Reconnect 19. How Do I Know I Am A Christian?

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Reconnect Episode 19

Who is a Christian?  How do you become a Christian?  And how do you know for sure that you are a Christian?

If one is really a Christian, that person is really saved!

But how would you know for sure that you really are a Christian and that you really are saved?

In other words, where do you look for assurance that you are a Christian, that you are saved from eternal death?

Kevin DeYoung wrote an article for The Gospel Coalition entitled, “How Do I Know That I’m A Christian?”  He gave three signs that a person can use to have confidence that he or she is saved:

1. The first sign is theological. You should have confidence if you believe in Jesus Christ the Son of God.

2.  The second sign is moral. You should have confidence if you live a righteous life.

3.  The third sign is social. You should have confidence if you love other Christians.

Andy, George, and Wes discuss these three signs that DeYoung offers by using verses from 1 John that should serve to give us confidence and not condemnation.

All three of us disagree with DeYoung on the moral and social signs.  We say that using such signs will only lead us to despair and utter lack of assurance of salvation.  Turning inwards to our own morality and not outwards to the work of Christ for assurance of salvation can dangerously strip Christians of certainty that they are saved, lead to a distortion of the Gospel, and lead many into Christian legalism.  This is a dangerous road and we do our best to explain why we should not use these as signs that we are saved by looking at the Scripture verses DeYoung cites in his article.

Additional Show Link: “Sola Fide: Luther and Calvin” by Philip Cary

Why do you have to evangelize?

I was on a radio show recently called Engaging Truth.  The episode I was on was hosted by Ken Chitwood.  There was an option for people to call in with questions or to text questions.  A few questions were received but not able to be addressed on the show.  Here is one of those questions:

Why do you have to ‘evangelize?’ Couldn’t you just help people appreciate religious differences, teach them about religion, and lead others into more peaceful co-existence… recognizing we aren’t all the same? Why do you have to shove your faith down someone else’s throat? 



My answer:

I agree with you that the Christian faith shouldn’t be forced upon someone. Jesus taught that we should make disciples through sharing his teachings, not at gunpoint with an ultimatum to convert or die. The example of Jesus and the early church is that the spreading of the gospel needs to be done through service to the community, coupled with dialogue, storytelling, Scripture proclamations, and reasoned arguments communicated in love. Submission holds with tap-out conversions aren’t part of God’s plan of proselytizing, and if you have experienced Christians sharing God’s Word in an unloving manner, I apologize.

When I share my Christian faith in public, I share my beliefs with anyone who wants to listen to them and engage in dialogue with me. I offer coffee and a chair to create a relaxed, enjoyable environment for religious conversation, usually on public campuses. If you don’t want to stay and discuss the person and work of Jesus Christ with me, and how he stands out among the other religious founders by being the only one to die for the sins of the world and rise from the grave, then I don’t want to force you to listen.  I wish you well and I say silent prayer for you as you move on down the line.

The reason I “evangelize” is because I am convinced that Jesus is God and that he died to take away the sins of the world.  “Evangelize” means to share good news. Gospel means “good news” and the good news is that God has demonstrated his love for us through his Son Jesus Christ, forgiving our sins through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. I’m sure that you have heard this message before, if you are living in America. I have strong convictions that the gospel is true, so much so that I take time to share the gospel of Jesus Christ at the risk of potentially offending someone and bringing harassment upon myself in the process. I hope you understand that because I believe the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is good news for the entire world, I must tell people. If I were to keep silent and not share what I believe to be the best news anyone could ever receive, that would mean I really hate you. If you have any questions about the Christian faith or why I believe it to be true, it’d be my pleasure to answer them to the best of my ability.

Some questions I would ask back to you:

Can you think of any examples where it could be right to force your beliefs on others even if they don’t want any part of what you confess to be true? Would it be okay if you were convinced that sharing your beliefs was a matter of life and death, the type of truth that could save someone’s life or make society as a whole better?

What if your belief system involved a command to share your beliefs with others? Would you disobey the exhortation to share what you believe to be true?

Here is a well-known atheist who understands why Christian share their faith:


Discerning Law and Gospel when Interpretting Scripture

How do you interpret the Bible?  Most people ask questions such as:

1. Who wrote this text?
2. Who was first receiving this text?
3. What was the intent and goal of the author in writing to his audience?

These two questions can make a big difference in understanding the text.  Matthew for instance was writing to a Jewish audience trying to to show them how Jesus was the Messiah.  That’s why Matthew, of all the Gospels, quotes from the Old Testament Scriptures the most – showing how Jesus fulfilled them!

4.  What is the historical context?
5.  What is the cultural context?

These things do matter!  A whole other post is needed to address these.

6.  What is the context within the book?
7. What is the context within the rest of Scripture?

Context matters.  Have you ever been quoted out of context?  Did it completely change the meaning of what you said?  Yea.  Sound-bites kill context and meaning.  We should do our best to keep verses in their proper context.

8.  Greek and Hebrew?
9. Grammar?  Active vs. Passive verbs?  Singular vs. Plural nouns?  Who is the subject or object?  Etc.
10.  How else are these words used in Scripture?

You’ve heard that things are lost in translation.  Sometimes, going to the Greek and Hebrew can help.  A common example is that the word Love in English is only Love and can mean almost anything.  In Greek there are three words for love (agape, phileo, and eros – bet you can guess the meaning of the last one) and they all three have a different meanings, yet all three are translated into the same English word, love.

Answering all of these types of questions can help you understand the text as the original audience would have received and understood its meaning – it’s actually meaning.  The meaning doesn’t change.  The application, however, might change as the meaning is passed on to different cultures and historical settings.  Agree or disagree?  Leave a comment.

Now – to the topic of this post.  When you interpret a Scriptural passage do you ask yourself:

11. What is the Law in this passage?
12. What is the Gospel in this passage?

Law is what God tells you to do, what God expects of you.  Law shows you your sin and the consequences of those sins.

Gospel shows you your savior.  It is the work and actions of God alone to save you from your sins.  It is Good News!  Don’t take that to mean the Law is Bad News.  The Law is good too!  It just shows us our sin and our need of a savior.

Law statements might be implied or directly stated in a text.  The same for Gospel statements – implied or directly stated.

As we see these Law and Gospel statements we want to then apply them to our current culture, historical setting, and life.  When we are finished, we should be able to make an application of the Scripture to ourselves knowing what God wants us to do after hearing his Word and what he is doing for us to save us and bring us through this life to the finish line – i.e. Christ and eternal life with him in heaven.

I should probably write many blogs on this process and will likely do so.  For now, watch this video!  It gives examples of looking at verses and showing Law and Gospel statements that can be drawn from them.  Granted, I just look at one verse and show the Law and Gospel in it alone, not the full context of the passage that contains the verse – sort of breaking my interpretation rules – huh?

Drop me a line and let me know what you think.