Basic Doctrinal Worksheets
for New Believers

Lesson 21

Signs of Life
The Marks of a True Believer

A True Believer Continues in the Faith
Because of God's Great Keeping Power


[Continued from the Previous Lesson]

We have been studying nine signs of spiritual life. If a person is really saved, then he should know that he is saved and he should show that he is saved. His life should point clearly to his wonderful Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. His life, as a child of God, should be distinctively different from those who do not know the Lord (see 1 Thess. 4:5). If I really have God’s life, then that life should be manifested. "If any man be in _______________ he is a ________     ________________________ [or new creation]: old things are passed away: behold all things are become __________" (2 Cor. 5:17). The following matching problem will help you to remember what we have been studying:


1. ______ ...believes the Word of God.

2. ______ ...has a hunger for God’s Word.

3. ______ ...prays to his Heavenly Father.

4. ______ ...loves the brethren.

5. _______ ...obeys the Lord (keeps His Word).

6. ______ ...does not continue in sin but lives a righteous life.

7. ______ ...does not enjoy living in sin.

8. ______ ...performs good works.

9. ______ ...confesses Christ before men


A.  1 John 3:14

B.  1 Peter 2:2

C.  2 Peter 2:7-8

D.  1 John 3:7-8

E.   1 John 5:9-10

F.   1 John 2:3-4

G.   Romans 8:15-16

H.   Romans 10:9-10
       Matthew 10:32-33

I.     James 2:14-26

These things ought to characterize the life of a true believer. If you are a true child of God, then you ought to show it and live it.  A believer should know that he is saved and should show that he is saved. You ought to bear the family image (1 John 3:9-10). Someone once asked, If you were arrested for being a Christian would there be enough evidence to convict you? Could a worn and well-used Bible be brought forth? Could witnesses be summoned who could testify that you told them about your Saviour? Is there a Pastor who could testify that you have been an active, healthy, faithful, serving member of a Bible-believing, Christ-honoring local assembly of believers?

If these things do not characterize your life, then this means that there is a serious spiritual problem. Two possibilities exist (as was discussed earlier): 1) You could be spiritually sick. That is, you are a true believer who is very carnal and in a backslidden state (1 Cor. 3:1-4). You need to get right with God. 2) You could be spiritually dead. That is, you are not a true believer and you do not have God’s life. You may have professed salvation but you may never have possessed salvation. We would urge you to get spiritual help from your Pastor or from another strong, God-fearing believer who would be able to offer sound spiritual counsel and help. Remember, nothing is more important than your relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ, and you need to do whatever is necessary so that you can have a real and right, healthy and happy relationship with the only true God.

10. A true believer continues in the faith because of God's great keeping power (Luke 22:32; 1 Peter 1:5).

We are now ready to consider one more sign of life which has to do with a believerís continuance in the faith. A true believer will struggle with sin and may fail in many ways. Sadly, he can be out of fellowship with the Lord even for prolonged periods of time (though we should confess our sins to God immediatelyĖ1 John 1:9).  He can walk in the flesh and be carnal and even act like an unsaved person (1 Cor. 3:1-4).   A true believer may fail the Lord in many ways but he will not let go of Jesus Christ and he will not let go of the gospel.  The true believer may fall very hard on the deck of the ďship of faithĒ but he will not fall overboard, nor will he abandon ship.

Why are we able to hang onto our Saviour even in the most difficult of times?  Is it because we are strong and able to "hold fast" to our Saviour, or is it because He is strong and will not let go of us (John 10:27-30)? _______________________________________________________    Read Psalm:37:24.  Can a believer fall?  ______   Will God allow him to be completely destroyed? ______  Who upholds the believer? _________________

Peter's Lapse of Faith

Peter was one of the twelve disciples.  He was a saved man.   The Bible tells us that he was "clean" (John 13:9-10).  This means that Peter already had his "salvation bath"; he was completely clean and had all his sins forgiven.  Is the same thing true about you (Acts 10:43; Eph. 1:7)? _______

One day, however, Peter fell into a terrible sin.  He denied the Lord and told others that he did not even know the Lord Jesus.   How many times did Peter do this (Matthew 26:75)? _____________  This was a very serious sin.  When Peter realized the enormity of his sin, what did he do (Matthew 26:75, end of the verse)? _____________________________________________________   Peter was a saved man, a believer in Christ, but he fell down very hard on the ship of faith.  Thankfully, he did not fall overboard.  God made sure that this would not happen!

In Luke 22:34 what did Jesus predict would happen to Peter? _____________________________________________________  In Luke 22:32, the Lord prayed that Peter's F______________ would not F_____________.    When Peter denied the Lord three times, it seems as though his faith did fail.  Certainly, if Peter had truly been trusting the Lord during this difficult time, he would not have fallen into this sin.  Yes, Peter certainly had a serious lapse of faith (he fell down very hard on the deck of the ship of faith), but his faith did not totally fail (he did not fall overboard; he did not abandon the ship).  The idea in our Lord's prayer for Peter is this:  "Peter, Iím praying that your faith will not totally fail."  Peterís sin did not lead to a fall from which he could never recover. It was a serious fall but not a fatal fall.  He failed but he did not utterly fail. His faith was eclipsed but it was not a total eclipse. He did not fall like Judas did, a fall from which there was no recovery. Peter fell but he recovered.  Jesus prayed that he would recover, and that prayer was answered.  Peter's faith did not fail, and on the Day of Pentecost Peter did not deny the Lord, but he bravely confessed Christ before thousands of people (Acts chapter 2)!  Peter was a bold witness for the Lord the rest of his life.

"I have prayed for thee" (Luke 22:32). Is Peter the only one that enjoys such blessed intercession? Does the Lord Jesus pray for you that your faith will not fail?  See Hebrews 7:25; Romans 8:34 and compare John 17:11,15.  What would have happened if the Lord had not prayed for Peter?  As believers, where would we be if it were not for our Lordís faithful intercession on our behalf? How thankful we should be for the way Christ intercedes for His own--ever living to make intercession for us! Christ prays for us that God will keep us (see the Lord's intercessory prayer in John 17, especially verse 11) and that our faith will not fail.

Contrast Peter with another disciple, Judas.  Peter was cleansed and forgiven (John 13:9-10); Judas was unclean (John 13:10-11).  Judas never had his salvation bath, but Peter was forgiven.  Judas did not lose his salvation because you cannot lose what you never had.  Peter fell into serious sin, but he repented and recovered.  Judas recognized that he had sinned by betraying the Lord, but did he turn back to the Saviour (Matthew 27:3-5)? ______  Jesus said it would have been better if Judas had never been ___________ (Mark 14:21).  Judas rejected the Saviour that he pretended to love; Peter was grieved that he had failed His Lord whom he truly loved (Matthew 26:75).

Was Peter a Christ-denier?  The answer is YES and NO.  If you were to take a snapshot of Peter on the night when he denied the Lord, then you would see him as a Christ-denier.  However, if you were to take a video of his entire Christian life, it would show a man who boldly confessed the Lord at every opportunity he had, and who, at the end of his life, instead of denying the Lord, was willing to be crucified for his faith.  He was faithful even unto death.  Judas, on the other hand, was a phony pretender, destined for hell (John 17:12).

A Life-Long Commitment

Just as marriage is supposed to be a life-long commitment, so also is believing in Christ.  Your commitment to Him as a believer is not for just one week or one month or one year, but it is a permanent love relationship with the God who died and rose again for you.  If you have discovered the truth, why would you go back to error?   If you have found the way of life, why would you go back onto the road of destruction?  If you have tasted of the Bread of Life (John 6:35), why would you return to the crumbs that never satisfy? If you have come to the light, why would you turn again to darkness?  As the song says, "I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back!"   God does not go back on His commitment to you.  When you first came to Christ, what did God promise you (John 6:37)? ___________________________________________  Will God ever turn away from you (Hebrews 13:5)? __________  God will never divorce his believers and nothing can separate us from His L______________ (Romans 8:38-39).

A Temporary Faith

In our Lord's parable of the sower, He describes seed that was tossed on stony ground (read Matthew 13:5-6).  Stony ground means that there was a thin layer of soil covering a rock ledge.  The plant sprang up but the soil was not deep and the roots could not go down deep to find water.  Thus the plant soon W__________________   A____________ (Matthew 13:6).  The plant looked good when it first sprang up, but after some time had passed, it withered away.

Compare Luke 8:6,13. What is the one thing that is similar between the seed that fell on the rocky ground and the seed that fell on the good ground (compare verse 6 and verse 8)? _________________________________________________________________

Rocky Ground (verse 6)

corn2.gif (7868 bytes)

Good Ground (verse 8)

If you were to walk by these two growing plants (the one on rocky ground and the other on good ground) would you notice any difference at first? _______ What one thing is needed before you would be able to tell the difference (circle the correct answer):

  1. Fertilizer would be needed.
  2. Time would be needed to see if the plant will survive or wither away.
  3. Sunshine would be needed.

So it is with those who are stony ground hearers. At first, how do they receive the Word (see Luke 8:13)? ___________________________________   For how long do they believe (Luke 8:13)? _________________________   This is a temporary faith where the person embraces the gospel (the good news) but only for a short time.  What are the stony ground hearers lacking (Luke 8:13)?  They have N______   R____________  When things get rough and tough what do these so-called believers do (Luke 8:13)?  ______________________________ Do they continue in the faith grounded (having deep roots) and settled (compare Col. 1:23)? _____  They lack deep roots!  The trees in the forest seem to be doing quite well on a nice sunny day, but when the hurricane comes, then we find out which trees did not have deep roots!  The trees not having deep roots fall down and do not continue to stand with the other trees.  

There are those who hear the gospel message and at first they seem to believe the good news and they are excited about spiritual things.  They attach themselves temporarily to the Body of Christ and they seem to be genuine believers.  Soon, however, persecution comes along.  They begin to realize that living for Christ is not easy and is very costly.  They begin to understand that being identified with Christ will result in the hatred of the world (John 15:18-19).  True believers are treated as Christ was treated (John 15:20) and these superficial believers are not ready for this.  "I did not realize all that is involved in being a follower of Jesus Christ.  This is too difficult.  This is not for me.  I did not understand what I was getting into.  I'm not going to be a believer any longer. This is too hard.  I'll try something else."

In sharp contrast to the stony ground hearers are the good ground hearers.  Read Luke 8:15. Those on good soil not only hear the Word but they also K_____________ it. This word "keep" (Greek-katecho) means to "hold fast."   The true believer hears God’s Word and keeps it.  He holds fast to the Lord Jesus and to His gospel and refuses to let go.  He realizes that he has decided to follow Jesus and there is no turning back.  As the hymn says, "Keep us, Lord, O keep us cleaving to thyself and still believing, till the hour of our receiving promised joys with Thee."   The believer realizes that being on the solid Rock is the safest place he could ever be, and he refuses to abandon that sure foundation.  When others were turning away from the Lord, why did Peter not turn away (John 6:67-68)? _______________________________________________________________

A True Believer Holds Fast to Christ and to the Gospel

We have learned that the good ground hearer "holds fast" to the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel (Luke 8:15).  The book of Hebrews was written to Jewish people who had embraced Jesus Christ.  These Jewish Christians were going through some very difficult times. They were suffering through great affliction and persecution (Heb. 10:32-33). Some of them had lost many of their earthly possessions (Heb. 10:34). They were discovering that the Christian life is not always a bed of roses. Because of these difficulties and trials, some of these Jewish people were wavering in their faith. Some were even in danger of turning away from Christ and from Christianity and going back to the religion of Judaism.  The writer of Hebrews gave them some very strong warnings to try to prevent them from doing this.  They needed to hold fast to the gospel which they had received.  They must not let go of Jesus Christ.  They must not turn away from Him.

Consider Hebrews 3:6--"But Christ as a son over his own house, whose house are we, if we H___________  F_________ the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the _______."   This verse makes the amazing statement that believers are part of Christ's house.  We are His house!  We are part of a wonderful building:  Jesus Christ is the builder and believers are the building (see Matthew 16:18; 1 Peter 2:5; Ephesians 2:20-22).  Not only are we the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12), but we are also the building of Christ!  

Think of scaffolding which is erected around a building during times of construction or repair. Scaffolding is merely a temporary attachment. It is not a real and genuine part of the building. Proof of this is in the fact that the scaffolding does not continue with the building but rather it is taken down and removed.  As we saw with the stony ground hearers, there are some people who temporarily attach themselves to Christ, but when things get difficult they fall away.  They do not continue on.  The part of the building which is true and genuine does not fall away, but the scaffolding does.

Another verse that speaks about "holding fast" is Hebrews 3:14--"For we are made partakers of Christ, if we H________ the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the _______."   The word "hold" (Greek--katecho) means "hold fast" and it is the same word that we found in Hebrews 3:6 and Luke 8:16 ("keep").  When we first trusted Christ we put our confidence in Him and we trusted Him fully.  We are to continue to cling to Him and trust Him throughout our Christian life.  We must never let go of our confidence in Him.  The Saviour that we met when we first trusted Him for salvation is the same Saviour who will be with us at our deathbed, at the very end of our life.  At the end of our life our hope is still in Jesus Christ and we can still say, "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus' Name!"  We can cling to Him until the very end.  He has been faithful to us all the way along--"having loved his ________ who were in the world, he loved them unto the _______" (John 13:1).   Does His love for us ever end? ________  Should we trust Him to the very end? _______

In 1 Corinthians 15:2 we are reminded of the importance of holding fast to the gospel which has been given to us:  "By which also ye are __________________, if ye keep in memory (hold fast) what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain."   "Keep in memory" (Greek--katecho) means to hold fast.  It is the same word we saw in Hebrews 3:6,14 and also in Luke 8:15 ("keep").  When we were first saved, we received a very important message.  What was this message (1 Cor. 15:3-4)? ____________________________________________________________________________________ Should we believe this message and hold fast to this good news all the days of our life? ________  What would you think of a person who says that he believes on Christ, and then three weeks later he says, "I don't really believe that Christ died for my sins, and I'm not sure He really rose again from the dead either.  The early Christians thought that He rose again, but I'm not convinced about this."   Does this person sound like a true, genuine believer? ________  Paul did not want people to believe in V_________ (1 Corinthians 15:2), but rather he wanted people to believe for real.

Does God want people to draw back and turn away from the Saviour (Hebrews 10:38)? ________  Does this please Him (Hebrews 10:38)? _______   See Hebrews 10:39.  Are you a person who draws back or are you a person who continues to believe? ______________________________________________________   See Hebrews 10:23--"Let us __________      ____________   the profession of our faith without _________________________ (for He is faithful that promised)."  Our faithful God will help us to remain faithful!  Is He able to keep you from falling (Jude 24)? ______

A True Believer Continues in the Faith

There is good news for every believer in Christ.  Someday God will present you "H___________ and unblamable (blameless, faultless) and unreprovable (above reproach) in His sight" (Colossians 1:22).  At that day, you will be totally without sin and no one will ever be able to find fault with you!  Can people find fault with you now? _______  That day when believers will be presented faultless is also described in two other places:  1)  Jude 24--"Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to _________________ you ___________________ before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy;"  2) Ephesians 5:27--"That He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having ________ or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without __________________."  What a day of rejoicing that will be!  In our heavenly future, we will never have to worry about sin again!

In that glorious future day we will be presented holy (Colossians 1:22), but today we need to C_____________________ in the F_______________ (Colossians 1:23).  Colossians 1:23 is not describing someone who is merely temporarily attached to Christ, but rather it is describing a person who continues in the faith, having deep roots ("grounded and settled"), and who holds fast to the gospel message which he has heard.  He refuses to move away from the hope of the gospel.  He is not going to budge!  Is there any reason we should budge and move away from Christ?   If someone could find a better Saviour than Jesus Christ, then we could budge, but is that going to happen? ______  If someone could find a better book than the Bible, then we could budge, but will such a book ever be found? ______  If someone could find some good news that is better than the gospel of Jesus Christ, then we could budge, but will this ever happen?  ________   When the giant oak tree has its roots deep into the ground, there is no reason to budge, not even when a hurricane comes.  When the believer has his roots deep into Jesus Christ, then there is no reason to move!  God wants us to be "steadfast, ___________________________, always abounding in the work of the Lord" (1 Cor. 15:58).

Stay in the Ship or You Will Perish!

In Acts 27, God has given us a wonderful illustration of the need to continue in the faith.

The Ship of Acts 27

In Acts 27 we have the account of Paul and others in his ship being caught in a violent storm. From every indication it seemed that all the men would perish in the sea.  But God had other plans. How many of the crewmen would be lost (Acts 27:22)? __________How many would be saved (Acts 27:24)? ______ Who said so (Acts 27:25)? ________ Although the safety of all on board was promised by God, in verse 31 Paul warned them to ______________ in the ship. This warning was necessary because in verse 30 we learn that the crewmen were about to abandon ship. If they had left the ship, would they have been saved (verse 31)? _____ Did they all remain in the ship as Paul told them to do in verse 31? ______ Were they all saved (verse 44)?_______ ship1.gif (8595 bytes)

The Ship of Faith

Every believer is on the ship of faith (John 6:47; Acts 16:31). Will any of these believers be lost (John 10:28-30)? _____ Who said so? __________Even though the safety of all true believers is promised by God, yet God still gives strong warnings to believers and tells them to take heed lest they should __________________ from the living God (Hebrews 3:12). God encourages believers to stay in the ship of faith (see Col. 1:23 "_____________________ in the faith";  Acts13:43 "____________________ in the grace of God"; Acts 14:22 "___________________in the faith"). ship2.gif (8595 bytes)

Just as God used Paulís warning as a means of keeping the crewmen safe, so God uses many warnings (such as we find in Hebrews 3:6,12,14; 1 Cor. 15:2; Heb. 10:38; etc.) as a MEANS of keeping the believer safe and secure in Christ forever. In a similar way, a loving parent may give a young child very strong warnings about the dangers of walking out into the street. The purpose of these warnings is to keep the child safe. The parent could help the child keep safe by saying, "You will not be hit by a car if you stay off the road and donít even go near the road." It would be foolish to say, "You will not be hit by a car so you can go anywhere you want to go and if you want to wander in the road, that's fine." Likewise God would never say, "Since you are saved and eternally secure, you can live any way you please and you can turn away from Christ and abandon the faith if you wish."

Think again of the illustration in Acts 27. Who was it that really kept the crewmen safe (circle the best answer):

  1. The crewmen kept themselves safe because they remained in the ship (v.31).
  2. God kept the crewmen safe (v.24).

Now apply this to the believer and circle the correct answer:

  1. The believer keeps himself safe and secure in Christ by continuing in the faith.
  2. God keeps the believer safe and secure in Christ (1 Pet. 1:5; John 17:12).

The True Believer is Safe Because of God's Keeping Power

We cannot keep ourselves safe and we cannot keep ourselves saved.  This is God's work.  He not only saves us, but He keeps us saved.  He keeps us from F__________________ (Jude 24).  He keeps our F_____________ from failing (Luke 22:32).  True, there are times when we falter and fail and sin, as Peter did, but even then, God will convict us and chasten us and help us to recover.  How does God keep His believers safe?  Does God keep us apart from faith (whether we keep on believing in Him or not) or does God keep us through faith (1 Peter 1:5)? ___________________________________________________  God is faithful and He keeps us faithful!  God keeps our faith from failing (Luke 22:32).  Of course, we can have a lapse of faith as Peter did, but God will not allow our faith to totally fail.  God keeps us on the deck of the ship of faith.  We may fall down very hard on the deck, and may even get injured on the deck.  But God will never let us fall overboard.  We are kept on that deck by His great power (1 Peter 1:5).  If it were up to us, we would fall off the deck very quickly!

Practical Examples

A.  A person once made this statement:  "I was a member of a young people’s gospel team. We were all saved, and we had some success in preaching the gospel. But one member of the team got into worldly company. He married a very worldly girl. He denied his Christian profession of faith, and he died a drunkard. Now you see, he was a Christian; he went to heaven; however, he was a carnal Christian and he did not have the reward of a spiritual Christian."  The person who made this statement assumed that this man was a saved man, but was this a safe assumption?  We know that only God knows the hearts of men, yet, in the light of our study, would you say that this person was probably saved (as the above paragraph claims) or probably unsaved? _____________________

Note: Were the Corinthian believers carnal (1 Cor. 3:1-4)? ______ Would these Corinthian believers continue to the very end (1 Cor. 1:8)? _________ Beware lest we use carnality as an excuse. Many who claim to be carnal believers might be headed for eternal destruction. Paul assumed that the Corinthian believers were holding fast to the gospel that he preached to them (1 Cor. 15:2). Some who think that they are carnal and think they will be saved so as by fire will really be lost so as by fire (the lake of fire). Some who think they will be saved by the "skin of their teeth" will actually be lost in the lake of fire where there will be "weeping and gnashing" of teeth.

B. A chapel speaker once said, "Dear young people, there are two ways to go to heaven, the spiritual way and the carnal way. It is so much better to take the spiritual way!" One young person thought to himself, "I am a Christian, but I do not mind sitting in the bleachers. I choose to go to heaven the carnal way!" In light of our study, do you think this is the attitude a true believer should have? _______

C. Many people profess to be Christians, but their daily lives do not differ from thousands of unbelievers all around them. They are rarely, if ever, found at the prayer meeting. They have no family worship; they seldom read the Scriptures; they will not talk with you about the things of God; their walk is thoroughly worldly; yet they are quite sure they are bound for heaven! You ask them how they know they are saved and they will tell you that many years ago they "accepted" Christ and "once saved always saved" is now their comfort. Are they really giving evidence that they are truly saved? ______It’s true that if a person is once saved, he will always be saved, but each person needs to make sure that he is really saved and that he really has a right relationship with God's only Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ!

D. Thomas Cranmer was the moving force of the Protestant Reformation in the mid 16th century in England. In 1555 he was excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church in Rome. As pressures mounted Cranmer weakened and he even signed a statement in which he denied the Christian faith. Just before he was to be put to death by Queen Mary (who was strongly Catholic and who caused almost 300 people to be burned, thus earning for herself the name "BLOODY MARY") he renounced his denial, and once more and in the strongest terms declared his faith in Christ. In dramatic fashion he showed how he felt about his denial of the principles of the Reformation. The hand which had signed the denial he held firmly in the flames until it was burned to a crisp. Then the flames scorched his body, and he died the death of a martyr. Cranmer was similar to Peter in that he failed his Lord but then recovered.  Do you think you will someday see Thomas Cranmer in heaven (Rev. 2:10-11)? ___________.  May God help us to be faithful to Christ to the very last breath that we take!

Congratulations, you have completed the NEW BELIEVER NOTES.  You have looked up hundreds of verses and we trust that God has taught you precious truths from His Word.  May you have and enjoy God's very best in Christ Jesus!