It was late and we had been studying the Bible for several hours that night. Actually, we’d been studying for several weeks at this point. But for some reason, that night something clicked and I asked myself: “Am I really a Christian or not?” This defining question has forever changed my life.
I was baptized into Christ for the remission of my sins (Acts 2:38) in the wee hours of the morning on August 8, 2008. And although I had considered myself to be a Christian for several years before that, the feelings of relief, contentment and joy that washed over me were like none that I had ever felt. I had never beenso sure that I was spotless and blameless before God.
Let me give you a little background on the factors that led up to this decision. I didn’t grow up attending church. Though my family would’ve been considered “good people” by the world’s standards (Gal. 5:19-21, 1 John 2:15), it just wasn’t a part of our lives. It wasn’t until I was in high school that we began attending regularly at a Baptist church in my hometown. I got really involved with the youth group there and things seemed to be going right. It was during this stage of my life that I first considered myself a Christian…but there was always doubt.
I had convinced myself that the doubt I was feeling about my salvation was just Satan’s way of trying to get to me. How ironic it was to find out later that God was the one placing the doubt in my mind because I wasn’t really saved and Satan was happy for me to stay as I was.
When I went to college, I began regularly attending devotionals at the Student Bible Center that is supported by the local congregations of the churches of Christ and later I began to attend a local congregation as well. I’m ashamed to admit that my primary reason for attending at first was a social one. I considered myself to be a good person and a Christian, so I wanted to be around others that had the same morals and values as I did. And there is nothing wrong with wanting to be around other Christians, in fact we should want that, but it shouldn’t be our primary goal for worship. God needs to come first (Mat. 6:33).
I began to notice that my relationship with God was different than what I was seeing with the other students. They seemed so sure of their salvation and so sure of what scripture said. I wanted to feel that confident too. Each devotional and church service revolved around scripture. It was then that I began to see that everything in my life should revolve around God’s word and His will for my life (Rom. 12:2).
Very soon after I began to feel this way, a couple of friends I had made offered to study the Bible with me. Through these studies, I began to realize that if I was really a Christian, my whole being would revolve around God’s word and teachings and that I would put away the desires of the flesh using the armor of God (Eph. 6:11).
I began to realize that I shouldn’t have any doubt to my salvation. Scripture is very clear…we can know if we are saved and are God’s children (Mark 16:16,John 14:15, Acts 4:12, Rom. 5:10, Eph. 2:8). “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments” (1 John 2:3).
The night that I “put on the new self” in Christ through baptism (Eph. 4:24), I knew it was the best decision I had ever made or would ever make. You see, I knew at an early age that there was more to life than what meets the eye and that there was something missing inside me. Like many others, I attempted vainly to fill the void in my life with things other than God. It wasn’t until I was buried with Christ in baptism, and raised as a new creation (Rom. 6) that I felt whole and complete for the first time.
I finally did what God asks of us in order to become Christians: I had heard His word and believed that it was true, I confessed my sins to God and asked for the forgiveness that only He can give, and I was baptized to be washed clean of my sins, which Jesus’ sacrifice made possible (Mat. 20:18, 1 John 4:10). The events that led up to my salvation took several years, but it didn’t have to take that long. I was stubborn and a little confused…both of which could’ve been cleared up by reading and knowing God’s word.
I feel extremely grateful to my friends who deeply cared about my soul and wanted to share the gospel with me. They knew I was almost there spiritually and wanted to help me. What courage it takes to share God’s word with others! But as Christians, we are called to do just that (Mat. 28:19-20).
As Christians, we are also called to preach the truth, all of it, whole-heartedly.We can’t pick and choose which verses of scripture we want to follow. God wants all of us (Rev. 3:16). But remember that we are in no way called to judge others, because to judge others means to determine someone else’s salvation, and God is the only one who knows each heart (Mat. 7:1, James 5:9). Therefore, we should be caring and let our “speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt”(Col. 4:6).
Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you find yourself asking “Am I really a Christian or not?” Take it from me, it’s so worth it to know and be sure of your salvation. There are people who care about you and would love to study with you. Talk to someone: an elder, minister, teacher, parent, friend. Don’t think you are alone! Lots of people struggle with this…I did! I experienced a defining moment, and decided to act. Have you?