Thursday 20 February 2014

Are You Truly Converted? (Just Because You Think You're a Christian Doesn't Mean You Are)

So you think you're a Christian?  Is it because one time when you were younger you "asked Jesus into your heart"?  Or because you were baptized as a child?  Or because you went to the front of the church when the preacher called?  Unfortunately, none of those experiences of themselves will have made you a Christian.

These are some of the issues Paul Washer addressed when we heard him speak this past Valentine's Day. (His talk just happened to be on February 14th, it had nothing to do with the holiday.)  His sermon, "The Power of the Gospel and True Conversion" looked at 1 Thessalonians 1 as an answer to the question "What is true conversion?"

Because of the experiences listed above, many in our culture today believe themselves to be saved without demonstrating any of the evidences of one who is a new creation. When Christ saves us, "the old has passed away, behold the new has come"(2 Corinthians 5:17) - Washer stressed that this makes itself evident through changed affections.  We desire more and more to do what is good and pleasing to God.  This is different from forcing oneself to act as a Christian would (eg: go to church, dress properly, be faithful to your spouse, etc), while all the time wishing you didn't have to do those things.  If this is the case, and you're relying on having signed a card, prayed a prayer, or having grown up in a Christian church for your salvation - then we'd encourage you to really search the scriptures and examine yourself to see whether your idea of what it means to be saved lines up with the truth.

Throughout 1 Thessalonians 1, we see that the apostle Paul knew the Thessalonians were Christians because of how they acted.  The apostle says he knew their election, and Washer mentioned this knowing was by perception. The apostle Paul speaks of their "work of faith, labour of love, and steadfastness of hope"(vs 2),  they "became imitators of us and of God" (vs 6), and it was reported throughout Asia how they "turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God".   Our lives likewise should demonstrate how Christ has made us a new creation, and show outward evidence of the changed affections discussed above.   And this is much more than wearing a certain t-shirt, listening to Christian music, or having a "slave" tattoo - it's about living a life of righteousness in accord with the will of God, as revealed in his Word - the Bible.  This will speak volumes more about who you belong to than anything you could wear or listen to.  You will know them by their fruits. (Matt 7:16)  Similarly, you can know your own state by your fruit.  Washer asked the question "If someone observed your life for the next six months, would they then testify 'I know by observation that God has elected this one'? Would they say that about you?"

At this point, maybe some of you are thinking "Legalists!* God doesn't care what I do - it's only my heart he is concerned with."  Yes, it is only repentance and belief in Jesus Christ that can save you.  But it is sin you're repenting of, it is your sin that nailed Christ to the cross - and hating that sin will mean you will strive to mortify it.  Oh you won't be successful in getting rid of all sin on this earth, but you will try, because of your love for Jesus and your gratitude for what he's done for you. If you think you have faith, but your deeds do not give evidence to that faith, your faith is dead. (James 2:17) Paul Washer mentioned that many today believe Jesus is the only Lord and king who doesn't require anything of us; that our generation claims the salvation of Jesus, and yet lives like the culture around us... the fallen, radically depraved culture.  The Puritans and the reformers understood differently, and their greatest strength was that they desired to submit every area of life to Christ's authority.  If your life is a contradiction - you claim to be a servant of Christ, and yet ignore his commands - than that should make you question who is your real master - Christ, or yourself and the idols in your own heart (Matthew 6:24).
The reason we are sharing this here is because we don't want you to be one of those who thought they would enter the kingdom of Heaven, but because of self-deception is sent to hell. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, ..." but instead Jesus says "I never knew you, depart from me, you who practice lawlessness." (Matthew 7:21-23).  The power to save you is in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that alone.  Don't look around and decide you are "good enough" because of how you compare to others, compare yourself to the Word of God. Test yourself and examine yourself. (2 Corinthians 13:5)  It is only in Christ's perfect righteousness you can find true salvation.

You can watch the video of Paul Washer's talk here.

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* Paul Washer correctly identified true legalism as attempting to justify oneself by the works of the law, or adding to the works of the law and tying heavy burdens on people that are not scriptural.


  1. Thank-you for writing this! This message has been on my heart for a long time and I so appreciate you being lovingly bold to share the truth.

    1. Thank-you Jackie. It is a tough message, but it is written in full and sincere love.

  2. Great post! what we must remember is only Yahweh can judge our hearts, we cannot judge it for ourselves. We must ask our heavenly Father to cleanse us of all sin in his son Yahshua's name. As it says in The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9

  3. This is an important message people need to hear. Even for people who truly are saved, if you're not spending time with God on a daily basis you're missing out on the abundant life He has for you!

    1. Agree! Great point, Lisa, it is such a blessing to be in his Word.

  4. Andrew & Stephanie,
    Thanks for writing about such an important subject. My husband and I have been sharing our concerns in this area for some time. I believe the church may be one of the biggest mission fields today.