The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe...
"The Evidence That Convicts"
Perhaps you have heard the rhetorical question, "If I was accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict?
This raises another inquiry. What is the primary indication of genuine faith in the Lord Jesus Christ? What evidence most confirms His living presence in our hearts and lives? Let us consider some possibilities.
Is it prayer? No, many people pray who do not truly know the Lord Jesus. It is more than possible to approach God without experiencing genuine relationship with Him (James 4:3).
Is it Bible reading and study? No, many people read the Bible consistently who do not know the Lord. The devil himself seems to know Scripture quite well, as evidenced in the wilderness temptation of the Lord Jesus (Matthew 4:5-6).
Is it church participation? No, people attend and belong to churches for many reasons, be it true devotion, or ritual, family history, social occasion, business, or many other reasons for association with churches (Jude 1:4).
Is it witnessing? No, church history is replete with believers who testify to having boldly shared the Gospel with others, only to discover at some point that they themselves did not truly know the Lord until a later date (Titus 1:10).
Is it good works? Certainly faith in the Lord Jesus leads to corresponding behaviors. However, a person can conform actions to the teaching of Scripture without having experienced the heart change that constitutes a true relationship with God (Matthew 7:22).
Other possibilities exist regarding fruits of Christian belief that certainly should and will be resident in a believer's life, but which do not inevitably confirm true faith. What then does? The answer lies in the character of God and His purpose to make us like Himself.
"God is love… Love seeketh not her own… The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us… We shall be like Him" (I John 4:8; I Corinthians 13;5; Romans 5:5; I John 3:2).
That which most confirms the saving grace in a professing believer's life is the origination and continuation of the Holy Spirit's work in us to foster unselfish devotion to God and others. Love, as defined by Scripture, constitutes the telltale evidence of grace received by faith. Indeed, the Apostle Paul went so far as to propose that one could make what seems to be the ultimate sacrifice, giving our body to be burned. However, if the motivation for such action originates in anything other than the unselfish nature of God, we would be nothing (I Corinthians 13:3).
This is hard truth, of course, because this is anytime and all the time truth. Everything our Heavenly Father determines and allows in our lives flows with the current of turning us inside out, as it were. Left to ourselves, we are black holes that seek to draw all things into ourselves and for ourselves. Through Christ, however, God ignites us as radiant suns dedicated to shining outwardly for the blessing of others. Certainly we are works in progress at the present time, and the process can ebb and flow to a significant degree. The truth remains that our Lord's working in us to form His selfless devotion to His Father and to people bears the brightest witness to His living presence in our hearts. "The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and give His life a ransom for many… Walk, even as He walked" (Matthew 20:28; I John 2:6).
The work proceeds in this day for each of us. Many opportunities to unselfishly know and express the love of Christ toward God and others will be orchestrated in us by the Holy Spirit. Most of the matters will seem small in substance and content, involving thoughts, attitudes, words spoken or unspoken, and our basic perspective of life. The consequences of our response, however, will be huge as our Heavenly Father works in us to make us like His Son. He could do nothing better for us, and we can do nothing better than to realize and devote ourselves to the evidence that convicts, God's ongoing and perpetual working to lead us in His unselfish devotion to others.
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
Weekly Memory Verse
"Thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness."