WHAT IS THE ACID TEST?
For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. Do not be like Cain who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death (1 John 3: 11-14).
Hey, John! Haven’t you got it wrong? I thought that to have eternal life means to believe in Jesus. Isn’t that what He said?
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).
The whole world knows that verse! So how can you say that loving my brother and sister is the way to eternal life? Aren’t you mistaken?
Let’s look at it this way. It’s easy to answer an altar call or sign a decision card in a moment of emotion when the music is playing softly and the preacher’s words are persuasive. But what about tomorrow when you are faced with the same irritating people at the office or the same nagging wife at home. The same disobedient children live in your house. The same teenagers who hog the bathroom when you are already late for work, still show you no respect or consideration. How do you react to them now? Has anything changed?
Believing in Jesus is much more than a religious exercise or a decision made in an emotion- charged moment. It is a decision and a choice to accept by faith God’s offer of forgiveness for all your sin. That’s the first step. The second is to surrender the control of your life to the Holy Spirit who has pledged to take up residence in you and to put you back on the path of obedience to God’s way of living. The good news is that He also enables you to do what you could not do before.
It’s actually a two-way commitment. God only responds to your decision when He knows that you really mean it and are committed to seeing it through to the end of your days. It’s a life-changing transaction. His part is powerful and supernatural. He rescues you from the clutches of the devil and his influence and transfers you to the kingdom of God where He calls the shots. His rule is underpinned by love, not selfishness, which the Holy Spirit generates in your heart. He washed you clean of all the stains of your past and puts His own nature in you, a disposition of loving obedience and trust in Him.
How do we know that this transaction has actually taken place? How do you know what kind of fruit tree is growing in your garden? By its fruit. It’s as simple as that! Jesus that the fruit will identify the tree. How do you know that the confession of your lips is true? Has the change actually taken place in your life or are you the same person you were yesterday? Do you have the same reaction to those who annoy you as you did before you made your “decision” to follow Jesus?
Of course, that does not mean that you have suddenly become perfect. You still have your old sinful nature to contend with, but somehow things are different if Jesus has responded to your sincere faith in Him. There’s a stirring in your heart towards the person whom you disliked yesterday. You are beginning to see him through different eyes. You recognise that he has his own issues which make him difficult to get on with. You find that can let go of the things that irritated you about him before.
There are the beginnings of new fruit in your life. God’s nature is starting to grow in you. You find yourself strangely moved by other people’s suffering where you were once disinterested and indifferent. You open your heart and your purse to someone in need instead of turning your back and walking away. What’s going on?
It’s the life of Jesus in you, not just a religious experience but an actual change that has happened in your heart. God is becoming real to you, not just a name that you utter when you are exasperated or surprised. You cringe when others thoughtlessly call His name. The emptiness and restlessness in your heart have been inexplicably removed and replaced with a peace that makes no sense but is very real.
How do you know that you have eternal life? Not because you signed a card or went up to the front for prayer, but because a real transformation has happened to you. You know you have eternal life because love has begun to grow in your heart.
Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Have you read my first book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!
ISBN: Softcover – 978-1-4828-0512-3, eBook 978-4828-0511-6
My second book, Learning to be a Disciple – The Way of the Master (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing), a companion volume to Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart, has been released in paperback and digital format on www.amazon.com.
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