I took some flak in my last post on the death of Steve Jobs and it got me thinking about some of the signs of genuine saving faith. Just to fill you in, my critics seemed to think that I was too quick to assume that Steve Jobs was not a follower of Christ, and therefore, he died apart from the grace of God. Let me readily acknowledge that I don’t know whether Steve Jobs is in heaven or hell. Ultimately, God is the final judge and that’s why in my article, I left room for a last-minute conversion experience. To quote myself, “Apart from a death-bed conversion, it is likely that Jobs, in the words of Jesus, forfeited his soul.” God has the final say and what I say or anyone else says matters not. However, it would be wrong to think that there are not signs of life indicating genuine Christian faith. In the same way, it would be wrong to think that there are not signs indicating a lack of life and the absence of true, saving faith.
So what are these “signs of life” that might indicate whether someone is truly a Christian? The bible speaks of many, but let me suggest just two – a willingness to confess Christ and a life characterized by the fruit of the Spirit. Today we will consider the power of confessing Christ, and next time we will look at the fruit of the Spirit.
In my article, I quoted from Mark 8:36-37. “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul?” Here is verse 38. “For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
A person who is genuinely converted possesses an uncommon boldness. Even though the Christian knows that confessing Christ will result in the scorn and ridicule of those around them, they do so anyway. Why? Because they are not ashamed of Christ, the One who redeemed their life from the grave. Like Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. (Romans 1:16)” In knowing that God had graciously saved him, how could Paul not confess the Lord Jesus to anyone and everyone he encountered? I love what he says in Ephesians 2:4-5. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved.” Paul was bold because he had an awareness and understanding of God’s amazing grace.
Every year there are hundreds of thousands of Christian martyrs who die for their faith. Usually, all their persecutors want is for them to deny Christ. Simple lip service would prevent them from losing their lives, but they just can’t do it! They know that their Savior died for them in order that they might be reconciled to God. “For Christ suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God. (1 Peter 3:18)” So these martyrs follow Jesus and confess His name, no matter what the cost, even if it means losing their lives and dying torturous deaths.
I would like to suggest that there is no such thing as a closet Christian. If you are truly a Christian, you will have no problem telling your friends, neighbors, co-workers, relatives, and anyone else in your life that you are a sinner saved by grace. When you know that you were on the receiving end of the greatest deal in history, there is no shame in sharing of the One who saved you.
Will we be surprised by who is not in heaven? Yes (check out Matthew 7:21-23). But at the same time, I don’t think we will be very surprised by who is in heaven. I say that because the grace of God tends to permeate our lives in profound ways. The person who truly knows Christ is a radically changed man or woman. Christian’s aren’t perfect, but true saints tend to shine because the Spirit of God powerfully works in their lives. You can’t help but notice them. Next time we will consider this as we look at the ‘fruit of the Spirit’. Hope you tune in and even join the conversation.