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1728. How Do You Know You Are Really a Christian?

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University
The Truth Network Radio
March 13, 2024 6:00 pm

1728. How Do You Know You Are Really a Christian?

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University

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March 13, 2024 6:00 pm

Dr. Steve Pettit continues a discipleship series entitled “Truth and Love” from 1 John 4:15-16.

The post 1728. How Do You Know You Are Really a Christian? appeared first on THE DAILY PLATFORM.

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Welcome to The Daily Platform. Our program features sermons from chapel services at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. Every day, students are blessed by the preaching and teaching of the Bible from the University Chapel Platform. Would you take your Bibles and turn with me to 1 John chapter 4. So this is a little life lesson before we get into God's Word this morning. So when you go through difficult events of life, what do you do?

Here's what you do. You sleep, you go to bed. Amen? You wake up the next morning and you make coffee. I should have gotten an amen on that. And then you sit down and you pick up reading your Bible from where you did the day before.

You went, what, what, what? Yeah, that's exactly what you do. When you go through trials and you go through storms and you go through unknowns and you go through uncertainties, you don't need to listen to your thoughts. You need to hear God's thoughts. You know, most of our problems in life is we listen to our own selves too much. And we need to go to the Bible because the Bible is the well spring of truth, comfort and joy. The world cannot take away your joy in the world.

You will have tribulation. So I encourage you. It's always a test of where is your faith?

What are you trusting in? So I get up, you know, in the morning. I got up yesterday morning. And I didn't make coffee. I went and got coffee. I was in a hotel. And I came back and I was reading in my Bible where I read the day before. That is a steady plan for life.

That's what brings stability. Okay, now you didn't pay for that. That's free. All right, so take that. I hope you'll use it. We're reading this morning at 1 John chapter 4. My message this morning is in the next week. We're going to look at the last message and I'm really excited about next week. We close out the week, but it's kind of the one sermon I've been waiting to preach the whole semester.

And this is really the pathway that gets us there. My theme this morning is really centered around one really simple question. It's an important question for all of us and that is how do you know that you really are Christian? I'm not asking you if you believe in Jesus Christ.

I'm not asking you, you know about the way you've grown up. But how do you know that you truly you really are a Christian? And the answer is found here in 1 John chapter 4 verses 13 through 16 and I want you to read along and ask yourself that question as you read the word and try to answer it before I give the answer.

Let's look at what he says. He says in verse 13 and hereby know we that we dwell in him and he and us because he has given us of his spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the father sent the son to be the savior of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the son of God, God dwelleth in him and he and God. And we have known and believe the love that God hath to us. God is love and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God and God in him.

How do you know that you truly are a Christian? And according to the scriptures that we have read this morning, it is very clear that is a Christian is one who has God residing within his own heart. Sometimes he said we dwell in him and he and us God dwelleth in him and he and God dwelleth in God and God in him. Paul says Christ in you. He says it again Christ liveth in me. So therefore a Christian is one who has God residing within your own heart. So how can we then be absolutely sure that God lives in us? How do you know that God is living in you?

I mean that's the question. And John elaborates on this truth by presenting three incontrovertible tests that confirms the indwelling presence of God in the life of every true believer. One writer said it this way, this passage of scripture is the best summary in the New Testament of how a person can truly know that he is saved. And probably for the vast percentage of you that are sitting here, you have grown up around and in the Christian faith. And all of you if asked when did you become a believer, you probably have some point in time in your life where you think you were saved. And yet I think we all would know that at some point you say to yourself how do I really know that God lives in me?

So let's look at those three tests this morning. The first one is found here in verse 13 when it says hereby know we that we dwell in him and he and us because he has given us of his spirit. The first test is this or question is do you possess the Holy Spirit? Is the Holy Spirit living inside of you? The internal witness that somebody is a child of God is the Spirit has taken up his residency within your heart. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6 your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost. The Spirit is given to the believer at the moment of salvation and continues to operate in your heart the rest of your life.

That's what he means when he says God has given us of his spirit. The word given is in the perfect tense. That's simply referring to something that takes place at a point in time and continues on. At a point in time and honestly you may not know exactly when that happened. It could have happened when you were six years old and your mother led you to Christ. It could be when you were 10 years old and you made a decision in church.

It could be at 13 years old when you were in a camp setting or 16 years old when you got convicted about sins in your life and God changed your life at that time. I don't really know. But what he is saying is that God gives us of his spirit and that's in the perfect tense.

It starts at a place and it continues on. So question, how can you know that you possess the Spirit? What are the evidence of the internal dwelling, the indwelling presence of God's Spirit in your life?

Well let me say it this way. The Spirit's presence is not determined by living a moral lifestyle. It's not based on an action that you do. It's not based on conforming to a religious code of behavior. All of you who grew up in a Christian home grew up with a code of behavior. It's not being engaged in religious activity or worship. It's not because you've grown up going to church. I mean for some of you, you don't know life without church.

Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, throughout all of your life and you grew up in church programs and all your friends and you went to a Christian school. That's your whole life. What the Apostle Paul is telling us, excuse me, the Apostle John is telling us here that these things can all be done by an unregenerate person. When the Spirit indwells the soul of the believer, that believer possesses something that nobody else in the world has. And that is you possess the power of a new life.

If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new. And may I say to you that the evidence of the indwelling Spirit that has come inside of you and has given you a new life, that is unmistakable.

You can't miss it. You say, what are those evidences? Number one, a true believer possesses an appetite for the spiritual. This past week I stopped at one of the hospitals here in town to visit a young lady who went to school here. Who married a young man from here and they obeyed the Bible.

The Bible says be fruitful and multiply. And so she had just given birth to a beautiful little baby. And I went to see her because I helped her to get here to Bob Jones. So she's laying in bed with that little baby right here. And I said, well, are you going to feed the baby? She said, yeah. She said she didn't have any problem figuring out what to do.

Because by her very nature, as a newborn babe, she has a desire for milk. And Peter uses that metaphor to describe a believer. They have an appetite for God's Word. Before I became a believer, going to church was kind of boring. After I got saved, going to church was a blessing. Before I got saved, I really couldn't understand the Bible.

After I got saved, it's almost like the lights turned on and it all started clicking. And I wanted to hear it and I wanted to grow in it. The interchange has affected your attitude so that you have an internal appetite for eternal things. Be not conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. The power of a new life gives you an interest in and a passion for spiritual things.

There's an appetite. Secondly, a believer possesses not only an appetite for the spiritual, but an awareness of sin. You have a new sense that is far greater after your conversion than before.

Now let me just stop here and say, let's put it this way. If you get saved at six years old and you grow up in a pretty strict family, sometimes your senses are not really very sharp. Versus like me getting saved at 19 years old and it was like everything was different. So sometimes it's a little hard to know. So as you grow, especially at this stage of your life, I mean at 18, 19, 20, 21 years old, I mean at this point, there ought to be a deep awareness, first of all, of your own sinfulness. I mean before you get saved, you're really not that aware of your own sinfulness. You'll do things and the things that we as Christians would never do, they do it and they do it joyfully.

I mean let's face reality. It was just spring break. What do most college students do?

They go to Florida and what do they do? It's not just that they go on vacation, but they go there and they do the things of the flesh. And as a real believer, a true believer, I mean how can you even imagine doing that and to say that you're a Christian? You have a completely different awareness of the reality of sin.

Let me put it this way. It's like the Lord gives you a spiritual sixth sense about sin. I became a believer at 19 years old and the summer of, let's see, it'll be the summer of 1976, my family moved up to Washington, D.C. area and I went home for the summer. I really wasn't able to work a job because I had a limited amount of time at home, so I had some free time and of course I watched television just like everybody else. And I was looking for TV shows that I thought that I could watch because I had an awareness of things that were wrong. So I decided one day to watch Gilligan's Island. I saw the original Gilligan's Island. And I remember sitting there watching it, you know, and it's kind of a, you know, it's Gilligan.

You know what I'm saying. It's funny. There's a lot of humor in it, a lot of things I enjoyed.

But there were some certain elements of it that were pretty risque, like ginger. And as I sat there and watched it, you know what, I just, I had an awareness that it wasn't right. And I didn't have that before I became a believer. When you become a child of God, the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, who will always move us to conform our lives to the law of God, for He works in us to fulfill His righteousness, is going to speak to us about those things. And that conviction that is actually not something somebody put upon you, but something that came out of you, is the evidence that you're actually a child of God. That is one of the proof positives that He dwells in your heart.

Then the second test. The second test that you truly are a believer is that you've made a confession of faith in Jesus Christ. Look at what he says in verse 14. And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. He, however, shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwells in Him, and He in God. It is very clear that a believer has made a confession of faith.

So the question is, does the Spirit dwell in you, and have you made a confession of faith? Now, the author of the book, John himself, had a privilege that very few people in human history have ever experienced. He had a very intimate, close, personal relationship with Jesus. In fact, that's what he says in the first three verses of his letter. For he tells us that he had such a relationship with Jesus that he saw Him, he heard Him, he touched Him, and he never forgot Him. And the rest of his life, he testified to what he had seen and heard. So what did he say? What was his message?

What was it that he was always confessing with his mouth? Verse 14, and we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. Now, why the specific message about salvation? It doesn't mean that he's not confessing his deity or his miracles or his teachings, but in this case, his primary emphasis that is the absolute necessary for the assurance of salvation is he confessed and testified that Jesus is the Savior of the world. Well, by the time John wrote his letter, a huge question had arisen, and that is whether or not we actually need a Savior. Do I need a Savior? In other words, there was a fundamental denial that people are lost in sin and they are headed for the judgment of God. Because folks, you don't need to be saved if you're not lost. And false teachers had denied their own sinfulness confessing that the sacrifice of Jesus was not necessary for eternal life.

You don't need the blood of Jesus to have your sins to be washed away. A number of years ago, I was preaching in a two-week revival meeting in Greenville, South Carolina at Morningside Baptist Church. 1990. That's a long time ago.

33 years ago. And during that meeting on the second week on a Monday night, a young lady turned to my wife and said, can I talk to you out in the lobby of the church? And they walked out during the song service. That young lady was our school teacher that was traveling and she was our tutor for our kids. And she said to my wife, Terry, she said, I don't know if I'm saved. And she said, well, you need to talk to my husband after the service. So after the service, she comes over our trailer and I walk in and sit down and I have my Bible and I was going to help her to have the assurance of salvation. And I asked her a basically simple question.

Tell me when you thought you got saved. And she said these words, I've always grown up believing in Jesus, but I never saw why I actually needed Jesus. She said, because I really didn't think I was all that bad.

I looked at her and I thought, well, had you asked me, I would have told you you're that bad. But you see, salvation is not based on me seeing your sin. It's based on you seeing your sin.

For if you live daily in denial of your sin, then why do you need a savior? John's message established the absolute necessity of a savior. He says, that's why the son was sent into the world. The word sent into the world is referring to Jesus' pre-existence as the son of God in heaven. It refers to his incarnation, why he came into the world and why did he come into the world to fulfill God's plan.

And what is that? It is to be the savior. And when it says he was sent into the world, the verb is in the perfect tense, means he was sent at a point in time for a purpose. And that purpose continues today because when Jesus died and rose from the dead to become the savior of the world 2,000 years ago, that same power of salvation is in effect right now.

The power of the resurrection is not old, it is present to save sinners. So what then is the confession? It is a verbal acknowledgement with my mouth of my own sinfulness, that's called repentance.

Repentance is not giving up a sin, that's called reformation. Repentance is what you do when you go to the doctor. Healthy people don't need a doctor. How many of you have ever gotten sick but you didn't go to the doctor? Why did you not want to go to the doctor? Because you don't want to see the doctor because it's expensive to see a doctor. So you know what you do, you wait it out until you get better.

How many of you have gotten so sick that you know if you didn't go to the doctor, you may never see a doctor the rest of your life, you might die. When you went to the doctor that's repentance because here's what you're saying, you're saying I have a sickness and I cannot heal myself. That's repentance.

Everybody in the Bible that got healed by Jesus came to Jesus or they were healed by Jesus because they couldn't do it themselves. What does it mean to repent? It means Lord I am sick, I have a disease, I am sinful, I don't just do bad stuff, I'm bad.

And Lord I need you to make me a new person, a new heart. Jesus died on the cross for your sins but he rose from the dead so you could have a new life. So what does it mean to confess that? It means a complete acknowledgement of your heart, soul, trust.

That I am trusting in what he did on that cross when he died and he shed his blood and rose from the dead. I embrace that with my whole heart and soul. It's exactly what you do when you get married. You stand at the wedding altar and you say I do. She stands at the wedding altar and she says I do. And the preacher says you're done.

You're married. And when you come, man I've watched couples get so married I mean I'm talking about intense. I take you with all my heart. I take you with all my heart. And there is such an intensity of their soul that they're giving their lives to one another. That's what it means to confess your faith. I want to ask you have you, by the way you can pray in private and ask Jesus to save you but sometime in your life you can come out and say I believe.

Amen. I believe unashamedly. That's the way that you know that you're a believer.

One last thing very quickly. And that is how do you know that you're a believer? And the third test is do you know that God's love is actually in you? Verse 16, we have known and believed the love that God has to us. God is love and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God and God in him.

What is John saying? He is saying, he's not saying that we know that God loves us but rather he's saying the love which God has in us. God's love is in us. Romans 5, 5, the love of God is shed abroad in your heart by the Holy Ghost which is given to you. God has put a love inside of you. It's not something that you put there. It's not that you love God but he loved you first. And he put his love inside of you.

It's not something you can produce or work up. It's a gracious gift that God gives us. And as we finish I want to give you some tests to know that God's love is in you. I'll be very quick. These are not original with me.

They're original with Dr. D. Martin Lloyd-Jones. First test is have you lost the sense that God is against you? Therefore being justified by faith we have peace with God.

Being justified by his blood we shall be saved from wrath through him. I know I'm at peace with God. Number two, have you lost the feeling of fearing God? While at the same time do you have a sense of reverence for God? Paul said it this way, you're no longer a slave but a son.

A slave fears his master. A son reverences and respects his father. God has sent the spirit of his son into our hearts whereby we cry, Abba Father. When I come to God I come to him as a heavenly father because he loves me. Number three, do you feel that God is for you and that he loves you?

If God is for us who can be against us? I feel that God is for me and I know he loves me. Number four, do you sense that your sins are forgiven? In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our sins. Number five, is there gratitude and thanksgiving in your heart towards God? The gracious giver has given you the greatest gift and everything give thanks.

I'm thankful. Number six, is there an increasing hatred for sin? I hate what I do and I hate what I don't do.

Why? For I know that in me dwells no good thing. Number seven, is there a desire to please God and to live a righteous life because of what he's done for you? God works his righteousness within your heart and therefore I want to obey the law.

I don't feel forced to keep the law, I want to obey the law. Number eight, do you have a desire to know him better and draw close to him? Like a deer pants for the flowing streams of water so my soul hungers after God. Number nine, do you have a conscious regret that your love for him is so poor along with a great desire to love him more? My love is so poor but I want to love him more.

I want my love's capacity to stretch broad, high, deep, long, Lord help me love you more. And then finally, do you delight in hearing about him? I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord.

You know what, I can go anywhere. And if Jesus is properly presented in a right way that honors him, it moves me every time. Why? Because the love of God and the love for God is in your heart. I ask you, do you know him? Would you bow your head with me please as we pray?

There's no doubt in my mind that somebody in this room knows that you don't know him. I would pray that this week would be a week of salvation. Would you come out and would you accept Jesus as your savior? Would you cry out to him? Would you call upon his name? Would you receive him today? He's calling you. He is calling you.

Would you come to him? Father, we give you praise for the word of God, for the power of the Holy Spirit, for the presence that you bring. And Lord, we pray for this student body that you would fall upon us with your power, bringing men and women under the conviction of their sin and coming to your blood-stained body and embracing you as their savior and their sacrifice so that you are theirs, you are the son and they are your servant. And we ask this in Jesus' name. Amen. You've been listening to a sermon from the book of 1 John by Dr. Steve Pettit. Thanks again for listening. Join us again tomorrow as we continue the study in 1 John on The Daily Platform.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-13 19:45:41 / 2024-03-13 19:55:28 / 10

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