What does it really mean to be a true Christian? Are there observable traits that identify the real Christian from the fake, marks that clearly demonstrate one is really a follower of Jesus vice one who merely pays lip service? The answer to those questions is a resounding yes and Todd Wilson, in his helpful book Real Christian: Bearing the Marks of Authentic Faith, explains for the reader precisely what being a real Christian is about.
Wilson begins by defining the term real. This is important given unless one grasps what the real version looks like, the fake will be that much more difficult to spot. He rightly notes “Real Christians bear the marks of authentic faith in ways that can be seen, heard, and felt.” This means real Christianity involves more than simply saying you are a Christian. It demands action that is observable by others and that impacts the world around you for the glory of God.
There is a process of moving towards a place of real faith. Wilson aptly explains the first steps toward authenticity begin with a change of one’s heart. He comments, “A transformed heart is what gives rise to all the marks of real – from humility to hunger. And nothing else but a new heart can do this.” This statement dives right to the heart (no pun intended) of what it means to be born again. As born again believers, we have a new perspective on life, a new way of living, one oriented on loving God and loving others.
One particular chapter I appreciated in this fine book is Wilson’s discussion of what it means to hunger after God. This is another term we have all likely heard many times and even declared for ourselves as something we desire. A mark of a real Christian is evidence of hungering and thirsting after righteousness – the things of God and God Himself. Wilson rightly avers concerning what a hunger for God looks like in practice that “When it is fed, spiritual hunger doesn’t go away; it grows…Make it your ambition, then, to feed on God as much as possible.” As we seek after God, we are told we will find Him. When we find Him, we will desire more of His presence. More of His presence means more of Him in our lives which in turn will reflect godliness in our lives that others can clearly see.
Another helpful aspect of this book are the chapter resources provided at the conclusion of each chapter. Wilson provides the reader with questions for reflection that will assist in digging deeper into the material covered in that particular chapter. Additionally, he provides several passages of Scripture for further study as well as excellent resources. These chapter resources make this book a great value for not only personal study, but also for use in a small group environment or a family Bible study setting.
To be a true believer is to be a real Christian. Authenticity in a world replete with fake spirituality is more important than ever. I highly recommend this book for all believers all along the spectrum from the babe in Christ to the most seasoned in the faith. We all need a reminder that faith without works is dead faith. Wilson does an excellent job of encouraging the reader to seek after God so that He may be glorified in our lives for the purpose that we may show a lost and hurting world the joy of serving our loving and gracious God.
This book is available for purchase from Zondervan Academic by clicking here.
I received this book for free from Zondervan Academic for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Michael lives in Belleville, IL, a suburb of St. Louis, MO with his wife Erica, adopted daughter Alissa, two cats Molly and Sweetie Pie and horse Beckham. After spending eight years in the United States Navy as a Yeoman, he has been employed for the past ten years by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) where he oversees advanced educational programs. Michael holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Religion (Biblical Studies) from Liberty University and is currently closing in on completing a Master of Arts in Religion (Biblical Studies) from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He is an avid reader and blogger.