Join the Army of the Lord
How to Know You’re a Christian
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Writer: Greg Laurie | 4 October 2010 | billygraham.org
Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him." John 14:5-7 (NKJV)(verse 5) Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?
(verse 6) Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
(verse 7) If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.John 14 (KJV) verses 5-7
I heard the story of a man who had been down on his luck and was desperate to make a little money. After a few other doors had closed to him, he had the idea of going to the city zoo, hoping to land a job feeding the animals. The manager at the zoo had no openings, but seeing how big this guy was, he offered him another position.
"Say," he said, "our gorilla died the other day, and he was one of our most popular exhibits. If we got you a special gorilla suit, would you put it on and imitate him for a few days, until the new gorilla arrives? We’ll pay you well for it!"
The man was so desperate for work he agreed. In fact, after a few hours, he really got into the part—beating his chest and shaking the bars. Huge crowds were gathering. Maybe this won’t be so bad after all, he told himself.
But one day, he was swinging on a trapeze and lost his grip. His momentum carried him right over a tall chain-link fence into the middle of the lion’s den. Looking up at this intruder in his domain, the huge lion gave a ferocious roar. The crowds were mesmerized.
What was the gorilla to do? If he cried out for help, it would reveal his true identity.
He slowly walked backward away from the lion, hoping to climb the fence back into his own cage. The lion, however, with a hungry look on his face, began to stalk him step by step. Finally, in desperation, the gorilla hollered, "Help!"
Immediately the lion answered in an annoyed whisper, "Shut up, stupid! You’ll get us both fired!"
You see … things aren’t always as they appear!
There are many people today who claim to be Christians—who may even think they are Christians—but they are not.
What Does Being a Christian Really Mean?
It’s clear that many people really don’t have a grasp on what it means to be a believer. Do you? Are you one? Are you sure? What exactly is a Christian? Are you born that way? If not, how exactly do you become one?
Let’s look together at some clear biblical principles about what must happen as a result of someone truly finding Jesus Christ as his or her personal Lord and Savior.
When you ask someone if he or she is Christian, one of the most common responses you get back is, "Of course I’m a Christian. I go to church, don’t I?" That’s like saying I am a golfer because I own a set of golf clubs. Or I’m a surfer because I own a pair of board shorts. Listen, to be a golfer you need to golf; to be a surfer you must surf; and to be a Christian you need to walk with God!
Don’t All Roads Lead to God?
Now you might ask, "Why is it so important that I be a Christian, anyway? Don’t all roads basically lead to God?"
NOT according to Jesus! Jesus said,
Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. John 3:3 (NKJV)Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.John 3 (KJV) verse 3
Only Jesus Christ—and no other—died on the cross for your sins. Only He promises you the hope of Heaven. Jesus essentially said the only way you can be certain your sins are forgiven and to know you will spend eternity in Heaven is by putting your complete trust in Him. And there will be tangible results to show you have done that.
Don’t misunderstand me, I am not suggesting that X amount of good works makes you a Christian. Far from it. In fact, all the good works on Earth will not save you. The Bible says,
He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. Titus 3:5 (NLT)Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.Titus 3 (KJV) verse 5
This, in fact, is one of the main things that sets apart Christianity from all other world religions. All other religious systems essentially say Do: "Do this and you will have good karma, or you will get to Heaven, or paradise, or nirvana." In contrast, Jesus Christ says, "Done!" That’s what it meant when He cried out on the cross, saying, "It is finished."
The transaction is complete. The price has been paid.
It’s What’s Inside That Counts
If you were to ask "the man on the street" what one must do to be a Christian, he would probably say: "Believe that Jesus is the Son of God. Believe in miracles, Heaven and hell. Go to church, pray, read the Bible and keep the Ten Commandments. And—oh yeah—probably be baptized. And start living a good life."
I am going to make a statement that may be shocking to you: You can do all those things and not necessarily be a Christian! Don’t get me wrong; if you are a true Christian you should do all of those things. You see, the outward change is often without the inward. However, the inward change is never without the outward.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the elements of this "outward-inward" phenomenon.
A person may pray and still not be a Christian.
Most of us pray when we’re in trouble. But when the crisis blows over, what then? God said of Israel,
These people draw near to Me with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me. Isaiah 29:13 (NKJV)Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near [me] with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men.Isaiah 29 (KJV) verse 13