I was having lunch with someone yesterday, and they asked me about a prominent public failure. They said, “This guy claims to be a Christian yet his actions don’t indicate that he is a genuine follower of Jesus Christ”. Then they asked the question, “Can you know for sure that someone is a Christian?” That question got me thinking.
How Can You Know?
There are a lot of people who believe that because they practice a certain religious ceremony they are genuinely followers of Jesus? Some believe that by doing good works, they are followers of Jesus. Others work as hard as they can but are not sure whether or not they are truly members of God’s family. So I think the real question is does the Bible give a conclusive answer about how to determine whether or not somebody’s a Christian? Or better stated, how can you know for certain that your faith is real?
It’s Not the System
Simply following a religious system does not make you a genuine follower of Jesus. In fact, all religious systems in the world begin from the assumption that by doing a set of religious practices you will please God. Christianity is the only religion that says there is no amount of good works that can make you right with God. At its essence, Christianity teaches that trying to work hard to get to heaven is an insult to God, because God has already done everything necessary to make a sinner pure in his sight through the death and resurrection of his son Jesus. Therefore, any attempt to do good works in order to get into heaven is an attempt to earn God’s favor apart from Jesus’ finished work on the cross.
The Proof is the Text
So back to the question, how can someone know for certain that they are Christian? The answer is found in Hebrews chapter 3. Hebrews teaches that someone is a member of God’s family if they belonged to the house of God. The chapter then goes on to give two ironclad indications that someone belongs to the house of God. The first proof is that a Christian remains courageous about their faith. (This means that they are willing to share their faith with a friend or coworker no matter what it may cost them.) The second proof that Hebrews chapter 3 gives us is that a genuine Christian remains confident in their hope in Jesus until the end of their life.
If you wanted to determine whether or not a prominent public figure that claims faith in Jesus is sincere in their belief you have to watch them over the course of a lifetime. The person whose lifestyle doesn’t match what they claim they believe has something seriously wrong with their faith, and perhaps they might not be a Christian at all. But equally telling is the person who has demonstrated a very sincere faith in Jesus for a brief period of time and then turns around and walks away from him.
Is there proof that someone is really a Christian? Can you know for sure that you’re really a sincere follower of Jesus? Yes, if you keep your courage and remain confident in Jesus Christ until the end!