“Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.” –– G. K. Chesterton
Who is a Christian? When does a person become Christian? What it means to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior? And how do you know that you are Christian? These are some of the crucial questions that every person who claims to believe in Jesus Christ must take into introspection and put into retrospective inspection. In this writing I am attempting to give just a gist of what it means to be a Christian since it is crucial for us to know. A.W. Tozer said, “We are here to be worshippers first and worker only second…. The work done by a worshipper will have eternity in it.”
Who is a Christian?
One of the questions usually asked by security guards in any protected area is: ‘Do you have your identity card?’ What is your ‘identity card’ for being a Christian? Unfortunately we tend to forget we have an identity that needs to be displayed before others in order to honor the One who gave us that identity. While writing to the believers in Corinthian Church apostle Paul wrote: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Cor. 5:17).
Yes, if you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord by believing Him as the Son of God, who has borne the penalty of your sin (“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” [Rom. 3:23]), you are a new creation, a Christian. And that is your identity. Nothing else! Not your family background; not your economic status; not your job position; not your physical stature; not your intelligence; not your education, but new creation in Christ by grace through faith (cf. Eph. 2:8).
When Do You Become a Christian?
When you believe in Jesus Christ, God regenerates you through the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5) by removing/forgiving all your sins (1 John 1:12; cf. Acts 2:38; 10:43), reconciling you to Himself (2 Cor. 5:18-19), declaring you a righteous person before Him (Rom. 5:1; cf. Acts 13:39), thus making you a child of God, a Christian (John 1:12; cf. Rom. 8:16). It is a mystery how God saves a sinner by faith in Jesus Christ, but we must acknowledge ‘nothing is impossible for God’ (Luke 18:27)!
The genuine belief in Christ will result in a complete obedience to the commandments of Christ. Any experience of faith that does not motivate you to love and obey the commandments of Jesus Christ is not a genuine experience of faith. In short, when your belief in Jesus Christ causes you do everything what the Word of God teaches you to do, it is a genuine faith – an obedient faith. And obedient faith is (and must be) the result of your acceptance of Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord in your life.
The moment you become a Christian by trusting in Jesus Christ, God gives you the indwelling gift of the Holy Spirit, who will guide you into godliness and maturity in faith by means of the Word of God. “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.” (1 Cor. 2:12). Thus your new life in Christ will be marked by a lifestyle of holiness and godliness conforming to the image of Jesus Christ. “… for it is the Spirit who convicted us, revealed Christ to us, and imparted eternal life to us when we trusted Christ. Because He is ‘the Spirit of Life,’ He can empower us to obey Christ and He can enable us to be more like Christ.” said W.W. Wiersbe. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (Rom. 8:14).
The indwelling Holy Spirit will guide you and make you grow to becoming like Christ – in your talk, your behaviour, your relationship, and in everything through the word of God. “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (Philp. 2:12-13) was Paul’s exhortation to the Christians in Philippi. This tells us every Christian must have a godly life because God works in them to will and do His purpose.
Now, introspect yourself, if you consider yourself a Christian, whether your lifestyle demonstrates godliness or worldliness. Godliness is doing everything with a perspective to honor God and glorify His holy name – worshipping God and serving Him with your whole being – your mind, your heart, your soul, and your strength. But worldliness is doing everything with a perspective to gain fame and wealth for oneself apart from God’s instructions.
Retrospect yourself whether the genuine work of salvation has wrought in you by the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit through the word of God in regenerating you a new creation in Christ at your expression of obedient faith in Him. For He who has begun a good work in you will complete it (cf. Philp. 1:6).
In Summary: Who am I? I am a Christian. When did I become a Christian? From the moment when I expressed my genuine faith in Jesus Christ at the conviction of Holy Spirit through the word of God by regenerating power of God. What then? I must live a life of godliness through worship and service to the living God in love and faithfulness. Now I know that I am a Christian!
Note: 1. All Scripture quotation is taken from New King James Version (NKJV) © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
2. The word “faith” or “belief” is taken in a broader sense to include every commandment (e.g., repentance, confession, baptism, etc.,) that flows from it.
1. Authentic Christianity © 2000 by David Martyn Lloyd Jones
2 The Bible Exposition Commentary: New Testament, Romans Ch. 8 © 1989 by Warren W. Wiersbe
3. Gems from Tozer: Selections from the Writings of A.W Tozer © 1969 by Zur Ltd.