In 2 Corinthians 13:5 the Bible says, "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves." In this verse, the Apostle Paul gave instructions for each of us to conduct a self-test to evaluate whether or not we are true believers. You might be hesitant at first to consider the idea that you could somehow be in error, but the consequences of negligence are too great to ignore. This is not a matter to take lightly, nor one to avoid. We are responsible to examine ourselves.
The information in this pamphlet will help you examine yourself concerning your faith. Take time to study each section carefully. You might find that there is more to being in the faith than you first expected, and you may gain new insights that will strengthen your faith. Either way, you will be blessed as you take the time to open God's Word and study what He has to say about Salvation. "For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged" (1 Corinthians 11:31).
Salvation is more than a decision, and more than a commitment. It is more than a lifestyle that people live. Salvation is the direct result of the power of God. Romans 1:16 says, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth." The power of God is required to take a person that is a sinner and convert him or her to a saint, and this is exactly what God wants to do to "everyone that believeth." He wants to convert us from what we are so that we can be Christians.
Has this happened to you? Can you remember a time when you called on God to forgive your sins and come into your heart? A prayer like this releases the power of God to convert you and save your soul. If you can't ever remember praying for these things, then you are probably not converted. You might be going to church and doing other things that seem holy, but without the power of God, there is no salvation.
Let's take a few moments to consider the power of God. The Bible is full of examples of God's power. When men consider God's power, we often will refer to the parting of the Red Sea. Exodus 14:21-22 says, "And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left." You see, the power of God is above nature. It is outside the bounds of physical laws. God can make water stand like a wall.
Another example of the power of God is seen in Joshua 10:12-14. "Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day. And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel." God has power over the sun and the moon. They obey His commands. His power has no limit in jurisdiction.
Probably the greatest example of the power of God is in the Creation. We often speak of creative abilities. We start with materials and then make something that is "creative," but we are really not creating anything. We are only taking raw materials and altering them to suit our needs. God, however, actually created the universe. He did not start with raw materials. He started with nothing. Hebrews 11:3 says, "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear." Creation from nothing is something that only God can do. It is an evidence of His power that we are even here.
When we realize the awesome power of God's Creation, we come to a new respect for the conversion experience. It takes the creative power of God to convert us. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." We are new creatures in Christ. In Romans 1:16 the Gospel is the power of God unto Salvation, and here in 2 Corinthians 5:17, we see that power is used to re-create us as a new creature. It is not as simple as a decision that we can make, although there is a decision to be made. This is the power of God at work to save us from our sins.
It is almost always easier to get something new than it is to repair something that is badly damaged. That is why a car is often considered totaled. That means it would cost more money to fix it than the car is worth. Cars can be totaled and replaced, but our lives can't be replaced with a new model. Fortunately, God can make all things new. He is not limited by tools and expense, nor is He limited by ability or interest. No matter how totaled your life may be, God can fix it, and He goes far beyond just a quick fix. He applied His creative power to your broken life and makes it new. It isn't just as good as new, it is new indeed.
Questions to Consider:
If you would like to be converted by God you can pray this simple prayer to release His power into your life. Pray: "Father, I know that I have sinned. I come to you now asking that you will forgive me for all my sins. I believe that you sent your Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for my sins. I also believe that He rose from the dead. Please come into my heart and make me new. I surrender my life to you as my Lord. Thank you for saving me. In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen."
If you prayed that prayer with sincerity and in humbleness, then God has already answered it. He is always willing to hear a prayer like that. Now that God's power is working in your life, you will find the next few lessons in this pamphlet of great help in understanding your new life. Your conversion is your first step as a new creature in Christ. Now you must learn to walk with Him.
The second half of 2 Corinthians 13:5 says, "Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?" When I read the second half of this verse, I had no idea of the exciting Bible study that would come from it, so let us get started.
What does the word reprobate bring to your mind? Because of the normal use of the word, it probably brings up the thought of someone wicked through and through, however, after a brief study of the word and its Biblical context I was quite surprised to find that the meaning was somewhat different.
In order to get a good picture of the meaning of reprobate we will need to look at Jeremiah 6:29-30. There the Bible says, "The bellows are burned, the lead is consumed of the fire; the founder melteth in vain: for the wicked are not plucked away. Reprobate silver shall men call them, because the LORD hath rejected them." In the days of Jeremiah, silver and gold were the money they used. In order for a silver or gold coin to be acceptable, it had to be pure, and they had ways to test the quality of the metal to ensure that they were getting the proper price when doing business. This is similar to the way cashiers check our money at registers to see if it is counterfeit. If a coin was found to be of questionable quality then it would be rejected because of the impurities in the metal.
The verses in Jeremiah compare the people to silver that is not purified. The founder does everything that he can, but the silver is still not purified, and therefore it is rejected. We are not told why the impurities in the metal are not removed, but when it comes to people we are given the reason in concrete terms. The end of verse 29 says, "for the wicked are not plucked away." This is the reason that the people were rejected by God. God had done everything possible to purify them, but they were not willing to be purified, and therefore they were rejected as "reprobate silver."
So, reprobate means simply to not be purified. As a result, the unpurified person is rejected as reprobate. Based on 2 Corinthians 13:5, Jesus Christ is in us unless we are reprobates. Therefore, if we are reprobates, then Jesus Christ is not in us. To put this as plain as possible, Jesus Christ is not in someone that is not purified. As 1 John 3:6 says, "Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him."
Is God purifying your life? Are you purifying yourself? Purification will not automatically happen. It will take a deliberate effort both from God and from you. God is always willing and ready to do His part, are you? What evidence is there that you are being purified? Do you excuse your sin, or do you allow God to help you remove it? If sin is not being removed from your life then how can you say that you know God when the Bible says otherwise?
Many people in our modern day are teaching that a person can be saved and still live lives that are not pure. Some teachers say that you can go to heaven even if you live a sinful life so long as you have prayed to receive Christ at some point in time. The Bible does not teach this. In fact, the Bible says in 1 John 3:3, "And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." In addition, 1 John 3:8 says, "He that committeth sin is of the devil."
I have personally talked to people that believe that they are saved even though they themselves profess to living presently sinful lives. Both the Old and New Testaments agree that God is not pleased with this kind of service. In addition, He is not willing to tolerate it. If you have yielded yourself to the purifying power of God, you should be able to make a list of things that God has removed from your life. Could you do that? Could you tell a friend or a family member of the sinful habits that God has delivered you from, or are you still doing many of those things that are sinful? If you take time to answer these questions honestly to yourself, you could save yourself great trouble in the future. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 11:31-32, "For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world."
Questions to Consider:
Take time today to judge yourself. If you find yourself lacking, repent, turn from your sin, and believe that God will hear you. Ask Him to save you in the name of Jesus, and you will be saved.
In order to evaluate whether we are in the faith or not, we must take time to consider our beliefs. A clear definition of the necessary beliefs then becomes a necessity. As we go through this series of important beliefs in the Christian faith, you will see a steadily narrowing field of eligibility, but this is what we should expect. Jesus Himself said, "Narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" (Matthew 7:14).
Hebrews 11:6 says, "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." This is the very foundation of everything. You must believe that God exists before you can even begin to consider the issue of being in the faith. A person cannot be in the faith if they do not believe in God.
Once you believe in God, the Bible teaches that there is more necessary. In John 3:16, Jesus said, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." In this verse we see the narrowing process once again. There are many people that believe in God that do not believe in Jesus, the Son of God, but a definite belief in the Son of God is necessary in order to have "everlasting life."
After you believe in God and His Son, Jesus, there is still more. Romans 10:9 says, "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." In this verse we have two additional requirements. First, we must confess that Jesus is Lord. This is an audible confession that requires subjection to Christ. In other words, saying "Jesus is Lord of my life" out loud must be accompanied by the willingness to be obedient to Him as Lord. The second, requirement is a matter of faith in that you must believe in your heart that Jesus both died and rose from the dead. A person that does not believe in the resurrection cannot be saved, for it is the power of the resurrection that brings us from being, "dead in trespasses and sins," (Ephesians 2:1) to that "everlasting life" that He promises.
In our modern day, just as the Bible predicts, there are many false teachers. Because of the numerous false teachings concerning the person of Jesus Christ, it is necessary for us to look into one more question before we make our final analysis. Who is Jesus? It may seem simple, but now it is a matter of utmost importance. Interestingly enough, this is not a new question.
In Matthew 16:13-16, Jesus was speaking to His disciples and he asked them, "Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?" The responses that the disciples gave are interesting considering how things are today. They said that some people thought that Jesus was one of the prophets like Elijah or Jeremiah. Some even thought he might be John the Baptist. After giving several answers that they had heard from others, Jesus turned the question to them. It was at that time that Simon Peter uttered these words, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." From this dialogue, we know that a proper understanding of the identity of Jesus is in order.
Clearly by the context of the verses in Matthew, Jesus Himself did not settle for the title of prophet. Rather, He did receive Christ. So, what is the difference? Today many people teach that Jesus was a prophet, or a good teacher, and some even teach that He was an angel. All of these falls well short of Christ, and here is why. The book of Isaiah prophesies many times in bold terms to the nature of the Christ that was to come. Here we will take time to look at two of those. In Isaiah 7:14, it is written, "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." In the Gospel of Matthew, the same verse is quoted and is specifically applied to Jesus. According to Matthew, Jesus was the prophesied son that was to be born of a virgin, and Matthew adds to the verse the meaning of the word Immanuel. In Matthew 1:23, it is written, "...and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us." So, Jesus is not only the Son of God, but He is also "God with us." In Isaiah 9:6, it is written, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." In this passage we have two very interesting phrases to describe the "son" that was given. "Mighty God" should bring an instant realization that the Son would not be a mere man, prophet, or even angelic being, but rather He was and is "mighty God." Also in the list is "everlasting Father." This should not come as a surprise at all considering that in John 14:9, Jesus Himself claimed, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father." The fact that Jesus Christ the Son of God is fully divine is well accounted in both the Old and New Testaments. This mighty Biblical truth is mentioned too many times to name here in this lesson, but for emphasis we will look at a few examples.
In Hebrews 1:8, it is written, "But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever..." God the Father is the speaker in this verse and He makes a direct statement to the Son calling the Son, God. If Jesus had been an angel or a prophet, then God most certainly would have said so here. In addition to this, in the same chapter verse 6 says, "And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him." To contrast this, when Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, he asked Jesus to worship him. Jesus answered with these words in Matthew 4:10, "...for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." The Scriptures clearly teach that only God is to be worshipped, and Jesus is worshipped and receives worship on many occasions in Scripture. Should an angel, a prophet, or a good teacher receive worship? Absolutely not! So then, because it is acceptable and even commanded that Jesus be worshipped, then it stands to reason that Jesus is God.
In John 1:1, it is written, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." In verse 14 of the same chapter it says, "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us..." These verses identify the "Word" as Jesus. Realizing this, verse 1 clearly teaches that Jesus, the Word, was God. The Bible gives more on this concept in 1 John 5:7, "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one." Here again, Jesus is the Word and is one with the Father. As it says in Colossians 2:9, "For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily."
The Scriptures are very specific concerning the identity of Christ Jesus. It is not a wonder that Christians worship Jesus as the Lord of Glory and the Savior of our souls. He is one with the Father and it is through Him and Him alone that we can be saved.
So we come to this conclusion concerning our original question, "Are you in the faith?" In order to be in the Christian Faith you must believe in the existence of God. You must believe that God sent His Son, Jesus, to earth. You must confess Jesus as your Lord, and believe in His death and bodily resurrection from the dead. In addition to all of this, you must properly identify Jesus, the Son of God, as one with God.
In John 20:28, the Apostle Thomas made this confession to Jesus one week after Jesus rose from the dead. When he saw Jesus standing before him with the nail prints in His hands and feet and the mark of the spear in His side he said, "My LORD and my God." This is the confession that each of us needs to make. Jesus must be both our Lord and our God.
We would do well to take the words of the Apostle Paul for ourselves when he wrote to Timothy, "Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine" (1 Timothy 4:16). Before moving on, take time to consider each of the questions above, and resolve to do what is necessary to make your faith based on sound doctrine.
A full examination of our faith must consider works as well. Martin Luther the Reformer once said, "We are saved by faith alone, but not by faith that is alone." How necessary are works? Can we be saved without them? If we cannot be saved by our works then why are works important? All of these questions must be answered, and fortunately, the Scriptures give the answers that we need.
We cannot be saved by our works! No matter how hard we try and no matter what good deeds we do even to the sacrificing of our own lives, we cannot earn salvation. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." So, if we cannot be saved by works, then can we be saved without them? The book of James presents an illustration that makes this very clear. Imagine that you saw a person that neither had neither clothes nor food. When the person passed by, you said to them, "Go and be warm and well fed," but you did not give them any clothing and you did not offer them food. What benefit is there to your nice words? None whatsoever! Words that have no background in action are empty and void of meaning. However, if those same words were accompanied with a warm set of clothes and a hot bowl of soup, then the benefit would be quite noticeable.
The point that the Scripture is making by this illustration is summed up in James 2:17, "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone." So, how necessary are works? Very necessary in every way. If we are without them, then our faith is dead. A dead faith is certainly not going to save us. So we see that works cannot save us, but the absence of works will kill our faith.
Let us consider more of the words from the book of James. James 2:21-24 says, "Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only." In this passage we are referred to Abraham in the book of Genesis. What if Abraham had believed God, but refused to obey? His belief in God would have been nothing but empty words.
Many times I come across people that say they believe in God but their actions prove a disobedient heart. I refer them to a verse taken from this same passage in James. James 2:19 says, "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble." How is someone that believes and disobeys better than a devil? That is exactly what devils do. They believe, but their belief does not save them. Their belief is nullified for lack of obedience, and so is the faith of any person that believes in Christ but does not do the works that are necessary.
If Abraham had refused to offer Isaac upon the altar, then we might have never known about him at all. He certainly would not have been called the "father of all then that believe" in Romans 4:11. If he had not obeyed, then the faith that he had expressed would have been canceled by a lack of obedience and works. That is why James 2:24 says, "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only."
Many people that read this may not be able to make a list of works. According to the Scriptures, if you have no works then your faith is dead and it will not save you. Your faith must be perfected by your works. Without your works you will stand before God with the goats of Matthew 25:31-46. If you profess Jesus as your Lord and Savior, but are not working in His Kingdom, then you should repent and consider your ways. Jesus is coming soon. Let us work to insure that we will not be counted a wicked servant like the man in Luke 19:22 that did not work for his master as he should have.