Marks of True Conversion
There are many that profess to be Christian, but their lives do not reflect such faith. It is greatly concerning that it is likely that many “Christians” are false converts—those that want salvation, but their lack of genuine faith has left them unchanged.It is through true faith by which the person gives up their sinful desires to live as Jesus Christ showed us. While still imperfect, the person conforms to the image of Christ, day by day, compelled by their love for God. As all are destined to die, each person will also be judged. If each person’s judgment were based on their merit alone, then we all should live in great fear and trembling. Because of God’s great love, mercy, and grace, we do not have to face judgment on our own merit, but we may be judged by the merit of Jesus Christ. His death is the atoning sacrifice so that we do not receive the death we earned. His resurrection is the foreshadowing that we will also be raised on the last day, to spend eternity in Heaven. But if the person is not a Christian, they will be justly judged on their own merit, destined for the wrath of God.
“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”Matthew 18:3–4
Marks of the True Convert
The salvation of others should be a concern for all Christians. It is easy to know the state of a person’s salvation when they claim to be anything other than a Christian. However, when it comes to the salvation of the professing Christian, it is not something that can be taken at their very word. If all Christians were true converts, then this would not be an issue, but if we take Judas as an example, we know all those that profess are not as they claim. In fact, belief alone is not enough either. Even the demons know Jesus Christ, but they are certainly unsaved. True conversion yields change in the lives of the Christian. As we know the tree by its fruit, we know the marks of a true convert through the changes in the person following true conversion.
The Human Condition
If all are destined to die, it must be asked why this is the case, and why does all of humanity deserve punishment in Hell? Beginning with Adam and Eve, sin entered this world through the failure to follow the one command God had given them. From that point onward, a curse has been upon humanity that each is born with original sin. There are many that would argue Children are without sin at birth, but at an age of accountability, the sins of children are their responsibility. This stance would say that the curse of Adam is that humanity inherits a sinful nature, not sin itself. George Whitefield explains that children do inherit sin, which is why they are “averse to instruction.” In fact, he points out that David stated that he was “conceived in sin” (Psa 51:5) and that Jeremiah stated, “the heart of man is deceitful and desperately wicked above all things” (Jer 17:9) to support his position. Despite this fallen state being foisted upon children, he argues that children are innocent compared to that of adults.
He argues that parents should be more concerned about teaching their children well, so that they may receive the saving grace provided by Jesus Christ. This is something that many parents fail in raising their children, believing that taking them to church, attending Sunday school, and having them baptized alone will produce a Christian adult. Instead, much more work must be done so that the child is matured into a Christian as their sinfulness is working to send them to Hell from the day one. Their parents should fear that they should raise a child destined to damnation that will say, “next to the wickedness of mine own heart, I owe my damnation to your bad education of me.”
By Their Fruit
Many believe themselves to be saved because they were baptized or that they are a member of a church, but it is not by such actions that the person is saved. The family you were raised in, the job you have, or the house you have is meaningless in the Kingdom of God. Salvation is not something that can be earned, for the only thing any person has earned is the wrath of God. One must not believe the pernicious lie that by their works, salvation has been obtained. It is said that faith without works is dead (Jas 2:17), but works cannot earn our salvation. This is not only a debated topic among denominations, but it can be difficult for many believers to understand.
Instead, there is something else that is necessary for salvation. It is the heart that matters, not the good things that a person has done. This is concerning for the sinner, which is every person, for God knows the heart of all; they are desperately wicked and deceitful. Whitefield makes a general observation of many professing Christians, stating, “though they have a Christ in their heads, they have no Christ in their hearts.”
True faith will produce works in the Christian. For God first showed humanity love, the person learns to love God, but as they mature in their spiritual journey, they learn how the love God shows is absolutely perfect. Unlike God, humanity is sinful, and he is Holy, without any fault. Most people would call themselves a decent person, but that is only in contrast to other people. It is like a thief stating they are not as bad as the murderer, but both are an abomination compared to the perfection of Jesus Christ. The wool of a sheep looks white, but when it is seen in a field covered with fresh snow, the pure white snow provides contrast for how dirty the wool truly is. Jesus Christ is the mirror that contrasts our sinfulness with the perfection by which God requires to be in His presence. The true believer will forsake their sins, becoming more like Christ each day because they love God and desire to have true, everlasting joy instead of slavery to sin that destroys the soul.
As Little Children
Whitefield uses the relativity of the child’s innocence to that of an adult as an example of how the sinner should become after developing their faith. They must come to their salvific faith like a child—no longer a totally wretched sinner, but one that is becoming comparatively less sinful. Despite this change, they are still a sinner, but the change of salvation is occurring in the person so that they are being “born again.” The person can no longer continue to live for worldly power or things, but instead, they must look to Jesus Christ as a child looks to their parents for their needs. This is not to mean that one should stop living in the world, but that the sensuality and carnality of the world are rejected.
To become like a child is to forsake the pride and ego of self. It is to recognize our need for God as a child needs their parents. It is to no longer view one’s self as powerful, but to recognize one’s weaknesses, submitting to them in trust of God. The Apostle Paul, in all his greatness, viewed himself as nothing of the sort, but instead says, “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints.” (Eph 3:8) Pride and Christ cannot coexist in the Christian’s heart; either pride will prevent Christ from entering, or Christ will totally consume their pride.
Pride and Christ cannot coexist in the Christian’s heart; either pride will prevent Christ from entering, or Christ will totally consume their pride.
The Preeminent Concern
The matter of false conversion is deeply troubling. It is like watching a race where the leader thinks they are on the last lap, crosses the finish line, and celebrates, only to find out there’s one more lap to go and lose the race. In fact, it is far worse than that, for that is merely a race, whereas a person’s salvation determines if they will spend eternity in Heaven or Hell. One cannot wish the wrath of God upon any person if they understand their sinfulness as well. The only one that did not deserve wrath chose to die for the ones that deserve wrath. There is no other issue more important than the state of a person’s salvation, and Whitefield understands this. He states, “Did I think that preaching would be to the purpose, did I think that arguments would induce you to come, I would continue my discourse till midnight,” because he knows this life is but a temporary one. The person hearing him could be facing judgment at any moment. Tomorrow is never guaranteed, so it is imperative for Christians to proclaim the gospel so that others may be saved.
If you have not turned to Jesus Christ, I urge you to immediately put your faith upon Him. Jesus is the only way to eternal life. Confess to God that you are a sinner and repent of your sin. That is to forsake your sin, and trust in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior so that you may receive God’s grace of eternal life.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”John 3:16–21