Many call Jesus Lord but don't do what He says (Luke 6:46). They are deceived.
Many believe in Jesus, but there's no corresponding fruit. The demons also believe (James. 2:19), but faith without works is always dead (v. 20).
Many give God lip service, but their hearts are far from Him (Matt. 15:8). They profess Jesus with their mouth but in works deny Him (Titus 1:16).
Many say a sinner's prayer, which amounts to an evangelical formula or cliche—a repetitious incantation without heartfelt repentance or revelation of who Jesus really is.
Knowing Jesus Christ deals with the spirit of a man. Intellectual knowledge does not save him or produce life in him. It is the Spirit who gives life. The oldness of the letter is killing the life of the church.
During Job's repentance and subsequent restoration he rightly stated: "I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You" (Job 42:5). It was the revelation of God that caused Job to repent.
Doubting Thomas became believing Thomas when he saw Christ after His resurrection and whole-heartedly exclaimed, "My Lord and My God!" (John. 20:28).
The first post-Pentecost crowd desperately responded to Peter's heart-piercing message with the words, "What shall we do?" (Acts 2:37).
When Saul had a glorious encounter with Jesus, the first words he gasped out of his mouth were, "Who are you, Lord? ... Lord, what will you have me to do?" (Act 9:5-6).
The main issue in false converts is that they've never really seen Jesus for who He is. The root of their blindness has not been dealt with by a work of the Spirit. The church has given them a false comfort and a false assurance of their conversion, but eternal life has not been birthed in them.
The true church is growing almost everywhere except in America. Statistics tell us that there are over 175,000 sinners each day being converted to Christ worldwide—28,000 in Communist China alone, where there is still no religious liberty. In the Islamic Republic of Iran there are more churches now than in the last 1,000 years.
This is all great news except for the U.S. where Christianity is on the decline. Only two percent of all churches are growing as a result of new conversions. The rest are either flat-lining or declining. We boast in our great numbers and our mega churches, but it's an empty boast based on supposed decisions and sinner's prayers repeated with intellect rather than heart.
What can we do to change that?
- Preach the true gospel (1 Thess. 1:5). The gospel is not only in word but in power and conviction. It does not soothe the sinner in his sin, but it scorches his conscience with guilt and grief. It does not only command the sinner to repent, but it demonstrates the power of God in mighty signs and wonders (Rom. 15:19).
- Pray for the lost and then pray for Christ to be formed in them as new converts (Gal. 4:19). Conversion is rebirth into a family, not membership in a church. Holy Spirit inspired prayer leads to births, not mental decisions. Once true conversion happens, then prayer must be made so that they might grow spiritually. Paul prayed these two prayers for the Ephesian believers to mature, especially the new converts (Eph. 1:16-23; 3:14-21). Let's do the same.
- Disciple the sinner into conversion and a walk with God (Matt. 28:19-20). True discipleship does not happen mainly in the classroom but in real life. We don't just invite sinners to church but to lunch (Luke 15:2). We don't send them to the pastoral staff to "follow up" with them. Ministers must train the people who then invite sinners and new converts into their hearts and homes.
In the first four centuries after Christ, this is what they did. This requires time, patience and a willingness to be inconvenienced while reaching and caring for just one person. All believers must take personal responsibility for sinners and new converts. This is not glamorous, flashy and cheap. It's slow and costly.
Here's the cost, beginning with our pastors and ministers:
- Lose your desire for numbers and status in your church. None of those count with God. Care about the church down the street more than your own. Love and faithfulness is what God rewards.
- Lose your desire for popularity and relevance. They are both vanity and overrated.
- Lose your life for others. It is crucifying to work with sinners and new converts. They are messy, broken and often dysfunctional.
Here's how to begin
Be sensitive to people around you. Engage them with kindness. See beyond their outward veneer and listen to their pain. Go into their world and look to meet both practical and spiritual needs. Utilize the authority Jesus has given you, and in the mighty name of Jesus, heal the sick and cast out demons.
The following verse separates the flesh churches from the spiritual churches and false converts from true converts:
"If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it. But whoever would lose his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it" (Mark 8:34b-35).
Any desire to save your life will disqualify you from being a disciple and from effectively making disciples.
This is the reason we have so many false conversions in the church world today.
Similar themes are a part of our tetralogy of books, The Real Salvation, The Real Gospel, The Real Spirit Of Revival and our newest release, The Real Jesus. It's time for the church in America to come out of a Babylonian culture and be truly converted.
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