Concerning the word of life – the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us – that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. – 1 John 1:1b-3
I am concerned with the behavior exhibited by many professing believers in the American Church today. It is not uncommon, even in more conservative leaning churches, to have members of the congregation who claim Christ, yet who show no real evidence of regeneration. The ability to show up at church every Sunday, the willingness to acknowledge a set of facts about God, and the overall appearance of being an upstanding member of society are not in and of themselves evidences of a heart regenerated by Christ.
It is a frightful thing when we compare the Christianity that is widely proclaimed in America today with the Christianity that Scriptures so clearly defines. More often than not, the definitions are vastly different from one another. A recurring idea that has come out of a post-modern perspective in the Church is that any one who says they were sincere when they prayed a prayer, asking Jesus into their heart, has received salvation and is guaranteed heaven no matter what their life looks like. This is a false presumption and we find no support for this in Scripture. Another troubling motto of seeker sensitive churches is “You can belong before you believe,” insinuating the idea that you can belong to the Body of Christ before you submit your life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. This also is a lie.
The Body of Christ is a common New Testament term used to describe all those who are truly saved. All those who Christ has redeemed are His body, and His true followers make up the Church. So the Church is not merely a building, meeting place, social justice platform, or group of people who want to call themselves Christians. It is, rather, the entirety of those saints who are justified by Christ’s atoning work on the cross, having received the imputed righteousness of Christ, which results in a turning away from sin and is evidenced by a life that becomes more and more Christ-like through the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work.
The first letter of John was written, in part, so that we who believe in Jesus Christ may have a list of characteristics to measure our own lives and the lives of others against, in order to ascertain whether or not we are meeting biblical parameters that give evidence of a life changed by Christ. That we may know that we have eternal life (1 John 5:13). We can be truly assured, through the examination of the very word of God, that our understanding of biblical salvation, which is the only salvation leading to eternal life, is in fact accurate. 1 John gives us several examples of things which will mark the life of a true slave of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“I did everything in my power to blow a trumpet in Zion and to awaken those who are asleep when I preached 1st John and the necessary evidences of the rebirth. It rocked the planet for good and for worse. If you do not see this evidence in your life you are not saved, you are self deceived, you have never been born again. And I mean across the board. It’s not three out of these nine. It’s not a multiple choice. All nine of these will be evident and present in your life if you are born of God, if you know God. And if not, you are going to hell.” – Dr. Steven J. Lawson
The True Follower Of Jesus Christ:
Walks In The Light: 1 John 1:6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But it we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
Keeps His Commandments: 1 John 2:3 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
Loves His Brother: 1 John 2:10-11 Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
Does Not Love The World: 1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world the love of the Father is not in him.
Will Continue In The Faith: 1 John 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.
Confesses The Son: 1 John 2:23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.
Practices Righteousness: 1 John 2:29 If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.
Is Marked By Love: 1 John 3:14 We know that we have passed out of death into life because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.
Listens To And Abides By Scripture: 1 John 4:5-6 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
I am afraid that many in the professing church today may have a false assurance of salvation. Do not listen to those who tell you that praying a prayer once in your life has sealed you for eternal life if you know that your life is not in line with these biblical characteristics of a true follower of Christ. Be alert, be discerning, and consult the only source of truth, the written word of the most high God. Salvation only comes through faith in Christ, and we can be assured that He has given us accurate information pertaining to Salvation in the pages of Scripture.