Silverton Evangelical Church

Am I a Christian? I'm not sure

If you're not certain, it's probably because you're aware that there's conflicting evidence when you look at yourself. Some things about you might make you think, "Yes, OK, I must be a Christian", and other things might lead you to think, "Naah... I can't be."

 So let's ask two questions. First: What evidence might make you think you are a Christian?

And then: What evidence might make you think you aren't?

If we have a look at the kind of evidence people usually come up with, when we discuss this sort of thing, that might help us pinpoint just where you are on the map...

What might make you think you are a Christian?

People often think they're Christians because of these reasons...

I go to church

OK... not a bad thing to do (especially if it's SEC...) But lots of people go to church for lots of reasons (like Adolf Hitler, who didn't go very often but turned up when there was a political advantage to be gained - see the picture! And he definitely wasn't a Christian!)

Going to a church doesn't make you a Christian, any more than sitting in a fridge turns you into an ice cream. Jesus told a story about two men who went up to the temple to pray - but one of them was accepted by God, the other wasn't. And the one who wasn't accepted was the one who was most proud of his religious CV.

Anyway, what kind of God sits up in the clouds with a celestial attendance register, ticking you off week by week until you have enough ticks to get into heaven when you die? Surely he's got better things to do than that?

 Adolf Hitler attends church in the 1930s

I subscribe to all the Christian moral values

That's great too. But that's not what makes anybody a Christian. However much you agree with Christian moral values, most of us have a lot of problems living up to them. And if God is absolutely perfect, how can he accept into heaven people who have a dodgy record?

All right, you may not have done anything particularly evil. Silverton isn't exactly packed with psychopathic killers and bank robbers. But God's standard is pretty high; the New Testament says, "In fact, if you know the right thing to do and don’t do it, that, for you, is evil." Back in the Old Testament, Isaiah had already commented that human "righteousness" is like "filthy rags". However good we are, our goodness isn't enough for God.

 You may not be colourfully evil... but youre still a sinner

I believe in God

So many people think that this is what God' really wants from us. As long as we believe, we'll be all right with him. But what's so great about that? Does God really just want us to believe blindly and mindlessly, on the basis of no evidence at all? He gave us our brains and our critical faculties to start with. Doesn't he want us to use them?

In fact, the Bible itself says that this attitude is stupid. All sorts of people - including God's worst enemies - believe in him, but they don't also trust him - which is what God wants.  "Do I hear you professing to believe in the one and only God, but then observe you complacently sitting back as if you had done something wonderful? That’s just great. Demons do that, but what good does it do them? Use your heads!"

The Bible talks about "faith" - but that's more than just "believing". Faith is when you believe, and then take action as a result. We'll explain more in a minute.

 Believing is where it starts - the first step, not the whole journey

I do kind things for others, and I give to charity

Again, that's wonderful, and God certainly approves wholeheartedly of what you do. But you don't become a Christian that way either. That was the problem with the man in the temple whom we mentioned above: he gave away one-tenth of his income to charity every year, and so he thought he'd bought God's favour. But you can't do that; nobody becomes a Christian on the basis of their own good deeds.

Aren't Christians supposed to live caring and compassionate lives, then? Oh yes they are. That's why (it's been estimated) 85% of the world's hospitals have been founded by Christians. But they don't do it to win a place in heaven.

They do it because they have been accepted by God already and they want to spend the rest of their lives showing their gratitude in the way they treat others.

 Mother Teresa did what she did because she was a Christian - not because she wanted to be one

I once prayed a prayer and asked God to save me

Lots of people have done this too. They've attended a big meeting, or watched an evangelist on one of those TV channels, or read a booklet which asked them to make a decision there and then. So they've prayed the prayer in the booklet, or walked to the front in the meeting, or clicked the "Yes" button on their keyboard.

Does that make you a Christian? We're not knocking it. For thousands of people across the world, that's been their way of inviting Jesus Christ to come into their lives. But for many others, it's been a momentary,fleeting, emotional decision that hasn't seriously taken root in their lives. The Bible is very clear that "a person is made right with God not by a barren faith but by faith fruitful in works".

So the question is not "Did you make the decision?" but "Did it change anything?" If you haven't come into a living, assured, life-altering relationship with Jesus Christ, it sounds like you aren't truly a Christian yet.

 A decision means nothing unless it brings about a life change

So far so good. Now let's look at the other question.

What might make you think you aren't a Christian?