TESTING THE FAITHFUL

Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith. [2 Corinthians 13:5 (NLT)]

Netherlands How would we prove we are Christians? If we were Islamic converts to Christianity, seeking asylum in the United Kingdom or several other nations, an assessor would interview us to determine whether or not we actually are believers. Unfortunately, many of those doing the interviewing have no real understanding of Christianity themselves. Worse, as new Christians, we probably won’t know the answers to the sort of questions that are asked while those who are pretending to be Christian might have all the answers memorized. After all, back in Jesus’ time, the Pharisees had all the answers but were sorely lacking in faith. If we failed our interviews, we’d be subject to deportation. For a Christian, especially a Christian convert (an apostate), returning to one’s Islamic homeland could have dire (even fatal) consequences.

The following are actual questions asked by U.K. immigration officers. Can you answer them?
How many books in the Bible? 66—although the Catholic Bible has 73
How many books in the New Testament? 27
How many chapters in the book of John? 21
What is the date of Pentecost? Seven weeks after Easter
Who were the disciples? Simon Peter, Andrew, James son of Zebedee, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot

How did you do? Does knowing Bible minutiae define a true believer? If so, there are many (including me) who wouldn’t qualify. According to the American Bible Society and the Barna Group, only 60 percent of practicing Christians can name the first five books of the Bible, fewer know that Solomon was David’s son and less than half know that Elizabeth was John the Baptist’s mother. As Americans, we have no excuse for our lack of knowledge—nearly 90% of us own more than one Bible and we can openly gather in worship and Bible study. Consider the underground Christian church in Islamic nations—they must meet in secret and are lucky to have one or two Bibles shared by everyone.

If knowing Biblical details doesn’t prove one’s Christian faith, what does? If we had to do so, how would we prove our belief in Christ? Does church membership make us followers of Christ? Does being baptized make us true Christians? Does being raised by Christian parents make us believers? Instead, is it an unwavering love of God and belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior that is proof of our faith? Is the real evidence found not in knowing Bible facts but rather in our repentance from sin, obedience to God, humility, active prayer life, exhibition of the fruit of the Spirit, devotion to God’s glory and the love we have for one another?  I wonder—how well would I pass a test of faith? How well would you?

Your strong love for each other will prove to the world that you are my disciples. [John 13:35 (NLT)]

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. [Galatians 5:22-25 (NLT)]

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