2 Corinthians 12:20 – 13:9
Listen to the entire message from Sunday morning, May 3 here.
Calling yourself a Christian does not make you one. Sitting in church does not prove that you are going to Heaven. Owning a Bible does not mean that you possess eternal life. Your baptism certificate does not signify that you are born again. There are people who say they are Christians and even people who think they are Christians who are not. Today I want you to take the Christian test.
Let me summarize what Paul is saying in 2 Corinthians 12:20-13:9. He is telling them that he is going to come and see them soon for the third time. He says, “When I get there I want to find you in a good condition. I want you to be in a condition that we can enjoy some time together. I don’t want to have to confront problems when I come. And there are some people among you who I have challenged already and I have sent messages to and told that you need to deal with the way that you are living and the way you are treating other people and the lifestyle that you have before I come.” They were being immoral and they were being disruptive. They were being critical of him and turning away from the teaching of the truth that he had given to them. He said “There are some of you have continued doing this and when I come I will deal with you.”
He is not scolding them. He is speaking to them with love but also with the authority God had given to him as an apostle. He said he was coming in power and not weakness. He said, “In light of the fact that some have continued sinning and I am coming, you need to take a good, hard look at yourselves because for some of you, the evidence indicates that there is a question about whether or not you are really Christians.”
I think that we, like they, need to take the Christian test. If this confirms what you believe to be true about yourself, rejoice and praise God for that. If this convicts you of what really is a need in your life, then I plead with you to take care of that. I hope you will be open to whatever God wants to show you today.
- Do you experience chronic conflict? (12:20)
- Bickering and battling
- Envy and resentment
- Losing it, blowing up
- Look at me, getting ahead, one-up
- Accusing one person to another person
- Spreading hurtful information
- Disrupting unity, resisting authority.
- Are you sexually impure? (12:21)
- Habitual acts
- Uncontrolled desire
- What is your response when you are challenged? (13:1-4)
- What is your basic principle of life? (13:5)
- Works or grace
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).
- Seen or unseen
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).
- Self-will or submission
And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith (Acts 6:7).
- Works or grace
- Is Jesus Christ in you? (13:5)
- Galatians 2:20
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
- Galatians 2:20
The wonderful thing is
- It is possible to know if you are a Christian.
This is not something beyond possibility. You can know that you are a Christian. My burden is not to raise doubts unnecessarily but to plead with you to be sure. If you have a question about it, I can’t tell you that you are saved or not. However, I can take you to truth and concrete, definite statements from God that will help you either to be sure or to make sure. I hope you will.
- It is possible to be restored to unity and harmony.
We recognize that Christians do fail, Christians do fall. Christians are weak; Christians struggle. Note again 2 Corinthians 13:9 “… and this also we wish, even your perfection.” He was not talking about being sinless. This word “perfection” means to be restored. It was used of mending torn fishing nets; it was used of setting and the healing of broken bones; it was used of refitting and refinishing worn ships returning from months at sea. This is what God does for us – He restores us. He wants to restore you. He wants to restore the unity and harmony in your life. If you are having a problem with conflict, He wants to help you resolve those issues as much as within your power.
- It is possible to be restored to wholeness and usefulness.
If there are problems with impurity, other sins which have defiled your life, He can cleanse you and make you whole and put you to work and see you bear fruit for Him.
I cannot tell you whether or not you are a Christian. God can and will. Ask God to show you what is right and true. If He convicts you of your need to become a Christian, repent of your sin and believe on Jesus Christ. If he confirms to you that you are a believer, rejoice and be blessed and thank God for that.