I've been strongly convicted by the sermons from Paul Washer. Strongly convicted.
So I listened to a sermon called "Examine yourselves" slightly nervously as he told me right from the beginning of the message that he was going to go through 1st John and give us a "Are you saved" test based on 1st John.
And even though I know I'm saved, I couldn't stop myself from thinking, man.. I hope I pass.
Is this man of God going to point out something from the scriptures that condemns me? Is the Word of God itself going to tell me something I thought I was doing and wasn't? Is it going to shine a bright light on some nasty sin in my heart I didn't realize was there?
So we went verse by verse through 1st John.
And, while he mentioned some things that challenged me to dig deeper and grow stronger in my own knowledge of the Word of God and in my willingness to look foolish for the Gospel message, I reached the end of the message with great joy.
I passed the test.
It seems silly to say it, or possibly arrogant even (and I certainly don't mean it to sound that way) but it did give strength, confidence that while I'm not perfect, and have loads of growing to do - I'm saved. The scriptures, the words of God Himself confirm this in my heart and I'm....almost surprised.
I suffer from a severe case of "not good enough". If you hand me a measuring bar I'll break my neck trying to measure up. If I reach it easily, I assume you didn't make the stick right. And yet here I was taking a test of the heart. My stick wasn't going to be man-made necessarily (though Paul Washer is human and could fail if he'd misapplied the scriptures) but it was going to be a bar of which it is said: "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.(Hebrews 4:12)
I. Fail. So. Much.
I'm so ... profoundly inadequate. I see it. I know it.
Yet when I listened to 1st John describe the heart of one saved, I was not discouraged.
When I heard Paul Washer speak about the heart of one saved, I was not frustrated.
When I read 1st John for myself tonight to make sure Paul Washer was right, I was amazed.
I began the sermon expecting to find condemnation, and didn't find it. And the first thing I read when I read the book for myself tonight was that this book was not written to condemn the sinner.
He begins the book "These things we write to you that your joy may be full."
He ends the book " These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God."
I've listened to him (Paul Washer) preach so much about how my mind will lie to me, and my heart is deceitful above all things. Those words created a wonder in me about my salvation, it made me ... I suppose as his sermon was titled "Examine Myself". My heart tells me I'm saved, my mind tells me I'm saved - but those things lie. But the Word of God will not lie.
I hope you pass too.