Published on July 9, 2007
How Do You Know That You Are A Christian?: How Do You Know That You Are A Christian? The Life: Practical Insight to Christian Living 4/19/2002 (revised 2/23/2006) MITACF Why this question isn’t easy: Why this question isn’t easy Many differing views even amongst Christians View 1: Mental assent to the 'gospel'—a decision to 'believe' places all your sins on the cross. As long as you believe the right things (ex. Jesus dying for you), you are saved and that makes you a Christian. Example: I grew up in the church. Eventually, I came to understand the Bible more and what Jesus did for me so I believed. Difficulties: What if I decided to believe before but right now am having a lot of doubts? Can I mentally agree and still live as I did before I 'believed'? How do I know I really 'believe' and if my belief is 'good enough'? Why this question isn’t easy: Why this question isn’t easy View 2: Baptism of the Holy Spirit Baptism of the Holy Spirit is a sign of Salvation usually expressed in a speaking of tongues We might not believe that this 'baptism' is a requirement to be a Christian but maybe some of us might use a past experience as THE basis of our salvation. Example: When I was at a retreat during youth group, I had this burning feeling one night and I knew it was God talking to me. That’s how I know I am a Christian. Difficulties: What if I had that experience but don’t live according to Jesus’ ways now? What if I never had an experience like that? Was my experience real? Was it psychological? Why this question isn’t easy: Why this question isn’t easy View 3: Lordship Salvation One can’t simply believe, they must accept Jesus as Lord to be saved. Tries to go away from the 'just believe' idea You have to live like a Christian (bearing fruit, etc) to show that you have genuine faith. 'If you have real faith, you will have good fruit.' Example: I acknowledge the gospel as true and my faithful life to Jesus now proves that I am a Christian. I go to church, pray and read the Word, and try to love people the best I can. Difficulties: There seems to be a thin line between being saved by grace and being saved by works. Is my 'good works' good enough to show that I have a genuine faith? When can I be sure? Good News (Gospel) Problem: Good News (Gospel) Problem Original Question: How do you know that you are a Christian? All these views have difficulty answering our question because the purpose of each of these views seem to be on how our sins can be forgiven and how we can 'make the cut' to get to heaven. They say that you’re either in or you’re out. How do we KNOW? If we believe the right things If the Holy Spirit came upon us or we had an 'experience' If we believe the right things AND live the right way But is the gospel about 'making the cut'? What does Jesus say about this? Lets try to make it simpler: Lets try to make it simpler What does Jesus do? 'Come follow me…' Matthew 4:19a Jesus calls his disciples to 'follow' him. Doesn’t make them believe all the 'right' things before following. Simply calls them to be His disciples or His students. The emphasis isn’t about 'making the cut' though that is highly important. The emphasis is being His students or being His disciples. Original Question: How do you know that you are a Christian? New Question: How do you know that you are a follower (student/disciple) of Jesus? Of course, we would expect that all students of Jesus will 'make the cut' but maybe looking at our original question through the lens of whether we 'made the cut' is not what Jesus had in mind. What is a Student/Disciple?: What is a Student/Disciple? Example: Student of a music teacher Eager to learn and do what the teacher does Meets with the teacher and practices what the teacher instructs them: value his teachings Teachable/Humble (teacher is much better) Respect for the teacher Trusts that what the teacher does is desirable Most of us are familiar with what a student is Being a Student of Jesus is similar Jesus is our LIFE teacher (both here and continuing to eternity) What is a Student/Disciple?: What is a Student/Disciple? '…a disciple, or apprentice, is simply someone who has decided to be with another person, under appropriate conditions, in order to become capable of doing what that person does or to become what that person is…' -Dallas Willard Jesus is teaching us how to live our lives for now and to eternity. Again, all students have 'made the cut' but it is because they respond to Jesus’ call to be His students. In being His students, we naturally 'share in His death as well as share in His resurrection.' 'I am learning from Jesus to live my life, my whole life, my real life.' –Dallas Willard What is a Student/Disciple?: What is a Student/Disciple? As students, we may ask ourselves these questions: Are we good students (apprentices)? Our answer can be either yes or no. Can we be a better students? Most of us would answer yes. There are always things we can learn from our teacher. Students are NOT teachers. To be a student of someone else is NOT to be perfect. We will fail. But that’s the essence of being a disciple. We are Christians, not Christ. How do you know that you are a Christian?: How do you know that you are a Christian? Whose disciple are you? Who is your teacher? Who do you follow? Everyone falls into one of these two categories: I follow, trust and learn from Jesus (student of Jesus). I try to follow, trust, and learn from something or someone else other than Jesus (student of something else).