1 John 5:13
I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life (CSB).
It is common in our day for those who do not believe to dismiss Christianity with a wave of the hand. We may get dissed many ways. “The Christian faith is no longer relevant. It may have been fine in a simple age, but these are complex times.” Others may say, “The Christian faith is too exclusive. This is the modern world of pluralism. Get with the system.” (By the way, it amazes me how anyone who pretends to claim to believe that all things are relative and all views have the right to be heard will deny that Christians have a right to proclaim what we believe! Postmodern thinking is littered with countless contradictions!) Others may say, “The Christian faith is simply a myth or fairytale. You need to look at the real world.” Perhaps some professing Christians do think and talk that way, but the faith of true Christianity says that though there is a future reward for the righteous, those who follow Christ now share in the benefits of Christ’s salvation. As the old hymn says, “Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow — blessings all mine with ten thousand besides.”
What we want to see in this series of articles is that it is followers of Christ who actually look fully at the world and its problems. Authentic Christianity has no desire to play pretend games. People face life and death issues! Many suffer through the trauma of abuse and family problems, and hurt for the rest of their lives. Some are victims of violent crimes. All suffer disease, pain, grief and eventually death. Yes, life is very real! Genuine Christianity is willing to face these problems and to present God’s real solutions. Christianity does not ask, “Where do you want to go today?” It asks, “Where must you go today?” In fact, it is the non-Christian who is the escapist. The unbeliever likes to hear pleasant fantasies like “don’t think about death and the afterlife. Go for all the gusto you can get now.” Or, “do you have problems? Just take these drugs (legal or illegal) to escape your pain.” Or, “deny responsibility for your problems. Blame everyone else. Maybe if you hug yourself long enough you will feel better.”
In previous posts we wrote about the struggle that true believers can have with fear. Today, let’s think about a related issue: the struggle of the believer regarding assurance of salvation. One of the great problems that anyone faces who dares to think about death and the afterlife is “How can I know that I will enjoy eternal life?” This is the struggle of faith with a lack of assurance. What should you do if you are not sure that you are saved?
Examine yourself to see if you are really a follower of Christ. There is a place for this, because obviously no one can have assurance of salvation unless they are saved. Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? (2 Corinthians 13:5 NIV)
Some profess to be saved, but they have never been saved, for they have no knowledge of the Biblical gospel. Salvation is never by works (Ephesians 2:8-9) or by participating in religious rituals (Galatians 5:2-5). Salvation only comes when you trust Christ as your Lord and Savior. If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved (Romans 10:9-10).
Some profess to be saved, but they have never been saved, because there is some vital deficiency in their spiritual experience. They might be deeply religious but they lack the Holy Spirit.
- Some have never had a true sense of need for Christ. They have no idea why anyone would need to turn from their sin and trust in Jesus Christ. They fail to see the glory of Christ.
- Some have never become followers of Christ. And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34 ESV). Instead, they follow religion or their family traditions or their friends. Christ does not have first place in their thoughts, desires, and choices they make in their lives.
- Some have never had a change of mind about sin. They do not see it as an offence against God, but as an allowable way of life. They have not repented (had a change of mind or world and life view about God, mankind, Christ, sin, and the way of salvation). Jesus said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15 CSB).
- Some have never trusted in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, crucified and risen again as their only Savior. As Paul and Silas said to the jailer in Philippi, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31 ESV).
All of these need to understand the way of salvation, and then change their minds and trust in Christ! Here is the general way that God works to bring people to salvation. The Holy Spirit of God uses the Holy Scriptures and Christians and/or various events…
- To confront people with the truth of the gospel or the truth about God and his ways.
- To convict people of sin, righteousness, and the judgment to come.
- To change their minds about God, themselves, sin, Christ, and the gospel.
- To commit themselves to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. This involves what we call the “KAT” of true faith: knowledge, assent and trust. During my youth, I did not understand that true faith involved personal trust in the Savior.
So then, dear reader, are you a follower of Jesus Christ? Only if you know him will he give you assurance of salvation.
Grace and peace, David