Modern day Evangelicalism has done us a disservice. The desire for numbers instead of true converts has left non believers with a sense of salvation and the Church stained. In an effort to be “seeker friendly”, we have created a tragedy. False hope has been placed upon the unconverted in the name of easy believism.
“60 people made a profession of Christ last week at our block party!” Awesome. Where are they now? Why aren’t they attending church?
So we’ve made up a rule to cover our consciences. We’ve gone as far as to create a camp of “believers” who aren’t growing. But scripture doesn’t speak to anything of the sort.
Between the “I see that hand”s and the “Pray this prayer”s, I’ve become convinced that we have brain washed ourselves.
Confession of faith has been taken out of the context of the whole Bible and made to be the only requirement for salvation. Yes, salvation is by faith in Christ alone, but what does saving faith entail?
Is it just lip service? Or is there more to it than that?
Evidence of Saving Faith
“Write down this date as the day you professed Christ. And don’t ever doubt that you’re saved!”
We’ve probably all heard this at some point. The heart behind it may be kind, the theology, however, is lacking. Jesus will never lose any the Father gives him. (John 6:39). But not all who profess Christ as their Savior are his.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 7:21 ESV)
Someone will say, “But we are told to believe in Christ to be saved.” Yes, but simply confessing Jesus as Lord yet living no differently is a far cry from the belief Paul speaks of in Romans 10. Furthermore, James reminds us that even the Demons believe and shudder. (James 2:19). Demons aren’t saved ya’ll.
The Son doesn’t fail in saving those whom the Father has called. (John 6:37). He will also sanctify them. Therefore, all who are his will bear fruit. This is why James declares, “faith apart from works is dead.” (James 2:26).
True, saving faith in Jesus will bear the fruit of good works.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. I am the vine; you are the branches… Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned…By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. (John 15:1-2, 4-6, 8 ESV, emphasis mine)
There doesn’t exist a camp of believers who remain stagnant since God is the one working in them.
There are Christians bearing good fruit and non-Christians bearing bad fruit. Two camps. That’s why Jesus says in Matthew 7:15-19 that we can recognize who is his and who isn’t by looking at their lives.
A study of Jesus’ own explanation of his parable of the sower in Mark 4 will bring one to the conclusion that there are many professors of Christ but very few true converts. It is only the ones who are sown in the good soil and bear fruit who are saved. Satan, trials, persecution and the cares of this world blind all others to embracing the Gospel.
The fruit we bear, that is the good works we are called to in Christ, is the evidence of a life redeemed.
So, what are considered “good works”?
The fruits of salvation are repentance and growth in Christlikeness. It’s a heart that loves what Jesus loves and hates what he hates. A heart which longs to submit to his Word. Your relationship with the Lord hasn’t changed unless your relationship with sin has. You can’t be in fellowship with God as you live a lifestyle consumed by the world and all it’s temptations. (1 John 2:15-16).
Paul has harsh words for those who claim Christ and trample his grace.
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?… Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. (Romans 6:1-2, 12-13 ESV)
Truly, how can we live in continuous unrepentant sin as a believer? Now, I’m not saying we won’t struggle for a season but if year after year there is no growth, no repentance, no change, we should be alarmed.
When Jesus saves us, he doesn’t just leave us where we are. No, he is faithful to finish the work he started in us. (Philippians 1:6).
This isn’t a free card to go around examining everyone’s fruit to find out if they truly believe. But if you notice a pattern of unrepentant sin in a brother or sister’s life, you may need to lovingly confront them for the sake of their soul and the Gospel. We must love our fellow believer enough to endure awkwardness or broken friendship to reunite them with God.
My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. (James 5:19-20 ESV)
Those who want to be Gospel centered women must think through what the bible actually says. The nominal Christian doesn’t exist. There are those who submit to Christ and his Word and those who live as they please.
When we make up a group of “Christians” that the bible doesn’t mention, we leave people confused and dead in their sin. Essentially, we make them believe they’re fine with God as they walk happily down the road more traveled toward destruction.
Oh friends, we must start preaching the whole Gospel. That humans are utterly sinful and God is immensely holy. We can’t earn our way to him and worse than that, we are dead in our sin. But God sent his Son to die the death we deserved and raise us to life with him. We can be saved by grace, through faith in Jesus alone. But we must turn from our sin to Christ and trust in him to save us.
Faith and repentance. Both of which are given to us by God.
This is the Gospel the apostles preached, this is the Gospel which saves souls.
The only Gospel that produces fruit in our lives. And it will always bring fruit about in the life of a true believer because Jesus never fails.
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 ESV)
Praying for you (and myself) as we strive to “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” (Colossians 1:10 ESV).