“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? – unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” 2 Corinthians 13:5
Am I saved? This is the foundational question of the Christian faith. Our Heavenly Father has graciously made the Gospel message simple enough for a child to understand and believe: We are all sinners (Romans 3:10-18; Psalm 51:3-5) and have failed to meet the standard set by the infinitely holy and perfect God of the universe (Isaiah 43:11-13). Because of our rebellious sinful condition, we face God’s judgment and infinite punishment for that sin. However, God made a way through His Son to be a substitute for helpless sinners. Jesus Christ lived a sinless life and died on a cross (Psalm 47:15; Romans 3:26) taking the Father’s wrath, our punishment, on Himself (Isaiah 53:4-6). Christ rose from the dead after three days as prophesied and later ascended to Heaven (Luke 18:32-33, Psalm 16:10-11) making a way for those who would believe to have eternal life (John 3:16; 17:2). Amen! This is good news!
So, how do we test ourselves? How can we know that we are “in the faith” as the text says? The evidence of saving faith is not a one-time event but a transformed life.
A repeat-after-me prayer, an aisle walked, or a membership card signed may bring a temporary feeling of belonging and security but is there evidence of a changed life and the Holy Spirit’s leading (Galatians 5:22-24; Romans 8:9)?
Each week we may check off a list of spiritual things, maybe even biblical things, with the hope that it will make God approve of us, but to what end? Works cannot save. God does not need anything from us (Psalm 50:7-15; Acts 17:24-25). Instead of the mirage of self-reliance, we need to recognize our total dependence on Him. He is the Creator and sustainer of all things (Job 12:10; John 1:2-3; Hebrews 1:3; Psalm 136) and we need to live a life of humble thankfulness glorifying and relying on Him completely. There is no list of spiritual achievements or self-promotion that will impress or gain favor with God. There were no men more religious than the Pharisees but it was the tax collector who recognized God’s holiness, repented of his sin, and went home justified (Luke 18:10-14; Habakkuk 3:2; Romans 4:5).
Do we submit to Christ as King not only of our Sunday morning but as King and Lord of our daily lives (Colossians 1:16)? When life is hard and the world seems to be falling apart, do we pause and remember that nothing happens in the universe except by God’s direct action or explicit permission (Job 1:12; Matthew 10:29-30)? Panic and worry will be exchanged for rest in the knowledge that God causes all things, good and bad, to happen for His glory and the ultimate benefit of His children (Romans 8:28; Psalm 24:1).
Abraham was counted righteous when he believed God’s promise that He would miraculously give him innumerable descendants despite his own inability. His faith was proven when he was willing, knife raised, to kill Isaac, the heir of promise, knowing that God was able to even raise him from the dead if necessary to fulfill that promise (Genesis 15:5-6; Romans 4:3).
Do we believe what God has said, and if so, are we living like it(James 2:14-26)? Are we trusting that He is able to keep us from losing faith, and at the end of our life, bring us home into eternal joy in the glory of His presence (Jude 1:24-25; Romans 8:30)?
The faith we are told to rest in, live by, and be in, is not faith in anything we have ever done or will ever do. It is evidence-based, Spirit-sustained, and works-producing faith founded on knowing God, believing what He says, and then putting it into action. We need to repent of our sinful self-reliance, humbly fall at our Creator’s feet, and beg for mercy. We need to rely on God completely in everything. Our life should be a reflection of reality; that it is God who created all, sustains all, and will carry all things through to completion. When our last hours come we need to be able to die confidently, knowing that it is far better to depart and be with Christ than to live a hundred or a thousand more years in this sinful body (1 John 2:15-17; Philippians 1:23).
He has always been faithful (Psalm 34:8; 119:90). He has always done what He said He would do (Isaiah 46:9-13), and He always will.