About the question: “once saved, can we be lost? ” I have the following observation. You have written quite a detailed sermon about having fruit. However, how do we judge what is good fruit?
You and I might be very happy with our deeds and wisdom, but the fruit is in the heart, isn't it? The thief (murderer or criminal) on the cross, received the promise from Jesus after his confession and after his free will was expressed in reaching out for help from the Lord. His fruit was his heart, which Jesus accepted. “Choose you this day whom you will serve”, was the question to Israel. Free will to choose. God's mercy goes beyond what we see or have heard. People have come to the Lord on their death bed. The Father will always be ready when we come to Him with a repentant heart. I used to be a Calvinist - only election and God's sovereignty. We have to come to what Job said: I have heard of You but now my (spiritual) eye sees You. ” Only God will judge perfectly. We cannot look in the heart.
Only God knows who are really His children (i.e. Christians).
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name . . . (NASB) John 1:12
God is the final fruit inspector (Matthew 13:24-43) but, that does not mean God has not left us with some guidelines by which we can evaluate ourselves.
In the answer to the question about “Once saved, always saved,” we saw that Jesus used several illustrations. The first one was about “good soil” versus “hard, rocky or thorny soil.” His other major illustration was about trees that either produced good or bad fruit. Why did Jesus use these terms? The answer to that question will answer your two questions, “How do we judge what is good fruit? You and I might be very happy with our deeds and wisdom, but the fruit is in the heart, isn’t it?”
Fruit in the Heart
Jesus is counter-culture. He shocked the Jews with His Sermon on the Mount. Some Christians do not know what Jesus really taught. Listen to this passage,
So then, you will know them by their fruits. (NASB) Matthew 7:20
What do these words mean?
Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. (NASB) Hebrews 13:7
And what do these words mean?
Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you–unless indeed you fail the test? (NASB) 2 Corinthians 13:5
Yes, only God knows who are really His children, but there are times we need to evaluate ourselves to see if we are in the faith. We should at least inspect our own “fruit.” The Holy Spirit in 1 John 5:13 tells us the book of 1 John was written that,” . . . may know that you have eternal life.” That is for comfort as well as for conviction.
Let’s review four key types of fruit that should be present in Christian’s life. The first one is that we admit we are sinners.
If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. (NASB) 1 John 1:10
The second one is that we not only desire to obey to God, but we have an increasing pattern of obedience in our life. Yes, we may fail once in a while, but we are seeing victory more and more.
And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him . . . By this we know that we are in Him. (NASB) 1 John 2:3-5
The Greek word for “know” is a perfect tense. It has the idea of continuing to know. Have you ever wondered if you were a Christian? This verse tells us why we wonder. It is because of disobedience. True Christians will also love others.
The one who loves his brother abides in the light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes. (NASB) 1 John 2:10-11
This one requires us to look at our heart and ask, “Do I love this person?” We will stop at the fourth one which says a Christian is growing in his or her knowledge of the Word of Truth.
I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. (NASB) 1 John 2:14
Yes, fruit inspection is subjective, but God provides evidences of fruit to encourage us that we are in the faith.
Only God knows for sure who are the real Christians. Yet, God does expect us to inspect the fruit in our lives. We are responsible!