Once again, this was written for an English class, but I hope it finds some use here on this webpage. May the Lord use it to educate, edify, and strengthen anyone who may read this. God bless!
There is dire importance in examining one's life, with regard to the Christian. Examinations are constantly needed in order to be a successful Christian and to do well in life. The first area of examination that comes to mind would be that of Salvation. Christians should examine themselves at the point of their spiritual rebirth, or regeneration, as well as throughout the course of their life to see if they are truly born again. This can only come through examination of one's life, faith, and beliefs. The second point of examination is during an ordinance, or practice, of the church called Communion, or the Lord's Supper. Examination during this time has grievous consequences if not done properly. Finally, it should be noted that the central method of examination has to do with the Almighty Himself. God constantly searches our innermost being to really discover who we are as Christians. Therefore this greatest examination we cannot attain, for our thoughts are not His thoughts, and we can never understand what our absolute position is as a believer in our relationship to God. Truly, examination is at the heart of a Christian's salvation and sanctification-the constant spiritual maturity of a Christian-with the best examiner of all being the Creator Himself.
The chief aspect of examination falls into the realm of one's Salvation. The Bible says we are to, "Examine [ourselves] as to whether [we] are in the faith" (2 Cor. 3:5-NKJV). The Book of James further clarifies the type of examination that is needed. It is in this book that James says, "What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him" (James 2:14-NKJV)? This sets the stage for a series of tests that reveal the true motives of a believer. These tests are not to be interpreted as merits for earning faith, but are demonstrative of the awesome power of faith and how real faith will produce real works. "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also" (James 2:26-NKJV). A Christian is to examine himself to be sure his faith is not a shallow, fruitless faith, but one based on a life of repentance and heartfelt devotion to the Lord.
Furthermore, examination should not only be done with respect to Salvation, yet it should be an important time during the church ordinance of the Lord's Supper. In his treatise on Christian doctrine-Lectures in Systematic Theology, Henry Clarence Thiessen writes that "each participant [in the Lord's Supper] is asked to examine himself as to whether or not he is qualified to partake of the communion elements" (329). It is noteworthy to mention that "the individual is asked to examine himself as to his fitness to come to the table." Therefore, personal examination is greatly significant, for a quick look at the text mentioning this ordinance will show that to do otherwise may provide unwanted circumstances. The text mentioning this specific examination is found in 1 Corinthians 11:27-30 (NKJV):
Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.
The grave sin that the Corinthians were committing is that of taking the Supper in a manner that was not worthy of the Supper. In his study Bible, Dr. John MacArthur describes an unworthy person as one who takes the Supper "ritualistically, indifferently, with an unrepentant heart, a spirit of bitterness, or any other ungodly attitude" (1746). The Wycliffe Bible Commentary mentions "the reason that self-judgment, or confession of sin, must precede the partaking is that otherwise the believer makes himself liable to judgment" (1249). As the text then proves, without examination, many became sick and weak, and some even died because they had taken the Supper in an unworthy manner. Thus, examination proves itself to be a vital part during the administration and receiving of this Supper commemorating the death of the Lord Jesus Christ.
An examination of one's relationship to God with respect to Salvation and the Lord's Supper are detrimental to one's life as a Christian, moreover it is prudent to consider the greatest examiner of them all-Almighty God! One tenet of orthodox Christianity lies in the belief of the omniscience of God. Since He knows all, He is therefore the grandest of all who examine. Having already known everything, His examinations are wise and just, yet sometimes unrevealed to mortal man. Proverbs 5:21 (NKJV) tells of how "the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord," and how "He ponders [or observes] all his paths." Also, "the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7-NKJV). That verse provides perhaps the greatest indication of how competent an examiner of mankind God is. First John 3:20 (NKJV) tells of how God is "greater than [man's] heart, and knows all things," proving the incompetence of man to provide even an adequate examination of our own present condition. One of the best illustrations of God's omniscience is found in The Great Doctrines of the Bible by William Evans. His view is thus:
We are like a man standing by a river in a low place, and who, consequently, can see that part of the river only that passes by him; but he who is aloof in the air may see the whole course of the river, how it rises, and how it runs. Thus is it with God. (31)
It should appear evident to a Christian that God is truly the great examiner of all things that transpire based on Scripture.
Hopefully, examination has been proven vital to the born-again believer. The areas of Salvation and the Lord's supper have been pondered alongside some additional thoughts as to the omniscience of the Creator who knows all, and therefore provides the greatest example of a wise and just examiner of mankind. With respect to Salvation, a Christian should be encouraged to examine himself to see if he is bearing the fruit of a believer. Pertaining to the Lord's Supper, examination is needed to ensure a proper respect for the true intent of the ordinance, as well as to eschew any personal harm such as sickness or death. In relation to the example of a source of examination, we see God the Father who is most certainly capable, willing, and already examining the hearts, lives, and conduct of His beloved children. The exhortations for righteous living, admonitions against disrespect for church practices, and knowledge of God's examination, should encourage each and every believer to further examine himself daily.
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March 7, 2000