by William Owens, ThD
HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU ARE A CHRISTIAN? (Personal reflections about professing Christians and assurance.)
One of the concerns I have, is arriving at our final destination and hearing the woeful words . . . depart from me, ye worker of iniquity, I never knew you. Knowing this will be the fate of many, is a just reason to pause and ask -- Am I really whom I believe myself to be? Most who read this blog are committed Christians and I do not wish to cause you unnecessary spiritual discomfort. However, I do not want any of you to deceive yourselves and thereby wind up in Hell while expecting to go to Heaven.
I have good news!
The Lord has purposed we should know whether we are His children or not. In fact, John wrote in - John 20:31, But these are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. He later wrote in 1John 5:13, These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
A careful reading of 1 John, will aid you by providing certain characteristics that identify true Christians. I strongly recommend that you invest your time in reading the epistle meditatively and make a list of the characteristics you discover. If in reviewing the list you find yourself to be a believer, then rejoice! If not, then ask God to grant you grace to repent and cast your faith on Jesus that you may be saved. He has promised to save all who come to Him on the basis of His Son’s sacrifice.
It is obvious that God wants his children to know beyond all doubt that he is indeed a believer and in good standing. If you have trusted in Jesus as your Savior and Lord, then you will identify with the following affirmations. I have, over the years, personally taken great comfort from obeying biblical instruction. These experiences have been used by God to encourage me during time of doubt and unbelief.
The first experience that comes to mind is that of the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. When I willfully sin, the Holy Spirit will not allow me to enjoy that sin. When the temptation came, the enemy promised that the sin would be enjoyable, and it was. However, it was a curse! I was miserable until I agreed with God and confessed. Salvation’s joy was restored when I repented and asked God for forgiveness. (All in accordance with 1John 1:9.)
The second is closely related to the first. When I have allowed sin in my life, God is faithful to chasten me until I come to a place of agreement with Him. I am not talking about just giving in so God can say He won. God doesn't consider that attitude a win. He wins when we come to a complete agreement with Him and abandon all intentions of engaging in that sin again. He knows when we are being true. We cannot con God! When I yield to Him through (repentance and confession), He restores the fellowship, and joy of His salvation.
Another affirmation I am reminded of is the increase of my faith when I am reading the Scriptures. The Word says in Romans 10:17 ... faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.
Just this morning, as I came into the den with a lingering aroma of hazelnut coffee, I opened my Bible to Ephesians and I asked God to encourage me and to dispel the unbelief that was clouding my heart. I began reading. At first slowly, focussing on every word, then prayerfully with meditation. The truths written by Paul gravitated to my heart, and those truths became prayers. Before I realized it, an hour had passed, and I had prayerfully read the entire epistle and my heart was gladdened and faith filled my soul. The unbelief had melted away. I rejoice in my Father's faithfulness!
When this life is over and I receive the call to cross over, I will be received and welcomed. . . all because of what my Savior has done on the Cross of Calvary. Join me. . . His GRACE is sufficient . . . but, you must exercise FAITH by directing it to HIM.