Sunday, November 11. 2 Corinthians 13. Acts 20-21

    Why would Paul, a Christian, write to other Christians these words: “Examine yourselves to see if you are in the faith; test yourselves” (2 Corinthians 13)?

    That little phrase, “in the faith,” refers to being a Christian.  It’s used that way a number of times.  Luke writes about being strengthened “in the faith” (Acts 16:5).  It’s different from having your faith strengthened.  Paul writes the same thing in 1 Corinthians 16:13 (see also Colossians 2:7).  Paul writes of unity “in the faith,”(not unity in faith – the former referring to unity among Christians) and being healthy “in the faith” (Titus 1:13) and loving those “in the faith” (Titus 3:15).  Peter writes about “standing firm” in the faith.”

    In all of these cases, the writers point to our religion and call all adherents to give it their attention and care.

    But then, in 2 Corinthians 13, Paul adds: “Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you – unless, of course, you fail the test?”

    The whole thing should give us pause.

    Paul seems to be saying: “Examine and test yourself to see if you are a Christian.”

    This will present a problem for those whose theology allows for no doubt regarding one’s standing with God.  After all, “once saved, always saved,” right?

    No.  It isn’t right.  Being a Christian isn’t just a matter of some “membership” – or a “name it and claim it” idea.  It is about Jesus living in us.  Throughout 2 Corinthians, Paul has urged the Corinthians to follow Jesus’ example.  At the end, he tells them that if they do follow Jesus, and it can be seen in their lives, they will be “in the faith.”  If they don’t, no matter that they have been baptized and call themselves Christians, they won’t be “in the faith.”

Reading Through the Bible, Tuesday, November 29. 2 Corinthians 13 – Galatians 2

    As I read through the final chapter of 2 Corinthians, I cannot help but wonder what Paul was going to do to his opponents when he arrived in Corinth.

    Of course, Paul was hoping he wouldn’t have to do anything to them; that they would repent.  That comes through very clearly in the chapter.  It was in their best interest to stop their opposition to him and their worldliness.

    Still . . . what if they didn’t?

    In all likelihood, Paul would have simply declared they were no longer in fellowship with the body of Christ, and demand that no one have anything to do with them.

    But so what?  In today’s society, there would be a fight over who keeps the building, who keeps the church bank account, and the losing side would simply go across town to build another church.  That is, after all, the way so many churches have begun in this country.

    One point however is certain: it is possible for Christian people to no longer be “in the faith.”  Their lives simply do not exhibit Jesus any more.  Their brethren will urge them to repent, and encourage them to do so, but if they do not, they cannot be treated as a part of the body of Christ any more.

    It reminds me really of Nehemiah rebuilding the wall in Jerusalem.  Sanballat and Tobiah were his opponents.  Both were worshipers of God, and yet, because they had chosen to mix so much of the world in their lifestyle, Nehemiah excluded them from God’s people – and the exclusion was obvious.

    All of us should regularly ask: “Am I in the faith?  Does my life show Christ to the world, or is it just a magnification of the world?”  Whatever our answer, Jesus is not fooled.  He knows the truth, and it is truth that determines eternity.