Last week, my friends and I, being part of the neighborhood outreach ministry, went to the North Hollywood Metro station to evangelize. We encountered a gentleman named Sam.
Sam is from Mexico, and Sam was on vacation in the USA. We introduced ourselves, and I asked him about his religious background, and Sam told us that he is not Catholic. He is Christian. Then I asked him a question about the gospel, so I asked, “If I am a non-believer, or non-Christian, and I asked you, “What I must do to go to heaven? What would you say?” Sam said, “You got to love God and love your neighbor as yourselves.” Hearing that, I was shocked.
So I asked him, “What about Jesus? Do you have to trust in Jesus for eternal life? And Sam said ‘No’” Sam claimed to be a Christian, and yet, he believed that salvation is not by faith alone, but by work of righteousness. The question is, “Is Sam a Christian?”
Marks of a true disciple
This is the problem in Christianity today. There are so many people who claim to be a Christians, and yet, their words and actions contradict the word of God. They claim to be the sheep, but in reality, they are the goat. The question is, “how do you know if you are a Christian?
In John chapter 8, verses 31-36, Jesus presents to us two marks of a true disciple of Jesus Christ so that we can test our faith and reexamine our life.
The first mark of a true Christian is that he or she abides in the word of God
In verse 31, Jesus states, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples.” The first evidence is that you abide in the word of God. To abide in the word of God is to rely on His word. Verse 31 states that Jesus were speaking to the Jews who had believed Jesus. At this moment, these Jews were brand new Christians.
There are two reasons that they believed in Jesus. They witnessed the miracles of Jesus. Some of these believing Jews witnessed the feeding of the five thousand or the water turning into wine. These Jews actually acknowledge that no one can perform these miracles unless He comes from God. They heard the message that Jesus proclaimed.
At this point, the Jews believed in the facts about Jesus. However, the Scripture tells us that the devil believes in the facts about Jesus. The devils acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God. How can their faith be different from the faith of the devil?
In John chapter 8, verses 31 and 32, Jesus gave us the first benchmark of being a disciple. Jesus states, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciple.” The first mark of being a disciple is that you abide in His word.
The second mark of a true Christian is that they are free from sin
One benefit of being a disciple is that you will know the truth. A theologian defines truth as conformity to the fact. However, the truth does not only refer to the facts about Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God. In John chapter 14, verse 6, Jesus claimed that I am the truth. The truth is not just fact, but it is the person. Ephesians chapter 4, verse 21 states that the truth is in Jesus.
What is the benefit of knowing the truth? The truth shall set you free. You might ask, “Free from what? What kind of freedom is this? It is not political freedom because the Jews were under the rule of the Roman government. It is not the freedom that is protected by the constitution. It is much greater freedom. It is the freedom of sin. In verse 34, Jesus states, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.” The truth set us free from the bondage of our sin.
When we trust in the Lord Jesus and abide in His word, we become His disciple, we will know the truth. The truth will set us free from the bondage of our sins. You consider yourselves dead to sin and alive in Christ. You present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. Sin will not have dominion over you anymore.
Test our faith
Why did Jesus tell us these two things? So that we can test our faith and reexamine our life to see if we are truly His disciples. John, the author of the Gospel of John, also wrote, “If we say that we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”
Do you have fellowship with Christ? If you don’t, I entreat and urge you to accept Jesus Christ for who He claimed to be and trust in Him alone for salvation. And if you do that, God promises that He will forgive your sin, and He will remove your sin from east to west. He will give a new heart with a new identity, you will become His son and daughter.
You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free, because when the Son set you free, you are free indeed. Friends, believe in Jesus Christ right now, then you will become His disciple, and then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. Believe, become, and be free.
Dat Nguyen is a student at the Master’s Seminary and a member of Grace Community Church in Los Angeles, California. His desire is to be a faithful minister of the Word of God. He loves playing basketball and watching movies.