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From the Preacher’s Pen…

When I leave the USA to travel overseas, and again when I return home, I am required to show proof of my citizenship. Apparently, I can’t just claim to be Superman from the planet Krypton and get away with it!

Is the same thing true with serving God? Does what we actually say and do matter? Let’s consider God’s requirements for…

Proof of Obedience

We all understand those simple facts about citizenship when it comes to earthly matters. What’s sad is that many people assert you can just fool God by claiming (perhaps very loudly as Elijah once suggested to the followers of Baal in 1 Kings 18?) to be a Christian even if you never actually do and prove the things that really go into making a Christian.

When the world says, “Just accept or welcome Jesus into your heart and you will be saved” they are NOT quoting from Scripture but rather are contradicting everything God actually says! In Matthew 7:21 Jesus flatly states, Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. In the next two verses (22 and 23)

He expands their complaint to the Judgement Day: Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.’

Without proof, without obedience, we are NOT saved and we are NOT Christ’s family! So the urgent need becomes a question of HOW to prove our claim. The answer from God is that our obedience to God is our proof!

The doctrine of faith alone (the more accurate meaning is: wishful thinking!) resulting in salvation is never taught by God. Jesus demands that we understand this: Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? (Luke 6:46) If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. (John 14:15) If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. (John 15:10)

The Apostle John obviously faced the same false teaching and attitude as he repeatedly told Christians that the proof of their faith was in the obedience: By this, we know that we have come to know Him if we keep His commandments (1 John 2:3).

And if we need it more clearly explained, John continues: The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. (1 John 2:4-6)

Walking in the light (1 John 1:7) is never just doing our own thing, our own way. God tells us that the very definition of loving God is obedience: For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome (1 John 5:3).

As God pictures the story of salvation in Revelation, He reminds us that Satan is enraged by faithful obedience: So the dragon was enraged with the woman and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. (Revelation 12:17)

Finally, God reminds us that real faithfulness is obedience: Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus (Revelation 14:12).

What we DO is the proof of who we are: Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3:7-8a).

When you put it all together the real question is simple: Who do YOU belong to? We can claim until the cows come home that we are God’s people, but unless we actually obey Him and live like it, we are deceiving ourselves but not fooling God in the least.

So, how shall we live and act this week?

— Lester P. Bagley