True and false conversions

In Apologetics on November 16, 2010 at 5:09 pm

“That is the reason we have so many “mushroom” converts, because their stony ground is not plowed up; they have not got a conviction of the law; they are stony-ground hearers”-George Whitfield

Over the past couple of years while teaching and visiting with people who self identify as Christians. I have been overwhelmed with a consistent theme regarding salvation as it is understood by most professing Christ today. Churches with the aid of marketing studies and the desire to be more relevant in our culture try to soften the offense of the gospel. There are TV and ad campaigns using slogans of the modern marketing world such as “come experience Jesus “or “contemporary worship” or “convenient worship times for your busy schedule” or “register with us and receive a free name the prize” churches offer many things in an effort to make church more palatable to those who might visit. Church growth numbers and statistics are kept based on number of baptisms (can mean a number of things) and we celebrate our impact in the community.

Somehow in the modern Christian era “backsliding” is seen as a common, normal occurrence in Christianity and prevalent in our churches today. Even pastors fall prey to thinking this is a normal occurrence in some ways a right of passage. Many surveys indicate young people at our churches walk away from their faith in numbers as high as 80%. According to the same surveys about 45% return seeking some type of faith experience. All too often we hear people say

“I was once a born-again Christian. Now I believe I am a good person and God is a good God so I really don’t need church!”

The Bible often speaks of false prophets, false teachers, false apostles and false brethren. It seems we neglect this concept in the modern church of true and false conversion. The New Testament is filled with teachings about the subject and gives many examples of false converts. One of the foundational teachings of this is found in the story of the sower. After Jesus discusses the different soils and seeds ‘he said to them “Do you not know or understand this parable?” and how then will you know understand all parables?’ (Mark 4:13) One glaring fact comes from this parable when the gospel is preached, there are true and false conversions. In Mark we are told about the thorny ground, the stony ground, good-soil hearers, the false and the genuine converts.

In light of the other parables one principle seems to stand out, the principle of the true and false being alongside each other, then the other parabolic teachings makes sense: the Wheat and Tares (true and false), the Good fish and Bad fish (true and false), the Wise virgins and the Foolish (true and false), and the Sheep and Goats (true and false).

(Mat 13:47-51 HCSB)  “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a large net thrown into the sea. It collected every kind of fish, and when it was full, they dragged it ashore, sat down, and gathered the good fish into containers, but threw out the worthless ones.So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out, separate the evil people from the righteous, and throw them into the blazing furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. “Have you understood all these things?” “Yes,” they told Him.

In this story the good and bad fish were in the net together. From this story we see the world does not call in the net. The “fish” that are caught are those who respond to the gospel-the evangelistic “catch”. They remain together until the Day of Judgment.

False converts lack genuine contrition for sin. They may a profession of faith but are deficient in biblical repentance-“(Tit 1:16 HCSB)  They profess to know God, but they deny Him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, and disqualified for any good work. A true convert, however, has knowledge of sin and godly sorrow, truly repentant and produces the “things that accompany salvation” (Heb 6:9). These things the Bible speaks of for evidence of salvation are the fruit of the Spirit, the fruit of righteousness, etc.

We have Judas as an example of a false convert. He seems to be a thorny-ground hearer according to the Gospel of Mark. (Mar 4:19 HCSB)  but the worries of this age, the seduction of wealth, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.


There seems to be a naïveté in our churches concerning those who fall into the “Judas” category. As the example the church should have tremendous clout in our society: yet it seems powerless to change even one law. If as surveys tell us we have 142 million professed believers, we can’t even outlaw the killing of unborn children. In this flavorless and dark society we are to be salt and light, where is our impact? If this is real Christianity, the’ salt of the earth, ‘where is the effect of which Jesus spoke?

How can we know for sure our position in Christ? There’s a lot of talk regarding real Christianity and pseudo-Christianity. Many churches claim if we say the right words, get baptized in the right water, profess the right creed, or any other physical reassurance that must mean we are Christians. The Scripture is our best source for confirmation of our position in Christ.

(Joh 15:5-8 HCSB)  “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples.

Rom 2:15-16 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts. Their consciences testify in support of this, and their competing thoughts either accuse or excuse them on the day when God judges what people have kept secret, according to my gospel through Christ Jesus.

(Heb 12:5-8 HCSB)  And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons: My son, do not take the Lord’s discipline lightly, or faint when you are reproved by Him; for the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and punishes every son whom He receives. Endure it as discipline: God is dealing with you as sons. For what son is there whom a father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline–which all receive–then you are illegitimate children and not sons.




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