Either I just really want to blog without taking the responsibility of actually writing something worth reading, or I’m just finding some really good stuff today.  So, here is yet another interesting, worthwhile read for those who care. 
 
Kevin DeYoung|6:05 am CT

Confidence or Condemnation?

Whenever counseling Christians looking for assurance of salvation, I take them to 1 John. This brief epistle is full of help for determining whether we are in the faith or not. In particular, there are three signs in 1 John given to us so we can answer the question “Do I have confidence or condemnation?”

The first sign is theological. You should have confidence if you believe in Jesus Christ the Son of God (5:11-13).  John doesn’t want people to be doubting.  God wants you to have assurance, to know that you have eternal life.  And this is the first sign, that you believe in Jesus.  You believe he is the Christ or the Messiah (2:22).  You believe he is the Son of God (5:10).  And you believe that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh (4:2).  So if you get your theology wrong about Jesus you will not have eternal life.  But one of the signs that should give you confidence before God is that you believe in his only Son Jesus Christ our Lord (4:14-16; 5:1, 5).

The second sign is moral. You should have confidence if you live a righteous life (3:6-9).  Those who practice wickedness, who plunge headlong into sin, who not only stumble, but habitually walk in wickedness–should not be confident.  This is no different than what Paul tells us in Romans 6 that we are no longer slaves to sin but slaves to righteousness and in Galatians 5 that those who walk in the flesh will not inherit the kingdom.  This is no different than what Jesus tells us in John 15 that a good tree cannot bear bad fruit and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.  So if you live a morally righteous life you should have confidence (3:24). And lest this standard make you despair, keep in mind that part of living a righteous life is refusing to claim that you live without sin and coming to Christ for cleansing when you do sin (1:9-10).

The third sign is social. You should have confidence if you love other Christians (3:14).  If you hate like Cain you do not have life.  But if your heart and your wallet are open to your brothers and sisters eternal life abides in you. One necessary sign of true spiritual life is that we love one another (4:7-12, 21).

These are John’s three signposts to assure us that we are on the road that leads to eternal life: we believe in Jesus Christ the Son of God; we live a righteous life; and we love other Christians.  Or we can put it this way: we know we have eternal life if we love Jesus, we love his commands, and we love his people.  No one of the three is optional.  All must be present for our assurance (see 2:4, 6; 4:20; 5:2). John belabors the same points again and again. Do you love God?  Do you love his commands?  Do you love his people?  If you don’t, it’s a sign you have death.  If you do, it’s sign that you have life. And that means confidence instead of condemnation.

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{in case the line above didn’t communicate this effectively? The rest is all me.  Don’t complain to Mr. DeYoung, he wrote the good part.)

Please note the absence of things like… Do you regularly do family worship in your own home? Do you read your Bible regularly? Do you pray often, at least each and every time you put food in your mouth?  Do you tell eight people about God every day? Do you make sure that you have a fish on your car?   Do you pray about every decision?  Do you tithe?  Do you wear solemn clothing that doesn’t bear hints of frivolity?  Do you avoid enjoyment of anything that isn’t directly related to serving God?  Do you mention God or search for a way to sneak in a scripture reference at least once for every conversation lasting longer than 5 minutes?  Do you greet everyone cheerfully whether or not you feel cheerful?  Do you cry during Amazing Grace?  Do you react emotionally to things you perceive to be spiritual?   

Not that some of these can’t be legitimately acted upon as priorities or at least held up as a decent goal.  Not that we can’t do the others.  In fact, for some, one or more of these is a natural outpouring of love and obedience (perceived obedience at times, but obedience nonetheless).  But they are not the litmus test.  And now that I’ve seen this, I am free from holding myself up against these formerly mentioned relatively petty and sometimes unnecessary items and being found wanting.  This is a good thing, for now I can look and see how I measure up to the three below and focus on the important issues first.
 

Disclaimer: I do not mean for this article to cause unrest in those who have these three assurances and are also pursuing some or all of the above mentioned things.  This was not posted for you.  This was posted for others who, like me, felt a weight lift off our shoulders when we were reassured that we can be true, valid, loving Christians without necessarily having all the excess "trappings" in place.  Without rising to the level of SuperChristian version 3.0 who has Christianity down to a science and knows exactly how many cheerios to eat and what days to fast on to improve his/her spiritual mindframe.  And also for those who want to look around and check to see who, exactly, is a Christian.  Good luck with that, by the way.

And now I really want to go listen to "Smell the Color 9" because it just sort of fits.

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