TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

CULTURAL HOLINESS

“Many Christians have what we might call a ‘cultural holiness.’  They adapt to the character and behavior pattern of Christians around them.  As the Christian culture around them is more or less holy, so these Christians are more or less holy” Jerry Bridges (ref#244, p22).  “…those who grew up ‘in the faith’ but had no faith…” (Matt 8:10-12 MSG).

“…the present generation has been brought up to believe in the doctrines and religious customs of their ancestors…that…makes it more difficult, and calls for a more careful self-examination, to ascertain whether or not he has been taught of the Lord” A.W. Pink (ref#269, p103-104).

“…these…rest upon their intellectual knowledge of the Truth, and mistake it for a saving experience of the same.  And it is this class which…is the hardest to reach: it is much more difficult to persuade such to examine themselves as to whether or not they have been taught of God, than it is those who make no profession at all” A.W. Pink (ref#269, p104).

“…there are a lot of rebels out there, full of loose, confusing, and deceiving talk.  Those who were brought up religious and ought to know better are the worst….They say they know God, but their actions speak louder than their words….” (Titus 1:10-16 MSG).

“I would issue a strong warning…to…moral, civil, well-natured people, good-livers, as we call them….when this virtuous, natural disposition has the advantage of a godly education, these sort of people come quickly to look very well; and, therefore, they ought to take great care….” Robert Traill (ref#225, March 27th).

“Moral, civil people are in great danger…they think they have sufficient assets of their own and therefore, they do not borrow from Christ” Robert Traill (ref#225, March 27th).

FATHER, these long-time pew-sitters are in great danger indeed.  They are “babes in CHRIST” that are lulled to contentment in virtue of their good actions and spiritual knowledge.  But they are static babes, presently stagnant in their growth toward holiness having no idea that “moral conformity’” is vastly different than the “Gospel.” Timothy Keller (ref#123, p69)   I pray for these who find themselves in this quote: “…I have been brought up as a Christian; I have always tried to do good.  I have never been conscious of the fact that I am a sinner, that I need repentance, and that I must be converted” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, Sept 26th).

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

TEMPORARY CONVERSION

“There is the possibility of a joyful conversion proving to be temporary” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, Jan 21st).

This title is misleading as well as the statement above for conversion is permanent.  I’ve labeled this post “temporary conversion” because for some there is a short-lived excitement toward Christianity, but in the end they fall short of it.  “…this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy…endures for a while, and…falls away” (Matt 13:20-21 ESV).

“He seems to have received the Word, he is full of joy, but he has no root in him, and that is why he ends up with nothing at all….there is the possibility of this very joyful ‘conversion,’ and yet there is nothing there in a vital, living sense, and it proves temporary” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, Jan 21st).

“Instead of believing God, he believes the contradiction of his own ungodly heart; and hopes to be saved whether God wills it or not” Richard Baxter (ref#225, Aug 25th).

“Judas was in the company of the apostles all along, he really belonged to the world, and the fate of the world is to perish….The end of the non-Christian, even though he may be highly religious, is perdition, which means perishing” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, March 14th).  “…Not everyone who talks about God comes from God….” (1 John 4:1 MSG).

“He is not a true Christian who only bears the visible badges of Christianity, but he who, with the visible badges, also partakes of the invisible grace (Mark 16:16)” Thomas Watson (ref#48, “The Counterfeits of the New Creature”).

“…we want an experience with God…You don’t experience God; you get to know him.  You submit to him.  You enjoy him, He is, after all, a person” Paul E. Miller (ref#62, p21).

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

DOUBLE MINDED CHRISTIANS

“It is not enough to yield assent to the divine word unless that is accompanied with true and pure affection, so that our hearts are not double or divided” John Calvin (ref#164, March 2nd).

Double minded Christians are “babes.”  They have the right actions but are only actors.  They are yet fleshly but preform spiritually.  They are “…people of the flesh…infants in Christ” (1 Cor 3:1 ESV).

“…you can’t have it both ways, banqueting with the Master one day and slumming with demons the next.  Besides, the Master won’t put up with it.  He wants us—all or nothing.  Do you think you can get off with anything less” (1 Cor 10:19-22 MSG).

“…they flattered him [the Most High God] with their mouths; they lied to him with their tongues.  Their heart was not steadfast toward him…” (Ps 78:36-37 ESV).  “…they were carnal, and not qualified to understand the deep mysteries of the gospel…” Albert Barnes (ref#299).

“Yet he, being compassionate, atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them; he restrained his anger often and did not stir up all his wrath.  He remembered that they were but flesh…” (Ps 78:38-39 ESV).

“…when we come to Jesus, a marvelous exchange takes place….He first lifts our burden and then lays his upon us instead.  But too many people, influenced by the ‘pick ‘n’ mix’ mentality of postmodernism, want the rest without the yoke; they want to lose their burden but not to gain Christ’s.  Yet the two invitations of Jesus [Matt 11:29-30] belong together; we have no liberty to pick and choose between them” John Stott (ref#258, p128, brackets mine).

“It is possible for us to do the right action from a wrong motive…Holiness has to do with more than mere acts.  Our motives must be holy, that is, arising from a desire to do something simply because it is the will of God” Jerry Bridges (ref#244, p43).

“’Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit….For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt 12:33-34 ESV).

TRUE CHRISTIANS OR FAUX?

SATISFIED CHRISTIANS

Satisfied Christians are “static Christians.”  “…there is a carnal root ruling…they are living more after the flesh than after the Spirit” Andrew Murray (ref#272, p16).

FATHER, being satisfied is such a dangerous position.  Instead of being spiritually united to CHRIST some are outwardly attached to Him, possibly only by a one-time profession of His name and a halfhearted attempt to adhere to His cause (ref#241, p120).  I pray for anyone who sees himself in the following words:

“We’re satisfied with a little bit of biblical literacy.  We’re satisfied with occasional moments of ministry.  We’re satisfied with manageable debt that allows us to put a few coins in the plate.  We’re satisfied that we’ve been married for a while and it doesn’t look as if we’ll break up soon.  We’re satisfied with a bit of a grasp on the theology of Scripture.  We’re satisfied with faithful attendance at the weekend services of our churches.  We’re satisfied with quick morning devotions. We’re satisfied with a little ministry experience.  We’re satisfied that we don’t act out most of our lust and we don’t communicate most of our envy.  We’re satisfied that in our disappointment with God, we don’t walk away.   We’re satisfied that we can harness a good bit of our fear of man.  We’re satisfied to use most of our material resources to make and keep ourselves comfortable.  We’re satisfied to be mere consumers of the work of the church rather than committed participants in it.  We’re satisfied with hearts that occasionally wander and with thoughts that contradict what the Bible says is good and true.  We’re satisfied with the amount of conflict we have in our lives.  We’re satisfied” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Oct 25th).

FATHER, we are creatures that long to be satisfied.  I think of the tract I have that reads on the front: “How to go to hell.”  On the inside it is blank.  If it were up to us we would tread the Christian waters until our strength failed and we would sink into hell.  But, praise be to You, FATHER for You make a way for us to swim and not drown.

“…we serve a dissatisfied Redeemer.  He knows we still need the transforming work of his powerful grace.  Isn’t it wonderful that, in gracious dissatisfaction, he will not relent until every microbe of sin is removed from every cell of every one of the hearts of his children” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Oct 25th)?

TRUE CHRISTIANS OR FAUX?

TWO CATEGORIES OF BABES IN CHRIST

Just as there are two categories of Christians, there are two categories of “babes in Christ:”

  • static Christians—carnal-like
  • duped Christians—misinformed and ignorant

The static group of Christians can easily not be Christians at all but apostates since their actions do not reflect CHRIST’s interests.  Yet, no one knows the condition of the heart.  “…Christian worker, or worldly man, the carnal root is bearing its terrible fruit, and the spiritual food has failed to enter his heart” Andrew Murray (ref#272, p15).

The second category of “babes in Christ” can be broken down into the following:

  • People who work out their own salvation by their human efforts. The Apostle Paul addresses such people: “…Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish?  Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh” (Gal 3:2-3 ESV).
  • People who work out their own salvation with great zeal but not with knowledge. “…they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge” (Rom 10:2 ESV).
  • People who work out their own salvation with right actions but wrong heart. “Hear this…who are called by my name…who swear by the name of the LORD and confess…but not in truth or right” (Isa 48:1 ESV). “…man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart” (1 Sam 16:7 ESV).
  • People who work out their own salvation with solid theology but no action. “…if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror….and at once forgets what he was like” (James 1:23-24 ESV).

TRUE CHRISTIANS OR FAUX?

THE SPIRIT VISITS BUT DOES NOT DWELL

“The seed cast in the gravel—this is the person who hears and instantly responds with enthusiasm. But there is no soil of character, and so when the emotions wear off and some difficulty arrives, there is nothing to show for it” (Matt 13:20-21 MSG).

“‘The Spirit visits many who are unregenerate, with His motions, which they resist and quench; but in all that are sanctified He dwells: there He resides and rules.…if we have Christ for our Redeemer, then we have the Holy Spirit for our Indweller.  But if have not the Spirit, we are not Christ’s.  We may be members of His visible ‘Church,’ we may be externally united to Him by association with His people, but unless we are partakers of that vital union which arises from the indwelling of the Spirit, we are His only by name” A.W. Pink (ref#269, p97).

“Many…presume that their faith is a lively and saving faith, because, as they think, they have repented, and are become new creatures.  And all because they had such an enlightening that they could not naturally attain; the Word has affected them, and somewhat altered them from what they were….They find that they do not commit many of those sins which they used to be committing; and that they do many good duties towards God and man, which they used not to do” Henry Scudder (ref#225, Oct 11th).

“But what of all this?  These men, as far as they go, yet going no further, are far from salvation.  The common gifts of God’s Spirit, given unto men in the ministry of the Gospel, may elevate a man higher, and carry him further towards heaven…yet if the saving grace of the same Spirit is not added, he will fall far short of heaven….” Henry Scudder (ref#225, Oct 11th).

“Solemn is it to realize that there are now in Hell multitudes of men and women who on earth were visited with deep conviction of sin, whose awakened conscience made them conscious of their rebellion against their Maker…How solemn to realize that many of those who experienced such convictions were aroused to flee from the wrath to come, and became very zealous and diligent in seeking to escape the torments of Hell, and who under the instinct of self-preservation took up with ‘religion’ as offering the desired means of escape.  And how unspeakably solemn to realize that many of those poor souls fell victim to men who spoke ‘smooth things,’ assuring them that they were the objects of God’s love, and that nothing more was needed than to ‘receive Christ as your personal Savior.’  How unspeakably solemn, we say, that such souls look to Christ merely as a fire-escape, who never—from a supernatural work of the Spirit in their hearts—surrendered to Christ as Lord” A.W. Pink (ref#269, p72-73).

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

PROFESSING BELIEVERS

This title, too, is misleading for these are carnal men who, themselves, profess to be believers, but they are not genuine believers.

“A dangerous yet real possibility is that apparent followers of Jesus may not be true disciples at all but only professing believers (e.g. Judas Iscariot)” The ESV Study Bible (ref#125, p1859, [Matt 18:14]).

“There are multitudes of unregenerate religionists [professing believers] who are taught, numbers of them well taught, in the letter of the Scriptures.  They are thoroughly versed in the historical facts and doctrines of Christianity; but their instruction came only from human media—parents, Sunday School teachers, or through reading religious books.  Their intellectual knowledge of spiritual things is considerable, sound, and clear; yet it is unaccompanied by any heavenly unction, saving power, or transforming effects….many of them are total strangers to a miracle of grace being wrought in the heart.  How it behooves each of us to test ourselves rigidly at this point” A.W. Pink (ref#269 p103, brackets mine)!

Jonathan Edwards lends sobering words in his famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God.”  “Every one lays out matters in his own mind how he shall avoid damnation and flatters himself…that his schemes will not fail” Jonathan Edwards (ref#139, point 9 in second set of beginning points).  “…whatever pains a natural man takes in religion, whatever prayers he makes,…God is under no matter of obligation to keep him a moment from eternal destruction” Jonathan Edwards (ref#139, point 10 in second set of points).

“It is not that he [the sinner] is averse from being saved from Hell—for none desire to go there—but that he is unwilling to “forsake” (Prov 28:13; Isa 55:7) his idols—the things which hold the first place in his affections and interests….the things of time and sense…” A.W. Pink (ref#269, p88-89, brackets mine).

“Man may change from error to truth, yet only in the head, not in the heart…morality is but nature at best….Sudden passion, or stirring of the affections.  Many desire heaven, but will not come up to the price.  King Herod heard John gladly; his affections were moved, but his sin was not removed” Thomas Watson (ref#48, “The Conuterfeits of the New Creature”).

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

CARNAL-LIKE CHRISTIAN VS. A SOUND CONVERT

“…the carnal state is a state of continual sinning and failure…sins…are the sign that we are not living a healthy life…” Andrew Murray (ref#272, p12).

“A biblical Christian is one who has wholeheartedly complied with the terms for obtaining God’s provision for sin….True faith is permeated with repentance, and true repentance is permeated with faith….a believing penitent and a penitent believer” Albert N. Martin (ref#221, p15).

“The unsound ‘convert’ takes Christ by halves.  He is all for the salvation, but not sanctification.  He is all for the privileges, but neglects the person of Christ.  He divides the offices and benefits of Christ….They desire salvation from suffering, but do not desire to be saved from sinning.  They would be saved and keep their lusts; they are content to destroy some sins, but cannot leave the lap of Delilah….” Joseph Alleine (ref#301, Aug 26th).

“The sound convert takes a whole Christ without exceptions, without limitations, without reserve.  He is willing to have Christ upon any terms.  He is willing to have the dominion of Christ as well as deliverance” Joseph Alleine (ref#301, Aug 26th).

“You see a mark of the carnal state not only in unlovingness, self-consciousness and bitterness, but in so many other sins.  How much worldliness, how much ambition among men, how much seeking for the honor that comes from man—all the fruit of the carnal life—to be found in the midst of Christian activity” Andrew Murray (ref#272, p12)!

“…spiritual men were not called so because there was no flesh in them but because the Spirit in them had obtained dominance…” Andrew Murray (ref#272, p14).

“…let us beware lest the blessing God gives us in our work deceive us and lead us to think that because He has blessed us, we must be spiritual men.  God may give us gifts that we use, and yet our lives may not be wholly in the power of the Holy Spirit” Andrew Murray (ref#272, p14).

“The sincere convert accepts a complete Christ.  He loves not only the reward, but labour.  He seeks not only the benefits, but the burden of Christ.  He takes up the commands, yes, even the cross of Christ” Joseph Alleine (ref#301, Aug 26th).