Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Real Christian? Use This Checklist

"A bit simplistic!" - You protest! Yes, it has limitations, but the Bible, God's word, does call on people to examine their consciences and their lives to weigh up this all-important subject. Here are some simple tests, but be careful - if you fail (and some people will), you must take appropriate action. I'll make that clear as I conclude.


Here's the direct challenge: 'Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realise this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? - unless indeed you fail to meet the test!' (2 Corinthians 13:5).

So, here is the first big test (All the following references are from the First Letter of John) - do we now have peace with God through faith in Christ and share our inmost self with God - hiding nothing, and learning to love and obey him day by day? 'If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth' (1 John 1:6).


This is a big test, because by nature sin makes us all dirty and unclean in God's sight and nothing - no self effort, no spiritual meditation, no religious good works will cleanse us. God's cleansing power comes only through being 'born of God' (1 John 5:4) by his Holy Spirit, who enables us to know that 'the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin' (1 John 1:7). Are you being made clean through the power of Jesus' blood, shed once on the cross?


This is closely connected to the previous tests, for no one ever became a real Christian without receiving the forgiveness of their sins. Christ, the eternal Son of God, died making 'propitiation for our sins' (1 John 2:2) - that is, in his suffering on the cross, Jesus fully satisfied, once for all, God's holy judgement against sin. Now 'If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness' (1 John 1:9).


A vital part of the self-examination test we noted is to check if 'Jesus Christ is in you'. This is the indwelling Christ, who is given to us by God's gracious Holy Spirit, 'Whoever has the Son has life' (1 John 5:12). When we are born of God he goes on transforming, teaching us from God's word and sharing fellowship with God to us; 'By this we know that we abide [remain or continue] in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit' (1 John 4:13).


What an amazing honour, to be adopted into the family of God! All these tests tie in together. The forgiveness of our sins, being cleansed and born of God into his family, and having fellowship with God and the beginnings of true righteousness from our inner transformation, are parts of the same wonderful reality of being in Christ. This amazes us as we 'See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are' (1 John 3:1).


Yes, this searches the hearts of all Christians! So, do I have some measure (we never love perfectly!) of practical, caring, self-denying love for my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ? Am I self-centred or other-centred? Do I pray for them, encourage them in their faith and share my material blessings with them? 'We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers' (1 John 3:14).


This is the bottom line - do you have personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ - is he your Saviour and Lord? Some of the tests will have helped to clarify this vital issue helping you to gain a clear assurance of eternal life. An assurance grounded in what Christ has accomplished for you and has begun to apply in you, as John makes clear, 'I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life' (1 John 5:13).

  •     FAILED?

If you have failed at some point is these tests and realise you are most likely not a real Christian, don't stay in the darkness of spiritual death, cut off from God, or just uncertain. Come to him today, just as you are. Go back over some of the biblical truths I have shared and ask God to apply them you to your life.

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