And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
I John 2:3-4
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I've pondered Matthew 7:21-23 more than once and have pondered the terrors of those who will be rejected in that day.
Matthew 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father, which is in heaven.
In this verse, Jesus does not say that just a few misguided souls have a false hope of heaven. He says MANY. He is talking to people who think they are Christians. Nowadays there are a lot of people who say that they are Christians who will not enter heaven. These are people who think that they are going to make it into glory on their lip service. But when they stand before the King and Judge, they will be rejected. When Jesus says "Depart" you can't appeal and try to get a second chance, you have got to go. I KNOW they will be terrified. Included here? All those who choose to "worship" God according to their own beliefs and not God's word. This includes cultists who follow a false gospel--a gospel that is different from the Authorized Version of 1611 of the Bible, e.g., Roman Catholics, Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, Christian Scientists, hypocrites, and every Protestant denomination follower who puts their trust in their denomination's antibiblical doctrines (like dispensationalism) and church attendance.
To be a Christian, you must repent of your sins and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
REPENT means saying, "I am ready to live under God's commands! By God's grace, I am leaving the old life behind!"
Many people think getting saved means saying, "the sinner's prayer" and then living life the way you used to--that is a lie. They believe some mystical thing happens at reciting a few words. No! The prayer is a confession of belief on the Lord Jesus Christ and his word. Because we truly believe, we keep on reading and obeying God's word, and God is helping us to obey and walk uprightly. Having departed from iniquity, we become vessels unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, prepared unto every good work (see 2 Timothy 2:19-26). God gives his people spiritual gifts and we labour for him.
Salvation is about believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. Our salvation is a "him".
John 6:28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?
Having truly believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, we naturally do what he says. We believe all that he said in his word and we are grateful to him for so great a salvation. He is right about everything and he is the Master--as a result we forsake the sin lifestyle and take on the new lifestyle by obeying God's word. Salvation is not about doing a series of good deeds that a man thinks is good, oh no--salvation is about "him", the Lord Jesus Christ. We believe in him and that is why we obey him. As we obey him, God helps us to obey and we are changed and even our desires change. The Lord has severed us from among other people that we should be holy unto him. Being saved is about forsaking the sin lifestyle and saying on this wise, "Yes, I believe exactly what God says in his word and I will submit to it. The word of the Lord is right and all his works are done in truth. Jesus Christ is the Saviour for me and the Bible is the book for me. I will submit to God's ways. This is who I am and this is my life."
Again, we must repent and forsake our sins and obey God's word. As we keep reading the Bible and obeying what we read, the word will wash us and, by God's grace (his divine influence, invisible but real), incredible changes will occur--even down to our very desires, as if the process were automatic like a baby growing, by various stages, into an adult--but there is another aspect of this--
the fear of the Lord.
The Bible says that we are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling--even though we have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, our flesh remains what it always was--flesh. Even as a Christian, it can try to rise up, but the fear of the Lord will cause us to depart from evil and not embrace it. We read God's word, obey it, love and cleave to the Lord, enjoy his presence and fellowship--and we also fear to offend him by disobeying his word. Just as fear keeps us from getting too close to the edge of a cliff or from putting our hand in fire, the fear of the Lord will cause us to depart from sin (sin is a killer; the wages of it are death).
True disciples continue in God's word. They pray and do what they are supposed to do as a husbands, wives, children, workers, etc. As they obey, those that delight in the law of the Lord grow and are a like a tree planted by the rivers of water that bringeth forth his fruit in his season, his fruit shall not wither and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper (reference Psalm 1).
If you are a true believer, your life will demonstrate it and the Bible tells us that over and over again. For us Christians, I believe that in our zeal to stem the cults, we emphasize faith and do not put like proper emphasis on the evidences of saving faith which is a life of holiness. A person can say, "I really want to go to law school." But if they skip school, don't do their homework, and go to sleep in class, do they really want to go? NO WAY! Anybody could see that because their actions betray my confession. It is no different in confessing Jesus. People say, "I believe Jesus is Lord," yet they curse without abandon, watch television (and will not hear of repenting and stopping that evil), love everything this wicked world has to offer, don't feel convicted of sin, and are uninterested in the things of God. Does this person believe to the saving of the soul? Of course not. Is this a matter of trying to be God and determine who will make it in? No! It is a question of life and death and telling people the truth! Many, many professed Christians do whatever they feel like doing no matter what--fornicating, watching all manner of wickedness and blasphemy on television and naked movies, going to the movie theatre to watch what they want to, reading Harry Potter and witchcraft and "horror books" and Sponge Bob, etc. while claiming to be saved. Unsaved people do what they feel like doing--the devil allows that. Saved people are under the Lord's commands. Where do you stand?
Saving faith will manifest itself in good works. Just read James, Hebrews, I John, Romans--the gospels. If no change occurs in a person's life, we have plenty of scriptures to let us know that true conversion never took place to begin with. Works do not save, but a saving faith will cause good works. Another analogy--apples do not make an apple tree an apple tree. Before any fruit appeared it was an apple tree. With time, sunshine, water and other factors, the precious fruit cometh forth. Same thing with a saved person. They have Jesus Christ within. With the word of God, working of the Holy Ghost, the brethern, mortification of the deeds of the body, and time, good works will come forth like fine treasure hidden from within an earthen vessel. There are many compulsive disorders in the world today--things that people feel that they cannot stop doing. Those who are saved may wish to see our "Deliverance Series." The precepts in it have surely helped me.
The following includes some excerpts from the book, "How Can I Except Some Man Should Guide Me? A Plan and Program for Bringing Children to Faith in Jesus Christ," Pastor Kerry James Allen, Copyright 1996, Fox River Baptist Church, Box 1094, Oswego, IL. 60543. This gives some good, solid evidences of a person who has been born again. Jesus said, "By their fruits shall ye know them." Examine yourself against these criteria. The article on this site Who are You? is devoted to this same topic. God does not leave us out in the dark on this thing.
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We are not saved by our works, but when we are saved, our life will certainly reflect that decision by our good works. ("Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone" James 2:17.) Do you obey God's word?
John 8:31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
DO YOU SHOW EVIDENCES OF SPIRITUAL LIFE?
Following are ten evidences the true believer in Jesus Christ possesses, all from the epistle of First John. These are what Jonathan Edwards called "holy affections."
I. SUBMISSIVE RESPECT
"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (1 John 1:8)
Do you respect God? Is your opinion just as important or even more relevant than His? Are God's pronouncements authoritative in your life? Is Jesus Christ your Lord?
II. SCRIPTURE OBEDIENCE
"But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him" (1 John 2:5)
Do you read the Bible daily? Do you read the Scriptures seeking to obey what you find? Are you in rebellion against God's Word or in submission to it? Do you love the Bible?
III. SOCIETAL REJECTION
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (1 John 2:15)
Do you love the world, your money, and your possessions? Do they mean more to you than Jesus Christ and His approval? Would you be willing to give up all for Christ?
IV. STEADFAST FAITHFULNESS
"They went out from us, but they were not of us: for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us" (1 John 2:19)
Are you faithful in regular fellowship with God's people in a local church (if there is one in your area)? Are you able to be sparse in church attendance for weeks at a time without any real guilt about it? Do you long for fellowship with the saints? Are you faithful to God's word? Are you faithful and stedfast in that which he has committed to your trust (spiritual gifts, resources, reading his word, etc.)? Are you steadfast year in and year out?
V. SECOND COMING ANTICIPATION
"When he shall appear, we shall be like him: for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure" (1 John 3:2-3)
Are you living in the daily awareness that Jesus Christ will return for His own? Are you eagerly looking forward to His coming for you? Does your daily life reflect the fact that He may come today? Are you ready to meet Him at any time?
VI. SIN SENSITIVITY
"Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God" (1 John 3:9)
Does your sin bother you? Do you wish you sinned less than you do? Are you sinning less now than when you first made a profession of faith in Christ? Do you enjoy your sin, or does it affect your happiness? Do you realize God sees all sin?
VII. SIBLING LOVE
"We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death" (1 John 3:14)
Do you love other believers in Jesus Christ? Do you enjoy being in their company, or would you rather be with the people of the world? Are Christians your dearest friends?
VIII. SUPPLICATIONS ANSWERED
"And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight" (1 John 3:22)
Do you pray? Can you point to specific answers that could have come from no one but God? Do you find yourself conversing regularly with God as a trusted friend?
IX. SHARP DISCERNMENT
"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1)
X. SPIRIT AWARENESS
"Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit" (1 John 4:13)
Do you have a conscious awareness that the Holy Spirit of God lives in you? Does He teach you things from the Scriptures on a regular basis? Does the Holy Spirit convict you when you sin, or can you sin with abandon?