Malachi 4:5…”See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.” John the Baptist preached repentance and faith, as Elijah had done. The turning of souls to God is the only preparation for the great and dreadful day of the Lord. On this day, the only way we can stand is with Christ’s righteousness imputed to us. The gospel we believe needs to include an understanding of the massive chasm between us (because of our sin) and God (because of His holiness), otherwise it’s not the gospel. The more clearly we understand this, the greater our faith, because we’ll esteem Jesus for the right reason. A weak, lukewarm, casual faith often comes from believing that we’re generally OK outside of Christ, or that following Christ will bring perfect health and abundant wealth.
God knows authentic faith and recognizes the fruit, particularly evidenced by concern for the spiritual well-being of others (John 13:35). Two practical litmus tests are discipling and evangelism. If we really believe the gospel, and if we think God’s word is authoritative, then those two things will mark our lives because of love for others. If we are unfruitful, and don’t do those things, we may not really believe, and the day of the Lord will be dreadful for us. Let us not be like the seed Jesus referenced in Matthew 13:22:
The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.