Recently I read a book that stated that the evidence of your salvation is the level at which you willingly give. Is that the truth? It sounds true but it’s not. 1Corinthians 13 declares that you can give all your goods away and even your body to be burned but if it’s not done in love it profits you nothing. It might profit others but it won’t profit you. You can give a large proportion of your money to Christian missions but that is not the evidence of your salvation.
Cyrus , king of Persia, financed the construction of the temple. That doesn’t mean he became a Christian and was saved. Joseph was put in a place of wealth next to Pharaoh, and he used his position to help the Israelites, but only after they first approached him, plus he didn’t try and convert Pharaoh to his God. Jesus actually instructed his disciples to not tell anyone that He was the Christ. How do you figure that? God is looking for those who are willing to die, not those who are wanting to impress.
The bible says in James 2, works are the evidence of your faith, but there has to be faith first, and faith operates by love, and love isn’t being nice or being obedient, love is nothing of ME; that means I’m dead to me, and am only interested in the will of God. Without love in place, everything I do is of no profit to me; it gains me nothing in God’s value system. The church pushes works to prove it’s good, but works don’t prove it, only death proves you’ve gained life.
Jesus gave the human race the chance of life but only through His death. A seed is of no value even though it has all the necessary life components until it’s buried and dies. From that point it now has the potential of producing fruit and reproducing itself. The seed gains life through death, and until it dies it has no life value.
Luke 14 states that you are required to give up everything in order to be a disciple of Christ, and that includes yourself. This isn’t a once only decision; you are required to die daily in order to reach the celestial city.
Once you’re dead, money and possessions are no longer the measurement of your salvation. Thus it doesn’t matter whether you give away or keep; it’s not yours anyhow; everything is His; you own nothing. This was the pattern of the Levites in the Old Testament. They totally relied on God’s supply. They had no inheritance or regular income; they totally served only the Lord’s will. In exactly the same manner, God calls us to be kings and priests unto Him, not unto ourselves.
Q. How can you measure whether you’re really dead or not?
- Your reaction to authority
If you say in your heart “don’t tell me what to do”, or “you don’t understand”, or “it’s not fair”, or “you don’t know what you’re talking about”, or “that doesn’t make sense”, or “I haven’t done anything wrong” when an authority corrects you or when an authority declares an opinion on a matter, that proves that you think you know more than the authority, and it proves that you do not operate in faith. When you say “I’ve done my part, now you’re responsible to fix my problem ” you confirm you’re telling the authority what his job is and how he’s supposed to act. When you say “what if the authority is wrong” it proves you do not operate in faith and trust God whether they are right or wrong. Love knows the issue isn’t right or wrong, but rather death, whereas, vanity is only looking out for its own benefit.
Obedience is not a sign that you respect the authority. In Luke 15, the older brother of the prodigal was disrespectful to his father’s instructions. He served him for favour not love. Shimei did what Solomon told him to do but eventually it became clear that his heart was disrespectful and bitter, not love. Death is the only evidence of respect.
If the authority lives in fear of your retaliation, like Samuel did (1Sam16:2) know that you are rebellious against the authority, not respectful of it. It proves you are the problem, not the authority.
If you practice disrespect to authority, then you are breaking the 3rd commandment and taking God’s name in vain. You’ll find that in Titus 2:5, and 1Timothy 6:1. If God says you are to respect authority, and you declare you are a Christian, yet you think you know more than the authority, then, that’s operating against God’s instructions, that’s vanity and it’s telling God he doesn’t know what He’s talking about. It’s hypocrisy to call yourself a Christian, and disrespect God’s instructions. It’s taking His name in vain.
If you tell the authority what’s his responsibility towards you, how he’s supposed to behave and react, then you are making yourself the authority.
Q. What’s the role of an authority?
A. To put you in your place so you don’t elevate yourself and go off track
Most people think the authority’s role is to help me, guide me, protect me, respond to Me in love, and fix my hassles. Notice all the ME’s. They tell the authority what he’s supposed to do for them, and if they serve the authority, it’s to store up credit points for when he’s supposed to come to their aid, or to be close to the authority to gain an elevated position in the eyes of others. That’s not love, that’s obligation & manipulation.
Everyone puts themselves in an elevated position above their status; that’s human nature. God uses authority to put you back in your right place, to save you. Elevation blocks salvation. When you’re proud you’ll need an authority to point it out to you; you won’t see it yourself. So if you mock the authority you won’t find life.
You can question authority righteously, like Moses vs Pharoah & Nathan vs David, or you can question authority unrighteously, like the Pharisees vs Jesus & Korah vs Moses. Nathan and Moses had given all of themselves to God, whereas the Pharisees held their religious position to be elevated in the eyes of men. You can’t elevate yourself and practice love at the same time, it’s a contradiction.
The second way you can check whether you’re dead or not is …
2. Your behaviour measured by the Ten Commandments
In 1Corinthians 5:9,11 the Word of God clearly says not to company or eat with someone who professes to be a Christian but is practicing fornication or covetousness. These sins are widespread in the modern worldly church. If you ignore a family member’s moral behaviour for the sake of harmony and no hassles and call it “love them through it”, that’s choosing fear in preference to faith, and choosing to disobey God’s commands by deceiving yourself that it’s love. That is not the evidence of death, but the evidence of fear, lies and disrespect.
You’ll have no authority unless you’re under authority, and you’re not under authority if you won’t do what God says; that’s why most Christian families are dysfunctional.
If you think you know more than your parents; if you think your parents are dumb, then that is breaking the 5th commandment. That is not the evidence of death.
In 1 Samuel 15, God instructed King Saul to destroy all the Amalekites. It sounds harsh, but God’s policy is to destroy life in order to protect life. The Amalekites were totally hedonistic and if left to live they would have polluted the Israelites and the earth. Therefore, the instruction was given. Saul almost obeyed the command so why was he dealt with so harshly by God. Not because he didn’t do exactly what he was asked, but rather because he had allowed his heart to shift away from respect for God’s Ten Commandments. Thus even though he still appeared to worship God in v.13 & 31, his heart was rebellious and stubborn, v.23. How do we know that? Simple, he questioned the authority. Samuel said what you have done is wrong and Saul said no it’s not. That’s disrespect. That’s challenging the authority’s authority. That’s telling the authority what’s right and wrong. That’s setting yourself up above the authority. Most modern Christians apply the same attitude to authority. Most believe you have the right to your opinion and I have the right to mine. That’s not the love of God, that’s telling people to not tell me my opinion is wrong. That means most modern Christians are not really Christians, they’re counterfeit.
If Saul was genuine he would have stopped, taken the correction and repented. That’s what David did when challenged by Nathan. Saul eventually acknowledged that Samuel was right, but only so he could look good to the people. That’s not repentance, that’s manipulation and vanity. Once Saul had hardened his heart against God’s Ten Commandments, Samuel was instructed to separate from him, and not to pretend to support his immoral position. Today, few Christians stand on this principle.
When you elevate yourself, you unwittingly turn your back on the Ten Commandments and eventually expose your thinking to another spirit (see 1Sam 16:14). The Ten Commandments are the pathway of life, so to disrespect them or discredit them is the pathway to death.
3. Your reaction to being ‘put down’
Human nature is designed to be envious of other people’s success, James 4:5. Death has overcome this inherent trait. Love is not envious, not puffed up, doesn’t seek its own, has put everything on the altar and trusts the Lord’s will on every outcome.
4. Comparing yourself to others
When you allow yourself to compare yourself with the successful qualities of others, you are simply verifying your envy. Envy wishes for what it hasn’t got. Love doesn’t compare to get more for itself; love dies.
Q. How do you truly die?
A. You’ll only find death through suffering … being defamed, being imprisoned for Christ, struck down with sickness, being put down, being misjudged, looking bad in the eyes of others, mocked, bankruptcy, loss of a love one, a controlling mother-in-law, rebellious children or a defiant wife. Suffering is designed to force the human nature of pride to surrender and give up everything to the will of God. Until you do this you are not saved. This was the pathway for Joseph, for Moses, for Daniel, for David, and even for Christ.
All that will live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution, 2 Timothy 3:12
In everyone’s life there’s an intersection of drought where God is trying to get your attention on death. If you ignore the lesson you lose the opportunity to life.
May God open your eyes to see the lesson of life so that through death you gain eternal life.
Pastor Rick James