“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)
One wonders if Paul were speaking to us for the first time today, if many American evangelicals would decry him as being outside the bounds of the gospel message?
“Examine yourselves”? ”Unless you fail to meet the test”? What type of work’s righteousness is this?
Or even worse, say they test themselves by trying to recall the date they prayed a special prayer.
Of course I’m saved. I know when I asked Jesus into my life down to the second. Look! Here’s my spiritual birth certificate!
Alas, how can we judge Paul wrong when he says this? Or elsewhere, when he tells us to “work out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2.12b)? Or when Peter instructs us to “make [our] calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1.10)?
Let us not abuse the blessed truth of sola fide, justification by faith alone, by making that the final word in our journey with Christ. For surely, justification is by faith alone, but salvation in total exhibits so much more, as in it God plans to conform us to the image of his Son (Romans 8.29-30).
Should we be satisfied by our hope that the prayer we prayed was the right one? That the confession we repeated was earnest enough? There is no doubt that God will sustain all those who truly come to him (cf. John 6.37, 40, 10.26-29, Romans 8.30), but is that all we should rest on? Without assurance one is left every day to sweat under the future possibility of the fires of hell. You just don’t know. Peace comes by examining yourself and finding the evidences of a living faith flowing from your life (cf. Galatians 2.20, James 2.17).