"Proving all things"

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Examine Yourselves And Make Sure You’re Saved!

Pastor Tim Binion

Paul said to the Corinthians, “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?” (2 Corinthians 13:5).

Restoring the Biblical practice of self-examination and self-awareness should take center stage following the religious drift of the twentieth century. Many take for granted that their possession is equal to their profession. It’s time we push for a real heart probing search on the part of every professing Christian. I know that people today don’t want their hearts searched and do not want to submit to self-examination. However, if you’re afraid to search and examine your heart and cry out to God for Him to show you your true condition and state, it’s probably because you fear there’s a problem. Today, it’s simply not politically correct to challenge one’s testimony or religious beliefs. Nevertheless, the Bible does it, Jesus did it, Paul in the first century encouraged it, and every God called preacher must keep on doing it today. We should be more concerned about being Biblically correct than politically correct. I once read that sound churches and preachers will frequently challenge the integrity and authenticity of professing Christians because of the many warnings found throughout the Bible of a possible deception. 

This kind of preaching is reasonable and logical when you consider what is at stake. Christ taught that a man’s soul is worth more than the world when He said, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36). Think about it! Who wouldn’t go to physician after physician, clinic after clinic, if he suspected he had cancer?

All of us aggressively examine other less important things in life. In the physical realm, we strive to ensure our financial stability and security by examination. Most people take great pains in making preparation for the education of their children. Christ taught us that the soul is more important than all of these things. He said that the soul is more important than the whole world. When I worked in quality assurance, we repeatedly checked and double checked parts to ensure the safely of an aircraft. If in every other area of life we closely scrutinize and examine things in the physical sphere, should we not also examine our profession in light of God’s Word, under the guidance of God’s Spirit? The Bible says “yes” examine yourselves!

All of us are under obligation to search the Scripture to see if what any preacher or church teaches is true. The Bible says to “prove all things” in 1 Thessalonians 5:21. Many people have lost their souls simply because they failed to study the Bible for themselves to find out if what they’ve heard and been taught is true. How do you know for certain that the way of salvation you have heard preached and taught is God’s true way? All ministers, all teaching, all preaching, all doctrines, all sermons, all writings, all opinions, and all practices should be proved by the Word of God before they are accepted. Measure everything by the Scriptures. Compare everything with the standard of the Bible. Weigh everything in the light of the Bible. Have you done this? If not, begin immediately to test everything you have been taught and now believe and practice by the Word of God. 

One of the great mistakes that many professing Christians make today is that of applying or appropriating a promise from the Word of God that is not theirs. This is one of the major contributing causes of people being religious but lost. What I’m trying to say is that people, when they get concerned about their soul and its relationship to God and eternity, quite frequently apply or appropriate some promise in the Bible to themselves, thinking that through this act they have become saved. Paul said “Christ must be in you” and we must know for ourselves that Christ is in us. This goes way beyond appropriating a promise. Christ must be in you!

Most preaching today leaves the impression that God is in a fit of desperation, attempting to save everybody. He is doing His utmost, according to everything that is within His power, to save people, but they just won’t let Him. According to this thinking, salvation would merely be an agreement on the part of man to let God save him. In giving his consent to permit God to do that which He has so futilely tried to do previously, that person by simple consent allegedly becomes a Christian. As a result of such shallow thinking an interested individual, goes to the Scriptures and appropriates some verse to himself, thinking that this is all that is necessary for him to do in order to be saved. Our text in Corinthians teaches other wise. It teaches we must know for our selves apart from outside influences that Christ is in us.

The most familiar example of a verse to guide seeking souls to quick and easy salvation, is Romans 10:13. The passage says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.“ It is altogether too common for people to take this verse and claim they’re saved merely as a result of asking God to save them. Perhaps someone reading this article dates their salvation experience back to a time when they prayed for God to save them, and claimed this verse. The context informs us that more is involved than a lip calling upon the Lord. Verse 10 says, “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness. . .” The will, conscience, and understanding are involved when a person is saved. The will is broken and renewed; the conscience that has been smitten with a sense of guilt and sin by the law in the hands of the Spirit is cleansed. The understanding is enlightened to see the way of salvation by Christ so beautifully and adoringly. The calling of Verse 13 then is not a lip calling. It is the engagement of the entire man in laying hold of Christ by faith. In reality the calling is an expression and an outgrowth of faith. Verse 14 says, “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?”  I have heard people say that they prayed and asked God to save them many times before He ever saved them. I know I asked Him to save me many times before I was ever saved. My asking was only from the lips and not from the entire being. When God opened my heart and let me see my depravity, guilt, sin, and estrangement from Him, I began to cry mightily unto Him for deliverance. This is a spiritual and saving calling upon the name of the Lord.  Only a person with a regenerated work of the Holy Spirit has a right to claim the promise of Romans 10:13.  How shrewd the devil is in getting people who are not entitled to it to apply a promise to themselves. When a person takes a part of a truth and accepts it as the whole truth, it then becomes an untruth. Care must be taken in examining yourself that you’ve not misapplied and misappropriated a promise of Scripture. Since salvation is of the Lord we must wait on Him, or we will not become recipients of His salvation.  We must let Him do His work! The word ‘shall’ is in the future tense clearly teaching that a person must call on the Lord until they get saved. Church leaders get into a big hurry and in their hast, try to do God’s work for Him.  I assure you God does not need nor want your help in the removal of sin from a condemned soul.  I admit that those who realize they’re lost should want to be delivered as soon as possible. However, I also confess that I see a great danger in being in too big a hurry. When one gets in such a hurry and rushes in his quest for deliverance, he usually runs ahead of God. The Lord must do His work in us by His Spirit, or we will make a profession while having no possession. We can’t hurry God up and make Him do anything. God works in His own time, and we must adjust to His time, or we’ll be in serious trouble. Did you wait upon God to save you, or, did you suppose as most people do, that God is waiting for you, and all you had to do was come at any time?  When a person finds himself under dangerous and undesirable circumstances, he will immediately do almost anything to get out from under those circumstances. A person who is at the point of drowning would grab even a straw in an attempt to preserve his life. Thus it is with many people who find out that they are lost and going to hell. They will grab the first straw they see in an effort to keep from going to hell. This generation of religious seekers should be instructed, “It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.” (Lam. 3:26) When God works, He digs deep. When He plants, that which He plants has deep roots. When He builds, that which He builds has a stable and an enduring foundation.

One missing element that produces abstract conversion evolves around a Holy Law.  Little or no emphasis on the Holy Law of God in the preaching and teaching today has resulted in a small view of God, a low concept of sin, an unscriptural representation of conversion and ungrounded hopes of Heaven. God always applies His law to the conscience before He applies His love to the soul. He kills by the law before He makes alive by Christ. He brings down by the law before He lifts up by the Gospel. He strips by the law before He clothes in Christ’s righteousness. There was Mt. Sinai before Mt. Calvary. Moses appeared as the lawgiver long before Christ appeared as the Deliverer. No sinner will ever have a proper evaluation, esteem, and appreciation of Christ and His righteousness, who has not first had a humbling, prostrating experience with the Holy Law. No one can have a premium value upon Christ, who has not had a thorough law work upon his heart.

If ever anyone prized and valued the Person and work of Christ, it was the Apostle Paul. His testimony was that he counted all things but dung (garbage) for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus. He said, “For to me to live is Christ . . . “(Phil. 1:21) Why was Christ so prized and precious to Paul? I think it was because the law, in the hands of the Spirit, had slain his carnal hopes and stripped him of his self-righteous rags. Listen to his testimony, “. . . I had not known sin, but by the law … For without the law sin was dead … I was alive without the law once; but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” (Romans 7:7-9) When God applied the law to him, he became deeply sensitive to sin and his condemnation by the law. The commandment came with power and conviction to his conscience, causing a revival of sin and a death to the flesh. He saw that sin was alive in him and that he was dead in trespasses and sins and condemned to death by the law. Once the law has done its work in the heart of the sinner, preparing the way for Christ to enter, that sinner wants Christ and His righteousness more than anything in the world. He wants Him more than he wants to live. He wants Him more than he wants wealth, fame, power, prestige, or popularity. When God gives him Christ, the dear Son of God becomes more precious and more real than anyone or anything. Do you realize that God has to give Christ to a sinner or he can never have Him? He doesn’t give Him to everyone. He gives Him to those who cannot live without Him. If you can live without Christ, my friend, you don’t have Christ. You may have religion, but you do not have the Son of God.

All over the country today, a partial Christ is being presented to lost sinners. He is being presented as Savior and not as Lord. How frequently do we hear the popular invitations, “Accept Christ as your personal Savior,” “Receive Jesus as your Savior.” Such language is very misleading. In effect, it is the preaching and presenting of a partial Christ. The implication is that a person may receive Christ as Savior today and as Lord later. This is not true. No one can receive Christ savingly who does so in the cafeteria style. It is impossible for anyone to receive the benefits of His cross who does not at the same moment submit to His crown. No sinner can give Him his soul today and give Him his life tomorrow.  How tragic and fatal it is for one to attempt to accept Jesus as his personal Savior and thereby supposedly escape hell without submitting unreservedly, wholeheartedly, uncompromisingly, to Christ as Lord and King. God has given Him the threefold office of prophet, priest, and king. When He is truly received by a sinner disposed by the Holy Spirit, He is received as a prophet to instruct, a priest to redeem, and a king to rule.

Think about what this means! It is possible for a person to accept Jesus and still be lost. If a person accepts Him in his own power alone, anyway and every way he can, he will continue to be lost. The idea of accepting Jesus implies the acceptance of His benefits alone – which is impossible. I fear that many people who accept the popular Jesus of today do not trust Christ as saviour.  Let me go a step farther and make this statement. Do you know that you may receive Christ and still be lost? You may receive Him into the intellect, the emotions, the affections, and continue to be lost. He must be received and embraced also by the will, and it must be a broken and pliable will. Only God, through the work of His Spirit, can break the will of man and make it disposed to receive Christ in the totality of His Person and work as Prophet, Priest, and King – as Savior and Lord – as Justifier and Sanctifier. Notice and please believe the words of Jesus; “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him:” (John 6:44)

These statements may be frightening and startling, but it’s time that this religious world becomes frightened and startled. The importance and necessity of Holy Spirit conviction are diametrically opposed to some of the greatest and most popular delusions of our day. One of those delusions is that the faith which is necessary for salvation is within the power of the natural man, so that by engaging himself in what is called “a simple act of faith” he can become a saved man. In other words, it is commonly believed that man is the agent of his own salvation.  What you’ve done is deny the work of the Holy Spirit, you’ve left out God, or helped God do it. This is an open denial of the necessity of the Spirit’s work in salvation. It is only through Holy Spirit conviction that the sinner is prepared for the entrance of Christ and salvation. Holy Spirit conviction always precedes regeneration and conversion. When the Holy Spirit came in power at Pentecost, the three thousand were pricked in their hearts, or were convicted of sin before they asked what they should do to be saved. The Holy Spirit convicts the sinner that he is utterly and helplessly lost before he’s ever saved. He convicts him that he is lost without Christ, without God, and without hope. Never in the Bible is one told to pray the sinners prayer or accept Christ. There are very few religious people nowadays who know experimentally what Holy Spirit conviction really is. There’s so little emphasis in today’s preaching placed upon conviction that multitudes have never heard of the necessity of Holy Spirit conviction before an individual can be saved.  Any person who professes to be a child of God, who has never undergone a time of Holy Spirit conviction, has been deceived.  What a shame that people know nothing experientially of Holy Spirit conviction. To show that it is necessary, read John 16:8, “And when he [the Spirit] is come, he will reprove [convict] the world of sin, and of righteousness and of judgment to come.”

Have you ever been convinced that you are a lost sinner? If you can’t remember a time when the Holy Spirit made you realize, recognize, and admit that you were a lost sinner, you are not saved. It matters not who you are or what you are; if you do not recall a time when the Holy Spirit made you take your stand as a lost sinner on your way to hell you have never been saved.

The Holy Spirit convicts the sinner that he is spiritually dead. What does a dead man need? He needs nothing short of resurrection life. He doesn’t need to be propositioned; he needs to be resurrected. He doesn’t need light; he needs life. He doesn’t need medicine, the physician, nor food; he needs resurrection, life, and power. Who can give a dead sinner life? No one but God can give him life, and, incidentally, He doesn’t need any help in giving sinners spiritual life any more than He needed help in giving Adam physical life.

Isn’t it lamentable to hear people today talk about salvation being only a decision? Salvation is not a decision for Christ. It is a resurrection. The Holy Spirit convicts the sinner, whom He’s bringing to Christ for salvation, that he needs resurrection life which is beyond his power. He is convicted that he has no contribution to make toward his being spiritually resurrected from the deep, dark, dismal spiritual grave. The Holy Spirit convicts the sinner that he’s under God’s condemnation and wrath. He finds himself completely condemned to hell because of his sin. He fully takes the blame for his condition and does not attempt to justify nor excuse himself. The Holy Spirit shows him his latter end – that he’s going to hell to suffer the just penalty for his sins, swimming in the lake of fire forever. In the light of his latter end, he begins to fear sin, its consequences, its evils, and its judgment. The Holy Spirit convicts the sinner of the justice and righteousness of God in His judgment against sin. He realizes that he ought to go to hell, and if God lets him alone, he will go to hell. He takes sides with God and admits that God is right and he is wrong. He submits to the rights of his Creator, agreeing with His judgment against him and sin, admitting that it is the choice of his Creator as to whether He will save him or destroy him. The Holy Spirit also convicts the sinner of the necessity of getting to Christ. He is brought to see that Christ is his only hope and that only in Him can he find shelter from the justice, judgment, and wrath of God. He sees that in Christ he can become pardoned, justified, and sanctified. He begins to have a hunger and thirst for Christ. His quest is after Christ alone. When Christ is revealed in him, he finds the salvation which he has so vehemently desired and diligently sought. It is due to the absence of this kind of conviction that many religious people, even good church members, are lost and on their way to hell.

Do you have Christ in you? Have you really ever come to know Him who is salvation incarnate? If God has never opened up to you salvation by Christ alone, so completely, so beautifully, and so arrestingly, then you cannot say you’re saved. If God has ever saved you, you know that what I’m saying is correct. You won’t argue or quibble with what I’m saying, for it will register with you to be the truth of God.

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