3 Reasons to Be Encouraged by God’s Discipline

When we experience God’s discipline because we sinned (versus suffering because of a trial) it hurts. Hebrews 12:11 says:

For the moment all chastening seems painful rather than pleasant.

Making it more difficult is the fact that God expects us to receive His discipline well. First Peter 2:20a says:

For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure?

God expects us to humbly accept His discipline the way parents expect their children to receive discipline without kicking and screaming. This can be very difficult! Fortunately, the author  of Hebrews provides a number of reasons believers can still  be encouraged by God’s discipline.

1. God’s Discipline Means You Are His Child

Hebrews 12:6–8 records:

“For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.

When we sin and God disciplines us, we can be encouraged that He does so because He loves us. We want to be confident in our salvation, and experiencing discipline allows us to say, “God is my Father. I am His child.” When I see other people’s children misbehaving, I do not discipline them because they are not my children. God acts similarly toward unbelievers. Sometimes people sin and it looks like “they are getting away with it.” Either God is giving them time to repent, or they are not His children.

2. God’s Discipline Means You Are in His Hands

Prior to pastoring, I taught elementary school for almost ten years. When students disobeyed, I regularly found myself wondering what the appropriate punishment would be—detention, suspension, time out, or call parents? Circumstances make things even more complicated. What is the punishment for a student who lies once, versus a student who demonstrates a pattern of deceitfulness? What about a student who mistreated a student for no reason, versus a student who acts out when provoked? Continue reading “3 Reasons to Be Encouraged by God’s Discipline”

What does it mean to “be filled with the Spirit”?

This is a controversial question. Ask one hundred people what it means to “be filled with the Spirit” and you’ll probably receive almost as many different answers. Unfortunately, for some people church background determines their answer more than Scripture. I include myself in this category, because for a period of time I believed being filled with the Spirit looked more like what I’d been told than what the Bible taught.

In explaining this phrase, first we’ll talk about what it’s not referring to, and then we’ll talk about what it means.

Outline for the post

Being filled with the Spirit isn’t referring to:

  1. Speaking in tongues
  2. Him indwelling us
  3. Having more of Him
  4. Being baptized by Him
  5. An emotional experience

Being filled with the Spirit means:

  1. He influences us
  2. Submitting to Him
  3. Exhibiting godly speech
  4. Producing the fruit of the Spirit
  5. Not producing the works of the flesh
  6. Looking like Jesus

1. Being filled with the Spirit isn’t referring to speaking in tongues

Consider the theme in Luke 1 of four different people being filled with the Spirit: (John the Baptist in v. 15, Mary in v. 35, Elizabeth in v. 41, and Zacharias in v. 67), but there’s no record of any of them speaking in tongues. Were they grieving or quenching the Holy Spirit? Of course not. Even though two of them were moved to make dramatic declarations (Mary’s Magnificat in vv. 46-55 and Zacharias’ prophecy in vv. 68-79), they weren’t spoken in tongues.

Continue reading “What does it mean to “be filled with the Spirit”?”

Am I saved? Seven tests to know!

“Am I saved?”

This is one of the most important questions we can ask. In Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus said many people are deceived about the answer:

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

In 2 Corinthians 13:5 Paul commands: “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.” Here are seven ways to do that, but first, two introductory points:

  1. I taught messages on five of the tests during Sunday School at Woodland Christian Church. The other two tests will be taught in October. I also provided links for the messages below.
  2. First John was written, “that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). As a result, 1 John is referenced more than any other book.

Test 1: Have I experienced godly sorrow that produces repentance?

Here’s the accompanying message.

Repentance is required for salvation, and it comes from godly sorrow over our sin:

2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly sorrow produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly sorrow produces death.

Worldly sorrow is the sorrow in:

  • Courtrooms across the country when the verdict is read
  • Children when they find out they’re going to be punished
  • Adults when they find out they’re going to suffer because of something they’ve done

Basically, worldly sorrow is regret or shame, not because of the sin itself, but because of the consequences. It has no redemptive value.

Godly sorrow on the other hand involves sorrow over the sin, because there’s understanding the sin was committed against a holy, loving God. Godly sorrow desires victory over sin, and as a result it produces a change of mind about the sin; a turning from it. Repentance.

“Sorrow” is synonymous with regret, and Paul says godly sorrow won’t later cause regret; it won’t later cause more sorrow. Why? Because it “produces repentance that leads to salvation.”

Test 2: Has my repentance produced fruit?

Here’s the accompanying message.

Ephesians 2:9-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Even though we aren’t saved by works, they  are one of the strongest evidences of being saved. I’m amazed by the number of people confident in salvation that lacks fruit. Could be the salvation of a parent, child, sibling, or even their own. Three times James said, “faith without works is dead” (2:17, 20, 26).

Test 3: Has my faith persevered through trials?

This message had two parts: Part I and Part II.

While none of us enjoy trials (which is why James 1:2 commands us to “count” them as joy versus “feel” joy), one of the blessings from them is the greater confidence they can give us in our salvation:

  • James 1:3 says trials “[test] your faith.” In what sense? To see if it survives trials.
  • 1 Peter 1:7 says trials “prove” or “reveal” the “genuineness of our faith.”

When our faith survives trials we can rejoice regarding our faith being tested and proved.

Conversely, in Matthew 13:21 Jesus said the seed that fell on rocky ground didn’t survive when trials arose. Just as trials reveal the sincerity of faith, they also reveal when faith is insincere.

Test 4: Is my life characterized by obedience?

Here’s the accompanying message.

Just like Christians never reach a place of perfect sinlessness, they also never reach a place of perfect obedience; however, just like believers can avoid lives characterized by sin, they can also have lives characterized by obedience:

  • Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments (1 John 2:3).
  • He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him (1 John 2:4).
  • But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked (1 John 2:5-6).
  • Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous (1 John 3:7).

Test 5: Do I practice sinning?

This message had two parts: Part I and Part II.

Scripture does a tremendous job providing balance, and sin in a believer’s life is one of those balanced areas.

1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

We never stopping sinning completely and to believe differently is a lie, but at the same time Scripture makes clear that believers can’t have lives characterized by sin.

  • If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth (1 John 1:6).
  • And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure (1 John 3:3).
  • Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him (1 John 3:6).
  • He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God (1 John 3:8-9).

John means, “he cannot keep on sinning,” establishing a pattern, or lifestyle of sin. That’s an impossibility for believers.

Paul communicates the same truth. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 he lists a number of sins – lying, idolatry, homosexuality, thieving, drunkenness – that prevent people from inheriting the kingdom of God. Then in verse 10 he says, And such were some of you.” After we become Christians our lives can no longer be characterized by those sins.

Test 6: Do I hunger and thirst spiritually?

This message had two parts: Part I and Part II.

None of us always feel like praying, reading the Bible, going to church, or being in fellowship, but we should have a regular desire for these spiritual activities. Assuming people have put their faith in Christ, they should look forward to worshiping the Lord who saved them. There’s only one group of people who don’t hunger and thirst for truth for these spiritual activities and that’s the unregenerate.

Test 7: Do I understand spiritual truths?

Believers have received the Divine Teacher:

  • John 14:26 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 things that I said to you.
  • 1 John 2:27 The anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.

Saved individuals will have at least some grasp of spiritual truths. We’re not talking about every believer being a tremendous theologian, but we are talking about a spiritual illumination of basic truths. As much as spiritual blindness is an evidence of being unsaved, spiritual sight is evidence of being saved.


I’m thankful for the tests God provides in His Word. They should give some greater confidence in their salvation, while making others question whether they’re truly saved. My prayer is this post helps both groups!

Discussion Questions

If you have any questions or thoughts please be sure to leave them in the comments below!

  • Can you think of any other tests?
  • When you administer these tests to yourself, what comes to mind?
  • Think of some individuals in Scripture we’d consider to be saved:
    • Which tests did they pass?
    • Are there tests they seemed to have failed?

“You are the light” versus “Be the light”

"You are the light of the world" versus "Be the light of the world."Matthew 5:14 says, “You are the light of the world” but sometimes you’ll hear people say something like, “Make sure you’re being the light.” Is there a difference? 

The latter is meant to encourage people to make sure they’re putting forth enough effort in their relationships with the Lord. If they’re not working hard enough, there won’t be enough light in the world!

The motivation for this post came from a recent situation I experienced. The Lord provided a ministry opportunity for me, but it came from the Lord and not my own effort. This wasn’t an appointment I could have established by striving to “be the light of the world.” It was an encounter God provided because we “are the light of the world” and He is determined to use us.

People usually mean well when they tell others to “be the light,” but there’s one problem: Matthew 5:14 is a not a command.

“You are the light” is an indicative, not an imperative.

It might sound like semantics, but there’s a big difference between a statement and a command. Since most of us don’t remember all of our 4th grade grammar, it works like this:

  • An indicative states or indicates something:
    • “You’re a student.”
    • “That’s a fast car.”
    • “The cell phone is in her purse.”
  • An imperative is a command or instruction:
    • “Go to the car.”
    • “Put that dish away.”
    • “Be quiet.”

There are plenty of commands (or imperatives) in Scripture, but “You are the light” is not one of them. Instead, these words state or indicate something about believers, as opposed to telling believers to do something.

Are there any really serious problems from making this verse into an imperative instead of leaving it as an indicative? Probably not. But there are minor implications.

  1. First, it’s misquoting Scripture. Just because the implications aren’t terrible from misinterpreting a verse doesn’t make it an acceptable mistake to make.
  2. Second, it encourages people to live out their faith unbiblically.

Instead of trusting God to work through them, people strive to accomplish as much as possible in their own effort. Instead of ministry accomplished through divine appointments and living and looking like Christ, people wonder how much they have to do in their own strength as opposed to being available and willing to simply walk in the works that God prepared beforehand for us (Eph 2:10).

Abiding and resting versus striving and working

Consider John 15:5 which says, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”

Jesus’ words contain another indicative. He’s making a statement about those who abide in Him. He’s not telling people to produce fruit and if they don’t they aren’t saved (“in Him”).

The branches on fruit trees aren’t straining to produce fruit. They produce simply by being attached to the tree. That’s Jesus’ point with the verse, that it’s not about some extreme effort in our lives. It’s about us being connected to Him, resting -abiding – in Him daily.

Galatians 5:22-23 lists the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Believers produce these fruit by living like their Savior, and being connected to Him.

What did you previously think of when you heard the words, “You are the light.” Did you think of it as command or statement? Do you see any problems associated with switching indicatives to imperatives? Share any thoughts or questions below!