I had no idea I wasn’t a Christian.
And why would I? My mother had me in church from Day One. I’d been in countless Sunday schools, church services, youth groups, teen retreats, had two or three Bibles, prayed (some), and walked the aisle to be baptized. I wasn’t a ‘bad’ guy in my mind; not perfect for sure, but surely not as bad as others.
I was a fake Christian and clueless about that fact.
Unlike me, some people who are born again come from pasts where religion played no part in their life. Others are converted from various faiths that are markedly different from Christianity.
But at age nineteen, I became a Christian even though I thought I already was a Christian. Because of that, I have a special place in my heart (and very healthy fear) for those who get up every day believing they are true believers in Jesus but don’t know they are outside the body of Christ.
The True Faith Exam
While the Bible contains many warnings about having a false faith, there are two direct admonitions in the New Testament that ask us to take a personal exam and ensure our faith is genuine.
Paul says, “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). In similar fashion Peter asks his readers to, “be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you” (2 Pet. 1:10).
With respect to Paul, it would have been great if he had immediately followed up his statement with explicit, billboard-sized instructions that started with something like, “AND THIS IS HOW YOU KNOW IF YOU’RE REALLY A CHRISTIAN…” But alas, he didn’t.
Fortunately, Peter gives us a little more to work with. Prior to his warning in vs. 10, he provides a list of character traits in vv. 5-7 and tells us that, “if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (vs. 8). He then follows that up with, “as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you” (vv. 10-11).
Peter’s statements provide us with a common theme that runs throughout both the Old and New Testaments when it comes to determining the authentic vs. counterfeit followers of God – a changed life and fruitfulness. God tells us about the production of good grapes vs. worthless offshoots (Is. 5:1-2), the difference in figs vs. thorns (Matt. 7:15-20), soil that yields good produce vs. barrenness (Matt. 13:18-23), branches that deliver fruit vs. ones that do not (John 15:2), wheat vs. tares (Matt. 13:24-30), etc.
The Bible makes it clear that our true faith exam is passed by a demonstration of good fruit vs. bad – something that is referred to many times by both the authors of Scripture and theologians throughout church history. One account in the past particularly stands out where this subject is concerned – the Great Awakening.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Robin Schumacher