Being a Christian is much more than simply identifying with a religion or affirming a morally good life. Being a Christian means you have come to know the true God, the Lord Jesus Christ and you embrace by faith all that the Scriptures say about God, humanity, salvation and eternity. What does the Scriptures say about God and salvation?
God Is The Sovereign Creator
The thinking of the world would like humanity to believe that we have come into existence as a result of millions of years of evolution, that mankind is a mere product of chance. But the truth is God created all things in the very beginning (Genesis 1:1) and He created mankind in His own image for a unique purpose (Genesis 1:27). We were created to love, serve and enjoy endless fellowship with Him. Since God alone is the Creator, He is also the only one who owns and rules everything (Psalm 103:19). God has authority over everything, including our lives, and governs all things for His glory (Romans 11:36). Since God has created us we owe Him our worship, obedience, love, and faithfulness.
God Is Holy
Scripture tells us plainly that God is holy (Isaiah 6:3). What does it mean that God is holy? The holiness of God sets Him apart from all other beings. He is unlike any other having a character and attributes that are beyond our human comprehension. He is perfect, eternal, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present, all-wise, good, righteous, loving, gracious, merciful, just, wrathful, jealous, and more. Central to the holiness of God is that He cannot commit evil (James 1:13) and is angry with all evil (Psalm 7:11). His holiness demands justice for all evil committed in this world, including the evil we commit routinely. We are commanded by God to be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:16), but we daily fail in this regard as we sin in a multitude of ways.
Mankind Is Sinful
According to Scripture, every person in this world is guilty of sin. There is no person who does not sin (Romans 3:23). Why is it that all mankind sins? The reason is because sin is our nature from the moment we were conceived (Psalm 51:5). We have received this sin nature from the sin of the first man God created named Adam. As the head of humanity being the first man ever created, Adam in his state of innocence rebelled against his Creator disobeying God's command. This caused sin to come upon all mankind throughout history (Romans 5:12). Sin has affected the whole nature of man making him guilty before God and unable to fix his sinful condition. This does not mean sinners are incapable of performing acts of human kindness, but because of our sinfulness even our good deeds are no good before our holy God (Isaiah 64:6). In our sinful state, we are utterly incapable of loving and pleasing God on our own (Romans 3:10-12).
Sin Demands A Penalty
God’s holiness and justice require that all sin must be punished. There is no sin too small in our eyes that we can think it will go unnoticed or unpunished by our holy God. All sin grieves God. Just as we would expect a righteous judge to do what is right, so God will judge all sin righteously. Scripture tells us the penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23). God told Adam in the very beginning that the penalty for disobeying Him would be death (Genesis 2:17). Adam did disobey and brought death upon all mankind. This penalty of death is not only physical death, which is why all mankind dies (Hebrews 9:27), it also includes a spiritual death and an eternal death. All mankind will experience physical death, but even now as mankind lives he is spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1). This spiritual death makes mankind spiritually lifeless and powerless to save themselves. Lastly, sin’s penalty brings about eternal death for the sinner who does not receive salvation during their lifetime (Revelation 21:8).
Jesus Alone Is Salvation
How could mankind ever have any hope of being saved from their sinful condition and condemnation? God in His loving providence planned salvation for sinners through His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus was conceived miraculously by the Holy Spirit in the womb of a virgin named Mary (Luke 1:35) and was brought into this world as God in human flesh (John 1:14). Jesus lived a normal life being fully God and fully man, two natures in one glorious person. Since Jesus did not have a human father He did not have a sinful nature as we do (Hebrews 4:15). With His life Jesus lived perfectly sinless obeying every command of God. The life and ministry of Jesus were all planned by God to lead up to the sacrifice of Jesus to die on the cross for sinners. God’s justice demands death for sin, and since Jesus had no sin He did not deserve to die. Jesus willingly laid down His life in death to die as a substitute for sinners by taking their punishment upon Himself (1 Peter 3:18). Christ’s death satisfied the demands of God’s justice and gives His people who believe the gift of Christ’s righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). This was the whole purpose for Jesus coming into the world, to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). Jesus would accomplish the salvation of His people not only with His death for them but also with His resurrection from the dead. Jesus rose from the dead on the third day overcoming death itself to give life to His people (Acts 2:24).
Grace Alone Through Faith
Jesus has completed the work needed for sinners to be saved. How then does this salvation become personal to someone? Scripture tells us that we are saved only by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). Grace is the unearned and undeserved favor of God. This means salvation cannot be earned or worked for in any way. Faith is a whole trust and confidence in someone. It is faith in Jesus alone that guarantees our salvation. As Ephesians 2:8 plainly says, all of this is “the gift of God.” This gift of both repentance and faith is granted to a sinner through the new birth, being spiritually reborn (John 3:3). With this faith the sinner believes in Jesus and is assured of their salvation in Him (John 3:16). If today you realize that you are a sinner just as God says and that Christ alone is the Savior who can save you from your sin, scripture says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved….” (Acts 16:31). If you truly believe wholeheartedly this is evidence of your new birth (1 John 5:1). This belief you now have assures you of eternal life with Christ and forgiveness of your sins (1 John 5:13).
Once a person has believed in Jesus that believer must seek out a Bible-believing church to worship the Lord and be discipled. Following the Lord in believers' baptism is the first step of identifying with the Savior (Acts 2:41). Regularly worshipping the Lord with His church is foundational to the Christian life (Hebrews 10:25). Walking in fellowship with the Lord by reading His word and abiding in prayer is essential to spiritual growth (1 Peter 2:2-3). Living out your faith through good works brings glory to God and shows others that Christ has changed you (Ephesians 2:10). While there is certainly more to be said of following Christ, these are all foundational marks of a true Christian and should be evidenced by those who profess faith in Him since all those who are in Christ are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).