EXAMINE YOURSELVES (BY DAVID RAVENHILL)
One of the things I loathed about school were the exams. I was a quiet kid who never caused the teacher any problems and as far as I know, I was well liked by my classmates. I looked and acted as though I was as bright and intelligent as any other student until that dreadful moment when the teacher would announce that he or she would be giving us an exam. Suddenly everything was going to be revealed and the entire class was about to discover the truth about me. I wasn’t as intelligent or as knowledgeable as I wanted them to believe.
That’s what exams are designed for; they reveal the truth about you, your knowledge, understanding, or ability. The Bible exhorts us to ‘examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith.’ (2 Corinthians 13:5) Exam results are normally based on how well we read and understand the topic. If our answers differ from the text book, we receive a lower grade. The text book is always the standard by which we are judged.
In a similar way, our text book is the Word of God. This is the plumb line that sets God’s standards for each of us to live by.
Speaking of exams, John Wesley, along with Charles his brother, met weekly with some other men at Christ Church, Oxford to challenge each other regarding their spiritual walk. They were dubbed The Holy Club by their colleagues. Together, they drew up a list of questions they were required to ask themselves daily as part of their spiritual accountability to each other, and the Lord. They also fasted every Wednesday and Friday as part of their spiritual discipline.
Today they would be accused of being legalistic or of having a religious spirit and therefore shunned by the vast majority of believers as spiritual fanatics. But when you consider what they achieved for God, perhaps they weren’t so crazy after all. Here is their list of questions. I’ll let you be the judge. Like I’ve already stated, the reason I never liked exams were because they revealed the real me! What do they reveal about you?
TWENTY TWO QUESTIONS
THE HOLY CLUB, TO WHICH JOHN WESLEY BELONGED, ASKED THEMSELVES EACH DAY AS A PART OF THEIR DAILY DEVOTIONS
1. AM I CONSCIOUSLY OR UNCONSCIOUSLY CREATING THE IMPRESSION THAT I AM BETTER THAN I REALLY AM? IN OTHER WORDS AM I A HYPOCRITE?
2. AM I HONEST IN ALL MY ACTS AND WORKS, OR DO I EXAGGERATE?
3. DO I CONFIDENTLY PASS ON TO ANOTHER WHAT WAS TOLD ME IN CONFIDENCE
4. CAN I BE TRUSTED?
5. AM I A SLAVE TO DRESS, FRIENDS, WORK OR HABIT?
6. AM I SELF CONSCIOUS, SELF PITYING OR SELF JUSTIFYING?
7. DID THE BIBLE LIVE IN ME TODAY?
8. DO I GIVE IT TIME TO SPEAK TO ME EVERDAY?
9. AM I ENJOYING PRAYER?
10. WHEN DID I LAST SPEAK TO SOMEONE ELSE ABOUT MY FAITH?
11. DO I PRAY ABOUT THE MONEY I SPEND?
12. DO I GO TO BED ON TIME AND GET UP ON TIME?
13. DO I DISOBEY GOD IN ANYTHING?
14. DO I INSIST UPON DOING SOMETHING ABOUT WHICH MY CONSCIENCE IS UNEASY?
15. AM I DEFEATED IN ANY PART OF MY LIFE?
16. AM I JEALOUS, IMPURE, CRITICAL, IRRITABLE, TOUCHY, OR DISTRUSTFUL?
17. HOW DO I SPEND MY SPARE TIME?
18. AM I PROUD?
19. DO I THANK GOD THAT I AM NOT AS OTHER PEOPLE, ESPECIALLY THE PHARISEE WHO DESPISED THE REPUBLICAN?
20. DO I GRUMBLE OR COMPLAIN CONSTANTLY?
21. IS THERE ANYONE WHO I FEAR, DISLIKE, DISOWN, CRITICIZE, HOLD A RESENTMENT TOWARD OR DISAGREE? IF SO WHAT AM I DOING ABOUT IT?
22. IS CHRIST REAL TO ME?
“GIVE ME ONE HUNDRED PREACHERS WHO FEAR NOTHING BUT SIN, AND DESIRE NOTHING BUT GOD, AND I CARE NOT A STRAW WHETHER THEY BE CLERGYMEN OR LAYMEN; SUCH ALONE WILL SHAKE THE GATES OF HELL AND SET UP THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN ON EARTH. GOD DOES NOTHING BUT IN ANSWER TO PRAYER’” JOHN WESLEY
By the way, in case you scoff at such legalism, consider the following. The individuals listed below were notable members of the Holy Club who distinguished themselves later in life.
· John Wesley – founder of the Methodist Church
· Charles Wesley– famous hymn writer
· John Gambold – bishop of the Moravian Church
· John Clayton – distinguished Anglican churchman
· James Hervey– noted religious writer
· Benjamin Ingham – famous evangelist in Yorkshire
· Thomas Brougham – secretary of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge
· George Whitefield– famous clergyman associated both with the First Great Awakening in the United States and the Evangelical Revival in England
Perhaps we could all benefit from a little more so called ‘legalism’?
David Ravenhill (Guest Author)
David Ravenhill has worked as a missionary, pastor and teacher for over 40 years. He shares the passion of his father, Leonard Ravenhill, for the Body of Christ to return to holy living. For more on David Ravenhill, visit www.davidravenhill.com