2 Corinthians 13:5-8 ESV
“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! I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test. But we pray to God that you may not do wrong—not that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth.”
Not everyone who professes faith in Jesus Christ is truly saved from their sins and on their way to heaven. Jesus Christ said that if we want to come after him we must deny self, take up our cross daily (daily die to sin and to self) and follow (obey) him. For if we hold on to our old lives of living in sin and for self, we will lose them for eternity. But if for the sake of Jesus we die with him to sin and live to his righteousness, then we have the hope of salvation from sin and eternal life with God (Luke 9:23-26).
Jesus also said that not everyone who says to him, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven but only the one DOING the will of God the Father who is in heaven. For many are going to stand before the Lord one day proclaiming him as Lord of their lives, and professing all the things they did in his name, and he is going to say to them, “I never knew you. Depart from me you workers of lawlessness,” because they did not and would not obey the Lord, but they continued in their sinful practices (Matthew 7:21-23).
Yet, despite what Jesus Christ taught, and despite what Paul and the other New Testament apostles taught, many people in America today are professing faith in Jesus Christ even though they have not been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and so they have not been raised with him to walk in newness of life in him, no longer as slaves to sin, but now as slaves to God and to his righteousness (Romans 6:1-23). For they are being told they can “believe” (not defined) in Jesus, have their sins forgiven, and be on their way to heaven regardless of how they live their lives on this earth.
So, even if you are convinced that heaven is secured you as your eternal destiny and that all your sins are forgiven because of a one-time confession of faith in Jesus Christ you made in your life, please know that the Scriptures do not teach the gospel of our salvation that way. They teach our salvation as progressive sanctification and that for us to be saved from our sins and to be on our way to heaven that we must walk (in conduct, in practice) according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh.
Sin must no longer be our practice, but now righteousness, holiness, and obedience to our Lord must be what we practice. This is not saying we will be perfect or that we will never sin again, but that if sin is what we practice, i.e. if we are living in deliberate and habitual sin, and if we are, thus, not walking in obedience to our Lord in living holy and godly lives, then we will not inherit eternal life with God. Heaven is not our eternal destiny. For the wages of living in sin is death, but the gift of deliverance from our slavery to sin and the empowerment of the Spirit to live godly lives is eternal life.
So, if we are going to test ourselves to see whether we are in the faith, then we need to test ourselves against the teachings of Jesus Christ, and the teachings of Paul and the other apostles, as a whole, and in context. We can’t just hand select the Scripture verses that we like, pulled out of context, and then build our doctrine of faith out of them. So we need to read all of Romans, and all of Ephesians, etc. to get the whole picture of what our salvation should look like, for context makes all the difference.
[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]
Near the Cross
Hymn lyrics by Fanny J. Crosby, 1869
Music by William H. Doane, 1869
Jesus, keep me near the cross;
There a precious fountain,
Free to all, a healing stream,
Flows from Calvary’s mountain.
Near the cross, a trembling soul,
Love and mercy found me;
There the bright and morning star
Sheds its beams around me.
Near the cross! O Lamb of God,
Bring its scenes before me;
Help me walk from day to day
With its shadow o’er me.
Near the cross I’ll watch and wait,
Hoping, trusting ever,
Till I reach the golden strand
Just beyond the river.
In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever,
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.
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