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Purposeful Pages is a monthly link-up designed to unite bloggers on answering questions about life, blogging, the Bible, writing, and books.
(And I know that it is December. But I didn’t have to time to do this in November, so I’m doing it now.)
This is a question that has been on my mind a lot. Not so much now as when I was younger, but it is still a question that I struggle with at times. I have let my fear and insecurities get ahold of me and I wonder, “Am I really truly a Christian? Or am I just some sort of fake?” It scares me how my mind can think that way, but I believe many other people struggle with it too.
So, knowing if you’re a Christian is not as easy other…life commitments (that’s what we’ll call it). It’s not like signing a contract where once you put your signature down, you’re in. For most people, when you become a Christian, you don’t feel God entering into your heart. It’s not like a “pop” and then boom, you’re life is changed. Now maybe it’s like that for some people, but that’s quite rare.
For me, and probably for many people, I don’t know the exact moment I was saved. I know I made the decision at church when I was six, but it could’ve happened before that or, more likely, after that.
But how do you know that you’re a Christian? How do you know?
One way is by your works. You really can’t believe in Jesus and then not have the works to prove it.
Works, doesn’t mean that you’re forced to do things for God, or that it is like a chore: something you never want to do. No, if you’re a Christian, you’ll want everything you do to be for God. As a Christian, you’ll love God and you’ll want to serve. Why? Because He gave everything, even His only son’s life, for you. And we can’t ever thank him enough.
Works also doesn’t mean that you need to sell all your possessions and go live in a hut in Africa, teaching God’s Word. Now, maybe that is some people’s calling, but it’s not everyone’s. You can do what God calls you to do right where you are. You wouldn’t be where you are if God didn’t want you there.
So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.
But you can’t be a Christian just by good works. That, is not what makes you a Christian.
So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.
Faith in God, is what makes a Christian, a Christian. But if you have faith, good works will follow along with it. So one does not come without the other.
While you can’t necessarily “see” faith, you can see good works. So look back on your life, what do you see? If you’re not sure what you see, ask people who know you (like family). What do they see in you?
You may say, “But people can do good works and still not be Christians.” Yes, that’s true. So if you are doing good works, you need to ask the question, “Why? Why are you doing good works?” Is it for selfish reasons? Or is it for God?
An even more important question to ask is:
Do you love Him?
These are hard questions. And sometimes we can’t see the answer clearly. Sometimes we just have to have faith in our faith in God.
Trust in God. Have faith that you are in His hands. Know that if you love Him, He will always be with you.
So I was listening to a bit of Not a fan. by Kyle Idleman yesterday while driving (No. I wasn’t driving. My dad was. I have not yet learned that skill.). Well, right at the beginning Mr. Idleman made a major point that I thought I’d like to talk about. A point that I hadn’t really thought about, but it struck me at how true it was.
You see, to become Christians, we’re told to believe in Christ. Believe that Christ is who he says he is. Believe that he died on a cross. Believe that he rose again in three days.
Believe that Christ’s death paid for your sins.
I took that step of faith around six years old. Now who knows when I really believed. Not everyone knows the exact moment when they believed. I just know that at one time I didn’t and at one time I did. I was later taught the ABC method to becoming a Christian. Do you know what that is?
- A-Admit that you are a sinner.
- B-Believe that Christ died and rose again. That the Bible is absolutely true.
- C-Confess your sins to God and you will be forgiven.
That was great and all. Especially for such a young kid like me at that time. I’m not saying that any of this is bad. But those are not the only things that make us a Christian. There’s another part, one that is even bigger than believing Jesus, and that’s following Him.
Believing and following Christ go hand in hand with being a Christian.
But we separate them, because the reality is that many people who believe in Jesus (who say they’re Christians), don’t actually follow him. When really the meaning of being a Christian is not just believing, it’s following.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.
You must follow him, if you’re to be his follower, a Christian.
Now that’s hard.
It’s one thing to just believe in Christ. It takes faith; it is not that easy. But it is a lot easier than actually following Christ. Following Christ takes more sacrifice. It costs more.
And that is what turns people away. They, we, don’t want to sacrifice anything. We don’t want to do anything that costs us anything.
But that verse above says that you must give up your own way. Another version says, “you must deny yourself”. You have to give up your own desires and take on God’s desires as your own. But when you love Jesus, taking on his desires is what you want to do.
Then you must take up your cross. Your cross. Just like Jesus took up his cross and sacrificed so much for us. He sacrificed even his own life so that we might live in Heaven for eternity. Now we must take up our own crosses.
We may not want to, but if we’re to be true Christians, we need to do more than just believe in him. We need to follow him.
Every religion of some sort has a measure of faith involved. Some more so than others, but they all essentially do. Whether it’s believing that you reincarnate into something else after you die or believing if you do enough good works in this life you’ll earn your way to Heaven or believing that there are gods that control different element and forces of nature.
For Christians, it’s believing that there is only one God who rules over everything.
It’s believing that God created the world by just speaking it into existence.
It’s believing that the world was once perfect, but we brought sin into it.
It’s believing that God is three in one: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
It’s believing that God sent his son, fully God and fully man, to earth to save us from our sin.
It’s believing that his son lived a perfect, a blameless, life.
It’s believing that Jesus suffered torture then died on a cross.
Most importantly it’s believing that Jesus’s death was the ultimate sacrifice, the perfect atonement for our sins. That if we only confess them and ask for forgiveness, we will be forgiven. We will have a clean slate. It doesn’t matter what kind of sin it is, it is forgiven. To God’s eyes, sin is sin. One is not worse than another. They are all just as bad and he forgives them all.
It’s believing that against all odds he rose again on the third day.
It’s believing that he later ascended into Heaven.
To believe that takes faith. A lot of faith.
Yes, there is plenty of physical evidence that all of this happened. But even with this evidence you have to have faith. Evidence in many cases isn’t the reason that people believe. If that were true, then probably just about everyone would already be saved.
But there is more to believing in God than believing in the evidence. It takes faith. And having faith in something we can’t see, feel, hear, or smell, in something not physical is hard.
At times, we can find ourselves doubting. But we have to let go of that doubt. It will get us no closer to Jesus, but fully believing in him will.
Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”
This doesn’t mean that those who saw Jesus and believed weren’t ever blessed, but they weren’t blessed for that reason.
Faith in Christ is like believing that there is invisible hands there to catch you as you fall from a cliff. You are submitting to Him, placing your life in the hands of someone you only believe is there. But the thing is…
Your life is already in God’s Hands. It has always been in his Hands. Taking that step of faith is just you finally opening your eyes and believing in someone who has been there since the beginning of time.
That is the difference between our faith and other people’s faith in their religion. Our faith rests in something true and real; their faith is in something nonexistent.
Hey readers! I’m starting a new series of posts today. I hope that you enjoy it! Please let me know your thoughts.
Here’s to you:
You are loved.
You are loved by your parents. You are loved by your brothers and sisters (if you have any). You are loved by all your relatives. You are loved by your spouse (again, if you have one).
But more important than that is the fact that you are loved by God. The God who created the whole universe. Everything from the protons, neutrons, and electrons that make up an atom to the whole solar system!
Is it not incredible to realize that God chose to make the insects, the birds, the sea creatures, the land animals, and you? He chose to make you. Before the beginning of time God made this decision.
He never had to create you or me. God was not obligated to give us life, but He chose to. He wanted to. And that choice makes all the difference in the world. It means the difference between being expendable and unwanted to having meaning and purpose. It throws a whole new light on your existence.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
God’s love fulfills all these classes so completely. God, as one verse stated, is love.
1 John 4:8
But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
While people’s love may change and shift, God’s love stays the same. It will not diminish. It will not fade over time. It is not dependent on how “good” you are or how much sin you have.
God loves you just the way you are. And He’ll love you the same no matter what you do. No matter how many mistakes you make or how far you drift away from Him, He still will always love you. That’s a promise.
His love will cleanse and take away all sin. Any sins that you have ever committed won’t matter anymore. They never will again. The burden that sin has placed on you will be gone.
His love was so great, that He was willing to sacrifice His only son to save us, the people He loves.
Can you imagine the kind of love God has to let His own son be beaten until He unrecognizable and then killed by the very same people He was trying to save? I can’t even begin to comprehend it. It resembles the kind of love Abraham showed when he was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac to God. And it is such a beautiful and sacrificial kind of love.
Wherever you are in your life, whatever you’re going through, know this: God loves you. Never lose faith in His love. Trust in Him. For His love is always with you.