Certain basic facts of knowledge, experience and manifestations have to be seen in a person’s life to be a Christian. Facts like a Christian is a person who knows that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life and has fully trusted in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. A true Christian has to understand what the Bible says about sin, sin’s penalty, who is Jesus and what Jesus did for us and how to obtain forgiveness of sin and how to enter into Heaven. These are the simple facts a person should know to become a Christian, however with this knowledge only does not guarantee that he/she is saved from sin and hell. So a Christian has to accept that Jesus is the personal Savior and has to be born again in Spirit (John 3) to become a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). It does not end there, but a true Christian has to be increasingly transformed into the image of Christ (2 Cor. 3). A true Christian is a person who has been sealed by the power of Holy Spirit (Eph. 4: 2 Cor. 1). A true Christian is the person whose life produces the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23), whose lives are filled with the Holy Spirit, they walk by the Spirit and they sing in the Spirit always on the go, on the move.
There are many people in this world who claim to be Christians, but are not, because the characteristics of Jesus are not seen in their lives. Being born in a Christian country or Christian family do not automatically make one a true Christian. Going to church or youth meetings, house fellowships, retreats, helping those in need, even being good person does not make you a true Christian. Going to church every Saturday or Sunday does not make you a true Christian anymore than going to a garage makes you a car. Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 7:21).
A true Christian is measured by the visible and tangible fruits (Mat 7:16). John the Baptist warned those people who thought they were righteous to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matt. 3:7). Jesus warned those who were listening to Him during His Sermon on the Mount that every tree can be known by its fruit (Matt 7) and that every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire (Mat 7: 19). It is the scary thing to imagine to be thrown in the lake of fire. Jesus also explained how those branches that do not bear fruit are cut off from the tree and thrown to burn (John 15). Christians are supposed to be the branches and Jesus is the Vine and without being united with Jesus we cannot bear fruit and the Christians are to bear much fruit.
There are several warnings in the Bible for the Christians because there cannot be an “easy-Christianity”. One has to bear the cost to be a true Christian and obtain the ticket to Heaven. Jesus said that if anyone wants to follow Him he should deny himself and take up the cross and follow Him (Matt. 16:24). Following Jesus is much more than saying you are a Christian. Anyone can claim Christ as Savior, and this usually happens when the preacher or a pastor give a alter call after the sermon but only those who are truly saved will bear visible fruit. The “fruit” produced by the Spirit in a true Christian’s lives are found in Galatians 5:22-23 which are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These qualities of grace cannot be produced by human controlled behavior because these are the Fruit of the Spirit. However, a new Spirit born Christian possesses and manifests these graces of Spiritual fruit. On the contrary, the sinful nature cannot produce these spiritual fruit because our lives constantly tend to produce more sinful actions through this sinful nature which are: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery, idolatry and witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy, drunkenness, orgies and the like (Gal 5: 19-20). True Christians will manifest these attitudes and characters produced by the Spirit in their lives to an increasing level as they move forward in their Christian walk. In short, Bible says that it is God’s will that the Christians are encouraged to develop the kind of mindset described in the beatitudes of Jesus on the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5, 6, 7), that they exhibit the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23), that they practice and apply the principles in Paul’s great chapter on love (1 Cor. 13) and they should strive to pattern their lives after both Peter’s and Paul’s characteristics of an effective and productive life (2 Pet. 1: 5-8), (Phil. 1:27), (Phil. 2:5), (Eph. 5:1), (Matt. 5:16), (Rom. 13:11-14) and (Eph. 5:15), understanding the present time to live a holy life here on earth as wise men and women. These are also known as disciples of Jesus who follow their Master every day. God’s will is foremost in their lives.
It is only these true, fruit-bearing disciples of Jesus Christ who are true Christians and they have the guarantee of eternal security and their lives will persevere to the end. Roman 8:29-30 clearly outlines the incredible sequence of salvation as originally thought and planned by the Sovereign, All-knowing God the Father: For those God foreknew He also predestined to be confirmed to the likeness of His Son…And those He predestined, He also called, those He called, He also justified, those He justified, He also glorified. This incredible sequence have these action words: Foreknew, Predestined, Called, Justified, Glorified. It is important to know what these sequence mean or what then? To do what? So that every believer would be…”confirmed to the likeness of His Son”. It is also important to know that every Christian’s life is a progressive transformation and it does not happen in a moment or a day. It takes years, even lifetime. That is why “Sanctification” is needed and it is in the present tense. Because it is ongoing process rather than a one-time event. Just like a recovering alcoholic say that their recovery is a process and not an event because there is always a risk of ‘relapse’. Justification opens the door of salvation; sanctification is the lifelong process of walking and doing what the justification has done rather than just reading the Bible only. Therefore, after accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord our lives belong to Him (Gal 2:20). A true Christian’s life is no longer becomes “business as usual” that continues to live as you like. Jesus Christ died for us so we could live for Him – that is what sanctification is all about that should make every Christian glorified more and more into the image and likeness of Christ (2 Cor. 3:18). Phil 1:6 says that the work God began in us, He will also finish. Eph. 1:13-14 teaches that God has sealed us with the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of our inheritance until we possess it. John 10:29 promises that no one is able to take God’s sheep out of His hand. True believers are eternally secured.
However, Paul warns the believers to examine themselves to see whether they are in the faith or not and to test yourselves (2 Cor. 13:5). All Christians are called to bear fruit which can be checked upon self examination. When a true Christian examines himself and sees no fruit being manifested, it should immediately lead to serious repentance and turning to God. God will surely restore to him the joy of salvation as He did to David (Psalm 51:12).
A true Christian is indeed a child of God, a part of God’s true family, and one who has been given new life in Jesus Christ. Eph. 2:8 tells “…by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”