Thursday, March 10, 2016

A Test of Saving Faith

2Co 13:5  Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! 2Co 13:6  I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test.

In Church we have spent a couple of weeks speaking on how we can examine ourselves to make sure we are of the Faith.  While our salvation is as sure as the righteousness of Christ because it is based on his work, not ours; yet the Bible constantly tells Christians that taking it for granted can be an eternal mistake.  So we are told to make our calling and election sure.  Briefly, I think this is done primarily in making sure there is fruit in your life that gives evidence of a regenerated heart and I believe the way this is seen is two-fold.  Both of these fruits for the most part involve an inward look at the heart before an outward look at one’s life. 

Firstly, only I can see my heart and only I know if I am trusting solely on the finished work of Christ on the cross.  Obviously many false professors have walked an aisle and made a public profession of Christ.  So the only way for anyone to know if it was real or not is to first be honest with yourself.  True, saving faith looks to no other righteousness than that of the Lord Jesus Christ.  If you are holding on to some work or some religious system, some earthly priest, etc. in addition to Christ then you are not a biblical believer in Christ.

A second test also involves the heart before looking at the life.  It is to determine whether you love Christ more than any other thing or person.  Salvation isn’t just an act of faith, it is the Holy Spirit giving you a new nature not only so you can trust in Christ but also so that you might have light and life and submit to Christ as Lord.  Again, only I know if I love Christ and want to glorify him in everything I do.  It is obvious that the churches are full of people who have outwardly “accepted” Christ Jesus but inwardly they still put their wants above his.  This is not bringing forth “fruit meet for repentance”. 

If we seem to pass these two tests then they will be evidenced by a lifestyle that obeys the Lord.  There will be a constant and genuine sorrow over sin which leads to repentance and an effort to put exposed sin out of our lives.  There will be humility as we recognize Christ as our only wisdom and righteousness.  There will be contentment in all situations because we trust the Lord to keep his word when he says, “All things work together for the good of those that love him”.  It isn’t that these things will be constant and perfect but we live according to our heart’s love and desires.  If we are by nature lovers of Christ, we can’t live lives that looks like lovers of sin.

Let me close by listing some things that we must be very wary of when examining ourselves and even others.  Such things as praying, walking an aisle, an emotional experience, being baptized, attending church, leading an outwardly moral life, knowing facts about Jesus and even conviction over doing sinful things is not necessarily evidence of a regenerate heart. 

You might think that I just contradicted myself but there is a problem with these things.  Any lost person can do each one.  They don’t require genuine faith and a transformed heart.  If we see ourselves doing them we haven’t really proven anything and this is why we have to look first at the heart and the motive for why we do what we do.  It might be better to say that they only help us examine ourselves in that only their absence proves anything.  Their presence doesn’t prove saving faith but their absence would definitely be a warning sign.  

If a lost person doesn’t do any of this, then we are not surprised.  But if a professing Christian isn’t doing them then they are suspect at best.  Some of them like walking an aisle aren’t going to be the experience of all true saints but my point is that people that love the Lord will look like it outwardly.  And so the absence of holiness and obedience is a failing mark on the test of whether one has been touched by the grace of God.

7 comments:

  1. How about determining saving faith this way:

    Christ in John 17, the last major prayer/discourse before the cross, went on and on about Him being sent by the Father, and then Him likewise sending out His disiples. In fact this sent "stuff" occurs 6 times in the chapter, 46 total times in John. Then the absolute first words Christ speaks after the resurrection are: hello, hello (peace be with you) "as the Father has sent me, so send I you". So right back to a major theme of John 17.

    A real disciple then, (an authentically saved person) is a sent person. Do you feel sent? Are you being sent?

    And what does sent mean? I'd say:

    1) Spreading the message -- that's what Christ was sent to do
    2) Taking up your cross -- that's what Christ did
    3) A life of service -- that what Christ did and modeled for us

    So putting it all together, an authentically saved person is one who is sent by Christ and is spreading the gospel, getting persecuted and enduring things for Christ, and living a life of service to others.

    Kenny B

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    1. You know, I've never really focused much on 2 Cor. 13:5. Neither Ryrie nor MacArthur have ties or cross-references to other prominent "test yourself, examine yourself" verses.

      As I garner from the context, Paul is saying you Corinthian "false apostles" from chapters 10-11 need to test yourselves to see whether Christ is in you, because He sure is in me and my missionary entourage and you guys are questioning my apostleship and authority, and boy-hottie, Christ is definitely in us v. 6-10.

      Seems like the test is kinda just: Is Christ really in you guys? If He is in you, you'd acknowledge my apostleship/authority which comes from me being in Christ and given the apostleship and mission by Christ himself whom I saw on the Damascus road.

      Kenny B

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    2. I agree that is the gist of 2 Cor. 13 but there are many NT passages that deal with making your calling and election sure. As far as the first reply goes, all that certainly can come into play when it comes to self-examination. But "feeling" called is rather subjective and the lost can have such feelings as well as the other things you mentioned. Outwardly anyone can do those things or think they are doing them. Ultimately the Bible says we have to have an enduring faith that is true to the end.

      Matt. 7 is an important warning because Jesus tells us that many who call Christ Lord really don't know him and aren't known by him. A transformed heart is one of the keys I think and perhaps a good way to test it is whether it has submitted to Christ and his Word. There are many who go around "following" Christ who have little desire to study his words and those tow things are opposite.

      It is an interesting and important topic and I think it is so because so many people presume to be saved but don't take the Bible seriously enough to really know what being a Christian really is. Thanks,

      Nathan

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    3. I'm with you on your "ultimately". I'd add it as a 4th thing to my list:

      4) A faith that perserveres/endures to the end

      I'm not yet convinced that there are "many NT passages that deal with making your calling and election sure." You would need to give me some references. None just pop into my mind.

      And I kinda just had a logic question about that. If we can't as you say, do anything to participate in our election (i.e. accept Christ), how could we and why should we make sure our calling and election are sure. Do we partipate in the making sure part but not the original calling part?

      If we don't participate, we don't participate.

      Kenny B

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  2. Here are "many" passages, Heb. 6:11; 4:1; 3:12-14; 12:15; Matt. 7:13-27; Col. a:23 and of course 2 Cor. 13 above.

    I am not sure what your last question means exactly but I would say this: there is a difference between participating in our election and calling and making sure it has happened. We have the responsibility to respond to truth now that we are saved. Duet. 23:23, we are responsible for what has been revealed to us, not what has not been revealed. We must respond to the gospel by faith but God alone brings us to that point and sees it through. At no point are we left to our will alone in the matter of salvation as 1 Cor. 1 speaks about. This is the primary point of the Reformation and to be confused about this is to flirt with Romanism which gives man the ability to do something for God that causes him to respond to us.

    Well, that is a vast subject but thanks for challenging me on this.

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    1. I re-read your very first paragraph on your original post. And you know what, I agree with you totally! The main way a person can evaluate whether or not they are elected/called/saved is via fruit, per Matt 7. Of course I use the term "saved", and you use the words "make sure your calling and election are sure".

      The Matthew passage on this issue should probably begin at v.15, not 13. And really and truly, Christ isn't saying we should look at our own fruit to evaluate ourselves, but to look at the fruit of others to evaluate them. But, you and I would agree totally that we could and should also do that fruit inspection on ourselves to make sure of our salvation.

      I looked at all your references and the Heb 3:12-14 and Col. 1:23 are not really encouraging us to evaluate ourselves to make sure of our calling/election, they are telling us to endure, not to fall away, to hold fast to the end.

      They are the kind of verses that cause the "once saved, always saved" crowd to wince and begin some serious parsing. I've run into the Col. 1:23 twice with people in the very recent past and both times the "once saved, always saved" people will not admit what is forthrightly there, that Paul says to continue in the faith, and to not move away implying that one could abandon the faith and move away. And of course the biggie verse on falling away is Heb. 6:6.

      So I am really big on finishing, enduring, and not falling away, and not a "once saved, always saved" guy.

      I looked at your recent reading list. Which of these 3 would you think I'd like and learn from?

      1) Crazy Busy
      2) The Book That Made Your World
      3) Preaching and Preachers (I made it thru a Lloyd-Jones book on Romans from his in-depth, something like 8 year lectures on Romans in the 50s I think)

      Kenny B

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  3. #2 is by far the most compelling and informative. There is so much there both as he sets the record straight with history and by explaining some of the glaring problems with Hinduism and Buddhism. Preaching and Preachers is great for those who will be doing a lot of preaching and I am certainly not trying to downplay that book.

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