Although I have touched on this topic before, it has been coming up frequently in recent conversations with other Christians.
With the continuing trend of fruitless Christianity, more of God’s people can discern that something isn’t quite right.
People “get saved” and after a short period of keen interest in Christian living, they revert back to living an ungodly life.
Well, I don’t profess to know the answer, but I am always reminded of the parable of the sower in such scenarios.
Christ told us that just because someone may find great joy in the hearing of the Word, (and I suppose they may even pray ‘the sinner’s prayer’) doesn’t mean they’ve been regenerated. Remember what Christ said, “he hath not root in himself” and the evidence is seen when “persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.”
A true story
I told my mum recently, (hypothetically) if from this day forward for the next ten years I lived in rebellion against God and I died, I would not have any right to be buried with the confidence that attends a Christian funeral.
Despite having sought to walk with Christ for seven years, I think too highly of what God says He will do when someone is regenerated to think that one whom He has indwelt with the Spirit would rebel against Him for an extended period.
It’s not impossible, but it’s not normative. Consider Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
What’s happening today
What we’re finding today is that, as long as little Jonny has prayed a prayer asking Jesus into his heart, then he is a Christian. He’s saved.
This, I propose, is turning the supernatural into the superficial.
I’m not making light of little Jonny praying a prayer to God to save him. Rather, I’m saying the Christians around him have no right to pronounce him as a Christian when his life would show otherwise.
Suppose I died ten years from now, and the last decade was spent living for self, rather than God. Living in rebellion against His explicit commands, and doing that which was right in my own eyes. What message is the church sending out if I’m buried as one who had passed into the immediate presence of Christ?
It’s not Arminian
I don’t believe for one second that you can be saved and lost. The idea is preposterous, flies in the face of Scripture, and is the apex of humanism conveyed as Christian doctrine.
However, just as strongly, I do not believe one can experience the miraculous work of regeneration, live for years in rebellion against God, and die unrepentant.
Yet, this is what’s being taught (perhaps unawares). This is what the Average Joe in the pews of evangelical and some reformed churches believes. There is a chance that it’s just what I keep hearing, but I’m inclined to think it’s fairly common. Much too common.
AW Tozer said,
“It is my opinion that tens of thousands of people, if not millions, have been brought into some kind of religious experience by accepting Christ, and they have not been saved.”
Was he right?
The term, “accept/ask Jesus into your heart” is often used as the gateway into assurance of eternal life. I don’t mean to be overly meticulous over what may be regarded as mere semantics, but Scripture doesn’t command anyone to ask Jesus into their heart. Romans 10:9 uses the phrase, “believe in thine heart” which is an entirely different thing. It is instructing that the sinner must believe with all of his being, so much so that the inevitable outcome is confession (Romans 10:10).
So, how do I know I’m saved?
The only way to be sure of where you stand with God today, is to consider what you think and how you relate to Christ today. Are the two pillars of salvation, faith and repentance, still to be found in your life? Do you love and fear Him and does that love and fear lead you to obedience?
If you love and fear, but do not obey, you have no right to be assured of your salvation (1 John 2:3), no matter how sincere your prayer for salvation may have been. Likewise, if you obey His commands, but you have no love or fear of Him, then there’s a good chance you’re living as a Pharisse.
I recall to my mind a profound statement I heard Dr. Alan Cairns say. I may have this slightly incorrect, so instead of quoting I’ll paraphrase.
God has never failed to sanctify those whom He justifies.
Think on that. If anyone professes to be justified/born again/saved, then it is impossible for there to be no fruit of sanctification. Impossible!
I leave you with a quote from Paris Reidhead:
“If I had my way, I would declare a moratorium on public preaching of ‘the plan of salvation’ in America for one to two years. Then I would call on everyone who has use of the airwaves and the pulpits to preach the holiness of God, the righteousness of God, and the Law of God until sinners would cry out, ‘What must we do to be saved?’ Then I would take them off in a corner and whisper the gospel to them. Don’t use John 3:16. Such drastic action is needed because we have a gospel hardened generation of sinners by telling them how to be saved before they have any understanding why they need to be saved.”
I’d love to elaborate on Mr. Reidhead’s statement, but I’ve said enough for now.
Are you seeing anything wrong with much of the current day presentation of the Gospel? If so, what do you feel is the problem?