Apostle Paul told the Corinthians to examine themselves to see if they were in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). How do we do that, and how do we help others do that?
What is Saving Faith?
These have been written [by John in his gospel] so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name (John 20:31).
If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved: for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation (Romans 10:9-10).
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not see (Hebrews 11:1).
We need intellectually to know some* about God, our sin, and Jesus Christ. We need some* knowledge about both the bad news and the good news. But head knowledge isn’t enough; even the demons believe and tremble (James 2:19).
We must accept that our knowledge about Jesus Christ and what He has done is true. (But, remember, not everything we intellectually know about is correct. For example, we know some about false religions. We need to continually study the scriptures to discover more about God’s truth.)
We must act on our intellectual knowledge by our will, repenting, committing ourselves to Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, and trusting Him.
We become assured that Jesus Christ is who the Bible says He is, that the gospel is true. We are convicted with our whole being.
The Protestant Reformers divided “heart” into two parts: 1) belief that the Christian gospel is true, and 2) volitionally committing and placing trust in Jesus Christ.
Saving faith involves our whole being. Saving faith is an action. We must confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord. Faith becomes a way of life, evident to others through our actions.
Once we have saving faith, we have been saved from the penalty sin, and embark on a life-long journey of learning to walk in the newness of life. We will be in the process of being saved from the power of sin, and increasingly keep our Lord’s commandments, pleasing God.
Then, one day, we receive from God what He promised, what we hope for, are assured of: saved from the presence of sin. Glorified! Hallelujah!
*Our knowledge grows as we grow in the Lord. We’ll never know it all!
Christians have been saved from the penalty of sin, and are in the process of being saved from the power of sin (sanctification).
While we are in this world, we still sin, but less and less and we grow in the Lord.
God gives us a fabulous, iron-clad promise:
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
When we sin, if we confess, God forgives us. Period.
But, sometimes we don’t feel forgiven, and the sin continues to haunt us.
It is possible that our sin stays on our minds because there is something the Lord wants us to do about it. We need to check that we have made things right, as far as we can, with the person or persons we’ve hurt. To the extent we can, reconcile.
It is also possible that we don’t feel forgiven because we don’t believe God’s promise of forgiveness. In that case, we’ve sinned again, this time from unbelief. Not good! We must confess our unbelief.
We don’t like it, but we will continue to sin until the Lord takes us home. We must be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, quickly recognizing and repenting from our sins, confessing our sins, and rejoicing in God’s forgiveness.
I’ve heard number of comments lately that we should not assume everyone in our congregations, our groups, our friends and family are saved. Probably not all readers of this blog know the Lord.
One famous caution is D.L. Moody preaching just before the great Chicago fire. At the end of the service, he asked his congregation to think about Christ during the coming week and be ready to make a decision the following Sunday. During the closing hymn, the sound of fire alarms and fire trucks broke in. Many members of the church died.
For the rest of his life, Mood regretted not pressing for a decision right then, and never again suggested someone take time to think about it.
And we need to think also. We all face wrath or mercy.
Judgment is Coming
It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment. (Hebrews 9:27)
The essential decision for each and every person is to be ready to face Almighty God.
Have you honestly looked at your life, and been honest with God about your sin (which means confession)? PLEASE repent of your sin and turn to Jesus Christ in belief and trust.
If a person choses to reject God and fails to believe in Jesus Christ, he has been judged already (John 3:18).
If a person isn’t written into Christ’s book of life, there is nothing left except the terrifying certainty of eternal torment in the everlasting fire (Hebrews 10:27, Revelation 20:15).
To be a blessing requires us to be Christ-centered, humbly loving others, forgiving, grateful. This is an overwhelming expectation, but God enables us. And, as we grow in Him, we become more and more this way.
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed. (2 Corinthians 9:8)
God, faithful and generous, gives us what it takes and then rewards us!
Jesus said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)
Given my private pilot history, and my husband’s extensive commercial pilot experience, we watch a lot of aviation shows. I am so overwhelmed with the skilled and disciplined pilots who fight to the end, never giving up, sometimes to a safe, or at least survivable, landing, sometimes to disaster. They continue to apply their knowledge and skills, trying different methods, never giving in, never giving up. I admire them. And I ache when they don’t make it.
And I am dismayed by the less trained or careless pilots who make serious mistakes.
There is a lesson there for us.
From the spiritual point of view as Christians, we are in Christ’s army, we are to grow in the knowledge and grace of God, and we are to stay faithful through this troubled time. We are never to give in. We are never to give up. We are to fight to the finish.
The difference from aviation, of course, is that we know we are headed to eternity with God. Regardless if, from the world’s perspective, we fail, as long as we stay faithful to the Lord, we are successful.
Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also do you?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:67-69)
Stand firm in your belief.
Never Give In
In our post-Christian world, we increasingly have pressure to agree with society in ways that contradict God’s word. Don’t do it!
Never Give Up
Right to the end, keep the faith. Keep fighting.
Finish the Fight
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7-8)
Humans have been blaming others for their own actions since the Garden of Eden when Adam blamed God, and Eve blamed the serpent. I’ve heard blame called “The Second Original Sin.”
The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:12-13)
Adam blamed God. Eve blamed the serpent.
Blame continued throughout the Bible and continues today.
“Because you said that, I …”
“The system made me poor.”
“If I weren’t poor, I wouldn’t have stolen/looted.”
“That makes me angry.”
“I was born in the wrong body.”
“It wasn’t me.”
“Not my fault.”
Blaming others supposedly exonerates yourself making yourself the victim rather than responsible. Blame means no repentance, no growth.
There are a lot of possible drivers, including, for example: pride, self-defense, self-promotion, self-deception, denial of sin.
For unbelievers who blame, we need to pray they see their sin, repent, and believe in Jesus Christ, We need to pray they receive saving faith.
God is very clear that we are responsible. Period.
When we sin, it is our own fault. Period.
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. (James 1:13-14)
And what’s more, if we deny our sin, we call God a liar. Not good!
If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8)
If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. (1 John 1:10)
God saved us for holiness God does not want us to sin. Don’t blame Him! We’re responsible.
What to Do
It is a sin for a Christian to blame something or someone else for our sin.
When we sense we are blaming, STOP and confess. Repent. Determine not to blame.
Father, thank You for showing me when I blame others, trying to escape responsibility. I confess that this is sin, and that I have sinned. Please help me be aware when I blame and help me stop, I want so much to walk in a manner worthy of you.
Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD. (Proverbs 16:5)
Don’t Be Proud
We are what we are because of God: He chose our birthdate, gender, race, ethnicity, parents, country, intelligence, talents, etc. etc. etc. etc. All things come from Him (Romans 11:36).
We, though, are responsible, and we have responsibilities. We are to work hard in the Lord. We are to walk in a manner worthy of Him.
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. (1 Corinthians 15:10)
Stomp Pride When You Sense It
We must be alert to times we praise ourselves rather than God.
IMMEDIATELY, when you see it, sense it, smell it, confess your sin of pride.
With humility, acknowledge God’s rule in your life, and confess your dependence on Almighty God.
And repeat as often as necessary!
Father, HELP! We want to please You. We reject pride, knowing that You created us, Your moral children, and that You are sovereign over all things. Please show us when we are prideful, for we want to confess our pride. Thank You that You will forgive and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
At one point in my career, we often talked about being intentional, being purposeful. We wanted better to align our activities with our goals.
Being intentional is a good plan for life. If we don’t know where we want to go, any road will get us there! When we have a goal, deliberately working towards that end improves the likelihood we will achieve our aim.
God’s Holy Plan WILL Be Accomplished
Almighty, Sovereign God has a holy plan. He works everything according to that plan, and His plan will be perfectly completed. He does everything intentionally, with purpose.
Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying ‘My purpose will be established and I will accomplish all My good pleasure.’ (Isaiah 46:10)
I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. (Job 42:2)
We have obtained an inheritance having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will. (Ephesians 1:11)
God Intentionally Works His plan For Individuals
The Bible is clear that God has a purpose for this world and for all individuals, and is working to perfectly achieve His holy will.
He meant …
As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. (Genesis 50:20)
He sent …
Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. (Genesis 45:5)
So that …
“So that,” a statement of purpose , or subsequent results, is used nearly a thousand times in the Bible.
God acts in a certain way so that He accomplishes His purpose. (For example, Exodus 11:9)
Jesus acted in a certain way to get His desired results, including making His message clear. (For example, Luke 5:24)
People (believers and nonbelievers/rejectors) act in certain ways and get specific results. (But remember, God’s purpose cannot be thwarted.)
Since God–Father, Son, Holy Spirit–is totally in control and is working His holy plan, we can trust Him. We are responsible, but He is sovereign.
Whatever happens to us, believers, is for a loving purpose, and is worked by God for good. (Romans 8:28)
We know He has promised glory for those who believe. (Romans 8:30)
God is sovereign, has kind intention for believers, cannot be thwarted, and always accomplishes His plan.
There is every reason to trust Him.
God–Father, Son, Holy Spirit–You are worthy of all praise. You are holy, almighty, loving, just. Thank You for saving us and that You have thrilling plans for us who believe in You. Thank You for telling us that Your plans will be fulfilled. Help us to trust You and look forward to your loving work in our lives.