Please DO Call Yourself A Christian If…
In a recent blog, I wrote about “Please don’t call yourself a Christian if…” Now, in this article, I’d like to cover the opposite issue: “Please DO Call Yourself a Christian If…” The Bible says; “Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine.” (2 Corinthians 13:5a NLT) But how can we do that? How can we examine ourselves? For many years I wondered, “Am I a true believer. Or am I deluded? Will I find out the Lord doesn’t really love me some day?”
It was a heavy burden to carry and I needed assurance badly!
This is certainly an area that produces confusion and raises many questions:
Does being a Christian mean being perfect?
If we sin, do we lose our salvation?
Can we be forgiven when we sin?
Here are three ways to examine yourself:
Please DO call yourself a Christian if:
1. You don’t pretend to be perfect, but work hard to be as Christ-like as you can.
Isn’t it great to know that to be a Christian doesn’t mean we must be perfect. Even the great Apostle Paul testified, “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” (Romans 7:19 ESV)
The Apostle John wrote; “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8 ESV)
However, this is not to say that we go merrily on our way sinning to our hearts content. Quite the opposite, the more we love Jesus, the more we want to please Him by being holy.
Jesus said: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15 ESV)
Our goal is to be holy like our Heavenly Father: “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48 ESV)
But when we stumble, we apply 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (ESV)
Then, like a parent with a disobedient child, our loving Heavenly Father forgives us, as a good parent forgives a child. It removes a barrier to our fellowship.
So please DO call yourself a Christian if you know you’re not perfect, but it’s your goal to be as Christ-like as possible.
2. You find great joy in obeying Jesus and being as much like Him as possible.
“When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! (John 15:10-11 NLT)
True Christians don’t find Jesus’ commands burdensome. Instead, they find them joy -producing!
“My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30 ESV)
A lot of unbelievers think, “If I became a Christian, I’d have to give up so much that I enjoy. I just can’t do it.”
In fact, being a Christian is just the opposite: we know that whatever our Lord doesn’t want for us is not helpful for us. He never asks us to give up pleasures because He’s a cosmic killjoy. Instead, he wants us to have the most joy possible.
Like a parent who says “no” only because that parent wants to protect and provide the best for the child, our Heavenly Father only says “no” to protect us, to provide for us and give us maximum joy!
He often even takes away our desire for whatever is not good for us.
So please DO call yourself a Christian if you enjoy obeying Jesus and being like Him.
3. You know you’re saved by God’s grace, not your own goodness.
Please DO call yourself a Christian if you understand that it is Jesus who saves you and you cannot “save” yourself.
Many people are under the terribly mistaken notion that their goodness will get them into heaven. But true Christians know that, “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.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV)
When this verse says, “for by grace,” the word “grace” means an unmerited gift. For example, an inheritance is an unmerited gift. We receive it just by being related to the person who dies. This happened both when Carolyn’s parents died and my parents died. We received an inheritance by the grace of our parents, because of our familial relationship.
The Bible says that when we receive the gift of salvation, we are adopted into God’s family: “So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, ‘Abba, Father.’ For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs.” (Romans 8:15-17a NLT)
We are “heirs” of the Almighty God of the Universe and what an inheritance we have!
To receive this inheritance, there is one thing we must do: we must receive salvation. The verse cited above says “For by grace are you saved through faith…” (Ephesians 2:8) Faith is the way we receive salvation.
Some never receive their inheritance; both their earthly and especially their heavenly inheritance. “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13 ESV)
So please DO call yourself a Christian if you have been adopted as His child by His grace through faith in Christ.
Your thoughts are welcome! You can leave a comment below.
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Additional resources about related subjects on this site:
Podcast: Will Christians be Held Accountable?
Podcast: Can salvation be received without the Gospel? (Inclusivism)