By definition, those who believe in the triune God, the inerrancy of Scripture, and salvation by grace through faith are “evangelical,” and these beliefs are essential for academics to join the Evangelical Theological Society. One can also add the belief in Jesus’s bodily resurrection from the dead.
Defining the Evangelical
“Evangelical” comes from the ancient Greek word for “gospel.” Ev- means good and angel means “message,” so that translators understand that Gospel means “good news” or “good message.” For a believer to be evangelical, then that one must identify with the apostolic gospel. However, for the sake of unity with Christ and His church, every believer should simply exist as a Christian — a follower of Christ. There is more to being a Christian than being an evangelical by definition.
Defining Evangelical Beliefs
Here are the basic defining characteristics of evangelical beliefs:
1) Evangelicals believe in the triune God who is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
2) Evangelicals believe in the infallibility of Christ and thus the inerrancy of the Christian Scriptures as Christ’s Spirit revealed to Jesus’s apostles and prophets.
3) Evangelicals believe that salvation is by grace through faith in the death, burial, and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Therefore, all other evangelical beliefs are Christocentric and founded upon Jesus Christ and core apostolic beliefs. Such should be true of all Christians. All beliefs are built upon Christ. Because of these central beliefs, evangelical views on social issues will remain conservative to biblical teaching. Those who diverge will question, alter, and redefine what they belief as their core beliefs.
Defining Christian by the Bible
Christians must share have these core evangelical beliefs, and the world may identify such churches as evangelical. However, salvation is in the name of Christ and no other (Acts 4:12; 10:43). Christians must declared, “I follow Christ” (1 Cor 1:11). Therefore, the churches of Christ remain simply “Christian.” Christians bear the name of Christ by being CHRISTian.
Disciples of Christ are Christians meaning that they faithful followers and students of Jesus Christ and His teachings. Luke recorded, “And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians” (Acts 11:26b). That name “Christian” traveled south to the coast of Caesarea. Luke recorded Agrippa’s response to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?” Paul said, “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am — except for these chains” (Acts 26:28b–29). Furthermore, Peter declared to Christians enduring persecution throughout the nations of Anatolia, “Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name” (1 Pet 4:16).
Christians Are Saved by the Gospel
To be a Christian is to stand and be saved by the gospel of Christ. The Christian has not only confessed that Jesus is Lord and that He resurrected from the dead (Rom 10:9–10). The Christian has died to sins, been buried with Christ, and God has raised each believer alive in Christ (Rom 6:3–7). Rising from burial with Christ is the moment of being born again and regenerated through the resurrection (1 Pet 1:3; 3:21). God raising the repentant believer to new life is the moment that God saves each believer through faith (Eph 2:4–10). Rising from burial with Christ is the exact moment when the believer is “raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God” and “made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses” (Col 2:12–13). That burial is baptism (Rom 6:4; Col 2:12).
Challenge to Evangelicals
Because someone holds to the core evangelical beliefs does not mean that they are a Christian yet. Some confessing faith in the gospel are most likely to become Christians. They need encouragement. Christians can thank God that evangelicals believe so strongly and stand on the core beliefs of the gospel. All Christians should show love to those who believe. However, even the demons confess faith in one God and will confess Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God (Mark 1:32–34; Luke 4:40–41; Jas 2:19). The difference between an evangelical and Christian should be nothing, because the biblical Christian already holds faith in the gospel of Christ. Sometimes, an evangelical may profess faith and resist God’s commands. As James and Paul observed, the living faith is one that is obedient to the faith so seeks to maintain unity in the church and maintain the God-given traditions in the Scriptures (Rom 1:5; 16:26; 1 Cor 11:2; Eph 4:1–6; Jas 2:14–26). If anyone gives an evangelical scriptures to read, most will read and study without reservation. If they are faithful, they will obey the Scriptures. In the Bible, all Christians were those who humbled themselves and obeyed Christ. As Christians, we must declare, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom 1:16a).