We have seen that a professing believer can miss the mark and that when that happens, God expects us to ask Him for forgiveness. Now, is every professing believer a true Christian? In order to answer this, we must understand that being a true believer is more heart knowledge than head knowledge. Contrary to what many preach, it involves more than saying the sinner’s prayer (which can be recited without any conviction). The sinner’s prayer without right believing is empty and will not save anyone.
According to James 2:19, a believer is not merely one who believes that there is one God, for even the demons believe this! It goes on to say in verse 20 that our faith/ belief without corresponding works is useless! This clearly means that believing is more than lip service (Matt 15:8). It involves faith, genuine repentance, trust and consequently obedience. New Testament believing changes the heart first and then manifests on the outside. That’s how it differs from the old.
The word “Christian” means follower of Christ and is synonymous with the word believer. The bible mentions different characteristics of Christ’s followers throughout the New Testament. One of them is in 1John 2:5-6 where the bible says that we know we are living in God when we OBEY Him and live as Jesus did. This alone proves that not everyone that professes to be a Christian is one because it simply means those that are not obeying Him are not living in Him.
In John 8:31, the bible says “If you ABIDE in my word, you are TRULY my disciples”. The word “truly” means “really”. This means if you don’t abide (stay) in His word, you are not a true or genuine disciple. 1John 2:4 also says: If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. In John 6:54, Jesus also explains that to have eternal life, a believer must eat His flesh and drink His blood. This speaks of intimacy and covenant; something that is lacking in the lives of many professing believers today. Believing is a heart matter. God who sees our hearts knows those who truly belong to Him (2Tim 2:19) and no man can deceive Him. The hearts of many are far from God and many professing believers are not relying on Him and are certainly not obeying Him. This is why on the last day, some who professed to be Christians will not enter His kingdom (Matt 7:21).
Every church congregation is a mixed crowd containing both true believers and those professing to be but whose hearts are in reality, far from Him. That is what makes blanket statements and sweeping promises of eternal security proclaimed by many pastors, lethal. This brings us to the next fallacy.
I will continue part 3 of the 4 part series next time with the sub- topic “Can a professing believer go to hell?”