Summary: In this sermon we examine some reliable evidences of saving faith.
In our study of Romans we have observed that Paul has emphatically insisted that we come into a right relationship with God only by his grace and not through our own effort.
We deserve God’s wrath. We deserve God’s condemnation. We deserve God’s sentence of hell.
But, God extends grace towards us, and we are then justified by faith. And instead of going to hell we are bound for heaven.
When we get to heaven we will give thanks to God for his grace towards us. We will express only gratitude for the gift of eternal life that has been given to us. As Stuart Briscoe says, “Gratitude, not boasting, is the language of the redeemed.”
That is Paul’s message in our text for today. Let’s read Romans 3:27-28:
27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. (Romans 3:27-28)
“It ought to be possible to live a Christian life without being a Christian,” laments Roy Hattersley, a columnist for the U.K. Guardian. An outspoken atheist, Hattersley came to this conclusion after watching Christian churches lead several other faith-based organizations in the relief effort after Hurricane Katrina.
“Notable by their absence,” he says, were “teams from rationalist societies, free thinkers’ clubs, and atheists’ associations—the sort of people who scoff at Christianity’s intellectual absurdity.”
According to Hattersley, it is an unavoidable conclusion that Christians “are the people most likely to take the risks and make the sacrifices involved in helping others.”
Hattersley also notes that this pattern of behavior goes beyond disaster relief: "Civilized people do not believe that drug addiction and male prostitution offend against divine ordinance. But those who do are the men and women most willing to change the fetid bandages, replace the sodden sleeping bags, and—probably most difficult of all—argue, without a trace of impatience, that the time has come for some serious medical treatment."
“The only possible conclusion,” says Hattersley, “is that faith comes with a packet of moral imperatives that, while they do not condition the attitude of all believers, influence enough of them to make [Christians] morally superior to atheists like me.”
Hattersley acknowledges that saving faith produces a changed life.
Last week, we considered some of the things that neither prove nor disprove true faith. Although these evidences will be manifest to some degree or another in true Christians, they can also be evidenced, sometimes to a high degree in non-Christians. Therefore, I suggested seven unreliable evidences of saving faith.
First, visible morality is not necessarily proof of saving faith.
Second, intellectual knowledge of God’s truth is not necessarily proof of saving faith.
Third, religious involvement is not necessarily proof of saving faith.
Fourth, active ministry in Christ’s name is not necessarily proof of saving faith.
Fifth, even conviction of sin is not necessarily proof of saving faith.
Sixth, assurance of salvation is not necessarily proof of saving faith.
And seventh, the experience of a past “decision” for Christ does not necessarily prove saving faith.
Today, I want you to see that there are, however, some reliable evidences of saving faith. God does not leave his children in uncertainty about their relationship to him. So, what are some evidences of saving faith?
I. Love for God
The first reliable evidence of saving faith is love for God.
Paul says that “the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God” (Romans 8:7). The unsaved person cannot love God and, in fact, has no desire to love him.
The true child of God, however, despite his often failing his heavenly Father, will have a life characterized by delight in God and his Word (Psalm 1:2). “As a deer pants for flowing streams,” so his soul pants and thirsts for God (Psalm 42:1-2).
Jesus declared, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37).
The true believer will proclaim with Asaph of God, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you” (Psalm 73:25).
Peter declares, “Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious” (1 Peter 2:7, NKJV).
Love for God will be the direction of the true Christian’s life. The true Christian will love God’s Word and the things of God, and will delight in learning more about God.
When I first met Eileen, it was love at first sight for me. (It took her a bit longer!) As we talked, I thought to myself, “This is the most wonderful person I have ever met!” And I wanted to spend as much time as I could with her so that I could get to know her better.