THE TEST OF A TRUE BELIEVER
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in Him and He in us; He has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son to be the Saviour of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God (1 John 4: 11-15).
How can we identify true believers against the backdrop of so much spurious Christianity in the world today?
Some preachers tell us that we must subscribe to the doctrines of their denomination or persuasion to be authentic Christians. As long as we believe, for example, that we have a passport to heaven if we have signed a decision card or answered an altar call and have “accepted Jesus as our personal Saviour”. Any of these actions guarantees that we have been “saved”.
The Bible’s criteria for assurance that we the true sons and daughters of God are somewhat different from what these preachers present. John wrote that the test of a true believer lies not in what he says but in what he is and does. The first test of authentic faith is love for God and love for one another. God’s love in us comes from the Holy Spirit. He makes our dead spirits live when we believe and confess that Jesus is the Son of God and the God raised Him from the dead.
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved (Rom. 10: 9).
He pours the love of God into our hearts.
God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Rom. 5: 5b)
He changes us from selfish and greedy rebels to loving and obedient children and reassures us that we are children of God.
The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by Him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children (Rom. 8: 15-16).
Peter explained the meaning of the strange behaviour of the first disciples on the Day of Pentecost. God was fulfilling His promise to “pour out His Spirit on all flesh”, just as Joel had prophesied. The people of Jerusalem were witnessing the culmination of God’s promise to save His people from their sin and to fill them with His presence.
Peter did not invite them to “accept Jesus as their personal Saviour” to save them from the penalty of their sin. He declared the truth that Jesus Christ is both Lord and Christ
Therefore, let all of Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah (Acts 2: 36).
Peter’s statement electrified the people. They responded with the conviction of what they had done and a cry of alarm.
When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do (Acts 2: 37).
Peter reassured them that God would save them if they changed their minds about what they had done to Jesus and received His forgiveness of sin.
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2: 38-39).
Peter’s hearers understood his words. He commanded them to change their minds about Jesus. They crucified Him as a blasphemer. God proved them wrong by raising Him from the dead. He was not an imposter as they believed; He was the Son of God. What they had to do was to acknowledge Him as Lord and confirm their allegiance to Him by submitting to the ritual of baptism into His name. Baptism initiated them into Jesus and identified them with Him and His Body of believers.
Let’s get back to the Word of God!
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.
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