Were we to survey any group of people about what affords evidence of salvation, we would undoubtedly receive many responses listing good works, church membership, the practice of some rite, ordinance, or sacrament, or some combination of those answers. It is remarkable that so many hold to such views given the comprehensive truth provided in Scripture that refutes such ideas. For example, in his first epistle, John offers a number of concrete evidences of true faith and salvation that include hatred and confession of sin (1:5-2:2), delight in and obedience to God’s Word (2:3-6), and an increasing prayer life (3:19-24). Paul offers additional evidences of genuine salvation in his epistle to the church at Philippi: “for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh” (3:3). Just as circumcision marked an Israelite as one who was in covenant relationship with God, so the New Testament church has marks (Paul mentions three) that identify its members as being among the saved and belonging to God.
1. Real believers “worship in the Spirit of God.” Many might believe that worship is something done on Sunday mornings when people gather in a church building and pray, sing hymns, and listen to a sermon from the Bible. The truth is that all those things may be done by unbelievers or, sadly, by believers who are merely performing a religious exercise. Paul provides the essential qualification for genuine worship: it is done “in the Spirit of God.” True worship results when a believer is empowered and controlled by the indwelling Holy Spirit in his praying, praising, and response to the Word of God. Furthermore, true worship neither begins nor ends with what happens when one sits in a pew. The root idea of the Greek word rendered worship has to do with serving. Worship, then, entails service generated by the loving heart and submissive will of one who has been purchased by the blood of Christ.
2. Real believers “glory in Christ Jesus.” The term glory conveys the idea of joyful boasting. Real believers find a true thrill and ultimate pleasure in the exaltation of Jesus Christ. They know that He alone is the Source of their salvation and all its blessings. They experience a humility that harbors neither overt nor secret desires to be seen and praised of men. Their hearts beat to the rhythm of this hymn: “May Jesus Christ Be Praised.” The unredeemed man covets fame and acclaim for himself. The believer craves His Savior to be honored.
3. Real believers “put no confidence in the flesh.” The word confidence expresses the idea of reliance. Real believers do not rely on their flesh—to any degree—for salvation. They are not privately hedging their bets by apparently trusting in Christ but secretly attempting to merit His favor by something they do or refuse to do. Their aforementioned glorying in Christ is the fruit of their absolute confidence in what He and He alone did through His substitutionary sacrifice to provide them with salvation. Additionally, they rely on Christ not only for salvation but for every blessing. They do not offer their works nor personal value as barter for the favor and blessings of God; rather, they trust in the unmerited favor of the Lord.
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