And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
I John 2:3-4
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I've pondered Matthew 7:21 more than once and I know that these will be terrifying words for those to whom they are spoken. Jesus says,
"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father, which is in heaven.
In this verse, Jesus does not say that a few misguided souls have a false hope of heaven. He says MANY. He is talking to people who think they are Christians. Nowadays there are a lot of people who say that they are Christians who will not enter heaven. These are people who think that they are going to make it in to glory on their lip service. But when they stand before the King and Judge, they will be rejected. When Jesus says "Depart" you can't appeal and try to get a second chance, you got to go. I KNOW they will be terrified. Included here? All those who choose to "worship" God according to their own beliefs and not God's word. This includes, cultists who claim a Jesus/gospel different from the Bible, e.g., Catholics, Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, Christian Scientists, hypocrites along with every Protestant denomination follower who puts their trust in their denomination, and church attendance.
To be a Christian, you must repent of your sins and believe on the Lord Jesus.
REPENT means saying, "I'm sick of sin and living my own way. I want to live under God's commands!"
Many people think getting saved means saying, "the sinner's prayer"--that is a lie. They believe some mystical thing happens at reciting some words. No! The prayer is a confession of belief on the Lord. Romans 10:9 says,
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, AND shalt BELIEVE in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
Jesus said "Repent ye and believe the gospel." Throughout the whole Bible, we see God telling people, in essence, "Turn from your wicked ways unto me and live." (e.g., Ezekiel 33:11) This is repentance--forsaking the sin lifestyle and saying "Yes, I'll submit to God's ways". Doing some good deeds is not repentance. That's trying to be good enough and that ain't gonna work--Isaiah 64:6 says that even our righteousnesses outside of God are as filthy rags. Saying some words is not repentance. The Bible says, "By the works of the flesh shall no man be justified," so the act of speaking don't do it.
If you are a true believer, your life will demonstrate it and the Bible tells us that over and over again. For us Christians, I believe that in our zeal to stem the cults, we emphasize faith and do not put like proper emphasis on the evidences of saving faith which is a life of holiness. I can say, "I really want to go to Harvard." But if I skip school, don't do my homework, and go to sleep in class, do I really want to go? NO WAY! Anybody could see that because my actions betray my confession. It is no different in confessing Jesus. People say, "I believe Jesus is Lord," yet they curse without abandon, don't go to church, love everything this wicked world has to offer, don't feel convicted of sin, and are uninterested in the things of God. Does this person believe to the saving of the soul? Good chance that the answer is no. Is this a matter of trying to be God and determine who will make it in? No! It is a question of life and death and telling people the truth!
Saving faith will manifest itself in good works. Just read James, Hebrews, I John, Romans--the gospels. If no change occurs in a person's life, we have plenty of scriptures to let us know that there is a VERY good chance true conversion never took place to begin with. Works do not save, but a saving faith will cause good works. Another analogy--apples do not make an apple tree an apple tree. Before any fruit appeared it was an apple tree. With time, sunshine, water and other factors, the precious fruit cometh forth. Same thing with a saved person. They have Jesus Christ within. With the word of God, working of the Holy Ghost, the brethern and time, good works will come forth like fine treasure hidden from within an earthen vessel.
The following is excerpted from the book, "How Can I Except Some Man Should Guide Me? A Plan and Program for Bringing Children to Faith in Jesus Christ," Pastor Kerry James Allen, Copyright 1996, Fox River Baptist Church, Box 1094, Oswego, IL. 60543. This gives some good, solid evidences of a person who has been born again. Jesus said, "By their fruits shall ye know them." Examine yourself against these criteria. The article on this site Who are You? is devoted to this same topic. God does not leave us out in the dark on this thing.
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We are not saved by our works, but when we are saved, our life will certainly reflect that decision by our good works. ("Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone" James 2:17.) Do you have total 100% assurance that you possess eternal life, and if someone asked you to prove it to them from a Bible, could you do it?
DO YOU SHOW EVIDENCES OF SPIRITUAL LIFE?
Following are ten evidences the true believer in Jesus Christ possesses, all from the epistle of First John. These are what Jonathan Edwards called "holy affections." Please read these pages, and ask yourself how many of these are manifested in your life. If you don't have that kind of evidence and assurance, please seek someone out who can help you, or give us a call.
"But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you ... and things that accompany salvation..." Hebrews 6:9
I. SUBMISSIVE RESPECT
"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (1 John 1:8)
Do you respect God? Is your opinion just as important or even more relevant than His? Are God's pronouncements authoritative in your life? Is Jesus Christ your Lord?
II. SCRIPTURE OBEDIENCE
"But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him" (1 John 2:5)
Do you read the Bible daily? Do you read the Scriptures seeking to obey what you find? Are you in rebellion against God's Word or in submission to it? Do you love the Bible?
III. SOCIETAL REJECTION
"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" (1 John 2:15)
Do you love the world, your money, and your possessions? Do they mean more to you than Jesus Christ and His approval? Would you be willing to give up all for Christ?
IV. STEADFAST FAITHFULNESS
"They went out from us, but they were not of us: for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us" (1 John 2:19)
Are you faithful in regular fellowship with God's people in a local church? Are you able to be sparse in church attendance for weeks at a time without any real guilt about it? Do you long for fellowship with the saints in the assembly?
V. SECOND COMING ANTICIPATION
"When he shall appear, we shall be like him: for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure" (1 John 3:2-3)
Are you living in the daily awareness that Jesus Christ will return for His own? Are you eagerly looking forward to His coming for you? Does your daily life reflect the fact that He may come today? Are you ready to meet Him at any time?
VI. SIN SENSITIVITY
"Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God" (1 John 3:9)
Does your sin bother you? Do you wish you sinned less than you do? Are you sinning less now than when you first made a profession of faith in Christ? Do you enjoy your sin, or does it affect your happiness? Do you realize God sees all sin?
VII. SIBLING LOVE
"We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death" (1 John 3:14)
Do you love other believers in Jesus Christ? Do you enjoy being in their company, or would you rather be with the people of the world? Are Christians your dearest friends?
VIII. SUPPLICATIONS ANSWERED
"And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight" (1 John 3:22)
Do you pray? Can you point to specific answers that could have come from no one but God? Do you find yourself conversing regularly with God as a trusted friend?
IX. SHARP DISCERNMENT
"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1)
Do you find it easy to sort out the claims of various religions? Do you see all religions as the same? Do you understand the doctrine of Christ? Do you believe Jesus Christ is God?
X. SPIRIT AWARENESS
"Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit" (1 John 4:13)
Do you have a conscious awareness that the Holy Spirit of God lives in you? Does He teach you things from the Scriptures on a regular basis? Does the Holy Spirit convict you when you sin, or can you sin with abandon?