Saving Faith: Tests & Evidence That are NOT Proof

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Allyn
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Saving Faith: Tests & Evidence That are NOT Proof

Post by Allyn » Tue May 05, 2009 6:33 pm

Saving Faith: Tests & Evidence That are NOT Proof

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.

This post is to aid in answering the question: "Can a Christian know for sure they have genuine saving faith?"

The answer is YES! The same way we can prove other things: tests & evidence. Of course, we can only prove this to OURSELVES with an open and honest heart. I cannot prove it for you, and you cannot prove it for me. God does not leave us hanging with a blind hope that we might be saved. He gives us plenty of objective measurements to evaluate this in our own heart.

We are going to look at things that WILL BE TRUE for the genuine Christian, but are NOT proof of genuine saving faith because they can be true for the unsaved as well.

Isn't that a waste of time though? Not at all. All the things we will look at today SHOULD be part of your life if you are genuinely saved. But by these standards alone, you cannot have assurance of genuine faith. If you are MISSING these things, you need not go further because tomorrow's list can NOT be true for you if today's list is not. You'll see what I mean as we go along.

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

Good Works

A person can be part of and engage in all manners of apparent good works and still not be saved. We can easily see examples of all sorts of people, religious or not, that spend their life engaged in good works.

In the end, God will test each man's work with "fire" and only those works done for and by the righteousness of God that is given to the genuinely saved will survive. The rest will be burned up, shown to be worthless and dead. Just as a straw house may provide some temporary benefit, if it is put to the test, it is easily destroyed.

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)

Good works done by the unsaved are like that straw house. There is some temporary benefit and result, but in the end it is prove to be worthless eternally.

However, good works are absolutely part of the genuine Christian life. Some argue that emphasizing good works appeal to man's pride, or is an effort to earn salvation. That can be true of course, but for the genuine Believer, good works are the outward manifestation of a changed heart. Good works are the manifestation of appreciation for our salvation and showing of God's love to a hurting world. Oh yeah... we are commanded to do good works too, so that should end that arguement (read the book of James too):

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 Deicsion

Often we point to some act, decision or moment that appears to prove our genuine faith. I said the sinners prayer; I was baptized; I went forward at a revival to receive Jesus in to my heart.

Of course some point of decision WILL be true for all the genuinely saved but a point of decision is not proof of salvation by stretch as evidenced by the multitudes of "decisions" that are never accompanied by any long term transformation of their life. Decisions can be made from emotion, intellect, coercion or impulsiveness with no accompanying spiritual motivation.

Religious interest or ministry involvement

Being interested in God or active in Christian ministry will be true of genuine Christians, but is not PROOF of genuine salvation. I don't have to explain the common experience of knowing folks who are routinely engaged in ministry or religious activity who are OBVIOUSLY not true Believers, or over the long haul prove they were not as their real life and real motivations come to light.

The Bible even tells us about wolves in sheeps clothing, tares among the wheat and false teachers who will all appear to be engaged in the business of the Kingdom. In 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. In 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.

The Bible makes it abundantly clear, and indeed warns us, that there will always be "fake Christians" who give appearance of genuine faith, and most probably even believe they realy are saved (as opposed to malicious pretending).

Morality or Goodness

Morality and goodness are certainly true of genuine Christians, but the unsaved are capable of understanding right and wrong, and engaging in civil good. People who seem to lead hedonistic or even evil lives can at times show an understanding and response to what is "good". Even death row murderers abhor pedophiles and rapists. Just about every person is capable to some degree of being "good" and grasping morality.

The rich young ruler was a shining example of goodness. A stalward citizen, a religious man, good in every way... but still lost:

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)

I would guess this unsaved man was actually "gooder" than most of us. But he was unsaved because his heart was not transformed and he valued something more highly than God.

If we have genuine saving faith, then goodness and high morals WILL be true of us but they are not PROOF of genuine saving faith.

Knowledge of the Facts

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. Religious organizations, colleges and churches can be filled with people who KNOW the right things but have not been transformed by them. The Bible tells us clearly of multitudes of people who should and do know about God intellectually and still reject Him:

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)

We all know people who "know" about Jesus, who "know" the Gospel, who "know" the Truth but still reject or ignore it. You must have the right knowledge to have genuine saving faith, but that knowledge alone is no proof of genuine saving faith.

Contrition or Conviction About Sin

A person can be sorry about their sin, recognize it, and even try to do something about it without being genuinely saved. It is a fleshly act done in human power and will ultimately fail (just as all our decisions, convictions and efforts done separate from God's power ultimately fail).

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. While it seem selfless on the surface, it is in reality totally self-centered because it is an attempt to merit grace by our own acts/choices of contrition. It is ultimately prideful because it declares "I can pay for sin my own way, not God's."

Paul spoke the truth to Felix and he obviously was convicted about it but told Paul to get lost:

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

A genuine Christian can experience true assurance of salvation (that’s what this lesson is about) but even the unsaved can wrongly be “sure” they are saved because they are basing it on the wrong test, the wrong evidence or on the wrong reasons.

In 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 background
I’ve always been told I was saved
I really sincerely FEEL I am saved
Someone else says I am saved
Anecdotal evidence (my life is going well, so God must be pleased)

All the things we've looked are things that WILL be true of genuine saving faith, but are not PROOF of genuine saving faith. The unsaved can exhibit this things as well.

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Homer
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Re: Saving Faith: Tests & Evidence That are NOT Proof

Post by Homer » Wed May 06, 2009 11:06 am

Allyn,

A thought provoking post; I await the sequel. I agree with the points made but IMO this passage is misapplied, as it commonly is misunderstood:

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)

If you are interested, I will explain.

Looking for more! God bless. Homer

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Re: Saving Faith: Tests & Evidence That are NOT Proof

Post by Allyn » Wed May 06, 2009 11:43 am

Homer wrote:Allyn,

A thought provoking post; I await the sequal. I agree with the points made but IMO this passage is misapplied, as it commonly is misunderstood:

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)

If you are interested, I will explain.

Looking for more! God bless. Homer
Please do.

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Re: Saving Faith: Tests & Evidence That are NOT Proof

Post by TK » Wed May 06, 2009 11:54 am

John MacArthur has a similar list:
THINGS THAT DON'T PROVE OR DISPROVE SAVING FAITH

1. Visible Morality

What do I mean by that? Well some people are just good people. Some of them are very religious like Mormon people who on the outside appear very moral, or Roman Catholic people, or any other kind of cult or religion. Some people are just good people. They're honest, they're forthright [trustworthy] in their dealings. They're grateful people, they're kind people, and they have an external visible kind of morality. By the way, the Pharisees certainly rested on that for their hope. They're loving people, some of them are tender hearted people. But of loving and serving God, they know nothing and feel nothing. Whatever the person does or leaves undone does not involve God.

This person is honest in his dealings with everybody except God. He won't rob anybody but God. He is thankful and loyal to everybody but God. He speaks contemptuously and reproachfully of no one but God. He has good relationships with everybody but God. He's very much like the rich young ruler who says, "All these things have I kept, what do I lack?" This is visible morality, but it does not necessarily mean salvation. People can "Clean up their act" by reformation rather than regeneration.

2. Intellectual Knowledge

Secondly, another thing that doesn't prove or disprove saving faith is intellectual knowledge. Intellectual knowledge. This doesn't prove true faith. Knowledge of the truth is necessary for salvation and visible morality is the fruit of salvation, but neither one equals salvation. You see, you can know all about God. And you can know all about Jesus, and who He was and that He came into the world and died on the cross, and that He rose again, and that He's coming again. And you can even know more of the details of His life. You can understand all of that and turn your back on Christ.

The writer of Hebrews writes to those in chapter 6, who knowing all of that, refused Christ. In chapter 10 he says, "You're treading underfoot the Blood of Christ by not believing what you know is true." There are many people who know the Scripture and who have knowledge but are bound for Hell! You will never be saved without that knowledge, but having that knowledge doesn't necessarily save you.

3. Religious Involvement

Thirdly, religious involvement. Religious involvement is not necessarily a proof of true faith. There are people who have, according to Paul writing to Timothy, 2 Timothy 3:5, "A form of godliness, but powerless." An empty kind of religion. Remember the virgins in Matthew 25 who were waiting, and waiting, and waiting for the coming of the bridegroom, who is Christ. And they are waiting and waiting, but when He comes they don't go in. They had everything together except the oil in their lamps. That which was most necessary was missing. The oil, probably emblematic of the new life, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. They weren't regenerate. They were religious but not regenerate. You can have external visible morality, intellectual knowledge, and religious involvement, and it may not indicate genuine faith.

4. Active Ministry

Fourth, active ministry. Balaam was a prophet. Saul of Tarsus thought he was serving God by killing Christians. Judas was a public preacher. Judas was an Apostle. Remember Matthew 7, "Many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, and done many wonderful works? Cast out demons in Your name?' And He says to them, 'Depart from Me, you workers of iniquity, I never knew you.'" Ministry activity, that's not necessarily a proof of saving faith.

5. Conviction of Sin

Lots of people feel bad about sin. Listen, this whole world is full of people that are just guilt ridden to the core. You know, fifteen years ago, we used to talk about people going to the Psychologist, and we used to say, and it was pretty true from tests, "That most of the people who went to the Psychologist were suffering from guilt." People used to write books about that. I remember the Menniger (sp.) Clinic put out tremendous amount of material on the fact that all these people were suffering from guilt. Well, the Psychologists of the world have absolutely no answer for guilt, because the only answer is the Gospel.

Now what has happened in the last fifteen years, is that you don't have any people at all today who feel guilty, because we have come up with a new Psychology that eliminates the guilt. Now what we do is we displace the guilt on somebody else. And the new therapy is to make the person utterly irresponsible for any of the guilt that they might feel inside, and to free them from that guilt. And you do that by making the ultimate virtue pride, the ultimate virtue self-fulfillment, self-aggrandizement, self-glory, self-esteem, and that eliminates the need to feel guilty. So we really have come up with an utterly ungodly, unchristian, unbiblical Psychology, that has taken the guilt issue and eliminated it.

Now what happens in the Church, instead of the Preacher standing up to preach, "Freedom from guilt to guilty sinners," they expect him to preach self-esteem to egocentric people. The whole climate has changed. And we have been skewed in our message, because we have allowed the philosophy of the day to create a new kind of sinner who thinks he feels no guilt. And the most important thing you can preach to a bunch of sinners is the sin of their lives, and the law of God which they fall short of and the impending judgment they await. But that message is not popular because the new philosophy and the new psychology has long ago eliminated guilt.

We don't have people feeling guilt anymore, because they've learned that therapy can tell them they can put that guilt on somebody who did something to them. And now I don't care who you talk to, when they go into that kind of situation of counseling they will inevitably say, "I have been abused! I am a victim! I am not responsible for the way I am!" And so the sinner is dispossessed of his guilt and dispossessed of a direct approach of the Gospel. I liked sinners better when they felt guilty. They were much easier to deal with. But there are some people who do feel guilty. Some people who do feel guilty about sin. Felix trembled under the preaching of Paul, but never left his idols. The Holy Spirit convicts many of sin, righteousness, and judgment, and many that He convicts don't respond with true repentance. Some may even confess their sin. Some may even abandon their sin and say, "I don't like to live this way. I want to shape up." Amend their ways, but not necessarily come to saving faith. That's reformation, not regeneration. And no degree of conviction of sin is conclusive evidence of saving faith. Believe me, even the demons are convicted of their sins, that's why they tremble, but they are not saved.

6. Assurance

Some people say, "Well, I must be a Christian, I feel like one. I think I am one." Listen, just think it through. If to think you're a Christian makes you a Christian, then nobody could be deceived. Right? Because as soon as you thought you're a Christian--you'd be one! So you could never be deceived. The whole point of Satan's deception is to make people think they are Christians who aren't! That's the whole point. Many people feel sure they are saved--but they're not. I'll tell you, there are millions of Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses and Christian Scientists who believe they are on their way to Heaven! They're not.

People say, "God won't condemn me. I feel good about myself. I have assurance. I'm ok." That means nothing, necessarily.

7. A Time of Decision

I hear people say, "Well, I know I'm a Christian, because I remember when I signed the card. I remember when I prayed a prayer. I remember when I went forward in a Church service. I remember right where I was." I heard people say, "I remember right where I was the moment I did that." Oh really? Listen, because you remember a moment doesn't mean that moment meant anything. It doesn't mean that decision was valid. Nobody's salvation is verified by a past moment. People have prayed prayers, and gone forward in church services, and signed cards, and gone into prayer rooms, and been baptized, and joined churches, and never had saving faith.

So those are some of the non-proofs. They don't really prove anything. You say, "Well, what does prove saving faith?" Well, let me give you quickly a list.


THINGS THAT PROVE SAVING FAITH

1. Love For God

Now you're talking! Now you're talking down about the heart, because Romans 8:7 says, "The carnal [sinful] mind is enmity [hostile] against God." The non-Christian resents God; rebels
against God down inside, but the regenerate mind is set to love the Lord with all heart, soul, mind, and strength. His delight is in the Excellency of God, who is the first and highest affection of his renewed soul. God becomes his chief happiness. By the way, there is a great difference between such love for God and the selfish attitude that focuses only on my own happiness and sees God as a means to my end, rather than as me to the end of glorifying Him. In fact Jesus said, "If you love your Father and Mother more than me, you're not even my disciple" (Matthew 10:37).

Do you love God? Do you love His nature? Do you love His glory? Do you love His name? Do you love His kingdom? Do you love His holiness? Do you love His will? Supreme love for God is decisive evidence of the true faith. Is your heart lifted when you sing His praises--because you love Him?

2. Repentance From Sin

A proper love for God must involve a hatred of sin. Well, that's obvious. Who wouldn't understand that? If I love somebody, you assume that my loving them means that I seek their wellbeing. Right? If I said to you, "I love my wife, but I could care less what happened to my wife," you'd question my love. Because true love seeks the highest good of its object. So if I say that I love God, then I will have to hate sin, because sin offends God. Sin blasphemes God. Sin curses God. Sin seeks to destroy God and his work and His kingdom. Sin killed His Son. And if I say that, "I love God, but I tolerate sin," then you have every reason to question my love. I cannot love God without hating that which is set to destroy Him. So true repentance involves confession, it involves turning from sin. I should be grieved over my sin.

I should ask myself, "Do I have a settled conviction of the evil of sin?" Does sin appear to me as the evil and bitter thing it really is? Does conviction of sin in me increase as I walk with Christ? Do I hate it not merely because it is ruinous to my own soul but because it is offensive to my God whom I love? Does it more grieve me when I sin then when I have trouble? In other words, what grieves me the most--my misfortune or my sin? Do my sins appear many? Frequent and aggravated? Do I find myself grieved over my sin--more than the sin of others? That's the mark of salvation. True saving faith--it loves God and it hates what God hates, which is sin.

3. Genuine Humility

It manifests genuine humility. This obviously comes through in the Beatitudes. The poor in spirit; those who hunger and thirst after righteousness; those who, in Matthew 18, are like a little child, humble and dependent; those who are in self-denial, willing to take up their cross and follow Him. The Lord receives those who come with a broken and contrite spirit. James says, "He gives grace to the humble." We must come as the Prodigal Son. Remember what he said in Luke 15, I think about verse 21, he said, "Father, I am not worthy to be called your son." There is no pride. There is no ego about religious achievement [or] spiritual accomplishment, but genuine humility.

4. Devotion to God's Glory

There is a devotion to God's glory. True saving faith that manifests genuine salvation shows devotion to God's glory. Whatever we do, whether we eat or drink, we are literally consumed with the Glory of God. We do what we do because we want to glorify Him. Oh sure, we fail in all of these things, but the direction of our life is in loving Him and hating sin, and being genuinely humble and self-denying, and knowing our unworthiness and being totally devoted to the Glory of God.

5. Continual Prayer

Humble, submissive, believing prayer marks true faith. We cry "Abba, Father" because the Spirit within us prompts that cry. Jonathan Edwards once preached a sermon titled, "Hypocrites are Deficient in the Duty of Secret Prayer." It's true. Hypocrites may pray publicly, because that's what hypocrites want to do is to impress people, but they are deficient in the duty of secret prayer. A true believer with true saving faith has a personal prayer life; private prayer life; seeks communion with God.

6. Selfless Love

Another mark of saving faith is selfless love. John says, "If you don't love your neighbor, your brother, or one in need, then how are we to believe the love of God dwells in you?" And also in 1 John 3, John says, "If you love God you'll love whom God loves. And we love Him and others because that's the response to Him loving us." John 13 says, "By this men know that we are true disciples--by our love for each other."

7. Separation from the World

Paul told the Corinthians that we haven't received the spirit of the world but the Spirit which is from God. And John put it this way, "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." A true believer is separated from the world. Again, I say, we fail in all these areas, but these are the direction of our lives. We aren't perfect. We haven't arrived, but we love God and want to love Him more. We hate sin and want to hate it more. We have a genuine humility and want more of it. We are devoted to God's glory. We have a prayer life that is private and personal. We have a love for others that comes from God, and we find ourselves disassociated from the world, as a general rule.

8. Spiritual Growth

If you are a true Christian you are going to be growing, and that means that you are going to be more and more like Christ. Life produces itself. If you're alive you are going to grow, there's no other way. You'll improve. You'll increase. You'll grow, because whoever has that new work begun (Philippians 1:6), is going to see it perfected. It's going to go on; it's going to keep moving. The Spirit is going to move you from one level of glory to the next. So you look at your life. Do you see spiritual growth? Do you see the decreasing frequency of sin? The increasing pattern of righteousness and devotion to God?

9. Obedience

Obedient living. "Every branch in me bears fruit." "Bears fruit," says John 15. In Ephesians 2:10, Paul says, "Look, you are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that you walk in them." That's obedience. We are saved unto the obedience of faith.

Look at your life. Do you see all those things? Including Selfless Love, Separation from the World, Spiritual Growth, and Obedience? If so, that's evidence of a saving faith.
TK

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Re: Saving Faith: Tests & Evidence That are NOT Proof

Post by TK » Wed May 06, 2009 11:59 am

I also heard a good sermon from Paul Washer on this topic:

Examine Yourself

TK

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Allyn
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Re: Saving Faith: Tests & Evidence That are NOT Proof

Post by Allyn » Wed May 06, 2009 12:39 pm

Part 2


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.

We are answering the question: "Can a Christian know for sure they have genuine saving faith?" The answer is YES. The Bible has many "tests" for us to apply and says much about the evidence that will be present in the life of the genuinely saved.

In the original blog message, we looked at things that will be present in the lives of those who are saved, but do not by themselves prove that salvation is genuine. Today we want to look at those things which ARE evidence of genuine salvation. If today's list is true in someone's life, then yesterday's list will be true as well.

Taking up your cross:

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

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:

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)

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:

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)

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.

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)

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:

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)

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.

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)

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.

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:

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)

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:

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

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:

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)

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.

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

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:

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

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:

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)

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.

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

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:

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)

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:

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)

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.

Can you know if you are genuinely saved? Can you have assurance? Of course. Test yourself, evaluate your life. If these things are true about you, you can have assurance you have genuine saving faith.

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Allyn
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Re: Saving Faith: Tests & Evidence That are NOT Proof

Post by Allyn » Fri May 08, 2009 6:20 am

"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 truth - Php 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 truth - Ga 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. 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. 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. 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.)

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Ian
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Re: Saving Faith: Tests & Evidence That are NOT Proof

Post by Ian » Thu Oct 29, 2009 4:55 am

Having read your posts I can only conclude that I was never saved in the first place. I fail nearly every proof here. I strive, but I don`t strive enough. I am partly reformed and sympathetic to the things of God, but seemingly not regenerated. And it seems to me that the majority of Christians are in the same boat. For example, none of my Christian friends have ever given away all that they have to the poor. They may claim to have been "willing to" if that was God`s will for them, but ultimately rationalised it away somehow. None of them have actually done it.. Both they and I had better hope that the salvific net is, through God`s mercy, cast wider. Otherwise the afterlife looks bleak indeed for us.
And the tragedy is - both I and they have refrained from doing things in my/their lives which I/they would have found very "tasty". But we didn`t because it wasn`t "the right thing to do". But such self-denials will have been all in vain, making us, of all men, most to be pitied.
Like the rich young ruler I turn away sadly, but I`m not even rich. I`m a kiddies bus driver at the bottom end of Swiss society. I can`t even support myself, let alone a family.
I notice also that only two people have posted here, and the post is nearly 6 months old. Does this indicate that this post has caused the same reaction in others?

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steve
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Re: Saving Faith: Tests & Evidence That are NOT Proof

Post by steve » Thu Oct 29, 2009 9:36 am

For some reason, I don't remember having seen this thread previously.

As for the matter of giving all that you have away, I would point out that Peter is one of those who is said to have forsaken all that he had (Matt.19:27), yet he still had a house, a boat, fishing equipment, a family, etc. This forsaking, I think, refers to a transaction of the heart. It means renouncing one's own claims of ownership to his possessions, his relations, and even his own life. These things are now the possessions of his Master, and he is the steward of the Master's things in his hand. Though I think the transaction is made in one moment of surrender to the lordship of Christ, it is lived out for the remainder of one's life, stewarding one's time and resources as one believes God would wish for them to be managed and/or dispersed.

It is not easy to spend a lifetime this way unless one has come to the point of 1) loving God more than the world and life itself (not too difficult when we contemplate all that He has sacrificed for us—"We love Him because He first loved us") , and 2) the full and cheerful surrender of one's own self as one who has been "bought with a price" (1 Cor.6:20).

I have four lectures called "How Can I Know That I'm Really Saved," which can be found here: http://www.theos.org/media/category/108

I hope this may help to make things clearer.

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Ian
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Re: Saving Faith: Tests & Evidence That are NOT Proof

Post by Ian » Sat Oct 31, 2009 4:10 pm

Thank you Steve. I wish I had had you standing over my shoulder, providing such contextual insight, when I first endeavoured to embark on "quiet times" at the age of 18, barely able to handle the bluntness of some of what I was reading.
By the way, I appreciated your exchange with Hosé on Friday`s broadcast, discussing the possible extension of salvation beyond mere forgiveness and your comments about the state of affairs at birth, (in contrast to the Calvinist view, which unfortunately has taken hold in my and no doubt many other people`s sub-consciouses).

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