EDITOR’S NOTE: The views expressed in this article are the author’s and are not necessarily endorsed by Modern Day Missions.
To make a long, complicated story very short, about 18 months ago I got drawn into a conversation with a complete stranger. He was confiding to me the mistreatment he was experiencing at his job and how angry he was at the perpetrators. He said that they were messing with the wrong person because he had a history of assaulting people who had become his enemies. He also said that he had left his wife in New York because of her lack of respect for him and was now living with another woman here in Hawaii.
Despite all of these things, when the man learned that I am a Christian, he claimed to be one also. Based on his unforgiving attitude, his conscienceless violence and his unremorseful adultery, I was certain his profession of faith was not sincere. So I told him, “my friend, you are not a Christian! If you don’t repent and truly surrender to Christ, you’re gonna have a much bigger problem than how these people are treating you.”
The following statement might seem unkind to some people, but it is the unvarnished truth: There are some who claim to be Christians who (according to biblical standards) are false converts. Although we should be cautious to avoid drawing rash conclusions, there is a range of ways in which a person’s connection to Jesus can be evaluated.
If someone claims to be a Christian, but doesn’t believe Jesus is God, that person is mistaken. If one claims to be a believer but doesn’t have any remorse over besetting sins (even openly delighting in them) that person is not a believer. This is one of evangelisms greatest battlefields.
In modern times, Christians often must confront false disciples who are convinced that they are redeemed simply because they “said the sinner’s prayer,” attend church services regularly or grew up in a Christian home, to name a few examples. During the era of Jesus and the apostles, it was necessary to correct those who assumed that they were saved through their genealogical connection to Abraham (through whom God promised to bless the world). This group of people was often confronted for their unrepentant, entitled attitudes.
John the baptist — who served as a herald and announced Jesus’ coming — warned the heirs of the Abrahamic covenant “do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham” (Luke 3:8).
Jesus told the same demographic of people “many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom” — speaking of Abraham’s descendants — “will be thrown into the outer darkness” (Matthew 8:11-12).
Stephen, the first Christian martyr, addressed one group by referring to “our father Abraham” (Acts 7:2). But he ended his Gospel defense by saying “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit” (Acts 7:51).
Paul, the apostle, affirmed these confrontations as appropriate when he said “not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring” (Romans 9:7).
As a matter of evangelism, I have only twice confronted people I believed to be false converts. Once, the person I addressed — the same man mentioned at the outset of this article — thanked me for giving him such sobering truth. He said he believes the fact that we met was orchestrated by God. This episode is an example of the fact that sometimes, stern words are necessary when dealing with people who have a false sense of spiritual security. Confronting a person’s self-deception is sometimes the most loving thing you can do.
By: Raymond Billy
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