Monday, September 10, 2007

Seeking Honest Answers: Are You a Christian?

I have been thinking some lately about how we can help family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers determine whether or not they are Christians in the biblical sense. There is much confusion on this topic as many people claim that they are converted with little evidence to back up such a claim. People who are in this position are in a dangerous spot, and we need to help them think their claims through.

Here is a very short list of questions to ask those who claim to be saved but who show little evidence of such commitment. It's not exhaustive but is intended to help start conversation.

Do you love God? In your heart, do you desire to follow Him, worship Him, and obey Him? Does your professed love for God stretch into action? Does it have any practical effect on your life? Would others characterize you as one who loves God? Do you adore God? Do you want to adore Him?

Do you love the Bible? Do you want to follow the One whom it reveals, Jesus Christ, and follow His commandments? Do you enjoy reading the Bible and take nourishment from it? Do you struggle to read it and possess little desire to obey it? Do you care about the Bible? Do you seek to understand how it should be interpreted, or do you care more about how it fits or does not fit with your natural prejudices and opinions? Do you believe that the Bible is true? Is it all true, or are only parts of it true?

Do you love Christians? Or are they like any other people group out there? Does your love take on a practical form? Do you love other Christians more than you love people from your background--your hometown, home state, college or university, athletic team, peer group? Do you desire to serve other Christians? Do you care when you hear about suffering Christians in other countries?

Do you love living out and sharing the gospel? Do you monetarily support other Christians in need? Do you share the gospel with lost people? Do you care if someone is lost? Is that a concern that comes quickly into your mind when talking with another person? Do you pray much for the salvation of lost sinners? Do you want people to be saved? Do you attempt to live out a Christian life in front of other people? Do you inconvenience yourself to present the gospel to others? Do you suffer in any form for the sake of the gospel? Or is your life free of the sting associated with vibrant Christianity lived out in a pagan world? Do you seek to win family members to Christ? Or do you assume they're fine? Do you ask them penetrating questions or do you simply assume that they are saved? When dealing with others, are spiritual concerns first in your mind?

Do you enjoy church and draw nourishment from it? Is church endlessly boring to you? Do you like preaching? Do you see the need to be confronted about your sin? Do you avoid church in order to avoid being "judged" or "condemned"? Do you love interaction with other believers? Do you want to support the local church? Do you want to support missionaries? Does the spiritual good of other people concern you? Is it more important for you to do your favorite things on Sunday or to worship God with other believers? Do you continually struggle with finding the motivation to go to church? Do you want to go to church?

Does the matter of eternity concern you? Do you want to go to heaven? Do you not want to go to hell? Do you believe in heaven and hell? If so, does your belief take any actional form? Do you desire to go to heaven to worship God for eternity? Do you want to go to heaven because that's where your favorite people and things are? Do you think about hell? Do you live as if eternity exists?

Does the Bible shape your ethics and morals? Or do you just go with what you feel at a gut level? Or what your parents told you? When there is conflict between your natural worldview and what the Bible says, which side wins? Do you ever change your mind as a result of reading the Bible? When making political, ethical, and moral decisions, do you consider scriptural teachings, or do you base your decisions on your moral sense? Do you want the Bible to shape your ethics? Or do you not really care? Does the Bible affect what you watch, read, and listen to? Or do you just assume everything's fine? Do you ever avoid or turn off content that is biblically offensive? Do you care if content is moral or immoral in an explicitly biblical sense?

That's a basic starting point. If used well, these questions could provide a starting point from which to engage people you love on the question of their Christianity. They claim it, but you see little fruit. Seek an opportunity to ask them these questions--or questions of your own--that get to the heart of the matter. Email these questions to someone, call a friend, pull aside a family member when you're in town together. Listen well, be empathetic and understanding, and share the gospel.

Turn someone back from the edge.


Blogger Benjamin said...

Hey Owen,

Thanks for this helpful little post. These are excellent questions not only for calling someone back to true faithfulness, but also for helping personal struggles with assurance. Thanks!


3:39 PM  
Anonymous Sean Gould said...

Very helpful Owen...

Sean G

5:05 PM  
Blogger Dad said...

Owen, This is indeed a grae issue in our churches and something we wonder about regarding our own family, as many claim some church connection, but . . .

And for ourselves as well.

Kind of along the line of 2 Peter 1:10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.


Al (Not Owen's dad or that other 'Al'.)

3:35 AM  
Blogger Bradley said...

Great Questions O-Zone!!!

9:26 PM  

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