By Allen White
Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?
2 Corinthians 13:5
When I was 16-years-old, I became a member of my home church in Topeka, Kansas. The membership application asked the expected questions about my salvation experience and whether I had been baptized. Then, it asked about whether I participated in the following:
1. Do you smoke or drink alcohol?
2. Do you go to movies?
3. Do you play cards or dice?
There might have been some other questions along those lines, but those are the ones that stand out to me. I happily responded that I did not participate in any of these evil activities. Fortunately, they didn’t ask about spiritual pride or self-righteousness. I wouldn’t have qualified for membership.
Most religious institutions are harder to join than God’s family. God isn’t so concerned with quality control. God is not worried about being embarrassed by us. God just loves us. His ace in the hole is grace. Grace keeps us. Grace helps us. Grace grows us. If salvation depended on human effort, then God would have plenty to worry about. Fortunately, He’s taken much of that out of the equation.
So, here’s the question: why did Paul challenge the Corinthians to examine themselves and determine whether they were in the faith? What is that test?
Here’s a possible test:
1. Am I depending on Christ for my salvation? (Ephesians 2:8-9)
2. Is the faith I profess based on the Word of God, the Bible? (Romans 10:17)
3. What evidence does my life give for my faith in Christ? (James 2:17-18)
If we feel that we pass that short test, then we should celebrate what we’ve received in Christ. We should embrace the fact that “Christ is in us.” The power that created the universe in a spoke word, the power that raised Christ from the dead, lives in you and me. What could stand in our way? What couldn’t be accomplished? What is God calling you to? Don’t be intimidated. Ask God to reveal His power in your life to fulfill His calling.
If you’re not sure that you passed the test, but you want to follow Christ, the solution is simple: ask Jesus to forgive you of your sin and surrender the control of your life to Him. If you’re not sure how, then just pray the words from the last sentence: “Jesus, forgive me of my sins and take control of my life.” It’s as easy as that, yet profoundly radical.
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