Reader are You a Christian?

James Smith, 1865

This is a momentous question, and ought to be decided. The rule of decision is God's holy word, and that alone, for the same shall judge us at the last day (John 12:48). Many imagine that they are Christians but are not. Many profess to be Christians but they are deceived. The foolish virgins made a profession; they were not suspected; they thought they were right; they persevered until the bridegroom came, and then they found that their "lamps were gone out." Awful state! Fearful discovery! My friend, inquire in time. Examine yourself impartially. Take the lamp of God's word, and thoroughly investigate your condition. It is for life or death. Eternity depends on the outcome. God of truth, search our inmost souls! God of grace, thoroughly sanctify our natures!

A Christian is Born of God. There is no real religion without this. for real religion is a new life flowing from a new nature. We may change our opinions, we may alter our course but God alone can change our hearts; and unless our hearts are changed we are not Christians. The Holy Spirit, in regeneration convinces us of sin, humbles us before God, makes us cry out for mercy, leads us to the Lord Jesus Christ, breaks our hearts in contrition, turns our souls against sin, and makes us long, pant, and pray, for holiness. All this springs from a new life, or a new nature produced within us; so that it is all natural. We have not to force ourselves to think, or to feel, or to act we do so naturally, and without any discernible effort.

We see things in a different light, we feel differently toward them, and are in a new world. Old things pass away, and all things become new. Christ is our hope, our peace, our pattern, and our joy. We rest on his sacrifice, rely on his work, rejoice in his grace, and glory in his holy name. We wonder that we did not see his beauty before; we grieve that we ever offended him; and we long to glorify him in every thought, word, and action.

The world loses its charms, Satan his power, and death its sting. Our eyes are enlightened, our hearts are renewed, our wills are changed, our consciences are cleansed, and our course is the opposite of what it was. We were going to Hell we are now going to Heaven.

Reader, are you a Christian?

A Christian has the Spirit of Christ. For if any man has not the Spirit of Christ he is none of his. The Holy Spirit takes possession in the name of Christ, to make us like Christ. He changes the bent of the mind. He turns the whole course of the soul. He effectually alters the disposition. He sets Christ before us as our model. He stirs up desires after conformity to him. He leads us to aim at an exact resemblance. He teaches us to pray for grace, that we may live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present world.

As a Spirit of faith he leads us to believe God's word, and exercise confidence in God's faithfulness.

As a Spirit of prayer he leads us to God's throne, and helps our infirmities in prayer.

As a Spirit of love he inflames our hearts with love to God, to the Savior, to the saints, and to sinners around us.

As a Spirit of power he enables us to resist Satan, overcome the world, crucify the flesh with its passions and lusts, and to plead and prevail with God. He dwells in us, works in us, sanctifies us, and devotes us to the Savior's praise.

Reader, are you a Christian?

A Christian is like Christ. He is anointed with the Spirit of God. He is the temple of God. He is formed to show forth the praises of God. He lives for God. He walks with God. He does the works of God. Jesus is his pattern and perfect example. He often compares himself with Christ, deploring his defects, seeking grace that he may more exactly conform himself to his will, and desiring to copy his example in all things. He lives in Christ, and Christ lives in him. The word of Christ is his law, the frown of Christ is his Hell, the smile of Christ is his Heaven, and the glory of Christ is his end. He is a living epistle of Christ for all to read, and a copy of Christ for all to admire. He delights to honor Christ, rejoices to hear him exalted, and can never be satisfied until he is exactly like Christ in body, soul, and spirit. He is crucified with Christ to the world. He is risen with Christ to newness of life. He has ascended with Christ, in spirit, to the Father. He bears about in his body the dying of the Lord Jesus, and seeks that the life also of Jesus should be manifest in his mortal flesh (2 Corinthians 4:10, 11). He is a man of another nature, walking by another rule, living for another end, and traveling to another country than what others are.

Reader, are you a Christian?

Let no man deceive himself; conviction is not conversion, reformation is not sanctification, profession is not possession. The doctrines of Christianity may be embraced and Christ himself be rejected. A change may take place in a man's conduct and yet there may be no change in his heart. We may be moral but not spiritual. We may be amiable but not holy. We may be other creatures than we were but not new creatures in Christ Jesus. We are either for Christ or for ourselves. We are either saints or sinners. We are either believers or infidels. We either have the life of God within us or we are dead in trespasses and sins. We have either passed from death unto life or we are under condemnation. Either Christ is in us or we are reprobates. Which is it? Ah! which is it? Eternity may depend on the reply. Lord, search us as with candles; and do what you will with us, only make us Christians indeed!

Reader, are you a Christian?