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The Difference Between Saving and Non-Saving Faith
One of the most frightening truths is the fact that many who claim the name of Christ, who profess salvation, are actually lost and on their way to eternal separation from Him. How can that be? How can someone be so duped into believing they are saved when, in fact, just the opposite is true? The answer is found in our understanding of the difference between regeneration (being born again) and conversion (exercising faith and repentance). Conversion must follow regeneration for true salvation to take place. If the order is reversed, nothing eternal happens.
Often, with good intentions, we focus on getting someone to convert to Christ by emphasizing their need to recite the “sinner’s prayer”— which focuses on faith (Romans 10:9-10) and repentance. But without regeneration (being born again), the converted individual (who prayed a prayer) is not saved. They have made a verbal assent (faith) to a code of ethics or a religion or a way of life, but without a supernatural change in nature. And it is only the change in nature (regeneration) that leads to salvation. Sadly, the converted, yet unregenerate sinner, becomes another unsaved, baptized, deceived, church member.
This is exactly what Jesus spoke of in His Parable of the Sower (Matt. 13) and warned about at the end of the Sermon on the Mount. Consider carefully His words:
Matthew 7:21-23 – “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me,
you who practice lawlessness!'”
So what are we to do?
How Can You Tell if You’ve Experienced Regeneration or Conversion?
The Scriptures repeatedly admonish us to examine ourselves to see if we are truly saved, if regeneration has taken place.
2 Corinthians 13:5 – Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified (reprobates, those not approved, those who fail the test).
And you can do this by asking yourself the following questions (from 1 John):
• Do you enjoy having fellowship with Christ and His redeemed people? – 1 John 1:3
• Would people say you walk in the light, or walk in the darkness? – 1 John 1:6-7
• Do you admit and confess your sin? – 1 John 1:8-9
• Are you obedient to God’s Word? – 1 John 2:3-5
• Does your life indicate you love God rather than the world? – 1 John 2:15
• Is your life characterized by “doing what is right”? – 1 John 2:29
• Do you seek to maintain a pure life? – 1 John 3:3
• Do you see a decreasing pattern of sin in your life? 1 John 3:5-6
• Do you demonstrate love for other Christians? – 1 John 3:14
• Do you “walk the walk,” or just “talk the talk”? – 1 John 3:18-19
• Do you maintain a clear conscience? – 1 John 3:21
• Do you experience victory in your Christian walk? – 1 John 5:4
Don’t take this lightly. These may be the most important questions you ever ask yourself. And your answers may indicate if you are truly His. Do you want to know? If so, then keep listening.