Friday, February 23, 2007

"...Are You Ready?"

How do you know if you are ready or not? How can you be sure that your salvation is genuine? These are the questions Jim Elliff deals with in his challenging booklet, Wasted Faith. "Most people will spend far more time examining the vegetables in the supermarket than they will ever spend scrutinizing their faith,"1 he says. "Regardless of what others may have told you about the significance of an event in your past, let me ask you a searching question: Right now, is your faith authentic or counterfeit?"2 He then makes the following plea:
"We are obeying God by reexamining the issue of our own salvation. We are also acting with the highest level of common sense, considering the stakes. Will you search it out? What is most alarming is the risky willingness of many professing Christians to gamble eternity on an emotional one-time experience, a "sinner's prayer" properly prayed, or a feeling of substantial relief at a juncture in time, without ever taking a serious look at what is evident now, at this moment. Is eternal life of so little value that it seems unnecessary to examine yourself for evidence of it? Is there nothing to lose? Hell is engorged with people who once thought of themselves as Christians. Is there no danger for you?"3
He goes on to describe six counterfeit faiths, faiths that will not provide entrance to heaven: Faith without the Spirit, faith without Christ, faith without reason, faith without repentance, faith without fruit, and faith that does not last. He stresses the importance of relying on God for salvation, rather than on our own merits, actions, desires, or prayers. But he also emphasizes that true faith will result in a changed lifestyle, will produce fruit, and will be able to endure tribulation.
"Saving faith is an initial and ongoing belief in the truth about Jesus Christ (who He is and | what He has done) and a lifelong reliance upon Him alone for salvation."4

"Saving faith is prefixed by repentance, or a thorough change of mind about sin and God. Saving faith is suffixed by affection for God seen in its fruit, obedience. Saving faith is evidenced by love toward others, both in terms of correct responses | and benevolent deeds. Saving faith will endure, even though tested by fire.

Is saving faith the faith you have?"5

This kind of talk goes against much of the modern church, which considers any questioning of your salvation as doubts from the devil. But the Bible also encourages us to "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves." (2 Corinthians 13:5) And again, "Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 1:10 - 11)

So in light of eternity, where do you stand before God? Is your faith and salvation genuine? Have you truly repented, and are you now living a life that is pleasing to God and that brings forth fruit for His glory? Or are you trusting in your own works or even your own faith to save you? It is Jesus who saves you, and Him alone. Nothing we can do or say can save us; all we can do is accept the salvation Jesus freely offers us. But a life that is radically changed at the fundamental level is part and package of that salvation. No fruits, no salvation.

As we were reminded in the last post, Jesus is coming again, and soon. Yet we don't even have the assurance that we will live until then. Death is sure. Is your faith genuine? As the words of a song go, "The Lord is coming! Are you ready?"

1. Jim Elliff, Wasted Faith, (Missouri, USA: Christian Communicators Worldwide, 2005), 7.
2. Ibid, 8.
3. Ibid, 9.
4. Ibid, 35 - 36.
5. Ibid, 51 - 52.

Monday, February 19, 2007

"The Lord is Coming..."

This was brought home to me in a new way recently as I read a book about end-times prophecy. No one questions that we are living in the last days, but just how close we are to the apocalyptic events foretold in the Bible is sometimes overlooked.

The book, Epicenter, by Joel Rosenberg, primarily talks about the war of Gog and Magog prophesied in Ezekiel 38 - 39. While that is only a preliminary skirmish, as it were, before the much larger battles later on, our world will never be the same after that war. And according to Rosenberg, that war might not be very far off.

Based on his research, experiences, and observations concerning current events in the Middle East, Mr. Rosenberg thinks it very likely the War of Gog will happen in our lifetime, possibly even in the next couple years. All the conditions described in the Bible are not fully in place yet, but never before have we been this close.

Based on his research and his interpretation of Bible prophecy, Mr. Rosenberg also makes a number of predictions concerning the near future. Among them, Israel will discover vast reserves of oil and/or natural gas on its territory; Iraq will stabilize and become one of the most economically advanced and prosperous nations in the region; and radical Islam as we know it will cease to exist after the War.

Whether or not you agree with his interpretation of prophecy and current events, the fact remains that Jesus is coming back--soon--and we need to be ready. Mr. Rosenberg ends his book with an exhortation for us as Christians to be watching the signs of the times and warning the world of things to come. And a plea to each of us to make absolutely sure we are ready.

Are you ready?