2 Corinthians 13:5-6 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? But I trust that ye will know that ye are not reprobates.
I listened to an interesting conversation unfolding right next to me in church. The couple were trying to determine whether a friend really had a saving faith in Jesus Christ or not. They could not identify clear signs that indicated whether their friend was indeed a true follower of Christ. This dialogue prompted me to think about the evidence of our faith. More specifically, what signs can others see in our life that give clear indication of our salvation?
Paul exhorts us to examine (test) ourselves to see whether we are in the faith, or living under the deception of just thinking we are. In 1 Thessalonians Paul commends the church for manifesting the qualities that give everyone clear confirmation that they are indeed walking with the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 1:2-4 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.
Paul recognizes that these Christians are elected and chosen by God and have a saving faith because of the evidence in their lives. What is evident? Their works of faith, labors of love and patient hope in Jesus Christ.
True saving faith bears fruit in obedience to the LORD. It is living in obedience to the effectual call of God on our life. True believers have set their life apart from the world’s ways and now live a life dedicated to Christ. And as such our faith in Jesus is displayed in our deeds. For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead (James 2:26). The believer’s life is a lifetime of actions every day that tells others of their faith in Christ. This is the faith that stands strong in the midst of tests and trials. This is the faith that overcomes the taunts of the enemy. This is the faith that says a resounding ‘yes’ to the declaration that Jesus is our LORD and Savior. And this is the faith that brings us to worship His resplendent majesty and Kingship when the world pressures us not to.
1 Corinthians 16:14 Let all your things be done with love.’
1 Peter 1:23 ‘Love one another deeply from the heart.
The second evidence is labor prompted by love. The labor of love is powerful. It is selflessly serving others. It is the giving of ourselves, without asking anything in return. Love comes from the heart of God. God so loved the world that He gave His son. God gives because He loves. Giving sacrificially and loving selflessly go hand in hand. Others will know that we are followers of Christ when we emulate our Father by giving in love. In a culture that seeks to get as much as possible for as little as possible entirely for itself, love expressed in believers towards others is a welcoming gift. For it is through loving others that we will be known as Christians and shine like pure lights in the midst of a crooked and selfish culture.
Hebrews 6:19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast,
The third evidence of a believer’s election and salvation is their steadfast hope; their endurance inspired by hope in the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ endured the rejections and the cross because of the hope that was set before Him – the joy of being Savior of His people when the necessary suffering was over. Crucifixion was a shameful form of execution, but Christ endured the humiliation with the hope of something far better to come.
By following Jesus’ example of endurance, we choose to continue despite the cup of testings that we bear, knowing that there is a hope of something far better to come. Let us not grow weary or fainthearted, but with hope as our anchor, we can be steadfastly grounded and secure in Christ and His Word. As such, we will not be tossed about like a tiny boat on the waters of a raging storm, but instead, become like a solid sea vessel unperturbed by the tumultuous seas and violent gusts of wind. Hope is not an empty wish but rather a confident expectation of Jesus’ return. So let’s look ahead with hope to our eternal home and the joy of resting in a safe haven with Him. God’s people will be known and recognized for their peaceful hope and positive attitude despite despairing and discouraging times.
2 Peter 1: 5-7 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For it these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
What about you? Does your life reveal the evidence of your life hidden in Christ? Besides abounding in faith, hope and love, the true believer will earnestly seek the Spirit to help them grow and give evidence to goodness, knowledge of God and His Word, self-control, patience, godliness, kindness and generosity to those in need.
Work produced by faith. Labor prompted by love. Endurance inspired by hope in the Lord Jesus Christ. These are graces bestowed upon the believer when their heart is awakened to salvation by God, and these are the graces we earnestly desire to grow in and show to a watching world.
May God bless our endeavor to work with the Spirit and see others awakened to a saving faith.