Examine Yourself! Are You in the Faith?
Many Catholics are known to have an unyielding strong and impregnable faith. They stubbornly refuse to be swayed by any teaching that is not endorsed by their church. Even lapsed Catholics who have not been to church in years will come to the defense of their church whenever it is criticized. Most Catholics exhibit more trust and loyalty to their church than to Jesus. Is this the right kind of faith? From the Scriptures we see there are two kinds of faith—a faith that effects salvation and a false or spurious faith that leaves its adherents condemned. When we compare Roman Catholicism to Scriptures we see two gospels preached, two roads to eternity with only two destinations. So the inescapable question is: "How can anyone know if they have true faith and have believed the true Gospel?"
The apostle Paul provides the answer in the form of an exhortation: "Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! (2 Cor. 13:5). Ever since Paul first penned those words many false teachers have been leading people away from "the faith" which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians he pleaded with them to be aware of false teachers who were perverting the faith, the very gospel which he preached to them, and which they received, and in which they stand. Paul warned them they must hold fast to the word he preached, otherwise they would have believed in vain.
So how are we to test ourselves? What tests can we employ to see if our faith is genuine or spurious? First we can examine the source and object of our faith. If faith is genuine its exclusive source will be the Word of God (Rom. 10:17). This type of faith forsakes all that does not conform with the Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:15-16). If faith is genuine the object can only be the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12). The eternal Son of God who sovereignly secured the salvation of His people by satisfying all the demands of God’s holy law, then laying His life down as a Substitute for sinners who come to Him with empty hands of faith. To trust Jesus for salvation is to forsake all other efforts and means to save oneself.
The faith of Catholics rarely pass these two critical tests. More often than not they have the wrong sources. The Catholic faith relies heavily on extra-biblical sources such as Catechisms, infallible dogmas, new papal revelations, apparitions or man-made traditions which are inconsistent with the profoundly theological and resolutely historical Gospel. The object of most Catholics’ faith is not Jesus alone. In fact, Jesus is seldom mentioned when Catholics are asked how they hope to get to heaven. To a greater extent Catholics trust their church and their priests to dispense all the graces needed for salvation. Seldom is their faith "alone" because good works, sacraments, and personal righteousness are necessary for Catholic salvation.
Four other indicators of spurious faith would be evident when Catholics:
desire Christ only as a Priest to procure pardon and peace, but not as a Prophet to instruct them or as a King to rule over them;
desire to be saved from the punishment of sin, but not from sin itself;
desire the blessings of Christ, but not a relationship with Him;
reject many of Christ’s promises because they go against their traditions.
The New Testament gives several examples of non-saving faith. Jesus told us about temporary faith (Matt. 13:19). James wrote about dead faith (James 2:17). Paul warned against believing in vain (1 Cor. 15:2). Simon the Sorcerer believed and was even baptized but for the wrong motivation. He attempted to buy the grace of God in order to obtain miraculous power (Acts 8:9-24). Surely the most vivid example of spurious faith was given in the Sermon on the Mount. It is here the most sobering words that any professing Christian could ever hear are pronounced by Jesus: "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness." Jesus doesn’t say these words to pagans, Muslims or Hindus but to professing Christians who prophesied, cast out demons and performed miracles in His Name (Matt. 7:21-23). How terrifying it will be for Catholics, who thought they received Jesus through the Eucharist, to hear that He never knew them. How horrifying it will be for those who were baptized into a counterfeit Christianity to meet the Lord Jesus at the Great White Throne judgment instead of at the wedding feast of the Lamb.
Believing another gospel and trusting another Jesus also produces spurious faith (2 Cor. 11:4). The exclusivity of God’s gospel will not allow a person to be saved while believing another gospel. Catholics not only believe another gospel but also another Jesus who is not the Jesus of Scripture. The Catholic Jesus never finished the work of redemption. Instead He is immolated on Catholic altars over 200,000 times each day. He needs purgatory and indulgences to do what He was unable to do on Calvary’s cross—purify sins and pay the punishment for them. Whenever Jesus is not proclaimed in all His sufficiency another gospel is needed to make up for what the counterfeit Jesus was unable to accomplish.
Priests that preach another Jesus point people away from the narrow door that leads to life. Jesus said "Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able" (Luke 13:24). The Greek word for strive is "agonizomal" which means to wrestle, to make every effort to achieve the goal. The word implies there will be hindrances or obstacles to overcome. Here we see how great and powerful Satan and his instruments of deception are as they block the only door that leads to life (John 10:9). Those who desire to know Jesus must strive in their search and not be carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming (Eph. 4:14). They must diligently search the Scriptures and rely on the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit to discern the true way from the counterfeit way (1 Cor. 2:6-16). What a contrast this is to the easy way of salvation Rome promotes. "Get baptized and you are born of God!" Paradoxically, it is the easy way of baptism that causes so many to miss the true way of faith alone in Christ alone. The easy way becomes one of the obstacle sinners must overcome to enter the narrow door.
Baptismal regeneration is one of the many lies from the god of this world who has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Cor. 4:4). He uses his false teachers and their religion to shut the kingdom of God from those trying to enter. Jesus said "woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from men; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in" (Matt. 23:13). Very few ever find the narrow gate. Jesus said: "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it" (Matt. 7:13-14). Could the reason that very few ever find the narrow gate be because not many believers are pointing people to "the way, the truth and the life"?
When we examine ourselves we need to examine the source and object of our faith. We need to check which door we have gone through—the narrow or the wide, and which group we are in—the few or the many. It is easy to be deceived because both doors bear the same sign: "The only way to the Father." One door is the Lord Jesus while the other is a counterfeit Jesus cleverly crafted by Satan. The narrow way that leads to life is paved with divine accomplishment while the wide road is built with man’s achievement. One road has few travelers the other has many who have been deceived and do not even know it. Those on the narrow road have strived to enter it. They have humbled themselves under the Sovereign hand of God. They have mourned for their sins and hungered and thirsted for righteousness.
Those who have spurious faith think they have been saved by the will of man, cleansed by the water of baptism, convicted by the spirit of confirmation and believed the traditions and teachings of men. Those who have true faith have been saved by the will of God, cleansed by the blood of the Son of God, convicted by the Spirit of God and believed the Word of God.
pending: used by permission