Who Is a Christian? Part 5

Who Is a Christian Pt5In his first epistle (1 John), the Apostle John gives over 60 evidences for how a person can know they are saved or not saved. (Download the list here.) I compiled those 60+ evidences into five categories.

In Part 3 of this series, we look at the first category, Passion. There we concluded that the primary distinguishing characteristic of a Christian to people of the world is that the Christian will love other Christians.

In Part 4, we looked at Profession and Practice. In that article, we concluded that, according to the clear teaching of the Apostle John, a profession of faith alone is insufficient evidence to determine whether a person is saved. In addition, a profession of faith that is not supported by the practical application of that faith is not a profession of faith at all and is useless for purposes of salvation.

In this article, we will consider the final two categories, Possession and Persecution.

POSSESSION – How we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit

When we are talking about becoming a Christian or being a Christian, we must not leave the Holy Spirit out of the discussion.

In his gospel, the Apostle John speaks of the role of the Holy Spirit in salvation from the very beginning of the discussion.

John 3:5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God… 7 You must be born again. 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.

Obviously, I have not included much of the context of these verses, so I encourage you to take the time to study John 3 on your own so that you can study these verses in context.

John is writing here, but Jesus is the one doing the teaching. Jesus explains that being born again is not a decision that we make, but is the result of the will of the Holy Spirit. No one can control or direct the will of the wind, and no one can control or direct the will of the Holy Spirit. He saves whomever He wills.

John makes it clear that the Christian will know that they are a member of the kingdom of God by the testimony of the Holy Spirit living within them.

The Apostle Paul adds to our understanding of the role of the Holy Spirit in salvation. First of all, in Romans 10:9, Paul declares that if a person confesses that Jesus is Lord, then that person becomes a member of the kingdom of God – he or she is saved or born again.

Then, in 1 Cor. 12, Paul adds the following verse, critical to understanding the mechanics of Romans 10.

1 Cor. 12:3 …no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.

Confessing Christ as Lord is a decision that a person can make only after they are empowered to do so by the will of the Holy Spirit.

Not only does the Holy Spirit call us to salvation; He also confirms our salvation.

In his first epistle, John makes it clear that the Christian will know that they are a member of the kingdom of God by the testimony of the Holy Spirit living within them.

1 John 3:24 Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

1 John 4:13 We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.

All righteous and wholesome behaviors will come to fruition in a saved person because the Holy Spirit will cause them to happen.

Growth and change in a saved person may not happen overnight, but they will happen, not because of our determination and will, but because the Holy Spirit is not going to leave us or forsake us, and will make sure that spiritual development does take place.

John 14:16-17 I (Jesus) will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth…

And since the Holy Spirit is God, then He cannot fail to accomplish His work in us.

Isaiah 46:10 My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.

Philippians 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

PERSECUTION – How we are hated by the world

1 John 3:13 Do not be surprised and wonder, brethren, that the world detests and pursues you with hatred. (Amp)

This may not be a reference to physical persecution, though it could certainly be included.

In light of current events in the United States and the world, the subject of persecution has certainly become more and more prominent in our conversations.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught that, not only is persecution certain for the Christian, but he is to mark himself blessed because of it and to “rejoice and be glad” because of it (Matt. 5:10-12).

He reminded His disciples that “A servant is not greater than his master,” and that since He was persecuted, they would also certainly be persecuted (John 15:20).

In his second letter to Timothy, Paul reminded his disciple as well as the modern church that “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Tim. 3:12)

We can be assured that, if we take a stand on biblical principles and the name of Christ, persecution will happen.

For some, that persecution may be mild – just some uncomfortable interpersonal relationships or inconveniences of life.

For others, it may require a loss of freedom, a loss of income or business, verbal or even physical assault, and possibly the loss of life.

It is happening all over the world. We are seeing the signs of it increasingly in the U.S.

We can be assured that, if we take a stand on biblical principles and the name of Christ, persecution will happen.

In his first epistle, John encourages the church with the idea that, even though persecution is uncomfortable and many times fatal, there is reassurance in its presence. Our persecution reminds us and assures us of our salvation.

CONCLUSION – How are you doing?

Personal Evaluation

Each person who claims to know Christ as Savior should evaluate their own standing before God in light of these categories from John’s letter.

  • Do you have a PASSION for the people of the church or are you always angry with someone because things aren’t done the way you prefer?

Do you love the people of the world – even those who may despise and misuse you?

  • Do you consistently PROFESS Christ before your family, your friends, your co-workers, other students, or even to strangers that you meet during the day?

Or do you find yourself keeping the name of Jesus to yourself for fear of how others might respond?

  • Do the PRACTICES of your life reflect your profession of faith and give evidence of the presence of Christ in your life?

Does your walk for Christ speak as loudly as your talk for Christ?

  • Are you conscious of whether or not the Holy Spirit is in POSSESSION of your heart?

Do you really know that He’s there, or do you just take for granted that He is without really knowing?

  • Do you experience PERSECUTION from those around you…

…or are you safe because you fail to take a stand on the name of Christ in light of current beliefs and practices of your acquaintances?

The answers to these questions should make it clear to each of us where we stand with God.

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