AM I A TRUE CHRISTIAN?
There are thousands, perhaps millions of people who believe they are Christians who will never enter heaven. This is not my evaluation, but the clear teaching of Christ Himself. Christ spoke of those who "come to you in sheep clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves" (Matthew 7:15). It is not the outward clothing, but the inward heart that indicates a true believer.
Only God can perfectly evaluate the heart. But, what is the only way to potentially know the difference between a professing believer and a real believer?
A true believer has a surrendered will that yields spiritual fruit.
A SURRENDERED WILL
Before a person comes to Christ, they are living according to their own will. They are in control of their lives. They are the lord and master.
At some point, God begins to convince them of "sin, righteousness, and coming judgment" which Jesus said is the Spirit's work (John 16:8-11). They realize they are separated from God because of their sin and that they need Christ … that the result of following their own will and plan is disastrous.
Then, in a work done by God and through the hearing of the gospel, He reveals to them that Christ died on the cross to take care of this problem. They have a change of mind regarding their lives and direction (repentance) and cry out in faith for Christ to save them (faith).
With this step of faith, there is also a very natural and spontaneous surrender of the will, if real repentance and faith has occurred. "I don't want to be control any longer. I want Christ to be in charge." This surrender yields a life that gives evidence of true salvation.
"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter." (Matthew 7:21, emphasis mine).
The evidence of true salvation is a person who follows Christ. A follower follows from the inside out, from a convicted, repentant, believing heart. This is not perfect in this life as they still deal with temptation and a weakened flesh, but the trajectory of their life is after Christ. And this leads to the second evidence of true salvation.
THAT YIELDS SPIRITUAL FRUIT
Twice in this Sermon on the Mount passage (Matthew 7:15-23), Jesus proclaimed, "You will know them by their fruit." Spiritual fruit is outlined for us in several places, but most clearly in Galatians 5:22-23.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
These are not external qualities only, but that which flows from a person in whom the Spirit of God dwells and who is walking by the Spirit's leadership and power. None of these qualities are human, but Divine. And when you see these fruits in spiritual power, it is evidence that there is One residing in a person that is producing His life through them.
A FINAL TEST
Jesus never spoke of our salvation in terms of merely a past experience, but a present reality. Here are two questions we must answer:
- Through repentance and faith, have I trusted in Christ alone for my salvation and, as a result, surrendered my will to the will of the Father?
- Is there, not perfectly, but continually over time, the evidence of spiritual fruit in my life? Is Christ in me producing His life through me?
It is a healthy exercise to test yourself—to ask such questions in your life, for nothing could be more important than your life now and your eternal destiny. Paul calls for such evaluation and states the acid test of true salvation in 1 Corinthians 13:5:
Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?
Is Christ in you?