is what happens soon after that positive pregnancy test. In fact, before you take a pregnancy test you may have some signs of change--feelings of nausea and queasiness, heightened smell, an aversion to some tastes, and usually what prompts the test is being late for the monthly visit of Aunt Flo. But there is something that happens mentally when a woman sees that clear blue or pink line--all of a sudden everything that happens to her physically is filtered through the news that she is now pregnant.
An ache on the lower left side--ligaments stretching? A bout of heartburn--because you're pregnant, of course. A darker patch on your skin--that darned pregnancy mask. Positive testing women pick up the 72nd edition of What To Know When You Are Expecting and read every sign, symptom and symbol with the expectation that they will experience each and every one. Even the ones you don't want to actually experience.
I'm not pregnant, but this illustration came to mind when thinking about a question I was asked on the whole, "is someone really saved or not" issue. I always cringe when I'm asked that because I know that most of the time the one asking will not like my answer. The one asking is always asking about a loved one, a dear family member or friend, someone that they desperately want good for and in asking the question they are really asking for reassurance about their loved one's eternal state.
I've got loved ones just like that so I understand the groan and ache of heart that precedes the question. But the part they don't like to hear, the part I don't like to say, but the part that must be said is that a person who is truly saved will be transformed in their lives in heart, mind, and actions. True salvation affects external life changes because true salvation is the regeneration of life from within that can't help but flow to the outside.
"What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life." Romans 6:1-4
Someone who has said the prayer or walked the aisle or signed the card or attended the revival and has had the outward, external signs of salvation but is still living for self in most if not all respects, who is hostile towards Christian fellowship, who is unrepentant regarding their sin, who does not desire to know the Lord through His Word, who is defensive regarding life changes....it begs the question, what effect, if any, did those outward, external signs of salvation have?
Hence the illustration of pregnancy. A positive pregnancy test will only lead to actual physical transformation that proves to be a real pregnancy, that of a real life growing within and a baby born after nine months. Before a woman is shown to be pregnant externally with the swelling belly, breasts, and ankles, she is indeed pregnant. But the fruit of that pregnancy cannot be hidden and she would be hard pressed if she continued to insist she was pregnant if no external signs ever appeared and certainly if no baby came after the requisite 40 weeks.
However, our current evangelical culture does not seem to think it strange in any sense for person after person to claim the positive line test of salvation and then live week after week, month after month, even year after year, with not the first external evidence of an internal event.
And here is the thin ice. No one knows the heart of another. How and when and by what means God saves one and His Holy Spirit begins to work in that heart and bring about change is all of His timetable and no one else. And I know that to even indicate that a person is not saved (because of no outward life changes) is the pile on invitation of the year for calls of judgey judgmentalism and legalism and lack of grace and unkindness and all that.
So I can only expect first in my own heart that true salvation will affect true life change in my own life and pray that the many loved ones where the question still hangs will be found justified in Christ and not in anything else.