“The nature of Christ’s salvation is woefully misrepresented by the present-day evangelist. He announces a savior from hell rather than a savior from sin. And that is why so many are fatally deceived, for there are multitudes who wish to escape the Lake of Fire who have no desire to be delivered from their carnality and their worldliness.” – A.W. Pink
Before I came to true repentance and salvation in Jesus Christ, I was wearing a mask. At least it felt that way. I was living a life just for show. I attended all the church things, I was heavily involved and even raised my hands during worship, but I was wearing the mask of nominal Christianity. Jesus wasn’t the Lord of my life, and He was not first in anything I did. I was willfully disobedient in my heart. Outwardly, things looked good, but I was bound for hell. I’ll never stop thanking God for pursuing and rescuing me from that darkness, even when I didn’t know that’s where I was headed.
I know that I’m not the only person who has lived that life. I’m afraid that there are some who are content to live this way.
“But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light.
Therefore it says,
‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead. And Christ will shine on you.’”
On this week’s episode we discussed nominal Christianity and what it looks like, but more importantly, what God thinks about it. There are many who claim Christianity, but aren’t truly living it. They may think that the mere outward appearance of being moral is enough, but they are living in sin and darkness. They live only for themselves and have no desire to obey God’s Word. There is no true salvation in this. Only belief in Christ’s righteousness on our behalf (Phil 3:9), and Him as our propitiation for sin before God (1 Jn 2:2), can we be saved. Furthermore, those who are self-deceived could be sitting in the seat beside us in our churches. I know, because that was me.
We also covered what the next steps should be if we think someone we love is living in deception. Confronting people is never easy – even when you are approaching it with gentleness, but we are called to make disciples not mere church attendees (Matt. 28:18-20). If they are self-deceived, then they are bound for hell. If we truly love people, then we won’t sit idly by.
These 9 questions, by Pastor Tim Keller, are a great starting point into this important conversation. Not only to ask those around us, but also to ask ourselves.
- How real has God been this week to your heart?
- How clear and vivid is your assurance and certainty of God’s forgiveness and fatherly love? To what degree is that real to you?
- Are you having any particular seasons of delight in God and sensing Him in your life?
- Have you been finding scripture to be alive and active? Instead of just being a book does it feel like it’s coming after you and searching you?
- Are you finding certain biblical promises precious and encouraging? Which ones?
- Are you finding that God’s challenging you or calling you to something through the Word? In what ways?
- Are you finding God’s grace more glorious and moving now than you have in the past?
- Are you conscious of the evil of your heart and in response a growing dependence on and grasp of the mercy of God?
Most importantly pray for the nominal Christians in your church. Pray they come to find true salvation and repentance. Pray for all professing Christians.
As our culture continues to grow in hostility toward Christianity and the truth, we need to be prepared to suffer well and encourage one another in the Lord, so that we all may say:
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:7-8)