Are You Really a Christian? By George Stroh January 16, 2012
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 Corinthians 13:5)
Quoting the late Francis Schaeffer; "The meaning of the word Christian has been reduced to practically nothing...Because the word Christian as a symbol has been made to mean so little, it has come to mean everything and nothing." Today in America, approximately 75% of adults identify themselves as Christians. The actual percentage of true Christians in America is, of course, far less.
As someone said; "Just because you are in a garage, it doesn't make you a car!" And just because you are in America and not a Jew or don't identify with some other non-Christian religion, doesn't make you, by default, a Christian. Although many are confused about who is and who isn't a Christian, the Bible gives us a clear definition and the identifying marks of a true Christian.
In the book of Romans we read that everyone is born with a sin nature and that we soon begin to manifest that sinful nature; As it is written; There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one.(Romans 3: 10-12). God's penalty for just one sin is death, not just physical death, but spiritual death, eternal separation from God in a literal place known as hell.
Many believe that they are Christians because they are doing their best to keep God's law or His ten commandments. They get baptized, they attend a church, give to the poor, and try to be good enough to please God. But as Martin Luther discovered, no one can be good enough to please God because God's requirement is perfection. We are justified, not by our good works, but only by our faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ who paid God's penalty for sin on the cross; For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the law.(Romans 3:22)
Ironically, although good works (being baptized, church attendance, giving to the poor, etc.) don't justify a sinner or satisfy God's perfect requirements, good works are the marks of a true Christian and true saving faith in Jesus Christ; Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. But some may well say, "You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without works, and I will show you my faith by my works."(James 2:17,18). The order is crucial-- We are saved by faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ alone, but true saving faith is always manifested by good works and obedience to God.
The Bible says that the ultimate mark of a true Christian is love; They will know us by our love. This love is an unselfish kind of love that is concerned only for God and others. This love does not seek anything for itself, not even recognition or appreciation from God or others. This kind of unselfish love is the ultimate mark of a true Christian.
Are you really a Christian? Test Yourselves! Do you have the marks of a true Christian? Have you trusted in Christ alone for forgiveness of your sins? Do you unselfishly love God and His people? If so, you are indeed a true Christian! Maranatha!