Test Yourself Waseem G. Shahla
Our God is a wonderful God!
Our God is a merciful God!
Our God is a gracious God!
Our God is a loving God! …
…So loving that He sent His one and only Son from the throne of heaven to earth to be humiliated, spit upon, beaten, tortured beyond the point of recognition, and die an agonizing death, on the cross, as punishment for the sins we committed, and continue to commit, so that we might have an opportunity to be forgiven; to be at peace with Him; and to be in a right relationship with Him!
…So loving that He wants to call you child! He wants to call you His; yes, that’s right! The God that created the universe and everything in it wants to have an intimate relationship with you. He cares about you so much that He is willing to forgive all your sins as far as the east is from the west!
...So loving that He wants you to spend eternity in heaven with Him because that’s how long it will take to show you how much He loves you!
…He only asks for one thing; to believe in His Son.
Are you a “true” believer?
“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith;
test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus
is in you? Unless, of course, you fail the test!”
II Corinthians 13:5
The Lord has revealed through His Word His utmost and loving concern for our knowledge of Him, His Son, and the truth found authoritatively in His Word. Consequently, even as “Christians”, it is imperative for us to constantly examine our faith and test its authenticity to determine whether or not we believe in the Son of God.
In his concluding remarks of
the second letter to the Corinthian church, the apostle Paul challenges the
readers to examine their faith. The reason why Paul commanded a continuous
examination of faith was the body of believers – a biblical term denoting those
who believe in Christ as Lord and Savior – at
As individuals, or as a united body in Christ, we should take into serious consideration the spiritual condition (and its implications) of the Corinthians and make every effort (by the Spirit of God) to prevent duplication. Eternal dwelling with God (heaven) or separation from Him (hell) are determined by whether our faith in the Son of God is genuine or counterfeit. So, the way we live, according or contradictory to Scripture, indicates whether or not we genuinely believe in the resurrected Savior. Our lives reflect the existence of authentic faith or lack thereof. Here are some important questions you can ask yourself to find out if your faith in Christ is authentic.
I. Rebirth – Have you been born of the Spirit?
“In reply Jesus declared, ‘I tell
you the truth, no one can see the
of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.’” John 3:3, 5
In order to enter the
The phrase “born again” literally means “born from above.” This spiritual rebirth takes place upon a person’s confession of sins to God for forgiveness, asking Jesus Christ into their heart, and entrusting Him as Lord with their life. As an immediate result of salvation, a person in the faith is then given the Holy Spirit of God (Matthew , Acts ), Therefore, genuine believers are marked in Christ with a seal; the promised Holy Spirit (Ephesians ). The Holy Spirit, which only indwells a person that has been reborn (I John ), is proof of salvation. He (the Holy Spirit) is the active agent by whom a believer is continually sanctified (purified) to live a righteous life that God demands; He is the counselor, judge, and perfecter of the heart.
Salvation, the immediate result of spiritual rebirth, is a gift of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, and can not be achieved nor earned by one’s own good works (Ephesians 2:8-10). Many “Christians” are under the spiritually fatal misconception that a person’s good works (giving to the poor, helping others, doing what’s right, etc) leads to salvation and the forgiveness of sins earning them a ticket to God’s Kingdom; It is not so. In reality, salvation brings forth good works as a result of an individual’s grateful attitude and love towards God for their spiritual rebirth.
II. Authority of Scripture – Do you recognize the Holy Bible as the
ultimate and supreme authority of your life?
“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His
glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father,
full of grace ad truth.” John 1:14
Jesus is the Word of God in human flesh. He is the living truth to which a believer must submit, by faith (Hebrews 11:6), to live a life that is holy and pleasing to God. He has been given all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18), Therefore, we are not only commanded to submit to Him as Lord and Savior, but also to His authoritative Word.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting,
and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly
equipped for every good work.” II Timothy 3:16-17
One of the most fascinating events in all of Scripture is the temptation of Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11, Luke 4:1-13). After His baptism, Jesus was led, by the Spirit, to the wilderness where He was tempted by the devil for 40 days. What is more fascinating is that Jesus – the Son of God (Matthew 27:54), the eternal Word (John 1:1, 14), and God very God (Colossians -20, 2:9, Matthew 28:18, Philippians 2:6) – submitted himself to the authority of God’s Word! In every occasion where Jesus was tempted by the prince of evil, He responded by quoting Old Testament Scripture. Jesus overcame the temptations by yielding to God’s Word. Christ’s display of submission to the authority of the Word of God indicates the supremacy of Scripture. The Lord gave us His Word as the final standard of truth. We are commanded to subject to the authority of Scripture in the same manner exhibited through Christ. Therefore, submission to the authoritative teachings and instructions of Scripture brings honor, glory, and praise to our Lord and proves the authenticity of an individual’s faith in Christ.
III. Conviction & Repentance – Are you convicted of the sins you commit?
Do you repent of these sins?
“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret,
but worldly sorrow brings death.” II Corinthians 7:10
Conviction of sins, or in other terms, an awareness of one’s offenses toward God (godly sorrow), can not be produced apart from the work of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s heart. This type of sorrow leads to true repentance whereby the Holy Spirit progressively sanctifies (purifies) the heart of the believer. The verb “repent” means to turn from sin. It is a military term used to instruct cadets to turn towards the opposite direction from which they march. This illustrates how genuine believers should live; by turning away from a sinful lifestyle and heading towards a direction that is pleasing to God. Repentance (turning from sin) and sanctification (purification from sin) are lifelong processes that take place only when a person is convicted by the Spirit of God (which dwells only in genuine believers. Ref. I). Those who repent are constantly aware the sins they commit offend God. They strive with much effort and discipline to take the necessary measures, by prayer, confession, and applying the truth and commands of God’s Word to prevent a continuous sinful lifestyle. Repentance is evidence of genuine faith and leads to eternal life with God.
On the other hand, worldly
sorrow is nothing short of guilt and self-pity and can lead to depression and
despair; it is the core of regret. Since the Holy Spirit does not reside within
unbelievers – meaning salvation has not occurred, they experience this type of
sorrow and are unaware, for the most part, the sins (or by their understanding,
wrong doings) they commit ultimately offend God and not just other people. This
kind of guilt does not lead to repentance, and therefore, does not lead to the
cleansing from sin necessary to enter the
“The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, turning a man
from the snares of death.” Proverbs 14:27
Demonstrating a proper fear of God causes a person to turn from sin and avoid eternal separation from God. The presence of the fear of the Lord separates those who believe in the physical death and resurrection of Christ from those that don’t. The fear of the Lord is a fountain, of which the Lord is the source, providing living water for physical and spiritual life.
IV. Application of the Word of God – Are you a doer of the Word or only a
“Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive
yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22
Action speaks louder than words. What is obvious from Jesus’ temptation is that He put God’s Word into practice. Christ exemplified how a believer should live; by applying the Word of God.
In Luke 6:46-48, Christ begins the parable of the wise and the foolish builders with this question: “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” This opening verse implies that some people proclaim Jesus as Lord and yet disregard God’s authoritative Word. They simply reject living according to God’s written commands! In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5-7) Jesus instructs the multitudes that only those that do the will of God will enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 7:21). The frightening reality is that Jesus rejects all who call Him Lord and yet do not do the will the God, and casts them out of His Kingdom as “evildoers!” (Matthew 7:22). Furthermore, ‘good deeds’ are evidence that a person is applying the Word of God, and they also demonstrate that presence of a faith that is ‘alive,’ not ‘dead’ (James ).
Therefore, faith in Jesus Christ is proven genuine when a person that calls Jesus, ‘Lord,’ does the will of God and puts His Word into practice. Those who proclaim Christ as Lord and yet consciously continue to do what contradicts the Word of God have no place in His Kingdom.
V. Aim to grow spiritually – Do you strive to become like Christ?
“…Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the
God of love and peace will be with you.” II Corinthians 13:11
The Greek word for “sin” literally means to miss the mark. It is a word that archers used when they missed their target. Our target as believers in the Son of God is to become Christ-like (perfect) in everything we do (Romans ). Since the apostle Paul is aware of the fact that no one will attain perfection in this lifetime, he instructs us to aim for the target. Even though we are sinners and are imperfect, we can count on the Spirit of God to help us strive to be perfect – as commanded by Jesus (Matthew ). The Word of God paints a clear picture of the bulls-eye at which all believers should aim. Through constantly seeking God’s will and doing what is instructed, a believer will experience more “hits” than “misses” in increasing measure.
The Corinthians obviously struggled with living according to the Word of God. Thus, their actions serve as an example of what must be avoided in a relationship with the Lord. Some members of the Corinthian church genuinely believed in Christ, others most likely did not. In the many problematic cases in the book of I Corinthians, the evidence of genuine faith was almost nonexistent (I Corinthians 3:1, 3).
God is concerned about our spiritual position (Ezekiel ); therefore, His Word calls upon those who profess Jesus’ Lordship to put their faith to the test. Since the status of a person’s soul (whether dead or alive) before God and its eternal destination are determined by the result of the command in II Corinthians 13:5, we must constantly examine our faith and test its authenticity. This obviously is a very serious matter to which the apostle Paul issues a severe warning. Only God knows a person’s heart and whether or not salvation has taken place (Acts 15:8, Hebrews ). My prayer is that God would clearly reveal to you if you are in the faith. Test yourself...where you spend eternity depends on it!
May grace, peace, and love be yours in abundance from God the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.
“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure
and blameless until the day of Christ” Philippians 1:9-10
Praise, glory, and honor are God’s, alone.