“In short, real Christians are regenerate, and merely nominal Christians are not.”
― J.C. RYLE (1816–1900)
“Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.”
― JOHN the BAPTIST (Matthew’s Gospel [3:8])
“Regeneration may always be known by the fruits and effects it produces on a person’s life and character.”
― J.C. RYLE (1816–1900)
IT IS ALWAYS a difficult thing to write on whether someone is a real Christian or not, notwithstanding the thought that may meander in and through anyone who considers it.
I do not want to think of myself as anything other than a real Christian, but I have to look with consternation – which, ironically, is the sign of a willingness to repent – a godly portion – as I consider how I often, and how graphically at times, I still fall short of the glory of God.
Perhaps it is God’s will that we take these verses and quotes above, personally. Certainly that is my assumption. We can tell when God is relating with us and we with him when there is the presence of conviction upon our heart – that which never more certainly infiltrates our soul.
It is difficult to approach such a subject – that we are not so far advanced in the faith than we think we are. But, again, it is a godly portion that convicts us that this is worthy territory to travel upon.
So, what may be the signs – the marks – of regeneration? J.C. Ryle cites the work of 1 John.
The Marks of Regeneration from 1 John
The keys, according to Ryle, are in these verses: 1 John 3:9; 3:1; 2:29; 4:7; 5:4; and 5:18.
These are the marks of the real Christian:
1. No one of Christ continues to sin. This can be a challenge to us, if we are being honest. We can take it to mean, that, though our natures remain broken, we have the capacity to transcend the worldliness that we seemed once lost to. We can grow past any sin unto righteousness.
2. Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God. We are more comfortable with this one.
3. Everyone that does right is born of God. This is likely to test our consciences, and so it should. That’s the point; if our consciences are piqued, to the point of repentance, God is in us.
4. Everyone who loves is born of God. The central premise setting the real Christian apart is their unconditional love – they are won to and wedded to love. They cannot not love – and, indeed, when they do not love they will feel decidedly uncomfortable.
5. The real Christian overcomes the world. Ah, the sign of fruitfulness. There are signs, here, of the overcoming nature of Christ. Not that it’s perfectly represented. But there are the distinct qualities shown.
6. The true Christian keeps themselves safe in the faith. They abide to God unfailingly. Again, this is not a sign of perfection – but they are faithful to the Lord all the rest of their lives.
Signs of regeneration in Christ include: true belief that Jesus is the Christ; have marks of the fruitful nature in him/her; love is their byword; do right; can overcome the world; don’t backslide.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.