Am I saved? Seven tests to know!

“Am I saved?” 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 six of the tests at Woodland Christian Church. Links to each message are 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. Continue reading “Am I saved? Seven tests to know!”

What do I have to complain about?

What do I have to complain aboutHere’s the conversation between Katie and I one month ago when I told her I wanted to go back to the gym:

  • Katie: “You’re going to hurt yourself again.”
  • Me: “No, I’m not. I’m going to do things differently this time.”
  • Katie: “You say that every time.”
  • Me: “Yeah, but this time will be different.”
  • Katie: “You say that every time too.”

I went back to the gym one month ago, and this past Wednesday I hurt my lower back so badly I could barely make it out of the gym. If the pain hadn’t subsided some by the evening I would’ve had to cancel the first night of our home fellowship. By the time I work up Thursday morning I couldn’t get out of bed, which is where I spent the whole day (and most of Friday). Katie was wonderful as you’d imagine, taking great care of me and – most graciously – not reminding me of how right she was and how wrong I was. I joked with her throughout the day saying things like:

  • “Why didn’t you tell me you thought I’d hurt myself again?”
  • “If you would’ve warned me this wouldn’t have happened.”
  • “I’m only in this situation because it’s so important to you to have a husband that works out” (something Katie couldn’t care less about).

The truth is I was feeling sorry for myself on Thursday. I had four messages to prepare/review this week, and trying to study and type on my back was difficult. While I wouldn’t compare my “trial” to the trials others have gone through or are going through, there were still some lessons I tried to learn, because I believe the Bible is clear that every trial is meant to be a time of learning:

  1. First, it happened to be September 11th. What right did I really have to complain about anything compared to what some people were going through as they remembered the past?
  2. Second, good health – including the lack of pain and just being able to get out of bed, move around and wrestle with my boys is a blessing I take for granted. Ricky and Johnny try to “fight” with me every day and I felt like the elderly person in Ecclesiastes 12:5 afraid of everything whenever they came near me.
  3. Third, Psalm 90:12 says, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” There’s wisdom associated with valuing our days and when you experience what feels like a completely wasted day, it makes you thankful for days you can be productive and spend your time profitably.

Quit Being A Baby

I can’t tell you how often what I’m preaching on is what I need preached to me. Last Sunday’s sermon had a real focus on trials, where the theme could’ve been: God uses trials for our good (Rom 5:3, 4; 2 Cor 4:17; Jam 1:2-4; 1 Pet 1:6, 7). That’s what I need to be hearing. I should probably listen to my own sermon and take notes. Seriously. The trials I’m facing mostly relate to feeling like I’m letting people down, not able to please everyone, not  able to keep up with everyone, not able to get everything done, etc. as opposed to physical or financial trials.

Here’s part of an e-mail someone sent me this past week: “I have no doubt you will look back on this season as a time of great learning if you can but learn what the Lord would have you learn.” It was good for me to hear these words. At least part of what I believe God wants me to learn relates to my need to toughen up. I don’t mean that relationally, like being less sensitive to people (I should actually probably be more sensitive). I mean toughening up like…not feeling sorry for myself. Not being a baby. I think that’s what God wants me to learn. There’s a verse I was really meditating on this past week, and I’d like to share it, but first here’s the context…

Jeremiah the prophet had one of the most miserable ministries in Scripture; when you’re known as The Weeping Prophet, you know things are bad. He was regularly mocked, beaten, imprisoned, and rejected. In one candid moment of discouragement after learning the members of his hometown were plotting his murder, Jeremiah poured out his heart to God, questioning what God was doing…and wasn’t doing. What you would EXPECT God to do is encourage the beleaguered prophet with one of those verses like Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous hand. We love verses like this. We cling to them and memorize them. When we’re struggling we picture God saying verses like this to us. That’s not what God told Jeremiah though. Instead he said, “If you have run with footmen and they have tired you out, then how can you compete with horses? If you fall down in a land of peace, how will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?” (Jer 12:5). Not only did God not comfort him, He actually rebuked him; He said, “If you can’t handle it now, how are you going to handle it when things get even worse?” God doesn’t always want to stroke us and make us feel better. Sometimes He wants to rebuke us and tell us to toughen up, and I think that’s what He wants me to learn.

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