by Gale Carter, Founder and Executive Director, D.O.L.L.S., used with permission
I ask, “With what confidence will your family bury you?” because this past week I watched as one of the D.O.L.L.S. ministry’s dear young ladies was faced with the unspeakable reality of having to bury her mother. Hannah’s mom passed away very unexpectedly, due to a blood clot after a small surgical procedure. No one saw it coming. It happened less than twenty-four hours following sweet Hannah’s eighteenth birthday.
As a lot of you already know, my wonderful mother went Home yesterday. . . . [God] has been and will be with us in every moment, from the moment she joined Him in heaven to the moment we all join Him in heaven. . . . If anyone is worried that I might give up on God because of this–DON’T. If God wasn’t a part of my life, I’d never have those OK moments when I can remember her with joy in my heart and know that I’ll see her again someday. And if I were to reject God, I’d be rejecting all that my mother lived for! How could I ever do that? And who else could I thank but God for allowing my last words to her be “I love you, see you later!” as I walked out the door? (Although it will be a little more “later” than I was anticipating). . . . So, Mom, I’m glad you got your lifelong dream of seeing Jesus yesterday! We will all miss you–you were and are greatly loved by all who knew you even a little!
I watched as Hannah’s posts over the next week continued to resound with a peace that surpassed all understanding (Phil. 4:7). With a bold confidence, Hannah declared unabashedly that her mom is currently now in the presence of God. Her peace stemmed from an assuredness she had that her mom had been genuinely saved and redeemed by Jesus Christ. No false conversion here. Authentic saving faith.
Her confidence made me think of Paul writing to the Thessalonian church where he says, “knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you” (1 Thess. 1:4). Here, Paul was expressing complete confidence that the people of the church in Thessalonica had not experienced a false conversion, but rather had indeed received an authentic gift of salvation.
Watching my dear sister walk through her tragic loss made me think about all the loved ones in my own life. Would I have the same confidence of salvation if I lost _(insert everyone’s name here)_? Would I be able to say, with full conviction of assurance, that I would be with this loved one again in Heaven one day?
What about your loved ones? If the Lord demanded YOUR soul this very night, what assurance would your loved ones be left with after your passing? Could they confidently say, like Paul and Hannah, that they knew your faith to be genuine? Could they, with an integrity of speech, declare you are indeed “in a better place”? Or will they be left to wonder, day in and day out, whether you will actually be in Heaven when they get there? Might your loved ones be left to wrestle with Scriptures like Matthew 7:21-23, where we see the “supposed Christian” making his case before Christ about all he “did” to prove his faith, only to have Christ turn to him with the haunting words, “Away from me you evildoer. I never knew you”?
Oh, to grieve the death of someone that you are “just not sure” about is a completely different kind of anguish than to mourn the death of the person who is undoubtedly in Christ. There’s no comfort. There’s no peace. It’s truly unbearable. Don’t leave your loved ones in anguish!
There Is Good News
In 2 Corinthians 13:5, Paul admonishes us to test ourselves to see if we are truly in the faith. God wants us to have confidence regarding our salvation. The evangelist John wrote, in 1 John 5:13, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” If you are a person who has never worried about your relationship with God, today might be a good day to start living in holy fear of scriptures like Romans 1:18 and John 3:36. Or what about Romans 2:5 which says, “But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.”
The Bible makes it clear that God is perfect and that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). ALL. I don’t even have to know anything about you and your personal holiness to know that—without a doubt—you also fall woefully short of God’s standard of holiness and deserve eternal damnation. I’m not judging you. I fall short too. Romans 3:12 says that none of us does good, not even one. I deserve God’s wrath. You deserve God’s wrath. The fact is we are ALL already guilty. Unless you first sense the reality that you are in grave danger, unless you are affected with the dread of the holy and just wrath of our perfectly righteous Creator that abides on you, you will see no reason to seek grace and salvation.
But, if you can now clearly see your need for someone worthier to step in on your behalf, there is very Good News for you. The Lord himself put on human flesh to come and die to pay the payment for the sins of anyone who will repent (turn away from their sinful nature) and put their trust in Jesus Christ. Christ died, was buried–ensuring that He had indeed died—and resurrected three days later—ensuring that the due penalty of our sin had been completely satisfied. We know from Romans 6:23 that the penalty of sin is death, and the good news is Christ paid that penalty for His children. And He left proof that the penalty was satisfactorily “paid in full” by breaking free from death, thus defeating it. This is the Gospel.
Jesus is our only hope of salvation. He is the only one who can save us. And He is willing to take your sin upon Himself so that the Father’s wrath can be justly poured out. This will not only spare you from eternal damnation, but additionally, in the process, Christ’s holiness will be credited to your account, earning you perfect favor with the Lord. Christ’s act of humility and sacrifice has guaranteed the believer a place in the presence of the High Holy One. You will not be turned away due to your unholiness. Christ’s holiness is now your holiness, and you can live at peace with a perfectly Holy God. Repent and believe in Christ today!
Take the Test
If you are a person who already professes to be in the faith, you too still need to heed Paul’s admonition to “make your calling and election sure” (1 Peter 1:10). You can do that by testing yourself according to the fruits John lays out in the book of 1 John. Here he lists evidence that will exist in the life of someone who has experienced a true conversion. Some of the things he identifies are that the true believer will:
- Have a new hate relationship with sin; they will flee from it (1 John 1:6,8,10; 3:6-10)
- Have a desire to obey Christ’s commands (1 John 2:3-6; 2:29; 3:3; 3:22, 24; 5:3; Ps. 40:8)
- Have a love and affection for other believers (1 John 2:9-10; 3:10-1; 4:7, 20-21; John 13:35)
- Have a diminishing affection for the things of the world (culture, money, self, etc.) (1 John 2:15-17; Rom. 12:2)
- Have an unwavering recognition that Jesus is the only true Savior (1 John 2:22-23; 4:2, 14-15)
- Receive conviction and guidance from the Holy Spirit (1 John 2:27)
- Be at peace with God because the burden of God’s wrath no longer abides on them (1 John 3:21; 4:17-18; Rom. 5:1; 8:6; Isa. 55:12)
You should also consider whether or not your life is characterized by:
- A desire to be with God (Ps. 42:1-2)
- A hunger for God’s Word (Jer. 15:16)
- A longing to be reunited with Christ in heaven (Phil. 1:21)
- An impulse to tell others about Christ (Acts 1:8; 22:14-15)
- The presence of the “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:19-23)
If you believe yourself to be a truly saved Christian, and you do not see the above-listed fruits in your life, one of two things is happening. Either:
A) You are a desperately malnourished Christian, whose journey to being conformed into the image of Christ is being so greatly hindered that you are nearly unrecognizable as a follower of Christ anymore, or. . .
B) You have never truly repented of your sin in the first place and are not actually saved. Your conversion was a false one, and you are at risk of being a Matthew 7:23 sinner who thought you had a relationship with God, only to find that He never truly knew you.
If you are the former, it is imperative that you repent of your spiritual apathy and you ask the Lord for His help in bringing you back to a healthy state, one that involves growing in knowledge and maturity (Eph. 4:1-16). You must be diligent to faithfully involve yourself with a local body of Christians so you can be spurred on to maturity of faith. Begin to study God’s Word again to show yourself approved (1 Tim. 2:15). Begin to discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness (1 Tim. 4:7-8), and you will soon see the fruit that you bear transformed back into that which would be expected of someone who is truly in Christ.
If you are the latter, you should waste not a second more. Plead with the Lord to open your eyes to your true sinfulness and beg Him to save you. Begin reading the scriptures constantly to seek God. Ask a Christian in your life to help guide you to a place of true repentance and faith. If your heart is truly made sorrowful over your sin, God will be faithful to save you. But do not delay. After all, we are only given one life and as it says in Hebrews 9:2, “it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.” You are not promised tomorrow (James 4:13-15; Prov. 27:1).