While many "believers" don't realize it, they don't really have any idea what the answer to that question is. Many "professing Christians" believe that to be a Christian, means that they are ok with God or perhaps that God is ok with them. They have no idea why they need Jesus or the extent of what he did for them. Many have no idea that what God expects, we cannot do on our own. They don't know that they need what Jesus did for them. They don't know that they need what he is still doing for them.
They don't know what the Gospel is! I know this because I was one of these clueless souls myself not so long ago. I was a preacher's kid and have been in church all my life. I knew a lot of lingo and I could do church with the best of them. But inside I struggled to obey. In fact, there were many areas of my life that I lacked the desire to even try. I definitely do not believe that I was born again at the age of eight, when I prayed the prayer and was baptized, as I once thought. I may have become a Christian somewhere along the way, but I was a baby at best. I had a lot of religious toys and I knew I wanted to play with them, but I had no idea how to or what it would require of me.
I can tell you. I understand what it is to be a believer now! I understand what the Gospel is now! I am much better equipped to play with the theological and religious toys my Heavenly Father had already provided and...I have new ones :-) At this point, they are much better referred to as "tools for Kingdom building rather than "toys".
The best part is, I understand that it is all of him and none of me in a sense. I put in a lot of work studying and meditating on what the Gospel is and what it means for me and the rest of the world. However, the ability to do this work, is all of God's glorious grace.
It is true of me as it was of the Apostle Paul who said in 1 Corinthians 15:10, "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me."
I do not know for sure, exactly when I was saved. What I do know is this, I came alive to the word of God and it came alive to me for the first time about 11/2-2yrs ago and it changed my life. I have not been the same and I will never go back. That is the way many describe being born again. Perhaps that is when it happened.
What I can tell you for sure is, if you do not feel this way about God and His word; and if you do not desire to serve him and please him with all that you do; and if your love for him is not continually competing with your love for everything else including those you love most in this world; then you should be examining your heart.
Don't misunderstand. I am not saying that you are not a Christian if you are not bubbling over with a dominating love for God and an overwhelming desire to see others know this same love. We are saved by grace alone, not of anything that we do(Ephesians 2:8-9). I am saying that something is off and you are missing out. There should be evidence of your salvation in the way of righteous works. Works that show the fruit of a desire to grow in holiness and obedience to God(James 2:14-26). I can tell you that much prayer and begging God to change my heart preceded my current state and that much prayer maintains it. Yet I know that an even greater prayer life is needed than what I currently have and I am continually asking God to set that on fire as well and looking for opportunities to practice it.
Don't miss out on an eternal lifetime of "joy unspeakable and full of glory"(1 Peter 1:8). The whole passage leading up to that statement is wonderful. If you desire to know God more fully and serve him more faithfully. I promise you, He will answer that prayer! As you read the scriptures for yourself you will become more and more aware of the depth of the Gospel and what it means for your life.
We will discuss in more detail what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is and what it means, in upcoming posts. Meanwhile, if you are not a believer, I will be praying that God draws your heart and takes you for his own in an irresistible, incomparable, undeniable way. If you are, I will be praying that He sets your heart ablaze for His glory in a fresh new way that leads you into deeper relationship with Him.
In Jesus name,