How can we know we are Christians?


Maybe a better question would have been not “how can” we know, but simply “can we know”? Well, there is no doubt this topic is one worth discussing. Some good people, people whose lives are given to serving Christ and others are doubtful and really don’t think you can know if you are safe or not until the final judgement. Others ask themselves and others, have I been good enough?

There are all sorts of subjective conclusions about this subject but the final authority on this question and all questions spiritual must be answered by God’s revelation, the Bible. When we stand on what God has said we stand on solid ground. Now we have another problem! Everyone who has an opinion claims biblical authority for what they believe and or teach. So, knowing full well that I am only one more undeserving, redeemed sinner, I will add my thoughts.

Almost everyone who goes by the name “Christian” agrees on a set of facts. Those are that Jesus was God in flesh, that he was the Christ of God, that he died for our sins, that he rose from the grave three days later, and only though faith in him can we be forgiven of our sins and finally have a home in heaven. For the most part, these things are not the topic of debate. The worrying question is, am I personally saved because of these facts?

To further complicate matters, some people have assurance of their salvation who shouldn’t. There are likely tens of thousands of regular church attenders, givers, teachers, preachers, and people who live what is considered to be a good moral life, who think they are saved but are not. (Matthew 7:21-23) And, there are many, many people who should have assurance but do not. So how do we unravel this puzzle of misconceptions, assumptions, and false assurance, or lack of assurance?

Both Peter and Paul addressed this head on. Peter warned,

“Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:10,11)

Paul, in 2 Corinthians said the same thing this way,

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” (2 Corinthians 13:5)

Why would the Holy Spirit move these men to write these things if you can’t make your calling and election sure, or if you can’t know if you are in the faith? It is absurd to think such a thing.

False Assurance

I am a better person than most of my neighbors. I am honest, kind to dogs, children, and old people. I attend church faithfully, I was confirmed, I was baptized, I give a tithe, I have had a successful ministry, I made a decision for Christ, I prayed the sinners prayer, etc., etc. The problem with this is the word “I”. In this case the I’s do not win.

Biblical Assurance

Jesus is the only ground and hope of my faith. I am depending only on Him and the promises of the gospel that if I lean on Him and allow his rule in my life I can know I am secure. I understand that I don’t deserve God’s grace and forgiveness of sins and that I have no power within myself to change my destiny. For me it is either Jesus or nothing!

What Should We Be Looking For When We “Test Ourselves” and How Do We “Make Our Calling and Election sure”?

Peter said it this way.

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness,and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.” (2 Peter 1:2-9)

Peter says we have all that is necessary to be certain we are in the faith and they all are found in the person of Jesus Christ. It is in Him that we have everything that matters for daily living and godliness, and we have His promises.

First Test, Peter.

Are you and I purposefully working on being who we are in Christ? If not, DANGER ahead! A life that is not showing the qualities Peter lists, in increasing measure is one that is not safe.

Paul answers this way.

“Do what is right…” (2 Corinthians 13:7)

“Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace” (2 Corinthians 13:11)

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16)

What does this look like in a person’s life?

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5:22-26)

Paul’s Test

We must ask ourselves honestly, does this look good on me? Is this what a watching world sees at my work, at a ball park, when I talk to my CPA, and when I have to interact with people at church that I really don’t especially like? There are no coasting Christians.

I’ll end this post with one of the most convincing statements on assurance in the Bible. John wrote these words specifically so you and I may know we are in the faith.

“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13)

It would be a cruel thing for God to say this and not let us in on how we can know for sure. He does clearly tell us.

“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God” (1 John:1)

“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith.Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” (1 John 5:4,5)

“And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” (1 John 5:20)

A Spiritual Check up!

First, agree with God that eternal life is not what we do but is Christ himself. We must “know Him” and be “in Him” to be save.

Second, read 1 John understanding that it was written for your assurance that you are really a Christian. Don’t make the common mistake of going backwards and thinking that if you mimic what John writes, that will make you a Christian. We are not saved by what we do but by Jesus alone.

1 John is a spiritual check list so you can know you are in the faith, that you are secure in Christ. Honest answers will either prove up the genuineness of your faith, or show you that you are not in the faith and point you to Jesus who is himself eternal life.

There are NO promises of assurance for pretenders, make believers, and the self-righteous. ALL of the promises are for those who are in Christ by faith. Don’t be misled. (Matthew 7:21-23)

In the professing church on earth there are two groups of people. There are first those who have a sincere faith in Jesus and are trusting Him alone for their salvation. Good works are what they are designed for (Ephesians 2:10). God’s law of love is written on their hearts and they want to love him and their fellow-man because they are now partakers of the divine nature.

The second group in our churches are those who are depending on their superior morality, measuring themselves by themselves. They will point out how “faithful” they are, to their baptism or confirmation and other things about them that lead them to believe they are safe. This group includes pew riders and preachers, elders and bishops, priests and all other pretenders who will give as evidence they are saved only what they have done or are doing.

A careful, soul-searching reading of 1 John, will tell you for sure if you are, or are not, really a Christian.

In Christ,

Royce Ogle


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Jesus is not dead!


What is the big deal about Easter?

That he (Jesus) was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. (1 Corinthians 15:4-8)

The big deal is, Jesus is alive! He is in heaven. And, He is coming back. Yep, the same Jesus his followers had seen and touched, shared meals with, and heard make promises went up into the clouds as they watched. And, this promise was given by two messengers from God.

“Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11)

The truth that again and again got the Apostles in hot water with the church crowd was that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead. The bodily resurrection of Jesus is the bedrock of the Christian faith. Paul said it this way.

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead,how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Corinthians 15:12-19)

Make no mistake, everything depends on the factual account of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead!

If Jesus was not raised from the dead there is no hope for any of us.

What appeal does dying and staying dead in a grave have to you? It has none to me either. If Jesus was not raised, we will not be raised, and after all, the goal is to live eternally.

If Jesus was not raised from the dead there is no Christianity!

Paul says it like this, If Christ has not been raised from the dead his “preaching is vain and your faith is vain“. And, “Your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.”

The cross and its significance is very important but if Jesus’ death was the end of the story He would be no different than any other man who died for his faith.

HE IS ALIVE! CELEBRATE!

This Sunday Christians around the world will celebrate and remember an empty tomb and a risen Saviour. It is His life everlasting that we celebrate. His life is our life if we are in Him.

WILL YOU LIVE FOREVER? EVEN AFTER YOU DIE AND ARE BURIED, WILL YOU LIVE AGAIN?

There are many, many promises that you can, or that you will. One I really like is this one.

“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.’ (Romans 8:11)

Easter is the believer’s celebration of everlasting life. It is the acknowledgement that death has been defeated, that sin will finally be eradicated, and once again Peace will rule in an eternal kingdom.

He Himself is our blessed hope, and our blessed certainty! Happy Easter to you.

Agape’

Royce


Are Believers Secure? …more from Edward Fudge


True believers may know that they are securely in God’s care and keeping, and that no person, circumstance or unforeseen set of events can ever snatch them away to destruction (John 10:27-30; 1 Pet. 1:3-5). According to Jesus, those who believe in him have been given to him by the Father, and he will not lose one of them (John 6:37-40). This certainty is grounded in God’s faithfulness (1 Cor. 1:8-9; 1 Thess. 5:23-24; 2 Thes. 3:3-5), power (Jude 24-25) and love (Rom. 8:35-39). He will finish what he has started (Phil. 1:6). Our source of this knowledge is not Calvin, Luther or Augustine, but Peter, John, Paul, Jude and, ultimately, Jesus himself.

We learn from Romans 8:28ff that those whom God foreknew, he predestined to become like Jesus. And those he predestined, he called. Those he called, he justified. And those he justified, he glorified. We were not there when God foreknew and predestined. We are not yet glorified, though it is so certain that Paul speaks in the past tense. But we do know if we have been called by the gospel. We do know if we responded in faith and were justified. We do know whether we are being changed into Christ’s likeness. Since the same people occupy all these scenes of divine grace, if we see ourselves in some of the scenes we may know that we are in the other scenes as well (1 Thes. 1:4,5, 9-10).

The basis of our confidence is not anything that we learn, experience or do. We do not trust in our baptism, in our good works, or in our praying a ‘sinner’s prayer.’ Our confidence rests, always and only, in God’s faithfulness, power and love. We are secure because of the accomplishments of Jesus our representative, and because of God’s estimation of what Jesus has done (Rom. 4:25-5:1). Each new day we need to ask: “Do I acknowledge that apart from Christ, I am a sinner? Do I trust his atonement for peace and right standing with God? Am I sorry for my sins and determined to turn from them? Do I cling to the cross of Jesus as my only hope of forgiveness? If I sincerely answer “Yes” to these questions, I belong to Christ, and God will keep me to the end. Nothing can thwart God’s purpose. Nothing can defeat God’s power. Nothing can separate me from God’s love.

(more can be found on this subject and more at EdwardFudge.com)

Saved by Christ alone,

Royce

Eternally Secure? Edward Fudge answers


A gracEmail subscriber in Africa asks for biblical insight regarding his present and future security as a believer in Jesus Christ, while a subscriber in China inquires about the scripture passages that warn Christians against falling away.

* * *

Scripture contains many warnings and admonitions, and we must take them all very seriously. “He who has ears, let him hear” (Matt. 13:9). “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). “Let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12). “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith” (2 Cor. 13:5). “You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace” (Gal. 5:4). “Be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure” (2 Pet. 1:10).

In reading these statements and others like them, it is easy to miss the forest for the trees unless we keep the following larger picture in view. The books of the New Testament were written for the church on earth, not for the church in heaven. The church on earth includes two kinds of people: (1) believers, and (2) unbelievers who claim to be believers (Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43). This is why many will claim at the Judgment to know Jesus, only to be told that he has never known them (Matt. 7:21-23). Jesus told the parable of the wheat and tares to teach this very lesson (Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43).

Faith that is real is faith that endures. We are God’s household “if we hold fast” to the end (Heb. 3:6). Holding fast does not make us God’s household — it manifests our true identity. In the same way, a “faith” that is not genuine but is only superficial is sometimes demonstrated by permanently leaving Christ (Heb. 6:4-12; 10:26-31,39). Some scripture warnings do not concern final salvation but involve discipline, maturity or reward. Most, if not all, of the rest are telling us in different ways to be sure that our confession is genuine and our faith is real. The best evidence of all that, we will see in the next gracEmail, is that we keep our eyes on Jesus and entrust ourselves to him.

(to be continued)

_________________

I received this teaching in today’s email from Bro’ Edward Fudge.

I agree completely and Edward, as usual, stated these truths in such a succinct and powerful way I felt compelled to share what he wrote.

Agree or disagree and why?

Thanks for reading,

Royce