Many people come unstuck because they wrongly apprehend what makes someone a Christian. Therefore, let us initially answer our question negatively by establishing some of the things that do not make someone a Christian.
- Being born into a Christian family does not make you a Christian because all are brought forth in iniquity and conceived in sin. (see Psalm 51:5).
- Infant baptism or christening does not make you a Christian because a baby cannot “repent and believe in good news” (Mark 1:15).
- Living a good life does not make you a Christian because the LORD Jesus said “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but those who are ill. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:31b-32)
- Doing lots of impressive spiritual activities does not make you a Christian because the LORD Jesus anticipated a day when he would say to many who had done remarkable things, “I never knew you; away from Me, you evildoers!” (Matt. 7:23b)
These things being so, then who are Christians? Quite simply in the words of our Saviour they are people who have repented and believed the gospel. Exercising repentance towards God and faith in our LORD Jesus Christ makes someone a Christian (see Acts 20:21). Let us then look at the two words which sum up the conversion experience; repentance and faith.
Repentance involves a grasping that you are going in a wrong direction and that you need to turn around and go in the right direction. We all have walked in the ways of sin and that is serious. We realise it is serious when we come into the holy presence of God. Isaiah did this and confessed “Woe to me, I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips” (Isaiah 6:5). Peter did this and confessed to the Lord Jesus “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:8b).
Repentance is vital because if we die in our sins we will eternally suffer the judgment of God on account of our sins.
Revelation 21:8 gives a solemn disclosure of this as we read of the unrepentant having “they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulphur.”
As we turn from our sins we simultaneously believe the gospel concerning our LORD Jesus. The gospel is that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15). For all those burdened down with their sins He says “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).
The LORD Jesus is the Lamb of God (fulfilling all the Old Testament prophecies) who is the taker away of the sin of the world (see John 1:29). He died on the cross to bring forgiveness. The principle is established that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins (see Heb. 9:22). Now he has shed His own precious blood and there is a fountain flowing for sin and uncleanness (see Zech. 13:1). He is raised from the dead and His work is done. He has made eternal redemption (see Heb. 9:12). Let us come then believing in our LORD Jesus that we might have all our sins washed away in His blood (see Rev. 1:6).
Oh please turn and believe the gospel. The consequences of not doing so are too awful to consider; “how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation”! (Heb. 2:3).