That’s the question tonight. I listened to one of the most challenging sermons I’ve heard in some time today which truly challenged my own ideology of salvation – http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?sermonID=52906154239 . While admittedly I like to think I do have a firm foundation of my own salvation – in Jesus alone, much of the rest of what he talked about, hit a few sore spots with me.
He spoke at length about how you may have gained your Christian ‘badge’ by praying a prayer, and asking Jesus into your heart, and that was that. How, for many, it’s a case of once saved, always saved, and nothing to do in between. That unless you can SHOW you are saved and redeemed and truly in the Kingdom of God by your life, then you’re as lost now as you were before you did whatever it was that you claimed made you ‘saved’!! And that is SO true. Becoming a Christian is sometimes an easy thing to do – especially here in the West where it’s almost fashionable in certain places to be able to say you are, unlike in many other countries of the world notably the Middle East, where to dare to state this was your belief, might just net you an early death and a nasty one at that courtesy primarily of the Muslims in that area, who take Islam more seriously than is sensible.
But Paul says the fruit of the true believer is shown by their lifestyle – how they act and interact with those around them, and how well they portray what Jesus spoke about, as well as much of what Paul also conveyed through his own writings.Here’s a small sample:
Eph 5:3 Since you are God’s people, it is not right that any matters of sexual immorality or indecency or greed should even be mentioned among you. Eph 5:4 Nor is it fitting for you to use language which is obscene, profane, or vulgar. Rather you should give thanks to God. Eph 5:5 You may be sure that no one who is immoral, indecent, or greedy (for greed is a form of idolatry) will ever receive a share in the Kingdom of Christ and of God. Phi 2:4 And look out for one another’s interests, not just for your own. Phi 2:5 The attitude you should have is the one that Christ Jesus had: Phi 2:6 He always had the nature of God, but he did not think that by force he should try to remain equal with God. Phi 2:14 Do everything without complaining or arguing, Phi 2:15 so that you may be innocent and pure as God’s perfect children, who live in a world of corrupt and sinful people. Loads more of course, but you can get the picture enough from those. The most important point is that if you DO consider yourself a Christian, that you then examine the reasons why, and further determine if it is indeed the life you desire to lead, because the road is extremely narrow, and many will fall off it before they get to the even narrower gate:
Mat 7:14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
So you may also need to check out your relationship with the One before Whom, we who profess to be following Him (hence the title Christ-ians), will one day have to stand in Judgement (not for sins but for your life’s actions whilst ‘saved’.). It’s not easy to do, but when you pray and ask God to reveal your true relationship with him to you, He will do so, and although equally not easy, and perhaps less so, you need to read what Jesus has said about obedience to Him AND His Word. The point is that it’s not just about making an initial statement of belief/faith and then assuming that’s it done and dusted – you are thus a child of the King, and have a role to play in ushering in His Kingdom by proclaiming the same good news you heard, to all those you know who either haven’t ever heard it, or have and just don’t understand it or perhaps want to be confronted with it. But you have to walk with the Lord closely to know when the right times are to do that. Just remember these words from Corinthians:1Co 2:10 But it was to us that God made known his secret by means of his Spirit. The Spirit searches everything, even the hidden depths of God’s purposes. 1Co 2:11 It is only our own spirit within us that knows all about us; in the same way, only God’s Spirit knows all about God. 1Co 2:12 We have not received this world’s spirit; instead, we have received the Spirit sent by God, so that we may know all that God has given us. 1Co 2:13 So then, we do not speak in words taught by human wisdom, but in words taught by the Spirit, as we explain spiritual truths to those who have the Spirit. 1Co 2:14 Whoever does not have the Spirit cannot receive the gifts that come from God’s Spirit. Such a person really does not understand them, and they seem to be nonsense, because their value can be judged only on a spiritual basis. 1Co 2:15 Whoever has the Spirit, however, is able to judge the value of everything, but no one is able to judge him. 1Co 2:16 As the scripture says, “Who knows the mind of the Lord? Who is able to give him advice?” We, however, have the mind of Christ.