21 May 2023

Examine Yourself – Is Christ In You? [2 Corinthians 13:5-14]


Many people ask, "Am I really saved? " "How can I know if I am truly God's child? " And there may even be more people who "block out" questions like these, or worse still, have wrong answers and end up self-deceived! What about you? Are you saved? Do you really know? And is what you know really biblically based? Many have been bewildered, or even tormented by the lack of assurance of salvation. The good news is that you need not be! There are clear answers in the Bible for you. You can know how to be saved, and how to tell if you are saved. All this and more is explained in this final sermon in Corinthians.



Sermon Transcript

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We are coming now to the last sermon in the book of 2 Corinthians. This has been a long journey. We started in September 2022, so last year. It's about eight or nine months. And actually this has been a journey even longer than that because we started 1 Corinthians in October 21. So this has been close to two years. I hope it has been helpful to you and thank you for journeying together with me.

Uh.. We will be going to a New (sic Old) Testament book of Hosea in June. As mentioned, next week will be Pastor Chee Kin preaching. Uh, two weeks' time in June, we will be looking at Hosea. Uh, quite an interesting ride. It's a minor prophet. Prophetic books are not easy, but I hope you will still come and learn together with us. All right?

Now, today, let's look at 2 Corinthians Chapter 13 and verses 5 to 14. I will first run through the verses very quickly and then I'll get into the main applicatory point or theme I'd like us to consider.

But, let me start this with this. Everybody is familiar with Superman and of course, Batman and Spider-Man. But you know for the Chinese people, what do we have? We have IP Man. Of course, it's not IP Man as in Intellectual Property Man but this is a Cantonese name in English transliteration. It's Ip Man - Ye Wen, Ip Man in Cantonese.

Now, when I was growing up, I liked Kung Fu shows but I'm not very familiar with Ip Man. Never really quite heard of it, him. But I think he became very famous, or this character became very famous in recent years because of a movie franchise. Another reason why he's very famous is, as what is seen in this poster here, he's the mentor or the 'sifu' of Bruce Lee.

Now, everybody knows Bruce Lee. So the assumption is if Bruce Lee is the real deal, then Ip Man, his 'sifu' must also be the real deal. His claim to fame is his disciple, Bruce Lee.

That is in a sense the logic that we read of by the apostle Paul. Paul, the writer of Corinthians - this letter to the people in ancient Corinth, has had to defend himself. People are asking, eh Paul, who are you? Are you sure you're really the apostle? Are you really the real deal? And Paul's argument is saying, if you guys are the real deal, I am the real deal, since I am the one who led you to faith in Jesus Christ. If your life has been changed, if people can see Christ in you, then that confirms I am a genuine messenger from God.

This is the logic he gave in 1 Corinthians 9. He says, if to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you, for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord. He again repeats this theme in 2 Corinthians: You yourselves are our letter of recommendation. So people walk around with certificates, with degrees, or with documents that say, oh, this is a true preacher. Paul says, I don't need these paper documentations because I have live, living epistles, letters that prove the authenticity of my apostleship.

So we are coming to this same idea of Paul authenticating himself by saying, you guys, if you are the real deal, I am the real deal. So that's what we read in Chapter 13, the last chapter and in verse 5.

He calls them to examine themselves, to see whether they are in the faith. The reason is, if you are proven, or if you can see that God is in you, you have real faith in Jesus, Jesus is changing your life, then that settles the question. I am the real deal.

So he says, examine yourselves. See whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Christ is in you? He's actually rather confident that they are genuine followers, believers of God. Don't you realize this? But he also is careful to caveat, unless indeed you fail to meet the test.

So examine yourselves. See if you are in the faith. See if you are really the real deal. And if you do that, I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test. So he says, examine yourselves, but then he says, I hope you'll find out that we have not failed the test because the proving of the authenticity of their faith would demonstrate the authenticity of his apostleship. So examine yourself and if you pass, you will realize that we did not fail the test, we are true apostles. That's the idea. I hope you are following me.

And then he goes on in verse 7, but we pray to God that you may not do wrong. So we pray to God that you will pass the test. How? In that you do not do wrong. That you do not continue to practice sin as what Paul had written in Chapter 12 and verse 20. Sins of disharmony - fighting, striving, quarrelling, and sins of immorality - sexual sins. I pray that you will not continue to do wrong in sinning but instead you will repent. You will obey God. And in your repentance and obedience, we would know that you passed the test, that you are genuinely in the faith, that Jesus is in you, that you are the real deal.

So this is what I pray for, that you will repent and obey. But I pray this not so that when you repent and obey, people see that you're the real deal and know that I'm the real deal, because that's not what I'm praying for. I'm not praying that I or we may appear to have met the test. Our priority is not the guarding or protecting of our own reputation. But we pray that you'll do no wrong so that you may do what is right. That's all. We just want you to obey. We just want you to do right by God. It's not so much for our reputation. Even though it may seem that we have failed.

What do you mean failed? Orh! Paul, he skipped some steps I think in writing this but I think the logic some works something like this. You Corinthians have always been accusing me that I'm a paper tiger; that I have a lot of bark but no bite. I always threaten you that I will discipline you, but you say I never discipline you.

So in this case, if right now you should repent, then I will not need to discipline you. And I would appear to have failed or I would appear to be weak in that I'm not able to exercise apostolic authority in discipline. But Paul says that's fine. I still pray that you will not continue living in sin, not so to protect my reputation, but that you may do right and if you do right, then I do not have the opportunity to discipline you. And you may think that I'm weak or I failed, but that's okay. Because I'm for you. I'm not here trying to prove anything to anyone. That's not my priority.

So, for we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. If you're walking in the truth, then there's nothing we can do against you. We are for the truth, not against the truth. For we are glad when we are weak. We are glad even if it means we look weak. We look like we are not able to exercise discipline. I'm glad that I do not need to exercise discipline. Look weak and you are strong in a sense that you do not get to be humbled in discipline. It's fine by us. Perfectly okay. Because your restoration - your soundness, your health, spiritually speaking, is our priority. It's what we pray for.

So if you are naughty, huh, unrepentant, and we have to discipline you, then it will prove that we have the guts and the authority to do so. But I'd rather that you repent and you will not be humbled in discipline, even if it means people would still continue to say we are like paper tigers.

Verse 10 - For this reason I write these things while I'm away from you. I'm not here with you yet, but I write these things so that when I come, I hope I don't have to discipline you. That's all. Because the authority given to me as an apostle is not to show off that I'm severe in discipline, but the authority given to me is so that at the end of the day, you guys are built up in the faith.

So with these verses, Paul, in a sense, has concluded the main content of 2 Corinthians. These verses have highlighted two major issues - Paul's defense of his apostolic authority and Paul looking to deal with sin in the local church. And he ties the two together. My apostolic authority is very much reflected in your obedience. And I need to deal with sin, but I really hope I do not have to. If you should repent, then I do not have to do so.

So he concludes now with some final words. Verse 11 - Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace. So obviously, the Corinthians have a lot of problems. They have quarrels, fights, so he says, please ah.. settle lah ah, please don't continue like this, in essence.

He says, greet one another with a holy kiss. I have a whole sermon on this in Romans, so if you want to find out what that is, please check it out. Uh.. you ask, eh, why Gospel Light never greet one another with a holy kiss? You can also check that sermon out, but in essence, we say that the function or the purpose has to be understood, but the form can change.

So in the past, I think it's customary, socially acceptable to have kiss. I think a lot of cultures today still have greeting one another with kisses. Here in Singapore, we tend to do handshakes. Uh and since COVID, we tend to do more of this. Uh.. but as the form changes, the function should remain and if you'd like to find out more, the sermon is called 'Greetings can mean Great Things'.

Chapter 13 verse 13: All the saints greet you and finally, the last verse - it's a Trinitarian salute or farewell or benediction. The Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit is all in this one verse, and probably you can study more on that on your own.

But like I said, I think that the final words of Chapter 13 and 2 Corinthians are dealing with the defense of Paul's apostolic authority and dealing with sin. That is the main point, or main points. But these are subjects that we have looked at in great detail already in the previous week. So I don't think I'm going to recycle or reemphasize these things, although let me say that again they are the main ideas.

But there's something that is subsidiary to this main idea. There's something that is mentioned in a sense by the way, but which is I think fresh, new and important for us to consider. And it is this verse - examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith. Now, like I said, this is not the main message of these 10 verses. This is something Paul says you do so that I can validate or you can see that my apostolic authority is validated.

But this is new, this is fresh, and this is something that is very relevant. This is one of the verses that people often talk about or quote. So I think I'm going to spend the remaining time I have to look at this subject of how can a believer have assurance of salvation. This is a FAQ - frequently asked question.

I dare say for the vast majority of church goers, there will be some point of time in your life where you would stop and ask, am I really a Christian? Do I really know God? Am I really saved? Because my interactions with you have told me that many people are actually agonizing over this.

In fact, some are very, very troubled to say the least. This is a deeply personal, emotional and important issue. So this morning, we are going to look at a test. How can you and I know if we are truly in the faith? Am I really saved? This is a vital question. So I hope to bring some light, some encouragement, some joy, some comfort to you as we look at these verses or these words that tell us about examining yourselves, is Christ in you?

[1] Principle
I begin with this one principle. The test or the assurance of one's salvation is predicated or based on this one principle. And let me illustrate this. Suppose I tell you - last night when I was walking in the streets, a huge, speeding lorry crashed into me. What would you say? You would probably say, Jason, you are lying.

Why would you say I'm lying? Because if it was truly a huge, powerful, speeding lorry that crashed into you, you can't look the same today. You will be 'bai ka, bai qiu'. You will be coming up on stage at most in crutches, if not a wheelchair. You will have scars and bruises. You will be bleeding everywhere. You will be a mess because it is impossible that something so big and powerful can encounter your life and you remain the same. Impossible!

And it is the same with regards to knowing Jesus Christ. It is impossible that someone so powerful and great can come into your life and you look the same. Impossible! Therefore, Paul can confidently say, you'll examine yourself to see whether you are in the faith. There will be indelible, obvious marks of change.

So my principle here is: Assurance of salvation, if you really know Christ, it's based on the principle - if Jesus is, is in you, your life will be changed. Cannot be that you say you know Jesus and your life after you know Jesus is essentially the same as your life before you knew Jesus. Just as I told you, a lorry banged into me - impossible!

[2] Proof
So then let's go to point number two. What's the proof? What's the evidence? What's the mark of someone who really has encountered Jesus? Let me tell you what people usually refer to. They say, how do you know I'm a Christian? Very easy - I said a sinner's prayer. I was baptised, the baptism pool there. Remember I was baptised there. Or they whip out their wallet and they draw out their IC and say to you, see..see..see, under religion - Christianity. That is how you know I'm a Christian. IC - Christianity. Or look at my cross. Or look at my Sunday schedule; I always go to church.

We have this frequent saying, right? Going to church doesn't make you a Christian, just like going to McDonald's doesn't make you a hamburger. So there are people today who assume that because their name is on an IC, because they were baptised, because they had a sinner's prayer, because their attendance in church, they must be Christians. No. These are not reliable signs.

In fact, there are those who will say to Jesus, Lord, did we not prophesy, speak divine revelation in Your Name? Did we not cast out demons? Did we not do mighty works? Now these are fantastical things, miraculous things! Wow! 99.99% of people can't even do anything like this. So there are people who say, whoa, we did these things, Lord. And Jesus said to them, I never knew you.

You, you say you know me? I never knew you. You never belong to Me. We, we were.. we were not together. In Hokkien, 'wah hm pak le', 'ngor hm sek leh ah'. You say you know Me, I don't know you. But..but..but..but..but we, we did all these things, we prophesied, we did miracles, we cast out.. I never knew you. You thought you knew Me. You used My Name, but you're not mine.

Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord', is part of the kingdom. A lot of people are in this camp. Huh.. you say my IC, my sinner's prayer; let me tell you even more impressive things - miracles, casting out demons. That does not mean, that is not the real test, 'bei zhun, bo pa kei'! So you say then what is the 'zhun' or acid test, the gold standard to tell if I truly belong to Christ, if I can truly enter the kingdom?

Oh, you don't have to guess. Jesus makes it clear. He didn't hedge around. He went straight to the point. He says, only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. The evidence, the mark, the change of a man who really knows God is that he does the will of the Father. In other words - obedience. The mark that Christ is in your life is that you obey God like Jesus did, like Jesus always does. That's the mark!

The flip side is also true. Jesus said to these people who cast out demons, prophesy and do miracles; you know what's the problem with them? They were workers of lawlessness. Oh, don't be mistaken, miracles are supernatural but the source of the power can be from God or even from Satan. Heh, these are found throughout the Scriptures. So the test is not in supernatural performances but whether you obey or whether you live a lawless, sinful life.

The apostle Paul said this to Titus: They profess to know God - they are people who claim to know God - but they deny Him by their works. Their works are detestable, they are detestable, they are disobedient.

And again, John would say, whoever says "I know Him" but does not keep His commandments is a liar. No matter what they profess, no matter how they claim and no matter how they pray so fervently at least to human eyes, they are liars. They do not know God because they do not obey God. They do not keep His commandments.

But let me be very clear. The Bible is not saying that you do these things or you obey these things to, to earn your salvation. No! But the Bible is saying that you do these things, you obey as the evidence of salvation.

That's what Paul is talking about in 2 Corinthians 13. Examine yourself to see whether you are in the faith. How to examine? Test what? Whether you will do wrong in continuing to live in sin, or you will repent and obey. Because if you should repent and obey, you prove yourself to be the real deal. And if you don't, it just shows Christ was not in you, was never in you.

The apostle Paul knew the Corinthians. He earlier said that, don't you know that these sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers and so on and so forth, these swindlers, they will not inherit the Kingdom of God. But such were some of you. But now you are cleansed, you are justified, you are forgiven. You are changed from people who do works of lawlessness; now you are people who obey God. So please do not keep on sinning. Repent, obey, do right.

Now, does it mean that the Corinthians were perfect? Of course not. We read 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians; we see that even though they were changed from such a lifestyle, they still struggle with sin. So we are not saying here that the change that we need to see in a Christian is that he will be perfect and sinless. We are not saying that you will be sinless, but we are saying you will sin less. Can I say that again? It's not that you will be sinless, but you will sin less. The gap in between very important. We are not talking about perfection here. We are talking about progression here.

Someone illustrated this well. You know the Christian life is ups and downs. It's not up..up..up..up..up..up all the way lah. Sometimes you go up in obedience. Sometimes you fall in disobedience. And he describes it to be like a yo-yo. A yo-yo goes down. A yo-yo goes up. A yo-yo goes down. A yo-yo goes up. But it's a yo-yo in the hands of a man walking up the stairs. Can you get the picture in your head? The yo-yo goes down, comes up. But this man is walking up the stairs.

So maybe, I think for Singaporeans, easier picture is.. is like your STI - Straits Times Index. Go up, come down, go up, come down. But overall ah, it's going up the stairs lah. Can buy lah. I do not know lah. I think should be lah. That's the Christian life - not that you are sinlessly perfect, but you are sincerely progressing.

So, the principle of the assurance of salvation is that if Jesus is in you, your life will be changed. And if your life is not changed, Jesus is not in you. How do I know if Jesus is in me? The proof is not in my IC. The proof is not whether I said a sinner's prayer. The proof is not whether my Christians are parents. The proof is not whether I wear a cross on my neck. The proof is simply obedience. Obedience to God. Not to earn salvation but to evidence salvation.

And to be clear, it's not sinless perfection but it is sincere progression in obedience that we are looking for. That you should look for.

[3] Pastoral Pragmatics
a. Examination
Finally, let me give you some pastoral pragmatics. Now, it's a big term but it just seems, it just means some practical applications for your, for your spiritual needs, pastoral needs. So what are the spiritual applications we can consider? First of all, we consider what Paul has told us to consider for the Corinthians and that is to examine yourselves.

Paul told the Corinthians to examine themselves. Now, he told them to examine themselves not to cause them to doubt or to shake in their confidence. No, he's actually asking them to examine so that they will have a greater assurance, isn't it? That's the point in 2 Corinthians 13.

So, I'm asking you to examine yourself, not to shake your confidence, but that you will be more and more assured. As you examine your life and you realize that there is a growing obedience in your life, there is a greater Christ-likeness in your life, I hope you are comforted. I hope you are assured. That's the goal.

But, if today, you examine yourself and this seems rather embarrassing because you say, you know, I thought I was a Christian for 5, 10 years, but over these 5 to 10 years, I really don't see any material change. I hope you will not just brush it aside. But I hope you are willing to humble yourself and say, yah, maybe I have not really believed. Maybe I'm not really part of the Kingdom. And I say to you, if you have such a wonderful attitude, this could be the best day of your life because this could be the day you begin on a journey to really knowing God and the Gospel.

That is my wish for you. That you will really ask God and cry out to God and say, Lord, give me salvation. Give me a new heart. Make me a new creation. Because I really hope, if I may say, none of you would end up as one of those in Matthew Chapter 7. Lord, Lord, didn't we go to Gospel Light? Didn't we hear sermons? Didn't we do this and do that? Then Jesus said, I never knew you. Oh, please don't let that happen to you. So I hope today will be the day where you would perhaps examine yourself and be assured.

And if you should see no evidence, you will embark on a journey to knowing God, to knowing His Gospel for yourself. And let me say this, this church exists to help you do so. That is our chief delight, that you will want to know Jesus Christ and we will be happy to journey with you. I know that there are many in this church who would love to do this with you, who are equipped to do this with you. I almost can say there is a, not just a group, but a, but an army of men and women who are passionate and equipped to help you, myself included.

Drop me a text, send us an email, say, hey, I've examined my life and I can't be sure if I really know the Lord. Can someone help me? Hey, that will be the email we would love to receive, the text we would love to receive because that's what we are here for. So examine yourselves. That's what Paul would want us to do.

b. Expression
Number two: for those who are Christians - you know you are, you have seen change in your life, you are thankful for that. I say, please don't stop there, please continue to express your faith, continue to manifest the fruit of God's salvation in your life. In other words, saying together with Paul in Philippians 2 - work out your salvation with fear and trembling.

I read about Peter saying, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election. He says there's a way to grow in this assurance. Now, it requires diligence. I like the word diligence, effort. And he clarifies how one can confirm his calling and election in an earlier passage, verses 5 to 7, saying, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, virtue with knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, love.

As you grow in these things, as you depart from sinful attitudes and lifestyles, and as you obey God in self-control, in brotherly kindness and affection and love, you make your calling and election sure. In other words, the Christian is urged to obey God, make every effort to do so.

Now, Christianity is not let go and let God, as if there's nothing for us to do. Oh, there is no spiritual progress in anybody's life without God. It must be 100% God, right? But at the same time, it's not 0% man. 100% God but also make every effort. It's effortful; Christian living is effortful!

God is against earning but He's not against effort. He's against us thinking that, ah, because I do this, I deserve it. No. That's not what God wants but God wants us to responsibly, diligently make every effort. To grow, to obey, to forsake sin, to read His Scriptures, to seek Him in prayer, to gather in Gospel communities - make every effort to grow.

Now, I want to clarify something in case some of you say, wah, you are telling us to make every effort to do these things to earn salvation hah? Just to be very clear, I want to write it down so that there is no misunderstanding. The basis of salvation is the finished work of Jesus Christ alone.

Jesus on the cross said, it is finished. Finished means finished. No need for you to finish already. He finished already. He died and paid for all the sins that you have committed and will commit. He has died for it all, paid for it all.

So we are saved by Jesus' complete and finished work. But the basis of our assurance is based on our faithful work. How do you know if you are truly God's child? The basis of this assurance? When I see my life change. The more I see change, the more assured I will be. The less change I see, the less assured I will be. Get that? Very simple, that's the basis.

So what I'm saying is the more we walk with Him, the more we are assured. But I am not saying the more we walk with Him, the more we are saved. No, salvation is done. Complete! Finished! This is about assurance of salvation.

Another book that may be very helpful for you to consider is 1 John. 1 John is written and a purpose statement is given here: I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. So John is addressing the issue of assurance. How do you know that you have eternal life? That's what he has been writing in 1 John and so let me just cherry pick some of the verses.

If you know that He is righteous - God is righteous - you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of Him. How do you know? You practice righteousness. That's your regular habit of life. Not sinlessly perfect, like a yo-yo, but a yo-yo of someone walking up the stairs. You are growing in this practice of righteousness.

And then he says in Chapter 3 verse 9, no one born of God makes a practice of sinning because God lives in him. Makes sense. Chapter 3 verse 14: you do not hate your brothers but you love the brothers. You obey God in loving your brethren.

So, my urge to Christians here is: be thankful for the marks of grace in your life, but don't stop there please. Continue to work out your salvation. Work at obeying God, growing in the virtues, growing in Christ-likeness, loving the brethren, doing the works of the law. That's what expressing your faith will look like and that's the key to growing in assurance.

c. Evangelism
Finally, I want to say a word about evangelism. A lot of times, we are very excited and thankful when someone whom you have been sharing the Gospel with says, I think I believe I want to be a Christian. Isn't it exciting? I mean to me that is one of the most exciting things. That someone has come to.. to reading of the Bible and said, yah, I think I want to accept Jesus, believe in Jesus as my Savior. And I say, that is something very praiseworthy, we should be thankful for that, celebrate that.

But I want to add a caution. Whilst we may celebrate someone's desire to receive Christ, we must be careful not to pronounce that person already saved, just as it is. But to just 'tarik' a bit, you know 'tarik' ah? 'Tarik' means hold back a bit lah; celebrate that profession but don't be too quick to pronounce, eh, you definitely are saved.

Because usually what people do is, eh, you want to believe ah? Very good ah, you understand all that I said? Yah..yah, I understand. Actually, you also don't understand, also don't want to say I don't understand, but yah..yah, I understand. Are you very sincere in, in saying you want to believe? Yah..yah..yah, I'm very sincere. Why you doubt me ah?

Okay, if you believe, you understand, you are sincere. Okay, you are a Christian, let's say a prayer. Lord, blah..blah..blah..blah..blah..blah... You know, after the prayer, you say to the person, you have just said the sinner's prayer. God heard your prayer, He saves you. You are now a Christian. Write down your name in this Bible. I believe Jesus, dated 21st May 2023. Write already? Okay, very good. Next time, if you have any doubt about your salvation, just open to the front of your Bible - believed Jesus 21st May 2023 and never doubt it anymore. Wah! Very confident huh?

Well, for some people, it may be true, tioboh? For some people, they really believe; then hallelujah, praise God. But how you know if everybody really understands and believes? I'm reminded of Matthew Chapter 7 leh. Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord', will enter the kingdom, you know? What if they are part of that and we have not sufficiently understood nor walked with the person to know enough. And we kind of falsely assured his salvation and told that person never to doubt or question that anymore? That is actually quite dangerous.

Think about your kids. Think about the children in Sunday school. Do you want to believe in Jesus? Yah, teacher, I want. I want. Why? Because later got lollipop. Did he or she believe in Jesus for Jesus or for the lollipop? Jialat y'know! And then we say to John, you're already saved. Tell your mummy, tell your daddy, don't doubt your salvation anymore. Maybe John is saved, that's fine. But maybe Peter is not. Maybe Michael is not. Maybe Mark is not. How? We could have done great spiritual harm if we are not careful.

Let's not talk about children, let's talk about church service. There's something called altar call. You heard before? It's not a term found in the Bible anywhere but it has been popularized. It's called altar call and essentially it's the preacher giving an invitation to the people at the end of a service to receive Jesus into their lives.

I'm not against that as a concept in general. But there are dangers associated with it and we must be mindful. So what happens is generally they preach a sermon, and after that they say, those who want to believe in Jesus, raise your hands or walk the aisle. Raising the hands, walking the aisle is also not a problem for me. It's just a way to indicate, to let people know.

But the danger comes when the people raise their hands, walk the aisle, they come to the front and the preacher prays, Lord, we thank you for all these who are your sheep. They believe in your Son. We thank you for salvation. Hallelujah! And then everybody here thinks, oh, because the pastor prayed for me and because I responded, I said a prayer, I must be saved lah. And nobody really knows or speaks with them or asks them questions if they really understand the Gospel.

Now, I know you don't like to hear all these things, because it seems like a lot of problem. Cannot..cannot..cannot..cannot.. you tell me cannot..cannot, then do what? Actually I list all these problems, not that I want to be problem focused, I want to be solution focused. And I just want to say there's one solution to it all.

Again, I'm not saying it's wrong to ask for a decision, I'm not saying it's wrong to celebrate someone's decision. I'm not saying it's wrong to pray, I'm not saying it's wrong for people to indicate. I'm not saying these things are wrong, I'm just saying there needs to be something else, added to all that.

What is that something else that needs to be added to all that? Very simple. I used to be a medical doctor. When we see patients, we generally say, okay, I hear your symptoms, I examine you. I think this is your problem, take this medicine. But if you are not well, come back three days later. Tioboh?

You know why doctors say that? Because we want to earn more money. The longer we can get you to come back, the better it is for us. But jokes aside, we say that because even with the best of skills and knowledge, we can never be 100% sure that the diagnosis is exactly what we think it is.

Suppose one day you 'patoh tiah' (stomach ache), you go to see the doctor. The doctor says, I look at you, okay lah, probably you eat something wrong, dirty food lah. Gastroenteritis - wah big name but actually it's just food poisoning. I prescribe some medicine, you take lah and I tell you uh, I'm 100% sure it's gastroenteritis lah. You just write down gastroenteritis, okay? Tell your boss, gastroenteritis. And if things don't do well, it's okay, just take medicine, you'll be okay because I'm 100% sure it's gastroenteritis.

So you take the paper, you say, oh, gastroenteritis, okay, bo tai chi lah. Three days later, still very pain; in fact, super pain, more painful. But my doctor said bo tai chi, never mind lah. Five days later, still bo tai chi. Seven days later, you are in a mortuary. Huh, what happened? Gastroenteritis what? Nothing what? No, you didn't have gastroenteritis, you had appendicitis. And your appendix burst, and you became toxic and you died. But you know what? My doctor told me - gastroenteritis.

Do you know that's what we do to people? Eh, aiyah,, you say you believe Jesus. Yah..yah..yah, you're saved already lah. Don't need to worry lah. But, you know, John, for 10 years, my life is the same. Never mind lah, you are saved already lah. Eh, John, for 20 years, I have not changed. Never mind lah, you are saved already lah. And then one day you end up in, before Christ, and then He said to you, I never knew you. But John told me. Who is John? I also don't know him. You know the tragedy of it all? That's what it is.

So what is the solution? Solution is like a doctor. I tell you, it's likely gastroenteritis but if you're not well, please come back. I want to follow up. I want to see how your condition has changed. So when we share the Gospel, celebrate someone's decision or desire to believe. But please what? Follow up.

Hey, John, so glad you received, or you want to receive Christ. Shall we meet again next week? Let's continue reading the Bible. You know why? At the end of the day, Jesus didn't tell you, go and evangelize. What did He say? Go and make disciples. And what's a disciple? Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I've commanded you. Why stop there? Why stop there? Why stop at someone say 'I believe' and then you abandon him? Wah, like project over. No, this child is born. Please take care of him till he grows to maturity. That's the ideal.

So the key to evangelism is patience and follow up. That's all. When the Sunday school kid says, I want to believe in Jesus, don't say, eh you keh one uh, you fake one uh, aiyah..aiyah..aiyah. You just want lollipop, right? No need, don't say that lah. Just say, ey, John, I'm so glad you want to believe. Hey, let's study the Bible together and you watch his life. See whether he has a love for Scripture, whether he loves God, whether he..he wants to obey and he actually obeys. That's how you see.

People come up stage, wow, feel good ah, the preacher. Wah, my statistics very good, power uh, my preaching very power. Please, the key thing is watch the way their lives will change in the days to come and have people journey with them. That's the important part.

So I think that's really important. The old preachers, they understand that. During, during the Great Awakening, George Whitefield, John Wesley were famous names where God used to preach to thousands and tens of thousands and oftentimes many people would profess faith. But you know what they say when people come to them and say, ey, I heard the Gospel from you and I'm now a believer. You know what they say? They say to them, very good but come and tell me six months later how your life is. I think they understand something a lot of us don't.

Am I saying it's wrong to pray and to celebrate someone's profession? No. Am I saying it's wrong to invite someone to believe in Jesus? No. It's fine, but just don't stop there. Follow up.

I've journeyed, I had the privilege of journeying with some of you in this congregation in the Gospel for various periods of time. Some for weeks, some for months, some for years. And I don't think at any point of time, I have said to you, you are already saved, don't doubt, move on. But I, I hope kept pointing you to the Gospel, pointing you to the Scriptures, hoping that if you are not saved, you would one day be saved; and if you are already saved, you will know more of His Word and grow in Him. I think that's what the Scriptures command us to do.

We don't have to be the ones to pronounce someone saved. We tell them how to be saved. We tell them what are the signs of a person who is saved. And I think God will be the One who will reveal through their lives if they are saved. It is impossible to encounter Jesus and your life remains the same. Impossible. Examine yourself to see if you are in the faith.

I hope this is a practical take on a simple, fundamental but super misunderstood theology in the Gospel. May this mark the end of our journey through 2 Corinthians. Let's bow for a word of prayer.

Father, we thank you so much that it is so plain and obvious. If we truly encounter Jesus in our lives and if He lives in us, then we must have a life-changing relationship with Him. I pray therefore that Your children as they see the changes that You have effected in their lives will grow in assurance and joy.

And for those who have yet to see evidence, will be humbled today to cry out to You for a new heart for true salvation and life.

I pray too that saints will continue to work out their salvation with fear and trembling. And we pray that we will be faithful, patient and wise, and biblical in how we share the Gospel with our kids, in Sunday school, in church services, or even amongst friends.

We thank You that there is such wisdom in Scripture and may we follow them well. So bless all my brothers and sisters in Christ today. Comfort hearts, grant assurance, fortify our theology that we may do ministry effectively. That we will have true converts, not just false professors.

And we pray again for those who are yet to know Jesus. May this be a beautiful start to their journey of knowing Christ. Thank You. We pray all this in Jesus' Name. Amen.

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