Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Warning! Are You Truly Born Again?

When is the last time you tested yourself to see if you have genuine, biblical evidence that God has truly saved you? Jesus taught that many will be surprised on the day they stand before him, thinking they are "in" and finding, too late, that they are "out." He taught that not everyone who calls him "Lord" will "enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 7:21-23, ESV). Is this not a sobering thought? Remember, these are not the words of the stereotypical conservative fundamentalist, but of Jesus himself!

Many people imagine themselves to be buddies with Jesus; they see themselves as really "getting" Jesus, while all the other knuckleheads are just way off. But imagine yourself standing before the Lord on that Day, and hearing him say - to YOU - "I never knew you. Depart from me..." (Matt 7:23). This is the ultimate bad day.

Have you been born again (John 3:7-8) into a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) who is different from the inside out (Ezekiel 36:26)?

Scripture gives us several tests and examples of fruit/evidence that would indicate that our profession of faith in Jesus is indeed real (tomorrow, Lord willing, I will post 11 tests from First John). But today I want to just focus on the evidence of having a desire for God and the things, people and ways of God.

If we have truly experienced God's saving power, we cannot remain the same. Paul Washer gives the example of being run over by a speeding dump truck. You cannot go away from that experience unchanged; to say you have experienced a speeding dump truck head on with no physical changes indicates that you are deceived about your professed experience.

To be 'hit' full force with the powerful, life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ and the Spirit of God brings about radical and noticable change! This new creation has crossed over from death to life (John 5:24), has gone from hating God to loving God (Romans 1:30; 5:10; Ephesians 2:3-10), and from loving sin to hating sin (Romans 6:20-21; Jude 1:23). The one who has experienced God in Christ now loves the things of God, the people of God and the ways of God.

Test yourself (2 Corinthians 13:5): Do you catch yourself daydreaming about giving money away, or getting more stuff? Do you eagerly desire to meet with Christians as often as possible, or look for excuses to miss church gatherings? Do you desire to share your life with other believers, or want them to mind their own business? Do you want to hear the Bible preached and taught, or does the very idea bore you to tears? Does it fill you with great delight to think about praying, reading the Bible, singing hymns with other believers and spending eternity with the God of the Bible and the church? Or does your idea of heaven amount to a never-ending pleasure-fest with no God in sight?

Do you not understand that these are indicators of your heart, revealing the truth about your profession of faith in Jesus? These are evidences of whether you have been changed by the power of God or are still in your sins. Indeed, if God does not change you from the inside out through the message of Christ - who he is and what he did for sinners at the cross and resurrection - then you will carry the full guilt of your sins and enter what Jesus called "eternal punishment" (Matthew 25:46).

Nothing else is more important! Don't be lulled to sleep, coasting through life and thinking you are ok. Ask God to show you the true condition of your heart. Take an honest look at your heart through the lens of the Bible. An old sign in our youth group room in the church where I grew up said this: "If you were accused of being a Christian would there be enough evidence to prove it?" Heart evidence. Are you true or false? Do you love God, or love yourself? Has a life-changing miracle been worked upon your heart or not?

There is hope!

Jesus saves sinners. He has come to us from God, sent in love, to take our place and bear our sins on his own body on the cross (1 Peter 2:24). Jesus took the punishment, bore the wrath of God, received our curse and died our death (2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13; Isaiah 53:10-11). He cried out "It is finished!" and he died. But he rose from the grave on the third day, and promised forgiveness of sins and eternal life for those who will repent of sin and believe on him and his gospel (Luke 24:46-47; John 3:16).

God is willing and able to save!

No comments: