Sunday, 23 April 2017

How do I know If I am a Christian?

We have amazing rest and peace in knowing the debt of our sin has been paid. There are plenty of things I sometimes lie awake at night worrying about, but my eternal salvation is not one of them. Jesus says it, and I trust it.

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If your life is anything like mine it’s full of activities, appointments, and a never-ending to-do list. Yet underneath these things, we feel something more — a deeper longing for a peace and greater purpose. Surely life is about more than rushing from activity to activity? In their search for peace and a greater purpose, sometimes people have heard of God and Jesus from the Bible but aren’t sure where to begin, what Christianity is or what it means to be a Christian. Perhaps you have experience with family members who are Christian or you visited a church in the past. Maybe you attend a church now but you question if what your church teaches is Christian. You actually start to wonder: ‘how do I know if I am a Christian’?

Who Are Christians? - People sometimes assume that being a Christian means; going to church, reading the Bible and being a good person, however, whilst all of those activities are important to a Christian life, none of those are what makes a person a Christian. In Acts 16:25-28, which takes place after Jesus’ life on earth, His followers Paul and Silas were in prison. They were singing hymns and praising God despite their awful circumstances, then suddenly there was a huge earthquake causing their chains to be broken. When the jailer realized, his prisoners were about to escape, he prepared to kill himself but Paul and Silas cried out to him, ‘Don’t harm yourself! We are all here’. This is what happened next in Acts 16:30-31 ‘Then he (the jailer) brought them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household’.  This Bible account gives a clear answer to the question, ‘What should a person do to be saved’? The answer is the one given by Paul and Silas; ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved’.

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What did Jesus do for us? - Jesus was a man who lived over 2,000 years ago in what is now modern-day Israel. Jesus was fully man and is also fully God. He lived a perfect life then suffered and died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin — my sin, your sin, and the sins of everyone who has ever lived in the world. Amen. After three days Jesus rose from the dead (this is celebrated at Easter). Jesus ascended into heaven and reigns in heaven with God the Father and the Holy Spirit. God is also present among all believers because of the work of the Holy Spirit who gives Christians faith and we can trust God for salvation after we die.

What do Christians believe? - Christians believe that the Bible is God’s Word. Christians however do not believe the Bible contains the Word of God, but that the Bible is the Word of God. This means that Christians do not believe that some parts of the Bible are true and some parts are untrue, but rather we believe that the whole Bible is true. Christians also believe that Jesus is the Son of God and the He is part of the Trinity, which is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As Christians we worship all parts of the Trinity as equally one God.

Following Jesus -  While Jesus was on earth He was the greatest teacher, and Christians follow the teachings of Jesus. However, it is important to make a strong point of clarification here; many times, when you ask people; ‘What does it mean to be a Christian’? they will say, 'I’m a Christian because I try to be a good person’. A Christian however is someone who trusts in Jesus as his Saviour and trying to be a good person will never get you into heaven. The Bible tells us in Romans 3:23 ‘for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’. It is sin that separates us from God. God is perfect, and when sin entered the world through Adam and Eve, it is our sin that separated us from God (Genesis 3). It is only because of the saving work of Jesus that we are able to find salvation. The good works of a Christian life are important and Jesus spoke of them often. Other places in the Bible explain how a Christian is supposed to live, but the distinction is that these works are not to earn salvation. One of the clearest Bible passages about the role of good works in the Christian life can be found in Ephesians 2:8-10 ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them’. This makes Christianity different from all other religions, which usually teach that people need to work to earn salvation by their own efforts. Christians trust that salvation is a free gift from God.

Peaceful Assurance - People often wonder, ‘how can I know for sure that I am a Christian? I believe, but I have doubts. How do I know for sure I’ll go to heaven when I die? One example is the gift of incredible, life-giving peace, a peace that goes far beyond anything we can humanly understand; Philippians 4:7 ‘And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus’. Any religion or system that attempts to rely on good works or our own self-righteousness, can and will leave us feeling doubtful, because none of us can be good enough for God. We will forever attempt to make amends, try harder, and hope for the best. This is not the case with Jesus! We have amazing rest and peace in knowing the debt of our sin has been paid. There are plenty of things I sometimes lie awake at night worrying about, but my eternal salvation is not one of them. Jesus says it, and I trust it.

The most important question - When Jesus was on earth, He had the following conversation with his disciples; Mark 8:27-29 ‘Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, Who do people say I am? They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets. But what about you? he asked. Who do you say I am? Peter answered, You are the Messiah’. The disciples were responding to the local town gossip. Some people said Jesus was John the Baptist (who had already been beheaded at this point — so in other words, was Jesus a ghost?), some people said Jesus was Elijah (a prophet of importance, believed to impart wisdom in Jewish tradition), who had come back to earth as foretold, and some people said Jesus was a new prophet. Then Jesus asked the disciples the most important question, ‘Who do you say that I am?’ This is the same question Jesus is asking you and I today and is the most important question you will ever answer in your life, because the answer will determine how you spend eternity. Peter’s answer was an example for us because he proclaimed with great faith; ‘You are the Christ’.

When we say, ‘Jesus is the Christ’, we are also saying that He is ‘the anointed one’ and ‘the King chosen by God’. The titles of ‘Christ’ and ‘Messiah’ are therefore meaningful ones because we see the whole Bible, and in fact all of history, coming together in the person of Jesus. The Bible is a collection of books written by different people yet each book was divinely inspired by God. The books of the New Testament tell of Jesus’s life and the beginning of the church on earth. The books of the Old Testament point to the Saviour, or Messiah, who is to come. Here we see Jesus as the fulfilment of that promise. Christians trust in Jesus as the Messiah, both the King and Ruler of the world and the King of their lives. Amen

This article has been published with the kind permission of the author. You can find out a little more about Sara and her ministry by visiting her website at the following (Link)

Author: Sara Borgstede

May God bless and enrich your life

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  1. Thank you very much for this article which allows us to reflect and reminds us that there is no 'human' pathway to eternal life. As the article says, there is no amount of good deeds or actions that will get us to heaven and that we cannot earn our salvation. Our salvation is a free gift from God which we claim when we accept Jesus into our hearts as our Lord and Saviour. Amen

  2. thank you for writing this uplifting Article its been a blessing to read .
    the words of this hym say it all really? SALVATION BELONGS TO OUR GOD who sits on the throne . and to the lamb ,praise and glory.wisdomm and power and strength Be to our God forever and ever . We the redeemed shall be strong in purpose and unity . Declaring aloud , praise and glory ,wisdom and thanks , honour and power and strength AMEN

  3. Thank you SO much sister Sara, I REALLY enjoyed that Blog and it has Blessed my day. I plan to read it a few more times over the week so God can continue to speak to me and sow the seeds deep within me about what Grace, Mercy, Love, Freedom and forgiveness really mean.
    "NOT by works" Amen, what a Blessing, what an incredible gift.
    ALL the Glory to our Amazing Triune God ALWAYS.
    God Bless sister x

    1. Thanks for the opportunity to share my writing today. MCF Life Church blog is always a source of encouragement in my Christian walk.

  4. This is a great gospel message and encouragement for us never to forget that we cannot work our way into heaven. It's a free gift from God as we receive Christ into our hearts as Saviour. And what is also liberating and we are reminded of in this article is the fact that God has already prepared good works for us to do. He has provided all our needs in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen. We have a hope that is steadfast and sure. Thank you for this powerful blog.

  5. Thank for the words today that reminds us what that our salvation is through what our Lord Jesus Christ done for us on the cross where he paid a price to start of our journey of salvation today we can truly say thank you for saving us may the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all Amen