How can you know if a person is a Christian? – Superficially, in the first instance, by what they say and do. In certain countries you may have a clue by how they dress, particularly the womenfolk, who by tradition or custom may wear head coverings and full length dresses. You certainly can’t go by clerical attire, because some clergy who wear such garments have been found to be frauds. They do not truthfully preach the Word of God, and more than a few have been found guilty of pedophilia, along with other serous crimes. Their lifestyles do not match up to what they purport to be, i.e., ministers of God (Titus 1:15, 16).
The truth is that superficial clues do not reveal if a person is a bona fide Christian. His or her identity is far deeper than outward appearances. A Christian is one who is one inwardly (Romans 2:29) – a follower of Jesus. He is a person who has Jesus at the heart of his being (Galatians 2:20). He unashamedly and openly loves Him (Romans 1:16). He does all he can to please and to obey Him (Galatians 6:2), and his trust in Him is unshakeable.
A Scenario of Speculation
Imagine one day you find yourself walking along a crowded street, and you are wondering if there are Christians in the melee. Perhaps there are none at all, apart from you, if you have that privilege and blessing (Psalm 2:12).
As you continue on your way you observe a young man who is wearing a brightly coloured ’T’shirt, which has on the front of it a large Maltese cross and the name Jesus emblazoned over it. You ask yourself if this fellow is a Christian. At that moment a car draws up, and you notice it has one of those Jesus fish symbols you occasionally see on the back of a car. A lady steps out and walks towards the colourful youngster. She greets him with the words, “Hi brother!” and they shake hands. You think, ‘Yes, it all makes sense. Maybe they are both disciples of Christ, and they are meeting together for fellowshipping with others in their Lord’s name.’ However, you have no positive proof that they are ‘real’ Christians; so you pray, “Dear Lord, You can do all things. I pray they are Yours, and if so, please let them be effective witnesses for You. May they enjoy sweet fellowship in Your name and dedicate their lives to You and Your glory (1 Corinthians 1:21). Amen.”
The True Christian
So how do you know who are the ‘true’ Christians? First of all you need to find out if they have the only, but absolutely necessary qualification, which is not earned, and is a gift. It is the gift of ‘faith’ in the Son of God (Ephesians 2:8, 9). Basically, God’s elect (Colossians 3:12) know in their heart that they love and trust Jesus with their own life. They believe in all that He has said about Himself in the Bible (Luke 24:25-27). If they are put to the ultimate test of allegiance they will sacrifice their *lives for Him and for His cause. After all, He died and rose again to give them eternal life (John 3:16), and salvation from the torment of **hell.
As we observe someone who claims to be a Christian we will be aware of his conduct and disposition towards people – indeed, his dealings with all aspects of living. Does he display characteristics similar to those of Jesus, such as being compassionate, loving, empathetic, helpful, kind, patient, honest, humble, and generous? Does he put others before himself? Does he serve and respect all people (1 Peter 2:17)?
As we get to know this person more intimately, do we find him talking about His Lord? Does he tell us of the transformation (2 Corinthians 5:17) that has taken place in his life because of Jesus? Does he worship with other Christians, and how do they as a whole relate to their families, friends and the wider community? Can we observe their ‘good works’ (Ephesians 2:10)? Do they shine as ***lights in a dark world? Are they different to those who are not Christians? If they are truly different to those who dwell in darkness, their bright light will shine and point to the wonderful and breathtaking ****Morning Star.
*New Testament Martyrs
***A Light to the Gentiles
****The Morning Star