Are You Even Saved? Moving Out of Comfort to Consider Whether We Truly Live
I want to recognize from the start that this is a dangerous topic to approach and an incredibly difficult question to address. It is my prayer right now that I would not write from my flesh, but that the Spirit would overshadow my flesh as I write these words and propose these questions.
The subject I address here, as even evidenced by the title, sounds quite scary when you really stop to consider the implications of your answer to it. For years of my life I assumed that I was saved. This is a dangerous assumption. Consider the implications of a wrong assumption. ETERNAL DEATH. SEPARATION FROM GOD.
I am not claiming to be perfect. I am not claiming to have all the answers. I am simply writing out of conviction and recognition that feeling uncomfortable is often a good thing because it stimulates growth. It removes us from our static circumstances and the kingdom of thought we have constructed to preserve comfort and self-facilitated stability. God’s grace saves and sustains us, but we must first be saved if we are to walk in the overwhelming love of the Father.
“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’
One of my great fears is that we walk in the midst of a generation of Christians in America who think they are saved, that they have become members of the kingdom but they have not. Look at this passage in Matthew 7. People who come before the Lord on the Day of Judgment may declare God as Lord with their mouths, may have practiced and performed what seem to be powerful acts of ministry, and yet never truly knew God. In the midst of the comfort we can perform spiritual tasks and principles while remaining completely self-reliant and never seeking the face of God. On the day when Lord returns, will he find comfortable religious people who meet in church buildings for social purposes or even for good causes, or will He find people who have sought Him because they desire to know His heart and practice His ways? Will the deception of our comfortable lives deprive us from entering into intimate relationship with and knowledge of God?
We live in a culture that places exorbitant value on security and comfort. The American church in general shies away from uncomfortable questions and topics. It is not my desire to attempt to wow you with overzealous, shocking statements. It is merely my desire to create a little discomfort, to open the door for a small amount of healthy insecurity. My sincere desire is that the following questions and statements will drive you back to the Word for answers. If you are truly saved, asking these questions will not be dangerous because you have an anchor both sure and steadfast (Hebrews 6:19-20). All of that being said, this time must begin with you taking a serious inventory of your life by dropping your safeguards, leaving your comfort zone, and subjecting yourself to the Holy Spirit. Allow the Spirit to search your heart,, all of the self-seeking motivations and sinful tendencies. Use the following questions as a guide to facilitate questioning at a deeper level. Do not gloss over these things. The danger of missing the truth is incredibly real. O how easy it would be right now to cling to an ideal you have developed about yourself and your relationship with God. Loose the defense mechanisms. Let down every wall. Throw off the chains that bind you and hold you as slave even still. Open yourself up to a greater freedom and perhaps even more abundant life than you have ever known by laying down the desire to save face and be accepted by people. This is between you and God. PRAY now because your life depends upon it. PRAY to allow the Spirit in deeper than you ever have before. Lay down the fight, and consider:
Are you truly saved?
Is there evidence that you have been changed?
Do you walk in a new nature, the nature of the Spirit of Christ?
Are your words about God and the prayers you offer up more than mere intellectual assents to knowledge of a system of religious practices?
Do you have a relationship with the Father, or are you self-reliant, focused on carrying out a system of religious practices and principles?
Is your mind bent on eternity, or are you focused on gratifying desires through temporal pleasures and momentary satisfactions?
Do you hear the truth? Does the truth make you free? What desires drive you?
So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are Abraham’s descendants; yet you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. I speak the things which I have seen with My Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father.” They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus *said to them, “If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham. But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do. You are doing the deeds of your father.” They said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me,for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.”
It would be so easy in the comfort we have here to effectively waste our lives by spending our time chasing after things of this world. Jesus’ frustration with the Jews mindset is incredibly clear in this passage. Though they claimed to believe, they were not listening to the words of Jesus. They were not fully putting their trust in Him. They did not recognize the truth of the things that He was teaching them. They could not understand the new relationship and covenant with God that Jesus was inaugurating and as a result could not recognize the new way of life that it would bring. Do you recognize that believing in Jesus, is believing the truth of who He is. It is coming under the conviction of the entire Word of truth. Who we are is called into deep question by the very character of Jesus. The promise of freedom that Jesus gives is in believing that He is better, that His way is the only way. It consists of taking on His life. Do you hear the Word of truth and treasure it? Is “truth” merely a set of principles and system of knowledge to you, or is it your lifeblood? Does truth provide life for you, driving your desires and your decisions. Has the person who embodied Truth, Jesus Christ, consumed your life and burned off everything, all of the sin, that once enslaved you?
John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”
Read the following passages with new eyes and allow them to call into question your very character and nature. By the power of the Spirit use these inspired words of God to test your heart and behavior to understand if you truly stand in the grace that has been offered through Christ’s sacrificial, substitutionary death.
Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does. If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, isdead, being by itself. But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.
Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, theauthor and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, Nor faint when you are reproved by Him; For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, And He scourges every son whom He receives.” It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father ofspirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.
How big of a role ought the Word to play in our lives? O, how the Truth ought to consume us! But do you value it? Is it more precious to you than the riches of this world?
Are you a merely a hearer of the Word and not a doer, never taking the truth to heart and moving to action? Do you know your frame? Do you know who you are meant to be in your new nature?
Do you live for others or for yourself? Even in your service, do you do it for yourself or because you have been so possessed by Love Himself? Are you driven to remain unstained by the world? Do you live set apart?
Do you serve mere shadows and worship a designer god who is not the true God? Is your religion worthless?
What use is it if you say you have faith, and there is no evidence of that faith? Has that type of faith truly been implanted in your soul and pierced your heart? Is your faith DEAD? Does your level of faith in God merely put you on par with the demons? Would you even be willing to consider that your faith may be useless? Works are the fruit and evidence of a changed heart, a heart that draws near to God in faith.
I am asking a lot of questions. A lot. I realize that, but I don’t think we ask ourselves enough questions a lot of the time. I am convinced that we do not work out our salvation as we are commanded to do in Philippians 2:12. I have previously written of Jesus’ incredible example of obedience, but such obedience does not come easily. It requires great measures of work and effort. Being set apart from the world and refusing to succumb to the world’s philosophies and methodologies demands an aggressive and determined effort. There is no halfway. There is no partial surrender. Only absolute surrender will suffice. Does your behavior align with the Word? Will your life be vain? Will you truly hold fast to the calling with which you’ve been called?
Look at the words of the charge. Understand the Father’s discipline. See that the questions and the struggle are for our good and sanctification. Have you resisted to the point of the shedding of blood in your striving against sin? How determined are you? Is your determination founded on Christ and what He has done? Do you set Him as your goal? Are your eyes fixed on Him?
Do you see what I am getting at? There is an urgency that we so often lack in the way that we walk, in the way we deal with sin, in the direction of our affections. We become so focused on ourselves and on things of this world. We cling to temporal things for stability. We seek the acceptance of the world and even of our brothers and sisters before we seek after the approval of God. We must question the things that we value and the things that we seek, because there is no true value apart from the risen Savior, apart from the presence of our God and King.
II Corinthians 5:1-9
For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— for we walk by faith, not by sight— we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.
I end with the same question I started with. Are you really saved?
Have you been gripped with desire for another for another home?
Has it become your ambition to be pleasing to God no matter what place or condition you find yourself in?
If I am certain of anything, it is that the glory to be revealed far outweighs the present weight and pain of our separation from the Father. There is eternal glory that has been offered to us. Complete satisfaction and lasting security belongs to those who truly believe. But we must continually ask ourselves some tough questions and consider where we our desires are leading us and what we are focused on. We must work this out, trusting in God to provide the strength in our overwhelming weakness and our satisfaction in the midst of the deep darkness that surrounds us. Another world beckons all those who have put their trust in Jesus Christ. Those who are in Him long to be with Him. When He returns will there be true faith found on the earth? I close with a quote by Jim Elliot, a man who gave his young life wholly, but not perfectly, for the sake of the gospel. We can all take a few cues from this line in the way we approach life, in the way we surrender…
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”