How do you know you’re a Christian?

Christianity Today had a column on the assurance of salvation, addressing the question of how can you know you are saved if you can’t remember the moment of your conversion. Read it here. The conclusion:

For those who question their salvation, the best evidence is not the memory of having raised a hand or prayed a prayer. Nor is it having been baptized or christened. The true test of the authentic work of God in one’s life is growth in Christ-like character, increased love for God and other people, and the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-25; James 2:18). A memorable conversion experience may serve as an important referent to God’s saving work in one’s life. But the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in making a person more like Jesus is the clearest indicator that one has been made a new creation in Christ.

Internetmonk replies, “The ‘best evidence’ is ‘growth’ in ‘love’ and ‘fruit.’ Being more ‘like Jesus.’ Good grief. Can anyone spell ‘despair?’”

Trusting how good we are for our salvation? Getting assurance from how much we are like Jesus? It isn’t downplaying good works to question whether one can find assurance of one’s salvation by measuring oneself by Jesus! We should indeed do that, and the result should be conviction of our sin, followed by the realization that this Jesus has borne that sin and imputed to us His righteousness. (See post below.)

Internetmonk (a.k.a. Michael Spenser) goes on to refute the column in detail. Assurance of salvation, he says, comes from believing that you are a sinner and that Jesus died for your sins. That is to say, JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST.

HT: GeoChristian

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

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  • http://4scores.blogspot.com Cap Stewart

    I’m confused. What is Internetmonk all worked up about? The main thrust of the article seems to be how one KNOWS he is a Christian, not how one BECOMES a Christian. Salvation and assurance of salvation are two different things. One is regenerated by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Assurance of salvation comes from the observance of evidence of salvation—growth (though certainly not perfection) in character. Saying that is a far cry from “trusting how good we are for our salvation” (which is a horribly misleading accusation)! Indeed, it is faith alone that justifies, but the faith that justifies is never alone. A tree is known by its…what? Fruit.

  • http://4scores.blogspot.com Cap Stewart

    I’m confused. What is Internetmonk all worked up about? The main thrust of the article seems to be how one KNOWS he is a Christian, not how one BECOMES a Christian. Salvation and assurance of salvation are two different things. One is regenerated by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Assurance of salvation comes from the observance of evidence of salvation—growth (though certainly not perfection) in character. Saying that is a far cry from “trusting how good we are for our salvation” (which is a horribly misleading accusation)! Indeed, it is faith alone that justifies, but the faith that justifies is never alone. A tree is known by its…what? Fruit.

  • http://planetaugsburg.wordpress.com catechismatic95

    Cap Stewart, you’re making a wrong distinction between “becoming” and “knowing”. How someone “knows” they are a Christian, and how someone “becomes” a Christian are through the same means…by Christ Alone. This is where most Evangelicals get it wrong. They think after they are converted they don’t need the Gospel, as if its only for non-Christians, instead, they proceed to 5-step instructionalism and Christ gets muddled and lost in the picture. In keeping with your assumpton, I’m afraid you’re also confusing “Justification” and “Sanctification”.

    If I want to know I am saved, I’m not going to look to Sanctification for assurance, that would be legalism or Work Righteousness, and to do this I would end up finding my salvation through my sanctification. Rather, I’m going to look at Justifcation, where I know I am saved by Christ’s work on the Cross and His resurrection, all applied to me through His Word and Sacraments.

    Anyone who puts the assurance of their salvation upon the “fruit” they supposedly bear, also has an improper grasp of the full threat of the Law. You do know that no man can be saved by the “doing”, right? You do know, on the contrary, that man is saved by what has already been “done” (Christ’s Death and Resurrection), right? In fact, it is the complete opposite with the Law, instead of being saved by the “doing” of it, actually you are condemned and under a curse, for you are to keep every…single…aspect of the Law, which no man has ever done. Well, that’s not true, I know of only one man who has kept the Law perfectly….the God-man Christ Jesus our Redeemer! One need only read Galations 2, and Hebrews 12: 18-21 to understand the Powerful threat the Law bears on those who try to live under it. But we know that Christ is the end of the law to all who believe.

    Now, what does Romans 4: 4-5 say about “growth in character”? To him who does not work, but believes in the God who justifies the wicked his faith is credited as righteousness”. It is the wicked or the “sinners” for which Christ came, not the righteous. In fact, there is blessedness in knowing that we are sinners, it is a daily reminder that we have no righteousness of our own, and then the Gospel steps in, and shows where our Righteousness is to be found…in Christ.

    Now this is all not to say that there is no such thing as Fruit of the Spirit, to say that would be an outright lie. However, this fruit is brought forth through Faith in Christ, and how did we receive that faith? By Grace and not of ourselves. The highly regarded Lutheran pastor and theologian Harold Senkbeil put it like this:

    “Christian salvation (or justification) and Christian living (or sanctification) are but two aspects of one divine reality: the life bestowed in Jesus Christ. Such life is received by faith. And Holy Scripture declares that faith is God’s work from beginning to end.”

    Fruit is God’s business, not ours. He is the vine, we are the branches, He is the one who engrafted us into the Vine. If I want to be Holy, therefore, I turn to the one who makes men Holy, both the Author and Perfector of our Faith Christ Jesus. Indeed, this is the One who promised to carry us on and present us spotless on the day of Judgment. God forbid that we ever look at our fruit for anything. It’s like honoring the gift above the Giver, and thats called idolatry.

  • http://planetaugsburg.wordpress.com catechismatic95

    Cap Stewart, you’re making a wrong distinction between “becoming” and “knowing”. How someone “knows” they are a Christian, and how someone “becomes” a Christian are through the same means…by Christ Alone. This is where most Evangelicals get it wrong. They think after they are converted they don’t need the Gospel, as if its only for non-Christians, instead, they proceed to 5-step instructionalism and Christ gets muddled and lost in the picture. In keeping with your assumpton, I’m afraid you’re also confusing “Justification” and “Sanctification”.

    If I want to know I am saved, I’m not going to look to Sanctification for assurance, that would be legalism or Work Righteousness, and to do this I would end up finding my salvation through my sanctification. Rather, I’m going to look at Justifcation, where I know I am saved by Christ’s work on the Cross and His resurrection, all applied to me through His Word and Sacraments.

    Anyone who puts the assurance of their salvation upon the “fruit” they supposedly bear, also has an improper grasp of the full threat of the Law. You do know that no man can be saved by the “doing”, right? You do know, on the contrary, that man is saved by what has already been “done” (Christ’s Death and Resurrection), right? In fact, it is the complete opposite with the Law, instead of being saved by the “doing” of it, actually you are condemned and under a curse, for you are to keep every…single…aspect of the Law, which no man has ever done. Well, that’s not true, I know of only one man who has kept the Law perfectly….the God-man Christ Jesus our Redeemer! One need only read Galations 2, and Hebrews 12: 18-21 to understand the Powerful threat the Law bears on those who try to live under it. But we know that Christ is the end of the law to all who believe.

    Now, what does Romans 4: 4-5 say about “growth in character”? To him who does not work, but believes in the God who justifies the wicked his faith is credited as righteousness”. It is the wicked or the “sinners” for which Christ came, not the righteous. In fact, there is blessedness in knowing that we are sinners, it is a daily reminder that we have no righteousness of our own, and then the Gospel steps in, and shows where our Righteousness is to be found…in Christ.

    Now this is all not to say that there is no such thing as Fruit of the Spirit, to say that would be an outright lie. However, this fruit is brought forth through Faith in Christ, and how did we receive that faith? By Grace and not of ourselves. The highly regarded Lutheran pastor and theologian Harold Senkbeil put it like this:

    “Christian salvation (or justification) and Christian living (or sanctification) are but two aspects of one divine reality: the life bestowed in Jesus Christ. Such life is received by faith. And Holy Scripture declares that faith is God’s work from beginning to end.”

    Fruit is God’s business, not ours. He is the vine, we are the branches, He is the one who engrafted us into the Vine. If I want to be Holy, therefore, I turn to the one who makes men Holy, both the Author and Perfector of our Faith Christ Jesus. Indeed, this is the One who promised to carry us on and present us spotless on the day of Judgment. God forbid that we ever look at our fruit for anything. It’s like honoring the gift above the Giver, and thats called idolatry.

  • http://poporthodoxy.com PastorMatt

    As a pastor, the issue of assurance and the desire to use works as a gauge for ‘just how saved I am’ at every turn is the single greatest elephant that must be shot, killed, and laid bare in every sermon, every class, and conversation. While innocent in its veneer this idea leads one only to doubt, despair, and at worst pietistic pride.

  • http://poporthodoxy.com PastorMatt

    As a pastor, the issue of assurance and the desire to use works as a gauge for ‘just how saved I am’ at every turn is the single greatest elephant that must be shot, killed, and laid bare in every sermon, every class, and conversation. While innocent in its veneer this idea leads one only to doubt, despair, and at worst pietistic pride.

  • http://planetaugsburg.wordpress.com catechismatic95

    Thank you Pastor Matt,

    You just summed up everything I said in one small paragraph. Awesome.

  • http://planetaugsburg.wordpress.com catechismatic95

    Thank you Pastor Matt,

    You just summed up everything I said in one small paragraph. Awesome.

  • http://planetaugsburg.wordpress.com catechismatic95

    I don’t know if you’ve heard of Rick Ritchie, but he makes a great point. Basically, he surmises that this issue has gone on for so long not because scripture is confusing, but rather because we have an ‘Old Sinful Adam’ that longs to take credit for something.

  • http://planetaugsburg.wordpress.com catechismatic95

    I don’t know if you’ve heard of Rick Ritchie, but he makes a great point. Basically, he surmises that this issue has gone on for so long not because scripture is confusing, but rather because we have an ‘Old Sinful Adam’ that longs to take credit for something.

  • http://planetaugsburg.wordpress.com catechismatic95

    Cap Stewart, I also want to apologize if I came off “swinging” at you. Because I did, and I shouldn’t have. I stand by my position still, just not my ferocity.

  • http://planetaugsburg.wordpress.com catechismatic95

    Cap Stewart, I also want to apologize if I came off “swinging” at you. Because I did, and I shouldn’t have. I stand by my position still, just not my ferocity.

  • http://4scores.blogspot.com Cap Stewart

    catechismatic95,

    Thanks for the detailed response (I didn’t feel like you came off “swinging” at me). The funny thing is, I agree with you. The gospel is indeed for everyone—not just non-Christians. The church, by and large, has (wrongly) proclaimed the gospel exclusively to unbelievers, while giving Christians a to-do list and a pat on the back as they walk down the road of legalism.

    I also agree with you that there must be a clear distinction between justification and sanctification. Two authors that have helped me tremendously in these areas (living a cross-centered / gospel-saturated life and differentiating between justification and sanctification) are C.J. Mahaney and Jerry Bridges.

    Furthermore, I agree with your statements regarding the full threat of the law. Most people do not understand how the law really works, and I am extremely thankful for Luther’s teaching on law vs. gospel—a teaching that has drastically changed how I interpret the Bible.

    All I’m saying—and all the Christianity Today article is saying (at least by implication)—is that a fruitless “faith” is a dead faith. Demons believe and tremble—and look what it’s done for them. I say again: it is faith alone that justifies, but the faith that justifies is never alone.

  • http://4scores.blogspot.com Cap Stewart

    catechismatic95,

    Thanks for the detailed response (I didn’t feel like you came off “swinging” at me). The funny thing is, I agree with you. The gospel is indeed for everyone—not just non-Christians. The church, by and large, has (wrongly) proclaimed the gospel exclusively to unbelievers, while giving Christians a to-do list and a pat on the back as they walk down the road of legalism.

    I also agree with you that there must be a clear distinction between justification and sanctification. Two authors that have helped me tremendously in these areas (living a cross-centered / gospel-saturated life and differentiating between justification and sanctification) are C.J. Mahaney and Jerry Bridges.

    Furthermore, I agree with your statements regarding the full threat of the law. Most people do not understand how the law really works, and I am extremely thankful for Luther’s teaching on law vs. gospel—a teaching that has drastically changed how I interpret the Bible.

    All I’m saying—and all the Christianity Today article is saying (at least by implication)—is that a fruitless “faith” is a dead faith. Demons believe and tremble—and look what it’s done for them. I say again: it is faith alone that justifies, but the faith that justifies is never alone.

  • fw

    #4 Pastor Matt

    And how do we lay that bare?

    Jesus´ law teachings are always intended to cause despair in his audience. Talk about inclusiveness.

    His words of forgiveness are reckless by virtue of their specificity.

    Only once was it aimed at publican and pharisee in the same person: “neither do I condemn you” followed by the inclusive (knowing what was in her heart) “go and sin no more.”

    It is so nice to see Pastor Matt that you take seriously your charge to rightly divide this Word of God. I sense it properly comes from humbling and profound personal experience. I am grateful for you.

  • fw

    #4 Pastor Matt

    And how do we lay that bare?

    Jesus´ law teachings are always intended to cause despair in his audience. Talk about inclusiveness.

    His words of forgiveness are reckless by virtue of their specificity.

    Only once was it aimed at publican and pharisee in the same person: “neither do I condemn you” followed by the inclusive (knowing what was in her heart) “go and sin no more.”

    It is so nice to see Pastor Matt that you take seriously your charge to rightly divide this Word of God. I sense it properly comes from humbling and profound personal experience. I am grateful for you.

  • fw

    A solid theological background for InternetMonk´s posting is found here. Cap Stuart dear brother, this should clue you into the difference he is referring to:

    http://www.ctsfw.edu/events/symposia/papers/sym2007cary.pdf

  • fw

    A solid theological background for InternetMonk´s posting is found here. Cap Stuart dear brother, this should clue you into the difference he is referring to:

    http://www.ctsfw.edu/events/symposia/papers/sym2007cary.pdf

  • fw

    #8 Cap Stewart

    “I say again: it is faith alone that justifies, but the faith that justifies is never alone.”

    AMEN! This that you are talking about is the mark of the church that Dr Martin Luther calls “christian suffering.”

    It is when we truly experience personally that Romans chapter 7 perfectly reflects our life as christians and how impotent we are to will ourselves into doing good works, and we fall, exhausted, with the Holy Apostle Saint Paul, at the foot of the Cross.

    We trust in faith, usually not by sight, that our faith is not alone.

    We then gladly follow Saint Paul´s kind advice in chapter 8 to join the winners circle by concentrating on spiritual things: water, word, supper, the prayers, absolution with personal palm on pate. We seek Jesus where He tells us He will be found.

  • fw

    #8 Cap Stewart

    “I say again: it is faith alone that justifies, but the faith that justifies is never alone.”

    AMEN! This that you are talking about is the mark of the church that Dr Martin Luther calls “christian suffering.”

    It is when we truly experience personally that Romans chapter 7 perfectly reflects our life as christians and how impotent we are to will ourselves into doing good works, and we fall, exhausted, with the Holy Apostle Saint Paul, at the foot of the Cross.

    We trust in faith, usually not by sight, that our faith is not alone.

    We then gladly follow Saint Paul´s kind advice in chapter 8 to join the winners circle by concentrating on spiritual things: water, word, supper, the prayers, absolution with personal palm on pate. We seek Jesus where He tells us He will be found.

  • Richard Lewer

    The more we seek to fulfill God’s will for us as Christians, the more we realize how far we have fallen short. The more mature a Christian is, the more he knows his sinfulness. Therefore, when a Christian looks to his Christian life, he sees only the need for God’s grace and his dependence on that alone.

  • Richard Lewer

    The more we seek to fulfill God’s will for us as Christians, the more we realize how far we have fallen short. The more mature a Christian is, the more he knows his sinfulness. Therefore, when a Christian looks to his Christian life, he sees only the need for God’s grace and his dependence on that alone.

  • Matt L

    I have a big problem with the way this is answered. It is equally erroneous to look at one’s faith (as if that were something one could actually look at or feel) as it is to look at one’s own works for assurance of salvation. Thus the “Internet Monk’s” conclusion that “Assurance of salvation… comes from believing that you are a sinner and that Jesus died for your sins” is wrong.

    Am I rejecting that we are saved by Grace through faith? By no means! But you can’t look at “believing.” What you can do is ask, “Have I heard the Gospel, have I heard that my sins are forgiven?” There you have something to point to that is outside of yourself. If assurance is needed we absolutely must look at the external Word, and not inward, not even at our own faith, but to the object of that which our faith clings to, the Word, that is Jesus Christ.

  • Matt L

    I have a big problem with the way this is answered. It is equally erroneous to look at one’s faith (as if that were something one could actually look at or feel) as it is to look at one’s own works for assurance of salvation. Thus the “Internet Monk’s” conclusion that “Assurance of salvation… comes from believing that you are a sinner and that Jesus died for your sins” is wrong.

    Am I rejecting that we are saved by Grace through faith? By no means! But you can’t look at “believing.” What you can do is ask, “Have I heard the Gospel, have I heard that my sins are forgiven?” There you have something to point to that is outside of yourself. If assurance is needed we absolutely must look at the external Word, and not inward, not even at our own faith, but to the object of that which our faith clings to, the Word, that is Jesus Christ.

  • Matt L

    I should note that the my above answer is why a Lutheran can respond “I am Baptized” as the answer to “How do you know that you are saved?” Baptism after all is the Word wrapped in water.

  • Matt L

    I should note that the my above answer is why a Lutheran can respond “I am Baptized” as the answer to “How do you know that you are saved?” Baptism after all is the Word wrapped in water.

  • Christopher Martin

    uh….how about because Jesus said so?

  • Christopher Martin

    uh….how about because Jesus said so?

  • fw

    #13 & #14 Matt L

    You are RIGHT on the money Matt. thanks for that!

  • fw

    #13 & #14 Matt L

    You are RIGHT on the money Matt. thanks for that!

  • CRB

    The only place to go for assurance of one’s salvation is
    to Jesus Christ. And where has He promised to be? In
    His Word as it is purely taught and preached and in His
    Sacraments as they are rightly administered. A person
    who looks to anything in himself will necessarily have to
    despair. But go to where the Lord has promised to be, and you will know for certain that you are saved.

  • CRB

    The only place to go for assurance of one’s salvation is
    to Jesus Christ. And where has He promised to be? In
    His Word as it is purely taught and preached and in His
    Sacraments as they are rightly administered. A person
    who looks to anything in himself will necessarily have to
    despair. But go to where the Lord has promised to be, and you will know for certain that you are saved.

  • Patrick Kyle

    There is also a huge discussion going on over at the Phoenix Preacher blog on assurance.(Almost 400 comments.)

    http://phoenixpreacher.com/?p=2450#comments

    This was occasioned by a medical emergency he references in a previous post, concluding that

    “I’ve learned a bit…

    First, when you’re on the floor waiting for the ambulance is the wrong time to find that your tradition has a weak view of assurance. ”

    Truly worth some time to read the post and some of the comments.

  • Patrick Kyle

    There is also a huge discussion going on over at the Phoenix Preacher blog on assurance.(Almost 400 comments.)

    http://phoenixpreacher.com/?p=2450#comments

    This was occasioned by a medical emergency he references in a previous post, concluding that

    “I’ve learned a bit…

    First, when you’re on the floor waiting for the ambulance is the wrong time to find that your tradition has a weak view of assurance. ”

    Truly worth some time to read the post and some of the comments.

  • fw

    #18 Patrick Kyle

    Good to see you here Patrick. You and rosenbladt-the-younger are doing amazing things on your site! Keep up the great work!

  • fw

    #18 Patrick Kyle

    Good to see you here Patrick. You and rosenbladt-the-younger are doing amazing things on your site! Keep up the great work!

  • fw

    #18 Patrick Kyle

    When are you going to go to seminary? People like me need the kind of pastor you would be.

  • fw

    #18 Patrick Kyle

    When are you going to go to seminary? People like me need the kind of pastor you would be.

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  • Patrick Kyle

    Frank,

    Good to see you making the rounds of the blogosphere. Are you going to be in the area any time soon?

    As to Seminary, I am still in a holding pattern, but they are opening a new Seminary at Concordia, Irvine.(Well, technically I think it is a satellite campus for the St. Louis Sem, but I don’t have all the facts.) So we shall see how things work out. Thanks for the compliment.

  • Patrick Kyle

    Frank,

    Good to see you making the rounds of the blogosphere. Are you going to be in the area any time soon?

    As to Seminary, I am still in a holding pattern, but they are opening a new Seminary at Concordia, Irvine.(Well, technically I think it is a satellite campus for the St. Louis Sem, but I don’t have all the facts.) So we shall see how things work out. Thanks for the compliment.

  • fw

    there is an excellent paper on the difference between calvinists and lutherans as to assurance written by an anglican that is really excellent. I thought I KNEW the difference. this paper taught me new things about my Lutheran faith. This is awesome stuff :

    http://www.ctsfw.edu/events/symposia/papers/sym2007cary.pdf

  • fw

    there is an excellent paper on the difference between calvinists and lutherans as to assurance written by an anglican that is really excellent. I thought I KNEW the difference. this paper taught me new things about my Lutheran faith. This is awesome stuff :

    http://www.ctsfw.edu/events/symposia/papers/sym2007cary.pdf

  • http://anastasias-corner.blogspot.com Anastasia Theodoridis

    If it’s faith alone that justifies, then I have two problems:

    1. Faith never IS alone, as everyone agrees; in fact, the very idea is self-contradictory. Faith isn’t even faith, if it’s alone. So it appears I’m to be justified by something non-existent.

    2. Pushing back the discussion on how do I know I’m saved — how do I know I have any faith?

    Anastasia

  • http://anastasias-corner.blogspot.com Anastasia Theodoridis

    If it’s faith alone that justifies, then I have two problems:

    1. Faith never IS alone, as everyone agrees; in fact, the very idea is self-contradictory. Faith isn’t even faith, if it’s alone. So it appears I’m to be justified by something non-existent.

    2. Pushing back the discussion on how do I know I’m saved — how do I know I have any faith?

    Anastasia

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Anastasia (@24), it’s obvious that a living faith produces good works (though not vice versa). But tell me about the thief on the cross — what good works did he do to merit Jesus’ telling him “Today you will be with me in paradise”? (And thank God for that thief and the many theological questions he answers — a fine example of how God uses awful things, such as thievery and crucifixion, for the good of his people!) Did he go to heaven because of faith, or because of faith plus something else?

    As to your second question, it may be helpful to appropriate the Lutheran self-reflection common before communion: Am I a sinner? Am I sorry for my sin? Do I believe that Jesus died for the forgiveness of my sins? If you answer “yes”, then you have faith. These are not difficult questions to answer — Jesus tells us that not only can children answer them, but in fact we should respond with the simple faith that children have (i.e. “Yes, yes, yes”).

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Anastasia (@24), it’s obvious that a living faith produces good works (though not vice versa). But tell me about the thief on the cross — what good works did he do to merit Jesus’ telling him “Today you will be with me in paradise”? (And thank God for that thief and the many theological questions he answers — a fine example of how God uses awful things, such as thievery and crucifixion, for the good of his people!) Did he go to heaven because of faith, or because of faith plus something else?

    As to your second question, it may be helpful to appropriate the Lutheran self-reflection common before communion: Am I a sinner? Am I sorry for my sin? Do I believe that Jesus died for the forgiveness of my sins? If you answer “yes”, then you have faith. These are not difficult questions to answer — Jesus tells us that not only can children answer them, but in fact we should respond with the simple faith that children have (i.e. “Yes, yes, yes”).

  • http://anastasias-corner.blogspot.com Anastasia Theodoridis

    That thief accomplished more good in a short space than I expect to in a lifetime. He confessed Christ, witnessed to his fellow, and by God’s providence, witnessed to all succeeding generations, through his words having been recorded in Holy Writ.

    But to my mind, that’s rather beside the point. Having faith means faith becomes the new basis upon which you do *anything* — and everything. Thus, not only the thief’s acts listed above, but all he did, was by faith, even his breathing and his suffering and his dying.

    As for your answer to your my second question, yes, I believe Jesus did for the forgiveness of my sins, but that is no biblical basis for claiming faith. The devils also believe He died for my sins, and tremble. The biblical basis for measuring faith is — gulp! — what you have DONE with it.

    And even that is not foolproof; in the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats, Jesus cites people who did all sorts of fancy works in His name, even miracles, all without having any faith whatsoever.

    Anastasia

  • http://anastasias-corner.blogspot.com Anastasia Theodoridis

    That thief accomplished more good in a short space than I expect to in a lifetime. He confessed Christ, witnessed to his fellow, and by God’s providence, witnessed to all succeeding generations, through his words having been recorded in Holy Writ.

    But to my mind, that’s rather beside the point. Having faith means faith becomes the new basis upon which you do *anything* — and everything. Thus, not only the thief’s acts listed above, but all he did, was by faith, even his breathing and his suffering and his dying.

    As for your answer to your my second question, yes, I believe Jesus did for the forgiveness of my sins, but that is no biblical basis for claiming faith. The devils also believe He died for my sins, and tremble. The biblical basis for measuring faith is — gulp! — what you have DONE with it.

    And even that is not foolproof; in the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats, Jesus cites people who did all sorts of fancy works in His name, even miracles, all without having any faith whatsoever.

    Anastasia


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