Was I really a Christian?
Marty, are you really a Christian?” A friend of mine asked me this one evening in our dorm at Indiana University.
“What do you mean, ‘Am I a Christian?’ I believe in God; I go to church.”
“But do you have Jesus Christ living inside of you?” my friend asked.
This was the first time I had ever been asked such a question. I was from a Catholic background, and I thought that because God was everywhere, He was in everyone. Although a little offended by my friend’s question, I continued to listen anyway.
My friend opened his New Testament and showed me a verse in which the writer, John, told the believers that God had given them eternal life and that this life was in His Son, Jesus Christ. The next verse surprised me:
“He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life” (1 John 5:12).
According to this passage, some people did not have the Son of God and so did not have the life of God. This didn’t fit with my concept that God was in everyone from birth. Contrary to my former thinking, I began to realize that a Christian was a person born of God, having His life, one who had Christ living within. I saw that a real Christian was more than just a good person or one who fulfilled a religious duty by going to church.
Why did Jesus come?
I didn’t let my friend know, but his words and the Bible verses he quoted were starting to bother me. I began to consider whether I had Christ in me, or if I was a Christian in name only.
My friend went on to show me where Jesus said, “I am…the life” (John 14:6). He pointed out that Christ came that I might have this life—not just a good human life but eternal life, Christ Himself. He then showed me in the Bible that when Jesus came to this world, even His own people, the Jews, didn’t receive Him. But –
“As many as received Him, to them He gave the authority to become children of God…” (John 1:12).
Jesus at the door
It became clear to me that I was, like all men, born without the life of God. I began to understand that this life was in Christ, and that the purpose of His coming was to fill people with Himself. The question was, did I, or did I not have this life? According to John 1:12, Christ was available to all who would receive Him. The last verse my friend showed me was Revelation 3:20, where Jesus said,
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, then I will come in to him…”
That night those words stirred in me to honestly consider Christ and His knocking. I left my friend, went to my room and prayed, “Lord, I don’t know if You’re in me or not. If You are, that’s good; if not, Lord, please come and live in me.”
This simple prayer did not bring any awe-inspiring feeling, but that night I had an inward assurance that Christ lived in me. I knew then that I was a real Christian, a child of God.
The writer John said that he wrote these things so that believers would know that they have eternal life. From that evening until today I have known that Christ lives in me. I know that I have eternal life, and I enjoy this life day by day.
Now allow me to turn the same questions that were asked of me to you: Are you really a Christian? Do you have Jesus Christ living in you?
“Lord Jesus, thank You for coming to be my life. I open the door of my heart to receive You. Fill me with Yourself! Thank You, Lord Jesus.”
“Come into my heart, O Lord Jesus,
Now cleanse and illumine my soul;
Fill me with Your wonderful Spirit,
Come in and take full control.
Into my heart, into my heart,
Come into my heart, Lord Jesus;
Come in today, come in to stay,
Come into my heart Lord Jesus”