Summary: The 7th in our series on the Baptist Faith and Message
Salvation: Practicing or Pretending (BFM pt. 7)
Text: 1st John 3:1 – 10
By: Ken McKinley
One of these days it is my hope and my desire to have a doctorate degree in theology. I have wanted this for a very long time. Now MariJo has a cousin who has a doctorate in medicine. She’s a D-O. When she first informed MariJo and I that she was going to medical school I said that’s great, maybe one of these day’s you and I will both have our doctorates. I’ll be the doctor who preaches and you’ll be the doctor that practices. She caught the joke, but then said, “You had better be practicing as well.”
As a pastor I think a lot about relevance. What I mean by that is - why should anyone listen to what I’m saying up here? Why should anyone really care? I pray that I say things that are significant to our lives, even if we don’t realize that they are, and the best way I know to do that is by staying as close as I can to what God says is important in His Word. Now there might be some here today, upset about the direction our nation is headed, upset with the administrations health care plan, angry about terrorism, or racism, or the issues you will hear on the evening news, and when they hear me say that we are going to continue on with our study of the BFM, specifically the doctrine of salvation, they might leave the service saying to themselves, “That sermon was irrelevant. It had nothing to do with the problems we are facing in the world today, or the problems I’m facing in my own personal life.” And if that’s you today, let me just say this… YOUR WRONG! Because what Jesus had to say about the new birth is extremely relevant for the direction of our nation, health care, terrorism, racism, and every other social issue we face today. And if that’s you today you would be wrong for thinking that those issues are the most important issues in life. They aren’t. Sure they might be life and death issues. They might fundamentally change our country and our culture, but they are far from the most important issue we face today. Because they deal with relief of the symptoms, but they never really get to the cause of the symptoms. They deal with the living for the next 80 years or so, but ignore living eternally in the presence of God for 80 trillion years… and longer.
But; on the flip side of this, if all we do is preach it, or listen to it, then maybe we are wasting our time here at church. I’m wasting my time searching the Scriptures, studying them and preparing sermons, and you’re wasting your Sunday’s being here listening to them. If the Gospel isn’t changing us, then something is wrong. We are missing something somewhere. If it isn’t challenging us to in some way, then there’s a good chance that we aren’t looking into like we should.
Now our text this morning is taken from 1st John, and 1st John, maybe more than any other book of the Bible seems to be written in order to help us with our daily struggle against sin, and to give believers assurance of their salvation.
Now, just last Sunday evening we finished up our evening study of the book of Jude, and if you remember, Jude was concerned about false teachers creeping into the church. Here in our text, we see that John also had the same concern. In verse 7 he says, “Let no one deceive you…” We seem to have missed this in our world today.
John is saying here that if a person claims to be a Christian but they are practicing sin, living a lifestyle of on going sin, then they aren’t really Christians. They’ve fooled themselves. Most likely, they are what I call “evangelized sinners.” In-other-words, they have probably sat in church for a long time, they’ve heard hundreds of sermons, on just about every topic, but they have never come to saving faith. They think they have, but the reality is that their hearts are far from the Lord.
So John was worried about people who have fallen into “easy believism,” what that means is that they believed that if they said a little prayer, then they were saved, and then they could go on living their lives exactly like they were.
This is why the BFM says, “repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace.” And look at point C – where we read about sanctification (read).
Now you all have heard me say this before, the evidence of the new birth is not a public profession of faith. It’s not a certificate of baptism. The evidence of salvation is a changed life.