Are You a Christian?
This is our first Friday of the month look at one of the booklets that are provided by The Committee on Christian Education of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
Today’s booklet is, Are You A Christian? There are a couple of copies of this booklet in the bookcase at the Church building in the foyer if you would like a hard copy. This booklet is no longer in print but is available to read online here: http://www.opc.org/books/eBooks/Are_You_a_Christian.pdf.
I think the booklet’s intent was for use in outreach getting people to consider faith in Christ. It starts with many stock answers people give as to why they are Christians:
1) “I hope I’m a Christian,” says one. And then they focus on all of their good works.
2) “I should think I am,” says another. And then they quote their lineage or upbringing in the Church.
3) “Why yes!” answers a third, “I was baptized as an infant.” And then reflects on Church experience.
4) “I went to the altar under the evangelist when the invitation was given.” This is another answer where one relies on a past event or experience.
5) “I don’t really know.” At least this answer reflect honesty from the one who is not sure.
6) “Certainly I’m a Christian. Aren’t we all children of God?” The person relies on the all roads lead to heaven argument.
Not all of the answers can be true. And many people are confused by Christianity and what it means to be a Christian today.
The booklet then goes on to apply the standard of Scripture to the above mentioned answers.
1) The first person who hopes he is a Christian is relying upon good works to save him. Good works are important in the life of a Christian, but they can never make him a Christian.
2) The second person is relying on a Christian upbringing or a Christian family. There is no substitute for salvation by grace, not even a Christian home and family.
3) The third person is relying on Church Membership as a sign of Christianity. Being a members of a visible Church does not make one automatically a member of the invisible Church.
4) The four person is resting on a conversion experience. The wrong idea here is trusting in an experience rather than trusting in the Savior.
5) This person believes perhaps there is no certainty in salvation. How can anyone know for sure? Faith in Christ gives us hope that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.
6) The sixth person falsely believes that all men are children of God. God never calls his enemies his friends, nor does he give to unbelievers the title of children or sons of God.
The rest of this booklet goes into detail in several sections answering the question, Are you a Christian? The problem is many do not want the Biblical answer.
The Bible states that we are all sinners. The booklet walks through Romans 5:12-21 speaking of how sin came into the world through one man Adam. Since that time all others have been born in sin.
The next section of the booklet is titled “Christ died to save sinners.” It walks through the nature of who Jesus really is. This is important in discussing with people today because too many are placing their faith in a wrong Jesus. They either get His nature wrong or believe in an Americanized view of who Jesus is. After detailing who He is, the booklet then goes on to what He did.
The next section shares that you may become a Christian. The booklet provides a helpful distinction to modern evangelistic efforts here. In asking the question, “Are you one of those whom Christ came to save so completely?” it provides the wrong answer to the question and the right answer to the question.
First, the wrong answer, “You can become a Christian by confessing your sin and by believing on Christ as your Savior.” This is a wrong answer because no unsaved person can come to Christ of and by himself.
Two passages of Scripture make this very clear:
1) In 1 Cor. 2:14, we are told, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”
2) In Rom. 8:7-8 we read, “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
Second, the right answer, “You may become a Christian through repentance from sin and faith in Jesus as your Savior from sin.” The whole difference lies in that little word “may.” While it is the very truth of God, that as Jesus himself said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:4), it is equally the truth of God (for Jesus also said this) that “…whoever comes to me I will never cast out” (John 6:37). Every day those once lost in sin do actually come in answer to that grand invitation.
For a person to be converted there must be faith and repentance given by God. Repentance involves a sorrow for and turning from sin. Faith involves knowledge, assent, and trust in Christ and what He has done.
In the last section of this booklet the question is asked, “How may you be sure you are a Christian?” It goes into detail regarding the assurance of our faith. A believer in Christ may have great assurance of his salvation. God provides us with many sure promises of God, fruits of the Spirit, and the witness of the Holy Spirit.
This booklet is a more lengthly study to really get into the message of the Gospel and our Assurance of faith. Due to it’s length it would not be one you might hand out like a tract or brochure that you may give out many copies. But it is helpful for us who are believers to refresh ourselves in the truths of Scripture and our faith in Christ. It is also helpful for perhaps a one on one study with a person who is asking deeper questions about Christianity and being a Christian, or who may even hold some of the false views of being a Christian. It also would be helpful for the one struggling with doubt to read through this material and see assurances of their faith in God’s Word.