2009-07-04 - How do I know that I am a Christian?
Psalm 119:20, My soul is crushed with longing after Thine ordinances at all times.
Lots of people say they are Christians, but what kind of person really is a Christian? Or, maybe more specifically for these two considerations, what sort of characteristics are found in a Christian, that help define and identify someone as a Christian?
We might start by simply saying that a Christian is someone who trusts in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. It is not about what church one attends. It is not about what nation or family someone is associated with. It is all about having a personal relationship with, and trust in, Jesus Christ, who offers forgiveness of sins to those who come to Him by faith. Ephesians 2:8, 9 puts it well, For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. In summary then, being a Christian means that someone participates in the grace of God, His mercy, by faith. A Christian is not trusting in their works or looking to their works to save them. Rather, A Christian looks outside of himself/herself to Jesus Christ, and His Atonement for sin, that they might have peace with God.
The above is the theoretical or faith aspect of the Christian faith. But what does a Christian look like? Maybe better put, what does a Christian think like? Where does a Christian set his/her affections? How do they act? I would like to ask you to consider, for a moment, the 23rd Psalm. David, in this Psalm, gives us a window into what a Christian looks like/thinks like/behaves like. David had faith. The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. We know that David was a sinner (2 Samuel 11), and he knew his sin well also, but he was not looking to himself for release from His sins. He looked to the Lord. He had faith. David also had a heart that meditated on the things of God. He makes me like down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. The Psalms that David wrote are full of contemplation and meditation on the things of God. Read even a small portion of Psalm 119 and you will get a strong dose of His reflective thoughts on God. These thoughts run throughout the Psalms. As we go on in Psalm 23, we see that David was humble and sought the honor of God more than His own. He looked for God to lead him into holiness, He guides me in the paths of righteousness. These are all marks of a Christian.
Do we have these characteristics? Are we cultivating them? I suspect that you get the idea here. The Christian looks different from others in the world. The Christian seeks Gods glory and not his/her own. We can ask ourselves: Do we want holiness as God defines holiness in His Word? Are we trusting in Jesus finished work of Atonement alone for all our hope? Do we meditate on Gods Word? Are we looking for our comforts in this world, or do we find our true comfort in the things of Christ? These are good questions to ask ourselves, and notice that they are not questions about conduct, as much about our personal life with Christ. The conduct of a Christian flows from an inward communion with Christ. If we have the inner prayer, meditation, and spiritual life, then the outward how of How do I know I am a Christian?, and the what of What does a Christian look like? are answered, and the results are seen in the life of the person.
Soli Deo Gloria,