TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

BACKSLIDERS – LOST THEIR FIRST LOVE

CHRIST warned the church at Ephesus for they had abandoned their love for Him.  They toiled and patiently endured, and could not bear those who were evil, and judged those who were false.  They did not grow weary in their work, but they had forgotten CHRIST, which made it impossible to continue growing spiritually (Rev 2:1-4).

“’Remember from whence thou art fallen’—revert to your past history, your former spiritual state; remember your first sorrow for sin, the first joy of its pardon; remember the springtime of your first love.  How precious Jesus was, how glorious was His person, how sweet was His cross, how fragrant was His name, how rich was His grace.  Remember how dear to you was the throne of grace, how frequently you resorted to it….’Repent, and do the first works’….[backsliding] is a sin of peculiar magnitude; it is a sin against God in the character of a loving Father, against Jesus in the character of a tender Redeemer, against the Holy Spirit in the character of a faithful Indweller and a Sanctifier.  It is a sin against the most precious experience of His grace, against the most melting exhibitions of His love, and against the most tender proofs of His covenant faithfulness” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Oct 23rd, brackets mine.)

“A Christian living in the daily neglect of self-examination must not marvel if, at a certain period of his religious course, he finds himself trembling on the brink of gloomy despondency, his evidences gone, his hope obscured, and all the past of his Christian profession appearing to his view as a fearful delusion” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Oct 10th).

FATHER, as we end the subject of backsliders, (since we all fit into that category occasionally), certainly we should take a moment and contemplate if we still love CHRIST as much as we did at first.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart!  Try me and know my thoughts!  And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way of everlasting” (Ps 139: 23-24 ESV)!

“Conscience is read, motives are studied, principles are sorted out, actions are examined, the heart is searched, sin is confessed, and iniquity is acknowledged, as can only be done alone in the presence of Jesus” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, May 17th).

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

BACKSLIDERS – CONTENT IN THEIR STATE

“A believer may fall into a drowsy state of soul—not so profoundly as to be entirely lost to the voice of his Beloved speaking by conscience, by the Word, and by providence; yet his grace may have decayed so far, his love may have grown so cold, and his declension may have been so hardened, that he is content in this state.  Oh, alarming symptom of soul-declension: the indulgence of laziness and self is preferred to a visit from Jesus” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, July 28th)!

“They are converted; they know what it is to have assurance and faith; they believe in pardon for sin; they begin to work for God; and yet…there is none of the beauty of holiness or of the power of God’s Spirit in them” Andrew Murray (ref#272, p9).

FATHER, backsliders have walked in Your ways long enough to have “…seen the light, gotten a taste of heaven and been part of the work of the Holy Spirit…” (Heb 6:4-8 MSG).  They have personally experienced the sheer goodness of Your Word and the powers of the age to come (Heb 6:5) but have, at some point, turned away from CHRIST.  (These words in Hebrews may describe one who has never experienced regeneration but these Scriptures also fit the definition of a backslider.)

GOD…”would walk with them all the day long, and sun them with the unclouded light of His countenance.  But when He hides Himself for a little moment, He is driven from their embrace by their lukewarmness of heart and unkind resistance of His love” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, July 28th).

FATHER, You tell us to not grieve Your SPIRIT; we grieve You when we do that.  There are endless ways we injure You, GOD.  How continually You must discipline us to move us back into a right relationship with You.  We are constantly “high maintenance.”  But that shows Your longsuffering love and faithfulness.  Once we are reunited we possess much to praise and glorify You.

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

BACKSLIDERS – ENDANGERED SOULS

“…so much as the flesh is gratified, so much is the soul endangered” A.W. Pink (ref#269, p111).

“Remember that, though your love has waxed cold, the love of your God and Father towards you never diminishes; it has never known even a shadow of change….God has never, not even for a moment, turned His back on you, though you have turned yours on Him times without number.  His face has always been toward you…” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Aug 22nd).

“If…children forsake my law and do not walk according to my rules,  if they violate my statutes and do not keep my commandments, then I will punish their transgression with the rod and their iniquity with stripes, but I will not remove from him my steadfast love or be false to my faithfulness” (Ps 89:30-33 ESV).

“All spiritual declension in the true believer necessarily implies the actual possession of grace….In the lowest condition of the believer, Christ never denies His own work in the soul….” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Oct 10th).

“True grace may suffer a shrewd decay, but not an utter loss.  In temptations it may be sorely shaken; the heel may be bruised, as Christ’s was, but ‘his seed remaineth in him’” Thomas Manton (ref#225, Sept 28th).

“If God says, “Return,” that is sufficient for you.  You need nothing more; if He is willing to receive you back, to pardon your sins, to forget your ingratitude, to heal your backslidings, and to restore your soul, you have the broadest warrant to return…He is on the eager lookout for your first movement towards Him…He sends His own Spirit to work that return in your soul, to break your heart, to waken your slumbering spirit, and to draw you and win you to His arms” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Sept 10th).

FATHER, in the Apostle Paul’s writing to the Corinthian church he calls them all “saints.”  They have much to learn in their walk of sanctification, and despite their unloving activities, Paul is sympathetic toward them.

Paul “…takes them by the hand and goes over all the old ground again, directing them in how to work all the glorious details of God’s saving love into their love for one another” MSG Bible (ref#262, p398, “Introduction to 1 Corinthians”).

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

BACKSLIDERS – CARNAL-LIKE BUT SAVED


“…Better not to have started out on the straight road to God than to start out and then turn back…”
(2 Pet 2:20-22 MSG).

“All backsliding has its commencement in the neglect of prayer…do you tremble at the possibility of ever becoming a backslider?  Do you dread the thought of wounding Jesus?  Then do not restrain prayer before God….A distant walk from God will induce distant thoughts of God….The more we know of God, the more we love Him; the more we try Him, the more we confide in Him….In order to reap the proper fruit of the Lord’s dealing with the soul, it is necessary that they should be viewed in the light of His faithfulness and love.  The moment they are interpreted otherwise, the soul heads away from God and wraps itself up in gloomy and repulsive views of His character, and government, and dealings” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Oct 5th, underlining mine).

“…the great difficulty in a backsliding soul is to bring it to the necessary, spiritual duty of self-scrutiny….Perhaps nothing tends more to unhinge the soul from God and engender distrust, hard thoughts, and rebellious feelings than to doubt thus His loving-kindness and faithfulness in the discipline He is pleased to send” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Sept 16th).

“Trouble is often the means whereby God delivers us.  God knows that our backsliding will soon end in our destruction, and, in mercy, He sends the rod….our trouble has been the means of delivering us from far greater evil” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Jan 24th AM).

“…faith…anchoring itself on divine truth and the unchangeable love of God, is sure to strengthen and increase by every storm that beats on it….Is it the enchantment of the world that…caught you with its glitter, and overwhelming you with its crushing cares?…He was never known to cast out anyone who in lowliness and brokenness of heart sought His compassionate grace” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Sept 16th).

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

SPIRIT CHECK_5

“Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness” (Luke 11:35 NLT).

Am I willing to consider ideas about Christianity that are not spelled out in the Bible?

 “Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind” (Col 2:18 ESV).  “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls….” (Jer 6:16 ESV).

Do I compare myself to other people?

“…I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers…” (Luke 18:11 NIV).  “…’None is righteous, no, not one…no one does good, not even one.’” (Rom 3:10,12 ESV).

Do I let GOD guide me all day long?

“God fills the whole universe; therefore, there is no room for another god.  If He reigns in my heart, there will be no space for another reigning power….If this is not the case, O Lord, pardon my sad offense and unite my heart to fear Your name” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Nov 14th AM).

Do I really “know” CHRIST or just know of Him?

“I am not asking whether you believe certain things; that is possible intellectually. Rather, I am asking have you life, are you in the realm of life, do you know God, do you know the Lord Jesus Christ?…When you pray, do you know that you are speaking to God” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#211, p90)?

Is serving GOD more important than loving everyone around me?

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels…If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge…if I have a faith that can move mountains…If I give all I possess to the poor…but have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Cor 13:1-3 NIV).

“If your faith does not reshape your life, it is not true faith” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Oct 5th).

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

SPIRIT CHECK_4

“Make sure that the light you think you have is not really darkness” (Luke 11:35 NLT).

Am I content with the service I decide to do for GOD?

Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform…many miracles?”  Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you.  Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matt 7:22-23 NIV).

Is my belief more important than my service?

“By an act of faith, Abel brought a better sacrifice to God than Cain.  It was what he believed, not what he brought, that made the difference…” (Heb 11:4 MSG).

Do I attempt to appease God with my good conduct?

“…a righteousness of my own that comes from the law…” (Phil 3:9 ESV).

Do I work for GOD the best way I know how?

“Our doing and working are but the fruit of Christ’s work in us.  It is when the soul becomes utterly passive, looking and resting on what Christ is to do, that its energies are stirred to their highest activity, that we work most effectually because we know that He works in us” Andrew Murray (ref#266, p25).

Do I act differently in church than the rest of the week?

“…There is great irony here: proclaiming so much love, experiencing so much hate!…” (Matt 10:21-23 MSG).

Do I totally submit my entire life to GOD as JESUS did?

“…not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42 KJV).

“God is sovereign, self-sufficient, and free.  If we do not have this foundational vision of God in place when we ask how we can please him, it is almost certain that our efforts to please him will become subtle means of self-exaltation…” John Piper (ref#220, p209).

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

SPIRIT CHECK_3

“Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness” (Luke 11:35 NLT).

In church do I have the fear of GOD?

“Guard your steps when you go to the house of God.  To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools…Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth….” (Eccl 5:1-2 ESV).

Do I love to hear about JESUS on Sunday but forget about Him during the week?

“It is not enough to hear about Jesus; mere hearing may tune the harp, but the fingers of living faith must create the music” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Jan 28th PM).

Do I find keeping GOD’s commands difficult?

“…The proof that we love God comes when we keep his commandments and they are not at all troublesome” (1 John 5:1-3 MSG).

Have I trembled sometimes under the powerful exhibition of the truth? “So did Felix, and yet he never truly repented” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, April 7th)!

Have I heard the gospel gladly and, under its momentary influence, done many things?

“So did Herod, and yet he kept Herodias and beheaded John” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, April 7th)!

Do I testify to others and say, “I believe in JESUS?”

“…with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved” (Rom 10:10 ESV).

Do I judge myself better than others?

“…some…were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else…” (Luke 18:9 NIV).

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

SPIRIT CHECK_2

“Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness” (Luke 11:35 NLT).

Did I, on my own, decide to become a Christian?

“…his purpose is not a hit-or-miss thing dependent on what we do or don’t do, but a sure thing determined by his decision, flowing steadily from his initiative….” (Rom 9:10-13 MSG).

Do I have any evidence that I’m a Christian?

Understand now, that just because you consider yourself a Christian doesn’t mean you are in GOD’s eyes.

Do I praise JESUS but then not do what He says?

“…you are near in their mouth and far from their heart” (Jer 12:2 ESV).

Am I sure that the love of GOD is in me?

“Unforgiving people have not been forgiven themselves; those who are forgiven are so broken by it that they cannot but forgive others.  They are children of God, and they act like God” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#211, p115).

Do I gladly give an account to the LORD of the good things I’ve done?

“…all our righteousness (our best deeds of rightness and justice) is like filthy rags…” (Isa 64:6 AMPC).

Do I read Scripture and pray daily?

“Has studying the Word of God become dull and tedious to you?  Have you become so busy that reading the Bible has only become perfunctory?  Are the sorrows and cares of life intruding on your prayers as so many thorns?  If so, beware lest the thorns of life gain such root that they choke off your faith.  Take the hardness of your heart to the Lord and ask him to soften it and pour new life into it” John Calvin (ref#164, June 26th).

“If true conversion involves fleeing from our evil desires and corruptions and devoting ourselves obediently to God, it should be our regular practice to examine ourselves to make sure that, by God’s grace, we have indeed done these very things” John Calvin (ref#164, May 7th).

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

SPIRIT CHECK_1

“Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness” (Luke 11:35 NLT).

Do I think I’m already good enough?

 “Heavenly people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.  I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners” (Mark 2:17 NLT).

Has my entire life focus changed?

“…what happens when we live God’s way?  He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity.  We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart…” (Gal 5:22-23 MSG).

Do I remind God of how many commandments I’ve kept?

“…by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified…” (Rom 3:20 NASB).

“…’the righteous will live by faith.’  The law is not based on faith…” (Gal 3:11-12 NIV).

Do you talk more of Christianity than demonstrate an appreciative life?

“…Your cleansed and grateful life, not your words, will bear witness to what I have done” (Matt 8:3-4 MSG).

Do I accept the words of salvation but do not practice any life change?

“It is not a gift received but something which I must work out and put into practice” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#211, p43).

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

ASSURANCE OF SALVATION

In 2018 and 2019 this blog concentrated on “assurances of salvation.”  It is such an important subject it is worth reviewing again.  A.W. Pink has written a most thorough book on the subject.  The below quotes are from his book, The Holy Spirit, (ref#269).  Let’s check ourselves again with his words:

“Our hearts are fearfully deceitful, there are many minglings of faith and unbelief…and grace in us is…feeble” (p140).  But the HOLY SPIRIT helps us to judge the reality of our faith and whether or not we are actually sincere or being wrongly convinced by our heart.

“It is by the Truth that the Spirit…bears witness…it is by revealing to us…the correspondence between the history of our soul and the testimony of the Word that He persuades us we are born again” (p139).

“…when the Spirit increases our faith, rekindles our love, strengthens us with might in the inner man, He enables us to come to a definite conclusion” (p140).  When we search ourselves and note that our inner core focus has changed we know that we are becoming a new person—made over by the SPIRIT.  Can we answer, “Yes” to the following questions?

Do I feel poor in spirit?–“…a pauper dependent upon the charity of God” (p139).

Do I mourn?—“…‘mourn’ over much which gives the worldling no concern whatever” (p139).

Am I meek?—“…so that the rebellious will is, in part, subdued, and God’s will is submitted unto” (p139).

Do I hunger and thirst after righteousness?—“…the best this perishing world has to offer…is unsatisfying…” (p 139-140).

Am I merciful toward others?—“…counteracting that selfish disposition…” (p140).

Am I pure in heart?—“…to pant after holiness and hate that which is vile…” (p140).

“By His own fruit in the soul, the Spirit makes manifest His indwelling presence” (p140).  “…the witness of the Spirit is not so much a revelation which is made to my spirit…as it is a confirmation made in or with my spirit…” (p139).