Did you know that four out of five Americans today consider themselves to be Christians? That’s the latest word from pollster George Gallup, Jr. But what Gallup didn’t ask was, What does it take to make someone a real Christian?
God wants each of us to know where we stand in His eyes. Ask yourself, “Am I a real Christian?” You can know for sure. Whatever your religious background, I encourage you to take an honest look beyond the myths about what it means to be a real Christian.
If thinking positively, living a good life, going to church, giving to others, receiving a sacrament, believing in God, talking about Jesus, praying, and reading the Bible don’t qualify anyone to be a Christian, then what does?
First, the Bible says a Christian is someone who walks in the way of life in contrast to the way of death. And that way is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Jesus Christ said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Notice Jesus doesn’t say He will show you the way. He says, “I am the way!”
Do you sometimes feel as though you are lost and don’t know where you are going? When you become a Christian, you have found the way of life.
You ask, “What kind of way is this ‘way of life’?”
It is the way of peace. Jesus said to His followers, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives” (John 14:27). When you walk in the way of Christ, you experience an inner peace — a tremendous quiet in your heart. The broken pieces in your life are put together again. Only God can give you lasting peace.
The way of life is also the way of purity. The Bible says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8). You may be a nice person, perhaps the life and soul of the party. But if you are fooling around with sin; if you are playing with immorality; if you are dishonest in your school, in your work, in your play, in your family life, then you are not living the life Jesus wants for you.
When you come to Christ, He forgives your sins and purifies your heart, and God gives you the power to live a righteous life.
The way of life in Christ is also the way of love. “All men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another” (John 13:35). Today the word “love” often is used to describe a person exploiting the emotions of another for his own satisfaction and selfishness. But that is not love. True love involves wanting the very best for someone no matter what it may cost us.
The way of life is also the way of obedience. The way of the Christian is to serve only one Master — Jesus. The Bible describes Him as “Lord of lords and King of kings” (Revelation 17:14). The Christian lives in the light of this truth. Jesus becomes your Lord, your Master, your King. What He says goes.
The servant of a king waits for the slightest hint of a command and rushes to obey. Similarly, a real Christian gives God complete authority over his life without caring what it may cost in terms of comfort or reputation.
Second, a Christian is someone who enjoys eternal life. He has a more full and complete life now. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).
Life with Christ is the way God designed and intends for us to live. And eternal life never ends. It goes beyond physical death — for ever and ever. Eternal life is Christ in your heart. Can you say, “Yes, I know I have eternal life. I can remember when Christ came into my heart”?
Third, a Christian is someone who has been born into God’s family and therefore has become one of God’s children. The Lord Jesus said, “Unless a man is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). What does that mean?
When you and I were born into the human family, we had no choice about the matter. That’s physical birth. But to become a child of the heavenly Father you must have a spiritual birth. This happens when we repent of our sins and put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ.
Would you like to start walking in the way of Jesus Christ, knowing you are a child of God and are going to heaven?
First, the Bible teaches you must admit that your sins have separated you from God. Have you ever owned up to God about those things in your life that hurt Him — selfishness, pride, greed, immorality, and all the rest? Have you ever admitted that you’ve been walking in the way of death? You see, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). The Bible also says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). That includes you and me. Is it time to own up to God and to receive the forgiveness He wants to give you?
Second, you must believe what Christ has done for you on the cross. The Bible says, “Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). When Jesus died on the cross, He conquered death so each of us may be forgiven. We deserve to be punished for the wrong we have done in God’s eyes. But God sent His Son to receive our punishment in His body on the cross (1 Peter 2:24). It is like a judge finding a prisoner guilty, taking the prisoner’s place, and receiving the sentence himself. What magnificent love!
The final step you must take is to confess Jesus Christ as Lord. You cannot inherit faith. That will not make you one of God’s children. All of us who belong to Christ had to come for ourselves. Have you come to Him yet? Have you ever made that decision?
You ask, “How?” The Bible says: “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved” (Romans 10:9-10).
The best way I know to make Jesus the Lord of your life is to simply bow your head in prayer, admit your sins to God, by faith open your heart to Christ, believe in Him, and receive Him.
If that’s your decision, then tell God now. You may wish to use this prayer:
“Heavenly Father, I want to be a real Christian. I realize that my sins have separated me from You. Please forgive me. I believe in what Jesus Christ did for me on the cross. I don’t completely understand it, but I accept it by faith. I do want to be a child of Yours. Please come into my life, Lord Jesus, and make me Your child right now. I’ll follow You and obey You forever. Amen.”

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About The Author

Luis Palau and his ministry have shared the Gospel with more than 1 billion people through evangelistic events and media. He has spoken in person to 30 million people in 75 countries, with more than 1 million registered decisions for Jesus Christ. Luis Palau festivals have produced some of the largest audiences ever recorded in cities from south Florida to South America. His radio broadcasts in both English and Spanish are heard by millions on 3,500 radio outlets in 48 countries. Among other top-tier programs, Luis currently hosts Luis Palau Responde, an international Q&A program in Spanish, and Reaching Your World, a devotional-style program emphasizing biblical wisdom. He has authored close to 50 books, contributed articles on issues of faith to countless publications, and counseled business leaders, political leaders, and heads of state around the world.

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