Several years ago I had an acquaintance that was a professed atheist. He wasn’t a hardcore anti-Christian atheist. He was more of what I would call a convenient atheist. What I mean by this was that his atheism seemed to be motivated by his desire to get away from the moral guidelines of Scripture. He was also not terribly thrilled about the idea of accountability to a God that didn’t grade on the curve so to speak. So in an effort to get away from those things, he decided he was an atheist.
At some point I found out that I knew his uncle. As time went on a member of their family died and I went to the funeral. The pastor did a tremendous job preaching the funeral and preached a great Gospel message. A couple of days after the service I was talking to his uncle and mentioned that since his nephew was an atheist I was glad he was there to hear such a clear presentation of the Gospel. The uncle surprised me by saying that the guy wasn’t an atheist but a Christian.
I thought he didn’t know and so I told him what his nephew had communicated to me about being an atheist. The uncle then blew my mind by saying, “He may say that but he’s a Christian.” It seems that at some point during the nephew’s childhood he had prayed to receive Jesus as his Savior and had been baptized. Since the nephew had done these things his uncle was convinced he was a Christian despite the immoral lifestyle he was living and the fact that he had determined that he did not believe in God.
I think this story illustrates a massive problem in the church world today. That is the problem of what is often referred to as easy believism. Easy believeism basically says that as long as someone has “prayed the prayer” they are saved regardless of anything else in their lives. It doesn’t matter how they live or what they do, they are good to go as long as they have prayed the prayer. After all, doesn’t the Bible say that all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:13)?
Yes it does, but the Bible also says that those who have called upon the name of the Lord are made into brand new people because the old way of life has passed and all things have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17). A part of being a new creation is that we have new desires and we live differently that we did before. The Bible talks about believers living holy lives because our God is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16). The Bible talks about believers being obedient to God and NOT living the way we did before we were saved (1 Peter 1:14). Jesus talked about the absolute necessity of denying ourselves and taking up our crosses if we wanted to follow Him (Luke 9:23).
There is nothing in Scripture that leads me to believe that salvation is a prayer we prayed at some point in the past that has no impact on our day to day lives. In fact Scripture leads me to the conclusion that just the opposite is true. Scripture pretty clearly teaches that the salvation Jesus Christ died to provide not only changes our eternal destiny but has a profound impact on our day to day lives.
This week we are going to take Paul’s advice to the Corinthians.
“Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?–unless indeed you are disqualified.” 2 Corinthians 13:5 (NKJV)
Notice that Paul didn’t ask them if they’d prayed a prayer or been baptized. He told them to examine their lives to see if their lives demonstrated they were in the faith and Jesus was among them. He told them that if their lives didn’t demonstrate these things it’s because they were disqualified, meaning they weren’t saved.
In the blog this week, I’m going to discuss several Biblical signs of a genuine conversion. These are changes that the Bible says will be in our lives if we have genuinely believed on Jesus and been saved.