“How Can I Be Sure I am a Christian?”

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Dear readers, we begin our time together today, with the all-important question, cited above. Some of you are undoubtedly responding, right now, to this question with the some of the following questions: Should we really trouble ourselves with it? Isn’t it wrong to even consider such a morbid question, especially, after I have professed faith in Jesus Christ?

Put another way, what should be our spiritual response to such a question? Should it be personal offense? Utter irritation? Or more humbly, along with spiritual sobriety; should it be with a readiness to test our profession of faith against the Scriptural evidence? I personally embrace the latter, along with my open Bible; and with the hope that you will join me. The apostle Paul assuredly agreed with me, when he said, through the Holy Spirit, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? -- unless indeed you fail to meet the test” (2 Corinthians 13:5). This being so, it would be most helpful for us to be reminded of the following verses: 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come;” And, James 2:26, “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.” Therefore, if we experienced true Biblical change in our lives when we first repented and believed the gospel, and if our faith is one that is willing and desirous toward obeying the Scriptures; then, our faith is a true and living faith. This means that our Christian life is marked by experiential living (i.e. head, heart, and hand – James 1:26-27), or a faith that works! Such a faith is empowered by the Holy Spirit. And Acts 1:8 helps us to see that we should expect evidence of this new life in our lives, “but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses....” So, every believer has received, at the moment of salvation, power to live for Christ; power to bear His name; and power to sacrificially live, if necessary, as His martyrs in this present generation. Such a life, though still warring with remaining sin, each day, is able to live consistently, repentantly, and imperfectly victorious! Nevertheless, some “true” soldiers of Christ are frequently hampered by a wavering assurance of their faith, while others who are “merely-professing” soldiers, are not. Pastor John MacArthur assists us in sorting out such differentiations with the following words: “False assurance is a more serious problem than no assurance. Yet, having no assurance is still not much more comforting.” Then, when asked whether he personally has solid assurance of his faith, MacArthur replied, “It really depends on when you ask me.” By that statement, he meant, that he does spiritually-wobble, practically-speaking (Luke 22:31-32; Hebrews 6:1-3); but never, positionally-speaking (2 Corinthians 5:21). How do you know this? Because I know much more about his Biblical and theological positions than you who are just reading for the first time, what I have tried to explain to you in a few sentences (of his quotes). Indeed, he has experienced doubting thoughts in his mind, on occasion, as most believers have; but, he still trusts the Bible’s promises as foundational truth. In other words, a true saint learns to overcome his wavering sense of assurance through maturity in his knowledge of God, through the Word of God, and his daily Christian experience. Professor John Murray is most helpful at this point: “The facts are that the more ... [truly] unwavering the assurance of salvation is, the humbler, the more stable and the more circumspect will be the life, walk, and conduct” (2 Peter 1:10-11). Thus, experiencing consistent assurance of your faith is normative in the maturing believer’s life. Without it, we will spiritually limp-along, each day, leaving ourselves open to the fiery darts of the evil one (Ephesians 6:16). But, beloved, let us understand that an assurance of our faith is available (1 John 5:13), knowable (1 John 3:14), and obtainable (Romans 8:16, “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God”). So then, how can I be sure I am a Christian? By understanding that God is God and that our assurance is as sure as God’s Word is true! Further, salvation is of the Lord (Jonah 2:9; Philippians 1:6; Hebrews 12:2), its eternal (Ecclesiastes 3:14; John 14:16); and no one can snatch us out of His hand (John 10:28)! Finally, to grow in your assurance of faith, be sure to daily praise His name, and never forget, that it’s He alone who keeps us saved (Jeremiah 32:40), and it’s He alone, who will one day, deliver us safely to heaven (Jude 24-25; 2 Timothy 4:18)! O may you rejoice in this grace by worshipping the living God tomorrow with His people!

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