The Protestant Reformer, Martin Luther, was once asked what his first thoughts would be when he arrived in heaven. His response was that, first, he would be amazed that he was there; second, he would be amazed that many were there that he never thought would be there; and, third that many would not be there whom he thought would be there.
It’s that third one that’s scary: In heaven, many will not be there whom he thought (and I’d add they thought) would be there. Jesus himself did say – in reminding us of the day of judgment to come after He returns from heaven:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many (and that’s the scary word) many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”
To be very frank, you can profess to be a Christian (and even a Christian minister of some sort), but if your life is not one of obedience to the Lord you shouldn’t have any assurance that you are a true Christian. A profession of faith in Jesus as Lord and possession of true faith in Jesus as Lord are not the same thing. And because the issue is an eternity of either heaven or hell, we’d better be sure that we not only profess faith in Jesus Christ, but also possess true faith in Him.
Now we need to be aware that many things can cause a very genuine Christian to doubt his or her standing with God:
- Some people are more constitutionally melancholy than others. The song of their lives is more in a minor key than a major one. They’re somewhat like Puddleglum in C. S. Lewis’ Narnia Chronicles book The Silver Chair. Read the book, and you’ll know what I mean!
- Bouts of depression will cause even the most genuine Christian to have doubts about his or her right standing with God.
- Special assaults of the devil (like Christian’s battle with Apollyon in Pilgrim’s Progress) will bring doubts to a true Christian. The devil is a liar, a slanderer, and a destroyer. He loves to attack the faith of those who follow Christ as the Captain of their salvation.
- Eruptions of remaining indwelling sin will cause the best of Christians – especially the most sensitive ones – to wonder if they have really been delivered from the state of sin and death and transferred by God’s grace into the state of holiness and life.
But how do we know the difference between these kinds of things that can rock the assurance of the most genuine Christian, and things that give evidence that we are not true believers in Christ at all?
Am I a true Christian? That’s our discussion in today’s Visit to the Pastor’s Study.
We have a caller who struggles with the assurance of salvation – and we’ll be speaking with her in a moment; but, for this huge topic, I have another pastor (who happens to be one of my sons!) to help both her and you as we tackle the question Am I a true Christian?
Pastor Jonathan Shishko – one of the pastors of Reformation Presbyterian Church in Fresh Meadows, Queens (NY) – welcome again to A Visit to the Pastor’s Study…
Here’s a link to the full program:
Yours enjoying assurance of salvation in Jesus Christ,