Friday, January 29, 2010

What does a true believer look like?

The Botkins hit the nail on the head in terms of salvation in their new documentary. We, the Christian homeschoolers, have mastered being “good” Christian kids. But that’s a major problem. We can follow the rules, we can do the right thing, but all we’re concerned with is being good, not righteous. We want to compare ourselves to others, not to God and His standards. We’re not obeying and following Scripture, and seeking the God who inspired those words. As my last post regarding salvation and in efforts to examine yourself, here’s something I noticed in my Bible commentary.

These are the areas of life for examination to determine if one is actually in the faith.
1. The holiness of Psalm 15
2. The justice, kindness and humility of Micah 6:8
3. The beatitudes of Matthew 5:3-12
4. The love of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
5. The fruit of Galatians 5:22-23
6. The thinking of Philippians 4:8
7. The basics of 1 Thessalonians 5:14-22
8. The qualities of 2 Peter 1:5-9
9. The features of truth, obedience, and love in 1 John
10. The pattern of Revelation 1:3

Christians aren’t perfect. We won’t meet the standards in this list to the “t”. But there’s one truth that’s certain: God doesn’t redeem us and then leave us to fend for ourselves. Encountering God brings about life transformation. If you are a genuine believer, you will be changed. You will be sanctified. Not because of anything you have done, but because of God’s faithfulness and power at work in your life. Ultimately then, we should be in awe of the wonderful things He has done, and our lives should glorify Him!

Monday, January 25, 2010

"The world has enough women who are popular.  It needs more who are pure.  We need women, and men too, who would rather be morally right than socially correct."
Peter Marshall
(emphasis mine)

May we become men and women of our generation who are more concerned with what God says and His requirements than what the world claims to be right!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Test Yourself

We should be able to confirm that our salvation is genuine because of how God has worked in our lives, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t question our salvation at times. J.C. Ryle wisely expressed,
“Tell me not of your justification, unless you have also marks of sanctification. Boast not of Christ's work for you, unless you can show us the Spirit's work in you.”

Paul Washer’s sermon series on biblical assurance of salvation are a good resource in examining yourself in light of the truth in 1 John.  (see parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)  It's quite long, but definitely worthwhile. 

In trying to determine whether your salvation is real or not, perhaps you need to ask yourself questions like these…
What is my motivation?
Do I desire to read the Scripture? To seek God? To know His heart?
Who am I more concerned with obeying and pleasing, God or man?
Am I sensitive to my sin? Am I convicted when I do something wrong? Does that sweet conviction lead me to confession and repentance?
Do I have holy hatred towards the sin which I once loved?
Do I have confidence that I have been forgiven and cleansed of my sin?
Have I seen God’s power in conquering sin in my life?
Does He give me His grace to obey His commands when I call for it?
Are there habitual sins in my life that I can’t seem to overcome? Is that because I don’t have the Spirit, or because I’m holding on to that sin?
Do I do what’s right for others to see, or even secretly because God desires for me to do it?
Am I content with outward virtue? Is what people see an act, or is it truly my heart?

Only you can answer these questions. However, this is not a list of questions that if you give the right answers can prove to you that you’re saved. That’s not my intention. On the contrary, these are some questions I began to ask myself as I was seeking clarification if I became a true believer at age 8. Ask God’s Spirit to reveal to you what is truly in your heart.

Three things should be evidenced in our lives that give us clarity that we have truly been saved by the blood of Christ and His grace through faith alone.
1. A desire to obey Christ more fully
2. Sensitivity to our sin
3. Growing in Christ-likeness (sanctification)

Only true believers will have an earnest desire to know God, to study His Word and to obey Him in everything. Full obedience means being sensitive to sin and humbly acknowledging and confessing the sin He reveals, and then forsaking it. Through those two things we will grow to become more like Christ as He continually sanctifies us.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

My Salvation Testimony

I’ve been abundantly blessed to grow up in a home that places Christ at the center.  From a young age, my parents have taught me about sin and my need for a Savior.  At 8 years old, I knew I was incapable of doing what God desired because of my sinful flesh and desired to love and serve God, and belong to Him alone.  I went to my dad to tell him that I knew I wanted God to save me from my sins.  He talked with me, asked me questions, and then prayed with me.  After confessing my sin to Christ, praying for Him to save me and fill me with His Spirit, I remember being so joyful as I went to share the good news with my mom and siblings! 

From then on I began to read my Bible; I began to share about Jesus with my neighbor friends.  I organized “Saturday Bible clubs” where I tried to share truth about God.  I gradually noticed changes in my attitudes and life.  I was confident that I was a born-again Christian. 

Through sermons and testimonies the question was brought to my mind: “What if I’m not a true believer?”  Several times I proudly declared in my mind that I must be.  I mean, I had to be.  As the pastor’s daughter I couldn’t just admit to my family and church that I had been faking it!  What would they think? 

It was that horrendous pride that kept me from examining and searching my own heart.  With other idols beginning to manifest themselves in my heart, I neglected being in the Word and having a consistent daily time of prayer. 

By God’s grace He used things like sermons by Paul Washer, his wife Charo’s testimony and Homeschool Dropouts to urge me to test to see if my salvation was real.  I still tried to push it aside, to ignore the gentle prodding of the Spirit. 

But I was brought to a point when I couldn’t run any more.  I couldn’t keep living how I was living.  On January 1, 2010, the Lord brought me to my knees in humility and brokenness.  I knew where I needed to go, and began reading 1 John and various passages from Romans, meanwhile crying out to God to forgive me and save me.  Seeing my complete wretchedness and sinful heart, at that point I honestly thought I wasn’t saved.  After about an hour of reading, confession and crying out in prayer, God brought me to Romans 4:7-8:
“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”
What a sweet reassurance for a believer!  I had confidence that God had forgiven me.  But at that moment, I wasn’t sure—was this assurance of salvation or salvation?  My parents helped me by asking me questions and encouraging me to ask God to unveil my heart and motives.  Because at that point I could convince myself either way.  I had reasons that I thought evidenced God’s work in my life—changes and desires that had changed.  Things He had taught me.  But at the same time, I saw things that could persuade me that I wasn’t a true believer, and because my salvation was at such a young age, I questioned if I even understood what I was supposedly committing to.  But I didn’t want it to be what I decided; I wanted it to be what He showed to me.

It was a long 5 days as I prayed, read the Bible and asked God to reveal my true motivations, desires and heart to me.  After all the heart is wicked and I didn’t want to deceive myself into something that wasn’t true. But throughout that time I had great joy and peace, knowing that I was a true believer and that God would show me in His timing.   If I became a true believer on January 1, I wanted to obey the Lord in baptism and testify to my church about how God had worked in my life.

In the end, the Spirit brought to mind different ways that expressed how God had truly been sanctifying me, teaching me and shaping me over the past 9 years.  I was indeed assured that January 1st brought the confirmation of my salvation to me and that I had been truly saved years before.  What a memorable day and sweet reminder of how God is working in me.  And He has a very long way to go, but I know that He who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion!  

"Assurance of salvation is a precious thing, so precious and so necessary that we dare not dilute it with feelings of safety apart from transformed lives."
John Piper

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The time has come...

We knew it was coming. It's been on the back of our minds for months now. But it was finally posted.

You learn a lot in the first year of blogging, or at least I did. You learn the types of blogs that easily become fruitless and pointless, the kinds of blogs that are too specific to come up with post ideas. We were enthusiastic when we began 4HS. We were going to write about our lives as homeschoolers...what we do, what we've learned, encourage homeschoolers...

But we quickly lost the momentum as we realized something: we write about our lives as homeschoolers on our personal blogs! No, I don't normally share things that I'm working on in school in such detail, but writing about our lives as homeschoolers is inevitable! ;) While it still wasn't a bad idea to dedicate posts to specifically encouraging homeschoolers, you can read our final thoughts here.

"Time is our most valuable asset, yet we tend to waste it, kill it, and spend it rather than invest it."
Jim Rohn