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I am a Christian... Maybe

At this point you have answered enough questions correctly to indicate you might be a Christian. But the apostle Paul said "Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith"(2 Cor. 13:5). Even if you answer all the questions correctly, including many I have yet to ask, I cannot truly know if you are a Christian. Only God knows you that well. But God has given us the tools, through His word to examine ourselves in this matter.

Do you love the Lord Jesus Christ? Most of you would quickly answer 'Yes', but I want to slow down a bit to see the ramifications of the question. First let's look at who He is. In John chapter one, we see at least three critical pieces to the puzzle. In verses 1 through 3 we see that Jesus is 'The Word', that He is 'God' and that He is the 'Creator'. Verse 14 makes it clear that 'The Word made flesh' dwelt or tabernacled among us. Jesus Christ, in a very real sense, is the word of God. He is the LOGOS from eternity past.

So we need to ask the obvious question... Can you love Jesus Christ (the word of God incarnate) if you do not love the word of God (the bible)? I find it interesting that many who claim to love Jesus rarely read the bible. And yet Christ is identified as 'The Word [of God] made flesh'. I recall when I was first saved how I just could not get enough of God's word. As a slow reader, I was somewhat intimidated by the size the bible. I wanted to know the entire bible and I wanted to know it NOW. At least that was my experience. Yours may have been a little different, but I would expect anyone claiming to have the Spirit of God would in fact want to know God. This would seem obvious. And of course the easiest way to know God is to know His Word.

So what about doctrine? What doctrinal issues are necessary to know before claiming salvation? What are the essentials of the Christian faith? Ten different bible scholars may give you ten slightly different answers. But in its simplest form, the apostle Paul narrowed the gospel down to this... "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures."(1 Cor. 15:1-4)

"Death", "burial" and "resurrection". That is "the gospel" and that is what saves us. Twice the New Testament warns about those who do not "obey" the gospel. So how do we obey the gospel? How do we obey the "death"? How do we obey the "burial"? How do we obey the "resurrection"?

We obey the "death" by dieing to self... the bible calls it REPENTENCE. Repentence is a U-Turn in life. We stop moving in our own direction towards sin and begin moving in God's direction.

We obey the "burial" through BAPTISM... "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death" (Rm 6:4). In Acts chapter two, after Peter was asked "what shall we do" (they were asking how to be saved), Peter answered "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." Rm 2:38 In Acts 22, the apostle Paul describing his baptism said "And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." Acts 22:16 Other important verses on baptism... 1 Pet 3:21, John 3:5, Acts 2:41, Acts 8:12, Acts 8:36-37, Acts 10:47-48 and many others.

We obey the "resurrection" through SANCTIFICATION... "Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection" Rm 6:4-5. So this "walking in newness of life" which is to strive for holiness, is what the bible calls sanctification. And again in Romans chapter six... "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. Rm 6:12-13" I highly recommend reading Romans chapter six several times.

Why is belief in the resurrection necessary? Again Paul says "if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep[died] in Christ[as Christians] have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable." (1 Cor. 15:17-19)

How then is a person saved? Paul says in Romans 10:9,10 "that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." Also, by implication, you must believe and obey the gospel... the DEATH, BURIAL and RESURRECTION which is REPENTENCE, BAPTISM AND SANCTIFICATION.

Let us examine the phrase... "if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus". There are two things that immediately jump out here. 1) This is a public confession at baptism (there are no secret Christians) and 2) the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Jesus said "why do you call me LORD, LORD and do not the things that I say". Again Jesus says "Depart from me you who work iniquity for I never knew you". In these and many other passages, Jesus and other scriptures make it clear that a true Christian will, in a very practical way, make Jesus Christ the Lord of their lives. If you don't like Lordship salvation, your argument is not with me but with Christ Himself.

In conclusion, I will go back to my first point... "examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith!" YOU are responsible! Work out YOUR OWN salvation. YOU study the scriptures! YOU fervently pray! YOU seek His face! Though it is true that salvation is by grace, it is also true that I cannot save you. Neither can your parents or your grandparents. We are the "children" of God. There are no "grandchildren".

And in addition we are warned in Jer. 17:9 "The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?" And Jesus also warned us "narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it".

How then can anyone be saved? With men it is impossible, but with God ALL thing are possible! Finally Proverbs 2:1-5: "My son, if you receive my words, And treasure my commands within you, So that you incline your ear to wisdom, And apply your heart to understanding; Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding, If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will understand the fear of the Lord, And find the knowledge of God."

In Christ,

Scott Faulkner
[email protected]

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