Examination of our Faith
In my last blog post, I joyfully tackled the topic of whether a Christian can lose their salvation. It’s a very interesting topic, partially because it has an interesting theological twist at the end. If you haven’t read my last post, I’d encourage you to do so. As you’ll see as you read the post, I end that blog with an encouragement to call Christians to test their faith and see whether they are in the faith.
My encouragement there came from Paul’s admonition in 2 Corinthians 13, when he writes, “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!” As I’ve been thinking about this passage, the thought came to mind about what this examination would look like. If we were to truly do an examination of whether we were in the faith and test ourselves, what would that test look like? It’s an important question for a couple of reasons. First, this is a direct command from Scripture, so it would be good to be able obey it. Second, given the passage I wrote about last time in Matthew 7, I know that I want to be one who is doing God’s will and is going to be on the right side of eternity when it’s all said and done. And thirdly, it’s been my longstanding opinion that there are many who are sitting in our churches today who will, based on Matthew 7:21, be quite surprised about their eternity when that day comes.
In this blog, I’d like to take a crack at what this 2 Corinthians 13 examination might look like and what test questions may be on this test!
- Have you ‘received and believed?’
The very first question on this test would have to be ‘Have you received Jesus and believed in His name?’ Scripture is quite clear that to have eternal life, this is first and foremost. While there are a number of passages we could turn to, I focus on just two:
“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…” -John 1:12
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment but has passed from death to life.” -John 5:24
A couple of important points here: Clearly, Jesus’ wants us not only to hear the Gospel, but believe in Him and receive Him as Lord. And I focus here on the word believe. We see it in both passages of Scripture in reference to both believing in Jesus and in God. This is a key point to examine, because if we’re going to pass this test, we need to know Jesus’ meaning here.
To believe in God, at its simplest level, means to believe that He’s real and exists. But that’s not enough to pass this test. We read in James 2 that “even the demons believe—and shudder!” To believe in God (and in Jesus) should involve life change. Quick example: Most of us know that carbonated diet sodas are not good for us, but many of us drink them anyway. It should be that our belief in the facts should create some kind of change. Many people who believe that God exists do nothing in light of what they know to be true about Him.
The Greek word in John 5 for believe is Pisteuon, which has the meaning of acting with reliance and trust, and faithfulness. It has the action of placing our trust, reliance and faith in Him. It’s a lot more than just acknowledging His existence. It’s a whole-life activity that engages every part of your life.
Test Question #1: Do you have a life-changing type of belief in God and in His Son Jesus? Without it, John 5:24 takes on a different meaning…
2. Are you bearing good fruit?
I would think that the second test question in this examination would be assessing the fruit that comes from your life-changing belief in God and His Son. In Luke 6, Jesus tells us that, “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit… the good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” This terminology around trees and fruit becomes important for us to examine because I think we’d all like to say we’re good trees bearing good fruit. It becomes even more important as we read John 15:1-8. I’ll encourage you here to do a ‘deep dive’ on this passage, but a couple of things are clear. First, we bear good fruit as we abide in Christ and remain close to Him. In verse 5, Jesus tells us that “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” Believing in Jesus but not allowing life change to take place leaves us ineffective for Him. Secondly, we show the world we belong to Jesus when we bear fruit for Him.
So how do we know whether we’re bearing fruit for Him. It’s a long answer and one I examine in length in my book on the 6 Marks of a Disciple of Jesus, but briefly, I’d look at two things: First, are other people’s lives being changed toward knowing and believing in Jesus because they know you? (Yes or No) And secondly, are the fruit of the Spirit as detailed in Galatians 6 growing in your life? Asking a friend who knows you well about this is a good way to test that out.
Test Question #2: Are you abiding well in Christ, leading you to bear much fruit for Him? What do those that know you well say about this? If their feedback is that they don’t see much fruit, take the steps necessary to make the changes you need to make.
3. Are you obedient to the commands of Jesus
Any examination determining whether we’re in the faith would have to include an examination into how we’re doing at obeying the commands Jesus gives us to do. Two verses, both in John 14 set the stage for us here:
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments… Whoever has my commandments (the Greek word here is also often translated as commands) and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
These are powerful verses, aren’t they? Jesus clearly states that it is those who love Him that do what He’s commanded them to do. Could we infer then that if you don’t do what Jesus commands, that you don’t love Him? Any examination of our faith would have to include an examination of how we’re doing in obeying the things our Lord has told us to do. Where to start? Simply, start by knowing what Jesus is commanding you to do. This is done by spending regular time in God’s word and making notes whenever you see Jesus giving instruction and commands. Secondly, determine how to obey that command, and get help from friends as needed. And thirdly, determine to be a ‘if Jesus says it, I’ll do it’ person in your life.
Test Question #3: How am I doing at obeying the commands Jesus gives me to do? If I’m not doing well, how does this reflect on what I think of Jesus? How can I become a ‘if Jesus says it, I’ll do it’ type of person?
 James 2:19
 Luke 6:43-45
 John 14:15,21