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Are You A Christian?

After reading the New Testament in Greek for the first time, the English reformer Thomas Linacre wrote in his diary : "Either this is not the Gospel . . . . or we are not Christians." Linacre recognized that he had been deceived by the false teachings of the Medieval church. He suddenly realized that he could not earn God's favor by offering prayers to the saints, venerating relics, purchasing indulgences, making pilgrimages to holy places, or engaging in any other religious activity. Linacre saw for the first time that salvation is through faith in Christ alone.

Five centuries later, we have done away with relics and indulgences, but men are still being deceived by false doctrines. Some mistakenly believe that there are many ways to God and that God will accept anyone whose faith is sincere. The Bible teaches, however, that there is only one way to approach God, and that is through His Son, Jesus Christ. "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:16).

Others suppose that they can earn God's favor with a variety of religious works such as baptism, confirmation, or church attendance. But the Bible says that we cannot earn our salvation; it is a gift from God. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).

The true Gospel message is that salvation is wholly a work of God. We have sinned against a Holy God, and there is nothing we can do to make amends. "For the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). We cannot attain God's standard of righteousness by our own merit. "There is none righteous; no, not one" (Romans 3:10). But God sent His own Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the sin debt of His people. "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). On our own, we could never understand God's salvation nor would we ever seek it. "There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God" (Romans 3:11). But God is even today calling men to Himself and imparting spiritual life to them. "But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus . . ." (1 Peter 5:10); "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1). By God's enabling grace, we can place our faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved" (Romans 10:9). And we can be confident that God will complete the work of salvation He has begun in us. "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6). From the beginning to end, salvation is the gracious work of our God. "Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified" (Romans 8:30).

Are you a Christian? Are you trusting in Christ alone for your salvation? Or must you say with Thomas Linacre, "Either this is not the Gospel . . . or I am not a Christian."