4/15/2014 2:56:05 PM
True Faith or False Hope: How Sure Are You?
The most terrifying words professing Christians could ever hear would be if Jesus Christ said to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Matthew 7:23). On judgment day, those horrifying words will be heard by many who called Jesus “Lord” but never repented of their iniquities. How can this be? How can someone who declares Jesus is Lord and performs religious activities be cast into hell? Are you sure this will not happen to you? Most Christians comfort themselves by saying, “It can’t be referring to me, because I believe in Jesus.”
Two Kinds of Faith
“You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe, and shudder” (James 2:19). So the issue is not your “faith in God”, but the kind of faith you have? There are two types of “faith” described in the Bible. One is a dead faith that originates in man as he gives mental assent to certain truths about God, but it produces no evidence of a new life in Christ (James 2:17). The other is a God-given faith which includes being born again as a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). This is a living faith that is coupled with repentance (Acts 11:18). It flows out of a new heart that desires to bear fruit for the glory of God (Ezekiel 36:36; John 15:8). Which kind of faith do you have? Would you be willing to look to Scripture to test your faith? (2 Corinthians 13:5). If you truly are a Christian, it will give you greater assurance of salvation (2 Peter 1:10). However, what if you fail the test and discover you are not a true Christian? By God’s grace, you must obey the Gospel before you perish forever (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9).
Two Ways to Eternity
The Lord Jesus said we must: “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13-14). The narrow way is hard because there will be opposition, struggles and afflictions for those who follow the Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 6:12). Jesus warned that false prophets will lead people away from the narrow gate (Matthew 7:15). They will point people to the broad way with a distorted gospel of works, religious rituals and self righteousness (Galatians 1:6-9). The broad way is easy because people never search the Scriptures to find the narrow way.
Two Responses to the Gospel
The only response unto salvation is to "repent and believe the Gospel" (Mark 1:15). Jesus declared, “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). God is commanding “all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). Repentance and faith produces “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Assurance should not only be based on a past decision, but also on a present reality. Yet, some believe they are Christians because they responded to an altar call, or asked Jesus into their heart, or made a one-time decision to follow Christ, or repeated a sinner’s prayer or were water baptized. These responses are not found in the Word of God.
Two Types of Converts
True converts have been born-again and have passed from spiritual death to eternal life in Christ (John 3:3. Ephesians 2:5). Godly sorrow for their sins produced a repentance that led to salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone (2 Corinthians 7:10; Ephesians 2:8-9). Once slaves to sin, they have become obedient from the heart to God’s Word (Romans 6:17). They are sealed and led by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13; Romans 8:14). They prove to be the Lord’s disciples by abiding in His Word and being led by the Spirit (John 8:31-32; Romans 8:14).
False converts are not aware of their perilous condition. They remain dead in their sins because they do not have the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9). They love themselves and the world more than they love God and His children (1 John 2:15; 1 John 3:14). These people deceive themselves when they call Jesus “Lord” and hear His Word, but do not do what He says (1 John 2:4; James 1:22). They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny Him (Titus 1:16). They desire Jesus as a priest to pardon their sins, but not as a prophet to instruct them, or a king to rule over them. When affliction or persecution arises because of the Word, they fall away (Matthew 13:21).
What Will You Do?
Some will reject this warning and continue to walk in darkness and deception. Others will test their faith in light of God’s Word and realize they have never been born again (1 John). By God’s grace, they must believe the only Gospel which is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16). May God grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth that Jesus Christ died for our sins, was buried and was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:4, 2 Timothy 2:24-26).