Does the Bible Mean by Examine Ourselves?
In the study
of the Bible we encounter verses that encourage us to examine ourselves.
For example, Paul, when writing to the Corinthians, states that
they were to examine themselves to determine if they were true Christians.
(2 Corinthians 13:5) Why are these types of verses found in Scripture
and what do they mean?
of God takes very seriously the spiritual condition of men. Everything
the Bible says is true. It states, without equivocation, that there
is a heaven and a hell. Every person born on the earth is going
to spend eternity either in one or the other.
the place of indescribable anguish and punishment. Jesus tells us
that hell has been created for the devil and his angels (Matthew
25:41). It is where unrepentant sinners will be condemned for all
eternity. Human language is nearly incapable of describing its horrors.
The Lord Jesus Himself has given us the most graphic description
of its nature when He described it as a place where the worm does
not die and the fire is not quenched. (Mark 9:48)
the place where eternal joy will be unbroken. It is the dwelling
place of God Himself. Those who spend eternity in heaven will never
again experience pain or suffering. Sin will not enter heaven. Words
fail in their ability to describe the blessings of heaven. Christians
will experience unbroken fellowship with the Triune God and their
fellow believers for all eternity. While one phrase cannot do adequate
justice to the blessedness of heaven, John, writing in Revelation
21:4, says that God will wipe away all tears.
It is not
the purpose of this paper to prove the reality of these places.
The Bible states their existence and it is the final authority in
all matters of faith and practice. Although many have denied the
existence of heaven and hell, the Bible is the standard of truth.
Because they are real places, it is of the utmost importance to
know where one will spend eternity. This is the single most important
question that a person will answer and it is the question that the
Scriptures present to every person: where will you spend eternity?
the gravity of the question, it is dismaying to note the indifference
and carelessness that many people exhibit in reference to their
eternity. If how people live is an indication of their beliefs,
it must be concluded that the majority of them deny the existence
of both heaven and hell. They live as though life on earth is the
sum total of their existence. Life is lived to gain the maximum
amount of pleasure and self-gratification for the present in almost
complete disregard as to what takes place after life on earth is
God, in His grace, has not left man without warning that life on
earth is not the final chapter of his existence. God has demonstrated
His love to sinful man by sending His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ,
to provide a way by which man might receive the forgiveness of his
sins and eternal life (Romans 5:8). It is a measure of his depravity
that man often spurns or ignores the Gospel, God's message of reconciliation.
MEANING OF THESE VERSES
in the Gospel itself is a note of solemnity regarding the importance
of the person's response to God's offer of reconciliation. The gravity
of man's correct response is underscored by stating that man is
already under condemnation because of his unbelief (John 3:18).
The Gospel is the good news of how man may escape the consequences
of his sins and receive a pardon for them. It is an offer of peace
from a sovereign God Whose character has been maligned by the offenses
of His creatures. What an act of condescending love is it that God
has published abroad the good news of His mercy and grace! He offers
His forgiveness freely and to all. However, man cannot spurn that
offer and escape the consequences.
a marvelous illustration of God's love for sinners found in Luke
13:34-35 where the Lord Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem. Jesus
said that he longed to gather the people as a hen gathers her brood
under her wings but they rejected him. What was the result of their
rejection of the Lord? Their house was left desolate. What mournful
words from the one who would have gladly received them but they
refused to come.
But it is
not only to the spurners of the Gospel that such verses are addressed.
There are many who profess to believe the Gospel but are careless
about their relationship with God. Often they base their hope of
heaven on a decision they made as a child although there may be
little or no fruit of the Spirit manifested in their lives. There
are some who place their hope on baptism or church membership. Sadly
many people become indigent when asked if their profession of faith
in Christ is a true one. Tragically, they remained convinced that
all is well with their soul although there may scant evidence that
they have a vital relationship with Christ.
Such a self-complacent
attitude can betray a woeful ignorance of Satan's deceptive powers
and man's ability to fall prey to self-deception. Often the lives
of such professors of Christianity do not support the claims they
make. Recent polls, taken by acknowledged experts, have shown that
there is no apparent difference between the life styles and attitudes
of non-believers and those who profess to be Christians.
the importance for all professing Christians to have their assurance
of salvation based on the Word of God. While the writer is convinced
that the Scriptures teach that a true Christian cannot lose their
salvation, he is equally convinced that the Scriptures admonish
us that we can be deceived into thinking that we are Christian when
we are not. The same Word of God assures us that a true Christian
is kept by the power of God through faith unto a salvation to be
revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:5).
It is for
this reason that Peter wrote in his second epistle that we are to
make our calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10). Assurance of
salvation is not a claim to infallibility or that one can know exhaustively
his heart. For that reason the Psalmist prayed that the Lord would
deliver him from secret sins (Psalm 19:12). However, it is a solemn
reminder that the issues are of such paramount importance that one
simply cannot afford to make a mistake about the relationship of
their soul with God. A mistake of this magnitude is without remedy.
It is not without reason that the Lord concludes His first sustained
discourse, known as the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5-7,
with the solemn warning that many would come to Him in the last
day professing they had been true servants. He will say to them
that He never knew them (Matthew 7:22, 23). What must it be when
the Lord of glory, Who is now invites all men to come to Him, will
say, "Depart from me, you who are workers of iniquity."
One of the
great Puritan writers, Thomas Watson, had to confess that the hardest
task that he faced was to "make the wicked sad and the godly
joyful." The Scripture texts noted above have this purpose.
Their purpose is to make the true Christian joyful in his relationship
with the Lord. However, they are also intended to awaken the careless
and indifferent regarding the state of their souls before the Lord.
in this article should be understood to mean that the writer desires
to take away or weaken the assurance of any true believer in the
Lord. Nor would he desire to judge another's conscience. Romans
14:4 states a solemn warning against such practices. However, the
question must be put directly to the reader. What is your relationship
today with the Lord Jesus Christ? Is it the one taught in the Word
of God that gives the assurance that you are a true child of His
and will spend eternity with Him? Or is it possible, despite the
claims that you make, and what you may believe about yourself, that
this profession will not stand the sifting judgment that He will
make over you?