Are You Sure?
"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. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' 23 And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.' (Matthew 7:21-23, NASB)
Before we consider this question, misconceptions must be addressed so that the gravity of Christ’s warning can be seen and understood. There are some who believe that salvation is by religious activity, not just going to church but being active at church. Paul warns us of this error in his letter to the Philippians saying that his religious background and activity accomplished nothing concerning his desire for Christ (Phil 3:4-8). Many do not openly express their belief that salvation is by good works, but their life betrays it. Paul addresses this misconception again, more pointedly in Titus 3:3-6.
Additionally, many also believe that salvation is by a mere verbal announcement of faith. What I mean by this is the proverbial altar call and the sinner’s prayer. At these altar calls, it is common for the minister to declare those who came to the altar as being saved when in fact, no change of heart may have occurred in the person. I hope that it is clear that these misconceptions are not of my day dreams but indeed the reality of many professing Christians in our churches today. What this means is that many people are living their lives believing themselves to be Christian when they are not, or they are unsure and insecure about their position before God. Continuing in this manner is disastrous.
Salvation is the work of God where He applies the truth of the Gospel to the heart of the man by His power. The effect of God’s work is great, penetrating to the very core of the human being that transcends his intellect and ability; changing his very identity. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says it best; “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (NASB). God changes the wicked heart of the sinner, a heart that does not desire to respond in obedience to His word, into a heart that longs to adore and obey Him forever (Ezekiel 36:26). How then does this truth help us to see what a Christian is? And therefore, how we are to begin to make ourselves sure that God has indeed done His work in our hearts?
Firstly, the Christian is one who truly knows himself to be a sinner but trusts and gladly rejoices in the Person and work of Jesus Christ for his salvation. He does not trust his church attendance, emotions, individual ability, spiritual experience, or another’s declaration of his salvation to be saved. He trusts in Christ alone. This is the daily reality in the Christian’s life. He is moved and strives moment by moment to trust more deeply in the Lord that he may know and enjoy Him intimately. Secondly, as the Christian has a love and pursuing desire for God, conversely, he has a hatred of sin and ungodliness. The Christian has turned away from his sin and instead of practicing sin and ungodliness, he continually strives to be holy in his conduct (1 Peter 1:13-16). Even when the Christian falls into sin, he is not desirous to remain in sin but to seek forgiveness, repentance and restoration with a desire to know God rightly as his focus (Hebrews 12:1-3).
The question remains then; are you sure God has done a saving work in your life? Are you rescued from the coming wrath of God on all ungodliness? (Romans 2:5) Are you trusting in Christ alone for your safety? (Psalm 2:12) Do you love Christ? (Mark 12:30) Are you obeying Him by His Word? (John 14:15) Have you turned away from a life of sin? (Roman 6:1-2) Do you still live to please yourself? (Phil 1:21) The list of questions can go on but take care to answer them. I pray therefore that you take heed to Jesus’ warning and make your calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:1-11), searching your heart by the Word of God for the confirmation of God’s work of grace to you, knowing fully that by His word, you can be assured of His work in your life.