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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.

18 September 2008

External Signs of Faith

Q: Do the people of God in your church know when someone has become a believer?

A: The people know only what they hear and see. They assume that someone is or has become a believer when that person confesses faith in Jesus Christ. They hold this assumption unless and until a person disavows this faith or lives a life in total contradiction of God’s Word. Since none of the members of my church seem blessed with special perception or the ability to read minds, a person’s words and deeds are the only evidence of belief or unbelief they have.

To do otherwise would move them from practicing sound judgment to being judgmental, which would then place them under God’s judgment. As Paul warned in Romans 2:1, “You have no excuse ... every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.”

Please also see Good Christian, Bad Christian, where I wrote in greater depth on external signs of faith. Recorded in the Book of Life will help you learn more about the relationship between faith and good works.

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.

Send email to Ask the Pastor.

Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.

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