A preacher friend of mine once said: “An apple tree only has to produce one apple for you to know it is an apple tree.” What a true statement. An apple tree does only have to produce one apple to be known as an apple tree. However, certainly no one would consider a tree that only produces one apple a healthy apple tree, would they?
The above statement was made within the context of the difficult struggle in knowing whether someone is born-again or not—converted or not—truly saved or just a professing Christian. In the case of an apple and an apple tree, this preacher is right. Once I see an apple on an apple tree, I can declare this is an apple tree.
But what possible single fruit could a Christian produce that would allow someone to declare, like the apple tree, that he is a Christian?
According to the epistle of 1 John, the assurance of salvation is not gained by a single apple. Instead, John says in 1 John 5:13 “these things have I written unto you.” He says “things” because assurance of salvation is gained by a comprehensive examination of one’s life.
The believer can’t say, “I prayed; therefore, I know I am saved”. The believer can’t say, “I was confirmed” or “I was baptized; therefore, I know I am saved”. According to the first five chapters of 1 John there isn’t a single “apple” that will make my “calling and election sure.” Instead, John presents numerous things that can assure the Christian he is an apple tree. Peter agrees with John and also writes about “these things” twice in 2 Peter 2:5-10. (Check out this sermon http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=121710105632973 for more about these assurances in 1 John.)
2 Peter 1:5–10
5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
The believer lives by faith. He doesn’t live by a blind faith; for he has received promises from the one true living God of the Universe who has made himself known to us by His Son Jesus, but nevertheless the believer lives by faith. Peter says “add to your faith.”
The believer examines himself in light of the Word of God and lives each day by faith in the gospel. He is not looking for a single apple but a tree full of apples, each representing different things (knowledge, temperance, patience, kindness, etc.) or assurances of salvation presented throughout the Word of God.
Paul said it like this:
2 Corinthians 13:5
5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
When heaven and hell hang in the balance a single apple would not be sufficient for me. Would it be for you?
Click here to listen to or check out a pdf copy of these assurances of salvation http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=121710105632973.