This blog entry is for those who profess to be Christians -- those who claim CHRIST JESUS as their LORD and Savior, those who say they believe in GOD the Father-Almighty Creator, those who think they are Holy SPIRIT-regenerated and indwelled, born-again children of GOD.
i myself thought i was saved in 2003. i claimed CHRIST JESUS as my heroic Savior (my Knight in shining armor) who rescued me from the evil dragons of life. i proudly labeled myself Christian, not knowing what that meant, then i proceeded to sanctify my own self with much self-effort, which was a doomed endeavor from the onset. Was i truly saved or truly deceived in 2003? i don't know. But last year i got the fullest sense that i am indeed truly saved -- the Holy SPIRIT granted me assurance of my salvation, for the SPIRIT Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of GOD. (Romans 8:16)
GOD providentially provided many sources to make me aware of the reality that false converts abound. From Ray Comfort's Hell's Best-Kept Secret and True and False Conversion, to Paul Washer's "Shocking Youth Sermon," to John Piper's Desiring GOD Resource Library and his sermons on "Christian Hedonism," John MacArthur's Study Bible and his verse by verse exposition on the First Epistle of John (Grace To You) and C. H. Spurgeon -- the "prince of preachers -- making much of CHRIST.
The following are excerpts from John MacArthur's book Saved Without a Doubt.
Jonathan Edwards concluded in A Treatise Concerning the Religious Affections that the supreme proof of true conversion is a zeal for holy things and a longing after GOD and personal holiness -- "holy affections." He wrote, "As the principle evidence of life is motion, so the principle evidence of saving grace is holy living."
The New Testament's First Epistle of John was written specifically for professing Christians: These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of GOD, so that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:13)
The Epistle is a series of tests to determine whether the professing Christian truly possesses eternal life. MacArthur, from his expositional sermons on 1 John, posed the following questions as a means to test the professing Christian so that he (or she) may examine his salvation and be assured that he is "Saved Without a Doubt." So test your spirit -- may you pass with triumphant hallelujahs!
Have you enjoyed fellowship with CHRIST and the Father?
We have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us -- what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and His Son JESUS CHRIST. (1 John 1:2-3)
Are you presently enjoying communion with the living GOD and the living CHRIST? Do you sense His presence? Do you have a love for Him that draws you to His presence? Have you experienced the exhilarating joy of talking to the living GOD through prayer? Does the Holy SPIRIT continually illumine new truths to you through the reading of His Word?
Are you sensitive to sin?
GOD is light; in Him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of JESUS, His Son, purifies us from all sin. (1 John 1:5-7)
Do you realize that to have a true relationship with GOD, you have to live a holy life -- that you can't walk in darkness and claim fellowship with Him? Are you willing to confess and forsake any sin in your life as you become aware of it? Do you realize you can now choose not to sin? Like the apostle Paul (Romans 7:14-25) -- are you weary of the burden of sin in your flesh?
Do you obey GOD's Word?
By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. (1 John 2:3)
Do you desire to obey the Word out of gratitude for all CHRIST has done for you? Do you obey GOD's commandments not only out of reverence for Him as Almighty Creator, but also out of love and delight in JESUS?
Do you reject this evil world?
Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1 John 2:15) All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. (1 John 2:16)
The "world" is today's system encompassing false religions, errant philosophies and damning ideologies, crime, immorality, materialism, godless living, vain pursuits. Do such things repel you? Instead, do you love GOD, His truth, His kingdom, and all that He stands for?
Do you eagerly await CHRIST's return?
Dear friends, now we are children of GOD, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. (1 John 3:2-3)
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord JESUS CHRIST, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. (Philippians 3:20-21)
Is your blessed hope and supreme joy found in seeing CHRIST JESUS face-to-face at His return and being made like Him? Does your hope of Christlikeness compel you to act more like CHRIST in reaching out to others and fulfilling all that GOD has set out for you to do? Do you find yourself longing for the return of CHRIST?
Do you see a decreasing pattern of sin in your life?
Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.
Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of GOD appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.
No one who is born of GOD practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of GOD. By this the children of GOD and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of GOD, nor the one who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:4-10)
Do you see a new pattern of holy affections (love for the things of GOD) in your life? Though you are still in the flesh and therefore not sinless, do you sin less -- do you see a decreasing pattern of sin in your life? Do you practice righteousness (even if imperfectly) -- righteous motives, righteous desires, righteous words, righteous deeds? Do you see victory over sin in your life?
Do you love other Christians?
By this the children of GOD and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of GOD, nor the one who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:10)
We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. (1 John 3:14-16)
JESUS said, By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:35)
Do you characteristically love other believers? Do you have a desire to reach out and meet their needs? Do you sacrifice your time, treasures and talents for other believers? Do you intercede in prayer for those in need? Do you enjoy fellowshiping, studying the Word and praying with the brethren? Do you see the love of GOD in your life through your words and actions to others?
Do you experience answered prayer?
Whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight. (1 John 3:22)
This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. (1 John 5:14-15)
You know you are a believer if GOD answers your prayers. The only way that can happen is if you keep His commandments, and the only way you can do that is if you belong to Him. Answered prayer is evidence that GOD hears you, which is evidence that you live in Him and He in you.
Have you had your prayers answered? Is that a pattern of life for you?
Do you experience the ministry of the Holy SPIRIT?
By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His SPIRIT. (1 John 4:13)
Do you experience the SPIRIT illuminating Scripture to you so that when you read the Word, its meaning is clarified to you? Does He convict you when you're sinful? Is your life manifesting the fruit of the SPIRIT (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control)? Has He enabled you to minister to others? Has the SPIRIT drawn you into fellowship with GOD through prayer and praise?
Can you discern between spiritual truth and error?
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from GOD, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the SPIRIT of GOD: every spirit that confesses that JESUS CHRIST has come in the flesh is from GOD; and every spirit that does not confess JESUS is not from GOD; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. (1 John 4:1-3)
When you are exposed to the false teachings of cults (Christian Science, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormonism, etc.) which attack the Person of CHRIST and then postulate a substitute or addition to the Bible (Science and Health with Keys to the Scriptures, The Book of Mormons, or The Pearl of Great Price) -- can you discern their lies with the enablement of your resident truth Teacher in the Person of the Holy SPIRIT? Has the SPIRIT of GOD convinced you about salvation through faith in CHRIST alone and the veracity of the Scripture?
Have you suffered rejection because of your faith?
Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you. (1 John 3:13)
Have you experienced animosity, hostility, rejection, bitterness, alienation, ostracism, prejudice, or outright persecution from representing and advocating what is right?
John MacArthur formulated the above questions from the apostle John's tests, as given in his first epistle. A true believer may receive a Biblical basis for confidence in his salvation if he can answer truthful affirmatives to the tests posed in 1 John -- so you may know that you have eternal life... (1 John 5:13) Saved without a doubt -- possessing 14-karat faith!
As for me, i can truthfully and gratefully say "YES" to the questions above, and further evidence of my salvation are the joy and delight that the Holy SPIRIT has poured out into my heart so that i am loving JESUS with more experiential abandon and heartfelt sincerity. Today, by the work of the Holy SPIRIT in magnifying the LORD in my spirit -- CHRIST is my ever precious Treasure, my ultimate Joy and everlasting Delight.