Nov 05, 2016
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The Wonderful Results of Saving Faith, pt.4

“Let There Be Light” - The Wonderful Results of Saving Faith, Pt. 4

*This series was taught at North Christian Church, leading up to a marvelous series on "The Gospel, Salvation, and Sanctification".  www.nccdighton.org

 

We've been discussing all the things that God does for the believer who humbles himself before Him.

Let's first review some points the Spirit gave us to consider…

We know that those who have trusted in The Lord Jesus Christ as Savior are saved, and they are now the light of the world according to Jesus. (Mat 5)

They are analagous to the stars above. They are now able to shine light on the earth, on the darkness below.  Gen 1, 1Co 15

How much light will you give on the earth, to those still in darkness?  Or, how much will you hide the light by living for yourself?  He’s already given us the power of His grace, but that is ultimately our daily choice. 

 

This led us to the idea of "results", or characteristics that exist in the life of a true believer.

EVERY believer possesses His light.  So if there is NO light, there is not a believer. (see 1John)

Why? Most simply put, because God's grace never fails.

When God saves someone, He changes someone.

There are wonderful INVISIBLE results of saving faith, such as reconciliation, redemption and justification. And then there are wonderful VISIBLE results of saving faith, which appear in the lives of true believers to some extent. 

As our Lord said, you will know them by their fruits. Mat 7

So we will see fruits, of varying kinds, coming forth from different believers.

And if we don’t see any fruit at all in one's life, Jesus told us to be alert. That is a sign of a false brother, someone who has not surrendered to Christ in his heart... someone who has either been playing religious games for selfish reasons, or someone purposefully infiltrating the church for deceptive reasons.

We don't go around judging people, but Jesus doesn't want us to be fooled or deceived.

 

We also saw in this series that the believer who is now "in Christ" has His light, and therefore the power to live in His love.

Through operating in His love, we can supernaturally fulfill the requirement of the Law in our lives, bringing glory to God without even knowing all the particulars of the Law.  Love never fails.  ROM 8:1-4, 1CO 13:1-8

For example, you are Sanctified! As a believer, you are no longer what you were!  You are a new creature in Christ, and your sins were washed away, removed from you, and you were set apart for God as His own possession!  Accept that fully, by faith.

When God sees believers, He sees the perfection and purity of His Son; that's because you have been SANCTIFIED!

 

If you are a believer, you can no longer "die in your sins", as will happen to the unbelievers, because they will remain unrighteous without Christ.  They refused to repent and trust in Him for forgiveness of sins. Acts 26:18, JOH 8:23-24

John 8:23-24 "And He was saying to them, "You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world.  (remember the imagery of the light shining down on the dark earth)  24 "Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins."

 

When a person rejects Christ’s payment for their sins, they will have to stand before God on their own merits, and that will not go well for anyone.

No man will be able to justify himself before our holy and righteous God.

As a believer in Christ as your Lord and Savior, you are no longer trapped in sin and its judgment.  You have been set apart as holy, or sanctified, by grace.

HEB 10:10 "By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."

 

We also saw a good reminder of sanctification in 1Corinthians, which also gave us a glimpse into the true believer and the false believer.

1 Cor 1:1-2 "Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, 2 To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours"

 

After Paul reminds the Corinthians that they have been sanctified, he then gets into their flaws, and how they argue over foolish things.

Paul then ends chapter 1 with a reminder of how God accomplished their sanctification, among other wonderful results of saving faith…

1 Cor 1:30-31 "But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, 31 so that, just as it is written, "LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD."

 

The believer can only boast in the Lord because it is THE LORD who has accomplished all these wonderful results in him. They are totally and solely from HIM, by grace.

And let me remind you that Paul boldly says all of this about the Corinthian believers, who often fell into various types of carnality.

But we also saw another type of boasting that is not godly.

In 1Cor 3, Paul instructs and admonishes them for acting fleshly.  Notice that being sanctified does not mean believers cannot act fleshly, and at times fall into loose living, or self-righteousness, or both.

Paul is trying to help them to grow up in Christ and to walk like spiritual men, and he reminds them along the way about their position in Christ as their anchor.

But then we get to chapter 5, where sin turns into evil.

It’s one thing to sin after being a believer. We all do that and will do that, giving in to the flesh at times.

It’s another thing to compound sin into evil because we don’t reject it or repent from it, and might even boast in it!

The “believer” who revels in his sin and does not repent should examine his own heart and his own faith. 2CO 13:5

In 1Co 5, we saw the man that had his father’s wife.  And Paul calls him a “so-called brother”, which many Bible scholars see as Paul questioning the genuineness of that man’s faith.

1 Cor 5:5 "I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."

There’s our first sign that Paul is questioning this man’s salvation. He's not saying he lost his salvation (which cannot happen to a true believer), but questioning if he ever had saving faith first place, even though he is in the church.

In vs. 6 "Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough?  7 Clean out the old leaven (sin in context) so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed." (You, true believers, are unleavened!  You are without sin, because Christ has been sacrificed! So act like it!) 

In vs. 11 "But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler — not even to eat with such a one."

Here an unrepentant lifestyle of sin makes Paul question this person’s salvation!  This agrees with what the books of 1John and James say. 

If someone continues in sin and is not repentant, what does that say about their heart towards God?

Maybe they never did surrender to Christ and receive a new heart.

 

We saw David in our earlier lessons, how he was a man after God’s own heart, and yet David sinned horribly at times, including adultery and murder!

But what revealed David was a man after God’s heart?  That he repented; that he lamented and admitted his sin and turned back to God, as in Psa 32 and 51.

We will all sin, but the heart of a person is revealed in his ATTITUDE towards the sin, and repentance, Rom 7.

As we’ve seen recently, confession is a heart issue; it's not some ritual we do on automatic pilot, but it's an appropriate attitude of repentance towards God.  God looks at the heart.

So what might we say about the man who boasts about his sin?  According to Paul, we might question whether he was truly saved in the first place.

And this man's attitude poisoned the rest of the church into boasting about gross immorality, even in the church.

If a man has his heart changed by Christ, then his heart cannot go on boasting about the sin that His Lord paid for. 

The believer is affected in his spirit when he realizes how he sinned against His God.  He is sorrowful and laments, as David’s heart did in the Psalms.

That's the heart of a believer.

Sin is not something the true believer can accept without his conscience being affected.  If he can accept sin and even boast in it, it’s a sign that he may have the old heart, not a new heart from God.

One reason for this reality is the believer now has a “good conscience”, as seen in 1Timothy 1. He is now influenced by the Holy Spirit that lives in him.

The baptism of the Spirit occurs in the person who with the heart believes in Christ, resulting in righteousness, ROM 10:9-10. He then possesses the Spirit of God, and a good conscience influenced by Him; 1PE 3:21, 1TI 1:5,19.

We've seen these verses in the past, and this being review, feel free to look those up on your own later on.

The salvation of a person is in question if he claims to be a believer but continually lives in sin and immorality without a clash of conscience.  1Co 5, 1Jo 3-4, Jam 2

Where’s his heart?  Was it ever with Christ in the first place? 

And that's why we have verses like 2CO 13:5, so each man can check himself...

2 Co 13:5 "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you — unless, of course, you fail the test?"

NIV

 

Some people may find, upon honest examination of their faith and lifestyle, that The Lord is missing, and they’ve been playing a religious game.

Either Jesus is your Lord, or He is not, and a person's heart on this matter is revealed by their fruits.

God's plan is plain and simple, not complicated. And God is not a god of confusion, 1CO 14:33.

 

Now we are transitioning to some of the VISIBLE results of saving faith.

The wonderful results of saving faith include the visible 'miracles' that occur in the lives of believers; changed lives that are totally the work of God's grace.

If you are a believer, you know there are things about you that have changed over the years... your attitude towards certain things, the way you treat certain people, and even your attitude towards the Word of God. 

And these are things that become visible signs in our lives, as indications of a new heart from the Lord.

 

We cannot see the roots of a tree of faith, analogous to the invisible results of saving faith, but we can see the fruit of the tree of faith, which are the visible results/proofs of saving faith. The fruit reveals if the roots of the tree are good, or not.

The visible results of saving faith are signs that a person has trusted in Christ as their Lord and Savior.

We left off last time talking about the fear of the Lord, and how that accompanies saving faith.

The believer has Fear of the Lord.  PSA 103:8-18, PSA 119:120,161, MAL 3:16-18, ECC 12:13-14, ISA 50:10, 2Cor 7:1, EPH 5:21, Phil 2:12-13. Proper fear of the Lord goes hand in hand with the repentant heart of a believer. 

Ps 103:11-18 "For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. 13 Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. 14 For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust. 15 As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. 16 When the wind has passed over it, it is no more, And its place acknowledges it no longer. 17 But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children's children, 18 To those who keep His covenant And remember His precepts to do them."

God gives grace to the humble (i.e. those who fear Him), JAM 4:6, and man is only saved by His grace, EPH 2:8-9.

When God sees one's humility (fear), He saves them by grace.

 

MAL 3:16-18 "Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who esteem His name. 17 "They will be Mine," says the Lord of hosts, "on the day that I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him." 18 So you will again distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him."

 

Do you see how fear of the Lord, along with serving God, are described as characteristics of the saved, and the alternative is to be one of the wicked as opposed to the righteous?

This does NOT mean we must earn our salvation, may it never be! That's not the point at all. We are saved by grace, through faith in Christ! 

This simply means those who believe in Christ will manifest this type of life, because they have a changed heart. These are evidences of saving faith. These are the results of saving faith.

Even though there are growth stages in the believer’s life, notice how plainly fear of the Lord is stated here as a sign of salvation, as in vs. 17 the Lord will spare the ones who fear and serve Him and make them His own possession.

This is what true believers look like.

Just because believers are under grace, that doesn't take away the reality for proper fear and reverence for God in the heart of His children. 

ISA 50:10 "Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of his servant? Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God."

NIV

Fearing the Lord is like the attitude of repentance, it is there when someone is ready to trust the Lord to be saved.

They realize they are nothing before the Almighty God and Creator.

Isa 50 is largely about prophecies of those who would attack the Messiah and reject Him, but the way to escape the darkness is to fear the Lord and trust in Him for the light of life.

 

And fear of the Lord will be a continued lifestyle for the believer, just like repentance.

2 Cor 7:1 "Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."

As the believer continues in God’s plan, the way to mature in holiness is having fear of God.

Part of the process of sanctification is having proper fear of God.

Here the Greek word for fear is "phobos", meaning fear, terror, and reverence.

EPH 5:21 "and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ."

Here again we see "phobos", which might be translated reverence here.

Reverence bows down in awe.  It does not take God lightly or get too casually familiar with Him.  Reverence includes a healthy fear, which accompanied all those who ever saw God!

Think of all the OT and NT believers that saw God (or the angel of the Lord) and fell flat on their faces in fear/awe.  They could not stand.  This was not just 'respect' as we know it.

Phil 2:12-13 "So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure."

This passage is addressed to believers, and does NOT mean to work FOR your salvation, but to work it out or participate in bringing it to completion for your life; as we saw in 2CO 7:1 “perfecting holiness in the fear of God”. 

In vs. 13 God is at work in you to complete His purpose for you.

So we see there an appropriate fear for the believer to have for his Almighty God; a deep reverence, knowing that your very Creator is working out His plan in your life!

What the Spirit has been revealing to us is the seamlessness between genuine faith and an obedient lifestyle. 

The scriptures teach these two things will agree overall, as a lifestyle, despite the sin that creeps into our lives from time to time.

 

In fact, the scripture teaches another VISIBLE result in the lives of true believers is Obedience.  ROM 1:5; ROM 16:25-27, JOH 3:36, 2CO 9:13, 1PE 1:1-2

If you don’t see ANY obedience to the Lord in a person who claims to believe, you might rightly wonder about his faith.

We can't see the entire lives of others, so we aren't to judge, either.  But we certainly can pray for them, and ask God for an opportunity with them if He deems it necessary.

 

ROM 1:5  “Through Him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles (rep. unbelievers) to the obedience that comes from faith for His name’s sake."

NIV

There IS an obedience that comes from true faith!

Notice we’re not talking about perfection, or sinlessness.  Every believer will sin and fail at times in his life, as Paul intimated his struggle in Romans 7, and the Corinthians revealed to us over and over, even though they were already “sanctified” as we saw in 1Corinthians 1.

But one thing that’s clear in the Bible is the inescapable change that takes place in the heart of a true believer.

And the believer will have a DESIRE in his heart to obey God.

ROM 16:25-27 “Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, 26 but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles (rep. unbelievers) might come to the obedience that comes from faith27 to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.

NIV

Paul says that unbelievers are called to the obedience that comes from faith. Obedience accompanies true saving faith because surrender to Jesus as Lord, not just Savior, is involved.

2CO 9:13 “Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.”

NIV

Notice how obedience is tied to the Gospel itself.

The true believer cannot help but obey God and His righteousness, at least to some degree in his life, because he is a new creature.  It's inescapable because his heart has been changed by the Spirit of the Lord.

And he cannot help but have some fear of God, if he is a genuine believer, because that's what faith produces.

Faith is a gift from God (EPH 2:8-9), AND all perfect gifts are from the Father of lights above (JAM 1:17), and therefore faith must produce goodness in the lives of those it is granted to.

And true repentance is the same, also a gift from God (ACT 11:18, 2Tim 2:25), and therefore it does not come back empty. Repentance will produce good results for sure.

When one admits their guilt and sinfulness before our Holy and Almighty God, there is a healthy fear of their all-powerful Creator.

This has been the Spirit’s emphasis lately, and I believe the Lord has many reasons for this, not just one.

Only He knows what He is working out in each of our souls, and in the local community that we come in contact with.

 

Continuing with VISIBLE results of saving faith...

The genuine believer also has the Love of God, at least to some degree in his life.  Love is a sign that the Light of the Lord exists in a person.  1Jo 3,4, 1CO 13:1-8

Does our flesh get in the way at times in our lives?  Absolutely, it happens, and God understands.

But the true believer has the love of God in his heart, and what is in the heart comes out of the mouth, and even in their lifestyle.  Jesus said we will know them by their fruit.

1 John 3:14 "We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death."

For further evidence of love in the lives of believers, read 1John 3 & 4 in context... the believer will have God's love, the one who doesn't have love is not a believer.

 

Another VISIBLE result of saving faith is the believer will live in Righteousness, at least to some degree, also stated clearly in 1Jo 3 & 4.  The believer has a lifestyle of doing the right thing, because God’s law is now written on his heart.

The obedience of faith is a beautiful thing, because it reveals a heart that submitted to Christ.

The believer honors Him, in reverence and love.

The fruit of righteousness is a beautiful eye-catching thing to behold in this corrupt world, and it is evident in the lives of believers.

1 John 2:29 "If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him."

1 John 3:7-10 "Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; 8 the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother."

 

Visible Results of Saving Faith: The point the Spirit is making is that characteristics such as fear of God, obedience, righteousness and love are products of genuine saving faith.  It is seamless, from the same piece of cloth; it is the very fabric of faith.

In other words, this is what faith looks like. This is what faith produces, because it's a perfect gift from God.

There was a man named Zaccheus who climbed a tree so he could see Jesus coming by, and when Jesus called to him, he basically melted… surrendering to Him and His righteousness. 

He received a changed heart, as seen in Luke 19.  The fruit of his faith was seen in his willingness to give away his belongings, bring right to those he wronged, and to serve the Lord.

LUK 19:8-10 "Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

What did the Lord say to Zaccheus?  “Today SALVATION has come to this house, for he too is a son of Abraham.” 

There’s a picture of the wonderful results of saving faith, by the grace and power of God that enters the believer's heart.

A man cannot truly believe in Christ and not be changed in some way, according to the scriptures.

I'm convinced if people continue reading their Bibles IN CONTEXT, this will become plainly apparent to them. But that takes humility.

Even if a true believer doesn’t yet realize the importance and power of the Word of God, God’s law is now on the heart of the person who turned to Christ in humility, EZE 36:26, just as it was written on the hearts of the Gentiles who didn’t know the Law, ROM 2:15.

I’ve met some beautiful believers who do not regularly study the Word of God.  How is that?  Because with sincere faith in Christ, there is a heart change, and their life reflects their love for Him.

There is a certain righteousness that appears in their life, but a lifestyle of unrighteousness reveals that maybe they weren't saved to begin with,.. maybe they never did have trusting faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior, and are possibly playing religious games with God.

I think of people I know from a certain large 'Christian' religion in our area.  Some of them have a fear of God, even though they may not be totally into His Word.  And they have God’s love, and live in His righteousness to some degree.

The faith of a child can see this simple evidence of genuine faith in Christ; it can witness the signs in the life of true believer, whose heart has been changed.

Then I know others that follow that religion, but to them it seems to be a ritual, the right thing to do, but they have no love and live however they want, often boasting in unrighteousness.

These are signs that even a child can recognize, and it’s not supposed to be difficult to see; it’s as simple as seeing good or bad fruit on a tree.  That’s how Jesus put it in Mat 7, and the apostle John said it just as clearly in 1John 3.

Now again, we are not called to judge others, but we are called to be on guard and to discern false prophets.

There is an inescapable change in the life of a person who has come to saving faith in The Lord Jesus Christ.

There is a change of heart that will be evident.  There is a certain level of humility that will appear.  There is a certain obedience of the faith and some type of desire to please their God and Savior.

But how about the person who claims to be a believer, but has no love and no righteousness in their lives?  Maybe they have a cold heart and are always selfish, or even directly live against the commands of God without flinching?!

If you asked them, they might say they believe, but their hearts are far from Him.  MAT 15:1-20

The Pharisees honored God with their lips!  But their lives were unrighteous, evidenced by them not honoring their parents, because their hearts were far from God.

They “acted” righteous, but did not live in God’s righteousness.

They had no heart change, because they would not convert over to Christ in humility.

Jesus said that His sheep will not only hear His voice, but also follow Him. JOH 10:27

Following the Lord, at least to some degree, is an indication of a changed heart towards Christ; of a heart that has surrendered to Him for eternal life.

And it is that person who receives the promise of security in JOH 10:28-29.

John 10:27-29 "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;  28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.  29 "My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand."

 

If someone does not follow Jesus at all in their lives, they might not be one of His sheep, but instead a goat, or a wolf in sheep's clothing.

Again, we are not saying a believer will live in perfection. We will all sin and make mistakes in this fleshly body, even as true believers.

But there is a certain obedience that is sown into the same fabric that comes from faith.

In other words, they are one and the same.

You will know them by their fruits. Mat 7

These are some of the wonderful results of saving faith.