As a pastor, I’m often asked various questions that deal with acts of living life in this world as a Christian. They are important questions and I’m happy to try and answer them. However, I don’t believe that Christians think through what it means to be a Christian enough and see that it is often the best place to start. It is one thing to think about what your identity leads to, but it must be grounded in a firm reality of what your identity is. So then we must ask, what is a Christian at its root level? Simply put, a Christian is someone who has been saved by God. When we begin to understand this definition, I do believe that it will lead to many practical aspects, but it must be rightly understood. Because God did not save anyone because they were a good person and had earned or deserved anything. The Bible is clear that it was the exact opposite. Consider the words of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 2, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”
So how does Paul describe a person before he is saved? He is dead in their transgressions, following the spirit of disobedience, gratifying the pleasures of their sinful nature, and were object of God’s wrath. A bleak picture of our identity outside of Jesus Christ. However, Paul continues to tell the good news of what God has done, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved “
What joy then do we have in remembering what we were saved from and to! What a gift of God for those who have surrendered their life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ , to His gospel, to His salvation. Can you see that all of the Christian life is surrounded by grace?
In the end, every Christian is then able to move from their identity of being saved, to the rightful responses and actions in their life. But their identity drives it all. It gives the grounds of every decision we will ever make. It spurs the Christian to love, care, and serve their neighbor, because of the way they have been treated in Christ. I hope a simple reminder of what a Christian is leads to the answers that we seek. Starting with our identity will then lead to a proper motivation of our actions or a proper confidence in the one who began in a good work in all of us. Take heart Christian and remember that you are a Christian because you have been saved.
Luke Wartgow is pastor at Carson Valley Bible Church