• O Lord our God, other masters besides You have ruled us; But through You alone we confess Your name. [Isa 26:13 NASB]. Your face, LORD, do I seek. [Psa 27:8 ESV].

Examine Ourselves – Are We In the Faith

In the Gospel of John, Jesus described Himself as the true vine. “I am the true vine and my Father is the vinedresser.” [Joh 15:1 ESV]. Professing Christians are the branches in the vine. I say “professing Christian” because not all who profess Christ are saved and, in verse six, Jesus said some of these branches are going to Hell.

The branches that do not bear fruit, the vinedresser (the Father) takes away (v2). What happens to the branches taken away? According to verse six, they burn in the fire, that is they suffer God’s eternal wrath in Hell. So just as every seed does not lead to life, in the parable of the sower (Mat 13; Mar 4; Luk 8), not every profession of faith leads to salvation.

Christ is not suggesting one born again can lose their salvation. For He said:

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. [Joh 10:28-29 ESV].

Therefore, it is clear, some who profess faith in Christ are not saved at all. It is wise to heed the Apostle Paul’s warning:

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. [2Co 13:5 ESV].

Don’t miss this warning from a minister of the Word about a century ago:

Examine yourselves whether you are in the faith, prove your own selves (2Co 13:5), yet that is the very task which the great majority of professing Christians refuse to undertake, and if it is pressed upon them, they see no need for engaging in it, firmly assured that all is well with them spiritually. It is natural for us to think well of ourselves, yet just to the extent that we are influenced by self-esteem will our judgment be prevented from forming a true estimate of ourselves. And while self-love and self-flattery rule our hearts, we shall decline this essential duty of self-examination. Pride produces presumption, so that its infatuated victims are secure in their conceit that they are heirs of Heaven, when in fact they have neither title nor meetness to it. Those thus bewitched cannot be induced to prosecute a course of self-examination, nor will they tolerate a searching and probing ministry, be it oral or written. – Arthur Pink, “The Doctrine of Reconciliation”

Many professing Christians want to talk about the love of God but few fear Him and keep His commands. Jesus said:

If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love. [Joh 15:10 ESV].

This means if you do NOT keep God’s commandments, you will NOT abide in Christ’s love. This verse is an admonishment to us us to examine our faith and our walk with the Lord. But the American Gospel works against this by telling us God loves us and we have no need to fear Him – missing today are repentance and a changed life.

Backing up what Christ said, the Apostle John wrote:

. . . by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. [1Jo 2:3 ESV].

And John the Baptist said:

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. [Joh 3:36 ESV].

Do these Scriptures mean our salvation depends upon our works? Nothing could be further from the truth. Go back to John chapter fifteen, verses four and five: Jesus said the branch cannot bear fruit by itself; it must abide in the vine to bear fruit, for “apart from Me, you can do nothing.” Therefore, this fruit bearing is a result of abiding in Christ.

As the Apostle Paul said in Ephesians chapter two, we are saved by grace, not of anything we have done – so that no man can boast (v 8-9). But the very next verse (v10) tells us God has prepared good works that we should walk in – that is, a result of grace – we are His workmanship. Or, as the Prophet Isaiah wrote:

. . . for You have done for us all our works. [Isa 26:12 ESV]

Ephesians 2:8-10 in a nutshell: we are saved by grace alone. There is nothing we can do to save our selves. There is nothing we can add to grace to save ourselves. No obedience to God will earn our salvation and no decision for Christ will secure it. However, if we are truly saved, we will walk in Christ’s commands and He will produce His good works in us.

Review again John 15:1-6: Jesus said, in verse two, every branch that does not bear fruit, the Father takes away. In verse six, He said these branches are thrown into the fire; this means they are going to Hell. But those abide in Him are cleaned by the Word; they are secure in their salvation and their lives demonstrate good fruit.

Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 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. [Joh 15:3-5 ESV].

Some of the branches, however, do not abide, and, as the Apostle John described them, they were among us but they were never part of us (1Jo 2:19). They were branches on the vine according to their profession of faith but in fact they were antichrists – or haters of Christ.

. . . many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. [1Jo 2:18-19 ESV].

So, let’s talk about haters: Many professing Christians “just love God so much” but are not saved because they are really God haters. This might seem like radical talk but the truth is, if you love Christ you will follow and obey Him; and if you do not obey Him, you do not love Him – even if you claim to love God with all your heart – and, even if you feel like you do. Remember: the heart is deceitful.

Jesus said, in Matthew 7:21-23, many will call Him “Lord, Lord” but are going to Hell. They will say to Him, “Lord, didn’t I do this for you and didn’t I do that for you – and didn’t I just love you so much?” He will say, “depart from Me – I never knew you.” They had time to serve in church, do good deeds and even go on mission trips but they had no time for Christ.

The Bible makes clear our salvation is NOT a matter of feelings. Jeremiah 17:9 warns our hearts are deceitful and thoroughly wicked. We may feel we love Jesus; we may go to church and every Christian event and function we can avail to ourselves; we may listen to Christian music and in every way define our lives as Christian – but if we do not abide in Christ, it can only be because we hate Him – and we are not saved.

The Apostle John told of an event (John 2:23-25) where many believed in Christ but Christ did not entrust Himself to them. Christ knows the heart of man and how the heart is deceitful and wicked. This salvation we hold dearly is not merely a matter of believing facts as we are often taught. The Apostle James warned, the demons believe and tremble (Jam 2:19).

The Apostle John wrote how Christ warned a group of believers (John 8:31-32): “If you abide in My Word – get into it, study it and memorize it, that is, make it part of your life – then you are really My disciples and then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Understand this, Christ tells us true believing is not without abiding. Abiding is everything – a true believer loves God and will spend time with Him.

Lastly, further on in John chapter fifteen, Jesus warned the world will hate us (v18f). Many professing Christians seek the friendship and acceptance of the world. But the Apostle James warns us friendship with world is hostility, or hatred, toward God (James 4:4).

Many professing Christians seek to frame Christianity to be pleasing to the world in the hope that many will “get saved.” Jesus said the world will hate Him. Therefore, to bend the Gospel to make it palatable to the world is to proclaim a different gospel because it cannot represent the true Christ of the Bible.

Jesus warned us not to fear man but proclaim the Gospel, standing firm without denying Him (Mat 10:26-33). After this, He said He did not come to bring peace – that is, Christ will not conform the Gospel to please the world. In fact, He said He brings a sword and the world – and even families – will divide between those who are willing to lose their lives for Him and those who cling to the world (Mat 10:34-39).

In other words, the Gospel will divide between those who abide in Christ and seek to please God and those who hate Christ and seek to please man. We cannot love Christ while seeking to please man. Jesus asked the question (Joh 5:44): If you work to please man, how can you be saved?

Are you born again? Have you truly repented and turned from your sin to follow Christ? If so, your life has changed and you cannot cling to your old ways – or old sins. We cannot love Christ while building our own empires and clinging to this world. If we love Christ, we must expect the world to hate us – and we should desire nothing from it.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Have I truly repented and turned from my sin to follow Christ?
  2. Do I fear God and do I live in obedience to the Word of God?
  3. Does the fruit in my life reflect this?
  4. Am I looking at anything I have done or decision I have made for assurance of my salvation?
  5. Am I trusting in my feelings of love for God?
  6. Am I abiding in the Word of God?
  7. Am I looking for the world’s love and approval?

Let us be diligent to examine our faith and our walk.

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