Solemn Questions For Professed Christians
By James M. Pendleton
From the Tennessee Baptist, 1855
1. Are you, indeed a child of God!?
You profess to be, but a profession without the possession of piety will not do. Jesus says, “not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Read the connection in the VII chapter of Matthew.
2. What reasons have you for believing that you are a Christian?
Do you find yourself referring to some former period when you were the subject of strong religious emotion, expecting to discover in that emotion reasons for your belief? But is it not better to have present evidences of your piety? Are you now conscious that you love God supremely? Is your hatred of sin a settled hatred? Do you see an attractive beauty in holiness? Do you love the cause of Christ? Do you show your love by laboring to promote it? Remember past evidences of piety are worth very little present evidences.
3. Have you grown in grace since you made a profession of religion?
Is your faith stronger? Your love more ardent? Your zeal more untiring? Your hope more vigorous? Your humility more profound? and your patience more thorough? Can you forgive injuries and meekly endure provocations?
4. Have you overcome your besetting sins?
Levity may have been your besetting sin. Have you given it up? Perhaps you were once easily thrown into paroxysms of anger. Have you achieved a victory over your temper? “He that ruleth his own spirit is better than he that taketh a city.” It may be you were once covetous. Have you, by your pecuniary liberality, crucified your love of gold, so that it has become a pleasure to give to the Lord’s cause? Perhaps your besetting sin was an indulgence in intoxicating drinks. Have you denied your appetite and mortified your unfortunate propensity?
5. In what particular do you think you are like Christ?
You know he is the Christian’s pattern. You know it is the important and the sublime object of Christianity to make men like Christ? Are you like him? In what respects? In his zeal for the divine glory? In his love to the souls of men? In his superiority to the world! In his constant realization of the importance of eternal things! In his habit of going about doing good? Arc you like Christ in any of these things?
6. Does love to the Savior prompt you to go through the routine of Christian duty, or are you prompted by the consideration that it would bring censure and disgrace upon you not do so?
The pride of consistency operates very powerfully on some minds. It is to be feared that many in our churches often act with a view to sustain their reputation, and are not influenced by the impulsive power of love to Christ. How is it with you? Be not deceived. You cannot deceive the Searcher of hearts.
7. Do you prize sanctification as highly as you do justification?
Justification delivers from the curse of the law – reinstates in the favor of God – and gives a title to heaven. Sanctification frees the soul from pollution – washes away its stains – and stamps the image of Jesus upon it. The true Christian prizes the blessings of sanctification as highly as those of justification. How is it with you?
8. Is happiness or holiness the more desirable in your estimation?
The desire of happiness is, I know, natural to the human heart. No one can desire to be miserable. Bat the true Christian while thankful for all the happiness he enjoys estimates holiness far more highly. He would much rather be holy than happy. Is it thus with you?
9. Which do you seek the more earnestly – the improvement of your worldly condition or your spiritual?
Would you rather be a richer man than a holier man? Would you rather rise in the scale of worldly respectability than in the scale of moral excellency? Would you rather be wiser than better? The devout Christian would much rather have his spiritual state improved than his worldly condition. While others inquire, “Who will show us any good?” he says, “Lord, lift thou the light of thy countenance upon me.”
10. Does feeling or principle control you or your religious course?
There is a great difference between the religion of feeling and that of principle. The former resembles the wet-weather spring – it often dries up. The latter is like the exhaustless fountain which sends forth its streams at all times. Is yours the religion of feeling? Is this the reason why you sometimes go to the house of God for months together and then stay at home months together? There is not stamina enough in such a religion to make it respectable. None but the religion of principle is worth having. Serve God because it is right! whether you feel as you wish to or not.
11. Do you regularly pray in secret?
Jesus commands you to do this. The closet is a most delightful place for holding communion with the “Father of Spirits.” It has strong attractions for the spiritual Christian. Do you forget your closet? Do you forget to pray? Do you engage in your worldly business in the morning without prayer? Do you when the fatigues of the day are over, excuse yourself from retiring to some secret place to pray, by intending when you lie down on your bed to offer a few petitions to God? Such petitions are often languidly and sleepily presented. The Lord pity you if you neglect secret prayer.
12. Do you love and read the Bible?
Is it your guide, a lamp to your feet and a light to your path? Are its sacred pages dear to you! Can you say of the word of God that it is “more to be desired than gold, yea, than much fine gold, sweeter also than honey and the honey-comb?” Or do yon read the scriptures irregularly and superficially? Is there some other book that you prefer to the word of God?
13. Are you glad when it is said, “let us go into the house of the Lord?
Do you love the place where God’s honor dwells? Are his tabernacles amiable in your estimation? Do you love the return of his holy day that you may go into his courts and bear a part in his worship? Or do you often neglect public worship? Do you stay at home when you ought to be in the house of God? Do you sleep the time away? Do you visit? What occupies your time? You know and the God of knows. I am afraid you will be ashamed when it is told at the judgment what it is.