QUESTIONS PEOPLE ASK
Part 3: How Can I Know I’m A Christian?
His name was Jerry, He’d been meeting with me for early morning breakfasts for a month.
“ You know I believe in God and the Bible,” he said.” “I told you I gave my heart to Jesus as a twelve-year-old at summer camp. So, I’m a Christian, right? I know I’ve messed up my life - the booze, the two divorces, the gambling debts, and all that. But, I’ve always been a Christian in my heart.” His eyes were pleading with me to affirm his fantasy.
“I’ve been listening to your story for a month, Jerry. You’ve been down a pretty rough road. Frankly, I’m surprised that you seem so convinced you’re a Christian. From what you’ve been telling me, it doesn’t look like Christ has figured in your decision-making process at all. Is that a fair assessment?”
“No!” He was showing signs of angry desperation. “I’ve always wanted to go to heaven. I love Jesus.” He teared up.
“Jerry, I don’t doubt that you love Jesus, and your ex-wives, and your kids whom you can’t see because of restraining orders - but your back trail reveals that you love yourself a whole lot more than any of them. Where is the evidence that you love Jesus or have ever loved Jesus?
Jerry got mad, and stood there clenching and unclenching his fists, ready to dart for the door.
With nothing left to lose, I told him the truth. Gently and with compassion I recounted to him the long, nightmarish list of disastrous, self-indulgent choices he had made. “Where in all of this tangled mess is there any sign that God, the Bible, or Jesus meant anything at all to you? Sure, you may have had a sentimental soft spot in your emotions for Jesus. But, it had to be on about the same level as what you felt for a childhood teddy bear.
Think about what you’re saying. You insist that you believe in God and the Bible, but you act as if you are in the driver’s seat of your life. God is a word that evokes a warm feeling. You get emotional when you hear “Just As I Am” sung, but you have no allegiance to God. Jesus makes no difference in your decision-making process. He hasn’t been allowed to change your behavior. You’ve missed the whole effect that believing in Him produces.” (Quote from Follow Me)
“You’ve missed the whole effect.” Now, that’s a statement that could describe many of the people filling churches and pews today. The Bible says, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things are passed away, behold all things are become new.” Sadly, many people today, like Jerry, believe they are Christians because they walked the isle in a church, or because they made a decision at Vacation Bible School when they were children but there has never been a change in their lives. They have been kidding themselves all along.
On the other hand, there are people who are Christians who doubt their salvation. They’ll slip up, they’ll sin, they’ll do something they regret and a little voice within them says, “See there, you’re not a Christian. A real Christian wouldn’t do that,” so they go around defeated and worried. The Devil knows he can keep them from witnessing if he can them doubting their own salvation.
So the question comes, can you really, honestly know whether you are a Christian or not or do you simply try to live a good life and hope for the best?
The Apostle John wrote his letter, 1st John to a group of people who thought they were Christians, but who had doubts about their salvation. In,
>1 John 5:13 I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.
Can you imagine? A whole book of the Bible written specifically so you can know whether or not you are really a Christian. Well, what things did he write? How can you tell if you are really a Christian?
I believe there are 3 tests to true salvation.
I. THE COMMANDMENT TEST
- 1 John 2:3-6
How do you know you’re a Christian? You know if you keep God’s commandments. It is impossible to be saved and yet not keep God’s commandments. ...
Now, there is no one here who can honestly say that he has kept all of the commandments and never broken 1.
- 1 John 1:8, 10.
No, the key is the word translated in 2:3-6 as “Keep.” The word “keep” is an ancient mariner’s term. Back in those days a skipper of a ship on the ocean would steer by the stars. He would keep his eyes on the stars - fix his focus on the stars - and steer by the stars. He would chart his course by the stars.
This is the standard John wants to get across. He says, “If you are really a follower of Jesus, then you will keep, you will chart your life by God’s commandments.
That doesn’t mean you’ll be perfect. The best captain could be blown off course, make a miscalculation, or simply fall asleep at the wheel. But it does mean that he strived to follow the stars.
If you can go on sinning willfully, knowingly, habitually, and deliberately I would encourage you to check your salvation. However, if you are truly a Christian, then you will chart you course, you will guide and govern your life according to God’s commandments. Following God’s commandments does not save you, but it is a birthmark of those “born again.”
II. THE COMPANION TEST
- 1 John 3:14-15, 4:20-5:1
Another birthmark of a true believer is that you love your brothers and sisters in Christ. When a person is truly a Christian, he will want to be right with his brothers and sisters in Christ.
There are 2 statements people often make about church:
- You don’t have to go to church to worship God.” That’s true
- You can worship God just as well without going to Church. - That’s false.
Why is loving Christians, loving the Church, essential to salvation?
> Hebrews 10:25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the day approaching.
> Matthew 18:20 For where two or three come together in My name, there I am with them.
1. The word “Saint” does not appear in the singular form in the Bible.
2. The church is the body of Christ. Christ is the head of the church. If you hurt a part of my body, I will let you know. You may say, “I only stepped on your foot, not on you.” I will disagree, because if you step on my foot, you are stepping on me.
Jesus asked Saul, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” Saul was persecuting the church. Evidently attacking the church or its members is the same as attacking Jesus.
3. The church is the bride of Christ - If you hurt my body, you will get my attention. If you hurt my wife, you will get my wrath.
My friend, if you are truly a believer, you will the Church, you will love Christians and want to be with them.
III. THE COMMITMENT TEST
- 1 John 5:10-13
I do believe. In the original, the word translated here as “believe” means to commit to, or to entrust yourself to.
I believe in Abraham Lincoln, but I am not committed to him, I have not entrusted myself to him.
No where in the Bible does it tell us to look back on an experience for the assurance of our salvation. The proof is in the now. If I did believe, then I am still believing. If I believe today, then I did believe.
John didn’t say, He who kept His commands. He said, “He who keeps His commands.”
Are you following God’s commandments today?
John didn’t say, “He who loved his brothers and sisters.” He said, “He who loves his brothers and sisters.”
Do you love your fellow Christians? Do you love the church? Do you show it by ...
Some people do not have birth certificates. One such person was Will Rogers. Once, Will Rogers was applying for a passport and the clerk asked him for his birth certificate. He said that he didn’t have one. She said that she needed one in order to issue a passport. He asked why. She replied, “So I can have proof of your birth.” Rogers answered, “Well, I’m here, ain’t I?”
The person sitting in your seat today is the greatest proof that you’ve been born again.