Print Friendly, PDF & Email

(Click here to search for all the posts in this series…)

 

1 John 5:13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

2 Corinthians 13:5) Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.

I wanted to finish up this little series today by giving you the full outline in a condensed version you can use for personal study or to teach others. If you have any questions, feel free to email me: brent@brentriggs.com .

"Is there any way I can look at my own life and person, and know for sure whether or not I'm genuinely saved?"

Is it possible to know? Yes…

1 John 5:13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

How?

2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.

Like everything else in life we want to prove, determine, objectively evaluate or figure out, we can consider the EVIDENCE of our life, and then look at some TESTS revealed in Scripture to determine if we have genuine saving faith or not.

A Word First About Our Approach to Faith

Sometimes we think everything about spirituality and faith is mysterious and unknowable… just a blind faith that we have to "hope" is on the right track. Of course there are things that require "faith" (trust in things "not seen") but it's never BLIND faith. It's faith based on evidence and facts.

Does this mean that genuine saving faith is an intellectual process only? Hardly.

I've never understood man's tendency to want to say faith is either all "heart" or all "intellect". We are created in God's image and our faith consists of all of our created being: intellect, heart, emotion and logic. It's not all or nothing, and no part of any of these negates the other. Nor does one persons tendency to lean towards a certain aspect mean they are not using the other. For example, I personally lean naturally more towards the "intellect and logic" approach to my faith. That's just how God made me. I've been accused at times of leaning on my Bible knowledge and intellect to "save me" rather than faith and love. Ridiculous.

Just as ridiculous as me saying that a person who naturally leans more towards the emotional experiential aspects of faith is "leaning on" their feelings for salvation rather than the facts. It is common though, that one side or the other tends to think THEIR approach to faith is the "right" approach (intellect or "heart"). We should not make the mistake of thinking our approach is the RIGHT approach. We should not dismiss or ignore either side, but our God given personalities make us lean one way or the other.

Can a person mistake intellectual knowledge for saving faith? Of course. Can a person mistake "feeling" for saving faith? Of course. But it's not a foregone conclusion that either are true. The "intellectual" person cannot assume the "experiential person" is not solidly grounded; nor can the experientially-predisposed person assume the intellectual only has head knowledge but not heart knowledge.

God made us all different. We each approach our faith according to how God the Creator made us. Having said that, both the intellectual and the experiential Christian can look to clear teaching in Scripture that reveals to us both EVIDENCES and TESTS to help us know if we are on the right track, ie. "genuinely saved".

Things That Will Be True About a Genuine Christian But Don’t PROVE They Are a Christian

· Good works:

o A person can be part of and engage in all manners of apparent good works and still not be saved.

§ 1 Co 3:12-13: Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. (NKJV)
 

o But, good works are most certainly part of the genuine Christian walk:

§ 1 Ti 6:18: Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, (NKJV)
 

· A point of decision:

o We cannot rely on the fact that we responded to an alter call, or prayed some prayer, or even got baptized

o A point of conscious decision to obey Christ is true of all genuine Christians, but the decision itself is not proof of genuine faith, nor are all people who have made a decision genuinely saved as decisions can be made from emotion, intellect, coercion or impulsiveness with no accompanying spiritual motivation

· Religious interest or ministry involvement:

o Being interested in God or active in Christian ministry will be true of genuine Christians, but is not PROOF of genuine salvation.

o The Bible even tells us about wolves in sheep’s clothing, tares among the wheat and false teachers who will all appear to be engaged in the business of the Kingdom

§ Matt 25:1-10 – the parable of the virgins; they were all participating in the wedding party, but in the end, the bridegroom did not recognize them as being included

§ Matt 13:38-43 – the tares are sown amongst the wheat, and look like wheat but in the end will be separated and burned away

· Morality or goodness:

o Morality and goodness are certainly true of genuine Christians, but the unsaved are capable of understanding right and wrong, and engaging in civil good

§ Mt 19:16-26: Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He said to Him, “Which ones?” Jesus said, “‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (NKJV)

· Knowledge of the facts:

o Having a working knowledge of Christian facts, the Gospel message or Biblical education is true for the genuinely saved, but can be true of the unsaved too

o Religious organizations, colleges and churches can be filled with people who KNOW the right things but have not been transformed by them

§ Ro 1:20-21: For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (NKJV)

· Contrition or conviction about sin:

o A person can be sorry about their sin, recognize it, and even try to do something about it without being genuinely saved

o It is a fleshly act done in human power and will ultimately fail

o Often we see people aware of their sin who try some human act of restitution, sacrifice or penance in an attempt to satisfy their genuine guilt and shame

o Felix was interested in the truth, and understood his need but chose to put off any real response to it.

§ Ac 24:25: Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.” (NKJV)

· Personal feeling of assurance:

o A genuine Christian can experience true assurance of salvation (that’s what this lesson is about)

o But even the unsaved can wrongly be “sure” they are saved because they are basing it on wrong test, wrong evidence or on the wrong reasons

§ Matt 23… the religious leaders were SURE of their standing with God for all the wrong reasons: self righteousness, birth, knowledge, privilege, etc

§ We can be SURE of our salvation based on many erroneous proofs:

· I prayed a prayer

· I was baptized

· I’m part of the right group, church or organization

· Because of my family

· I’ve always been told I was

· I really sincerely FEEL I am

· Someone else says I am

· Anecdotal evidence (my life is going well, so God must be pleased)

Things That Are True About Genuine Christians and Are Evidence of Genuine Saving Faith

If the list above it true and the following list is not, there is reason to question if faith is genuine and saving. If the list below is true, then the list above will be true as well.

For any long term degree and consistency the following list is impossible for the unsaved. God empowers us to do the following, and while we may be able to superficially “fake it” for a little while, we will not be able to consistently live out the following without being supernatural indwelled by the Holy Spirit.

· Taking up your cross:

o Mt 10:38: And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. (NKJV)

o Taking up your cross is the idea of giving up your life for God. It means that everything else in life become subservient and inferior to the will of God. Only the genuinely saved are capable of this type of life.

· Living sacrifice:

o Ro 12:1: I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. (NKJV)

o Dead sacrifices are no longer acceptable to God. As new creatures in Christ, our spirits are recreated, but our sin cursed body remains. It is to be offered up to God as “living sacrifice” wholly committed to whatever use God may have for it. Only a “new creation” is capable of such a sacrifice.

· Love for God:

o Ro 8:6-7: For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. (NKJV)

o The unsaved cannot have a truly spiritual mind. The unsaved mind is at war with God. Only a genuinely saved person can have likemindedness and love for God.

o Lk 10:27: So he answered and said, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’” (NKJV)

o Again, this is only possible for the saved. The unsaved cannot possible love God with all their heart, mind and soul for that is incompatible with being unsaved. Only God grants the power for this love, and He only grants it to His children.

· Continual repentance:

o 2 Co 7:10: For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. (NKJV)

o Only the truly saved are capable of genuine repentance which is different from being contrite or sorry about sin (and its consequences). The genuinely saved REPENT and turn from sin because as new creations we are no longer SLAVES to sin.

o 1 Jn 1:8-10: If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. (NKJV)

o The genuinely saved do not lie about being sinful. We KNOW we are not sinless because the Truth in us illuminates our sin clearly. We see it, repent of it, and receive forgiveness all of which is impossible for the unsaved.

o The unsaved typically have a high opinion of their goodness and have a hard time seeing their sin, whereas the genuinely saved are grieved because their sin is all too apparent.

· A transformed life:

o Ro 12:2: And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (NKJV)

o The truly saved life will experience genuine transformation because God is constantly renewing the mind. God does not indwell the unsaved so they have no way to genuinely transform their life

· Humility:

o Jas 4:6: But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” (NKJV)

o The unsaved are by necessity full of pride. They cannot help it or change it. Therefore they can never have deep, sustaining humility. Genuinely humility is a sign of true salvation.

· Spiritual fruit:

o Lk 8:15: But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience. (NKJV)

o The unregenerated is incapable of producing good fruit. Presence of measurable and obvious Christian fruit in a life is real evidence of genuine saving faith.

o Ga 5:22: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (NKJV)

o The consistent presence of the fruit of the Spirit is an obvious evidence of genuine salvation because it is impossible for the slave to sin to display any of these characteristics in more than a token form.

· Devotion to God’s glory:

o 1 Co 10:31: Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (NKJV)

o The genuinely saved see ALL their life as an opportunity to glorify God, an attitude that the unsaved are incapable of faking but for a short time, if at all.

· Selflessness towards other:

o 1 Jn 4:7: Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. (NKJV)

o Only the genuinely saved can consistently love others and put themselves second. The unsaved cannot help but put their own interests first over the long run. It’s difficult effort for the saved, and impossible for the unsaved.

o Ro 12:10: Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; (NKJV)

o Again, honor and preference are possible only when empowered by God to do so. If these attributes are present in your life, then they are solid evidence of genuine saving faith.

· Effective Prayer:

o Jas 5:16: Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. (NKJV)

o If you can see the effects of prayer, and prayers being answered in your life, then this is evidence of genuine saving faith. Prayer is effective for the “righteous” man and righteousness only comes after the supernatural rebirth of the spirit.

· Obedient Living:

o Mt 7:21: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. (NKJV)

o It’s not the people who SAY the right thing who are truly saved, but the people who DO the right thing; obedience as evidence of salvation is a common thread through all of Scripture.

Assurance Tests in 1 John

· 1 John 2:3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.

o Obedience is proof

· 1 John 2:4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

o Obedience is proof

· 1 John 2:5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.

o Obedience is evidence

· 1 John 2:11 But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

o You cannot hate a brother and be in the light; love for brethren is evidence

· 1 John 3:14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death.

o Love for the brethren is proof

· 1 John 3:15 Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

o If you hate a brother, that is evidence of being lost

· 1 John 3:16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

o If we are willing to lay down our lives for our brethren, that is evidence of genuine saving faith

· 1 Jn 3:18-19: My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. (NKJV)

o When we put love into real action and not just talk about it, that is evidence of genuine salvation

· 1 John 3:24 Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.

o Obedience is evidence of saving faith

· 1 John 4:2 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God,

o Confession is evidence of genuine salvation

· 1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

o Knowing God and loving God is evidence of genuine faith

· 1 John 4:13 By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.

o If the work of the Holy Spirit is evident in our life, this is proof of our salvation

There are many more verses in 1 John that are “tests” for us to administer to ourselves to see if our faith is genuine.

Conduct of Genuine Saving Faith

Just a few things; you could list many more, and even many more verses for each of these… but the point is that when we have genuine saving faith, it affects our lives, not just how we live, but what we do with the TRUTH the brought us to salvation.

· Tell people (don’t be ashamed)Ro 1:16: For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (NKJV)

· Live the truthPhp 1:27: Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, (NKJV)

· Fellowship together the truth – Philp 1:5: for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, (NKJV)

· Protect the truthGa 1:6-8: I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. (NKJV)

· Suffer for truth 1 Pe 4:12-13: Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. (NKJV)

· Defend the truth – Jud 3: Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. (NKJV)

Questions to consider:

  1. 1. How do you tend to approach “faith”… through facts, intellect and logic? Or through emotions, heart and feeling? Do you ever find yourself thinking the “other” approach is not as legitimate?
     
  2. 2. Do you believe that these tests and evidences can REALLY, genuinely give us a true feeling of assurance? Or do we just have to “hope” we are saved and never really, seriously know for sure?
     
  3. 3. How does this assurance, or lack of it, affect our Christian walk on an everyday basis? (discuss the dangers and effects of false assurance; discuss the positive effects and benefits to your daily life if you have genuine assurance.)

(seriesid:56)

 

PS: WHAT ARE YOUR QUESTIONS FOR ME? Ask here. To give a gift of support, click here.