A Believer has Experiential Knowledge of God (Pages 114-118 of The Salvation Meter)

INTRODUCTION

Pages 114-118 of The Salvation Meter book describe the “A Believer has Experiential Knowledge of God” test of salvation.  This article at https://thesalvationmeter.com website is a revision of the discussion and questions in the book that pertain to this test of salvation.  There are two basic reasons I wrote this revision.

First, a sermon is never finished, merely preached.  In the same way, there will always be ways to revise and improve the discussion of the “A Believer has Experiential Knowledge of God” test of salvation.  Second, I hope this revision will assist anyone who reads, teaches,  preaches, or merely considers this test’s substance to appreciate better the principles taught in this test of salvation. 

The “A Believer has Experiential Knowledge of God” is an important test of salvation that indicates a person’s spiritual condition.  Actions that demonstrate experiential knowledge of God emanate from the menō (i.e., abiding) relationship between God and a believer.  The longer and more intense the menō relationship, the deeper and more filling is a believer’s experiential knowledge of God. 

Even though the “A Believer has Experiential Knowledge of God” test falls within the scope of the “A Believer Abides in God” test, if a person does not have experiential knowledge of God, it is indicative of a lost spiritual condition.  On the other hand, if a believer displays experiential knowledge of God, it is persuasive evidence of salvation.

REVISED DISCUSSION

1 John 2:13c-14a

When he wrote 1 John 2:13a, c-14a (ASV 1901), the Apostle John set out the “A Believer has Experiential Knowledge of God” test of salvation: 

13a I write unto you, fathers, because ye know him who is from the beginning. … 13c I have written unto you, little children, because ye know the Father.  14a I have written unto you, fathers, because ye know him who is from the beginning.

            In verses 13a and 14a, John identified some in his audience as “fathers” who were people who were spiritually mature believers because “ye know him who is from the beginning.”  In verse 13c, John wrote to believers who were spiritually immature or young in the faith, i.e., “children,” because “ye know the Father.”  Spiritually immature believers need to grow spiritually.  The ASV 1901 translates these three usages of the Greek verb ginōskō as “ye know.”  In each usage, ginōskō is in the perfect verb tense, which is the verb tense used by the writer to describe a completed verbal action that occurred in the past, but which produced a state of being or a result that exists in the present (in relation to the writer).  The emphasis of the perfect tense is not the past action so much as it is the present “state of affairs” resulting from the past action.  See Heiser, M. S., & Setterholm, V. M. (2013; 2013). Glossary of Morpho-Syntactic Database Terminology.  Lexham Press.       

The Greek verb ginōskō means to possess information about—‘to know, know about, have knowledge of, be acquainted with, acquaintance.’  See Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 333).  New York: United Bible Societies.  “Little Kittel” (Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. (1985). Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Abridged in One Volume (p. 121-122). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans) discusses the word group:

In general, the Christian view of knowledge follows closely that of the OT.  It involves obedient acknowledgment.  It is not a fixed possession.  It is a gift of grace that marks the Christian life (1 Cor. 1:5; 2 Cor. 8:7).  Practical interests are always implied.  Edification rather than learning is the main point (Rom. 15:14; 1 Cor. 14:6).  Reflective inquiry must be grounded in love and lead to right action (Phil. 1:9–10; Phlm. 6; Col. 1:9–10; 1 Pet. 3:7). … Thus knowledge is neither observation nor mystical vision; it comes to expression in acts.  Observing the commandments is a criterion of knowledge (1 Jn. 2:3ff.).

What John intended to convey to his audience (i.e., “fathers” and “children”) was that experiential knowledge about God that took place in the past still existed and remained important in the present.  A believer who has experiential knowledge of God reflects such experiential knowledge by their actions.  A believer’s experiential knowledge of God grows over time as a believer spiritually matures and experiences God’s intervention in their life more and more.  Over time, God proves Himself to be real and active in the life of a believer, and, in turn, a believer responds accordingly with more and more actions that are in greater obedience to God.

Specific Examples of Gaining Experiential Knowledge of God

Some teaching from the book by Blackaby et al. entitled Experiencing God [(1994) Broadman & Holman Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee) provides guidance to discover evidence that supports the condition that a believer has experiential knowledge of God.  Blackaby et al. lists seven realities of experiencing God, some of which are relevant to this test of salvation. 

One of these realities is that God is always at work around a believer.  God working around a believer can manifest itself in many ways.  In my opinion, the most significant way God works in a believer’s life is when He saves a believer, and during the process that leads up to the conversion event.  The Salvation Meter discusses a believer’s conversion event on pages 39-88.  The reader should refer to that discussion, especially the section entitled “The Irreducible Minimum of the Saving Gospel of Jesus Christ” on pages 72-77 of the book.

Every believer has experiential knowledge of God through their personal salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and not by works per Ephesians 2:8–9 (ASV 1901):

8 for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not of works, that no man should glory.

Acts 9:1-19 records Paul’s dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus.  On more than one occasion, the Apostle Paul shared his testimony about his encounter with Jesus Christ.  See Acts 22:6-21 and Acts 26:12-18.  A believer demonstrates having experiential knowledge of God by testifying about their salvation experience.  I believe that every believer’s conversion is a miracle from God.

            About a believer’s conversion event, their experiential knowledge of God can manifest itself in several ways.  A believer’s experiential knowledge of God can manifest itself in a feeling of deep joy that a permanent relationship exists with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.  Along this line, a believer’s experiential knowledge of God can manifest itself in confidence that their eternal destiny is secure.  Further, a believer’s experiential knowledge of God can manifest itself in a relief they have been delivered from an eternity in hell.

All believers are not preachers in the sense of Ephesians 4:11–12 (ASV 1901):

11 And he gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ:

However, an integral part of a believer’s salvation testimony is their preaching of the saving gospel of Jesus Christ.  Paul commanded Timothy to preach the word in 2 Timothy 4:1–4 (ASV 1901), which reads:

1 I charge thee in the sight of God, and of Christ Jesus, who shall judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be urgent in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.  3 For the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts; 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables.

Preaching the gospel, i.e., carrying out evangelism in whatever form, is evidence a believer has experiential knowledge of God.  Proclaiming the saving gospel of Jesus Christ can take on many forms, such as, for example, verbally and in print. 

            A believer’s experiential knowledge of God can manifest itself in a desire to proclaim the gospel, praying that the Holy Spirit will convict the lost of their need of salvation, a desire to become better equipped to proclaim the gospel, and the exercise of actually proclaiming the saving gospel of Jesus Christ.  In addition, a believer’s experiential knowledge of God can manifest itself in telling others about what God has done in their life both at conversion and thereafter.

God works in a believer’s life in more ways than salvation.  A believer’s experiential knowledge of God includes the great things He has done and the mercy God has shown to them in instances in which Satan’s power has been broken.  Therefore, it is a natural reaction for a believer to tell others about their experiential knowledge of God as did the blind man whom Jesus healed when he said in John 9:25 (ASV1901), which reads:

25 He therefore answered, Whether he is a sinner, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.

John 9 records the entire account of Jesus healing the man who was born blind.

In the case of the demon-possessed man whom Jesus had healed, instead of allowing him to come with Him, Mark 5:18-19 (ASV1901) records that Jesus told him to report all that God had done:

18 And as he was entering into the boat, he that had been possessed with demons besought him that he might be with him.  19 And he suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go to thy house unto thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and how he had mercy on thee.

It is biblical to tell others, “and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and how he had mercy on thee.”  The “great things the Lord hath done” category includes physical healing, emotional healing, guidance in financial issues, restoring marriages, and other relationships.  Evidence of experiential knowledge of God shows itself in a believer’s realization that the battle is spiritual per Ephesians 6:12 (ASV 1901):

12 For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

            According to Blackaby et al., another reality of experiencing God is God invites a believer to become involved with Him in His work.  Sometimes, God’s calling can create a crisis of belief that requires faith and trust in God.  God’s calling in life often requires the believer to make life-changing actions. 

The Bible describes several instances in which Jesus called His disciples resulting in life-changing action.  For example, Jesus called Peter and Andrew and James and John, and all of these straightway (or immediately) left their vocation.  Matthew 4:18-22 (ASV1901) reads:

18 And walking by the sea of Galilee, he saw two brethren, Simon who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishers.  19 And he saith unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you fishers of men.  20 And they straightway left the nets, and followed him.  21 And going on from thence he saw two other brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.  22 And they straightway left the boat and their father, and followed him.

Jesus called Levi (Matthew) and he left his vocation to follow Jesus.  Luke 5:27-28 (ASV 1901) reads:

27 And after these things he went forth, and beheld a publican, named Levi, sitting at the place of toll, and said unto him, Follow me.  28 And he forsook all, and rose up and followed him.

            Jesus’ calling of Paul was a dramatic event that turned Paul’s life upside down.  At first his calling was a painful experience.  Acts 9:3-9 (ASV 1901) reads:

3 And as he journeyed, it came to pass that he drew nigh unto Damascus: and suddenly there shone round about him a light out of heaven: 4 and he fell upon the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?  5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord?  And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: 6 but rise, and enter into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.  7 And the men that journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing the voice, but beholding no man.  8 And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw nothing; and they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.  9 And he was three days without sight, and did neither eat nor drink.

Jesus’ calling of Ananias at first, created much angst in Ananias’ life per Acts 9:10-19 (ASV 1901):

10 Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and the Lord said unto him in a vision, Ananias.  And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. 11 And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go to the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one named Saul, a man of Tarsus: for behold, he prayeth; 12 and he hath seen a man named Ananias coming in, and laying his hands on him, that he might receive his sight.  13 But Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard from many of this man, how much evil he did to thy saints at Jerusalem: 14 and here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call upon thy name.  15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles and kings, and the children of Israel: 16 for I will show him how many things he must suffer for my name’s sake.  17 And Ananias departed, and entered into the house; and laying his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, who appeared unto thee in the way which thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mayest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit.  18 And straightway there fell from his eyes as it were scales, and he received his sight; and he arose and was baptized; 19 and he took food and was strengthened.  And he was certain days with the disciples that were at Damascus.

But, in the face of his anxiety, Ananias trusted Jesus and did what Jesus instructed him to do. 

A believer’s obedience to God’s calling to work with Him demonstrates that the believer has experiential knowledge of God.  This is especially the case in difficult circumstances.  A believer’s experiential knowledge of God can manifest itself in recalling instances in which God called them, and they responded even in the face of angst and trembling.

            Another reality is that God speaks to a believer by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways.  Acts 13:2-3 (ASV 1901) reveals that the Holy Spirit set apart Paul and Barnabus for God’s work:

2 And as they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.  3 Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

            Acts 10:9-48 records the events connected with the Holy Spirit directing Peter to his encounter with Cornelius.  As reported in Acts 10:13-16 (ASV 1901), Peter was reluctant to obey what God showed his in the vision:

13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill and eat.  14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common and unclean.  15 And a voice came unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, make not thou common.  16 And this was done thrice: and straightway the vessel was received up into heaven.

However, after he had pondered the vision, he obeyed the command from the Holy Spirit as described in Acts 10:19-20, 23b (ASV 1901):

19 And while Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee.  20 But arise, and get thee down, and go with them, nothing doubting: for I have sent them. …  23b And on the morrow he arose and went forth with them, and certain of the brethren from Joppa accompanied him.

The result was all those who heard Peter’s message were saved as recorded in Acts 10:44-46 (ASV 1901):

2 And as they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.  3 Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

Instances in which a believer has sensed and obeyed the calling of the Holy Spirit demonstrate that they have experiential knowledge of God.  The Holy Spirit uses Bible engagement, prayer, circumstances, and other believers in the church body to provide guidance, i.e., a sense of what to do or a direction in which to head, to a believer.

            Even though there is overlap with the A Believer Experiences Answered Prayers” test of salvation on pages 204-206 of The Salvation Meter book, answered prayer demonstrates that a believer has experiential knowledge of God.  For example, Luke 2:25–32 (ASV 1901) describes how God answered Simeon’s prayer of “I want to see Jesus!”  This passage reads:

25 And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Spirit was upon him.  26 And it had been revealed unto him by the Holy Spirit, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.  27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, that they might do concerning him after the custom of the law, 28 then he received him into his arms, and blessed God, and said, 29 Now lettest thou thy servant depart, Lord, According to thy word, in peace; 30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, 31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples; 32 A light for revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of thy people Israel.

The scope of an “I want to see Jesus” prayer can be broad.  A believer’s experiential knowledge of God can manifest itself in answers to their “I want to see Jesus” prayers.

Another way a believer’s experiential knowledge of God comes is through God-given comfort in trying circumstances.  A believer can pass along comfort to others consistent with what Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 1:3–4 (ASV 1901):

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; 4 who comforteth us in all our affliction, that we may be able to comfort them that are in any affliction, through the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

During my first wife’s cancer ordeal, God gave each of us comforts daily.  Even when the doctor’s reports were discouraging, God still gave us His peace that passed all understanding per Philippians 4:7 (ASV 1901), which reads:

7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.

Both of us gained experiential knowledge of God through this terrible situation.    Many times I have recounted the daily, hourly, and even the minute-by-minute grace God gave us to persevere through those thirty-three months from the metastasis to her passing in May of 2001 to be in the presence of her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  God dispenses grace during a tsunami, and this is evidence that a believer has experiential knowledge of God.

            Experiential knowledge of God can come during times of physical loss.  Job suffered devastating losses as described in Job 1:13-19. Yet, even amid such significant loss, Job remained faithful to God per Job 1:20-22 (ASV 1901):

20 Then Job arose, and rent his robe, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped; 21 and he said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: Jehovah gave, and Jehovah hath taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah.  22 In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.

While our loss was nothing of the magnitude of Job’s, my wife Sharon and I experienced significant flood damage to our home during the 2010 floods in middle Tennessee.  Amid the damage, we saw God work in tangible ways through unsolicited help from strangers and those in neighboring communities. 

One demonstration of a believer having experiential knowledge of God is through contentment in all situations like what Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:10 (ASV 1901):

10 Wherefore I take pleasure in weaknesses, in injuries, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

            A believer’s attitude toward God can be demonstrative evidence they have experiential knowledge of God.   For example, in 1 Peter 2:17 (ASV 1901), the Apostle Peter wrote that a believer should fear God:

17 Honor all men.  Love the brotherhood.  Fear God.  Honor the king.

The ASV 1901 translates the Greek verb phobeō as “fear.”  It means to have profound reverence and respect for deity, with the implication of awe bordering on fear—‘to reverence, to worship.  See Louw et al. supra at Vol. 1, p. 539). It is in the present verb tense which is the verb tense where the writer portrays an action in process or a state of being with no assessment of the action’s completion.  See Heiser et al., Id.  Little Kittel (Kittel et al. supra at p. 1275) reads:

The NT opposes all hampering anxiety but relates fear of God to faith as total trust.

A believer who stands in awe of God presents evidence that they have experiential knowledge of God.  Along this line, a believer who demonstrates total trust in God shows they have experiential knowledge of God.  To practice trust in God to provide demonstrates that a believer has experiential knowledge of God. 

            A believer who draws near to God demonstrates experiential knowledge of God.   Hebrews 10:19-22 (ASV 1901) teaches that a believer should draw near to God:

19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the way which he dedicated for us, a new and living way, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21 and having a great priest over the house of God; 22 let us draw near with a true heart in fulness of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience: and having our body washed with pure water,

The ASV 1901 translates the Greek verb proserchomai as “let us draw near.”  It means to move toward a reference point, with a possible implication in certain contexts of a reciprocal relationship between the person approaching and the one who is approached.  See Louw et al., supra at Vol. 1, p. 191.  Proserchomai is in the present tense, which is the tense where the writer portrays an action in process or a state of being with no assessment of the action’s completion.  See Heiser et al., Id

James 4:8 (ASV 1901) also teaches that a believer is to draw near to God:

8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.  Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye doubleminded.

The ASV 1901 translates the Greek verb engizō as “draw nigh” and it means to move nearer to a reference point—‘to draw near, to come near, to approach.  See Louw et al. supra at Vol. 1, p. 191.  It is in the aorist verb tense which is used by the writer to present the action of a verb as a “snapshot” event.  The verb’s action is portrayed simply and in summary fashion without respect to any process.  See Heiser et al. Id.  The second usage of engizō (he will draw nigh”) is in the future tense.  Lea (Lea, T. D. (1999). Hebrews, James (Vol. 10, p. 321). Broadman & Holman Publishers) described drawing near to God:

Come near to God involves approaching God in worship and commitment.  Those who approach God in the obedience of worship find that he comes near to them.  As our knowledge of the Lord deepens, we learn more fully his strength, power, and guidance for godly living.

To draw near to God by confession, repentance, worship, and with an undivided heart demonstrates that a believer has experiential knowledge of God.

Conclusion

Gaining experiential knowledge about God is a lifelong process that begins at salvation and continues forever.  The “A Believer has Experiential Knowledge of God” is an important test of salvation that indicates a person’s spiritual condition.  Actions that demonstrate experiential knowledge of God emanate from the menō (i.e., abiding) relationship between God and a believer. 

The “A Believer has Experiential Knowledge of God” test falls within the scope of the “A Believer Abides in God” test.  Even so, if a person does not have experiential knowledge of God, it is indicative of a lost spiritual condition.  On the other hand, if a believer displays evidence of experiential knowledge of God, it is persuasive evidence of salvation.

QUESTIONS

The “A Believer has Experiential Knowledge of God” test of salvation raises the following questions for you to answer.

Question 5-22:  Have you experienced God working in your life?  Please explain your answer.  In your explanation, please include a description of some of the more memorable events in which God worked in your life. 

Question 5-22A:  Have you experienced God working in your life through your conversion event, as well as during the process that led up to your conversion event?  Please explain your answer and include a discussion of any noteworthy events.

Question 5-22B:  Have you demonstrated having experiential knowledge of God by testifying about your salvation experience, i.e., conversion event and process leading up to your conversion?  Please explain your answer and include a discussion of any noteworthy events.

Question 5-22C:  Have you experienced God working in your life through a feeling of deep joy caused by your permanent relationship that exists with God through His Son, Jesus Christ?  Have you experienced God working in your life through the confidence that you feel because your eternal destiny is secure?  Have you experienced God working in your life through the sense of relief you possess knowing that you have been delivered from an eternity in hell?  Please explain your answers and include a discussion of any noteworthy events.

Question 5-22D:  Have you experienced God working in your life through a desire to proclaim the saving gospel of Jesus Christ?  Do you pray that the Holy Spirit will convict lost of their need for Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior?  Do you have a desire to become better equipped to proclaim the gospel?  Do you actually proclaim the saving gospel of Jesus Christ?  Please explain your answers and include a discussion of any noteworthy events.

Question 5-22E:  Have you experienced God working in your life through your desire to tell others about what God has done in you after your conversion?  Please explain your answer and include a discussion of any noteworthy events.

Question 5-22F:  Have you experienced God working in your life through a desire to tell others about “the great things” God has done for you?  Do the “great things” include instances in which Satan;s power has been broken?  Do you act on that desire to tell others?  Please note that the “great things the Lord hath done” category includes physical healing, emotional healing, guidance in financial issues, restoring marriages, and other relationships.  Do you appreciate that the battle is spiritual?  Please explain your answer and include a discussion of any noteworthy events.

Question 5-22G:  Have you experienced God working in your life through your obedience to God’s calling on your life?  Has God called you to carry out an assigned task under difficult circumstances?  Can you recall instances in which you obeyed even in the face of angst and trembling?  Please explain your answers and include a discussion of any noteworthy events.

Question 5-22H:  Have you experienced God working in your life through instances in which you sensed and obeyed the calling of the Holy Spirit?  Please keep in mind that the Holy Spirit uses Bible engagement, prayer, circumstances, and other believers in the church body to provide guidance, i.e., a sense of what to do or a direction in which to head, to a believer.  Please explain your answer and include a discussion of any noteworthy events.

Question 5-22I:  Have you experienced God working in your life through answers to your “I want to see Jesus” prayers?  Please explain your answer and include a discussion of any noteworthy events.

Question 5-22J:  Have you experienced God working in your life through experiencing God-given comfort in trying circumstances such as, for example, the death of a loved one, physical loss, emotional turmoil, and the like?  Please explain your answer and include a discussion of any noteworthy events.

Question 5-22K:  Have you experienced God working in your life by experiencing God-given contentment in all situations?  Please explain your answer and include a discussion of any noteworthy events.

Question 5-22L:  Typically, please describe your overall attitude towards God?  Does it change depending upon the circumstances?  Please explain your answers and include a discussion of any noteworthy events.

Question 5-22M:  Have you experienced God working in your life through your awe of God you experience when you stand before Him?  For example, do you experience the awe and greatness of God when you pray or when you engage the Bible?  Please explain your answers and include a discussion of any noteworthy events.

Question 5-22N:  Have you experienced God working in your life through placing your total trust in Him?  Is it your standard practice to trust in God in all circumstances?  Please explain your answer and include a discussion of any noteworthy events.

Question 5-22O:  Have you experienced God working in your life through your drawing near to God?  Do you experience drawing near to God through confession, repentance, worship, and with an undivided heart?  Please explain your answers and include a discussion of any noteworthy events.

 Question 5-23:  How does it make you feel that God acts in your life so that you gain experiential knowledge about Him?  Keep in mind that God created the heavens and the earth and all that is in them.  Please explain your answer.

Question 5-24:  Are you excited that you experientially know the attributes of God as revealed in Scripture?  Do you appreciate all that Scripture reveals about God is true?  Does that cause you to want to increase your level (quality and quantity) of Bible engagement?  Please explain your answers.

Question 5-25:  Does the fact that you experientially know God cause you to experience joy or cause you to feel a sense of importance?   Please explain your answer and include a description of any other emotions or feelings that stem from the fact that you experientially know God. 

Question 5-26:  Do you have a desire to know God more deeply throughout the rest of your life?  What are your motivations for wanting to know God more deeply?  Please explain your answer.

Question 5-27:  What do you plan to do to deepen your knowledge of God?  When will you begin?  Please explain your answers and include a description of any accountability mechanisms in place.

Question 5-28:  Do you believe you satisfy the “a believer has experiential knowledge of God” test of salvation?  Please explain your answer and include evidence that supports your answer.  Do you strongly agree, moderately agree, moderately disagree, strongly disagree or are neutral about the statement that you satisfy “A Believer has Experiential Knowledge of God” test of salvation?  Please record your answer at Indicator 5-C of your Personal Salvation Assessment in the Appendix.

© Copyright 2021, 2022. Stephen T. Belsheim.  All Rights Reserved

A Believer has Biblical Fellowship (original found on pages 110-114)

INTRODUCTION

Pages 110-114 of The Salvation Meter book describe the “A Believer has Biblical Fellowship” test of salvation.  This article at https://thesalvationmeter.com website is a revision of the earlier discussion and questions in the book that pertain to this test of salvation.  There are two basic reasons I wrote this revision.

First, a sermon is never finished, merely preached.  In the same way, there will always be ways to revise and improve the discussion of the “A Believer has Biblical Fellowship” test of salvation.  Second, I hope this revision will assist anyone who reads, teaches, preaches, or merely considers the substance of this test to appreciate better the principles taught by this test of salvation. 

The “A Believer has Biblical Fellowship” is an important test of salvation that indicates a person’s spiritual condition.  Actions that demonstrate biblical fellowship emanates from the menō (i.e., abiding) relationship between God and a believer.  This means that the existence of an abiding relationship between God and a believer fosters biblical fellowship.  It seems, therefore, that the “A Believer has Biblical Fellowship” test falls within the scope of the “A Believer Abides in God” test.  Even so, if a person does not have biblical fellowship, it is indicative of a lost spiritual condition.  On the other hand, if a believer displays evidence biblical fellowship, it is persuasive evidence of salvation.

One important point to note is that a demonstration of the absence of biblical koinōnia can exist in the case of a person who claims to be a believer being in partnership with something that falls within the scope of “iniquity” or “darkness.”  

REVISED DISCUSSION

1 John 1:3 and 1 John 1:6-7

1 John 1:3 (ASV 1901, which presents the “A Believer has Biblical Fellowship” test of salvation, reads:

3 that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you also, that ye also may have fellowship with us: yea, and our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ:

This test teaches that a believer has “fellowship” with other believers and with God the Father and with God the Son.  1 John 1:3 (ASV 1901) resides within the block of 1 John 1:1–4 (ASV 1901), which reads:

1 That which was from the beginning, that which we have heard, that which we have seen with our eyes, that which we beheld, and our hands handled, concerning the Word of life 2 (and the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare unto you the life, the eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us); 3 that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you also, that ye also may have fellowship with us: yea, and our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ: 4 and these things we write, that our joy may be made full.

The Apostle John reinforced the “test” nature of biblical fellowship when he wrote 1 John 1:6–7 (ASV 1901), which reads:

6 If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in the darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

One cannot have biblical fellowship if they walk in the darkness.  Yet, to walk in the light, demonstrates the presence of biblical fellowship. 

The key word to understanding these verses is the meaning of the Greek noun koinōnia, which the ASV 1901 translates as “fellowship.” The word koinōnia means an association involving close mutual relations and involvement—‘close association, fellowship.’  See Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). In Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 445).  United Bible Societies.  Arndt et al. (Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). In A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 552). University of Chicago Press) describes koinōnia as a close association involving mutual interests, sharing, communion, close relationship attitude of good will that manifests an interest in a close relationship, generosity, fellow-feeling, altruism, proof of brotherly unity, and contribution  of gifts. 

Another way to look at koinōnia is it represents a sense of brotherhood.  One analogy is the bond of fellowship between soldiers who have been through war together.  It is a “Band of Brothers” mentality.  There is a sense of partnership in the proclamation of the saving gospel of Jesus Christ.  One translation handbook (Haas, C., Jonge, M. de, & Swellengrebel, J. L. (1994).  A handbook on the letters of John (p. 18). United Bible Societies) suggests descriptions for koinōnia such as friendship, unity, being together, eating together, “eating out of one dish,”being of the same heart, and being of the same mind. 

Koinōnia has a spiritual component and a temporal component.  The spiritual component pertains to fellowship between God and a believer.  The temporal component concerns mutual fellowship between believers.

Guidance from “Little Kittel”

The Little Kittel theological dictionary (Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. (1985). Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Abridged in One Volume (pp. 448–450). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans) helps expand upon the concept of biblical fellowship.  Takeaways from discussing the usages of the relevant word group in the New Testament are below.

First, koinōnia with God comes only by faith.  Faith is a present possession of a believer, and is something that will reach consummation per 1 Thessalonians 4:16–17 (ASV 1901):

16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first; 17 then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Second, taking of the Lord’s Supper is a demonstration of fellowship.  1 Corinthians 10:16 (ASV 1901) reads:

16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a communion of the blood of Christ?  The bread which we break, is it not a communion of the body of Christ?

Third, koinōnia with Christ means a life that experiences suffering.  It is also a life that expectantly awaits  sharing in Christ’s glory per Philippians 3:9–10 (ASV 1901):

9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of mine own, even that which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith: 10 that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed unto his death;

Fourth, fellowship includes sharing with other believers over a wide range of things.  For example, Romans 15:27 (ASV 1901) identifies sharing of material things:

27 Yea, it hath been their good pleasure; and their debtors they are.  For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, they owe it to them also to minister unto them in carnal things.

Sharing, especially material things, requires a mindset that esteems others above oneself.  See Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of New & Old Testament Words, (2016), at p. 247, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI. 

According to Philippians 1:7 and 4:14 (ASV 1901), fellowship includes sharing in each other’s sufferings and each other’s grace:

[Philippians 1:7 (ASV 1901)] 7 even as it is right for me to be thus minded on behalf of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as, both in my bonds and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers with me of grace.  … [Philippians 4:14 (ASV 1901)] 14 Howbeit ye did well that ye had fellowship with my affliction.

Philippians 1:3-10

Paul used the word koinōnia in the sense of partnering in the proclamation of the saving gospel of Jesus when he wrote Philippians 1:3-10 (ASV 1901).  The ASV 1901 translates koinōnia as “partnership” in verse 5.  This passage (verses 3-10) reads:

3 I thank my God upon all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every supplication of mine on behalf of you all making my supplication with joy, 5 for your fellowship in furtherance of the gospel from the first day until now; 6 being confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ: 7 even as it is right for me to be thus minded on behalf of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as, both in my bonds and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers with me of grace.  8 For God is my witness, how I long after you all in the tender mercies of Christ Jesus.  9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and all discernment; 10 so that ye may approve the things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and void of offence unto the day of Christ;

            Indicia of koinōnia between believers includes loving one another, praying for one another, helping one another proclaim the saving gospel of Jesus Christ, encouraging one another to grow in spiritual insight and discernment, and having a heartfelt concern for the sanctification of one another.  For this passage, the Logos 9 sense of koinōnia is the act of sharing in the activities or privileges of an intimate association or group such as, for example, marriage and churches. 

Opposites Cannot have Biblical koinōnia

            Paul made it clear when he wrote 2 Corinthians 6:14 (ASV 1901) that biblical fellowship cannot exists between opposites:

14 Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers: for what fellowship have righteousness and iniquity?  or what communion hath light with darkness?

The ASV 1901 translates the Greek noun metochē as “fellowship.”  It means a relationship involving shared purposes and activity.  See Louw et al., supra at Vol. 1, p. 446.   A shared purpose or activity cannot exist between righteousness and iniquity which are opposite in their very natures.  Note that the ASV 1901 translates the Greek noun dikaiosynē as “righteousness,” and it means the act of doing what God requires.  See Louw et al., supra at Vol. 1, p. 743).  The ASV 1901 translates the Greek noun anomia as “iniquity,” meaning to behave with complete disregard for the laws or regulations of a society—‘to live lawlessly, lawless living.’ See Louw et al., supra at Vol. 1, p. 757.

The ASV 1901 translates koinōnia as “communion.”  There is no way koinōnia can exist between light and darkness, which are completely opposite concepts.   The ASV 1901 translates the Greek noun  phōs as “light,” and it means light, in contrast with darkness (σκότοςa, σκοτίαa, 14.53), usually in relationship to some source of light such as the sun, moon, fire, lamp, etc.  See Louw et al., supra at Vol. 1, p. 172. The ASV 1901 translates the Greek noun skotos as “darkness,” meaning a condition resulting from the partial or complete absence of light.  See Louw et al., supra at Vol. 1, p. 175.

A demonstration of the absence of biblical koinōnia can exist in the case of a person who claims to be a believer being in partnership with something that falls within the scope of “iniquity” or “darkness.”  The scope of such a “partnership” can be broad to encompass people, social activities, business activities, and the like. 

Conclusion

The “A Believer has Biblical Fellowship” is an important test of salvation that indicates a person’s spiritual condition.  Actions that demonstrate biblical fellowship emanate from the menō (i.e., abiding) relationship between God and a believer.  Such a menō relationship results in biblical fellowship. 

Therefore, the “A Believer has Biblical Fellowship” test essentially falls within the scope of the “A Believer Abides in God” test of salvation.  It is strong evidence of a lost condition if a person does not have biblical fellowship.  On the other hand, it is persuasive evidence of salvation if a person demonstrates biblical fellowship.

One important point to note is that a demonstration of the absence of biblical koinōnia can exist in the case of a person who claims to be a believer being in partnership with something that falls within the scope of “iniquity” or “darkness.”  

QUESTIONS

The “A Believer has Biblical Fellowship” test of salvation raises the following questions for you to answer.

Question 5-11:  Do you have or have you had any relationships with other believers that you consider to be within the category of biblical koinōnia?   Would you please explain your answer in detail?  In formulating your response, please keep in mind the following characteristics of koinōnia: close associations involving mutual interests and sharing, association, communion, partnership, friendship, unity, being together, eating together, “eating out of one dish,” and being of the same heart, and being of the same mind, loving one another, praying for one another, helping one another proclaim the saving gospel of Jesus Christ, encouraging one another to grow in spiritual insight and discernment, and having a heartfelt concern for the sanctification of one another, or other close relationships.  

Question 5-12:  For those relationships with other believers that you characterize as koinōnia, were they centered on a specific event or happening, or was it a continuous and steady relationship?  Describe the duration of your koinōnia kind of relationship with other believers.  Please explain your answers.

Question 5-12A:  For your koinōnia kind of relationships with other believers, would you say you esteemed other believers above yourself?   Please explain your answer.

Question 5-13:  For koinōnia kind of relationships with other believers that have ended, were you disappointed they ended?  Do you still keep in contact with one or more of those other believers?  If so, is that something you enjoy or dread?  Please explain your answers.

Question 5-14:  Explain how you felt when you experienced koinōnia kind of relationships with other believers?  Please explain your answer.

Question 5-15:  Have you grown spiritually due to your koinōnia kind of relationships with other believers?  Please explain your answer.

Question 5-16:  Do you have or have you had any relationships with God the Father and God the Son that you consider to fall within the category of biblical koinōnia?   Please explain your answer in detail.  Please include in your answer the factors you believe help define those relationships as comprising biblical koinōnia.  These factors are along the line of those set out in Question 5-12. 

Question 5-17:  For those koinōnia relationships with God the Father and God the Son, were they long-term or short-term, or somewhat in between?  Were they centered on a specific event or happening, or was it a continuous and steady relationship? 

Question 5-18:  How do you feel when you experience the koinōnia kind of relationship with God the Father and/or God the Son?  Are there any other kinds of activities in which you feel the same sense as you did with your koinōnia kind relationships with God the Father and God the Son? 

Question 5-19:  Would you say that you grew spiritually due to experiencing your koinōnia kind of relationships with God the Father and God the Son?  Please explain your answer.

Question 5-20:  Has a koinōnia relationship you had with God the Father and God the Son ever ended?  How did you ascertain it had ended?  If so, were you disappointed it ended? 

Question 5-20A:  Do you have or have you had partnerships with people or that involved activities that you characterize as “iniquity” or “darkness?”  How do you feel about those partnerships?  Did you sense you were unequally yoked in these partnerships?  Please explain your answer.

Question 5-20B:  In reference to Question 5-20A, if all of those partnerships were in the past, over the course of such partnerships, please describe your spiritual condition? 

Question 5-20C:  In reference to Question 5-20A, if any of those partnerships still exists, do you have any plans to remove yourself from them?  Please explain your answer.

Question 5-21:  Do you believe you satisfy the “A Believer has Biblical Fellowship” test of salvation?   Please explain your answer and include evidence that supports your answer.  Do you strongly agree, moderately agree, moderately disagree, strong disagree or are neutral about the statement that you satisfy “A Believer has Biblical Fellowship” test of salvation?  Please record your answer at Indicator 5-B of your Personal Salvation Assessment in the Appendix.

Copyright © 2021, 2022 Stephen T. Belsheim All Rights Reserved

A Believer Abides in God (Revised) on Pages 106-110 of The Salvation Meter Book

INTRODUCTION

Pages 106-110 of The Salvation Meter book describe the “A Believer Abides in God” test of salvation.  This article at https://thesalvationmeter.com website is a revision of the discussion and questions in the book that pertain to this test of salvation.  There are two basic reasons I wrote this revision.

First, a sermon is never finished merely preached.  In the same way, there will always be ways to revise and improve the discussion of the “A Believer Abides in God” test of salvation.  Second, I hope this revision will assist anyone who reads, teaches or preaches, or merely considers the substance of this test to better appreciate the principles taught this test of salvation. 

The “A Believer Abides in God” is an essential test of salvation that indicates a person’s spiritual condition.  It is strong evidence of a lost condition if a person does not abide in God.  On the other hand, it is strong evidence of salvation if a person possesses the menō relationship with God the Father and God the Son.  My hope is that through this discussion and questions, the reader will arrive at a firm appreciation of whether or not they possess the menō relationship with God the Father and God the Son.  If the reader does not think they possess the menō relationship with God the Father and God the Son, they should seek counsel about their spiritual condition because they may not be saved. 

REVISED DISCUSSION

1 John 4:13, 15, 16b and 1 John 2:24

The Apostle John set out “A Believer Abides in God” test of salvation, focusing on a person’s post-conversion spiritual condition.  John articulated this test through passages like 1 John 4:13, 15, and 16b.  He elaborated on this test by what he wrote in 1 John 2:24.  For the sake of completeness, 1 John 4:13, 15, and 16b (ASV 1901) are below:

13 hereby we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. … 15 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God abideth in him, and he in God. … 16b God is love; and he that abideth in love abideth in God, and God abideth in him.

Each of the five usages of menō in the above passage, which the ASV 1901 translates as “abide” or “abideth,” is in the present tense, which signifies that the Apostle John did not convey any assessment of the completion of the relationship defined by menō.  See Heiser, M. S., & Setterholm, V. M. (2013; 2013). Glossary of Morpho-Syntactic Database Terminology. Lexham Press.  

            And, 1 John 2:24 (ASV 1901) reads:

24 As for you, let that abide in you which ye heard from the beginning. If that which ye heard from the beginning abide in you, ye also shall abide in the Son, and in the Father.

The ASV 1901 translates the first usage of menō as “let … abide,” and it is in the present tense and imperative mood.  John intended to command his audience to continuously let the saving gospel of Jesus Christ menō in them. Referring to verse 24b, the ASV 1901 translates the second usage of menō as “abide,” which is in the aorist tense and subjective mood.  The ASV 1901 translates the third usage of menō as “shall abide,” in the future tense.  When he wrote v. 24b, John intended to convey to his audience that if there was a menō relationship with the saving gospel of Jesus Christ, there was a menō relationship between God the Father and God the Son and the believer.

Usages of menō

The key to increasing one’s understanding of this test of salvation is to better comprehend the Greek verb menō and how it applies to defining a 21st Century believer’s relationship with God the Father and God the Son, i.e., Jesus Christ.  Some usages of menō in the Septuagint (LXX) referred to the eternality of God per Psalm 102:12 (ASV 1901):

12 But thou, O Jehovah, wilt abide for ever; And thy memorial name unto all generations.

And, the enduring righteousness of God per Psalms 110:3 and 111:3:

Psalm 110:3 (ASV 1901) – 3 Thy people offer themselves willingly In the day of thy power, in holy array: Out of the womb of the morning Thou hast the dew of thy youth.

Psalm 111:3 (ASV 1901) – 3 His work is honor and majesty; And his righteousness endureth for ever.

And refer to the truth that God’s Word stands forever per Isaiah 40:8 (ASV 1901)

8 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth; but the word of our God shall stand forever.

These usages in the LXX point to a sense of permanence and steadfastness regarding God’s attributes and His Word.  Permanence and steadfastness are essential indicators of the existence of a menō relationship.

According to Logos 9, there are over one hundred usages of menō in the New Testament.  My review of these usages generated the following takeaways about the Greek verb menō.

First, it appears that menō is a relationship that happens.  In other words, at some point menō did not exist and then something took place here it did.  John 1:32–33 (ASV 1901) seems to demonstrate this fact when the Holy Spirit was “descending, and abiding upon” Jesus:

32 And John bare witness, saying, I have beheld the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven; and it abode upon him. 33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize in water, he said unto me, Upon whomsoever thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and abiding upon him, the same is he that baptizeth in the Holy Spirit.

Prior to conversion, a believer does not have menō with God.  But, upon conversion, the menō relationship between God and a believer comes into existence.

Second, a very difficult teaching by Jesus is presented in John 6:53–58 (ASV 1901)

53 Jesus therefore said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have not life in yourselves. 54 He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life: and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56 He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood abideth in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father; so he that eateth me, he also shall live because of me. 58 This is the bread which came down out of heaven: not as the fathers ate, and died; he that eateth this bread shall live for ever.

When someone eats food, its nourishment goes to the whole body.  The nourishment becomes integral with that person.  This is consistent with what Whiteacre (Whitacre, R. A. (1999). John (Vol. 4, p. 167). Westmont, IL: IVP Academic) says when he writes that eating and the drinking has to do with shared life that is a mutual indwelling. The menō relationship between God and a believer is an inseparable union between God and the believer.

Third, Jesus’ teaching about the vine and the branches is a very effective metaphor to better comprehend the nature of what it means to “abide.”  John 15:1–11 (ASV 1901) reads:

1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh it away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he cleanseth it, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already ye are clean because of the word which I have spoken unto you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; so neither can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for apart from me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatsoever ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; and so shall ye be my disciples. 9 Even as the Father hath loved me, I also have loved you: abide ye in my love. 10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. 11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

A more detailed look at this passage reveals the following.

            In verses 1-3, Jesus defined the relationship between God the Father (the husbandman) and Himself (the vine).  He also described the relationship between Himself and humans in that He was the vine, and people were the branches.  Lastly, He distinguished between lost people and saved people.  Lost people were equated to unproductive branches whose eternal destiny was destruction per John 15:2a, 6 (ASV 1901)

2a Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh it away: … 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

Saved people were equated to productive branches that God then “cleanseth it, that it may bear more fruit.”  The ASV 1901 translates the Greek verb kathairō as “cleanseth.”  The Logos 9 sense is to prune, meaning to cut back the growth of a plant so that it can grow healthier or produce more fruit.  Cleaning in the spiritual sense is like pruning in that God removes the things in a believer’s life that impede or stunt their spiritual growth.  Sometimes a believer can themselves remove hindrances.  A believer’s self-removal of hindrances is consistent with what the writer of Hebrews wrote in Hebrews 12:1–2 (ASV 1901):

1 Therefore let us also, seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

In other instances, God may have to discipline a believer per Hebrews 12:5–11 (ASV 1901):

5 and ye have forgotten the exhortation which reasoneth with you as with sons, My son, regard not lightly the chastening of the Lord, Nor faint when thou art reproved of him; 6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, And scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 It is for chastening that ye endure; God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye are without chastening, whereof all have been made partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we had the fathers of our flesh to chasten us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed good to them; but he for our profit, that we may be partakers of his holiness. 11 All chastening seemeth for the present to be not joyous but grievous; yet afterward it yieldeth peaceable fruit unto them that have been exercised thereby, even the fruit of righteousness.

            A branch is integral with the vine so that nourishment flows from the vine to each branch.   Only through God does a believer receive sustenance to live a life that produces spiritual fruit and gives glory to God.  In this regard, verses 4-5 (ASV 1901) read:

4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; so neither can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for apart from me ye can do nothing.

To produce spiritual fruit throughout their life, a believer must abide in an integral and intimate relationship with God. 

            Verse 7 (ASV 1901) reads:

7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatsoever ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

This verse stresses the importance of Jesus’ words to remain in a believer.  A believer is to have intimate knowledge of Jesus’ teachings to adhere to correct fundamental biblical teaching about Jesus and the gospel.  See the “A Believer is a Bible Engager” test of salvation on pages 144-150 of The Salvation Meter book and the “A Believer is a Learner” test of salvation on pages 150-153 of The Salvation Meter book.  This condition displays itself when a believer’s actions and responses mirror those of Jesus.  Answered prayer is another demonstration that Jesus’ words remain in a believer.  See the “A Believer Experiences Answered Prayer” on pages 204-207 of The Salvation Meter book.

Verse 8 (ASV 1901) reads:

8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; and so shall ye be my disciples.

This verse stresses the importance of an abiding believer producing spiritual fruit of the Spirit.  This means their life should display love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control consistent with Galatians 5:22-23.  Typically, fruit of the Spirit will become more visible over time as a believer grows spiritually.  See the section entitled “A Believer Displays the Fruit of the Spirit” on pages 94-104 of The Salvation Meter book.

Verse 9 (ASV 1901) reads:

9 Even as the Father hath loved me, I also have loved you: abide ye in my love.

Verse 9 stresses abiding in love which pertains to the “A Believer Loves Other Believers” test of salvation found on pages 190-194 of The Salvation Meter book. 

Verses 10-11 (ASV 1901) read:

10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. 11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

Verse 10 emphasizes obedience to God.  Verse 11 describes that Jesus’ joy is in a believer.  The ASV 1901 translates the Greek noun chara as “joy” and it means great happiness and pleasure.  The chara Jesus described may be made full through obedience to God.  Verses 10-11 relate to the “A Believer is Obedient to God” test of salvation found at pages 138-142 of The Salvation Meter book. 

Finally, Campbell et al. (Campbell et al., The Theological Wordbook, (2000), Word Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee) point out that although 2 Peter 1:1-11 does not use menō, there are similarities between John 15:1-11 and 2 Peter 1:1-11 (ASV 1901), which reads:

1 Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained a like precious faith with us in the righteousness of our God and the Saviour Jesus Christ: 2 Grace to you and peace be multiplied in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; 3 seeing that his divine power hath granted unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that called us by his own glory and virtue; 4 whereby he hath granted unto us his precious and exceeding great promises; that through these ye may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world by lust. 5 Yea, and for this very cause adding on your part all diligence, in your faith supply virtue; and in your virtue knowledge; 6 and in your knowledge self-control; and in your self-control patience; and in your patience godliness; 7 and in your godliness brotherly kindness; and in your brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, they make you to be not idle nor unfruitful unto the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he that lacketh these things is blind, seeing only what is near, having forgotten the cleansing from his old sins. 10 Wherefore, brethren, give the more diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never stumble: 11 for thus shall be richly supplied unto you the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

A review of 2 Peter 1:1-11 developed the below takeaways.

            First, God’s power grants a believer called by God all things that pertain to life and godliness which means that God is able to grow a believer spiritually.  This growth has a reverential aspect in that a believer’s reverence and awe of God grows over time.  A believer fully appreciates their complete and necessary dependence upon the one, true living God via confession and actions.  Also, a believer seeks their life in Christ more intensely and with a submissive mindset.  Further, spiritual growth increases a believer’s obedience to God.  See the “A Believer is Obedient to God” test of salvation at pages 138-142 of The Salvation Meter book.  Finally, the fact that God calls a believer should result in the display of extreme gratitude to God for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross. 

            Second, a believer is a partaker of the divine nature, which defines a menō relationship between God and a believer.  While a believer never becomes “divine” like God, a believer ought to move closer to God’s nature, and in doing so, move away from sin in the broadest possible sense.  This “divine” nature should be the source for a new life which a believer has a desire to obey God, i.e., do God’s will. 

            Third, a believer has “all diligence” to possess the listing of attributes set out in verses 5-7.  The ASV 1901 translates the Greek noun spoudē as “diligence” and it means to try one’s very best in attempting to do something.  See Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 662). New York: United Bible Societies.  The Logos 9 sense of spoudē is to do something with an excited fervor.  Spoudē is modified by pas, which means the full quantity. The expression “all diligence” means a whole-hearted mentality to try one’s best to possess these attributes.

The first attribute is “faith,” which is the English translation by the AVS1901 of the Greek noun pistis, which means to have complete trust and reliance in something that is usually understood.  In this usage, pistis refers to complete trust and reliance in the saving gospel of Jesus Christ for salvation.  See the section entitled “The Irreducible Minimum of the Saving Gosepl of Jesus Christ” at pages 72-77 of The Salvation Meter book.  Pistis is not in the listing of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. 

The second attribute is the Greek aretē which the ASV 1901 translates as “virtue.”  It means outstanding moral goodness or excellence. It is not in the listing of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. 

The third attribute is knowledge, which is the ASV 1901 translation of the Greek noun gnōsis.  It means the result or content of perception, learning, and reasoning.  In this context, it is the knowledge of how to live a holy life.  It is not in the listing of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. 

The fourth attribute is the Greek noun enkrateia which the AVS 1901 translates as “self-control.”  It means to exercise complete control over one’s desires and actions.  See Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 750). New York: United Bible Societies.  Enkrateia is a fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23, which is the subject of discussion found on pages 94-104 of The Salvation Meter book.

A fifth attribute is “patience,” which is the translation of the Greek nonu hypomonē.  It means the capacity to continue to bear up under difficult circumstances.  See Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 307). New York: United Bible Societies.  In addition to merely bearing up, this word has the sense of contending.  There is an active dynamic sense in addition to a passive static sense.  It is not in the listing of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. 

A sixth attribute is eusebeia which the ASV 1901 translates a “godliness.”  It means appropriate beliefs and the practice of these beliefs about God.  It is not in the listing o the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. 

The seventh attribute is the Greek noun philadelphia which the ASV 1901 translates as “brotherly kindness.”  It means the love that exists between fellow believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.  It is not in the listing of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23, but is consistent with the “A Believer Loves Other Believers” test of salvation at pages 190-194 of The Salvation Meter book. 

The eighth and final attribute is “love,” which is the translation by the ASV 1901 of the Greek noun agapē.  It means to have love for someone or something, based on sincere appreciation and high regard.  See Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 292). New York: United Bible Societies.  It is the kind of love that cause s a believer to deny themselves for the benefit or good for the person who is the object of their love.  It is one in the listing of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23, which is the subject of the discussion on pages 94-104 of the book.   

The existence of these attributes evidences a menō relationship between God and a believer. 

            Fourth, a believer who practices the above eight attributes will not be idle nor unfruitful.   In 1 Peter 1:8, the ASV 1901 translates the Greek adjective argos as “idle.”  It means pertaining to being useless, in the sense of accomplishing nothing.  See Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 624). New York: United Bible Societies.  The ASV 1901 translates the Greek adjective akarpos as “unfruitful,” and it has the same meaning as argos.   The existence of a menō relationship between God and a believer demands that a believer not be useless when it comes to serving God. 

            Fifth, a believer does not forget their cleansing from sin, which is a condition that defines a menō relationship between God and a believer.  It is a dangerous condition for a believer in having forgotten the grace of God in their life.

Conclusion

The “A Believer Abides in God” is a significant test of salvation.  While the menō relationship is somewhat subjective, the above Scriptures define it with sufficient precision, so a person should assess if they possess a menō relationship with God the Father and God the Son. If a person does not think they possess the menō relationship with God the Father and God the Son, they should seek counsel about their spiritual condition because they may not be saved. 

The Scriptures that define and support this test generate the following questions for you to answer.  The attributes connected with a menō relationship touch upon many of the other tests of salvation in this book.  Hopefully, the below questions do not duplicate questions connected with other tests of salvation that possess menō as a component.

QUESTIONS

Question 5-1A:  How do you describe your menō relationship with God the Father and God the Son?  It your meno relationship something that was absent and then came into existence at your conversion?  Is it a close or distant relationship or somewhere in between?  In your description, you may want to consider the metaphor of the vine and the branches (John 15:1-11).  Possibly, your description may include how God has granted you power to live a more holy life.  Please explain your answer.

Question 5-1B:  Keeping in mind that during their earthly life, no one is perfect or will ever achieve perfection or ever will become “like God,” do you sense that you are a partaker in the divine nature?  Do you feel like you are moving more toward God and more away from the sin and corruption of the world?  Do you feel like you have a “power source” that enables you to live a life more pleasing to God?  Please explain your answer.

Question 5-1C:  Do you sense that you possess some or all of the attributes of virtue, knowledge, self-control, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love found in 2 Peter 1:1-11?  Do you display some of these attributes more fully than others?  Identify the attributes you display more fully.  Do you have a desire to increase the presence of these attributes in your life?  Is this especially the case concerning the least visible attributes in your life?  Please explain your answers.

Question 5-1D:  Do you remember (i.e., not forget) the cleansing from sin that you received at your conversion?  Are there actions you take to help yourself remember how God cleansed you from sin?  Please explain your answers.

Question 5-2:  Is your menō relationship with God the Father and God the Son continuous or steady?  Does it have a sense of permanence and steadfastness?  Please keep in mind your answers to Questions 5-1A through 5-1D that help define a menō relationship between God the Father and God the Son and yourself.  Please explain your answer.

Question 5-3:  Are there common threads between the times you felt strongly a continuous or steady relationship with God the Father and God the Son?  Please keep in mind your answers to Questions 5-1A through 5-1D that help define a menō relationship between God the Father and God the Son and yourself.  Please explain your answer.   

Question 5-4:  Is your relationship with God the Father and God the Son more robust or intense at different times in your life (e.g., during times of trouble, times of plenty and joy, times that are “neutral”)?  Please keep in mind your answers to Questions 5-1A through 5-1D that help define a menō relationship between God the Father and God the Son and yourself.  Please explain your answer.

Question 5-5:  Have there been interruptions in your menō relationship with God the Father and God the Son?  If so, have they been for a short period, or were they extended?  Would you describe these interruptions as a definite break or more of a lessening of the intensity in your menō relationship with God the Father and God the Son?  Are there common threads between the times when you felt an interruption in your relationship with God the Father and God the Son?   Please keep in mind your answers to Questions 5-1A through 5-1D that help define a menō relationship between God the Father and God the Son and yourself. Would you please take some time to explain your answers? 

Question 5-6:  Do disruptions in your relationship with God the Father and God the Son typically occur during times of less stress and challenge in your life?  Please keep in mind your answers to Questions 5-1A through 5-1D that help define a menō relationship between God the Father and God the Son and yourself.  Please explain your answer.

Question 5-7:  What mental picture do you draw when you think about the fact that God the Father and God the Son abide in you?  How does that make you feel?  Is it a condition that seems to be overwhelming?  Is it a condition that exists right now?  Please keep in mind your answers to Questions 5-1A through 5-1D that help define a menō relationship between God the Father and God the Son and yourself.  Please explain your answers.

Question 5-8:  If you had to describe several different happenings in your life that support the fact of mutual abiding between God the Father and God the Son and yourself, what would they be?  When you were experiencing these events, did you appreciate that God was present, or did God seem distant or uninvolved?  Did any of these instances include you putting aside hindrances to your spiritual growth?  Did any of these instances include God disciplining you to remove such hindrances from your life?  In hindsight, did you comprehend the experience of your menō relationship with God the Father and God the Son at the time of the event?  Please keep in mind your answers to Questions 5-1A through 5-1D that help define a menō relationship between God the Father and God the Son and yourself.  Please explain your answers.

Question 5-9:   Keeping in mind that a mutual abiding exists between God the Father and God the Son and a believer, do you possess that kind of menō relationship?  Please keep in mind your answers to Questions 5-1A through 5-1D that help define a menō relationship between God the Father and God the Son and yourself.

Question 5-9A:  Do you have a desire to increase the menō relationship between God the Father and God the Son and yourself?  Do you intend to establish ways to increase that menō relationship?  Please describe your plan to increase your menō relationship and include a description of any accountability mechanisms in your plan.

Question 5-10:  Do you believe you satisfy the “A Believer Abides in God” test of salvation?  Please explain your answer and include evidence that supports your answer.  Do you strongly agree, moderately agree, moderately disagree, strongly disagree, or are neutral about the statement that you satisfy the “A Believer Abides in God” test of salvation?  Please record your answer at Indicator 5-A of your Personal Salvation Assessment in the Appendix.

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