The Bible seems to give us different ways of answering this question. Some parts of the New Testament indicate that “real Christians” show their faith by the way they live. Other sections of the Bible show that “genuine” children of God can live without faith. So, what’s the answer?
In short, here’s an attempt to net it out…
- Only God knows for sure, when it comes to “judging the lives of others.”
- Personally, we can know in our own hearts whether we are “in the faith” and trusting Jesus as Savior and Lord.
- The Father loves us enough to accept “as is” broken people who put their faith in his son, and too much to not care if we stay that way. So he has his ways of “correcting” those who by faith in Christ have been born into his family.
- In reality, there is a difference between being a child of God, and a “disciple of Jesus,” even though, in theory, there should not be a difference.
- Acting like a real Christian involves growth in Christ-like attitudes.
- Real Christians who do not stay in close relationship with Christ have the capacity to do anything the Bible urges us not to do.
- We are called to lovingly encourage anyone who claims to be a real Christian, while not living like it, to realize the difference between what is claimed– and lived.
Some Scriptures that come to mind for above thoughts are (1) Matt 13:24-30; 2Tim 2:19; (2) 1John 5:10-13; (3) Heb 12:6-8; (4) Luke 14:26-33 ; (5) 1Cor 3:1-4; (6) Both testaments; (7) 2Cor 13:5
PS I thought twice before using the term “Christian” because of all the baggage the term has picked up over the centuries. But it is a biblical term in that the history of the Acts of the Apostles tells us that “the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch” (Acts 11:26). Prior to this it seems as they were known as disciples or followers of Jesus or members of “the way” (Acts 24:14).