Graceful Truth

Filter By:
Showing items filed under “Christian Life ”

AM I A TRUE CHRISTIAN?

main image

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?

Posted by Bill Elliff

7 REASONS WE SHOULD EMBRACE GOD'S TRAINING

main image

Every significant task on earth requires training. The homemaker, the accountant, the pastor, the CEO all have to learn somewhere and somehow. To do life in the way God intends requires training, and God Himself, our Father, is our Master Trainer. 

IT'S HARD

Ask anyone who has been trained or is in the process. To be rightly developed, there is a process involved that is often not easy. Part of this is to acclimate the trainee to the rigors of what they are about to do. A soldier must face some simulated battlefield conditions to be ready for the real thing. 

We should expect nothing less from God as He equips us for the most important task of living purposefully to advance the kingdom, overcoming the world, the flesh, and the devil, and helping men towards heaven. There is a serious mission ahead for the believer with eternal consequences at stake.

We often do not embrace His training. We get resistant, confused, and upset at what is happening and what He is either causing or allowing. He uses difficult situations, tough relationships, hardship and suffering in ways that prepare us for all of life. Look through Hebrews, Chapter 11 at the great Roll Call of Faith and you will see that no great man or woman was spared this discipline.

In Hebrews, Chapter 12, the writer tells us that we should not "regard lightly the discipline of the Lord nor faint when you are reproved by Him." And, then He tells us why.

1. IT IS MOTIVATED BY PERFECT LOVE

For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives (vs. 6)

2. IT IS BUILDING INTO US ESSENTIAL DISCIPLINES

It is for discipline that you endure (vs. 7)

3. IT IS FROM OUR PERFECT FATHER WHO IS TREATING US AS HIS OWN CHILDREN

God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? (vs. 7-9)

4. EACH TRAINING IS MOMENTARY AND HAS AN END

For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them (vs. 10)

All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful (vs. 11)

5. IT IS ALWAYS DESIGNED TO BE BENEFICIAL

He disciplines us for our good (vs. 10)

6. ITS END GOAL IS TO MAKE US INTO HIS IMAGE

He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness (vs. 10)

7. ALTHOUGH HARD, IT WILL YIELD THE PEACEFUL FRUIT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness (vs. 11)

As we are going through seasons of God’s training, we must see it for what it really is and embrace it with understanding, and even joy, giving thanks in all things. It is perfect in its purpose and will yield fruit in your life that you long for and cannot obtain any other way. 

And we must never give up. Look to Jesus. Look to our Elder Brother who “endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (vs. 2)

 

Posted by Bill Elliff

Previous12345678910 ... 4445