Making Bad Fish Smell Good

Peace, Peace When there is No Peace

They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace. Jeremiah 6:14 

In the time of Jeremiah the prophet, the nation of Israel was filled with sin and Jeremiah was warning them of the impending judgment of God that was coming on the nation. In opposition to Jeremiah, the false prophets were telling the people of Israel, they had nothing to worry about, God would do nothing to punish them for their sins and they were secure in the land.

Today things have not changed. The false teachers are still telling backsliders and lukewarm Christians that in the end, they are ok with God. They tell people they can have assurance of salvation by simply putting their faith in Jesus and reciting the sinner’s prayer or merely by accepting Jesus into their hearts. It all sounds good, but what does the Bible say?

The apostle John does tell us that, “we can know that we have eternal life however, he does not say that it comes from faith alone, reciting the sinner’s prayer or by accepting Jesus into your heart. His affirmation was “I write these things to you who believe on the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13). From John’s short epistle,  we can learn how a believer can know they are saved. If you have time I would encourage you to read the entire book of 1 John in which you will find a detailed account of how to know you have eternal life.

However, for now let’s look at a few verses in 1 John, which tell us how we can know, that we have eternal life.

1 John 2:3-4

“We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.”

1 John 2:5-6

But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.

1 John 2:29

If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.

1 John 3:14

We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death.

What do we learn from these passages? First, we learn that a believer can know that they have eternal live. Secondly, we learn that it is not by faith alone. In fact the expression “by faith alone” is never used in scripture. True and saving faith is never alone inasmuch  “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead” (James 2:26). We also learn from John that a person needs to be walking in the love of God and their brothers to have the assurance of salvation, and this love must be demonstrated by deeds done in love for your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Note that we are not talking about salvation, but rather the assurance or certainty of salvation. Good works do not save a person but a person cannot be saved without them, unless you’re the thief on the cross. Moreover, you cannot have certainty of salvation without seeing in your life the fruit of good works. This is the tension of true faith, a tension that false teachers want to eradicate in their effort to make bad fish smell good (Matt: 13:47-49).

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