This sermon is part of the sermon series "Living Deep". See series.
A real Christian?
How do you know if someone's a real Christian? Is it the fish sticker on the car, or Bible on the desk? Is it that they don't use bad words, or that they go to church a lot? The problem is, lots of people don't swear, and lots of people go to church. Are they all Christians? Jesus said that people will know we're disciples by our love. But again, lots of people love. We could say that a real Christian is someone who has accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior. That sounds pretty definitive, but is that all it takes—praying a prayer and raising your hand in church? I heard about a t-shirt you can buy that says, "And they'll know we are Christians by our t-shirts." Three out of four Americans describe themselves as Christians. How do you know if someone really is one? How do you know if you are?
This fall we're studying the New Testament book of 1 John, learning what it means to go deeper in our faith. Each week we are imagining what a contemporary person might write back to the apostle John if they got his letter in the mail that day. Neil is a Bible-reading, church-going, clean-talking Christian, but he's wondering if that's all there is to it. Shouldn't there be something more distinctive about a real Christian? Something deeper?
That's exactly the question that John is addressing in this letter. Remember that he is writing 50-some years after Jesus lived and died and left the earth. His readers are two or three generations removed from the historical Jesus, and many of them are beginning to question their faith. They're not experiencing the fullness of life John talks about. So they're wondering, like Neil and the rest of us: How do you know if someone is a real Christian? How do you know if you are ...
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