Summary: How to know you are filled with faith
FILLING OR FEELING?
How to know you are filled with faith
Have you ever doubted your salvation? You may be like the lady who was converted along with her young son. They’d heard a message on John 5:24, "..whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life..."
But in the morning the feeling was all gone, and mother was having the same old doubts. She said, "Son, the feeling is gone." The boy ran and got the Bible, found John 5:24, showed it to his mother and said, "Mother, it’s still in there; you’re all right."
It is dangerous to base our salvation experience entirely upon feeling. Knowing that, and acting upon it, are still sometimes strangers. Like the psychiatrist who took on a very disturbed man as a patient. The man thought he was dead. No matter what techniques the doctor tried, the man still thought he was dead. Finally the shrink tried one last desperate strategy. He asked the man if dead men bleed. "Of course not," said the patient, "they’re dead." With that the doctor pricked the man’s hand with a pin, and it started to bleed. "What do you say to that," asked the doc. "Well, I’ll be," said the man, "Dead men really DO bleed after all!"
How can you know the confidence of God’s salvation in your life in spite of lingering doubt? How can you banish the doubt altogether?
Our text offers two REALITIES that lead us to depend on the filling of faith God would bring in our lives, as opposed to the feeling of experiences we are prone to depend upon.
Reality of Relationship
This first reality has to do with the fact that a person is either saved, or not saved. When you are free falling from 20,000 feet, the parachute will either open, or not....you will live or die - all other options are eliminated. On a job application, when it asks if you are male or female, you can’t answer "yes." You’re one or the other. The scripture says (5:12) "He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life." The reality of relationship means you have either accepted Christ as your savior, or you are still rejecting Him.
Many people say, "Yes, I know that. My problem is in knowing if that experience was real - did it ’take’?" The answer to this subsequent question is more involved. It spawns another question; "Did your experience of accepting Christ change your life?" Genuine salvation has that quality.
What are the signs?
· Love of the brethren (5:1) Do you love christians?
· Love of the Father’s will (5:3) There is nothing burdensome when it involves pleasing the one you love.
· Love of the cross (5:6) At the time John wrote this letter a group of intellectuals, called Doscetic Gnostics were saying that Jesus couldn’t have been involved with something as awful as the cross if He were truly God. The blood was too nasty, dirty. Therefore, He only appeared to have a body, and die as a common criminal.
How do you feel about the cross? Was Christ really the Son of God? Did He hang there in your place? Have you called on Him, personally, asking for Him to forgive you, and that you might receive that forgiveness, and be born again? Have you turned your life, your possessions, your time, your talents over to His control? Does it make you want to love the Lord who died for you, and love the others He died for, and be obedient to the Father’s will?
That is the reality of relationship. You either have the Son of God as your Savior and Lord (and eternal life), or you don’t!
Reality of Renewal
Renewal has to do with the changes that happen in a person’s life. John says there are at least four characteristics that will mark the life of a saved person:
1. Answered prayer (5:14, 15).
Those who are children of God spend time with Him, finding out what His will is; Then, as obedient children, they begin to act, and ask according to that will. It is a strange situation in a household when a child won’t talk to the parent. Something is wrong! There will not be much of a relationship or provision, beyond the basic necessities of life. In the same way, prayer (and the resultant answers) become a natural part of a believer’s experience.
2. Care for others (5:16).
Usually, in the church, we criticize and humiliate those who sin. The Bible says we should pray for them, that they might be forgiven. A lady approached a well-known pastor of a large church in a supermarket, wagged her finger at him and said, "I left your church. Do you want to know why I left your church?" He said, "Madam, I don’t even know you. We have 5,000 people at our church every week." She said, "I left your church because YOU weren’t meeting my needs." He replied, "I don’t ever recall talking to you, much less knowing your needs. Did you ever tell anyone specifically what your needs are?" She didn’t. So he raised another question - "If all the 5,000 people in our church have this attitude, who is going to meet all the needs?" She stood her ground, "You tell me." He said, "Lady, this is what will work; when people in the pew stop saying, they’re not meeting my needs, and start saying, whose needs can I meet? THEN needs will be met, and the servant spirit will flourish."