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John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.

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As Scripture attests, there’s nothing people can do of themselves to effect salvation and must ask for it from God. This involves asking Him to give you faith in His Son and in all He has done to provide salvation. Before an attempt is made to declare that asking for, receiving and applying faith is a “self-work,” it should be remembered that neither grace, faith nor salvation are of “yourselves” (Eph 2:8), therefore disqualifying all as “works” of man (Eph 2:9)!


The only works of godliness are those which exist within “the fruit of the Spirit,” which means works only serve in demonstrating or manifesting, but not producing His fruit. For example, “justify” consists of two definitions: 1) to make one righteous, 2) to show one righteous; and there is an infinite difference between the two. I believe a good example is James 2:24: “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified.” Here the sense of “justify” falls into definition 2, for as all know, only the Blood of Christ can “justify” per definition 1 (Rom 5:9). So, works but do not effect righteousness, but manifests it.


Anyone can appear to have faith by the outward lifestyle which is conducted (indicative appearance), but only a genuine believer can confirm faith in the Lord Jesus by a permanent perseverance of profession and works. Nobody, esp. one unregenerate can permanently maintain a nominal (in word or name only - Isa 29:13; Mat 15:8; Mar 7:6) position in Christ, for they always abandon their hypocrisy (apostatize – 1Jn 2:19), as it requires Divine support to “be held up: for God is able to make him stand” (Rom 14:4).


Only God can know for certain that one is genuinely in Christ. Individuals can know for certain concerning genuine personal salvation by His Spirit (Rom 8:16; 1Jo 4:13), but certainty for us concerning others can only be in the hope of a doubtless acceptance resulting from one’s lifestyle of a continued profession; which is exemplary of the truth that all of “the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (non-annullable - Rom 11:29).


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