The Bible teaches us that if a person is truly a Christian there will be definitive changes in that person’s life. The Apostle Paul wrote in 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.”
We are saved by grace through faith alone. But saving faith is by its very nature alive and transforming. Our changed lives give evidence to that saving faith.
Another of Jesus’ disciples, the Apostle John, writes about some very specific evidence of a Christian’s salvation in his first epistle. Accordingly, he refers to several, which we should expect to see in our own lives and in the lives of all other believers. Each of these evidence affects our words, our deeds and our lifestyles.
First is obedience: “We know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.”(I John 2:3, also 3:22-24, 4:21)
We see within us a desired and willing obedience to God’s Word. We begin to do those things that please the Lord and to avoid those things which displease him. Using the Bible as our guide, we choose to live according to its teachings and its commands.
Second is love for God (I John 2:5, 5:1). If we belong to him, we will love him — passionately, purposefully and powerfully. We love if with all of whom we are. To the believer, God is not just out there, but a being with whom we have entered into living and lasting relationship based not on fear, but on love.
Third, we choose not to love the world (I John 2:15, 5:4). We cannot love both God and the world. Jesus said we cannot serve both God and Mammon. We are called to live a life of holiness to God.
Fourth is righteous behavior (I John 2:29, 3:7-10, 5:18). It is very easy to be a Christian on Sunday morning, but live a completely different life the rest of the week. For a true believer, how we live our lives in and out of church is not differentiated. We strive to live consistent, godly lives 24/7 so that through our words, our deeds and our lifestyles people will know we are Christians.
Fifth is love for other believers (I John 3:11, 3:13-18, 4:7-8). Not love for other believers who agree with us or who are from our own fellowship or denomination, but all Christians.
There are three kinds of pride: pride of face, pride of race and pride of grace. All are wrong, but the last is the most insidious. A true Christian loves like Jesus loves, even dying for others.
It is precisely because of that we choose to live in harmony with each other, forgiving one another and allowing love to cover a multitude of sins.
Sixth, through study we gain an understanding biblical truth (I John 4:1-2, 13). Like the reformers of old we stand on Sola Scriptura as the basis of our living out of this Christian life. Christians have a love for God’s Word. Reading it is not drudgery or a chore that must be done, but there is a joy that comes from reading, studying and understanding God’s Word.
Seventh, we experience answered prayer. “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. (I John 5:14-15)
The entire purpose of John writing this letter was to help us know that we have eternal life — to show us the evidence of our faith that should be there. “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life.” (I John 5:13)
May you enjoy the fullness of the salvation that comes only through the Lord Jesus Christ .
"On Faith" is a weekly column in the News-Chronicle written by area religious leaders.