"Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith"
by Sandy Simpson, 3/2/11
2Co 13:5 Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the
faith; test yourselves.
Do you not realise that Christ Jesus is in you— unless, of course, you fail the test?
People who call themselves followers of Christ or "Christians" and claim they are born again must believe certain things. If they do not then they fail the test of faith. They can claim they are born again all they want and "once saved, always saved" but if they fail the test of faith there is no eternal security. Only God knows who will be saved, from beginning to end, because of His foreknowledge and omniscience (Rom. 8:29, 1 Pet. 1:2). God did not make an arbitrary judgment about who would be saved and who would not. His Spirit is given to those He foreknew, when convicted of sin by His Holy Spirit, would choose to believe and commit themselves to Jesus Christ. We are not God and we do not have His omniscience. Therefore, according to Paul, we must be sure our belief system is in the right place once our eyes have been opened to the Truth. I am not saying we do not have assurance of salvation, but our assurance comes not only because of His Atonement and promises of salvation but from our continuing in the Faith, which is always the Biblical criteria. Those who would be Bible teachers must teach according to the whole counsel of God's Word.
Let me be clear. There is only one way to salvation. That is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. I will deal with a few of those issues following, but it is important to recognize that being saved is not just a matter of believing that Jesus lived, or that He was a man, or simply giving mental ascent to His existence in whatever form. The Bible gives this as the only criteria to be saved:
Ac 16:31 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. (KJV)This seems like such a simple verse but it implies much. The first word word of import is "believe" which is pisteuo in Greek, it's first meaning in Strongs being to "commit". So believing is not just giving mental ascent but committing to follow the Lord Jesus Christ. The second important fact you must believe is that Jesus Christ is God kurios meaning Lord and Master. There is only One Lord and Master and that is YHWH. The third fact you need to believe and commit to is that the Son of God became a man, became flesh, added humanity on to His Deity to become the God-man for all eternity, 100% God and 100% man. The fourth fact you have to accept is that Jesus is Christ, the Messiah. He is Yeshua ha Meshiach. He is the promised One who died for the sins of the world and the promised King and Deliverer of Israel. The gift of salvatioin is free but the understanding must be taught correctly. So what seems simple on the surface is full of meaning and that meaning has to be preached or it is a false gospel. Upon acceptance and commitment to this Gospel a person will recognize, confess and repent of his/her sins and accept that Jesus Christ paid the full price by his death, burial and resurrection for our sins and to guarantee us a glorified body at the resurrection and eternal life.
There are a number of permutations of "belief" according to the Bible. We can either (1) believe and be saved (2) believe for a while then fall away (having never been truly saved) or hear the Word but never mature (3) never truly believe.
Heb 10:39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.This is why it is critical for us to test ourselves to see if we are in the Faith. God will put believers to the test in ordere to build up their faith but we also must make sure we have not come to accept another Jesus, a different Spirit or a different Gospel.
Lu 8:13 Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.
Lu 8:14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.
2Co 4:4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
Re 21:8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practise magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulphur. This is the second death."
2Co 11:4 For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.It is only those who hold to the true Jesus, the true Spirit and the true Gospel who are saved, and they don't just hold for awhile but must hold till the end.
Joh 8:31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.God does hold those who are born again in His Hand and no one can snatch them out (John 10:28). That is His promise of eternal life and eternal security. But the Bible is also clear that some who say they are born again can wander away, shrink back or have what faith they had destroyed by false teachers. This fact has to be taught along with the promise of eternal security or else eternal security teaching becomes just another false teaching, taking one verse from here and there out of the context of the whole counsel of God's Word.
Heb 3:14 We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.
There are many who say they believe but the Bible states that it is entirely possible to believe in vain.
1Co 15:2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.Truly born again believers don't just believe that God is faithful and that Christians need do nothing to prove their faith by what they do (James 2:14). True believers are not subscribers to "easy believism" or a "license for immorality" (Jude 1:4) but realize we have a lot to overcome in this world.
Re 2:7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.The danger is so severe, with regards to the schemes of the enemy to decieve, that even those who are born again are in danger.
Re 2:11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.
Re 2:17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.
Re 2:26 To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations—
Re 3:5 He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.
Re 3:12 Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name.
Re 3:21 To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.
Re 21:7 He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.
Mt 24:24 For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible. (NIV)This verse is actually badly translated due to people injecting their own doctrines into the Word, such as Calvinism. I am not a full subscriber to either Calvinism or Arminianism. You can read my position paper on that here. The only words used at the end of this verse are “dunatos” possible “kai” and “ho” the “eklektos” elect. So it should read “possible and the elect”. “If possible even” is a stretch in the NKJV. “If that were possible” in the KVJ and the NIV is not even in the original at all. The stress is not on whether or not the actual elect can be deceived. Only God knows who the elect are. For the time being we have to make a commitment (pisteuo) to follow and obey the Lord. So the Lord’s emphasis is not on the argument as to whether the elect can be deceived, but on the fact that the deception due to false prophets who claim Divine signs and wonders is so severe that even the elect might be fooled. Best to take the warnings of God's Word for what they are.
The only correct way to teach sound doctrine is by exegeting the Word of God in context and bearing in mind the whole counsel of God's Word rather than just picking out favorite passages that fit what one has already decided ahead of time to believe and teach due to the constructs of men.
So how should we test ourselves to see if we are in the Faith?
(1) Do you believe that God came in the flesh, Jesus Christ?
1 Tim. 3:16 Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.This means that if you believe that Jesus Christ was merely human, or was human till he received the Spirit as Word of Faith teachers claim, or was never human but only Spirit as the Gnostics such as Christian Science teach, or that we can be everything that Jesus Christ was, then you need to test yourself to see if you are in the Faith.
1 John 4:2 This is how you can recognise the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God,
(2) Do you believe that God is One God eternally existing in Three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit?
Mt. 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,Further reading on the subject of the core doctrines is here. Below is a pretty good illustration of the concept of the Trinity.
Gal. 4:6 Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father."
If you believe that there is no Triune nature of God, or that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are simply manifestations of God, or that there is Jesus-only as the Oneness Pentecostals and others teach, or you believe that there are three separate gods (Tritheism) as the World Christian Gathering of Indigenous People end up promoting in other cultures, then you need to test yourself to see if you are in the Faith. If one denies that there are Three Persons, one is left with the two sides of Full Equality and One God, resulting in the "Oneness" teaching of the United Pentecostal Church and others. If one denies Fully Equality, one is left with Three Persons and One God, resulting in "subordinationism" as seen in Jehovah's Witnesses, the Way International, etc. Below is a diagram to illustrate that.
The doctrine of the Trinity is essential to understand God and to understand that Jesus Christ added humanity to Himself at the Incarnation, thus becoming the God-man for all eternity which then hinges on believing that God came in the flesh. That is part of the information necessary to believe and be saved. Only God can save. We must believe when the Holy Spirit gives us a chance by convicting us of our sins (John 16:8) and accept the free gift of grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
(3) Do you believe that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone?
Eph. 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no-one can boast.If you believe that salvation is by works, as the Catholics teach their adherents to perform certain rituals for slavation or the SDA teaching bringing their adherents back under part of the Mosaic Law, then you need to test yourself to see if you are in the Faith. The New Covenant (Heb. 9:15) and new Law of Christ (Gal. 6:2), which is love for God and love for our neighbor, fulfills and does away with the Law of Moses, the law of sin and death (Rom. 8:2). If you subscribe to works salvation then you need to test yourself as to the Faith. If you believe that God gives us our faith as the Calvinists teach instead of Him being the Object and Author of our Faith then you need to test yourself to see if you are in the Faith.
Rom. 5:1-2 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
Ac 4:12 Salvation is found in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."
Heb 12:2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.It is good to cross reference other translations on this verse because you will see a depth of meaning. The translation of words used in the NIV and elsewhere, translated as "author" and "finisher" is also rendered as "guide and end", "source and goal", "leader and completer", "leader and perfecter" and "leader who will award us the prize". Jesus is the "Object" or "source" of our Faith archegos or "prince, leader author, pioneer" and "goal" or "example" teleiotes meaning "finisher, perfector, prime example". So the true meaning of this passage is not that God gives us a gift of faith, but that Jesus Christ is the Object of our faith and the goal of our Faith as the prime example of the concept of faith. The other verse used by Calvinists to say that both grace and faith are a gift of God is this one:
Heb 12:2 Having our eyes fixed on Jesus, the guide and end of our faith, who went through the pains of the cross, not caring for the shame, because of the joy which was before him, and who has now taken his place at the right hand of God’s seat of power. (BBE)
Heb 12:2 our eyes fixed on Jesus the source and the goal of our faith. For he himself endured a cross and thought nothing of its shame because of the joy he knew would follow his suffering; and he is now seated at the right hand of God’s throne. (Phil)
Heb 12:2 looking stedfastly on Jesus the leader and completer of faith: who, in view of the joy lying before him, endured the cross, having despised the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Darby)
Heb 12:2 Looking away unto our faith’s Princely–leader and perfecter, Jesus,––who, in consideration of the joy lying before him, endured a cross, shame, despising! And, on the right hand of the throne of God, hath taken his seat. (Rotherham)
Heb 12:2 simply fixing our gaze upon Jesus, our Prince Leader in the faith, who will also award us the prize. He, for the sake of the joy which lay before Him, patiently endured the cross, looking with contempt upon its shame, and afterwards seated Himself— where He still sits—at the right hand of the throne of God. (Wey)
Eph 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—But this is an example of pulling one verse out that they like and not looking to see that elsewhere the gift is talking about the gift of grace, not a gift of faith.
Eph 3:7 I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power.Nowhere does the Bible use the words "gift of faith". When you teach that God gives you the gift of faith then the next conclusion is that a person does not have to believe to be saved because God gives him/her the gift of belief, which is what hyper-Calvinists teach. Then finally you end up with the teaching that we can be faithless yet still be saved because God is faithful. If you believe that then you need to test yourself to see if you are in the Faith. It is true that God is always faithful and we are not (2 Tim. 2:13), but we cannot practice sin and say we know God.
Ro 5:15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!
1 John 2:29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.Are you still "practicing" sin, or living a lifestyle of sin? Then your god is not the Son of God.
1 John 3:4 Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.
1 John 3:7 Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous;
1 John 3:8 the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.
1 John 3:9 No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.I like the NASB translation because it translates "commits sin" to "practices sin". What John is talking about in context is continuing in practiced, lifestyle sin as opposed to sinning sometimes. That is exactly what people do ... they are either practicing to be sinners or practicing to be righteous. If your practice is not going the direction of righteousness, then you need to test yourself to see if you are in the Faith. By the way, true Christians do sin but they do not practice sin. When they sin they have a Savior to whom they will confess their sins Who is faithful and just to forgive their sins. The following verses were written to Christians.
1 John 3:10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother. (NASB)
1Jo 1:8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.If you believe that we can have faith in God because we can believe in Him without the convicting of the Holy Spirit because there is enough good in us to do so, as the Arminians teach, if you believe that you can be made right with God by worshipping Him in the names of the supreme beings of the nations as the World Christian Gathering of Indigenous People and Emerging Church teach, then you need to test yourself to see if you are in the Faith.
1Jo 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
(4) Do you believe that the Bible is our highest authority in all matters of faith and practice?
Though this is not required to be saved, it is an evidence that you are saved. Also if you cannot believe the Bible to be true as our authority to know what God is like and what He requires of us, then on what basis have you believed the Gospel?
Jude 1:3 Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.The true teaching of God comes to us in the Bible in the written account of what Jesus Christ, the Apostles and prophets wrote as they were led by the Holy Spirit (2 Tim. 3:16). We are to hold to those teachings in the Written Word, not follow the new teachings of false teachers and false prophets. Those who go after new revelation that is not consistent with the Word of God then you need to test yourself to see if you are in the Faith. Be careful because many popular teachers today like to belittle the Bible and true believers who still obey it.
2 Tim. 1:14 Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
Rom. 6:17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted.
Tit. 1:9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.
(5) Do you believe that Jesus Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again?
1 Cor. 15:3-4 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,This was and is the criteria for salvation ... to continue in the belief that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose from the dead that was passed on as a mystery (Rom. 16:25) to those who would believe by the Apostles. If you belittle the sacrifice of Christ by believing in Universalism, or the teaching by the WCGIP and Emerging Church that there are many ways to God, other gods who are God, that the Gospel is in the stars and/or there is salvific truth in all religions, then you need to test yourself to see if you are in the Faith. Christ is the only sacrifice for sin.
Joh 14:6 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me.Since the Bible talks about worshipping YHWH and Yeshua (Jesus) in their names, which is why we often end our prayers as believers with "in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ", why would He accept worship under the name of Baal, Ammon, Hadad, Osirus, Marduk, Allah, Vishnu, Krishna, Amenominakanushi, Io, Wakan Tanka or any other "supreme being"?
Ac 4:12 Salvation is found in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved
(6) Do you display the fruit of the Spirit in increasing measure?
Again, this is not the criteria to be saved but is the evidence of being saved. If you have the Holy Spirit in you as a result of the second birth, then He will cause you to grow to maturity and the fruit of the Spirit will become increasingly evident in your life.
Gal. 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.If you do not see these qualities increasing in your life, then you need to test yourself to see if you are in the Faith, because if you are in the Faith you will be effective and productive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. If you are not growing in these things then you are blind, and though you claim you are cleansed from your past sins, you are effectively just like an unbeliever ... wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
2 Pet 1:5-9 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is short-sighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.
2Co 4:4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.Those who claim to be Christians but are really lukewarm and blind need to repent and be saved.
1Jo 2:11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.
Rev. 3:16-19 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realise that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so that you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so that you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so that you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repentThose who claim to be Christians but do not display the fruit of the Spirit need to repent so that they will be truly born again and begin to see the fruit of the Spirit operative in their lives. Those who say they are Christians yet do not have the fruit of the spirit also do no have white clothes to wear and without those you cannot enter heaven. Also those churches that claim to love the Lord yet are full of false teachings and blasphemous practices have already had or will have their candlesticks removed in heaven, just as Laodicea did, which is evident historically and prophesied to happen in the end times.
(7) Have you increasingly grown in maturity and not floated away with every wave of doctrine?
Growing to maturity is not a criteria to be saved but a result of it. You will see increased maturity in the Lord if you are truly born again. I see many who claim to be saved today who remain as babies spiritually. If the wind and the waves get rough (the world and the powers of the demonic world) and you throw a baby into that he/she will drown. That is why God will bring us to maturity as we submit to the Spirit as our teacher and the written Word as God's way to speak to us.
Eph. 4:11-14 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fulness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.We are to move from baby food to solid food. If you are still eating baby food and have not moved on to solid food, better examine yourself to see if you are in the Faith.
Heb. 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
(8) Do you increasingly live in the law of Christ, which is love?
No one who is not spiritually reborn can follow the law of Christ.
Eph. 4:15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.When you see preachers on TV and elsewhere who are full of themselves, proud, greedy and scheming, you are likely not seeing a regenerate person. I am not the final judge of them, but I can tell if they are walking in the law of Christ currently now, just as the Bible tells us we can. We are to balance the concepts of truth and love equally. Some end up erring on either side of that equation, but it is just as important to know the Truth, speak it and live it as it is to do so out of Love. If you find that you are not growing in love and compassion for others, and are not able to stand up for the Truth of the written Word, sometimes against persecution, then you need to check your relationship to the Lord.
Gal. 6:1-3 Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
2Co 13:5 Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realise that Christ Jesus is in you— unless, of course, you fail the test?