Joshua Harris has gone from separation in his marriage to divorce and now to a rejection of the Christian faith in the span of just a few days.
People are grieving over this. They are laughing at it. They are confused over it.
For many, as we read comments on various posts on FB, there’s revealed in this a marked lack of understanding about the nature of salvation and what is called the perseverance of believers.
So some will just say, “well he was never saved.” Which is technically correct, but manages to miss the point.
Others will say, “I will pray that he can repent from his apostasy.” Again, good sounding, but is it proper?
Others see it as merely a rejection of a type of Christianity and that he will be fine. Which says that the Christian faith is a bit vague and not something we can really get our heads around.
How can you "know" you have eternal life? By testing yourself with a sincere self-examination.
"Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you-- unless indeed you fail the test?" (2 Cor. 13:5)
Paul has sincere concerns with some who are in the church of Corinth.
Are they truly Christians? Are they walking in faithfulness?
And so he gives them a challenge to examine themselves.
So here’s where it can get hard at times.
We don’t like to actually spend time thinking and examining ourselves. We would rather placate and assure ourselves that everything is fine.
In the breakdown of sound teaching in the church today, there’s the loss of clear gospel preaching. It often carries the idea of the gospel and even the core of the gospel but it never matures the gospel into the fulness of what it truly is.
So we think because we assent to the gospel facts, and that we like hearing that God’s grace is greater than our sin, that, then, everything is somehow ok.
But in Romans 5, where Paul is celebrating the glory of the power of God’s grace, he doesn’t put a period on it and close out his writing. He immediately then takes us to the lies we tell ourselves in chapter 6.
What’s important to understand in 2 Cor. 13, is that Paul isn’t asking the people if they believe (or if they have a personal faith). Rather, “The faith” is a technical term, and it’s often misunderstood today.
So when he says to test yourself to see if you’re in the faith, he’s first asking if they have a sound doctrine.
And then second (and this is the critical part), but are they abiding in that sound doctrine with their lives?
John apparently has similar concerns. In fact, the gospels and the epistles all share this concern. In 1 John 5:13 he states, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life.”
Eleven questions we can ask to help us see if we are “in the faith.” Or, to use John’s terminology, “Eleven questions we can ask to see if we have eternal life.”
-- 1:4 we write to make your joy complete/full/mature.
Test #1 : A lifestyle living under ungodly worldviews.
1 John 1:5-6 “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”
Test #2 : A heart of bitterness toward the brethren.
1 John 2:8-10 “On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining. The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him.”
Test #3 : A life of consistent disobedience
1 John 2:3-6 “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.”
Test #4 : A rejection of the brethren
1 John 2: 9-11 “The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”
Test #5 : Are you a lover of the world?
1 John 2:15-17 “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.”
Test # 6 : A turning from the fullness of the Godhead
1 John 2:21-25 “I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth. Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also. As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. This is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life.”
Test #7 : A lifestyle of sin vs righteousness
1 John 3:9-10 “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. 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.”
Test #8 : A lack of palpable care and concern for other believers
1 John 3:14-19 “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him…”
Test # 9 A rejection of apostolic teaching
1 John 4:5-6 “They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”
Test #10 : A lack of abiding in a love for God and the brethren
1 John 4:11-17 “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.”
1 John 4:20-21 “If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.”
Test #11 : A rejection of a true Christology that involves Lordship
1 John 5:1-15 “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world-- our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”
Notice again the strong connection of right theology with right relationship between both God and man. We tend to separate these with great ease, but the bible never does. It is the difference of separation vs distinction.
So when we ask the question of whether or not we’re abiding in “the faith” this is a good place to begin.
Are you daily walking in accordance to revealed truth? And are you persevering in this?
It’s not enough to profess, but does your profession inform an abiding practice?