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I Asked Jesus Into My Heart …

jesus-knocking

Are you saved and going to Heaven because you “asked Jesus into your heart“?

How many times have you heard someone say the following sentence? Or, maybe even you have said? “I asked Jesus into my heart.” They may add that they did this as a child, maybe even during VBS (Vacation Bible School). They walked down the aisle at church or that they prayed a prayer. What exactly does that mean?

Did a little miniature Jesus actually move in? Is there really a microscopic Jesus that has “filled the God-shaped hole in their heart“? Which ventricle did he pick? Nevertheless, maybe you would contend that this is just figurative. That it symbolizes believing in Jesus.

There is no basis for statements like these in the Bible. Where can you find anything that even possibly resembles this? This verse is often used as a basis for these statements.

Rev 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. KJV

That is similar to “Jesus is standing at the door of your heart knocking. If you will open the door He will come in.” Doesn’t sound bad at first glance. Yet it is wrong. The full context of the verse is in relation to the church.

Rev 3:14-22

14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;

15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. KJV  

See this is referring to the door of the church not to a person’s heart. Hearts do not have doors!

If you have ever seen a picture of Jesus standing at the door, often the door is shown without a handle. This Jesus can’t get in unless you open the door. They have reduced the Powerful, Almighty Lord to handwringing and begging for anyone to let him in. This is not the Lord and Master of all creation – this is a different “Jesus.” As Paul Washer has been known to say, “Jesus would kick the door in if He wanted in“.

2 Cor 11:4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. KJV

What must you do to be saved?

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. KJV

John 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. KJV

Acts 16:30-31 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?   31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. KJV

If you asked Jesus to come into your heart you should reevaluate your salvation.  Are you encouraging others to “ask Jesus to come into their heart?”

 

Jesus doesn’t just want your heart – He wants all of you!

 

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Ten Tests of True Christianity

Ten Tests of True Christianity

The book of 1 John was a book written with a single purpose in mind. And what was that purpose? The apostle John, in 1 John 5:13, tells us that he wrote this book so that you as a Christian might have assurance of your salvation. “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (NIV) Have you ever doubted your salvation? Have you ever wondered if you are truly saved or not? The book of 1 John will answer this question once and for all. As we read through the five chapters of the book of 1 John, we come across ten passages which define ten questions we need to ask ourselves in order to find assurance of our salvation. Answer these questions from your heart without trying to deceive yourself or justify yourself in your mind.

Question #1 Do we walk in the light or in the darkness?

1 John 1:6-7 “If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (NIV)

What does the Bible mean by the word “walk”? It is not talking about taking a stroll around the block. Our “walk” is the manner in which we live our lives, both in public and even in private when no one sees what we do except God. Similarly, light and darkness have nothing to do with day or night here. Jesus tells us in John 3:19 “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” (NIV) Darkness is where people walk when their deeds are evil, but light was brought into the world by Jesus Christ. We have assurance that we are Christians when we live our lives walking in the light of Jesus Christ and shun the works of evil done in darkness.

Question #2 Do we claim to be without sin, or do we confess our sins?

1 John 1:8-10 “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.” (NIV)

Is anyone perfect? Of course not. Except for Jesus Christ, we have all sinned. We have all sinned in thought, word, and deed. We have all sinned in sins of commission and sins of omission. And we have all probably done so in the last hour. To most people, the idea that someone would say that they were without sin would be ludicrous. But John tells us that it happens. And when someone claims to be without sin, they call God a liar. They show that the Bible means nothing to them – as the text says, the word has no place in our lives. Romans 3:23 plainly tells us “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (NIV) We can have assurance of our salvation when we make a regular practice of confessing our sins to God and seeking His forgiveness through the blood of Jesus Christ.

Question #3 Do we just say we know God or do we obey Him?

1 John 2:3-5 “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him.” (NIV)

What good does it do for a person to claim to know God but then not obey God? According to these verses the answer to this question is that it does no good at all. John tells us that part of the definition of knowing God is obeying God, and anyone who says that they know God but then doesn’t obey him is liar. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells the story of two men. One built his house on a rock, while the other built his house on the sand. When the storm came, the house on the rock stood firm, but the house on the sand fell with a great crash. Jesus tells us the meaning of this parable. The man who built his house on the rock is the person who hears the word of God and puts it into practice. The man who built his house on the sand is the person who hears the word of God but then does not put it into practice.

Question #4 Do we hate our brother or do we love him?

1 John 2:9-11 “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.” (NIV)

Why should our relationship with other people affect our relationship with God? I believe the answer to this question lies in forgiveness. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. God had every reason to hate us because we lived in rebellion against his perfect law. But instead of showing us His hatred, God extended His love to us by sending His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins. Our witness of this love is shown to the world by our love for our brother (and sister) in Jesus Christ. Even when our brother or sister has done something that has hurt us deeply, we still are called to love them. The person who harbors hatred for their brother or sister in Christ in their heart has not shown that they know the forgiveness that God has extended to them. In Matthew 6:14-15, Jesus tells us “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (NIV)

Question #5 Do we love the world or do we do the will of God?

1 John 2:15-17 “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world — the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does — comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” (NIV)

Love for the things of this world is perhaps the greatest danger that faces the church in America in the 21st century. We are caught up in an age when materialism and hedonism have run rampant, and these two sins have not left the church unaffected. There is no difference between the person sitting in the pew on Sunday morning and anyone else in America when it comes to lusting after possessions, power, and pleasure. The meaning of the words “sacrifice” and “self-control” are lost on the church today. Notice that the text says if we have love for the world in us, then there is no room for the love of God in us.  Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” (NIV) Jesus Christ faced the same temptations we face today when he was tempted by Satan in the desert – cravings, lust, and pride. But he did not sin. And today, we have the same resources at our disposal to resist temptation. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (NIV) It is foolish to invest any love in anything of this world because this world and its desires are going to be destroyed. Eternal life is bound up in doing the will of God.

Question #6  Do we isolate ourselves or do we rejoice in assembling with the body of Christ?

1 John 2:18-19 “Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.” (NIV)

We all know someone who used to go to church, but does not do so any longer. They have their reasons – too busy, too many hypocrites, need to cut the grass at the lake house, don’t need to go to church to worship God. Or perhaps we know someone who says they are a Christian but has never been to church. They too have their own reasons and excuses. The truth about the need for a Christian to assemble with the people of God on a regular basis is clear in this text. If we shun the people of God, then we have aligned ourselves with the Devil. Jesus tells us in Matthew 12:30 “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.” (NIV) Jesus leaves us no middle ground. I find it easy to put this concept into practice. There are so-called Christians who will not go to church if there is anything better on the calendar, like a day at the lake or trip to the beach. And then there are so-called Christians who won’t go to church if it’s raining, or too hot, or too cold, etc., etc. And then there are the so-called Christians who just can’t seem to get going early enough on Sunday morning to make it to church, or make it to church at a reasonable time. Never mind that they are on time for work and school on Monday morning. Put this in contrast with those people who can say along with the psalmist in Psalm 122:1 “I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’” (NIV) There is nothing I look forward to during the week like going to church.

Question #7 Do we deny that Jesus is the Christ or do we acknowledge Jesus is the Son of God?

1 John 2:22-23 “Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist — he denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.” (NIV)

There are many false ideas today about the true identity of Jesus Christ. These range from telling us that Jesus was nothing more than a creation of mythology to telling us that Jesus was just a man, was married, had a child, and was buried in a family plot in Jerusalem. However, there is only one true Jesus. And we read here in our text in 1 John that this one true Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. “Christ” is derived from the Greek word “Christos”, and means that Jesus is the anointed one – the one sent by God the Father to pay the price required to atone for the sins of the world. Notice also that we are called to acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ and is the Son of God. I believe that this acknowledgement is supposed to be a public acknowledgement and an on-going acknowledgement. And I believe that the first act of obedience of a new Christian to acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, is believer’s baptism. In Matthew 10:32-33, Jesus tells us “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.” (NIV) I also want you to notice one more thing about this passage – if we deny that Jesus is the Son of God, then we also deny God the Father. There is no such thing as a person who believes in the one true God but does not believe also in His Son, Jesus Christ.

Question #8 Do we practice sin or do we strive toward righteousness?

1 John 3:4-7 “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.” (NIV)

How do we recognize someone who has falsely converted to Christianity? One way is their attitude toward sin. Even the best Christian sins from time to time. But the Christian must be contrite and broken-hearted over their sin. And the Christian must not practice a lifestyle of sinning. We are told here in our text in 1 John that no one who keeps on sinning knows God. That is, no one who makes a lifestyle and regular practice of sinning knows God. No one who sins and can laugh about it knows God. No one who sins and does not seek the forgiveness of God knows God. A Christian can be recognized by their desire to do what is right. Paul writes to Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:11 “But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” (NIV)

Question #9 Do we love our brother just in words or do we love our brother in deeds?

1 John 3:14-18 “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” (NIV)

We have already seen this truth once – a true Christian loves their brothers and sisters in Christ. However, this time John tells us specifically what form our love must take. What good is it to say that we love our brother, but then turn a blind eye to the needs of our brother? There is a proverb which says “Actions speak louder than words.” And it is true in this case. James writes in James 2:15-17 “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (NIV) I believe the same can be said about love for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Love by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. I also believe that our text in 1 John here calls us to be proactive. Notice that we are called to meet the needs of our brother whenever we see them.

Question #10 Do we listen to the world or do we listen to the words of God?

1 John 4:5-6“They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.” (NIV)

Many who call themselves Christians show that they are not Christians because they rely upon the wisdom of the world to solve their problems instead of trusting in the words of God. We live in an age where we turn to celebrities like Dr. Spock, Dr. Phil, Dr. Ruth, and Dr. Laura when we need advice and counsel. These people are offering advice which is not based on the Bible. We are told in Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” (NIV) Why would someone who calls themselves a Christian turn to the world to solve their problems? Because they have no faith in the power of God. Because the ways of God run opposite of the ways of man. Because the natural man cannot comprehend or understand the will of God. The Christian should not turn to the world when he or she has a problem. We are told in Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (NIV) In practice, this affects every area of our lives. Our education, our family planning, our career choices, our finances, our health, our hobbies, our entertainment, our emotions. Ask yourself this question: How different would my life look today if I had allowed God to make my decisions for me? Not just the big decisions, but all decisions. Do you think you would have made the same choices you have made?

I encourage you to go back now and read the entire book of 1 John so that you can understand the context from which these ten questions are drawn. If you are indeed a Christian, this book promises to bring you assurance of your salvation. If you are not a Christian, the book of 1 John will shine a spotlight on the areas of your life where you fall short of the righteous standard of God. The person who is not a Christian falls short because, no matter how hard they try, the works that they do in the flesh will never be good enough to be pleasing to God. We need to have the righteousness of Jesus Christ imparted to us to be able to stand before God on the day of judgment.

By Berean Husband

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You Are Addicted to TV if ….

Is the “still small voice” you hear the TV in the background?

You are addicted to the TV if…

… meals revolve around TV shows.

… bedtime is dictated by what time a particular show goes off.

… it is your best and cheapest babysitter.

… there are more TV jingles in your head than Bible verses.

… your child’s best friends are TV characters.

… the furniture is arranged according to the location of the TV.

… you can list TV station names better than the books of the Bible.

… it affects activities you participate in.

… people know they can find you at home according to the TV shows you watch.

… it must be on to fall asleep.

… the power off button is unnecessary.

… your child’s favorite clothes are free advertising for a TV show.

… you’ve missed church to watch TV.

… if you don’t need a clock to tell time, but can tell time by TV shows.

… severe weather is scary, not because of the weather, but because your favorite show may be preempted.

… you need a generator to power the TV, not the refrigerator.

… your budget for AA batteries for the remote control exceeds your tithe.

… the TV trays are the most used furniture in the house.

… a TV dinner is your favorite meal.

… all dinners are TV dinners.

… you or your kids watch TV in the van on the way to the grocery store.

… you have to keep a back-up TV in case yours breaks.

… you need a TV in more than one room in your house.

… your vacation plans include plenty of TV watching.

… your TV costs more than a good used car.

… Thanksgiving dinner includes a course of watching TV.

… your best memory from last Christmas is watching Jim Carrey in The Grinch That Stole Christmas.

… you consider the results of American Idol worthy of putting on the news.

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Six Signs of a False Conversion – addition to the post

My husband has added a portion to his Six Signs of a False Conversion.

Sign #1 originally had the following:

The joy doesn’t last. This person may exhibit spectacular growth for a while, but over time the joy fades, and the person falls away. This is the person who hasn’t “counted the cost”, who hasn’t weighed all the issues.

Luke 14:26-30 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters — yes, even his own life — he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’” (NIV)      

But after some discussion and study the addition includes a portion about receiving the Gospel with joy instead of with a broken and contrite spirit. If a person is not broken over the sin in their life and concerned that they are condemned to Hell then the chances are great that they would be a false convert.  

Sign #1 – Immediate Joy That Doesn’t Last

Jesus says that a sign of a false convert is a person who is immediately filled with joy upon hearing the gospel message, but followed by a quick fading away. There are two problems inherit with immediate joy that doesn’t last. First, the joy is immediate. Second, the joy doesn’t last. Let’s examine these two things more closely.

First, the joy is immediate. There is no sorrow that precedes the joy. A person who has truly come to faith in Jesus Christ has faced the conviction of their sin. This conviction of sin shows in a person through a broken and contrite heart. Many people who hear the modern gospel message only hear about the joy of eternal life, and they accept it gladly. They have never heard and come to understand the need to repent of their sins. They don’t know the wrath of God that they have been saved from.

Psalm 51:17 “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (NIV)

Joel 2:12-13 “‘Even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.’ Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.” (NIV)

Second, the joy doesn’t last. This person may exhibit spectacular growth for a while, but over time the joy fades, and the person falls away. This is the person who hasn’t “counted the cost”, who hasn’t weighed all the issues.

Luke 14:26-30 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters — yes, even his own life — he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’” (NIV) 

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Six Signs of a False Conversion

Help! I think I might have fallen for “easy-believism”. Can I know for sure? Yes, you can. Here are six signs that you might not have really believed in Jesus Christ when you think you did. All of these signs are discussed in the parable, which Jesus told in Matthew chapter 13 known as the “Parable of the Sower”. This parable is unique, because Jesus not only told the parable, he also told the disciples the meaning of the parable. Before we learn the six signs of a false conversion, read the “Parable of the Sower” from Matthew chapter 13.

 

3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed.

4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.

5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.

6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.

7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.

8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop — a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.

9 He who has ears, let him hear.”

18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means:

19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what as sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path.

20 The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy.

21 But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.

22 The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.

23 But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” (NIV)

 

Now for the six signs of a false conversion. These are all taken from the “Parable of the Sower”.

 

Sign #1 – Immediate Joy That Doesn’t Last

Jesus says that a sign of a false convert is a person who is immediately filled with joy upon hearing the gospel message, but followed by a quick fading away. There are two problems inherit with immediate joy that doesn’t last. First, the joy is immediate. Second, the joy doesn’t last. Let’s examine these two things more closely.

First, the joy is immediate. There is no sorrow that precedes the joy. A person who has truly come to faith in Jesus Christ has faced the conviction of their sin. This conviction of sin shows in a person through a broken and contrite heart. Many people who hear the modern gospel message only hear about the joy of eternal life, and they accept it gladly. They have never heard and come to understand the need to repent of their sins. They don’t know the wrath of God that they have been saved from.

Psalm 51:17 “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (NIV)

Joel 2:12-13 “‘Even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.’ Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.” (NIV)

Second, the joy doesn’t last. This person may exhibit spectacular growth for a while, but over time the joy fades, and the person falls away. This is the person who hasn’t “counted the cost”, who hasn’t weighed all the issues.

Luke 14:26-30 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes, even his own life – he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'” (NIV)

Sign #2 – No Roots

False converts have no “roots,” that is, no foundations in faith and Christian learning, so they “dry up” like a plant with no roots. The Parable of the Sower, as recorded in Luke, states that these plants wither because they have no moisture. Roots are designed to gather in water and nutrients. Without these, the plant cannot live. Similarly, we as Christians must also have “roots” that seek out what we need to make us thrive as Christians – things like prayer, Bible reading, Biblical teaching, and fellowship.

Sign #3 – Unwillingness to Face Persecution

Notice in the Parable of the Sower that it is the intense heat of the sun which causes the plant to wither (verse 6). Jesus tells us that this intense heat in our lives is the heat of troubles, persecution, and times of testing. These things drive a true believer closer to Jesus, but they cause the false convert to wither and fall away. In either case, the worst thing that can happen in a person’s life is never having to face the intense heat of troubles and persecution.

Sign #4 – Preoccupation with Worry

The Parable of the Sower tells us that there are people who hear the gospel message and initially respond to it, but then fall away because they are more preoccupied with the worries of this world than with pursuing the kingdom of God. When our attention is fixed on the worries of this life, the gospel gets choked out of our life like thorns choke out good plants.

Matthew 6:31-34 “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (NIV)

Sign #5 – Preoccupation with the World

The Parable of the Sower tells us that there are other people who hear and respond to the gospel message, but then fall away because they are preoccupied with the pleasures this world has to offer. They are deceived by the glitter of wealth, possessions, and fame. And these things, which seem pleasurable for a season, choke out the gospel message.

Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (NIV)

Sign #6 – No Fruit

The true believer must bear fruit in his or her life. What exactly is this fruit that we should expect to see? The Bible answers this question for us quite well.

First, there is the fruit of repentance.

Matthew 3:7-8 “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” (NIV)

Second, there is fruit of good works.

Colossians 1:10 “And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work” (NIV)

Third, there is the fruit of praise and thanksgiving to God.

Hebrews 13:15 “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise — the fruit of lips that confess his name.” (NIV)

Fourth, there is the fruit of the Spirit.

Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (NIV)

Fifth, there is the fruit of righteousness.

Philippians 1:9-11 “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ — to the glory and praise of God.” (NIV)

What does the Bible say about the so-called “Christian” who bears no fruit? The Bible says that they will be cut down and cast away into the fire.

Matthew 3:10 “The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” (NIV)

John 15:1-2 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” (NIV)

 

See also:

Lawless Gospel

Ten “Christians” God Will Not Allow in Heaven


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Lawless Gospel

The gospel message is, in itself, simple. Paul explains the gospel in two verses in 1 Corinthians chapter 15. Jesus Christ died on the cross on Calvary to pay the debt which we owe for our sins. He was buried and lay dead in a borrowed tomb for three days. But, on the morning of the third day, God raised Jesus from the dead. After 40 days, Jesus ascended back into heaven where he now sits at the right hand of God the Father. Jesus Christ was crucified in order to pay a debt that you and I could never pay for ourselves – the sin in our lives which has separated us from the presence of God. 

1 Corinthians 15:3-5 “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (NIV) 

The gospel of Jesus Christ is a call to follow Him in obedience. It is not just a plea to make a “decision for Christ” or to pray the “sinner’s prayer.” The gospel of Jesus Christ frees people from their sins. But it also confronts and condemns the hypocrisy of those who are only outwardly religious. The gospel of Jesus Christ is an offer for forgiveness and eternal life to those who would repent of their sins. But it is a rebuke to those who do not live a life in pursuit of righteousness and holiness. 

Matthew 23:25-26 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” (NIV) 

We all know of people who have made a “decision” for Jesus Christ at some point in their life, and who may have even attended church for some period of time, but then have fallen away from the faith. Where is the evidence of the pursuit of holiness in this person’s life? Were they really saved? In 1991, a major denomination in the United States began a “decade of harvest”, and garnered some 294,000 “decisions” for Christ in the first year. Only 14,000 of the people remained in the church at the end of the decade. 

However, many people who make “decisions” for Christ don’t fall away. They become a nominal member of the local church and perhaps even moderately involved in the activities of the church. But the lives of these people do not indicate that there has been any real change. While they may attend church, the focus of their lives and passions remains unchanged and fixed on worldly things: worldly music, worldly television, worldly movies, worldly dress, alcohol, drugs, pornography, and promiscuous sexual activities. But more than all these worldly things, their life has not been surrendered completely to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. And sadly, the modern evangelical church gives these people assurance of their salvation because there is never a call for anyone to make a radical examination of their lives to make sure they are truly in the faith. 

James 4:4 “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” (NIV)

2 Corinthians 6:14-18 “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” “Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” (NIV) 

How is it that we have filled the church with people who are outwardly religious but do not pursue a life of righteousness and holiness? It is because of the insipid gospel message that has been preached in the typical evangelical church today. We invite people to become Christians by extending them the love of Jesus Christ without ever telling them why they need Jesus Christ. The good news of the gospel message is foolishness to those who don’t know they are sinners; in fact, it is offensive to insinuate that a person needs to be saved from their sins when they do not comprehend that they are a sinner. The average person, if asked why they think they are going to heaven when they die, answers “because I’ve been a fairly good person. God is a God of love and he would never condemn me to hell. I’m not a serial killer.” The average person has no clue how disgusting their “acceptable” sins are before a holy God.    

1 Corinthians 1:18 “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (NIV)

Isaiah 64:6-7 “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and made us waste away because of our sins.” (NIV) 

Jesus’ words about eternal life give hope to believers, but give warning to those who take salvation lightly. The cost of following Jesus Christ is high, the way is narrow, and few there are who truly find it. Many who think they have called Jesus as Lord in this life will find that he really never was their Lord and will be barred from entering the kingdom of heaven. 

Luke 9:23-25 “Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” (NIV)    

Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'” (NIV)

Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (NIV)

The modern church, by and large, ignores these warnings. The normal view of what is required for a person to be saved has grown broader and shallower. The portrayal of the work of Jesus Christ on the cross in preaching and witnessing has become indistinct. Anyone who claims to be a Christian can find a church willing to accept a profession of faith, whether or not the person’s behavior shows any evidence of a changed life or a commitment to obedience to Jesus Christ. In this way, faith has become merely accepting some facts about Jesus Christ instead of a life surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 4:22-24 “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (NIV)

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (NIV)

We should learn from the pattern used by Jesus Christ. On two different occasions, proud, arrogant men asked him “How can I have everlasting life?” What did Jesus point them to? He pointed them both to the Law. (see Luke 10:25-37 and Luke 18:18-23) One of these men was an expert in the Law who hated his neighbor. The other man was a rich, young ruler who loved his money more than righteousness. And to both of these men, Jesus pointed to the Law as the way to eternal life. Not because the Law could save them, but because they were not convicted that they were sinners. Peter uses this same pattern in his messages in the book of Acts. In his messages, he first points his hearers (particularly the proud, arrogant Jewish leaders) to the sin of rejecting and murdering Jesus Christ, then he tells them to repent. To overlook sin in presenting the gospel is sure to result in producing a church filled with false converts.

Romans 3:19-20 “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.” (NIV)

Read the words of Martin Luther, the great Christian reformer from the 16th century, on the need for teaching the Law. “And last of all, which I should never have foreseen or once suspected, Satan has raised up a sect such as teach that the Ten Commandments ought to be taken out of the church, and that men should not be terrified by the Law, but gently exhorted by preaching the grace of Christ.” Did you notice how Luther described a church that does not teach the Law in such a manner that people don’t come under a conviction of their sins? He calls then a sect created by Satan.

When the presentation of the gospel message is devoid of the conviction of sin, another reason must be found for sinners to respond to the gospel. Modern evangelism, therefore, presents the gospel message as a “life enhancement” tool. “Come to Jesus”, the so-called modern gospel says, “and you will find peace, joy, love, fulfillment, and everlasting happiness.” While all these things are true, this presentation of the “gospel” betrays those who respond to it. There are two different themes of what happens to the person who is “saved” by a gospel that does not first convict of sin.

First, this “gospel” message betrays us when times of trouble or persecution come. The person who expects nothing but peace and joy in this life finds that being a Christian also brings mocking and derision from the world. And this person also finds that troubles don’t go away just because they have become a Christian. Cars still break down. Bills still pile up. People still get cancer and die. This person becomes disillusioned and embittered against the gospel because it hasn’t given them the peace and joy it promised and they disappear from the church.

Second, this “gospel” message betrays us when temptation comes. The person who has “accepted” Jesus Christ without being convicted of sin sees no problem in compromising between God and the world. Church becomes a Sunday morning experience, and only when there is nothing better on the calendar. In this way, many so-called Christians today are trying to serve two masters – Jesus and the world. And Jesus has told us that this is impossible. If this describes you, Jesus says you must hate one of these masters. Which master do your actions indicate you hate?

1 John 2:15 “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (NIV)

This shallow understanding of salvation and the gospel message stands in stark contrast to what the Bible teaches. The call to follow Jesus Christ is founded on the fact that the sinner must repent of their sins and yield their lives to the authority of Jesus Christ. But the so-called “gospel” message which is preached today in the modern evangelical church is devoid of teaching about the depravity and sinfulness of each person. We teach about the love of Jesus to save people from their sins without ever telling people that they are indeed sinners.

Romans 3:10-18 “As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (NIV)

What, then, sets apart true faith from the “easy-believism” that is so prevalent in the church today? Or, in other words, how can I know what it means to be truly saved? The following paragraphs define nine distinctives of a biblical understanding of the gospel of salvation. These distinctives revolve around the fact that Jesus is not only our Savior, but is also our Lord.

First, the Bible teaches that the gospel does not call sinners to faith without also calling them to repentance. Repentance is turning away from sin and turning toward a life of righteousness and holiness. Repentance is a change of heart and a change of behavior. Without a repentant heart, there can be no salvation. 

Acts 2:37-38 “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (NIV)    

Psalm 51:17 “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (NIV)

Second, the Bible teaches that salvation is a work of God. Those who believe are saved, not by their own effort, but by the grace of God. Faith is a gift from God, not a work of man. There is nothing which you can contribute to your own salvation. Therefore, true belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior cannot be short-lived or defective, it must endure forever because it is a work of God and not a work of man.

Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast.” (NIV)

Philippians 1:6 “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

Third, the Bible teaches that the object of the faith of the Christian is Jesus Christ himself, not a creed or a tradition or a prayer. Faith therefore must involve a personal commitment and a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. In other words, all true believers follow Jesus just as sheep follow their shepherd. If our faith lies in a commitment card or saying the “sinner’s prayer” or being baptized, then our faith rests in sinking sand. Our faith must rest squarely on Jesus Christ and nothing else in order to be saved.

John 10:24-30 “The Jews gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (NIV)

Matthew 7:24-27 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (NIV)

Fourth, the Bible teaches that true faith inevitably produces a changed life. Salvation includes a transformation of the inner person. The unbroken pattern of sin and rebellion against God cannot continue in the life of a person who is born again. What are some characteristics that you would expect to see in the life of a person who has been born again? They follow Christ, love other Christians, obey God’s commandments, abide in God’s word, do good works, and continue in the faith. (For an excellent discussion on the evidence of faith, read the book of 1 John.)

2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (NIV)

 Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (NIV)

Fifth, the Bible teaches that the gift of eternal life also includes all that is required to live a life of godliness. It is not just a free ticket to heaven. If you have been saved, you have been given everything you need to turn away from sin and to strive forward in living a life of righteousness.    

2 Peter 1:3 “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” (NIV)

1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (NIV)

Sixth, the Bible teaches that Jesus is either Lord of all or he is not your Lord at all. Faith in Jesus Christ demands unconditional surrender. Eternal life is not given to those whose hearts remain set against Jesus Christ. The summons to submission is at the heart of the gospel invitation.

Romans 6:16-19 “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey – whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.” (NIV)

Seventh, the Bible teaches that those who truly believe will love Jesus Christ. And in that love, they will long to obey him in all things.    

John 14:15 “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” (NIV)

Eighth, the Bible teaches that our behavior is a test of our faith. Obedience is evidence that our faith is real. A person who remains unwilling to obey Christ in all things does not evidence true faith.  

1 John 2:3-6 “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” (NIV)

Ninth, the Bible teaches that true believers may occasionally stumble and fall, but they will never turn their back on their faith. Those who turn completely away from the Lord show that they were never really saved.

1 John 2:19 “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.” (NIV)

The truth is, most people who read this page think they already are a Christian. And sadly, most people who read this page really are not. The greatest need for evangelism is within the walls of the church today. This presentation is a call to examine yourself. Better today than on the day of judgment. If you think that you have been a victim of “easy-believism”, I encourage you to carefully consider the two articles linked below.

2 Corinthians 13:5 “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith” (NIV)

See also:

Six Signs of a False Conversion

Ten “Christians” God Will Not Allow Into Heaven 


By Berean Husband

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Quote

We must be holy, because this is the only sound evidence that we are true children of God. Children in this world are generally like their parents. Some, doubtless, are more so and some less; but it is seldom indeed that you cannot trace a kind of family likeness. And it is much the same with the children of God. The Lord Jesus says, “If you were Abraham’s children you would do the works of Abraham.” “If God were your Father, you would love Me” (John 8:39, 42). If men have no likeness to the Father in heaven, it is vain to talk of their being His “sons.” If we know nothing of holiness, we may flatter ourselves as we please; but we have not got the Holy Spirit dwelling in us; we are dead and must be brought to life again; we are lost and must be found. “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they,” and they only, “are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:14). We must show by our lives the family we belong to. We must let men see by our good conversation that we are indeed the children of the Holy One, or our sonship is but an empty name. “Say not,” says Gurnall, “that you have royal blood in your veins, and are born of God, except you can prove your pedigree by daring to be holy.””

~~~~~~~
J.C. Ryle
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You Are Addicted to the TV if …

Is the “still small voice” you hear the TV in the background?

You are addicted to the TV if…

… meals revolve around TV shows.

… bedtime is dictated by what time a particular show goes off.

… it is your best and cheapest babysitter.

… there are more TV jingles in your head than Bible verses.

… your child’s best friends are TV characters.

… the furniture is arranged according to the location of the TV.

… you can list TV station names better than the books of the Bible.

… it affects activities you participate in.

… people know they can find you at home according to the TV shows you watch.

… it must be on to fall asleep.

… the power off button is unnecessary.

… your child’s favorite clothes are free advertising for a TV show.

… you’ve missed church to watch TV.

… if you don’t need a clock to tell time, but can tell time by TV shows.

… severe weather is scary, not because of the weather but because your favorite show may be preempted.

… you need a generator to power the TV, not the refrigerator.

… your budget for AA batteries for the remote control exceeds your tithe.

…the TV trays are the most used furniture in the house.

…a TV dinner is your favorite meal.

…all dinners are TV dinners.

…you watch TV in the van on the way to the grocery store.

…you have to keep a back-up TV in case yours breaks.

…you need a TV in more than one room in your house.

…your vacation plans include plenty of TV watching.

…your TV costs more than a good used car.

…Thanksgiving dinner includes a course of watching TV.

…your best memory from last Christmas is watching Jim Carrey in The Grinch That Stole Christmas.

…you consider the results of American Idol worthy of putting on the news and you see no problem with Bo Bice or Carrie Underwood playing music in a church.

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