Friday, September 11, 2015

James 5:19-20

If you continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.
John 8:31

Your mortal life is the chief indication of whether or not you have eternal life. However, in spite of this clear teaching from Jesus, there are many who seek to rationalize their blatant disobedience to God. Using church membership as a sign of obedience in place of actual church attendance and involvement, or using a past experience of “conversion” in place of a present reality of continuing in the truth of the gospel, many falsely assure themselves of salvation while there is no reason to feel so secure. As they speed down the road of life, they point to their seat-belt of trite-theology all the while ignoring the cold reality that sooner or later they will arrive at the bridgeless ravine on the road to destruction. Yet, tugging, pulling, and pointing at their seat-belt, they assure themselves of their safety and seek to persuade those around them of “the decision they made that one time.” The answer of Jesus is short, but it certainly does not miss the point, “if you continue in my truth, then are you my disciples.”
“My parents are Christians.” “I was saved when I was a kid.” “I’m not really in church now, but I used to be pretty regular.” “I’ve always believed in God.” “You know, once saved, always saved.”
No matter how it is worded, the error always comes in the same form – false confidence. To them, the Biblical doctrine of assurance is so convoluted that they place surety where there should be none. The confidence they have in their eternal state before God substitutes obedience in their life with the phrase, “Well, you know, nobody’s perfect. Everybody sins.” Instead of acknowledging that their lifestyle of godlessness indicates an absence of the Holy Spirit in their life, they declare themselves to be children of God, while all the while they are merely self-deceived children of the devil.
We must understand this truth - a true Christian will never reject the truth of the gospel. Saving faith will be evidenced by a life of works. James has endeavored in his entire epistle to reveal this truth. A true Christian patiently endures hard times. A true Christian prefers others over himself. A true Christian labors to tame the tongue. A true Christian submits to God. A true Christian is not ensnared by the deceitfulness of riches. But even with such clear evidence, there are those who do not understand or believe this truth. In their life-style of disobedience they still profess that they are Christian. So, what do we do with those who profess themselves to be Christian while their lifestyle indicates otherwise?

God…has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
2 Corinthians 5:18

We have one option. Treat them like the non-believers that they are. Don’t coddle their false-confidence. Don’t reinforce their misunderstanding. Don’t accept misapplied truth that skirts the real issue of their desperately sinful position before a Holy and Just God. Church membership and Christian parents have never saved anyone from hell. The rotten-planked bridge of self-confidence must be dismantled and replaced with the truth of Scripture. James 5:20 says that those who are truly converted must come along and help those in error to see the truth. In gentleness and in meekness we must proclaim the truth of reconciliation, especially to those who are falsely assured so that they might be saved and brought into a life of true assurance.

Reflect: If Jesus is so clear in John 8, why do people still continue to call themselves Christian even when their lifestyle doesn’t seem to indicate it?