Read these words from John Owen from his work, The Glory of Christ…
You tell us to come to Christ. Well, what would you have us do? We hear the Word preached, we believe it as well as we can. We do many things willingly. We make every effort to abstain from many evils. What more do you want us to do?
Those in the gospel who thought they had done their duty, and being pressed to believe by Jesus Christ asked him with some indignation, ‘What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?’ (John 6:28). If what we do is not enough what more do you require from us? It was the same with the young man who asked, ‘What do I still lack?’ (Matt. 19:20). So do not be too confident of your state, lest you should yet lack that one thing. That lack may prove to be your eternal ruin.
You may have done nothing which contains even a spark of that faith which brings salvation. Simon Magus heard the Word, and believed as well as he could. Herod heard John the Baptist, and did many things gladly. And all kinds of hypocrites, when convicted of sin, do many duties and abstain from many sins. Yet, notwithstanding all this, they may still perish forever.
These things can exist without faith, but faith cannot exist without them. There is a fundamental act of faith by which we receive Christ. This is the foundation of the Christian life. All other things belong to the building. This foundation, faith, is the one thing needed. Such faith is recognized by two particular properties:
1. The faith that receives Christ is unique.
Jesus said, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he sent’ (John 6:29). That faith which receives Christ is a unique work in which the soul gives special obedience to God. Therefore you must examine yourself to find out whether you have done that one thing required which is to receive Christ by faith for salvation.
2. This faith is accompanied with a spiritual change in the soul.
‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new’ (2 Cor. 5:17). So if you do not choose to deceive yourself as to whether you have truly received Christ, then examine yourself. Have you been fundamentally changed?