The story is told of Will Rogers, the humorist, who on one occasion went in to get a passport. The official said, “We need to see your birth certificate.” Rogers replied, “What for?” The man behind the desk responded, “For proof of your birth.” Rogers looked at the man whimsically and said, “Well, I’m here, ain’t I?”
I am not sure if Will Rogers got his passport or not, but he does make a good point. Life is the best proof of birth. In his first letter, the Apostle John argues that a new life in Christ is the best proof of a new birth from Christ. While John wrote his Gospel to bring unbelievers to a settled faith in Christ, he wrote his primary epistle to give believers a sure footed confidence that they possessed eternal life (John 20:31; 1 John 5:13). He wants them to be saved without a doubt. To that end, he sets before them several indisputable birthmarks of a true follower of Christ.
Firstly, a true Christian believes what the Bible teaches about Jesus Christ (1 John 5:1). The Christian has a definite and biblically informed view of the person and work of Christ. They understand the basics about who Jesus is and what Jesus came to do. They recognize Him as the incarnate, sinless, and eternal Son of God. They understand Him to be the promised Messiah and understand that He put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself on the cross. They also believe that on the third day He conquered the grave.
Secondly, a true Christian eagerly lives in fellowship with other believers (1 John 1:6–7). The Christian will not be churchless (1 John 2:19). There will be a strong sense of belonging. Fellowship with God leads to fellowship with those who also are in fellowship with God and walk in the light. The Christian will live out their profession of faith in the context of the local church.
Thirdly, a true Christian has a deep awareness of sin (1 John 1:8–10). The Christian who walks in the light, as God dwells in light, knows that their heart is desperately wicked and a veritable factory of idols. Living under the glare of God’s holiness, the saint of God constantly seeks in confession the remedy of Christ’s blood for their falling short. Fundamentally, there is a new sensitivity to sin.
If you were arrested under suspicion of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? Do you have these three birthmarks of genuine conversion? Is eternal life coursing through your life? To be continued . . .