“Do You Pass THE Test?” – 9-4-16

2 Corinthians 13:5
Examine yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Don’t you understand that Jesus Christ is in you? Unless, of course, you fail the test.

Matthew 7:21-23
“Not everybody who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will get into the kingdom of heaven. Only those who do the will of my Father who is in heaven will enter. On the Judgment Day, many people will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name and expel demons in your name and do lots of miracles in your name?’ Then I’ll tell them, ‘I’ve never known you. Get away from me, you people who do wrong.’

Praise God that I graduated from seminary at Emory University 5 years ago. The days of writing about 25 pages per paper per class paper for the 4 classes each year are over. The best part is, not that I really worried much about them, no more tests for that! I have had a few teachers that every now and then would give us a tough test, then we would grade our own test. It always was especially more painful to immediately find out the questions that you got wrong. If the result was bad, your sense of failure was immediate and to me more personal. PTL, At my age the tests I take now or will take are stress tests & EKGs & hearing & vision tests. And I don’t have to study for them.

The problem with tests is that even though we don’t think so, the tests are given for our benefit and not to satisfy the sadistic side of the teacher. You know, at times God does the same thing. In fact, all the way through the Bible you’ll find God giving that kind of a benefit test. God gave Abraham and Sarah a son in their old age and then God tested Abraham when he told him to take Isaac and offer him as a sacrifice on the mountain. That test was for Abraham’s benefit, not God’s. God knew Abraham’s heart, and He knew that Abraham loved Him. But God wanted Abraham to know just how far he was willing to go in trusting God…. Abraham passed the test!

God gave Jonah a test but he failed. Instead of immediately going to Ninevah Jonah went the opposite way. With a Hurricane Katrina style storm and then living in the belly of a big fish for 3 days, Jonah repented and God then could use him. The test was for Jonah’s benefit, not for God’s. God tested Peter on the seashore during breakfast after the resurrection, when Jesus asked him, “Do you love me, Simon? Do you really love me?” Only 3 questions on that test but it wasn’t an easy test.

Now how about you? If you were asked, “Do you love God?” how would you answer? I imagine that most of us would answer, “Of course I love God.” It’s easy to say that we love God, as long as we sometimes don’t probe any deeper than that. But the Bible does probe deeper, & it asks far more questions than just that one. Let’s look at some test questions and related scripture.

Question 1. ARE YOU IN THE FAITH?
2 Corinthians 13:5, Examine yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Don’t you understand that Jesus Christ is in you? Unless, of course, you fail the test.”

Paul is writing to the church at Corinth, to people who claim to love God but who are having a lot of problems getting along with each other. Think about what Paul is really saying. “Examine yourself. Give yourself a test: Are you in the faith?” As a Christian, if Jesus Christ lives in you and His Spirit affects the way you think and speak and act, then the answer is “Yes.” But if the way you speak and act shows that Jesus Christ is not living in you, then no matter how much you may say you love God, the answer is “No,” & you have failed the test.

I don’t want to fail that test. I don’t want to come to the end of my life and discover that I’m not “in the faith.” I don’t want to be one of those Jesus spoke about in Matthew 7:21 when he said, “Not everybody who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will get into the kingdom of heaven. Only those who do the will of my Father who is in heaven will enter.” Now that is bad enough, but listen to vs’s 22-23, “Many people will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name and expel demons in your name and do lots of miracles in your name?’ Then I’ll tell them, ‘I’ve never known you.” Right or wrong, that passage bothers me because Jesus is saying that on Judgment Day there will be people claiming to be Christians who will hear Him say, “I never knew you.” How can that be? Doesn’t God know everybody?

Of course He does! So that’s not what He’s saying. He’s not saying, “I don’t know who you are.” In the Bible, when the words “know” or “knew” are used regarding a relationship, it means “to be very close, to be intimate.” So when Jesus says, “I never knew you,” He’s saying, “You never came to me. We were never close. You just used me. You really didn’t have an ongoing, meaningful relationship with me.” Or I think Jesus is saying, you haven’t really always attempted to be like me, act like me, care like me, love like me. So what must we do? How can we know that we are in the faith and pass the test? The issue here is salvation. The issue is what does the Bible really say about salvation that is more than just words and surface feeling. Thank God that He actually made it easy to understand.

1. To begin with, it says that we must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Do you believe in Him? You do? Then you are in the faith, right? No, not yet. James 2:19 says, “It’s good that you believe that God is one. Ha! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble with fear.” Demons are certainly not in the faith, they’re lost, and they know it. So there is more to faith than simply believing in Jesus. And that is the point that Paul is making when he writes about Jesus living in us and His Spirit affecting the way we think and speak and act.

Then does that mean that I’m in the faith? The Bible teaches that if we believe in Jesus Christ, the obvious next step would be our decision to make Jesus Christ the Lord and Master of our life. This is called repentance. It means that we turn around and start going in God’s direction. We were going our own way and now we turn our lives over to Him and we begin trying to live the way God wants us to live.

Let us think about this. There are lots of people who were immoral before they accepted Christ and they’re just as immoral afterwards. There are people who were dishonest before they accepted Christ, and they’re just as dishonest afterwards. They were greedy before, and they’re still greedy even though they call themselves Christians. Idols before and after. There are those who gossiped, back bit, and didn’t really love people before they accepted Christ and they are the same now. There are lots of people that were pretty good people before they accepted Christ, and they are pretty good now too.

I suggest that if your life is not changed and ever changing, if you can’t point to some definite changes that God is making in your life, then you’re failing the test. Because faith always brings about definite ongoing change in our lives. These changes should be noticeable and ongoing through time until the end of our time here on earth because these changes should be constantly occurring because repenting is constantly occuring. We continually want to find more ways to go God’s way and that is to be like Jesus.
When that happens we then want to proclaim our faith in Jesus with our mouth and with the testimony of our lives. In everything I do, I will be giving a testimony that Jesus Christ is the Lord of my life.

The Bible also teaches that if we have a living, dynamic faith that we will be obedient to the commands of the Lord. Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” The Apostle John wrote 1 John 5:3, “This is the love of God: we keep God’s commandments. God’s commandments are not difficult.”

Dynamic faith makes the commandments not difficult. For instance, it says Thou shalt not murder.” But Jesus expanded that to include verbal and mental murder. Oh my how the world as well as those who claim to be followers of Jesus do that today. Jesus preached love. Dynamic faith filled followers really love others, others that come from ANY walk in life. Dynamic faith equals dynamic obedience. Now have you passed the test? Are you in the faith? Can you say that Jesus Christ is living in you and that He has made a definite and positive change in your life to date and ongoing?

II. AM I RECOGNIZING THE BODY OF THE LORD?
1 Corinthians 11:26-27 is the basis for this question. “Every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you broadcast the death of the Lord until he comes. This is why those who eat the bread and drink the cup inappropriately will be guilty of the Lord’s body and blood.” There’s a warning there about inappropriately coming to the communion table. Verse 28 is our challenge. “Each individual should test himself or herself, and eat from the bread and drink from the cup in that way.” There’s more, “Those who eat and drink without correctly understanding the body are eating and drinking their own judgment. Because of this, many of you are weak and sick, and quite a few have died. But if we had judged ourselves, we wouldn’t be judged.”

Think about these verses. The early church met together regularly in a time of Communion, and we do too today. Here is what Paul is saying. “Every time you gather around this table you ought to look deep inside and examine yourself. And here is the test question, ‘Am I recognizing the Lord’s body?’”

That’s an important question, and I think that it includes two things:
First of all, “As I take communion, am I thinking about Jesus hanging on the cross? Do I see the nails driven into His hands and feet, and His blood? Do I hear the mean crowd? Do I see His pain? Do I realize that He is hanging there for my sin, that my sin put Him there, my sin drove the nails?” Are you recognizing the body, or are you just taking the sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary for granted?

Secondly, I think that “recognizing the body of the Lord” also includes this: The Bible tells us that the church is the body of Christ. And the only way the world will ever know about God is for the church to do its God given job. Be reminded that the churches given job is not just to be a good social club, it is to be reaching out more than looking inward. Are you faithful in it? Are you giving of your time and your talent and your energy to make the church a true reflection of the love of God expressed through Jesus our Lord?

The question is, “Are you recognizing the body of Christ?” If the answer is “Yes,” then partake of the body and bread. If the answer is “No,” then Paul says, “You are becoming weak and sick, and may be dead.” Then notice how Paul ends this passage about examining ourselves. He basically says, “If we judge ourselves, then we won’t have to worry about the judgment of God.”

You see, final exam time is coming. And Paul says, “If you have passed all the pop quizzes, if you have been answering the questions correctly, then when the final exam day comes, you won’t have to worry about the judgment. Because all along you have been judging yourself.”

All the time you have been making adjustments, repentance. All the time you have been correcting what’s wrong. As you have looked at yourself and realized that maybe you’re not in the faith, you did something about it so that when Judgment Day comes, you can walk in with complete assurance with Jesus as your Savior & Lord.

As we come to the table, I pray that you pass the test.

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