Child of God, really??

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WE know we had the experience. But was that just euphoria or real saving grace? Am I really saved ? Here are some points to ponder:

Romans 8:13 – For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

verse 14 – For as many are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.

Are you led by the Spirit? Does that mean you are led to marry the right person? Led by the Spirit to get the right job? The perfect house? Are you led to the right church?

I don’t believe this is what Paul is saying – verse 14, begins with “For” which is pointing us to the previous verse to clarify that if we are led by the Spirit, we put to death the deeds of the body.

Trouble in paradise?

Still watch porn, speak filthy language, look with lust at fellow workers at office? These are some of the deeds of the body. I am sure we can all think of more deeds of the body than this list.

If you are still enjoying the deeds of the body, chances are your “born-again” experience may not be authentic. The Spiritual work of regeneration makes you a new man. Old man died. Repentance brings you face-to-face with your past sinfulness. How then, can you keep living in the same life of sin? I agree, you can and will be tempted. You will fall. But as you journey on, these instances become few and far between and each time you are so sorrowful that you cannot have peace until you have fully repented. You feel terrible that you have grieved the Holy Spirit that dwells in you.

As a child of God, you will make war on sin – your own sin. Your will is to emerge victorious.

Prodigal son

Also, when we can cry out ” Abba, Father” the Holy Spirit will bear witness with our spirit that we are children of God as explained in Romans 8:15-16.

You could say that anyone can say “Abba, Father”. But the Holy Spirit knows our hearts – do we mean it with all our hearts? Imagine the prodigal son coming home. When he sees his dad running down the path, he must have expected rebuke..surely not the loving embrace of dad? The unfathomable relief of receiving this love leading to the repentance of the son is what produces “Abba, Father” in us. It is this endearing word that should come to each believer when we seek the Father. “Daddy, I am sorry…Dad, I love you. Help me Dad.”

When we “cry out” in v 15., it doesn’t mean “say”. Crying out happens only from the bottom of our hearts at the point of total abandon.

If you have doubts about your salvation, its time to act. Repent and be saved.

And those who are saved and therefore are the children of God –

…exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. – Hebrews 3:13.

Repent or move on?

THERE is a great tendency nowadays for telling each other “it’s ok, it’s not your fault. It could have happened to anyone. Try to move on. You have to forgive yourself. Get over it. Move on.”

Forgiving ourselves and moving on seems to be the accepted M.O. for most of us. Sure, we fall into trouble, we make the wrong decision with our eyes wide open, we act on impulse and enjoy the fall before the guilt creep in. But now we are so clever at excusing ourselves and moving on, that little by little the guilt is wearing off. It was bad the first time, but now it’s not so bad. Guilt stays at the gate. After all, we are only human. After all, we deserve a little happiness. After all, it’s not hurting anybody. After all, its my life.

Now imagine someone says to you “Repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices!” (Ezekiel 14:6) What will you do? On a scale of 1-10, where would you be in identifying all your idols? Your detestable practices? Can you at least identify, let alone renounce?

Why is this so important? Because there is no salvation without repentance. Acts 3:19 tells us – Repent, then, turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.

Here is how King David repented-

Psalm 51- Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you. Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.

First step, if we really can’t figure out what the big deal is, because we have “moved on”, ask God to grant you repentance. We are so deeply entrenched in our sins, we don’t even recognize it. So how do we repent for what we don’t see? Many people have said, “I am not crazy like most people. I don’t drink or smoke. I provide for my family. Sure, I have some minor defects, but then, who doesn’t?” See, most of us believe we are good people because we don’t commit murder, steal or tell really big lies. This is how we justify ourselves. By doing this, we are telling Christ, we don’t need Him. We can manage on our own, thank you. Don’t live in this delusion. Ask God to give you this gift of repentance.

2 Timothy 2:25 – …in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to knowledge of the truth.

Next step, hopefully you have now seen your sin and acknowledged what you have done was quite detestable, and repented. For some, this happens in one sitting (or kneeling). For others, repentance may take a few days. In the process, sorrow has to be felt. Sorrow leads to true repentance.(2 Corinthians 7:10) Maybe lots of crying, because after all you are getting totally cleaned out – as white as snow.

This is the order of events I see from the gospels.

Jesus heals the sick. Asks them to repent.

We are told in 2 Timothy, repentance leads to knowledge of the truth. And repentance leads to the producing of good fruit (Matthew 3:8).

What happens when you have been the recipient of a miraculous healing or gift and fail to repent and turn to God? Matthew 11:20 tells us that Jesus denounced such towns that saw miracles but failed to repent. So here we see that the miracles are for the benefit of the unbelievers for them to see the glory of God and repent and be saved.

Without repentance, we are also not able to produce good fruit. Matthew 3:10 is very clear about what happens to those who don’t produce good fruit – cut down, thrown into fire.

Now as unbelievers, all this drama hardly makes any sense. But the moment you are saved, the impact of these verses will hit you hard. Much of the Christian faith can be intellectually understood by a non-believer. But there is so much more to be understood and known upon regeneration of the spirit. This knowledge comes only with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Only to the children of God.

The moment you become a child of God, you realize the mess you were in and the tremendous miracle of being yanked out of that mess. You cannot wait until you do your bit to get everybody else out as well, because now you clearly see the reality of heaven and hell. That is why sometimes our zeal overtakes our knowledge. But God will always work out His purpose His way through His children.
Isaiah 6:8 – Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here I am. Send me!”

Saved or self-deceived?

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Recently I met with a lady who is almost 80yrs old. She prays lovely prayers and has a mind sharper than a 30year old. However, the people who live with her are at their wit’s end how to manage a good relationship with her. She is not easy to live with. When the conversation got around to the shared beliefs of our faith, she told me she was saved at the age of 12. That got me thinking.

I remembered how I myself thought I was saved at the age of about 17, when I was at a church service where a visiting American evangelist spoke about accepting Christ. The atmosphere was charged with the music and the charismatic speaking of the evangelist. The church was full. So when an alter call was given, there were many who went up to “receive the Holy Spirit”. I was one of them.

The initial feeling was euphoric. I remember feeling elevated and joyous. I also remember crying a little. Afterwards, I really did try to be a better person, being an obedient teenager and reading the Bible and being nice to people who I didn’t much like. This lasted about a week. I soon forgot all about the “born-again” experience. I went on with my life – school, exams, friends. Life went back to “normal”.

When the “real” regeneration happened many years later, I was able to compare the two experiences.

So what is the meaning of being “saved” or “regenerated” of “born-again”?

Is it believing that there is one God? I doubt it. Because even the demons believe that. (James 2:19 – You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe – and shudder).

Believing involves some measure of faith, but is that “saving faith”?

What about Simon the sorcerer in Samaria (Acts 8:13) – who believed and was baptized? He later offered money to the Apostles to have the power to impart the Holy Spirit to others. What a terrible suggestion. We are told that he was rebuked – ….because your heart is not right before God. (v.20-21). What doe this mean? Was he saved or wasn’t he? The story doesn’t actually tell us. But we can be sure of one thing through our own experiences. At the point of being saved, we know we are justified. The sanctification starts at that point. We don’t become “the image of Christ” immediately. It takes time. So Simon possibly made the offer of money because of his greed and lack of knowledge.

A person might have a very positive initial response to the gospel. He might get involved in church activities and might even get involved in ministry without being saved. Got Questions.org illustrates the situation like this:

People will see an infomercial about the latest home exercise equipment, and they say, “That’s just what I need!” and they buy the equipment. They receive their purchase and eagerly use it – for a couple of weeks. Six months later its back in the box packed away somewhere. What happened? They believed in the product, it wasn’t the type of belief that led to lower their body weight. Nothing really changed their lives. …they were merely indulging in a passing fancy. Matthew 13:5-17 illustrates this well.

What is the danger of a euphoric initial response to the gospel? The alter calls are turning out quite a few new converts. How many will gain knowledge of the Word before they step out into the ministry? We are told many times in the Bible, the folly of not having knowledge. We have zeal – but no knowledge. It is with knowledge of the Word that we draw near.

We are given a warning in Matthew 7:21-23:
Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy in Your name and in Your name drive out demons and in Your name perform miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers!'”

Who are the people Jesus is talking about? Seems they are involved in the ministry. So this clearly tells us that even if someone is not saved, he is able to perform miracles, drive out demons and prophecy. So many signs and wonders – all deceitful. If some of those in the ministry are so self-deceived, what hope do we have of knowing with confidence that we are saved.

The key is in Matthew 7:21 – ...who does the will of My Father in heaven.

It is important to note here that we cannot do anything to be saved. We are saved only through the grace of God. It is a gift. However, the doing follows as a natural process in the sanctification process that every believer goes through.

John MacArthur says this:

..a deceived person seek feelings, blessings, experiences, healings, angels, etc. They are only interested in the by-product of the faith, not in Christ. They are not consumed with the glory and the honor and the beauty and the magnificence of Christ. They are not consumed with honoring Him, loving Him, serving Him, obeying Him, submitting to Him, exalting Him, proclaiming Him, worshiping Him, confessing Him (the will of God). They are only there for the by-products of that which is attached to Him. Give me blessing, give me spiritual experience, give me good feelings, give me healing, give me prosperity….

Does this have the ring of truth in it?

In the early church, people knew that being a Christian was tough. They didn’t harbor any illusions that life would suddenly be good for them. In fact, the early church knew very well they are making a fatal choice to follow Christ. Fatal – only in this world, not in the next. They actually believed what Christ said about carrying our cross.

So what do we know now? Take a good look at your life – you will recognize immediately if Christ is in your sights. If you are saved, being unsuccessful in business will not matter. Being poor will not matter. Being ill will not matter. Being incapacitated will not matter. Being dead will not matter. Because you have the pearl of great value. Nothing can take it away from you. You will be looking at things above, and not on things below. Earthly matters are for the unsaved. Life on earth will be hard. God will discipline us – whom He loves.

So next time before you rush to the healing service and rob God of His work with you, remember not every healer is saved, not every prophet is saved. If you are in hardship, praise God for giving you an opportunity to grow in faith (for how will your faith grow if there is no way to exercise it?) and pray for patience and endurance. If you are not well, ask the elders of the church to pray for you. (This is how Paul has instructed us). You must learn to submit to the will of God. First seek the kingdom of God and everything else will be added to you.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. (Matthew 7:13).

The truly saved love the narrow path. They welcome everything in the narrow path for the sake of Christ. They will not be distracted by the lures of the world.