Last week we began looking at the topic of growing Christians. Every believer is either growing or they are stagnant. We discussed three groups of Christians.
For us to grow in our faith, we must be confident in our relationship with the Lord. This is why Paul counsels us to examine ourselves. 2Co 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? Last week we considered four wrong ways to test our relationship with the Lord. Wrong ways to test whether or not we are truly saved.
Tonight we want to consider the positive side of this process of examination. There are several ways that we should test to be sure…to be certain that we are 'in the faith'.
Again let me say that we know we are not saved by our works. Salvation cannot be earned, but salvation will change our lives. 2Co 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
I. Love for God.
A. An unsaved person has no love for God; in fact, he is in rebellion against God.
(Romans 8:7) Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
1. A person can be outwardly religious but still have no real love for God.
2. The Jewish religious leaders were zealous in Judaism.
3. They knew the Old Testament backwards and forwards.
4. Yet, in spite of all that, they were unsaved and had no genuine love for God.
(John 5:39-42) Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. I receive not honour from men. But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you.
5. What was the greatest commandment in the Law?
(Matthew 22:36-37) Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
6. The most important commandment is to love God, and that is impossible apart from salvation.
B. When we are saved, God places within us a great love for Him.
(Romans 5:5) And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
(1 John 4:19) We love him, because he first loved us.
(1 Corinthians 8:3) But if any man love God, the same is known of him.
1. We could go on with verse after verse, but the point is made.
2. Salvation is evidenced by a love for God, His nature, His holiness, His glory, His Word, and His will.
3. When we love someone, we want to be near them, to spend time with them, and when we are apart from them we long for the time that we will be able to be together again.
4. A hunger for God is evidence of our love for Him.
(Psalms 42:1-2) As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?
5. When we get saved, we receive a love for God that evidences itself in longing for Him; unsaved people don't have that.
II. Love for the Word.
A. Once again, an unsaved person has NO love for the Word of God.
1. Because it condemns them to an eternity without hope.
(John 3:18) He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
2. Because they cannot understand it.
(1 Corinthians 2:14) But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
3. The unsaved have no love for God's Word.
B. However, when we are saved, God puts within us a desire to know Him through His Word.
1. God has revealed Himself to us through the Scriptures.
2. As we read and obey the Word of God we know Him and find assurance of our salvation.
3. Note this principle found over and over in His Word.
(Psalms 119:97) O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.
(John 14:15) If ye love me, keep my commandments.
(1 John 2:3) And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
(1 John 3:24) And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.
C. Do we love the Bible?
1. I didn't ask if we carried a Bible but if we loved it.
2. Do we delight in reading and studying it?
3. Do we rejoice in its promises?
4. Are we eager to hear it taught and proclaimed?
5. Are we obedient to the Word?
6. It is not just a love for the God's Word but a willingness to obey it that marks the true believer.
III. Love for the Local Church.
(Ephesians 5:25) Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
A. Lost people do not want to come to church.
1. Many will scoff at those who attend.
2. They will make all sorts of excuses as to why they don't attend.
3. They will put everything else ahead of this in their lives.
(Hebrews 10:25) Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
B. Believers understand the value and benefit of being an active part of a local church.
1. The church isn't merely a building or an institution.
2. The church is people, redeemed people who belong to God.
3. We cannot be in love with God without being in love with His family.
4. I wonder about people who claim to be Christians but have no desire to take part in the church.
(1 John 3:14) We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. These are three important tests to help us answer the question Paul posed in our text verse.
(2 Corinthians 13:5) Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
They are not the only three, but they are important! Paul challenged us to examine ourselves, but we must use the proper criteria to do a proper examination! For us to grow in our life in Christ, we must be confident that we are 'in the faith'! Are you confident tonight? Are you growing in your walk with Him? Come.