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Do You Have Assurance? 7 Marks of Genuine Faith

Sep 26, 2019

 

I don’t know about you, but I grew up in a church culture where I was encouraged to constantly question whether I was a Christian and where the terms “backsliding” and “rededicating” were frequently visited by church leaders.  I think it is completely normal for each of us at times to question whether we are truly Christians, and Paul even affirms this point in Philippians 2:12 by charging Christians to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”  However, I also believe that a lot of the questioning we do is a result of an inaccurate view of God, the gospel and what it really means to be a Christian.

A lack of assurance in our standing before God is debilitating and is not the desire of our Father in heaven.  This week, our desire is to stick with our theme of breaking down topics into small bite-size pieces, and I hope that through doing this, you will experience the encouragement, assurance or challenge that God is desiring for you to experience.

 

First Things First – What is the Gospel?

To know what it means to be a Christian, we must start with defining the gospel.  This term literally means “good news.” Simply put, the good news is that…

The one and only God that made all things, including you and me, loved us so much that in spite of our sinful rebellion against Him, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, who was God in human form, to take on the penalty for our sin on the cross and to show His power over our sin in His resurrection so that all of us who put our faith in Jesus will be together with God forever. (See also 2 Corinthians 5:21)

This is the good news! You will notice that it includes five simple points…

  1. God is perfect
  2. We are sinful and separated from God
  3. Jesus is perfect and made a way for us to no longer be separated from God
  4. Salvation comes through faith in Jesus
  5. Salvation means a relationship with God that lasts forever

I would say that the hardest of these five simple points for us to grasp is point #4.  You know why?  Because it is the only point that we have any control of!  What does faith in Jesus really look like?  How can we be assured that we have put our faith in Jesus?  We are so glad you asked!  Here are seven marks of a genuine faith in Jesus.

 

Mark #1 – Believe

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

A genuine faith starts by believing the gospel.  Other words we use for believing are faith or trust.  Believing is necessary to salvation (Hebrews 11:6), and it is not something that is just having knowledge in our minds but involves having a belief within our hearts (Romans 10:9-10, James 2:19).  What does it mean to believe in one’s heart?  It means that it is a belief that drives us into action. 

 

Mark #2 – Repent

“And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” Acts 2:38

If step #1 of possessing a genuine faith is believing, then step #2 is repenting.  The word “repent” literally means to turn.  The idea in Scripture is a turning from sin and running to Jesus.  In Acts 2:38, a massive crowd on the day of Pentecost possesses a genuine belief in the gospel that Peter has preached and the first thing he tells them to do is “repent” of their sins.

 

Mark #3 – Receive

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:26

Sticking with Acts 2:38 above, Peter explains what happens in the process of salvation after we repent of our sins.  There is a two-fold receiving that takes place.  There are two amazing gifts that we take on.  We receive the forgiveness of our sins… all past, present and future sins.  We also receive the gift of the Holy Spirit who Jesus refers to as our Helper.  Through Jesus’ death and resurrection our biggest eternal need is met with forgiveness of sin, and our daily needs are met with the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

 

Mark #4 – Surrender

“And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.’” Luke 9:23-24

The call to be a Christian is a call to come and die.  It is a call to surrender.  It is a call to trade in our wants and desires for our life for God’s wants and desires for our life. The Bible teaches that to be a Christian is not to make Jesus a part of our life.  It is to give our whole life to Jesus.  It is all or nothing.

 

Mark #5 – Obey

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15

If marks #1-#4 are happening, then mark #5 will be an overflow.  If we have been impacted by God’s great love for us, then we will be compelled to obey Him in all things.  1 John 5:3 explains that obeying His commands are not burdensome to those that have been impacted by His love.  We don't obey for God’s favor, but we obey because of God’s favor.

 

Mark #6 – Pursue

“That I may know him…” Philippians 3:10

A genuine faith is marked by a pursuit of God.  Acts 2:42-47 paints an amazing picture of the early church pursuing God through teaching or reading the Word, through prayer and through Christian community.  We also see the pursuit of God through fasting in the New Testament (Matthew 6:16). To be a Christian is to pursue God through the avenues we see in His Word.

 

Mark #7 – Enjoy

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21

The Westminster Catechism explains that man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.  Scripture explains that we are to value and treasure Christ above all else (Matthew 6:19-21, Matthew 13:44).  However, I think Paul’s illustrates the enjoyment mark the best in Philippians 1:21.  He explains that eternal fellowship with God is on the back-end of this life and that this fellowship is better than anything we will experience in this life.  As John Piper said… “God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him.” To know Him is to enjoy Him.

 

Time for Evaluation

If you have made it to the bottom of this blog, it’s time for you to evaluate what you have read.  Have you responded to the gospel in genuine faith?  Have you believed?  Have you repented?  Have you received?  Have you surrendered?  Do you long to obey?  Do you strive to pursue?  Do you enjoy God?

If these marks are a part of your life, then praise God and go share this good news with others.  If the marks aren’t, then cry out to God or find a Christian brother or sister to walk with you through these marks.  Assurance is an amazing thing and without it, a fulfilling life will not be within our grasp.

Noah

 

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