Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it. It is this Good News that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you--unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place. I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. -- 1Corinthians 15: 1-4 (NIV)
The English language is filled with colorful metaphors used to describe situations that arise in our daily lives. The "elephant in the room" is one such metaphor used to describe an obvious situation no one wants to talk about. The metaphor being that you could not miss an elephant sitting in a room so you must be purposefully avoiding talking about it. The church has many elephants which most avoid talking about but the one that nearly everyone is silent on is false conversions. The unavoidable fact is that there are a large and growing percentage of church-goers today who believe sincerely that they are saved but are not. Remember these chilling words from Jesus:
"Not everyone who calls out to me, "Lord!
Lord!' will enter the
The truth is that the modern church has become very adept at using the name Lord without teaching what it means to have Jesus as your Lord. Just because every third word is Jesus does not mean anything. Note the contrast Jesus is drawing for us here. Not everyone who says Lord gets to enter the Kingdom and then He says away from me -- you who break God's laws. Drawing a sharp distinction between what we say and what we do. This puts the whole "grace alone" heresy right on its ear. I can almost hear the shouts of "legalist!" David Wilkerson once said that that the first weapon used by false prophets is to cry legalism. There is a huge difference however between legalism and obedience. Legalism says the rules are needed to gain access to eternal life. Obedience recognizes that God's laws are there for our own good. Legalism strips the Spirit out of the law. Obedience is about being in tune with the Spirit.
Back to the Matthew Scriptures we see that these people being denied access to heaven spent their lives in what they thought was service to God! They may have even seen and performed miracles in His name! It was suggested to me recently that maybe these people were merely lying to Jesus and He responded that He never knew them but I think that falls short of the mark. I do not think that anyone will be able to stand on Judgment Day and outright lie to Christ. No, I think these people clearly thought they had been converted when in reality they had not. These should be some of the most sobering passages for believers today. And please, this is not an exercise in doubting one's salvation. There is nothing like the assurance confirmed through the Holy Spirit that one is saved. There should however be proof. There should be a regeneration of our heart:
For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. -- Titus 3: 3-7 (NKJV)
It has become chic to preach on the end of these verses while ignoring the meat. Every other preacher loves to speak about being justified by grace and becoming heirs of God. Not so much however will you hear about putting to death the old man we once were. That foolish, disobedient, deceived and lustful man (or woman). We have certainly been justified through His magnificent grace but not without being first regenerated and renewed through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Without the regeneration you simply have someone who is being taught they have been justified without confirmation from the Spirit of the Living God. So then who does the confirming? The church. Over the past several decades, the church has embraced some of the poorest theology ever imagined and is now in the business of selling it.
The first such poor theology is the sinner's prayer, which Wilkerson once said has sent more people to hell than all the bars across this country combined. The logic therein is that the person in the bar at least has not been convinced he is saved. He still may seek God. The falsely converted however, they think they have already found God. The Bible warns specifically about this:
"Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is! -- Matthew 6: 22-23 (NLT)