What Are Some Signs Of Genuine, Saving Faith?
Indeed this is one of the most important questions in the Christian life! When answering that question we must first ask and answer the following. How do we truly examine our own faith? Paul the apostle urges us to do so! 2 Corinthians 13:5 says: “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?
Notice the second word of that verse, “Yourselves.” Please forgive me as I go off on a brief sideline here. A key character trait that I have seen in those who have lifelong genuine faith is a living out of this principle. These genuine followers of Christ make a habit of doing just what this verse says. They are constantly examining their own hearts and attitudes and minds. Coupled with that and indeed wrapped up in it is a habitual refusal to view others in a negative light. These saints examine THEMSELVES. They diligently bring their own heart, mind, attitude, words, actions and character traits to the foot of the cross and seek to be conformed to the image of Christ in all things. If they do examine the life of another it is out of love and an earnest desire to help the other grow closer to Christ. So, then how then can we examine ourselves? Jesus spoke about false prophets in Matthew 7. His statement there is directed towards teaching us how to spot false prophets, but His wisdom teaches us a principle that we can use to examine our own faith.
Matthew 7:17-20 says: Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
So, how do we examine a fruit tree? How do we examine our faith? We look at the fruits. Paul teaches in Ephesians that each believer has received the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1:13 says: And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit. Therefore each person of genuine saving faith has the promised Holy Spirit within them! Just as we can see the fruit of an apple tree upon its branches so we can see the fruit of the Holy Spirit within the life of the believer. Apples show us that a tree is indeed an apple tree. Oranges showus that a tree is an orange tree. It is by their fruit they are known. And so it is with us.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23).
If we have genuine, saving faith we will be filled with the Holy Spirit. And the fruit of the Sprit will make itself known in our lives. These are the measure to which we should hold our lives. These are the traits which we must continually ask the Spirit to manifest and refine within us. These are not a result of any human work or dedication. They are a manifestation of the Spirit’s work within those who have trusted in the work of Christ for salvation. These fruits are not simply felt, but are lived out in the day to day lives of true believers.
Remember beloved that though salvation has a beginning when we are born again, it is not completed, or rather we are not completed at that moment. Paul urges us to “work out” our salvation in fear and trembling. (Phil 2:12) As long as we live earthly lives, the Carpenter is not finished His work within us. We must allow HIm to refine his fruits and manifest them through loving good works.
Finally, let us remember the first fruit of the Spirit. LOVE! Our Lord taught that the world will know we are HIS disciples by our love for each other. (John 13:35) The world will know we are HIS by our love for all people…but primarily by our love for the body of Christ, manifest through our words and deeds. May we KNOW we are HIS by our fruits and by our LOVE!
Pastor Brian TorresNovember 1, 2014