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我是一个真基督徒吗?

作者:道格·巴契勒日期:2019-04-05 11:44:17浏览数:394
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时隔多年,我仍保留着第一次独自飞行时的航空日志。当时的情形历历在目。在最初40小时的飞行训练中,我自信满满。心想:我父亲就是飞行员,我肯定也天生的飞行员。

但是那天,当飞行教练突然离开驾驶舱,把我一个人留在那里时,我的自信心在引擎的轰隆声中瞬间消失得无影无踪。他对我说:“道格,你可以的,到你自己表演的时候了。”

“你的意思是让我单飞吗?”我的自信心突然熄火。

教练一定是看到了我的一脸上焦虑。“别担心,”他说,“把飞前预检表”再过一遍就行了。如果需要,我会在广播里指导你的。”

我浑身颤抖,嘴巴发涩,心跳加速,独自驾驶着这架小型战斧式飞机滑向跑道。我强作镇定,佯装勇敢,可旁人一看就知道这只是虚张声势。

这种反应,并不非因为飞机比其它交通工具更危险。据统计,开飞机比开车去杂货店还要安全。但是如果你出了差错,飞机失事的后果肯定更糟。如果遇到燃油用尽或是引擎停机,你甭指望从飞机上跳出来就万事大吉。

这也就是为什么在那一刻,我非常感谢教练教会了我如何使用“飞前预检表”。

总开关开启——确认完毕!

燃油接通——确认完毕!

设置罗盘——确认完毕!

配平升降舵——确认完毕……

我逐一确认了飞行预检表上的项目,然后再来一遍,随着教练在广播中的指导,我满怀信心地起飞了。升空之后,我绕着那个小型机场飞了几圈。我的第一次单飞就这样挺过来了。

属灵健康的预检表

在此,请思考两个简单却十分重要的问题:你真的悔改了吗?(我说的是真悔改。)你如何确知自己已经悔改了?每次提出这些尖锐的问题时,总会让一人感到愤怒。但使徒保罗曾劝勉我们:“总要自己省察有信心没有,也要自己试验。”(哥林多后书13:5)

作为基督徒,在我们成圣的过程中,最好能定期地检验一下自己的属灵状况——你若愿意,就来确认一下自己的“飞前预检表”吧!

虽然我们必须要避免使目光转离耶稣而去关注行为。但适时的回顾一下自己的灵性进程,并作出必要的调整,却是十分必要且是大有裨益的。牧羊之君大卫曾说:“我思想我所行的道路,就转步归向你的法度。”(诗篇119:59,KJV直译)

虽然我仍然保存着第一次单独飞行时的航行日志,但你可能无法确定自己重生的日期和时间。事实上,有些人的悔改是突然之间,而有些人则是渐进式的。但无论如何,真正悔改的人,必会显出明确的证据。“人心若被圣灵更新,其行为就必为此作证。”(《喜乐的泉源》,第7章)

下面是十个简明而重要的检查项,它们可以为你提供可靠的指标来自我评估,看看自己是否真的悔改了。

1、我更爱什么?世界,还是上帝?

爱世界的基督徒,身上会有一个明显的标志,那就是,其内心的罗盘是失衡的。“若有人爱世界,爱父的心就不在他里面了。因为世上一切的情欲,眼目的情欲,并今生的骄傲,都不是从父来的,乃是从世界来的。”(约翰壹书2:15,16)

真正的基督徒,一定会抵制世俗价值观对其内心的强大攻势。使徒保罗说:“不要效法这个世界,只要心意更新而变化,叫你们察验何为上帝的善良、纯全、可喜悦的旨意。”(罗马书12:2)

作为基督徒,你必须学会活在世上却不让世界进入内心的微妙平衡。就如漂在水面上的船,虽然被水包围,却不被水浸入。若是船舱进水,你的麻烦就来了。太多的水——太多的世俗——你会被淹死。

当然,基督徒被世俗所诱惑试探是正常的,耶稣也曾受过试探。但你对上帝的爱是否更强烈,以致能帮助你抵挡这一切?

2、谁是我的主?肉体,还是圣灵?

真基督徒并当然仍需要与罪争战,“我们若说自己无罪,便是自欺了。”(约翰壹书1:8)但若我们已经悔改,则习惯性的罪,不会在任何层面再支配你的生活。“不要容罪在你们必死的身上作王,使你们顺从身子的私欲。”(罗马书6:12)也就是说,在基督徒的人生中,不应再时常表现出属情欲的作为: “奸淫、污秽、邪荡、拜偶像、邪术、仇恨、争竞、忌恨、恼怒、结党、纷争、异端、嫉妒、醉酒、荒宴等类。”(加拉太书5:19-21)

论到降服与顺从,使徒约翰说:“人若说我认识祂,却不遵守祂的诫命,便是说谎话的。”(约翰壹书2:4,9)约翰并不是说真基督徒将不再犯罪,而是说他们不会再被持续性的、习惯性的罪所支配。那不符合真基督徒的身份。

你是行在圣洁之中吗?这圣洁是那些仍然被罪捆绑的人所不知道的。

3、我更爱谁?自己,还是邻舍?

耶稣说,基督徒因为彼此相爱的心而为众人所知。(约翰福音13:35)也就是说,如果你不愿饶恕,没有爱心,或是对弟兄挑三拣四,那么你就不符合这一条。

约翰说:“人若说‘我爱上帝’,却恨他的弟兄,就是说谎话的;不爱他所看见的弟兄,怎能爱没有看见的上帝呢。爱上帝的,也当爱弟兄,这是我们从上帝所受的命令。”(约翰壹书4:20,21)

切记,耶稣把恨人等同于在心中杀人。“只是我告诉你们:凡向弟兄动怒的,难免受审判。”(马太福音5:21,22)

这也是检验真悔改的标准之一,你符合吗?

4、我如何对待罪?轻忽,还是忧伤?

这是一个被罪充满的世界,无孔不入的媒体持续不断、毫无底线地传播着暴力和各种不道德的行为。除非我们持续地接受圣灵的更新,否则将逐渐失去对渗入内心之罪恶的警觉。“罪藉着那良善的叫我死,就显出真是罪,叫罪因着诫命更显出是恶极了。”(罗马书7:13)

我们都在与罪争战,而上帝希望我们在跌倒时仍要为罪忧伤。虽然基督徒常会跌倒,但你要为此感到深深的悲伤,并经历圣灵对罪的责备。就如彼得意识到自己否认了耶稣时,就痛哭流涕。(马太福音26:75)

你越接近耶稣,就越能看到祂品格的纯洁。“基督纯洁的光芒,能穿透灵魂,……暴露人品格上的所有缺欠和弱点。”(《喜乐的泉源》第3章)人若在犯罪之后没有懊悔之心,则有可能已经走上了远离圣灵的不归之路。

你真的恨恶罪、为罪忧伤吗?

5、你的财宝在哪里?地上,还是天上?

耶稣说,要“为自己积蓄财宝在天上,天上没有虫子咬,不能锈坏,也没有贼挖窟窿来偷。因为你们的财宝在那里,你们的心也在那里。”(马太福音6:19-21)为什么?因为“一个人不能事奉两个主,不是恶这个,爱那个,就是重这个,轻那个。你不能又侍奉上帝,又侍奉玛门(玛门是财利的意思)。”(马太福音6:24)

你的财务报表,能迅速显示出你真正的财富——你的心在哪儿。如果你的快乐,源于索取和占有,那么你就是在事奉金钱和享乐。但如果你对他人、教会和圣工显出慷慨,就说明你的心在上帝一边。

“若是弟兄或是姐妹,赤身露体,又缺了日用的饮食,你们中间有人对他们说:‘平平安安的去吧,愿你们穿得暖吃得饱。’却不给他们身体所需用的,这有什么益处呢?这样,信心若没有行为就是死的。”(雅各书2:15-17)

你的财宝积攒在哪儿?

6、我结的果子如何?好果子,还是坏果子?

“我是葡萄树,你们是枝子。常在我里面的,我也常在他里面,这人就多结果子。因为离了我,你们就不能做什么。”(约翰福音15:5)

你若在圣灵中行事,就必结出圣灵的果子,即“仁爱、喜乐、和平、忍耐、恩慈、良善、信实、温柔、节制”。(加拉太书5:22,23)

基督徒并非靠行为得救,但人若与主同行,必会自然而然地成就善行。耶稣曾说:“人……能从荆棘上摘无花果吗?这样,凡好树都结好果子,唯独坏树结坏果子。好树不能接坏果子,坏树也不能结好果子。看他们的果子,就可以认出他们来。”(马太福音7:16-20)

耶稣说得很清楚,一棵树若不结出好果子——真悔改的结果——就要被砍掉。

你在生活中结出好果子了吗?

7、我是在否认基督,还是宣扬基督?

有人曾问过这样一个尖锐的问题:“如果你被带上法庭,被指控为基督徒,那么,法官是否有充分的证据来定你的罪?”

耶稣曾说:“凡在人面前认我的,人子在上帝的使者面前也必认他。凡在人面前不认我的,人子在上帝的使者面前也必不认他。”(路加福音12:8.9)

你的同事、朋友和家人,有多少人仅凭你的行为和见证,就能知道你是真基督徒?我们当中有太多的人,根本无法回答这个问题。地下的“特工式”的基督徒们害怕在谈话中提到基督,他们不担心自己的创造主忧伤,却害怕别人对自己有什么看法(马太福音10:28)。然而,这个世界上根本就没有“隐秘的基督徒”!要么,是你的信仰揭开这个秘密,要么,就是你的秘密摧毁了你的信仰。

正如保罗说的,你是“不以福音为耻”吗?(罗马书1:16)

8、我是否经常花时间研经祈祷?

体检时,医生可能会问:“最近胃口怎么样?”如果食欲不振,则表明你的健康出了问题。同样,对上帝的圣言心存渴望,是灵命状态良好的标志。“我得着你的言语,就当食物吃了;你的言语是我心中的欢喜快乐。”(耶利米书15:16)那么,你渴望学习圣经吗?

祷告亦是如此。你若爱一个人,就渴望和他交流。而祷告则是与天父交流。“我要晚上、早晨、晌午哀声悲叹;祂也必听我的声音。”(诗篇55:17)

你是“不住地祷告”,并经常花时间研究上帝的圣言吗?(帖撒罗尼迦前书5:17)

9、我渴望敬拜上帝并与人团契吗?

基督徒需要互相联络才能成长,才能以属灵的事为念。虽然去礼拜聚会并不能证明一个人的悔改。耶稣也讲骄傲的法利赛人的故事。(路加福音第18章)但如果我们爱主,那么坚持参赴聚会便是我们的本分。保罗曾说:“又要彼此相顾,激发爱心,勉励行善;你们不可停止聚会,好象那些停止惯了的人,倒要彼此劝勉,既看见那日子临近,就更当如此。”(希伯来书10:24-25)

以赛亚书66:23节说:即便以后到了天国,我们仍要聚会,在耶和华面前下拜。

敬拜和团契是你今日的生活习惯吗?

10、我内心中有平安吗?

圣灵充满最令人赞叹的表现之一,就是内心持久的安宁。当一个人能与上帝和睦时,他就不会感到痛苦。“爱祢律法的人有大平安,什么都不能使他们绊脚。”(诗篇119:165)

耶稣曾说:“我将我的平安赐给你们。我所赐给你的,不像世人所赐给你的。你们心里不要忧愁,也不要胆怯。”(约翰福音14:27)你可以这样认为,当基督徒把他的心思放到基督身上时,他就会培养出一种“平静的情结”——一种对上帝由衷的信任。“你们在我身上所学习的、所领受的、所听见的、所看见的,这些事你们都要去行,赐平安的上帝就必与你们同在。”(腓立比书4:9)

你拥有即使身处风暴仍能超越一切理智的平安吗?

对上面这些问题,你的表现如何?

如果这份检查表让你对自己悔改的程度产生怀疑,不要惊慌,但要认真对待。这是修复属灵生命的第一步。也许你曾经历过起初的爱(启示录2:4),但却让它消逝于繁忙事务之中。对此,耶稣给出的补救方法是:“应当回想你是从哪里坠落的,并要悔改,行起初所行的事。”(启示录2:5)

如果这份属灵检查表让你发觉自己表现的还不错,那就赞美上帝吧!但要记住,与任何爱的关系一样,我们与主之间的关系必须谨慎地加以维持。悔改是一件极易瓦解的事。这就如打理园子,你必须不断的浇水除草。保罗说:“我是天天冒死。”(哥林多前书15:31)耶稣说,信徒必须“舍己,天天背起他的十字架来跟从我。”(路加福音9:23)。就像马大一样,你可能在积极地做着主工,却忽略了那工作的主。

很多人自称基督徒,但他们的表现却显明他们不认识基督。若不及时纠正,有一天,当这些人喊着说:“主啊,主啊!”的时候,主必对他们说:“我从来不认识你们。你们这行不法的人,离开我去吧!”(马太福音7:23)这是何等的悲剧啊!圣经说:“我们当深深考察自己的道路,再归向耶和华。”(耶利米哀歌3:40,KJV直译)。

必要的话,每月、每周或每天,我们都要以基督为榜样来检验自己。“仁爱、喜乐、和平、忍耐、恩慈、良善、信实、温柔、节制”(加拉太书5:22-23)。你真的爱上帝吗?你爱邻舍吗?你又善良又有耐心吗?你能自制吗?

希望你能诚实地评估自己的信仰,这样才能知道自己是否真有信心。

有时,面对这张属灵检查表,心里很担忧。当我不仅省察自己的行为,也省察这些行为背后的动机时,我发现自己所做的好事,都是出于自私。于是我不得不带着悔改的心说:“主啊,虽然我所做的事是正确的,但求你帮助我,使我能出于正确的动机。”

当然,如果你是出于错误的动机做了正确的事,那就先竭力去做正确事吧。总有一天,在上帝恩典的帮助下,你的动机也会得到调整。但最终,我们的内心必须从自私转为无私。仁爱与自私乃是两面旌旗,分别飘扬在真悔改之人和假冒伪善之徒的营地上。

不要误会:我们乃是靠恩、因信而得救。但这救恩和基督里的信心,将使生命发生改变。“若有人在基督里,他就是新造的人,旧事已过,都变成新的了。”(哥林多后书5:17)愿你今日就经历这节经文!

(圣经中的属灵健康检查表,请参阅加拉太书5:19-25节。)


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“AM I REALLY A CHRISTIAN?” A CHECKLIST

Pastor Doug Batchelor


It’s been more than thirty years, but I still have the original logbook that contains the account of my first solo flight. I remember like it was yesterday. During my first forty hours of in-flight instruction, I was overflowing with confidence. After all, I thought, My father is a pilot, so I should be a natural.

But my self-assurance vaporized the day my instructor suddenly climbed out of the plane, leaving me alone in the cockpit as the engine purred. He said, “You’ve got this, Doug. It’s time for you to solo.”

“You mean fly alone? Me?” I said, as though he were talking to some imaginary friend sitting in the co-pilot’s chair. My brimming confidence suddenly stalled.

He must have seen the anxiety all over my face. “Don’t worry,” he said. “Just review your checklist. I’ll be on the radio if you need me.” Trembling, with dry mouth and a racing heart, I taxied the tiny Tomahawk airplane up to the runway as my bravado went into a tailspin.

It’s not as if flying is more dangerous than other means of transportation; statistically, it’s safer than driving to the grocery store. But flying can certainly be more unforgiving if you make a mistake. You can’t just coast off the road if you run out of gas or your engine dies.

That’s why, at that moment, I was so thankful my instructor had taught me to use a pre-flight checklist.

Master switch on—check.
Fuel on—check.
Compass set—check.
Elevator trim—check …

After going through the checklist, then going through it again, and knowing my instructor was available on the radio, I confidently took off, flew a couple laps around the small airport, and survived my first solo flight.

Spiritual Health Checklist

I have a couple of simple but important questions for you: Do you know you are converted? (And I mean truly converted.) And how so? I admit—when I have asked these pointed questions to fellow Christians in the past, I’ve received a few indignant glances. But the apostle Paul counseled, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves” (2 Corinthians 13:5).

That’s why I believe that in our Christian pilgrimage, it’s a good idea to periodically take inventory of our spiritual status—to go through a pre-flight checklist, if you will. While we must guard against taking our eyes off Jesus and fixating on our behavior, it is appropriate and even healthy for us as Christians to occasionally review our progress and make necessary adjustments. The shepherd king said, “I thought about my ways, and turned my feet to Your testimonies” (Psalm 119:59).

While I have a permanent log of my first solo flight, you might not be able to pinpoint the day and hour of your new birth. Some conversions are sudden, actually, while others come by gradually. Either way, if you have been genuinely transformed, the evidence will be clear. “If the heart has been renewed by the Spirit of God, the life will bear witness to the fact” (Steps to Christ, p. 57).

Thus, in the following ten brief but vital checkpoints, you’ll find quality, trustworthy indicators to help you self-evaluate if you have been genuinely converted.

1. What Do I Love More—the World or God?

A Christian who loves the things of the world has a sure indicator that his or her heart’s compass is still off-kilter. “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world” (1 John 2:15, 16).

A genuine Christian will resist the powerful tendency to have our values molded by the world’s ethics: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).

As a Christian, you must learn to strike the delicate balance of being in the world without allowing the world to be in you. Think of it as being in a boat floating on the water: It’s normal to be surrounded by H2O yet not get wet. But when your boat starts taking on water, you start having problems. Too much water—too much world—and you can drown.

Of course, it is normal for a Christian to be tempted by worldly things—even Jesus was. But is your love of God stronger, such that it helps you resist the tug of those things?

2. Does Sin Reign in My Life?
I would never suggest that genuine believers do not struggle with sin. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves” (1 John 1:8). That said, when we are saved, habitual sin will not overmaster any area of our lives. “Do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it” (Romans 6:12). Simply put, the believer will not frequently display in his or her life the works of the flesh:

“Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like” (Galatians 5:19–21).

John addressed the basic principle of surrender and obedience. “He who says ‘I know him’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar” (1 John 2:4, 9). Again, John is not saying here that believers are sinless, but rather chronic sinning will not be the pattern in a true Christian’s life. Are you walking in a holiness that is foreign to those who are still bound by sin?

3. Do I love my neighbor?
Jesus said that His followers will be known by their love (John 13:35). Thus, if you are unforgiving, hateful, or always being critical of your brother or sister, then you can’t check this box in good conscience.

“If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also” (1 John 4:20, 21).

Remember, Jesus equated hating someone with committing murder in the heart: “I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment” (Matthew 5:21, 22). Do you meet this test of conversion?

4. Am I grieved by sin?
I’m sure you agree that we are living in a sin-saturated world. The ever-present media are constantly, shamelessly, broadcasting violence and other immorality. Unless we are regularly refreshed by the Holy Spirit, we will gradually become indifferent to the wickedness seeping into our hearts. “Sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful” (Romans 7:13).

We all struggle with sin, but God forbid we get to the place where we are not grieved when we fall. While Christians will often stumble, we should feel a deep sadness and feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit regarding our sin. When Peter realized he had denied Jesus, he went out and wept bitterly (Matthew 26:75).

The closer we come to Jesus, the more closely we will see the purity of His character. “One gleam of the purity of Christ, penetrating the soul … lays bare the deformity and defects of the human character” (Steps to Christ, p. 29). If there is no remorse after we have sinned, we may be on the path to grieving away the Holy Spirit. Do you have new thoughts, feelings, and motives regarding sin?

5. Where is my treasure?
Jesus said His people will “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19–21). Why? Because “no one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24).

Put another way: Your checkbook ledger or your credit card statement will quickly indicate where your true treasure is—where your heart is. If your happiness comes from buying and owning things, then you are serving money and your own pleasures. But if you are generous with others, including your local church, then you are genuinely serving God.

“If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:15–17).

Are you storing treasure in the right place?

6. Am I Bearing Good Fruit?
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Here are the fruits that will be seen in the believer’s life when they walk in the Spirit: “Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22, 23).

While we know we are not saved by works, if we are walking with Jesus, we will naturally produce those good works. Jesus said: “Do men gather … figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. … By their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:16–20).

Jesus is clear that if a tree doesn’t bear good fruit—the result of genuine conversion—then that tree will be cut down. Do you see fruit-bearing in your life?

7. Do I Deny Christ or Proclaim Him?
Someone once asked this penetrating question: “If you were brought to court and accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” Jesus said,

“Whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God. But he who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God” (Luke 12:8, 9).

How many of your co-workers, friends, and family know you are a Christian by your deeds and testimony alone? Far too many of us are silent, underground, “secret agent” Christians who are afraid to bring up Christ in a conversation because they fear what people might think of them more than they fear grieving their Creator (Matthew 10:28). Well, there is no such thing as a secret Christian! Either your Christianity will destroy the secret, or the secret will destroy your Christianity.

Like Paul, are you not ashamed of the gospel? (Romans 1:16).

8. Am I spending regular time in Bible study and prayer?
When checking your health, a doctor might ask you, “How’s your appetite?” A poor appetite could indicate something is wrong in your body. Likewise, a hunger for the Word of God is a sign of good spiritual health. “Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart” (Jeremiah 15:16). Do you look forward to the study of the Bible?

The same is true of prayer. If you love someone, you long to commune with them. Well, prayer is communication with your Father in heaven. “Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice” (Psalm 55:17).

Do you “pray without ceasing” and spend regular time in His Word? (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

9. Do I long to worship and fellowship with others?
We need to fellowship with other believers to grow and be spiritually centered. Of course, going to church in and of itself does not assure a person is converted. Didn’t Jesus share a parable about a proud Pharisee who went to church (Luke 18)? If we love the Lord, regular church attendance will be our standard. Paul wrote, “Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24, 25).

Isaiah 66:23 says that even in heaven we will gather to worship before the Lord. Is this your pattern today?

10. Do I Have Peace?
One of the most sublime indicators of the Spirit in the life is an abiding peace. When a person is at peace with God, he cannot be made miserable. “Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble” (Psalm 119:165).

Jesus said, “My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). You might say that when the Christian keeps his mind upon Christ, he develops a “calm-plex”—a heartfelt trust in God. “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9).

Do you have peace that surpasses all understanding, even in the storms of your life?

How Did You Do?
If this checklist led you to question the depth of your conversion, don’t panic, but do take it seriously. It’s a good first step to restoration. Perhaps you once experienced the first love (Revelation 2:4) but misplaced it in the busyness of religion. Jesus offers a remedy: “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works” (Revelation 2:5).

If you ended up with a glowing result, praise God! But keep in mind, like any love relationship, our connection with the Lord must be carefully maintained. Conversion is something that can quickly unravel, so it should be seen as a garden that must be continually watered and weeded. Paul said, “I die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31, emphasis added). Jesus said a believer must “deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23, emphasis added). You can be actively doing the work of the Lord, like Martha, yet lose sight of the Lord of the work.

Why is this so important? Because a lot of people claim to be Christians, yet their example often suggests they don’t know Christ. What a tragedy that, if not corrected, these souls will one day say, “Lord, Lord!”—but He will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matthew 7:23). How do you avoid this awful fate? The Bible says, “Let us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to the Lord” (Lamentations 3:40).

Check yourself monthly, weekly, or daily—if needed—against the pattern of Christ’s example: “Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22, 23). Do you truly love God? Your neighbor? Are you kind and patient? Do you possess self-control? I hope you will honestly evaluate your faith so that you can know whether you are actually in the faith!

Sometimes I look at this list and worry. When I examine not just what I do but why I do it, I catch myself doing good things for selfish reasons. I have to say with a heart of repentance, “Lord, I’m doing the right thing, but help me do it for the right reason too.” Of course, if you’re doing the right thing for the wrong reason, do the right thing anyway. One day, by God’s grace, your motives will be adjusted. But eventually, the essence of who we are must be changed from selfishness to selflessness. Love and selfishness are the two great flags that fly over the camps of the converted and the counterfeits.

Don’t misunderstand: We are saved only by His grace through faith. But that saving grace, that faith in Christ, will produce a change in the life. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). May this be your experience today!


Looking for a biblical checklist? Read Galatians 5:19–25.