How to Know If You Are a Christian

by Rick Edwards

"In a Nutshell" Version

1. All people are sinners by birth and by choice, and every individual, completely unable to improve his spiritual state, is under the certain condemnation of sin, which is eternal separation from God and everlasting regret and torment. In other words, all of us are "headed for hell in a handbasket" and we are helpless to alter this predicament by our own wisdom, power or abilities.

It would be a whole lot easier if we could start all this on a cheerful note, or at least put a more "positive spin" on things, but I am hoping people are more interested in truth than stroking one's ego. The natural human condition before God could not be worse. Our "starting point" is present condemnation and the future prospect of everlasting suffering upon death. (If this was a movie, sensible people would be putting on their coats and walking up the aisle. Unfortunately, this is man's genuine situation before God. We cannot escape it except we continue on.)

Romans 3:10 "... as it is written, "There is none righteous, not even one; 11 There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; 12 All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one. "

2. God commands all people everywhere to repent, meaning, to turn away from their sins. We must acknowledge our disobedience, our willful rebellion to God and His Word and to have a change of heart and mind in order to agree with God concerning our sinful and helpless estate. This is most obvious when we embrace His Word, the Bible, that we might understand the truth about ourselves and about Christ our Savior. The Scriptures at this time are essential; we are not to devise a new philosophy or forge a fresh path to the Almighty, but to submit to the way He has already furnished. If we refuse to acknowledge our need or His provision, the message about a Savior is meaningless.

The first sign of hope- God addresses our condition and requires repentance. (The "plot" is not one of utter despair or morbidity, but a realistic assessment regarding our situation and need. Those who remain in the theatre are beginning to think something worthwhile may develop after all.)

Acts 17:30 "Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent..."

3. The Bible teaches clearly that the Son of God, Jesus Christ, came to offer His life as a ransom for many, to die in the place of the sinner and obtain forgiveness of sins, reconciliation with God, and eternal life on their behalf. The perfect love and mercy of God are revealed for all time in this act of redemption which was foretold in minute detail hundreds and even thousands of year before the events occurred in the prophetic writings and history of Israel. Sinners of any age, from every country, with every possible degree of blame are invited to come to the cross when God has punished the Innocent One for the guilty. God's righteous anger has been satisfied by the submission and obedience of Jesus Christ Who, for sinners like you and me, "was pierced through for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities." In redeeming love, God declared that the "Righteous One, My servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities."

Remember gloomy point number one? God did not remove our condemnation as if He changed His mind and decided we were not so bad after all. On the contrary, our proper condemnation was fully borne and satisfied by Another, a substitute Victim (the Hero of the Story!). Now we're talking! Freedom from my sins and escape from eternal condemnation is more than a wistful hope or otherworldly philosophy; something concrete and measurable has been accomplished on my behalf! (No wonder it is called "The Greatest Story Ever Told!")

Is. 53:4 "Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities..."