Summary: What evidences of genuine salvation should we expect to see in the lives of true Christians?
Things that accompany salvation 6:9
9 beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation
The writer of this book saw evidences of genuine salvation in the lives of those to whom he wrote. I wonder what evidence we might look for? We would probably begin with their understanding of the truth and its orthodoxy. Perhaps we would then consider their involvement in church activities or the Bible version they used, but the writer does not mention any of these.
The writer contrasts these Christians with those that he has just described as being like thorns and briars – those who are ready for judgement. Some people are like thorns and briars – they always seem to scratch and irritate those with whom they come into contact – dishonouring God and hurting men. You can be sound in theology, heavily involved in Church activities, but still very prickly! Christians should not be like that.
Mt 7:15 "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 "You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 "Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 "A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.19 "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 "Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
God is far more interested in our hearts and how we live than our theology, in some dry, academic sense.
Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self–control.
Above all other characteristics the most important one that we should display is love:
1Cor 13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
So it is, perhaps, not surprising that the only evidence mentioned here is, the work and labour of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. However, there are two other characteristics that are mentioned that should also be present. These are:
• diligence/perseverance vv 11-12
• hope vv 18-20
(We’ll leave hope until next time, though.)
If we were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict us? Are these characteristics, and the many others that should distinguish Christians, evident in our lives?
Your work and labour of love v10
Love to God
In Mt 22 Jesus was asked which was the greatest commandment in the law. He replied: 37 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’38 "This is the first and great commandment. Christian love must begin with love for God and this verse begins there by talking about the love which you have shown toward His name.
Do we love God? We certainly should in response to His great love to us, shown supremely in His gift of His beloved Son – we love Him because He first loved us 1John 4:19. Not to mention His daily provision for us – food, clothing, homes, friends, family, the Bible … Have we thanked Him lately?
God honours those who love His Son. A rich man died and left no heirs. When his household goods were auctioned off, an elderly lady was the only one to bid for the picture of the dead man’s son. It had been greatly cherished by the dead man, because his only child had died at an early age. When the woman was asked why she wanted the portrait, she said she had been the boys nurse many years before, and had loved him dearly. When she got the picture home she examined it closely and noticed a bulge in the heavy paper at the back. making a small cut, she removed an envelope which turned out to contain the man’s missing will. It very clearly stated that he wanted to leave his property to the person who still held dear the memory of his beloved son.
Do we really love God? Do we like to spend time with him alone in prayer? Do we love to take that great love letter, the Bible, and read what God has written to us? If not, then how can we truly say that we love God?