How can I be sure that I am A Christian?

Am-I-A-Christian

The United States is arguably emerging from the days of cultural Christianity.  Surveys report that nearly 80% of American still say that they are Christians, but Church attendance, individualism and secularism paint a different story.  As we move more into a European-like post Christian culture, there are many who would still label themselves as “christian”, while attempting to define their own personal belief system and having never met Jesus Christ, been born spiritually, or submitting to Jesus as Lord over their lives.

“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?”

– 2 Cor 3.5

How, then, can we know if we are Christian?  If we are saved?  If our salvation is a settled issue in Heaven?  The Bible is our guide in knowing God and coming to salvation, and it teaches us the foundations by which we can test ourselves and work out our salvation.  Here are some helpful questions by which we can test ourselves and work out our salvation to be confident that we are ready for judgment day.

“So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

– Phil 2.12-13  

1.  Were you born again?
This might seem like a silly or elementary question, but it is the first and most important one.  Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3.3).  What does it mean to be born again?  It means to be born of the Spirit.  Everyone who is alive or who has ever lived was born physically (of the water), but not everyone is born Spiritually.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

– John 3.5-6

And before we are born Spiritually, we are dead – dead in our sins.

“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.”

– Eph 2.1-2

How do you know if you were born again?  Do you remember a time when you recognized your sinfulness, the weight of that sin and the consequence of that sin being damnation?  Do you remember hearing the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ, desiring His forgiveness and repenting of your sins?  Do you remember confessing Jesus as Lord, and the old man dying – being made new?

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

– 2 Cor 5.17

It is difficult, if not impossible, to be made a new creature and not know it.  There are situations, like my own, when children come to faith at a very young age, and having the Spiritual awareness of life and death might be difficult.  I remember my conversion moment, but I have very little (possibly no) memories of my life before salvation and life of Spiritual death.  For people in those kinds of situations, there are more steps to test!

2.  Am I growing in my love for Jesus and the Gospel?
John teaches us plainly and clearly,

“We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him…We love, because He first loved us.”

– 1 John 4.16, 19

We cannot love God unless we abide in God and God abides in us.  The more we learn about Him, as He works through us, as we grow, we realize how great the gift of salvation is and we are blown away by it.  He creates in us the capacity to love, and our affection for Him increases. Do you like spending time with Jesus?  How is your prayer life?  Scripture instructs us to “pray without ceasing”, to make all of our requests made known to God, and pray in private with God (1 Thess 5.17, Phil 4, Matt 6.6).  Do you speak to Him?  Do you spend time with Him?  Do you enjoy Him?  Or is he just your heavenly genie to whom you go with wishes?

3.  Am I exemplifying the fruit of the Spirit?
Jesus also said plainly and clearly,

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.”

– John 15.4

When we are in Christ, when we are saved, we will bear fruit.  What is the fruit?  It is the fruit of the Spirit:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

– Gal 5.22-23

The term “fruit” here is a singular term.  You cannot pick and choose your favorites, when Christ is living and active within your heart, all of these attributes will be growing and evident.  Now, we are all fighting against our flesh, we will all stumble and give in to the fruit of the flesh: “immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these” (Gal 5.20-21).  We will not be perfect until we are perfected in our new bodies.  But we cannot be marked by the deeds of the flesh, when we are Christians we are marked by the fruit of the Spirit.

4.  Does the Holy Spirit Convict you?
Jesus promised as He was leaving the disciples that the Holy Spirit was coming and would be our helper to walk this Christian road.  The Spirit’s role is simple:

“And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment…”

– John 16.8

If the Holy Spirit is living and active within your heart, He will convict you of sin, righteousness and judgment.  To put it in layman’s terms, when you are tempted and when you choose to sin, He will make you feel rotten.  If you are not exemplifying the fruit of the Spirit, you will feel rotten.  The Spirit will be pounding on your chest, “This does not glorify God, this is not OK!”  My husband came to faith at a young age after moving out on his own turned away from the Lord for no less than six years.  During that time, and through all of his bad decisions, he can remember vividly the Spirit convicting him and even sensing the Lord asking him, “When are you going to come back to me?”  He would respond by turning up the music louder to drown the conviction, but it was always there and the Spirit ultimately won – bringing him into a healthy and strong walk with the Lord.

5.  Are you growing in your awareness of sin and holiness?
This point ties in intimately with the last.  If the Holy Spirit is convicting you of sin and righteousness, then you are growing.  I made this a separate point however, because in the progress of our Spiritual maturation we can plateau or grow complacent with where we are.  Many people erroneously think that becoming a Christian means cleaning up your act, so they walk the aisle, say a prayer and then begin the terrible task of shallow morality.  They quit cursing, they quit drinking, they quit stealing, etc.  They deal with the outward and gross sins that even culture understands to be less than savory.  But the fight never reaches the heart level, because sin is considered to be action-based and not heart-based.  While many passages of Scripture do address the gross sins, they also address the sins of the heart:

“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness.”

– Mark 7.21-22

Envy.  Gossip.  Pride.  Foolishness.  These things are heart issues that will be convicting to an extent at the beginning of the Christian walk, but will be a great source of Spiritual conviction later on down the path of maturity.  The more we get to know the goodness and holiness of God, the more we will see the depth of our wickedness, and we should be broken over our arrogance, over our discontentment and envy, and even over our foolishness.  Is God helping you fight the sins of the heart?

6.  Are you growing in your love for and knowledge of the Scripture?
God has revealed a vast database of information about Himself:  who He is, how He thinks and functions, what He wants, etc.  And all of this is wrapped up neatly in a book for us to access.  If you love God, you must love His word!  You cannot know God unless you know his Word.  Is the Bible boring to you?  It should not be, it should be alive:

“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

– Heb 4.12

If the Word of God is boring and dull to you, if you do not find daily application and conviction within its pages, you should be very concerned about your Spiritual state.  Boldly ask God to bring it to life to you, and reveal Himself to you through it.

So what if I am not experiencing one or some of these things?
First of all, we must remember that Spiritual growth is not a science.  We will all go through seasons of growth and drought.  If you are experiencing weakness in one of these fronts, it does not mean that you were never saved.  If you remember your moment of conversion, know that you have been born again and made into a new creation, and if the Holy Spirit is convicting you, then you can have assurance of your salvation, even if you feel Spiritually dry for a season.  If these things do not mark your life, however, turn to Jesus.  There is a beautiful tension that we must remember when considering our Spirituality, and that is this:

“So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

– Phil 2.12-13  

We must be diligent to consider and work out our salvation.  All of eternity is at stake here, and we should not let is be a side issue.  It deserves our hearts and our attention.  But while we are diligent to consider and work diligently at our Spirituality, we must also remember that it is God who is working within us.  When He makes us a new creature, He places His Holy Spirit within us, and it is no longer us who live but Him living through us.

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

– Gal 2.20

Also remember that,

“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out…This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.”

– John 6.37, 39

Jesus will not lose one who has come to Him for salvation.  Not one.  So if you have been born again, then God will complete in you the good work that He Himself began.  You cannot lose it, you cannot add to it.  But the mutual responsibility here is exemplified in our diligence to push on in our Spirituality and growth.  The proof of God’s transforming work in our lives is our perseverance.  Thus we can be confident, so long as we persevere.  So push on in confidence.  And if you have never been reborn, but you desire to be, simply ask Jesus.  Confess your sins, ask Him for salvation and new life, and pour into the Scriptures – getting to know our glorious Savior.  And then find a church where you can be taught and nurtured and where you can serve the body!

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