What Results have been Experienced
John E. Todd, Chesterfield, England [SEE PROFILE BELOW]
Living a New Life
As with all other things, the reality of a person's experience of salvation is proved by its results. Does it work? 'Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone', Jas. 2. 17. The Lord Himself spoke of many types of people who claimed to be saved but were not saved. The shallow, 'when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time', Mark 4. 16-17. The religious, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? . . . I never knew you: depart from me', Matt. 7. 22-23. The moralist, 'Certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous . . . God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican', Luke 18. 9-14.
The same argument against the gospel of grace is used today as it was 2,000 years ago. 'Let us do evil, that good may come . . . shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? . . . shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace?', Rom. 3. 8; 6. 1, 15. The answer to these questions is not that we would lose our salvation if we sin. The answer of scripture is, 'God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?', Rom. 6. 2. As portrayed in our baptism, the believer has died to the old life of sin and is now raised up to live a new life in the power of the Holy Spirit, Rom. 6. 3-4. The Christian has been born again of the Spirit of God. And the fruit of that Spirit is love, joy and peace; patience, kindness and goodness; loyalty, gentleness and self-control, see Gal. 5. 22-23. The practising of these spiritual virtues is the concrete evidence that assures us that we are saved, that we are born again of the Spirit of God. 'And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred', Mark 4. 20. 'We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren', 1 John 3. 14.
In John 10 the Lord speaks of the security of His sheep, 'I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish', v. 28. In Matthew 25 the Lord speaks of the conduct of His sheep, 'the Son of man . . . he shall set the sheep on his right hand . . . ye gave me meat . . . ye gave me drink . . . ye took me in . . . ye clothed me ... ye visited me . . . ye came unto me . . . inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me', vv. 31-40. The conduct of the Lord's sheep is the present evidence of their eternal security. 'Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?', Luke 6. 46.
The new birth is a spiritual experience, therefore invisible, but like the invisible wind its existence is known by the results it produces. 'Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit', John 3. 7-8. In the case of the invisible wind it is the sound of it that proves its reality. In the case of the new birth it is the new kind of living that proves its reality. The new birth is invisible because it consists of the inward attitudes of repentance and faith, also the invisible incoming of the Holy Spirit. It is the good works that are the visible and tangible proof of the inward spiritual experience. 'For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them', Eph. 2. 10. As the Christian lives the new life, so he or she has the continual assurance of their salvation.
The Purpose of Salvation
As Christians we must always remember that the purpose of salvation is not only to save our souls from judgment but also to save our lives from sinning, and even more to conform our lives to the life of Christ. 'We know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure', 1 John 3. 2-3.'The great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee', Tit. 2. 13 15.
It is a good thing to be saved and know it.
It is a better thing to be saved and show it.
AUTHOR PROFILE: John has been constributing articles to assembly magazines since 1986. together with his wife he began work amongst children that led to establishment of the assembly. Now he serves the assembly as an elder and in the ministry of God's word.