Do you believe that you are a Christian? If so, 33 percent of the world’s population would agree with you, based on research by Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in 2006.
How do you know that you are a Christian? What truths make an impact on your life to the point that you call yourself a Christian? There are four basic points we must understand, believe and live in light of before we can claim the name “Christian.”
I am a Sinner
This first truth is universal. It applies to every person conceived on planet earth, with the exception of Jesus. We are all sinners.
To be a sinner is to fail to fulfill the life that God tells us to live, to fall short of the standard that He demands of us. That standard is to be holy as He is holy; to be pure and perfect, just like He is. Of course, none of us can do that. We fail often enough to know that we are not perfect. That failure, that imperfection is sin, and we all have it.
When Paul preached the Gospel, he required those who listened to believed in two things. First was to believe that Jesus died for our sins. This is why we have to first accept that we are sinners. If we are not sinners, then we do not need Jesus to bridge the gap between us and God, and Jesus’ death on the cross was for nothing. If we are not sinners, we do not need Jesus, and we cannot be Christian.
I am Saved by Grace
I do not have to remain a sinner separated from God. When I believe that Jesus died for my sins, along with the second requirement of faith – to believe that Jesus was resurrected by the power of God – then God responds by giving me an amazing gift: Grace.
God saves me by His grace when I choose to believe in the Gospel. There is no other work that I can do to earn or purchase that grace. In fact, the best that I can do is like filthy rags. I could not possibly do anything good enough to earn it.
Neither do my good deeds blot out the stains of my sins. I cannot erase a bad deed by performing a good one of equal or greater value. This is because when I sin, it is not the same as making a single mark on a white sheet of paper. It is like running that paper through the mud, staining it all over and through. Only God’s gift of grace can save me.
I am Not My Own
When God’s grace saves me, another work is completed in the spiritual realm. A great transaction is made where I am sold to God through His payment of a great price, the blood of Jesus Christ.
It is as if I were bought off the shelf at the local department store. From that point forward I exist to serve and please the One who purchased me. I am no longer my own. I do not live to fulfill my own dreams and desires, but His.
I am Different
The end of Acts 11:26 says, “the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.” This growing group of believers stuck out so much in this thriving Roman city that they were distinguishable from everyone else that lived there.
They were not just Jews, though some of them came from that heritage. They did not frequent the temple of Apollo or the “pleasure park” of Daphne. They were different. All they were doing was fulfilling Jesus’ description of those who followed Him. They were salt and light in the world.
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Do you call yourself a Christian? Are you living in light of these four truths?
If I am a sinner, who by the gift of God is saved by grace, then I live my life understanding that I am not my own. As a result I will be different. I will bear evidence that I have encountered the living God and He has had an impact on my life.
Looking for more?
Would you like to hear more about these four truths and their impacts on our lives? “So You Call Yourself A Christian?” was a recent sermon series preached at Gateway Assembly. You can listen to this series online at www.GatewayCampbellton.com/listen.
[Q:] Which of these four truths has had the greatest impact on your life?