August 06, 2020
There are thousands, perhaps millions of people who believe they are Christians who will never enter heaven. This is not my evaluation, but the clear teaching of Christ Himself.
Christ spoke of false prophets who "come to you in sheep clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves" (Matt 7:15). It is not the outward clothing, but the inward heart that indicates a true believer.
What is the only way to know the difference between a professing believer and a real believer?
A surrendered will that yields spiritual fruit.
A SURRENDERED WILL
Before a person comes to Christ, they are living according to their own will. They are in control of their lives. They are their lord and master.
At some point, God begins to convince them of "sin, righteousness, and coming judgment" which Jesus said is the Spirit's work (John 16:8-11). They realize they are separated from God because of their sin and that they need Christ. That the result of following their own will and plan is disastrous.
Then, in a work done by God and through the sharing of the gospel from others, He reveals to them that Christ died on the cross to take care of this problem. They have a change of mind regarding their lives and direction (repentance) and cry out in faith for Christ to save them (faith).
With this step of faith, there is also a surrender of the will. "I don't want to be in control any longer. I want Christ to be in charge." This surrender yields a life that gives evidence of true salvation.
"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." (Matt 7:21).
The evidence of true salvation is a person who follows Christ. A follower follows from the inside out. From a convicted, repentant, believing heart. And this leads to the second evidence of true salvation.
THAT YIELDS SPIRITUAL FRUIT
Twice in this Sermon on the Mount passage (Matthew 7:15-23), Jesus proclaimed, "You will know them by their fruit." Spiritual fruit is outlined for us in several places, but most clearly in Galatians 5:22-23.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
These are not external qualities only, but are attributes flowing from a person in whom the Spirit of God dwells and who is walking by the Spirit's leadership and power. None of these qualities are human, but Divine. And when you see them in spiritual power, it is evidence that there is One residing in a person that is producing His life through them.
Jesus never spoke of our salvation in terms of merely a past experience, but a present reality. Here are the two questions we must ask ourselves:
A FINAL TEST
Paul states this clearly in 2 Corinthians 13:5:
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?
Is there evidence that Christ is residing in you?
Father, thank You that You have come to live in me! There is no greater reality, no greater joy. Thank You that all I need I have in You and You are in me. Give me grace to continually surrender my will to yours so Your life can flow through me to others. And help me to lead others to this eternal reality and experience.
March 29, 2023
As a pastor for the last 55 years, I have had the joy of being encouraged and blessed and prayed for by so many people. It is what carries you in your task of shepherding people. As I look back over five decades of ministry, their love has dramatically enriched my life.
But also, a pastor leads. And when anyone leads, there are almost always some who disagree.
March 28, 2023
March 27, 2023