The evidence of salvation in Christ is producing fruit that is reflective of Christ’s life and teachings. We cannot produce that fruit on our own.
“A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs are never gathered from thornbushes, and grapes are not picked from bramble bushes. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.
“So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say? I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house right on the ground, without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.” (Luke 6:43-49)
Have you ever been in a conversation similar to the following?
You are talking with someone who is lamenting over another person’s actions. Eventually, they will resignedly say, “well, only God can know their hearts.”
Technically this is true, as demonstrated in such statements as only God being able to search our hearts (Jeremiah 17:9-10). But when someone makes that statement in the context of examining one’s actions as evidence for that person following Christ, this is a misapplication of that idea.
We Can See the Evidence of Salvation in Christ
Jesus Himself tells us that we can identify people by their actions (Matthew 7:20). The truth is, we can see by a person’s fruit in their lives whether they are serving God or serving someone or something other than God. And this should be a sobering thought for anyone who claims to be a follower of Christ. It is one thing to say we follow Christ. But do our lives show that we are His followers?
Let’s be clear; this is not examining someone who claims to follow Christ in the sense of judging that person, which Christ clearly teaches against. But we can examine one’s actions in the light of Jesus Christ’s life and teachings to determine whether or not a profession of faith has evidence to back it up. We can also examine our own actions.
The evidence of salvation in Christ is not hidden; it is visible. We can bear witness to it through a person’s words and deeds. If we can see that what a person says and what a person does lines up with the person of Jesus Christ, then we can believe that person is a follower of Christ.
Jesus says in today’s passage what it looks like when someone comes to Him, listens to His teaching, and then obeys His teaching. Let’s look at that together.
The Evidence of Repentance in Christ
Before we can show evidence of salvation in Christ, we must start with repentance. This is what Christ means when He says someone comes to Him.
Christ calls each of us to repent of our sins and surrender our lives to Him. When we truly understand that we are sinners that have fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23) and agree that Jesus Christ is our only means of salvation, then Christ forgives us of our sins.
Christ covers us by His sacrifice. Only Christ, the God-Man, in His perfection could be that spotless lamb that could deliver salvation through His death and resurrection. And on top of that; when we repent and turn to Him, the work of His sacrifice in our lives will “purify our consciences from sinful deeds”, freeing us to be in God’s presence to worship Him (Hebrews 9:13-14).
Paul likens this to the veil that Moses wore over His face after being in God’s presence. That this same veil hides the truth of Christ’s salvation. The veil is removed when we believe in Christ.
As that veil is removed when we repent and turn to Christ, it is then that we begin to reflect Christ’s glory and start to be transformed into His likeness (2 Corinthians 3:7-18).
So we see that hearts that are truly repentant show the evidence of salvation in Christ. But repentance is only the beginning of our journey with Christ.
The Evidence of Abiding in Christ
While a person may be able to produce good fruit sporadically, it will only be sustainable when a person is abiding with Christ. That is, becoming intimately familiar with Christ by daily walking in relationship with Him.
Abiding in Christ through prayer, studying God’s word, and connecting with other believers are all examples of acts of worship and devotion to Christ that follows repentance.
As we continue to practice these things, spending more and more time in God’s presence, we will begin to understand Him more. We will begin to grow in our hearing and understanding of what He has to say to His followers. As Christ says in today’s passage, we will begin to listen to His teachings.
The more time we spend with Christ, the more pliable our hearts will become to following His desires. The evidence of salvation in Christ will be seen in our growing desire to follow and obey Him.
The Evidence of Obedience in Christ
As we begin to hear and understand Christ, one thing we will quickly understand is that Christ calls us to obedience to His commands. If we have truly surrendered our lives to Christ, truly devoted ourselves to Christ by abiding in Him, we will come to a place where we will obey Him. In todays’ passage, Christ calls it following Him.
This is when we will bear the fruit that is reflective of hearts that are prepared to do what Christ says. This will not be fruit of our own invention; rather it will flow naturally from our hearts. As we establish deep roots with Jesus Christ, we will bear His fruit. It is unavoidable.
So when we see a professed follower of Christ acting in disobedience to Christ, not following Christ’s clear commands, what conclusion shall we come to?
Does it make sense that a truly repentant, truly devoted person would somehow come up short of obedience to Christ?
No it doesn’t. And yet, Christ tells us this happens. At least to those whose foundations in Christ aren’t so strong.
The Solid Foundation in Christ
In the parable of the farmer planting seeds (Matthew 13:1-23) Jesus tells us of several possible destinations for the seed, which represents the message of the Kingdom of Heaven. Of the 4 places the seeds landed, this is what we see.
The first seed represents those who hear the message but don’t understand it. The hearer is unable to accept the message.
The second seed is for those who receive the message and are glad for it. But without deep roots, those people fall away when faith in Christ brings troubles or persecution.
The third seed is for those who let the cares of this life crowd out the message, therefore bearing no fruit.
Finally, the fourth seed represent those who hear and understand God’s word. These people bear an overabundance of fruit.
In today’s passage, Jesus Christ calls this path of coming to, listening to, and following Him a foundation on solid rock. This is the response to the fourth seed.
Which of these seeds are represented in our lives today? Only the fourth represents the evidence of salvation in Christ.
What is Our Evidence?
Here is the very sobering point: Jesus Himself tells us that not everyone who claims to be a follower of Christ will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, but only those who actually do His Father’s will (Matthew 7:21).
There is zero value in “sort of” following Christ. If we aren’t receiving God’s message in the pattern of the fourth seed, we need to be examining our hearts. Do we melt away when it is difficult to align ourselves publicly with Christ? Do we set aside opportunities to obey Christ to pursue our own desires?
If so, then perhaps it’s time to examine our hearts once again, make sure that we are walking in repentance and devotion to Christ, and then committing ourselves to obedience, no matter what it costs us. Loving us cost Christ His very life. What should we be prepared to give in return?
We may conclude that we didn’t understand the true gospel. Perhaps we grew up in church and thought that meant we were on God’s team. We need to learn why Jesus Christ is the way of salvation.
Or, we have fallen victim to our own comfort by denying Christ or pursuing our own goals. If that’s the case, perhaps we need to turn back to Christ.
Today we have talked about the evidence of salvation in Christ. We have also talked about how we can discern the evidence. I pray that we can all take an objective look at our own lives and determine if the evidence of salvation in Christ is there for the world to see. And if not, do something about it today.
More Bible verses about the evidence of salvation in Christ: