Summary: Paul encouraged the Corinthians to examine their own faith. What does that look like?
WHO'S IN? There are a lot of questionable boundary markers for the Christian faith.
- If you read the obituary page, you will discover some marvelous realities. Among them:
a. Upwards of 90% of people are going to heaven.
b. People are members of church despite the fact that they haven’t been in that church for decades.
- Needless to say, there are some questionable boundary markers for the Christian faith.
- What are some of the false boundary markers that we put up?
a. Praying a certain prayer.
b. Walking an aisle.
c. Having an emotional experience in church.
d. Feeling convicted of sin.
e. Getting baptized.
f. Attending church.
g. Trying to lead a moral life.
h. Knowing facts about Jesus.
- I have preached extensively on the failure of the conservative Christian church to preach the whole gospel for salvation. Instead, so many churches preach that you simply need to “believe in Jesus,” with that being defined as making a public statement without needing any change to your life.
PAUL'S ENCOURAGEMENT: Examine your faith.
- This is a provocative statement from Paul. Examine your life to see if you are in the faith.
- Part of this flows from Paul’s discussion of how the Corinthians were trashing him. Here he replies: instead of accusing me, examine yourselves.
- Why should we examine our faith?
a. The Bible is replete with false belief.
b. We can just do what those around us do.
c. We need to have a Biblical faith.
- This injunction is a clarion call to us that the Christian faith is not an inscrutable mystery.
- Dallas Willard spoke how making the question of whether you’re a Christian into some ponderous question is to completely misunderstanding Jesus and His call. Have a believed in Jesus and am I following Him? It’s straightforward.
- He wrote, “First of all, we should not that being a disciple, or apprentice, of Jesus is a quite definite and obvious kind of thing. To make a mystery of it is to misunderstand it. There is no good reason why people should ever be in doubt as to whether they themselves are His students or not.”
- Ok then, if I am going to examine my faith, what should I look for? Let’s look at a few initial questions.
SOME QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
- There are a number ways to approach this idea, since there is not a definitive Biblical list that says, “Here are the defining characteristics of the Christian life!”
- A helpful resource can be found in John, where in three places Jesus says, “If you’re really My disciple, here is a sign of that.” These three places provide a helpful framework for us.
- It is worth noting that these are questions to push us in the right general direction. I am not arguing that these are the full and only definers of true faith. Rather, I am throwing out some questions that touch on a key element that the three passages in John talk about.
1. What have you done because Jesus commanded it that you wouldn’t have otherwise?
- John 8:31-32.
- This passage speaks of the essential importance of holding to the teaching of Jesus. Jesus also talks about this in the Sermon on the Mount when He makes His “Lord, Lord” statement as well as the “solid rock” parable.
- We are to obey the teaching of Christ and not just say we have a vague “belief” in Him.
- One mark of that (not the only one, but an important one) is looking at what you have done only because Jesus commanded it.
- Jesus’ teaching is challenging and difficult at many points. It pushes us beyond our selfish, sinful ways. We must forgive even though we want revenge. We must deny ourselves even though we want to satisfy our desires. We must reject sexual sin even though we are tempted. We must love our brothers and sisters in Christ even though they drive us crazy sometimes.
- All these are things we are called to do because of Jesus’ commands.
- An essential starting point for growing as a disciple of Jesus is realizing that Jesus’ teaching is wiser than my own thoughts and desires. And so, if I have to choose between what I want and what Jesus says, I choose what Jesus says.
- So let’s go back to the question: what have you done because Jesus commanded it that you wouldn’t have otherwise? If you can’t think of anything, that may well be a sign that you’re not obeying Him.