A Biblical Christian
What does the Bible say about a person who has truly believed in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. Actually, it says a lot. The gospel of John was written "so that you may believe..." (John 20:31). The first epistle of John was written so that you may know that you have believed (1 John 5:13). Why would that be? The Bible also tells us that there is a faith that saves, and a faith or a believing that doesn't. The first epistle of John shows us identifiable marks of a true believer. These marks are sure signs because they can only be produced by the Holy Spirit that dwells in the believer. The marks themselves do not save. However, they confirm that a saving operation has taken place and that God has justified the person (pardoned) through the person of Jesus Christ, in His death, burial and resurrection.
So what is this believing that doesn't save? Well, in James 1:19-20, it says that the demons believe and they tremble. Obviously the demons (fallen angels) know who Jesus Christ is and believe, yet they will never be redeemed, even though they tremble. The just of what James is saying is that faith without works is dead. In other words, if someone has believed on the Lord Jesus Christ there will be fruit produced by the Holy Spirit within the believer.
John 8:31-32 "Then said Jesus to those Jews who believed on Him, if you continue in My word, then you are My disciples indeed; and you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free." The supposed believing Jews answered Jesus with the claim that they had Abraham as their father(John 8:33) and have not been in bondage to anyone. In other words, they didn't need to be free. Yet, they had a belief about Jesus but when it came down to facing their sin and humbling themselves to His Lordship they left.
What was the problem? They were trusting in their being the supposed chosen of God, Abraham's physical lineage. When Jesus told them they needed to be free (from their sin) that attacked their very "self righteousness." Certainly they weren't sinners in need of a man to set them free!!! Many people go to church today, and have been baptized, confirmed and a member of a church, yet remain lost. Why? They think because all those things mentioned, they have somehow obtained a right standing with God. They have a mental assent of who Jesus is, but have, as Jesus said to the Jews ("...My word has no place in you.") no place for His word in their hearts.
Another non saving belief comes from one of the Lord's original 12 disciples, Judas Iscariot. Judas followed the Lord and believed in Him. He knew who Jesus was, saw what Jesus did. He went out proclaiming the gospel, healing the sick, etc.. From outward appearance he had quite a ministry, yet he remained an unbeliever. He sold Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. We later find out that he was a thief and stealing from the treasury. Many people profess to believe in Christ and yet love the world and the things in the world. Money and posessions are their god.
There were many others who believed in Jesus for awhile (John 5-8) and then left when the Lord's teachings became difficult. They followed Him for food (a better life), yet when He told them to not labor for food here on earth, which perishes, but for food in heaven that does not perish, they left. Others followed Him for prestige (He drew a lot of attention) and when He said to deny themselves and pick up there cross many departed. These all believed but is what not saving.
The word also shows us what a true believeris. One, who has been "born again" of God's Spirit and posesses eternal life. This person believes in Christ and the evidence is a changed life. This is the difference, being born of God's Spirit. When one is born of God's Spirit they will experience the affects of their salvation. In other words proof that God has started a good work in them and will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus (Phil. 1:6).
I write this for two purposes. The first one and closest to my heart is for the believer who is struggling with assurance. The epistle of 1 John was written for you. God wants His children to know He has saved them and will continue to work in them. Another chapter I would refer you to is Romans 8. The other purpose is for the person who professes to be a christian, but according to God's word is not. My friend please put yourself under God's word vs. what a priest, pastor or church may have told you. God's word will not lie.
First Mark of a Biblical Christian: Repentance to life
1 John 1:6 "If we say we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth."
A biblical christian has repented of their sins and no longer walks in darkness (Romans 2:4, John 8:12). They have come to an understanding through the Holy Spirit what sin is to God (not what they think), that they have walked in darkness, and have now turned from their sin and turned to God for salvation through the person of Jesus Christ.
Fellowship means a participation in or communion with. This speaks of a intimate relationship with Christ. The reason this is the case is because of verse 5" ....God is light and in Him is no darkness at all." Obviously, John knew that some were claiming to have fellowship with Him (Christ), yet by their lifestyles and sins they were still in the darkness (Titus 1:16).
For works of darkness please see, Galatians 5:19-21, Romans 1:26-31, 2 Timothy 3:2-4. Please note also, that a believer in Christ will have been delivered from not only the penalty, but the power of sin in their life (Col. 1:13). This is the reason Christ came "to destroy the works of the devil." (Romans 6:17,18,22). A true believer will have experienced this deliverance through the work of the Holy Spirit and the affect will be repentance and turning to Christ (1 Thess. 1:9).
This does not mean that a believer is free from sin, or that he will never sin, but his desire will be, to be free from sin and to continue to fight against sin. However, an unbeliever will read what I put up above and have no idea what I mean. Why? They haven't been delivered through the power of God's Spirit. They don't see their sin as that bad. They don't see their need of Christ, therefore they don't repent. The Bible tells us the reason is because they love the darkness (John 3:19-20).
This is the first mark of a biblical christian. Why do we know this is the case? Without the drawing of the HOLY SPIRIT, no man will repent and believe. Therefore we conclude, by the word of God, that if you have repented and believed it was the work of the Spirit of God. That being the case you cannott have the work of the Spirit of God within you, without, God the Father, pardoning you of your sins, and declaring you righteous in His sight through the person of Jesus Christ and what He did at the cross.
Romans 5:1 "Therefore having been justified by faith (repentance and believing) we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Second Mark of a Biblical Christian: Continued obedience
True salvation is not a mere one time decision to get out of hell and then go live your life the same way. Thus, the second mark of a biblical christian is a continued pattern of obedience to God's word. 1 John 2:3-4 "And hereby we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments..." Someone who has believed on Christ and has the Holy Spirit living inside of them will have a desire for the things of God. They will grow to love God's word and be desirous to keep it.
The word keep is a mariner's word that means sailing by the stars. In the Lord's time this is how sailor's navigated the waters to reach their destination, by keeping the stars. The believer will navigate his life by the word of God. His desire will be to obey and as he grows in Christ he will continue to gain victory over sin and freedom that this brings in Christ. He will not be perfect, but there will be the desire and the presence of this obedience in his life. In other words, his lifestyle will be a pattern of habitual obedience. 1 John 3:7 " Little children, let no man deceive you, he that practices righteousness is righteous, even as He (Christ) is righteous.
Third Mark of a Biblical Christian: Sensitivity to sin
One of the things the Holy Spirit does in salvation is convict of sin.He shows the person what sin truly is in the eyes of a holy God. This sensitivity to sin, will continue to convict the believer throughout his life. The desire of the believer will be to continue to confess and forsake sin. He comes to hate what he once loved (sin) and love what he once hated (righteousness). His response to God when he does sin will be; 1 John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us of all untighteousness."
A biblical christian knows full well that he sins, and he hates it, but he no longer justifies it like the world. He knows that he can bring it to God who is faithful and he trusts in the continued cleansing of sin that Christ purchased for him at the cross. There are churches that say God forgives based on keeping sacraments. This is a lie and heresy and is no different than justifying sin (1 John 1:8). God forgives based only on the person of Jesus Christ, not what we do. The believer knows this and therefore continues to confess his sin and trust in Christ.
Fourth Mark of a Biblical Christian: Love for the brethren
1 John 3:14 "We know we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He that loves not his brother abides in death." Perhaps one of the most recurring themes in the epistle of 1 John is the love of the brethren. John goes on to say that if we don't love our brothers in Christ that we are murderers, and that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. Those are pretty strong words and yet scripture declares it.
What is love for the brethren? Well, the supreme example comes from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who laid down His life for us. The Scripture declares in 1 John 3:16 "Hereby, we perceive the Love of God, because He laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." One of the first things that happens when someone is converted is that they have a desire to hang out and fellowship with other believers. In a sense they are drawn like a magnet because of the spiritual union they have in Christ.
They no longer desire to hang out and do the things with thier un-converted friends that they once did. A non believer may be able to tolerate a "born again" Christian for an hour on Sunday, but you will not see them hanging out with them the rest of the week. Nor will they have the desire to be involved in the work of the Lord with other fellow believers. If a person is comfortable hanging out with worldly people and doing wordly things then you can rest assured, they still belong to the world.
Their love for fellow believers grows as well. They are willing to lay down their lives for one another. They are sacrifical in service to the brethren and to the lost. They consider one another better than themselves and esteem one another. Their desire is to not only pray for fellow believers but they are willing to meet needs for other believers through time, talent and giving. A true believer in Christ will be one who forgives his brother and sisters for wrongs committed against them. Not to say they will never argue or be offended, but they will seek reconcialition and bring it before the Lord in repentance with a desire to be free from the offense.
Jesus said "they will know you are My disciples by your love." It is important to note that true believers will have a genuine deep seated love for one another. This is not some mushy feel good love that the world clings to. This love is founded on the truth of God's word. At times, this love being so deep, will confront our brothers and sisters who are swaying from the truth in sin or false teaching. The desire will be to see them restored or not led astray. This is not done in a critical, censorious spirit, but with a true spirit of love that wants the best for that individual. They have taken the plank out of their eye and then have in love and truth taken the speck out of their brother or sister's eyes.
Fifth Mark of a Biblical Christian: Holy Spirit Illumination
1 John 4:6 "We are of God: he that knows God hears us, he that is not of God hears not us. Hereby we know the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error."
As mentioned at the beginning, when one truly believes on Christ for salvation, the Holy Spirit comes and dwells in the believer (Titus 3:5). Not only does the Holy Spirit convict of us sin, He guides us into truth (John 16:13). The purpose of the Holy Spirit is to conform us into the image of Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:10). In other words, He will give us desires for things such as private prayer, reading of God's word, and sharing our faith in Christ. Our desires will become God's desires and the Holy Spirit was given us so that we might walk as He (Christ) walked (1 John 2:6).
To say that one can be a Christian without the desires for the things of God would be to say that Christ's resurrection is invalid. It would be the ultimate lie. The Holy Spirit was given so that we might come to understand the Scripture and that through His power be conformed to that very scripture. We also come to understand truth from error, true teaching from the false. Jesus said, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they Follow Me." The only reason we can hear Him is because of the Holy Spirit and the only we reason we can Follow Him is by the power of the Holy Spirit.
We can conclude then that anyone who is drawn to the scripture and desires to "walk as Christ walked" has been born of God and is being led by the "spirit of truth.". Anyone can be baptized, confirmed, go to church, etc.. but it takes the Holy Spirit to illuminate Scripture and give us the power and desires for the things of God; such as prayer, reading of God's word, sharing our faith (2 Cor. 5:17), etc..
My friend, do you see a presence of this in your life? I'm not talking perfection, but a presence. Has scripture become alive for you? Do you desire to pray and read God's word? Do you want to share the gift of salvation with others? Rest assured by the word of God, these came about not of your flesh, but by the Spirit of God when you believed in Christ.
Sixth Mark of a Biblical Christian: Love not the world
1 John 2:15 "Love not the world; neither the things of the world. If any man love the world the love of the Father is not in him." In 1 Thessolonians 1:9 , Paul rejoiced in the people there because they had turned from serving idols to serve the living God. Sadly, the statistics in the American church tell a tale of unscriptural Christianity. There is no difference in lifestyle or pursuits of those who claim to be Christian and attend church than with those who don't. Someone once said if it walks and talks like a duck its a duck. I Think we can interject, that if one acts like the world and talks like the world, then they are of the world.
What are the things of the world? The Bible declares, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. In other words whatever controls you or drives you. Lust is something that desires to have its own way, to fulfill its pleasure, is self seeking. Its pursuing riches, honor and wealth. It has its mind set on the things of the world and desires to have what the world offers. It is driven by pride, that independant spirit that will not subject itself to the Lord.
In America, money, prestige and sensuality are gods that many have embraced. The desire for man's approval and applause verses God is what drives a worldling. Ask yourself what is it that occupies your thoughts, what are the things you focus on? Do you have to have what the world has, dress as the world dresses, act as the world acts? Are you driven by the principles of the world, the vain philosophies of it?
One that is "born again" comes to see how futile the things of the world are and what once used to drive them, drives them no more. They are new creatures in Christ and their focus in on eternal things. Their rule of faith and practice becomes according to God's word. They become content with what they have because they know they have a better homeland with better promises. They hold on to the things of the world more lightly.
This is not to say that we shouldn't work, nor that we cannott have hobbies or enjoyments because God gave us those things to do and enjoy. However, if they rule your thoughts, time and actions then they are an idol. This is a process that the Lord works on all of our life. He prepares us for eternity and in doing so the things of the world become very dim in the realm of importance.
Seventh mark of a Biblical Christian: Believing and Confessing
1 John 5:1"Whosoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.." 1 John 4:15 "Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is Christ is the Son of God, God dwells in him, and he in God."
The gospel is simple believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved. Its a free gift that the Lord offers through the merits of His Son Jesus Christ and what He did at the cross. However, as we have seen, one that has truly believed from the heart will show signs of the Spirit of Christ living in him.
When they take your vital signs it shows that there is life. The vital signs didn't produce the life they merely confirm it. Such as the epistle of 1 John. These are the vital signs that affirm spiritual life exists. They didn't produce it, they just prove it. Thus, believing in Christ is what God has called all men to do for salvation. It is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
That being said, someone who has believed on Christ will have not just a mere notion of facts that they mentally assent to. They will be convicted, convinced and confess this to be the case. What to be the case? That Jesus Christ is truly is the Son of God, that He was a man and yet also God, that He is the only way to heaven, and that He was resurrected from the dead and is alive. Why can they say this with such conviction?
They have experienced this resurrection in their own lives. They have come to see they were dead, separated and under God's judgment. They have seen the power of God that turned them from their sin to serve the living God. They firmly believe that Jesus is all He said He was because Jesus did for them what the Scripture says He would do for anyone wanting this eternal life.
The normal outcome of this is to confess Christ as Lord and Savior. Not in some religious format, but in a deep personal way. The believer has a desire to make the glory of God known through the person of Jesus Christ. They want others to come to this salvation and therefore they confess, they share their faith in Christ. Paul said "I have believed, therefore I speak."
This is not to say that they will not have fear in sharing Christ, but that the love of Christ will overcome that fear and they will find ways to share the gospel. A true believer is one who understands the very mission of the Christ "to seek and to save that which is lost". They will gladly share their testimony of what Christ has done in their life, etc..
Eighth Mark of a Biblical Christian: Answered Prayer
1 John 5:14 "And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask any thing according to His will, He hears us."
When one has come to believe in Christ as Lord and Savior, he has come into a Father-Son relationship. God the Father has adopted the child into his family with all the rights and priviledges of an heir of heaven through the merits of Christ. That being said, he now comes to His Father in prayer and as he grows in Christ his prayers will be more and more focused on God's will.
God does and will answer prayer for His children. However, this is not some fancy presumed name it and claim it type of answered prayer. A child of God will approach his father with reverence and will present his petitions to God and trust that God will do what is best for him. He will rest in that.
The believer will see throughout their life that sometimes God will answer prayer right away and that sometimes it seems that prayer has not been answered at all. However, when he looks back over his life, he will clearly see that God did hear and did answer according to his will. He believes that all things truly have worked out for the good of those who love God.
I have through the grace of God attempted to disect the epistle of 1 John as it relates to identifiable marks of a Biblical Christian. Some have reduced these to less and others more, in terms of marks. Again, believing in Christ for salvation is what God has called all men to. I John, was written so that you may know you have truly believed, because the Spirit of God is at work in you. These signs cannott lie, because God cannott lie and the Holy Spirit will bear witness to these evidences.
If this has helped you in your assurance of salvation and eternal life, please let us know.
To the one who has thought they were a Christian. You have looked at these evidence and have come to the conclusion that you are not truly saved. My friend, obviously the Holy Spirit has shown you this. Do you desire to be saved on God's terms? Do you want to be saved by His Son Jesus Christ? If so salvation can be yours. God will not turn you away. That's why Christ came to save sinners. Turn to Him NOW. God has commanded all men to repent of their sin and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Go to God in prayer ask Him to forgive you and save you and grant to you eternal life through Christ.
Ephesians 2:4-5 "But God, who is rich in mercy,for His great love whereby He loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, has quickened us together with Christ,(by grace have you been saved)."