I think we make a mistake in supposing that just pinning our faith to a verse of Scripture is salvation. I wonder whether many have not been deceived in that way. I hear people speak of knowing they are saved, and when asked why, they reply, “Because I believe John 3:16 or John 5:24,” and you look for some evidence of a new life in them and do not find it. They never appear at a prayer meeting, but if there is a social affair, or something like that, they are present. Apparently they have no real interest in the study of the Word of God; you never see them at a Bible lecture. They have time for anything that ministers to the flesh, but very little time for spiritual food, and it makes one tremble for them. I cannot think of anything more dreadful than to have gone through life thinking that one was really saved, and then at last to be suddenly ushered into eternity and wake up forever lost. You see, believing a text does not save anybody. Believing in Christ saves all who trust Him. I believed every text in the Bible before I was converted. I never thought of doubting one of them until after I was converted. That may seem like a strange thing to say, but as a lad I believed all that I was told, that the Bible was the Word of the living God. I accepted it all. Some years after I was converted I became perplexed over certain things and began to doubt, and it led me to a deeper investigation, and then my faith was confirmed. But in all those years that I believed everything in the Bible I was not saved. I had never been regenerated, I had never received a new nature. I was lost. And if I had died in my sins, I could have quoted hundreds of Bible texts, I could have repeated chapter after chapter of Holy Scripture in the flames of hell while bewailing the fact that I had never been acquainted with the Person that these passages of Scripture glorified. Do not make any mistake here, for it is one that can never be remedied if you go into eternity resting on a false hope. Examine your foundation, ask yourselves, Is Christ Himself precious to me? If He is, why do I not enjoy His Word more? Why do I not love to spend more time with Him in prayer? Why is there so much frivolity and levity and carelessness in my life? Why do I do so many things that I know the Lord Jesus would never do and cannot approve in me if I really love Him? He has said, “If a man love me, he will keep my words” (John 14:23). “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
What is the use of professing to be a Christian if there is no evidence of it in the life? What is the use of speaking of the new birth, of talking about having eternal life if I live the same kind of a life that tens of thousands of respectable Christless men and women live all around me? What is the difference between my life and theirs? If this change has ever taken place in me, when did it take place? When did I open my heart’s door to Christ and receive Him? If I have received Him, then He has come to dwell in me and that changes everything for me. “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).
Henry A. Ironside (1876 – 1951)