- Colton Hinson
Signs that your faith cannot endure the times to come.
Seeing the decline of western traditional values and the increasing hostility of the culture to anything that resembles Christian beliefs or ethics should give professing Christians an opportunity to pause and examine their beliefs and convictions. Truthfully, none of us have the strength within ourselves to endure real persecution; that ability is a purely external gift of grace given by God to those who belong to Him. However, there are signs we can look for in our spiritual lives that can signify whether our faith is a true faith that is fueled by the Spirit or whether we are lukewarm professors who are destined for compromise with the world and apostasy. Are you a nominal Christian by tradition? Or are you a truly converted Christian by conviction?
Do you attend a faithful Church?
Few topics get nominal Christians more heated and defensive than the topic of church attendance. I have heard every excuse. “The church is a people not a building!” “I can worship God anywhere.” “I don’t go to church because it is full of hypocrites.” There is some truth in each of these statements and 10 years ago when I was unsaved and unchurched, I used several of these excuses myself. However, these statements do not tell the whole story.
To begin, while it is true that the church is the people of God and not a particular place, the Greek word the New Testament uses for church is “Ekklesia,” which literally means “assembly.”The church is first and foremost the assembled people of God who congregate and worship him together in spirit and truth. It is difficult to be an assembly by yourself, and the idea of a lone wolf Christian intentionally separated from the church is completely foreign to the New Testament. The church is the means through the preaching of the Word and the sacraments (Baptism and the Lord’s Supper), by which God gives grace to the Christian to be able to live the Christian life.
Secondly, while it is true that you can worship God anywhere, that does not provide a satisfactory answer as to why you do notalso worship him as he commands. The scriptural imperative for Christians is clear as the author of Hebrews tells his audience, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another” (Hebrews 10: 24-25). It is true that those who are justified by Christ are saved by grace alone through faith alone, but a true, living faith results in good works. Christians who are saved and made new creations in Christ not only go to church, but desire to assemble with God’s chosen people and to worship him together. If you do not have this desire and you do not attend a solid church, you must repent and obey the commands of Scripture. Christ is clear that those who truly love him obey his commandments (John 14:15). If you are unsure what churches count as sound biblical churches you can find solid advice to answer that question in this article, or if you would like you could even send me an email and I would love to help you find a solid, biblical church in your area.
Are you regularly reading the Word of God?
“There is enough dust on some of your Bibles to write the word ‘damnation’ with your fingertips.” Charles Spurgeon once said these bold words to members of his congregation in London, and it was not without good reason. Jesus himself said these words to Satan when he was tempted in the wilderness:“But he answered, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).Truthfully, no one had a higher view of Scripture than Jesus Christ did. Whenever Christ was in a theological dispute with the Pharisees or even Satan himself, he often began his rebuttal with the words, “It is written.” Scripture is the very word of God; man cannot live the life of faith without it. Much like the sacraments and the assembling of the saints, the regular reading of Scripture is a means of grace that strengthens our faith and enables us to persevere in that faith. The converted Christian must have a desire to be constantly in the Word of God. In today’s culture, we are assaulted by the foolishness and wickedness of the world constantly. Someone who is not grounded firmly and intimately familiar with the truths of sacred Scripture cannot withstand the assaults of the enemy. “Your adversary the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
Are you praying every day?
One of the surest signs of a converted soul is a rich and reverent prayer life. J.C. Ryle put it most aptly this way, “Of all the evidences of the real work of the Spirit, a habit of hearty prayer is one of the most satisfactory that can be named. A man may preach from false motives. A man may write books and make fine speeches and seem diligent in good works, and yet be a Judas Iscariot. But a man seldom goes into his closet, and pours out his soul before God in secret, unless he is in earnest.”How is your prayer life? Do you pray without ceasing as Scripture commands (1 Thessalonians 5:17)? Or is prayer your backup plan when life gets rough? Do you treat prayer to God like a spiritual ATM, who is there to fulfil your wish lists? Or do you constantly pray to God by giving thanks to him, pouring out your heart to him, and asking him for the grace to overcome your own sinful lusts and desires?
These questions may indicate whether you have a true saving faith in the Triune God of Scripture or have the religious faith of many American Christians which is better classified as “Theistic Moralistic Deism.” Many today have an unbiblical view of Godand sin. They treat God as some benevolent man in the sky who is there only when life is hard, or they want something desperately. The rest of the time, His existence can be conveniently ignored until He is needed again. This deity rarely sends people to Hell, and the ones he does are only the “really bad people” who deserve it. If you live a moral life and are a “good person,” then you have nothing to fear from this god.Dear sinner, this is not the God of the Bible. His holiness and goodness cannot be understood apart from his wrath at sin. And all rightfully deserve this wrath apart from saving faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Scripture is clear that there are no “good people” who deserve Heaven on their own merits of being a decent person. “As it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one’” (Romans 3:10-12).
Are you putting sin to death?
The “Prince of the Puritans,” John Owen, once said these famous words, “Be killing sin, or sin will be killing you.” How do you view the sin in your life? It is characteristic of many nominal Christians to minimize sin. Statements like “Nobody is perfect,” and “We are all sinners,” while technically true, have been used to excuse rampant unrepentant sin and no warring against it. If you are constantly at war with the flesh but failing, then you can take that as an encouraging sign that the Holy Spirit truly has regenerated your heart. However, if sin runs through your life largely unopposed and ignored, then you should take no comfort or assurance that you truly are a child of God. Romans 7 is a picture of the Christian’s war against his remaining sin and depravity. Many today take a view of salvation that posits that, since you said a prayer one time, you are now saved and do not need to worry about your salvation or fighting against sin. James 2 shows us that a true living faith produces good works, while a dead faith does not. The true Christian wages spiritual war against his sin. Paul warns us in Galatians about those who live according to the flesh, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:7-9). Your sin must be fought for your faith to persevere to the end. Do you watch pornography or regularly commit sexual immorality? Scripture says that those will not enter the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). The beginning of the Christian life results in our seeing our sin for what it is. Do you?
A faith that can endure the times to come.
The western church is seeing a tidal wave of apostasy and compromise. Church attendance among Americans has fallen below 50% for the first time in our nation’s history. The rise of “religious nones” is rising exponentially according to every Pew Research poll. The majority of Christian academia is full of heresy, liberalism, and compromise with the world. It is not the truly saved who are leaving the Church, but those who seed was sown on rocky ground. To know if your faith is a true faith it needs to be examined. Are you among God’s elect people? Or are you a false professor to whom Christ will say at the judgement, “Depart from me, for I never knew you.”