference between relativism and absolutism, deception and genuineness, hypocrisy and sincerity, and even (eternal) life and death.
So, is there really a difference between a Believer and a Christian? According to Author and Pastor, Jared Wilson, there is.
Up until now, I have personally used both of these terms interchangeably even in my writings. In the past, I may have argued with Pastor Wilson and accepted our differences as simply a matter of semantics. However, after carefully meditating on, reasoning with, and considering his comparisons, I must concur that there IS a difference.
This post is not meant to start a debate, but rather encourage you to think about where you truly stand spiritually. It is meant to help you identify what type of relationship, if any, you have with the One you call Son of God, Savior, and Lord and hopefully prompt you to strengthen it.
Here are 10 differences between a Believer and a Christian.
WARNING! [Some answers will rattle your “faith.”]
A believer believes in Jesus. A Christian follows his commands.
A believer goes to church on holidays. A Christian knows that a church community is the paradigm for their faith.
A believer reads their Bible when things get tough. A Christian reads their Bible regularly.
A believer prays when things get tough. A Christian gives thanks no matter the circumstance.
A believer twists the Bible to fit his or her lifestyle. A Christian works to make his or her lifestyle resemble the teachings of the Bible.
A believer will sacrifice when it’s convenient. A Christian will sacrifice no matter the potential outcome.
A believer tithes when there is no risk. A Christian will tithe no matter the risk.
A believer conforms under the pressure of culture. A Christian holds fast against temptation.
A believer will share their faith when it’s comfortable. A Christian will share his or her faith regardless of the scenario.
A believer knows about Jesus. A Christian KNOWS Jesus as his or her Lord and Savior.
I understand that some will still argue that, theologically, a believer and a Christian are two of the same. If so, we can also conclude that demons are also believers since Luke states that “He [Jesus] laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them. And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, ‘Thou art Christ the Son of God.’ And he rebuking them suffered them not to speak: For they knew that he was Christ.” (Luke 4:40b-41). Even the Apostle James attests to this when he says, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that and shudder.” (James 2:19). But he also goes on to reveal what the proof of true faith is (vs. 20-26). So technically speaking there is a difference between one who “believes in” and one who “follows” Christ. Hence, CHRISTIAN (disciple/follower).
Christian – The Greek word Χριστιανός (Christianos), meaning “follower of Christ”, comes from Χριστός (Christos), meaning “anointed one”, with an adjectival ending borrowed from Latin to denote adhering to, or even belonging to, as in slave ownership.
Disciple – In Christianity, disciple primarily refers to a dedicated follower of Jesus. This term is found in the New Testament only in the Gospels and Acts. In the ancient world, a disciple is a follower or adherent of a teacher. It is not the same as being a student in the modern sense. A disciple in the ancient biblical world actively imitated both the life and teaching of the master. It was a deliberate apprenticeship which made the fully formed disciple a living copy of the master.
“… So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” – Acts 11:26
To you, it may also be a matter of word usage but keep in mind, however, that today even people who do not accept the Bible as the sole authority for faith and practice call themselves Believers and/or Christians. The point is, being a Believer of Jesus does not automatically make you a true Christian (follower of Christ). You may believe in people who are vegans and even in the ethical philosophy of veganism, but that does not automatically make you a vegan. You have to not only agree but also practice it in order to rightfully call yourself one.
Oh, what a surprise awaits those whose religious assurance is based on self-righteousness, feelings, and motions. How terrible the day when many who “believe” will be greeted with the words, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” Matt. 7:23.
If you are not sure of whether you are a Believer or a Christian (according to Pastor Wilson’s observations), follow THIS LINK and be honest about your decision to not only believe in Jesus, but to also follow, obey, and grow in Him.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 7:21-23 ESV
“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” – James 2:17
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 6:1 ESV
“If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.” – James 1:26 ESV
“Having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” -2 Timothy 3:5 ESV
“They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.” Titus 1:16 ESV
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” – Luke 6:46 ESV
“Whoever says ‘I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.'” – 1 John 2:4 ESV
10 differences between a Believer and a Christian by Jarrid Wilson (August 7, 2017)