Saturday, May 30, 2015

Saving Faith: The Mark of a True Christian

So... You call yourself a Christian, do you? If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? No? Then by what self-deceptive means do you profess to be a Christian? A person is not a Christian in name only, but 'Christian' defines their entire character; from their talk to their walk, from Sunday to Saturday, from morning to night, in public or in private. No, this is not legalism; it is holiness. Try cracking your Bible open some time and reading what it actually has to say about being a Christian.

"You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder." James 2:19

You see, claiming that you believe in Jesus carries absolutely no weight with it whatsoever. Even the demons believe in Jesus. Does that mean they are saved? Born again? Going to heaven? Not on your life! Do you know what your profession is worth? Absolutely nothing!

"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'" Matthew 7:21-23

In case you are not aware, the key statement in that passage is this: "He who does the will of My Father who is in heaven [will enter the kingdom of heaven]." This accords perfectly with what James had said: "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves" (James 1:22). There is a very grave reason why Jesus warned us to "Count the cost." It is because "all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2 Timothy 3:12). Following Jesus is a hard path. There is nothing easy about it. As Arthur Pink once said, "A dead fish can float with the stream, but only a living one can swim against it. Just so, the unregenerate mechanically follow [the broad road], for there is nothing in them to resist the law of gravity. The going is smooth and easy—because it is all downhill!" "For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it" (Matthew 7:14).

So... Where is your evidence to support your claim of being a Christian?

"What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him? ... Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. But someone may well say, 'You have faith, and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.' ... But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? ... You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone. ...  For just as the body without [the] spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead." James 2:14, 17-18, 20, 24, 26

Not all kinds of faith will save a person. Most will condemn a person right where they stand. So... You need to ask yourself what kind of faith you actually possess, because if it is not saving faith, no matter how much you profess Jesus as Saviour, you will find yourself in hell for all eternity.

Kinds of Faith
  1. Intellectual or Historical Faith.
    This apprehends the truth intellectually as a result of education, tradition, rearing, etc. It is human and does not save. Matthew 7:26, Acts 26:27-28, James 2:19
  2. Miracle Faith.
    This is faith to perform or have performed a miracle and may or may not be accompanied by salvation. Matthew 8:10-13, 17-20, Acts 14:9
  3. Temporary Faith.
    It seems similar to intellectual faith except that there seems to be more personal interest involved. Luke 8:13
  4. Saving Faith.
    This is a reliance on the truth of the Gospel as revealed in the Word of God (intellectual, emotional and volitional [act of will] faith).
TO BELIEVE (verb) in the full sense is to rely on, trust in, commit oneself to the object of belief.

Charles Spurgeon once said:
When we hear of men living in sin and yet claiming to be Christians, we are disgusted with their pretenses—but we are not deceived by their professions.

In the same manner, we care little for those who are orthodox Christians in creed if it is clear that they are heterodox in life. He who believes the truth, should himself be true. How can we expect others to receive our religion if it leaves us foul, false, malicious, and selfish?

We sicken at the sight of a dirty dish, and refuse even good food when it is placed thereon. So pure and holy is the doctrine of the cross, that . . .
     he who hears it aright will have his ear cleansed,
     he who believes it will have his mind and heart purged,
     he who preaches it should have his tongue purified.

Woe unto that man who brings reproach upon the gospel by an unholy walk and life!
The person who claims to be a Christian and goes to church on Sunday, but conducts their business affairs dishonestly from Monday through Friday is living a heterodox life. The evidence of their walk contradicts the profession of their talk. Likewise, the person who claims to be a Christian and goes to church on Sunday, saying "Amen" after everything the preacher says, but as soon as he leaves the church and for the rest of the week lives as though he did not hear a single word the preacher said, is living a heterodox life. Again, the evidence of their walk contradicts the profession of their talk. As Spurgeon said, "He who believes the truth, should himself be true."

"They profess to know God, but they deny Him by their works, being detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed." Titus 1:16

"Holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power." 2 Timothy 3:5

Disciple means… learner.

A Disciple Is…
…under Jesus’ authority in every area.
…actively seeking to learn His teachings.
…actively seeking to do what He does.

Being With and Like Jesus Involves…
…talking with Him in prayer.
…listening to Him in the Bible.
…reaching out to those He wants to touch.
…sharing your life with His other disciples.
…entrusting your life (every area of it) to His guidance.

Is any of this true of your life? If you are a babe in Christ (a recent convert), it will take some time for this to develop in your life. Nevertheless, it will develop. If it has not, or it never does, then you may want to follow Paul's advice and "Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!" (2 Corinthians 13:5). If you are truly a genuine born-again believer who has received salvation, then be sure to "bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance" (Matthew 3:8). Your walk should evidence your talk. Your works—doing the will of the Father—are the result of saving faith and bear witness to your saving faith. They are the evidence and testimony of your saving faith.

If your walk does not reflect Romans 6:11 and 8:13, then you can be sure you do not belong to Jesus and that you are not in the least a Christian.

For those of you who walked away from the faith and claim to have once been a "Christian," I suggest you pay attention to what Scripture says because you were never a child of God! "They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, in order that it might be shown that they are not all of us" (1 John 2:19).