How can I know that I am a Christian?
If you trust Christ alone to make you acceptable to God – and by “Christ alone” I mean not your good works or your good intentions – then you are a Christian. A Christian is one whose life’s focus is loving and serving Christ and His church. If you have put Christ in the driver’s seat of your life and you look to Him alone for direction and correction, then you are a Christian.
A more complete answer:
Have you ever seen a billboard or bumper sticker that said: “Jesus is the answer”? Jesus is the answer to what? Let’s be honest, it doesn’t do a lot of good to know the solution if you don’t know the problem. But the truth is, God was solving a problem in the person of Jesus Christ. Let’s look at the problem and then we can understand the solution.
God created mankind to have fellowship with Him, and for a time, that friendship existed. Man was created with perfect righteousness and had the gift of abundant life. The Bible teaches us, however, that the first man, Adam, didn’t obey God and, because of his disobedience, forfeited both his precious gift and his relationship with God. That loss applied not only to Adam but to his descendents as well. Man’s nature – originally created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27) – changed. In the book of Psalms the condition of mankind is described this way: “The LORD looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Ps. 14:2-3). Of course that this is not the way people view themselves, it is the way the LORD sees them.
There is one very important thing that we should remember: God continues to love His people, even though they are imperfect. His desire is still to have close fellowship with them. SO . . . That brings us to the problem to which Jesus is the solution. How can unrighteous imperfect people have fellowship with a just and holy God? Let’s explore thatquestion a little and see what we can discover about God’s solution.
Everybody’s got the same problem
Ever since Adam, every person is born with a natural tendency to depend on himself and to ignore God’s principles for living. People live as if there is no God to whom they are ultimately accountable. The Bible calls this attitude and the lifestyle it produces “sin.”
Sin is a universal problem and it’s a problem that man cannot overcome on his own.
- Rom. 3:23 – “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
- 1 Jn. 1:8 – “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”
- Rom. 6:23 – “The wages of sin is death.”
Because God is just and righteous He won’t just overlook sin. But because God is loving, merciful, and gracious He has provided a way for sinners – people like us – to be redeemed.
- Eph. 2:4-5 – “Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.”
- 2 Cor. 5:21 – “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
- Isa. 53:5-6 – “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
Jesus Christ, God Himself in human form, has provided us with His righteousness and has paid the penalty for our sin. Salvation is available through Him alone.
- Jn. 14:6 – “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”
- Acts 4:12 – “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
- Php. 3:9 – “. . . not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.”
Faith – an unwavering trust in the faithfulness, the provision, and the power of God – is the means by which the benefits of Christ’s sacrifice are received.
- Rom. 1:16-17 – “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. . .”
- Gal. 2:16 – “A man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.”
The Christian life – a life pleasing to God – is possible because of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. He revives our spirits, He enables our understanding of what Christ has done, He prepares our hearts, and He directs our steps.
- Jn. 3:5-6 – “Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.”
- 2 Cor. 1:21-22 – “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”
- Rom. 8:14 – “Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”
What difference will it make in my life if I become a “Christian”?
Two big differences: First, a Christian has a new and vital relationship with God.
- The Christian has been “born again.” His old life has ended and a new life has begun.
- 2 Cor. 5:17 – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
- The Christian is deemed acceptable by God, having been forgiven and set free from bondage to sin and death.
- Rom. 5:1 – “Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. . .”
- Rom. 6:22 – “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.”
- The Christian can approach God with confidence, knowing that God cares for him.
- Heb. 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
- 1 Pet. 5:7 – “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
- The Christian can have assurance of the gift of eternal life that he has received through faith in Christ Jesus.
- Php. 1:6 – “Be confident of this, he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Second, a Christian has a new and vital relationship with God’s people.
- The Christian has been adopted into God’s family. The “people of God” are now his people as well.
- 1 Pet. 2:10 – “Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God.”
- Eph. 2:19 – “You are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household. . .”
- Gal. 4:4-5 – “When the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.”
- The Christian is now a member of Christ’s church.
- Rom. 12:5 – “In Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”
- Col. 1:18 – “[Christ] is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.”