Page Index and Quicklinks:
1) Gospel Belief and Confession
4) Good Works by Grace
2) Born Again / Sonship / Correction
5) The Fruit of the Spirit
3) Repentance / Deliverance from Sin
Passing / Failing the Tests
Extra Verses and Comments on This Bible Study
1John 5:12-13 (Wey) He who has the Son has the Life: he who has not the Son of God has not the Life. I write all this to you in order that you who believe in the Son of God may know for certain...
2Cor 13:5 (TEB) Put yourselves to the test and judge yourselves, to find out whether you are living in the faith...
2Cor 13:5 (Liv) Check up on yourselves. Are you really Christians? Do you pass the test? Do you feel Christ's presence and power more and more within you? Or are you just pretending to be Christians when you really aren't at all?
There is a good deal of information on how to "test yourself" in scripture; especially on repentance from sin and being a new creation. The problem in developing this Bible Study was to decide which scriptures to take out so that it was not too long, while at the same time providing enough verses to make a succinct case for each test. Given all that was removed, we have placed the extra texts and additional comments in this document for the purpose of further study, as teacher's notes, and for general reference. Where there is a full, posted Bible Study focusing on the topic or a related dialog posting, the links are included in the appropriate section, below. Some verses--in different translations---are repeated here for the sake of flow and readability.
MORE ON TEST 1: Gospel Belief and Confession of Faith
1Cor 15:1-4 (Wey) But let me recall to you, brethren, the Good News [Gospel] which I brought you, which you accepted, and on which you are standing, through which also you are obtaining salvation, if you bear in mind the words in which I proclaimed it--unless indeed your faith has been unreal from the very first. For I repeated to you the all-important fact which also I had been taught, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures; that He was buried; that He rose to life again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.
1Tim 6:12 (NIV) Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
Christians believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and confess Him as Lord. What we believe, have faith in, and confess must be true (1Cr 15:16-19). Thus, sound doctrine passed down to us by the apostles through scripture is critical.
Luke 9:23-24 (NIV) Then he [Jesus] said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it."
Mat 16:24 (NIV) Then Jesus said... "Follow me."
2Tim 2:8 (TCN) Keep before your mind Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David, as told in the Good News [Gospel]...
Mat 10:32-33 (NAS) [Jesus:] "Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven."
John 10:26-27 (NIV) [Jesus:] "But you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me."
For a full Bible Study on The Gospel, see: http://www.acts17-11.com/gospel.html
Acts 2:42 (NIV) They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching...
Titus 1:9 (NIV) He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers...
Mat 7:15 (NAS) "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing..."
Heb 2:1 (Wey) For this reason we ought to pay the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, for fear we should drift away from them.
Col 1:19-23a (NIV) For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things... by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation, if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.
MORE ON TEST 2: Born Again / The Inner Witness / Correction
John 3:3-7 (NKJ) Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'"
New Birth by The Holy SpiritRom 8:16 (NAS) The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.
While subjective, and misused by many cults, scripture makes no apology for emphasizing the "inner witness" as an ongoing way to know we are really born-again Christians. By itself, and if opposed to the truth we have received in scripture, such can lead to deception; to be sure. But for true believers the "spirit of adoption" is an inner sanction that acts in concert with sound doctrine and growth in grace. It is not a matter of just having the "inner witness," for such by itself could be a dangerous delusion. We must have this together with a love for the truth (2Tm 2:10b), a holding fast to sound doctrine (2Tm 4:3) that comes from God, and other proofs of new life (see below).
Gal 4:6 (Phi) It is because you are really his sons that God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts to cry "Father, dear Father."
Rom 8:9,16 (NKJ) Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His... The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.
2Tim 1:13-14 (NAS) Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.
2Tim 1:12 (NIV) ...I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.
John 16:13 (NIV) "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth."
John 14:16-17 (RSV) [Jesus:] "And I will pray to the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you."
New Life: Spirit vs. FleshJohn 3:6 (NIV) "Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit."
1Pet 1:23 (Jer) Your new birth was not from any mortal seed but from the everlasting word of the living and eternal God.
Rom 8:5-9 (Wey) For if men are controlled by their earthly natures, they give their minds to earthly things. If they are controlled by their spiritual natures, they give their minds to spiritual things. Because for the mind to be given up to earthly things means death; but for it to be given up to spiritual things means Life and peace. Abandonment to earthly things is a state of enmity to God. Such a mind does not submit to God's Law, and indeed cannot do so. And those whose hearts are absorbed in earthly things cannot please God. You, however, are not devoted to earthly, but to spiritual things, if the Spirit of God is really dwelling in you; whereas if any man has not the Spirit of Christ, such a one does not belong to Him.
1Cor 2:12-15 (NAS) Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one.
1John 2:20 (NIV) But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.
1John 4:6 (NAS) We are from God; he who knows God listens to us [the apostles / scripture]; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
Training in Righteousness
Beyond the "Spirit of Adoption" test, we have the ongoing test of whether God is really our Father by whether or not He corrects / rebukes us.
Prov 3:11-12 (NKJ) My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction; for whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights.
Heb 12:5-8 (NRS) And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as children--"My child, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, or lose heart when you are punished by him; for the Lord disciplines those whom he loves, and chastises every child whom he accepts." ...God is treating you as children; for what child is there whom a parent does not discipline? If you do not have that discipline in which all children share, then you are illegitimate and not his children.
Heb 12:8 (KJV) But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
This much is certain: if we are not chastened by the Lord, then we are not His. If we are, then while the rebuke can be painful, it is a sure sign that we are His children; and this eternal assurance is easy to "forget" (Heb 12:5) at times.
For a full Bible Study exploring the Discipline / Rebuke of the Lord, see: http://www.acts17-11.com/rebuke.html
Prov 22:15 (NKJ) Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him.
Ps 23:4 (NAS) ...I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
Pr 15:5 (NKJ) A fool despises his father's instruction, But he who receives correction is prudent.
Pr 13:18 (NKJ) Poverty and shame will come to him who disdains correction, but he who regards a rebuke will be honored.
Jer 31:20 (NIV) Is not Ephraim my dear son, the child in whom I delight? Though I often speak against him, I still remember him...
The Word of The LordProv 15:31 (NIV) He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise. He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding. The fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom...
2Tim 3:13-17 (NIV) Evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of... All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Rebuke from the Lord often comes through His word: through scripture. Whether this, or more painful physical punishment later if we reject His word, whenever and however we are punished by God it is sure proof that He cares enough to meddle in our affairs; that He is changing us to be "fit" for the Kingdom of God; that He is truly our Father. Do you pass the test?
1Pet 1:14-17 (NIV) As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." Since you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.
Heb 12:9-13 (NRS) Moreover, we had human parents to discipline us, and we respected them. Should we not be even more willing to be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share his holiness. Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.
MORE ON TEST 3: Repentance / Deliverance From Sin
John 8:11 (NAS) ...Jesus said, "...Go. From now on, sin no more."
John 8:11 (NIV) ..."Go now and leave your life of sin."
Mat 7:21 (NRS) "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven."
1John 3:5-9 (Wey) Dear children, let no one lead you astray... No one who is a child of God is habitually guilty of sin. A God-given... life [is] in him, and he cannot habitually sin--because he is a child of God.
2John 1:6-11 (NIV) ...This is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands... Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work.
Mat 18:6-7 (NIV) "But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come!"
Obedience Is Not Optional for Those Calling Jesus "Lord, Lord"
Contrary to popular belief, repentance from sin is not optional for Christians, but a rather a sure test of whether or not we are real Christians. Those who really "know Him," those who are truly "His children," will not continue on in habitual sin. Suggesting to people that that they can remain in sin is an obvious "red flag" of being a false teacher, in fact; and "causing the little ones to sin" will be punished most severely. Thus, lovers of God must "beware" of such doctrines and teachers, for they are clearly false and "anti-christ" in nature; defying the very words of Jesus and the apostles in Scripture.
1John 3:7-10 (NAS) Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. 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.
This is one of the surest tests offered over and again in God's word. Yet in popular religion there is a widespread false teaching that you can "say a prayer" and sin all you like and have a "ticket to heaven;" that grace is a "license for immorality." This is an error that will wind many people up in hell, just as Jesus warned. It is not like this is debatable, or hard to understand. For we have been warned in the sternest of terms, and over and again. There in no place in the bible that suggests, or even hints, that you can deliberately remain in sin and be a "Christian." Quite the opposite.
Experiential Denial of the Lordship of ChristTitus 1:16 (NAS) They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.
1Pet 1:15-16 (NRS) Instead, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; for it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy."
Mat 13:13,15 (NIV) "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are."
Titus 1:16a (NIV) They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him.
Accommodating Sin: Antichrist Teaching We are Warned to Avoid
It is bad enough to disobey the Lord, but it is much worse to call Him "Lord, Lord," while doing so. For no matter what we say, if we don't obey Him as Lord then "by our actions" we are "denying Him as Lord." Worse still, to do this and then teach / encourage others to do the same is a very grave situation indeed--as the next verse illustrates yet again. For while ear-tickling doctrine directly opposing what Jesus and His apostles taught is currently popular, in scripture we find a very different message, emphasis, and stridency concerning sin.
Mark 9:42-47 (NIV) "And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell."
Don't you get the idea that not sinning is rather important from this? Is this a matter to be taken lightly?
Titus 2:11-12 (TEB) For God has revealed his grace for the salvation of all men. That grace instructs us to give up ungodly living and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this world.
The Whole Council of God
Beyond Jesus... James, Peter, Paul, and John (the writers of the New Testament, in one accord) also insist that we must "give up ungodly living" as sure evidence of receiving grace--that we must prove our faith by what we do.
James 2:14-24 (Wey) What good is it, my brethren, if a man professes to have faith, and yet his actions do not correspond? Can such faith save him?.. Faith, if it is unaccompanied by obedience, has no life in it--so long as it stands alone. Some one will say, "You have faith, I have actions: prove to me your faith apart from corresponding actions and I will prove mine to you by my actions." You believe that God is one, and you are quite right: evil spirits also believe this, and shudder. But, idle boaster, are you willing to be taught how it is that faith apart from obedience is worthless? Take the case of Abraham our forefather... You notice that his faith was co-operating with his actions, and that by his actions his faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "And Abraham believed God, and his faith was placed to his credit as righteousness," and he received the name of 'God's friend.' You see that it is because of actions that a man is pronounced righteous, and not simply because of faith.
James is not saying that works can save you; they can't (Eph 2:8-10). He is saying that if faith is real, not "dead," then the righteousness God has worked into us will work its way out in action; in deed. He is saying the same thing Paul said: we must "prove our repentance with our deeds" (Acts 26:20); and the same thing Jesus said regarding "who would enter the Kingdom" (Mt 7:21). James often gets a bad rap, as if he is the only one who makes this point in scripture. But it is not true. Paul and John (especially) simply make the point that you must obey; James is at least courteous enough to explain why, as does Peter. All the writing Apostles, in one voice, repeat the emphasis of Jesus Christ in this regard.
2Peter 2:11 (Wey) Dear friends, I entreat you as pilgrims and foreigners not to indulge the cravings of your lower natures: for all such cravings wage war upon the soul.
Peter speaks further of those who use "empty words" to convince themselves and others that they have received Salvation when they have obviously not, saying:
2Peter 2:18-19 (NIV) For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity--for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.
Eph 4:20-24 (NIV) You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Has grace taught you to say "No" to sin? Have you been, and are you being, delivered from sin? Or rather, have you embraced false doctrines which say you can disobey Jesus and yet call Him "Lord, Lord" and somehow get away with this? How do you rate on this test?
Jesus really heals and saves, not just theoretically or delusively. It is thus an insult to Him to suggest that we are too bad to be saved; to assert that we are too far gone for Him to purify us and make us holy. On the contrary, the Lord can save the worst of men... and delights in doing so! What do we believe more in: the power of our own sin, or the power of Jesus Christ? Which do we have more faith in?
1John 4:4c (Wey) For greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.
... And "in the world" includes our carnal natures, right? Have we exalted our own propensity to sin over the power and glory of Jesus Christ? For which is greater? Can't Jesus really save us? It is just a matter of delusions we kid ourselves with; or of minor maturing over the years?
Let us be clear regarding the miraculous nature of what God can--and will--do when a person repents and is born again into new-life. For we are not here talking about merely growing up from the more dramatic sins of youth; for this happens with unbelievers as well. Right? Most people learn not to sin in obviously damaging or illegal ways from the more outrageous mistakes and excesses of their youth, and one does not have to be "born from above" to figure out that morality in measure has its benefits. For example, as they mature unbelievers can stop getting drunk, stop having so many sexual partners, etc., etc., and many--if not most--do. But God is requiring something way beyond this. He is looking to radically change our instincts and motives and feelings and thoughts from the inside out, and in a miraculous way.
Mat 5:20-28(NIV) [Jesus:] "For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment... "You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart."
It is not enough to say "I have stopped sleeping around since I got married" as proof of christian conversion, for example, since many people have done this as they have simply matured as worldlings. Jesus is commanding us not to commit adultery even in the thought life, with the most severe consequences at stake. How can this be done? Well, it can't be done... short of the miracle of new-birth and new-life in Christ. Jesus consistently raised the moral bar; He never lowered it. He raised it so high, in fact, that we can have no illusions that we can achieve God's standard of righteousness by mere human means. Our only option, then, is to turn to Him and receive His life, His righteousness. But receive it we must, and really. Have we done so, or have we just grown up as worldlings into less openly noxious sinners?
1John 3:5 (NAS) You know that He appeared in order to take away sins.
2Cor 13:7a (Wey) Our prayer to God is that you may do nothing wrong.
Sin Leads to Death. Jesus Cleanses Us From All UnrighteousnessHeb 6:1 (NIV) Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death...
For a full Bible Study on Repentance, see: http://www.acts17-11.com/repent.html
1John 2:1 (NIV) My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense--Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.
Ps 51:6-10 (NIV) Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow... Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
1John 1:9 (NIV) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
1John 3:2-3 (NIV) Dear friends, now we are children of God... Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.
Rom 6:2,4 (NIV)...We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?.. We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
2Tim 2:21 (NIV) If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.
Eph 5:11 (Phi) Let your lives be living proofs of the things which please God. Steer clear of the fruitless activities of darkness; let your lives [instead] expose their futility.
Rom 6:22 (WEB) But now, being made free from sin, and having become servants of God, you have your fruit of sanctification, and the result of eternal life.
MORE ON TEST 4: Good Works by Grace
Acts 5:20 (NIV) "Go.. and tell the people the full message of this new life."
1Cor 15:10 (Wey) But what I am I am by the grace of God, and His grace bestowed upon me did not prove ineffectual. But I labored more strenuously than all the rest--yet it was not I, but God's grace working with me.
2Cor 3:5 (NIV) Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.
For a Bible Study Series on Grace which deals with the subjects of How we are Saved, New Life, Good Works, and Fruit, see: http://www.acts17-11.com/grace.html
1Tim 5:25 (NIV) In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not cannot be hidden.
It should be noted--in the verse that follows--that good works, even those thought to be sourced by the Holy Spirit through the gifts, can be a deception if the other tests are not passed; especially the fruit test. Thus, we should be careful not put too much stock in this test if passed in isolation, for we do not want to deceive ourselves.
Mat 7:20-23 (NRS) "Thus you will know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?' Then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.'"
This is a clear warning that some will come touting ministry as a means to gain favor with the Lord... and they will be rejected. Good works will never get us grace with God. Rather, if we have God's grace, then that grace will be the power to do good works and produce good fruit as well. Have you ever seen anyone trudging along in human powered "good works," full of resentment, bitterness, strife, impatience, cynicism, pride, etc.? Where is the fruit of the Spirit? Has this "anyone" ever been you? We must have more than just a bunch of "good deeds." We are warned not to get the cart before the horse. God has planned for us to do good works through the power of the gifts of the Spirit, not of ourselves. We should produce good deeds if the Good One is in us. But we must have love (for example, the first fruit) and good deeds, and not deceive ourselves by running on mere human energy with the resultant manifestation of anti-fruit. Again, we "must be born again" into a new kind of miraculous life, and encourage others along the same line.Heb 10:24 (NAS) Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.
There is only one way to do truly good deeds, there is only one way to have real love; and that is to have "Christ in you." "Let us consider," then, the emphasis of our ministry, and how to stimulate one another to grow in His grace.Col 1:10 (NIV) And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.
MORE ON TEST 5: The Fruit of the Spirit
Mat 13:23 (NIV) "But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown."
Mat 12:33 (NRS) "Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit."
Mat 3:7 (Jer) "But if you are repentant, produce the appropriate fruit, and do not presume to tell yourselves..."
Mat 7:19 (Wey) "Every tree which does not yield good fruit is cut down and thrown aside for burning."
Eph 5:6-11 (NIV) Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.
John 15:2 (NIV) "He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful."
Gal 5:19-23 (NAS) Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
Those born of God will produce fruit by the Holy Spirit. Test yourself on the fruit mentioned at the end of the scripture passage above. Are you growing in these areas of "Christ in you"?
1John 4:20 (NKJ) If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.
Phil 1:9-11 (NIV) And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ--to the glory and praise of God.
Lydia: An Interesting Case Study
Acts 16:15 (NIV) When she [Lydia] and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. "If you consider me a believer in the Lord," she said, "come and stay at my house." And she persuaded us.
Note that Lydia does not assume that because she made a profession of faith and was baptized, that she should be considered as a "believer." She felt, rather, that "Christ in her" ought to be manifestly discernable by other believers. What a exemplary attitude! "And she persuaded us," indeed. Lydia passed more than just the "claim" and external obedience test. Do you?
MORE ON The Mid Term Exam...
2Cor 13:5 (Jer) Examine yourselves to make sure you are in the faith; Test yourselves... [Is] Christ Jesus really in you? If not, you have failed the test.
What of an overall failing grade? Well, if the failure is in believing the gospel, being born again, or turning from sin, there is no time like the present to get started with a real spiritual life. More difficult is the case of the person who claims to be a Christian but has seen no demonstrable change of life over many months; or even years. It is still "just them," with no substantial evidence of the power of Christ in them. Jesus warned us that many would come to Him in the final judgment who would be convinced that they were Christians; and He told us plainly and in advance what He will say to them. Thus, "make your calling and election sure." Don't delude yourself and don't assume, but make sure you really do have Christ in you, the hope of glory. The stakes are very high indeed, and the tests are clear enough.
1Tim 1:5-6 (NRS) The aim of such instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith. Some people have deviated from these and turned to meaningless talk.
Hypocrisy is Not Faith
Confession of Jesus as "Lord" has been emphasized to the point of unbiblical exclusion of other tests of salvation. Given this, many believe that by merely saying "Lord, Lord" they are assured a place in heaven; even though Jesus warned against just this deception. To say things which are not true is hypocrisy, not faith.
Luke 12:1b (NIV) Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy."
For a Sermon on Hypocrisy in the Church, which was partly what motivated the expansion and explanation of the "tests" of the present Bible Study, see: http://www.acts17-11.com/dialogs_test.html
For a rough draft Bible Study on Yeast / Hypocrisy / Blindness, see: http://www.acts17-11.com/blindness.html
Mat 23:3b (NAS) "Do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them."
Heb 11:1 (KJV) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Heb 1:1 (Amp) ...Faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see, and the conviction of their reality.
Heb 11:1 (Phi) Faith means that we have full confidence in the things we hope for, it means being certain of things...
Heb 11:1 (NIV) Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
1Pet 1:8-9 (NIV) Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Failing the Test?
Jesus made it clear that some people will have convinced themselves that they are Christians by saying "Lord, Lord;" by claiming to know God when He does not know them; and that some will even tout "ministry" done in His name; but these will be shocked to find that Jesus will utterly reject them. This is a very real and sobering possibility that we are warned against in no uncertain terms. What "we say" (Mat 7:21), "mere" or "empty words" (2Pt 2:18-19), or claims to "know Him" (1Jn 2:3-4), or even "good deeds" are not enough if we don't find Christ's righteousness, training, and life actually in us. For it is not what we say to ourselves in self-delusion or our claims to know God that will matter; but what God says, reality, and whether He claims us. With such warnings, Jesus is certainly not encouraging complacency or assumption or delusion or self-assurance or "mere words" as a means of salvation, however popular this might be in modern Christianity; He is rather looking for truth in the inner parts.
Mat 3:7-11 (NIV) "Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire."
Luke 13:26 (NIV) "Then you will say, 'We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.' But he will reply, 'I don't know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!' There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out!"
Given these stern warnings, then, we should consider that God is not encouraging us to take stock in what we say even if this is a popular religious hypocrisy masquerading as "faith." Faith that does not work is "dead;" it is "meaningless talk;" a self delusion; an inherent lie. Yes, we must confess Christ; and yes we should say the right things; but the only sure proof we can have of what we say or claim is to actually find Christ in us in experiential truth.
2Cor 13:5 (TEB) Surely you know that Christ Jesus is in you, unless you have completely failed?
Don't kid yourself. It is not enough to claim to be a Christian, to claim to be born again, to have done "good works" in your own power. You must prove your repentance with a life that is found being conformed to the image of Christ by the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit. You must really be born again. If you fail the test, then make peace with God right now on His terms, and get started for real with the Christian life. You bring exactly nothing, and He provides everything; those are pretty good terms! But you must give your life to Him--not just in word, but in deed--or you are flirting with the ultimate spiritual disaster. For He does not like hypocrites, or "mere talkers."
Luke 11:28 (NIV) [Jesus:] ..."Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it."
Ashamed of the Words of Christ?
Mat 15:12 (NRS) Then the disciples approached and said to him, "Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?"
Acts 7:54 (NIV) When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth...
John 6:60-66 (NIV) ...Many of his disciples said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?" Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, "Does this offend you?.. The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe..." He went on to say, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him." From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
At least they were honest, and left. In modern times, many people completely ignore or openly reject the teachings of Jesus yet want to still claim to be His followers. To gnash our teeth, then, is not a good symptom. To have a basic instinct try to explain away what He said, as if we are embarrassed about it, is not good sign. Yes, what He says mortifies our flesh, but if this is the only response we have, it is an indication that we are only of the flesh. While Jesus says some hard things, if we are truly born of Him then we will love the truth and cherish His words, no matter how painful they are to our flesh. For the flesh is deserving of condemnation, and any residue of it left in us must be condemned. The words of Christ and His apostles are useful to this end. While the flesh might recoil from the pain of daily dying to self, there should also be in us that seed of life that soars to hear and apprehend the words of our Savior. Do you have more than just the teeth gnashing response? After all, are you encouraged by His words of life--through death!
Mark 8:35 (NIV) "For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it."
Mat 5:48 (NIV) "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
When Jesus says "hard things" like these, the solution is not to avoid or explain them away, but to understand that He who speaks has the power to fulfill them. Consider that Jesus spoke, away back when, and the universe came into existence. This same Jesus is speaking, but very few will receive the new creation of His words. Something in us cringes at the outrageousness of the promise or command, but for those who are called according to His purpose there is also a quickening of the eternal life within us. While we may flinch in the flesh, we are also glad that Jesus condemned what needed condemnation. While it may seem too much or too far, we are thrilled that He speaks righteous commands to us; for what other hope would we have? Our faith in Christ accesses the power of grace to transform us into the children of the living God. If we reject His words, we reject Him. Are we merely embarrassed at the word of God; ready to "unsay" it with some trick or twist; do we actively avoid it? Or, in keeping with repentance, do we soar with joy at what God has said... and will do for those who will dare believe in His power? How about you? Have you any glimmer of hope when you hear the "hard" words of Christ? Have you even a spark of proper spiritual response? Can this be blown into a flame by the Holy Spirit?
Is 55:11 (NKJ) So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
Heb 3:12-4:12 (NIV) See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. As has just been said: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion." ..So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief. Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith... Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts." ...For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Mark 8:38 (NKJ) "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels."
Heb 6:7-12 (NIV) Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned. Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case--things that accompany salvation. God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
2Tim 2:15a (NKJ) Be diligent to present yourself approved to God...
Gal 4:19 (NIV) Oh, my dear children, I feel the pang of childbirth all over again till Christ be formed within you...
Go Into the Land of Promise!
2Pet 1:3-13 (NIV) Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory...
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