Thoughts on life and Scripture...

Monday, August 7, 2017

Ruminations On Wealth And Poverty

Every so often I come across this idea that people are wealthy because of some privileged background or by taking advantage of the poor. Those in poverty are said to be there because they are taken advantage of or because they belong to some minority group. In our culture, many look down on the wealthy and want to punish them for their 'crime' of acquiring wealth. The sad thing is that these ideas are often held by Christians. But this simplistic view of wealth and poverty doesn't stand up to the Bible. I would especially turn your attention to the Proverbs, which have much to say on this subject. I don't want to write a long piece on this subject, just a few thoughts.

  People become wealthy through various means. Some are born rich and maintain their wealth through good business skills. Others are born poor, but rise up to wealth through hard work, skill and prudence. There are those who gain their wealth by scams, dishonesty, bribes and other sinful ways. These people often will live off the labor and pain of others. A few people can became rich through lotteries, inheritances, and successful treasure hunts. There is a great variety in how someone becomes wealthy.

   The Bible does not condemn people for being wealthy. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Job, and Joseph of Arimathea were all rich people. In fact riches are a blessing from God. But the Bible condemns the love of money and its waste. Wealth is to be used for the glory of God. David used his wealth to finance the building of the temple and so we should use ours for Christ's kingdom. Paul tells Timothy to "Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed." 1 Timothy 6:17-19.  Well would it be for the church if it had more godly rich people to fund the work of gospel ministry.

  All material poverty eventually traces its roots to sin. That is why Jesus could say that you will always have the poor with you. Mark 14:7. Old Mother Sin will always be here in this present age and so her children, like Mr. Poverty, will be with her til then as well. Poverty may be the sin of the one who is poor or the sin of others who caused one to be poor or it may be the result of the curse that came with sin. Either way sin is the cause of poverty. Some are poor because of addictions, foolish management of wealth, and greed. Some people come to poverty because of their crimes. Harming or abusing someone may cause someone's poverty as they are sued and now have to pay out a large sum of money. Laziness causes others to become or stay poor. In countries like North Korea or Venezuela, people are poor because of the corrupt and foolish governments that run the country. Theft or fraud can cause others to become poor. There are many ways one stays or becomes poor, but it all goes back to sin.

 Sin brought a curse on this world. Part of that curse is trouble like disease, floods, droughts, earthquakes and so on. These natural disasters can also cause poverty. A plague of locusts can turn a prosperous farm or area into a desolate wasteland. If someone gets really sick, they can't work and have extra bills to pay because of their illness. This can also lead to people becoming poor. In these cases there isn't a way for a person to prevent the onslaught of poverty. We must trust that God has a good purpose in all this, even if it seems all dark to us.

  It certainly isn't wrong to be in poverty so long as it is not because of your sins. Poverty is not a curse, even if it is because of the curse. The poor may have some advantage to the rich in this life as they may see the hopelessness of the things of the world better. James 1:9-10. It can be better spiritually to be poor, but not always.  Both rich and poor must learn to be content in whatever situation God has placed them in. Like Paul we should be able to say, " I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am." See Phil 4:11-13.

  Since there are so many reasons someone becomes poor, there are also many ways needed to get someone out of poverty. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Governments like to think that giving money will solve all our poverty problems. But this is a naive solution. If the problem is addiction or out of control spending, more money will only make things worse.  Each individual case must be examined to see where exactly the cause of the poverty comes from. When the problem is identified, then the cure can be administered. There may be times when the correct solution to a person's poverty is to do nothing but leave them in it. "If anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either." 2 Thess 3:10.  As you can imagine this approach is time consuming and challenging. It requires a lot of wisdom and discernment. But trying to relieve those in poverty this way, will help achieve our goal of helping the poor more often than not.

Brad

Friday, August 4, 2017

Horatio Spafford And The Hammer Of Hell

Horatio Spafford is best remembered for his hymn 'When Peace Like a River' or "It is Well With My Soul.' I have often heard the story behind this hymn. Spafford's wife and four daughter were traveling to Europe on a ship when they collided with another ship. Spafford's wife lived but all four daughters died. Later as Spafford sailed past the spot where his daughters had drowned, he wrote this famous hymn, which is often sung in churches. This is the first verse of that hymn.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
  • Refrain:
    It is well with my soul,
    It is well, it is well with my soul. 

       But the story of Spafford's life after this hymn was written is often forgotten or ignored. Later on Spafford returned to America with his wife. They left their church after some doctrinal disputes and set up their own church. They believed that they were the only true church. The church was very much like many of the charismatic churches of today. The meetings were chaotic, filled with strange practices. Fake healings and resurrections were attempted. All manner of 'new' revelations were received. They looked for guidance from God through one women's sniffles, for example. And then there were the sanctified oranges, which I don't know exactly what purpose they served. All in all there was a lot of strange happenings at this church. 

 Bad practice comes from bad theology and Spafford and his group had plenty of it. Spafford denied the doctrine of hell. He believed that all people would go to heaven, even the devil would make it there. He held to some form of purgatory. Spafford was really interested in eschatology. He believed he knew when Christ was coming back and went out to Jerusalem to meet Him there. Or he may have been running away from all his debts and debtors. 

 Spafford and some of his followers went to Jerusalem to meet Christ, which never happened. But they did set up a cult-like organization. They shared everything in common there. All the strange behavior continued there. This group abolished marriage and family for a time. They were known for gross sexual immorality. Spafford died in 1888 and then his wife took over leadership. She considered herself a prophetess and continued the wild immoralities. 

When I read all this, it was hard to believe that this was the man who wrote that well known hymn. How could he go from that height to this low? The pathetic ending of this man's life makes you seriously question his salvation. A true Christian perseveres. Ironically Spafford called his group 'The Overcomers.' Yet when you look at his life and the lives of his followers, they were not at all overcomers. "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world- our faith." 1 John 4:4   

 A true Christian continues on in the faith to the end. The reason no Christian will lose their salvation is that God will enable them to persevere. Jesus said, "I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no on will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one." John 10:28-30. Charles Spurgeon expressed this truth like this, "If He hath called thee, nothing can divide thee from His love. Distress cannot sever the bond; the fires of persecution cannot burn the link; the hammer of hell cannot break the chain." God Almighty will not let go of us, even if all the powers of the devil and his host should try to pull us from His hands. 

 It is also true that we are commanded to persevere. Here are some examples: 

"But Christ was faithful as a Son over His house- whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end." Heb 3:6. 

"For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end." Heb 3:14.   

"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering,..." Heb 10:23. 

"Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what has been promised." Heb 10:35-36.   

 God causes the Christian to persevere by working in His people so that they endure and hold fast. We strive to endure because God is at work in us.  

It is easy to start well in the Christian faith. It is hard to finish well. Every Christian will get over the finish line, even if God has to drag us over it. But let us make every effort to run well even to the end. A story like the one about Horatio Spafford should give us cause to pause and tremble. We ought to watch and pray more diligently that we will not fall into temptation and disgrace our Lord and Savior. 


"Now to Him, who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen." 
Jude 24-25.


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

How To Be A Christian Sports Fan

Christianity is not a one day a week religion. It isn't confined to a few areas of life. Christianity affects everything. Jesus Christ is Lord of every single part of our lives. Eating, drinking, exercising, driving, singing are all to be conformed to God's word. We are like a dilapidated house. Every room and space is in need of a renovation. So every area of our lives needs to be scrutinized to see if it is being done in a God-glorifying way. One area that needs to be examined is how we watch sports. How are Christian sports fans to be different than the sports fans of this world?

 What I find in the sports world is that people are dehumanized. Instead of seeing them as real people who have struggles and troubles like the rest of us, they seem to become mere objects on the screen. This can be seen in how people talk about players on their team, on the other teams or even the referees. People boo those players they don't like. Players are sharply criticized when they don't meet our approval or standard. The referees are cussed in anger when a call doesn't go our teams way. The opposing team is often looked at as an enemy to be destroyed. These are just some examples of a lack of love for those playing the game.

  God's word calls us to show love, respect, kindness and understanding to others. All people are made in the image of God and, therefore, deserve to be treated with dignity. If we do believe this, we will watch sports in a different way. Booing, catcalls, and unfair criticism have no place for the Christian while he watches sports.We should be patient with the officials even when they make a mistake. We should be able to appreciate the talents of all the players on each team, even when our team is losing. We ought not to rejoice, even if it is only inwardly, if the other team's star player is hurt. Maybe next time you watch your favorite team play ask yourselves 'How can I show love to those playing this game? How can I honour God in how I watch this game?'

  In Canada one of our religions is hockey. Maybe in the American South, it is football. Too often people idolize sports.  Some people get depressed after their team loses. Some will get angry. Either way these responses show that they worship their team or sport too much. Even Christians can have a sinful preoccupation with sports. We fail to consider how sports fits into the eternal plan of God. How important do you think it is to God's kingdom for your team to win the championship? This world and your team will all pass away, but God's kingdom will never pass away. We are to seek His kingdom and His righteousness first of all. Watching sports can be a nice way to relax. It is a blessing to enjoy. But in the end it is only a game and doesn't matter that much compared to the eternity ahead of us. Millions of souls are perishing and entering into a horrifying eternity in hell. The gospel needs to be preached to them. What is a sport game to this reality?!! A Christian should have a Biblical perspective when watching sports. Sure, we can cheer for our team to win, but if they don't, it shouldn't upset us. Being a sports fan is a good hobby, but don't make it your idol.

  Lastly, we should be careful to limit our time watching sports. "Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil." Ephesians 5:15. A hockey game lasts for a couple hours. Now if you watch sports every night or every other night, that can be a lot of time spent in sports. Is that a wise use of time when you consider what I said in the last paragraph? Is there not more important things that could be done? Could that time be better used to serve Christ's church? Or that time could be used to read your Bible and pray or care for your wife and family? A real danger with being a sports fan is that it can eat up much of your time. As such, we need to be disciplined in how much time we give to the hobby of watching sports. Make it your slave, and don't let it master you.


Brad

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Christian Test: Part 3

This will be the last post about assurance of salvation. I have been trying to show from the Bible that there are certain questions we can ask ourselves to determine if we are indeed saved and so gain an assurance of our salvation. In the last post we saw there must be repentance, faith, obedience, the work of the Spirit and answered prayer in the life of a Christian. Now without further delay, here are the next traits of a Christian.

1) Do you love other Christians?

 A true Christian loves Jesus Christ. The one born of God will love God and will love those who are His children. 1 John 5:1-2. Jesus Christ loves His church. He suffered and died for her. And so a Christian will love the church as well. "The one who says he is in the light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother abides in the light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brothers is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes." 1 John 2:9-11.  Consider also this verse, "If someone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen." 1 John 4:20.  It is not enough to say that you love your friends at church. But do you love all of those born again because God loves them and saved them and adopted them into His family; the same family that you are now part of? Do you love Christians who disagree with you on points of doctrine and practice or are not very lovable at times? Do you love the church where ever she may be found and seek to do her good? If you truly love God and have been born of God, you will seek the good of His church.

2) Are you disgusted with worldliness?

"Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves, the world, the love of the Father is not in him." 1 John 2:15. The world is the collective mass of sin and error of the people in this world. It is the kingdom of darkness over which Satan rules. The world's values, habits, beliefs and pleasures are seen on the movie screen, on TV, on the magazine rack, in liberal churches, in Buddhists temples and so on. Can you love sin? Can you love worldly wisdom? Can you be at home among ungodly friends?  If so, then there are some serious problems in your life and you may not be a Christian. Christians reject the world. The philosophies of this world are repulsive to the believer. The humor and entertainment of the world is nauseating. The Christian will walk against the grain of society, because he loves God, and truth, and holiness, and seek after His kingdom and righteousness first of all. "You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God ? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." James 4:4.

3) Are you persecuted for the sake of Christ?

   A Christian will hate the world, but the world also hates the Christian. The world loves darkness and hates the light. Since Christians are of the light, the world will hate them and persecute them. "Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." 2 Timothy 3:12. Cain killed Abel. Why? "Because his deeds were evil, and his brother's were righteous. Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you." 1 John 3:13. And so this has been the case from then until now. The children of Cain hate the righteousness of the children of Abel because it bothers their consciences and condemns them. "This is the judgement, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed." John 3:19-20  Have you suffered for Christ? Maybe you have not been tortured or put in prison. But have you been excluded from others because you are a Christian? Have you been mocked or insulted because you bear the name of Christ?  Have you been slandered against because you are of the Light? Have you shared in the sufferings of Christ? If you have, you can be sure that you are part of the Kingdom of Light. The more godly you will live, the more people will hate you and the more joy and assurance you will enjoy.

 This is the end of the Christian test. I know it wasn't exhaustive, but I think I covered most of the questions. If there was something I missed, let me know. A good resource is  the book 'Biblical Doctrines' edited by John Macarthur and Richard Mayhue. See pages 649-653.

  Hopefully, after looking over these questions, you will gain greater assurance. If you did, then praise God and continue to make your calling and election sure. But if you don't see these qualities in your life, then maybe you aren't a Christian. Or you could be an immature Christian who needs growth. I would advise you to talk to a mature Christian for further counsel.

Brad

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Christian Test: Part 2

 In the last post I looked at 3 evidences of a Christian. Repentance, faith and obedience will be seen in every true Christian. In this post I will look at a number of other evidences of a Christian so that we may obtain assurance of faith or be shown to not be Christians and so turn from our sin to Christ.

  1) Do you see the work of the Spirit in your life?

 When a person is saved the Holy Spirit indwells them. "Having believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance," Eph 1:13-14.  The Holy Spirit's primary task is to sanctify us. Thus if we are Christians we will see the results of the ministry of the Spirit in holy lives. "By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit." 1 John 4:13.

 The Holy Spirit will produce holiness in the life of the believer. This is not just outward action, but an inward transformation. The famous passage is Galatians 5: 22-23. There it lists the fruit of the Spirit. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control; against such things there is no law." An apple tree will produce apples. An orange tree will produce oranges and a person that has the Spirit living inside them will produce the fruit of the Spirit. Are these seen in your life?

  The Holy Spirit is the teacher of truth. He reveals the glorious truths of God's word. "As for you, the anointing which you have received  from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, abide in Him." 1 John 2:27. "But when He , the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth;" John 16:13. We need the Holy Spirit to teach us the truth of God's word. For when we are dead in our sins we can't understand or appreciate the glory of the truth. "But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them , because they are spiritually appraised." 1 Cor 2:14.  An evidence the Spirit is working in our lives is when we begin to see the truth, wisdom and greatness of the gospel and the glory of Christ. We love God's word. Our eyes are opened and it becomes clear to us. We have a hunger for the Bible which results in the daily reading and study of God's word. All this is evidence that the Spirit is at work within us.

 The Spirit also gives true believers spiritual discernment so that they hold fast to essential doctrine. Consider 2 John 9, "Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son." Or 1 John 4:6, "We are from God; he who know God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error." Or "Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him." 1 John 4:15. Consider also 1 John 2:20-24 and 1 John 5:1.  This doesn't mean Christians are never in doctrinal error. But the Spirit works in us so that we hold fast to those essential and major doctrines, like the divinity and humanity of Christ, the Trinity, the substitutionary atonement. Cults like the Mormons, JW's and others deny these and other essential doctrines. Thus they show by what they believe that they are not Christians. Christians will be able to discern false teachers and teaching.

  The Holy Spirit will also testify to our adoption as God's children. "The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God," Rom 8:16.  In salvation we are adopted as God's children. He is now our Father. The Holman study note on this verse says this "By the Spirit we have a consciousnesses that God is our Father. It is the mark of a Christian to cry out to his Father in prayer." John Macarthur in his study Bible says this, ""God's Holy Spirit confirms the validity of our adoption, not by some inner, mystical voice, but by the fruit He produces in us and the power He provides for spiritual service."  Thus we come to God as children come to their father knowing that He will hear us through Christ.

2) Does God answer your prayers?

  "This is the confidence which we have before Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us." 1 John 5:14 and 1 John 3:22, "And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight." This doesn't mean God will answer our prayers in the exact manner that we think He should. But when we pray according to His will, laid out for us in scripture, then we can be sure that God will answer those prayers. If we are Christians, we should see some of God's answers to our prayers and that will give us greater assurance of faith.

 For the last blog post in this series I will look at a few more signs to see if  we are indeed Christians.

Brad

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Christian Test: Part 1

This post continues on from the last one in which I showed from the scripture that we are to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith. Assurance of salvation is important and God has shown us how to obtain it in His word. The letter of First John gives us a test by which we can see if we are indeed saved. Much of the texts used here will be taken from this book.

  This is a test that you must get 100% on. All the traits will be present in a Christian. But there will be varying degrees in the life of a believer. For example, all Christians have saving faith, but some will have strong faith while others weak faith. The greater these characteristics of a believer are seen in a their life, the greater will be their assurance. The less we see these qualities, the weaker will be our assurance.

1) Do I repent of my sins and trust in the finished work of Christ?

 How a person deals with sin, reveals his true colors. We are born loving sin. We don't need to learn to sin since it comes naturally. Left to himself, man would hold on to his sin rather than let it go and gain eternal life. The natural man pursues sins and continues to live in sin. He doesn't hate it and see it for what it is; the most hateful and vile evil in all the universe. 1 John 3:8, "The one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning."

 One of the first signs of new life in the soul is repentance. Repentance is a change in our attitude toward sin. It is much more than just saying sorry to God for your sins. It is more than just asking for forgiveness. With repentance there is a sorrow because we know that sins are an offence toward God. Sin doesn't seem lovely any more; it is seen as a disease, a poison, a pollutant, a rotting corpse. Then there will be confession of sin before God. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9. We cry out to God as the tax collector did, "God, be merciful to me, the sinner." Luke 18:13. Real repentance also involves a breaking away or turning from sin. We don't wallow in our sins like a pig in the mud. We make an effort to leave the mire. Christians may fall into the mud, but they won't stay there. "No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God" 1 John 3:9
   
   Repentance starts at the beginning of the Christian's life and continues throughout his life. We never stop confessing our sins and repenting. When we come in repentance for the first time, we come before God as judge begging Him to forgive us and give us salvation. When we come in repentance during the rest of our life, we come to God as our Father whom we have wronged so there can be reconciliation and enjoyment of that relationship.

  Faith always goes with repentance. Faith and repentance are as two wings which are both needed for the bird to fly. Both faith and repentance are needed for salvation. A Christian trusts or rests on the finished work of Christ. He knows he is bankrupt of righteousness. He knows he can do nothing to save himself. He believes that only Christ can save him. A Christian is convinced that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true and that he can only be saved by coming to Christ in faith. 

"Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God," 1 John 5:1.

"The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony  in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son." 1 John 5:10.

"That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." Rom 10:9.

 As with repentance, living by faith continues our whole lives. The just are saved by faith and the just continue by faith. A true Christian continues his whole life trusting Christ. Consider the lives of the saints in Hebrew 11. They did great deeds by faith. They courageously suffered and died by faith. They sailed through trouble and trials trusting in the unseen God who loved them. "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world-our faith." 1 John 5:4.

2) Is there a general pattern of obedience to God in my life?

 In many of these characteristics of a Christian there is some overlap. Obedience is the result of repentance and faith.

Jesus said in John 14:15 "If you love Me, you will keep my commandments."

and then later in verses 23-24 "If anyone loves Me, he will keep my word; and My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our abode with him. He who does not love me , does not keep my words;"

 1 John 3:10 states it very plainly, "By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God,"

or consider 1 John 2:29 , "If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him."

I could go on; there are many similar verses in the Bible. A Christian will be obedient to God's commands. This doesn't mean Christians have to be perfect. No Christian will be perfect in this life. But when you look at your life, ask yourselves, "Is there a general pattern of obedience in my life?" "Do I delight to do God's will?"  "Is there growth of obedience in my life?" The more obedient we are the greater our assurance of our salvation will be.

   These first two characteristics of a Christian are foundational. You simply can't be a Christian if you never have repented of your sins and trusted Christ alone for salvation. There must be obedience to God's law in a Christian's life and that obedience must be increasing. A true Christian will find joy and will delight in God's commands. There will be a desire to repent. There will be joy in resting in Jesus alone. All these traits are products of a new heart that is given at salvation.

The next post will continue this test of a genuine Christian.

Brad

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Are You Really A Christian?

One of the reasons I write is to study and clarify different issues and subjects. In a book I was reading, a pastor was dealing with assurance of salvation in his church. There were two views that were held in this church on how one can be assured that he is a Christian. I was unsatisfied with either of these two positions. So I went to my books and Bible to study the issue for myself. I hope to write a number of posts on how we can gain this assurance of salvation.

 On an issue like this the Bible is not silent. Assurance of salvation is important. Therefore God, through His word, teaches us how we can determine if we are truly born again. In fact the book of first John's main purpose is to show how we can have assurance. Without this assurance we are like a soldier running into battle without his helmet, exposed to many attacks.Without this assurance we are like soldiers in a battle always doubting which side we are fighting for and who our enemy is. Assurance of salvation gives us courage. We know without a doubt which side we are fighting on. We know that victory is ours through Christ. We know that Jesus Christ and all His infinite resources are at our disposal. As you see, it is very important that we gain a great assurance that Jesus is our Savior.

  Assurance of salvation is not gained by man's thoughts and ideas.  Our baptism will not give us real assurance of salvation. If you were baptized as a baby or later in life it doesn't contribute one bit to your salvation and thus, neither to your assurance of salvation. Just because you said a prayer or came at an altar call or made a profession of faith, doesn't mean you will have a real assurance of salvation. Assurance doesn't come by working in the church, missionary enterprises or sacrificial giving. All these may give a false assurance, which is damning and dangerous to the soul. But only the word of God truly give a person the way to a true and lasting assurance of salvation.

  Maybe you are skeptical that God even calls us to consider whether we are true Christians. Some might say this kind of examination is unhealthy. Is there a clear command in scripture to test whether we are indeed saved from the wrath to come? Yes there is. In 2 Corinthians 13:5 we read this, "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?" After listing a number of virtues, Peter says this in 2 Peter 1:10, "Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;"  As I said John's first letter was meant to lead Christians toward assurance of salvation. Consider John's purpose statement for this letter. "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life." 1 John 5:13

 These verses make it clear that God wants us to test ourselves so we are not fooled into thinking we are Christians when we are not and that God wants His people to be confident of their salvation in Christ. In further posts I want to look at the questions on the 'Am I a Christian?' test.


Brad