“And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He that says, I know Him, and keeps not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” (1 John 2:3-4)
“If you continue in My [W]ord, then are you My disciples indeed.” (John 8:31)
Could anything be more simple than the [W]ords before us? 2+2=4 is not any simpler. With that said and I trust it has been accepted with your approval, I will now tell you that this basic truth has gotten preachers into more trouble than almost anything else they pr/teach. This foundational truth is a teaching or gateway teaching to the holiness of the believer, to Examining one’s self to make certain that one is in the faith, as well as out right calling someone to the wood shed.
It is sad to say that it is more common to cross paths with a false believer than a true one. Reader, you can see why this truth gets preachers into trouble. You, reader, might have thought to yourself, “How does he know who is false and who is real….who does he think he is??!!!?” My answer? “I am one who reads and believes his Bible. I am one who trusts in the texts, sited above.”
Not only has this gotten other preachers into trouble, it has put me into trouble with professing believers AND with preachers, pastors, and many other church leaders. I have been called, in the past, “the salvation police” by a good friend and fellow pastor. Some would, maybe, calm down on their “investigations” but not this detective or meddler. If I did I would be doing a dis-service to the flock and I would be found “abusing my fellow servants,” in other words, I would displease my Master. We have written before that any man called to pastor a flock has been called to meddle, snoop, sniff around, interrogate, investigate, detect, check the bookcase, look for all the dead bodies, look under the rugs and inside the closets, and the freezers, so to speak. Readers, there is a reason that fictional clergy detectives sell so well.
Let me say this, We are never happy or pleased when we find a “so-called believer” to be a “called out deceiver.” I have suffered many a broken heart when someone is discovered to be a “so-called brother or sister.” It is my job to do so, though. All shepherds must watch out for the wolves in sheeps’ clothing and we must dispatch them from the flock or we are not doing our job. We also, as shepherds, must use our rod and staff to look under the sheeps’ wool to check for hidden infirmities. The rod and staff, to a pastor, can represent, the Word and pastoral authority, or the two sided nature of the Word…to build up and to knock down, to hurt and then help.
I said above that to evade the responsibility of being “salvation police” is to fail at your calling and to fail your Caller. This, unfortunately, is true of many of the leaders in the church(es) and of the elders that are to keep him in line. And we do need to be kept in line at times….not from doing wrong but from doing good in questionable ways.
“By their fruit, you shall know them.” Who do you think said that? If you answered Christ, you are right. If you answered any of the human instruments that wrote Scripture you would still be write. The human authors of the New Testament and the prophets of the Old wrote more about false teachers, preachers, ministers, and brethren than on the love of God. This is because we do not question or need to question God’s love; we, however, very much need to question those that seek our trust and love.
Imagine with me an alternate universe (I mean the following reverently). Judas did not kill himself but continued on as the (12th) twelfeth disciple. Judas is still the Judas of the Gospels, the only difference is that he is alive. Now onto our “supposal” as Lewis would call it,
How would you feel if you were the person to recommend or solicit pastorates for Judas, only to find out later that he has been robbing this/these church(es) and God? What would you do? or how would you feel? or what would you think? You might think back to all the times Judas would try and persuade the Master to “save” the coin instead of spending it. You might remember the times Judas would comment on others “misuse” of funds. You might also remember the time Judas showed his love for money over his love for Lord Jesus when the woman washed the Feet of her Lord and Saviour with very expensive ointment. After recalling these incidents you would say to yourself, “How could I not have seen it? If I had seen it I could have stopped him and Lord Jesus would be here today.” [of course, nothing would stop the death of Christ, not even His own prayers nor would anything or anyone delay or stop His resurrection (3) three days later.] In this alternate universe, the death of THE loved One was the cost of not policing the flock.
So…..How does one meddle, police, investigate, inspect, examine the flock? The answer is simple. The answer is given in our quoted texts above. We can be safe, more or less, calling a person a true Christ-ian believer if they simply keep His Commandments. We that keep His commandents, do so [Super]naturally and not robotically. We keep His commands out of pleasure and love, not fear or tyranny. John said it best in his (1st) first epistle (5th) fifth chapter and (3rd) third verse, “His commandments are not grievous .” Let me ask you, “Are His commandments grievous to you?” My hope is that you reply with, “They are not grievous at all for His law is our delight…our great delight.”
Other ways to detect a false believer:
- Start talking about Christ and see how long they can stand it.
- Ask them about their salvation out of nowhere. We learn this technique from the Master as He would often ask questions out of no where and without warning, “Who do you [Peter] say, That I am?” Our Master is the Master of catching persons off guard. Watch our Master at work…..Nicodemus: speaking, speaking, speaking, speaking, and still speaking….THEN OUT OF NO WHERE…BAM, “Nicodemus, Ye must be born again.” Nicodemus: Wait!?! what did you just say?” Now he was intrigued.
- Ask them questions like, “Is Timothy an Old or New Testament book?
- Your spirit will testify to their spirit or it will not. This should not be taken lightly, use this but also seel other evidence
- Ask them if they have read the Book of Hezekiah and see what they say….[there is no such book….I sure hope you knew that].
- The best way to know a person other than their attentiveness to the Master is by asking them, “What think ye of Christ Jesus?” Their answer should provide you with your answer.
Always remember: we do not examine others out of pleasure but out of responsibility and love for the flock of God, nor do we examine other persons just to examine them. Before you even think about checking their fruit, there must be a reason. If you examine without reason you are simply judging one of Christ’s own and that is unacceptable. If you find pleasure in the examination of others, please…please examine yourself to see if you are or are not in the faith.
Another very important, if not the most important rule to follow is to examine thyself before you seek to examine others. Through the responsibility of examining others, God has built in an examination of self. God knows His own and He knows our needs, both spiritual and physical. To God be all the Glory….Praise Him, Praise Him, all of you that have breathe, Praise Him, Praise Him.