Are You a Nominal Christian? A Diagnostic Test

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During the past few months, I’ve been enjoying The Essential Edwards Collection, an accessible introduction to the work of Jonathan Edwards compiled by Owen Strachan and Doug Sweeney and published by Moody. In the volume on True Christianity, the authors put together a series of questions to help us discern the true state of our hearts and expose the reality of nominalism.

Take a look at these questions about our loves:

Do you love God?

  • In your heart, do you desire to follow Him, worship Him, and obey Him?
  • Does your professed love for God stretch into action?
  • Does it have any practical effect on your life?
  • Would others characterize you as one who loves God?
  • Do you adore God?
  • Do you want to adore Him?

Do you love the Bible?

  • Do you want to follow the One whom it reveals, Jesus Christ, and follow His commandments?
  • Do you enjoy reading the Bible and take nourishment from it?
  • Do you struggle to read it and possess little desire to obey it?
  • Do you care about the Bible?
  • Do you seek to understand how it should be interpreted, or do you care more about how it fits or does not fit with your natural prejudices and opinions?
  • Do you believe that the Bible is true? Is it all true, or are only parts of it true?

Do you love living out and sharing the gospel?

  • Do you monetarily support other Christians in need?
  • Do you share the gospel with lost people?
  • Do you care if someone is lost? Is that a concern that comes quickly into your mind when talking with another person?
  • Do you pray much for the salvation of lost sinners? Do you want people to be saved?
  • Do you attempt to live out a Christian life in front of other people?
  • Do you inconvenience yourself to present the gospel to others?
  • Do you suffer in any form for the sake of the gospel? Or is your life free of the sting associated with vibrant Christianity lived out in a pagan world?
  • Do you seek to win family members to Christ? Or do you assume they’re fine?
  • Do you ask them penetrating questions or do you simply assume that they are saved?
  • When dealing with others, are spiritual concerns first in your mind?

Do you love Christians?

  • Or are they like any other group of people out there?
  • Does your love take on a practical form?
  • Do you desire to serve other Christians?
  • Do you care when you hear about suffering Christians in other countries?

Do you enjoy church and draw nourishment from it?

  • Is church endlessly boring you?
  • Do you like biblical preaching?
  • Do you see the need to be confronted about your sin?
  • Do you avoid church in order to avoid being “judged” or “condemned”?
  • Do you love interaction with other believers?
  • Do you want to support the local church?
  • Do you want to support missionaries?
  • Does the spiritual good of other people concern you?
  • Is it more important for you to do your favorite things on Sunday or to worship God with other believers?
  • Do you continually struggle with finding the motivation to go to church?
  • Do you want to go to church?

Does the matter of eternity concern you?

  • Do you want to go to heaven? Do you not want to go to hell?
  • Do you believe in heaven and hell? If so, does your belief take and actional form?
  • Do you desire to go to heaven to worship God for eternity?
  • Do you want to go to heaven because that’s where your favorite people and things are?
  • Do you think about hell? Do you live as if eternity is real?

Does the Bible shape your ethics and morals?

  • Or do you just go with what you feel at a gut level?
  • When there is conflict between your natural inclinations and what the Bible says, which side wins?
  • Do you ever change your mind as a result of reading the Bible?
  • When making political, ethical, and moral decisions, do you consider scriptural teachings, or do you base your decisions on your moral sense?
  • Do you want the Bible to shape your ethics?
  • Does the Bible affect what you watch, read, and listen to? Do you ever avoid or turn off content that is biblically offensive? Do you care if content is moral or immoral in an explicitly biblical sense?

If used well, these questions could provide a starting point from which to engage people we love on the question of their Christianity. If we listen well, show empathy, and share the gospel, we may see the Holy Spirit bring true faith to those who desperately need it.

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