Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Vision (4/26/12): Am I really a Christian? (Continued)

Am I really a Christian?  Answering Eight Doubts (Continued)

Simplified and Abridged from Thomas Boston 

Note:  In his spiritual classic “Human Nature In Its Fourfold State,” the Scottish minister Thomas Boston (1676-1732) lists eight “cases” where a true Christian might have spiritual doubts about the authenticity of his faith.  Here is the fifth of the eight doubts:

Fifth Doubt:  Every time I begin to think I can see the marks of grace in me and that I am truly saved, I hear about some hypocrite or apostate, and I am shaken.  Fear comes over me like a storm.  Am I like this kind of person?

Answer:  These sorts of things ought to stir us up.  We ought to examine ourselves seriously and impartially.  Still, we should not always be in a state of suspense about our spiritual state.  You can see the outside of a hypocrite.  You can see his “spiritual” activity and emotions, but you cannot see inside him.  You do not know his heart.

You can only form a judgment of another person based on what you see on the outside.  You would do well to judge others with charity.  Again, you cannot know the secret springs of their actions.  Rather than judging others, you ought to look at your own heart.  You are the only person you can judge with certainty.  You must look at yourself as no one else in the world can do.  You can see things in yourself that you simply cannot see in others.

A hypocrite’s religion may seem far greater than the religion of a sincere believer.  Remember that what is great in the eyes of men is often of little value in God’s sight.  I would rather groan with Paul (Rom 8:6) than shed false tears with Esau, prophesy with Balaam, or have the temporary joy of the shallow-ground hearers.  There is a fire that will judge every man’s work to see “what sort it is” (1 Cor 3:13).  If God does not judge by outward appearance, why do you?  Without special revelation, you cannot know the sincerity of another man’s faith.  But you can know the sincerity of your own faith, without any special revelation.  This is why Peter exhorted the saints “to give diligence to make your calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10).  Therefore, the actions of hypocrites and apostates should not disturb you.  The important thing is seriously examining your own spiritual condition.

Here are two ways that the weakest saints excel the “best” hypocrites:

First, the saints deny themselves.  They renounce all confidence in themselves and their works.  They venture their souls completely on God’s plan of salvation through Christ.  They are “poor in spirit” (Matt 5:3).  They are blessed, because they are not offended by Christ (Matt 11:6).  In Philippians 3:3, Paul wrote, “We are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.”

Second, the saints have a real hatred of sin.  They are willing to part with every lust, without exception, and to obey all the Lord’s commands.  “Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.”

 Test yourself by these standards.            

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

1 comment:

Mad Jack said...

Nice post.

Am I like this kind of person?

Yes and no, depending. Yes, because you commit sins. You don't have the market cornered on this, by the way. You're in very good company.

No, because you recognize something as a sin and are repelled by it. That's a good thing, you see. If you have any question, pray and ask the Lord if He has anything He'd like you to do for Him. If you doubt that you can carry off the assignment successfully, ask the Lord to watch over your shoulder and give a little help as needed. Then when you're finished, give all the credit to the Lord.