And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: – Philippians 3:9
The vast majority of the world does not profess a saving knowledge of the Gospel. Many profess a Christ of their own making. But assent to the testimony of Christ’s work on behalf of the elect is the only saving Gospel. When pressed, multitudes will testify about how they “let Jesus in their heart,” or how they “made a commitment to serve God,” or how they “prayed the sinner’s prayer after walking down to the front of the church.”
For these false professors, the object of faith isn’t the finished work of Christ accomplished for the sake of God’s elect, not a righteousness which is of God by faith. Rather, the object of their faith, their reason for hope, rests in something they did or to which they contributed, a false sense of righteousness drummed up by the works of their hands. “Christ” is nothing but the catchphrase for whatever action THEY had to make in order to “get saved.” When you press this crowd, they won’t even be able to describe or explain the Biblical Gospel. In fact, they will recoil and hiss at the mere notion of electing grace. They’ll be offended because they worship a fantasy god on their own terms! They will couch everything in words describing what THEY DID to get saved.
I reject the notion that just any gospel-sounding message saves. It most certainly does not. And the vast majority of professing Christians actually hate the biblical Gospel when given the chance to hear it. For instance, the so-called “Bible believing” congregations in Southern Ohio, the whole gaggle of legalistic freewill Arminian/Pelagian works-righteousness religious societies masquerading as Gospel churches, are so littered with these phony ideas of what the Gospel is that they would fare no better than unbelievers in their understanding of these weighty spiritual matters.
What is the Gospel? The Gospel is an historical reality. It happened in time. We have a message to proclaim as heralds of this great historical act. The information has to be true for the message to be a true heralding of the saving Gospel. There is, after all, only one Gospel! When this true and saving Gospel is proclaimed, the Spirit of God grants repentance from dead works and faith towards the living God to those whom He wills. He does this through the preaching of the Gospel. Now, those who assent to the true Gospel only do so by the Holy Spirit, for “no one can call Jesus Lord except by the Holy Ghost.”
If an individual truly believes the Gospel of Jesus Christ, they have every right to a “full assurance of faith” because “he who has the Son has life.” Flesh and blood did not reveal this truth to them, God did! No man can assent (believe) to the saving Gospel unless the Father in electing grace and mercy has given him to the Son beforehand. And resting assured in Christ, none of those given to the Son will be lost, but raised up on the last day!
So how does one know he is saved? He believes the Gospel as revealed in Scripture, putting no confidence in the flesh and trusting only in Christ, his righteous surety who died that he might live eternally, the only true object of saving faith. He has promised to raise believers up on the last day, to never leave them alone, to go and prepare a place for that where He is, His people may be also. All confidence is placed in Christ alone. This is a biblical profession of faith. If a man testifies to this saving Gospel, he is a brother in Christ, having “passed from death unto life.”
Do you believe the true and saving Gospel of Christ Jesus? Examine yourself, to see whether you are in the faith. What do you believe concerning Christ? Do you assume salvation because you prayed a prayer, walked an aisle, cried during a meeting? Do you assume to know God in salvation because of the good deeds you’ve performed? Examine your testimony and profession of the Gospel with what is recorded in Scripture. Is Christ and His finished work the sole object of your faith or do you trust in something wrought of your own hands? What say you of Christ? Your answer will reveal the Gospel you believe.