There is an issue that the Church has faced since before Jesus died on the cross and rose again 3 days later, that issue is fake Christians. Before Jesus died it was Judas, someone who followed him everywhere and followed his teachings to such an extent that when Jesus said someone would betray him, no one knew who was going to do it aside from Jesus. In modern times we have the same issue just on a far larger scale and it is exactly what Satan wants, we are casually playing into his hands and acting like we are doing the right thing while we do it. Lets talk about what we are doing wrong and how we need to go about fixing it.
In modern Christianity people have this focus on being totally nice and accepting of anything and everything to make the lost feel welcome. It doesn't matter what there particular sin is, people treat them like family and “love” them as they are. Christians give them half of the gospel and ignore the parts that might make someone feel guilty because it might scare them away. By the end of this process we get what seems like a new follower in Christ. Everyone celebrates because they are saved now and have a relationship with Jesus! The problem is, more likely than not they aren't saved and they don't know Jesus at all. These “converts” will more often be one of two things, false converts, which will either fall away the second things get hard, saying they have already tried Christianity and know it to be false, or they will be the weakest Christians ever with no foundation in the Word of God at all.
This is the best possible situation for Satan, a bunch of people trying and walking away from the faith making it seem less believable to others and people that will continue calling themselves Christian but will have no clue what it is to really follow Christ. Now you are probably thinking, “why does Aitheros think this way about all these new converts?” and the reason is simple: They never heard the full gospel, they never understood why they needed to be saved in the first place. They continue walking around thinking they are good people because all they have ever been told by Christians is that God loves them as they are, which is true but not in the way they say it. God loves us all enough to die for us, but he does not love what we do because we always lean towards evil when left to ourselves. Without Christ, we are destined for the Lake of Fire, a place of eternal torment, because God is going to put us there to punish us for the evil we have done. God is righteous and just, he can't allow evil to go unpunished, so while he loves us all he will also do what needs to be done. Don't assume someone knows what you haven't told them. He showed his love for us by taking on that punishment himself, but we have to repent and put our trust in him to accept that gift of salvation. If you never truly understood that you were worthy of Hell, what do you think you are being saved from? Consistently, people that hear a half gospel think they can earn their way to heaven by being generally good people, and this is exactly how Satan wants it.
As long as people think they can earn their way to heaven, as long as Christians are only preaching half the gospel instead of the whole thing, Satan is winning. We don't have to let it stay that way, all we have to do is follow Jesus's example and preach the full gospel and preach it urgently. Don't be afraid to use the law to make someone feel guilty, that is exactly what it is for. Don't be afraid to lose friends or even family because Jesus warned us that could happen and he is more important no matter what. If you want to truly show that you love someone like God does, give them the full truth so that they can really get to know Jesus right from the start. Don't feel the need to make everyone feel accepted, because frankly God doesn't accept us as we are. He takes us in and he molds us into what we are supposed to be and when judgment comes, we will be sinless because Jesus took our punishment for us and we will be seen in his righteousness, not our own.
There is something I have noticed since I became a Christian that, as I have studied and learned more, worries me. Being honest, it makes me legitimately mad when I see it happen. It's when people preach the gospel, they only preach the easy half that will make everyone feel nice and welcome and consistently leave the other half unsaid. To truly understand the gospel you need the whole thing, that means that we also need to tell people they are sinners and need to be saved to begin with, not just that Jesus loves them as they are. I believe that college is the main root of this problem but I will leave that for another time, the main thing to understand here is that only giving half of the gospel leads to a ton of problems that we are seeing clearly today.
In our time, there is an insane number of people supposedly falling away from the faith, and those that don't fall from the faith barely care about Jesus at all aside from having a get out of Hell free card. There are plenty of people trying to figure out why this is happening but I believe the reason is simple. The majority of people do not hear the full gospel, including many that call themselves Christian, and because of this they have no roots. They never understood why they needed to be saved in the first place, or how much Jesus truly loved them when he died for them. Most of them go on thinking of themselves as good people who don't need to change a thing as long as they say Jesus's name a lot, go to church, and pray sometimes. This can lead a person to later question God on how He could send "good" people to Hell, "just for not knowing him," rather than understanding that Hell is something earned. We live in a time where people tell you that you should be a pastor just for having even a little biblical knowledge and some charisma, which is only a show of how little of that knowledge the majority of people have.
The fact of the matter is people aren't falling away from the church, they were never really there to begin with, they just acted like they were based off what little they knew. They don't know how evil they actually are, they have no idea what it even meant when they put their trust in Christ. Very few of them have repented of anything or even bothered to really get to know Jesus, they just blindly accept whatever other Christians tell them they should think.
The easiest way to get to the bottom of whether or not someone is saved is to test their theology and ask them if they're a good person. If they answer, yes, there's a solid chance they've never had their sins confronted. A nice method to try is what they do over at Living Waters, and tell them you have a test to see whether or not they are good, then ask simple questions like, "Have you ever told a lie?" followed by, "What do you call someone who tells lies?" They ultimately convict themselves in the process.
The next time you share the gospel with someone, make sure you tell them why they need to be saved before you tell them how they can be.
The first thing you need to understand as a Christian is no one is good, only God is. That leaves a simple question though, what is the point of doing good things when we know we aren't good?
Jesus is very clear when he speaks to the rich man that approaches him. There isn't anyone good but God, and if we are honest with ourselves, this is fairly obvious. We have all sinned in some way. In fact just about all of us are guilty of every sin we could be, and that makes us evil. The standard for being good is perfection, and only God has done that. Even one sin is enough to no longer be considered good, so let's not delude ourselves in this area. We like to put people like Abraham or David on pedestals but only God actually deserve to be there.
Now just because we aren't good does not mean that we never do anything good, that can and absolutely does happen. But why does it matter if it isn't going to somehow wash away the bad things we have done? The answer is pretty simple, it matters because it is the right thing to do. Once you put your trust in Christ and repent of your sins, which means to turn away from them, you should legitimately want to do the right thing. It isn't a matter of getting something out of it, we do the things we do because they are right. Once you know something is evil, it makes no sense to continue doing it, it only makes sense to do what you now know to be good. As Christians, there is really no excuse to continue in our sin, regardless of the fact that we will be forgiven for it. God doesn't expect perfection but bare minimum we better be trying to be good even if we are going to fail.
Another reason is simply to please God by doing things that he can take some joy in. God knows all of our thoughts and actions, I don't doubt that he is very happy whenever he sees someone do something genuinely good. That alone is enough reason to do good things, but it's even more than that. Jesus literally died for us, we owe everything to him and doing good things is part of that. It is how we show that we love him through our actions and it is one of the main ways a person can have assurance they are truly saved. If you genuinely care enough about Jesus to do good things for his sake, then even when you fail you can know at least your intentions are in the right place and God is with you. Make no mistake, if you aren't a Christian you aren't going to be doing anything for Jesus's sake, it is almost always going to be all about you.
Another very important reason to do good things is simply to stand out in the world. This is a fallen world covered in sinners and people who are consistently doing things are going to stand out big time. That is exactly what God expects of Christians and make it is important that we aren't just like everybody else. We are God's children and the people around us need to see that, it is a major aspect of giving people the Gospel. If we are consistent with what we believe and live it, when we tell someone the truth it will have more meaning. If we are just living like they are it will barely matter at all because they will be able to see it doesn't actually matter to us.
We always need to set an example and be what God wants us to be. We don't need to be perfect, we are still going to fail sometimes, but we need to try at all times. Doing good things is never going to get you to Heaven, but that was never why we did good in the first place. Let's leave it to every other faith on the planet to lie to people, telling them their good works will wash away the bad. We will keep doing good things for God's sake and for everyone around us that still doesn't know him.
When people think of modern Christians, they think of two things: The ridiculous Christians who only preach about going to Hell for basically breathing, and the reverse of that, the ultra positive Christians who like to pretend Hell either doesn't exist or isn't that big a deal if it does. Today I want to talk about the ultra positive Christians and what Jesus would actually think of the way they handle things, because the reality of being a Christian is actually more the middle ground between these two types.
Now when I talk about ultra positive Christians, I am talking about the people that can look at someone sinning right in front of them and smile like they didn't do anything. The kind of people that don't really bother with the bad news of the Gospel where they would tell you that you're a sinner, instead they just talk about how Jesus loves everyone, no matter what. They're the kind of Christian that will respect your beliefs, regardless of what you believe, and just want you to learn about Jesus by spending time with them. In most cases, this type of Christian will never actually bother to preach the Gospel at all, lest they offend someone. They like to think that people will come and ask them questions so that they won't have to do anything awkward. This is the Christian that cares more about being positive than actually getting people saved. Everything they say and how they act is pretty appealing to people, but it does not get people saved and it is not how Jesus acted even remotely. To show this, well I will just let Jesus speak for himself.
Here's what you may consider Nice Verses:
And here are what we'll call the Mean Verses:
These are just a couple examples of each but it is actually far easier to find verses where Jesus is being mean (by our standards) than it is to find him being nice. People around Jesus liked him when he was performing miracles for them but shunned him whenever he preached something they didn't like. Very few people actually wanted to be around Jesus for anything other than physical gains, proven by the fact he was crucified by the same people he came to save. This is something we need to understand because, in general, I find almost no one actually acting like Jesus did. If anything, even I am actually too nice when you consider how Jesus spoke to some people. He could be very harsh and very nice. Even when harsh though, he was always kind, because kindness isn't just acting nice, it can also be doing something that someone needs even if they don't like it. That is what Jesus did the entire time he was here. It didn't matter if it meant being stoned or applauded, he was always going to do what was best for the people around him and in his case, every person who has ever existed. Sometimes that means getting mean with people and telling them things they don't want to hear. The Gospel has two parts, the bad news that we aren't good people and we don't deserve Heaven, and the good news that Jesus died for our sins because he is merciful and awesome. Without the first half, the second makes no sense, but if we focus on being positive you only ever get the second and a lot of false converts. It also makes it almost impossible to correct bad theology because everyone is afraid to judge each other, but it is something that needs to be done.
We can always do our best to be nice, it doesn't have to be insanely harsh when you tell someone something they don't want to hear, but it still needs done. As Christians, we are called to do exactly that, bringing more people to Christ and holding each other accountable so that we can grow in our faith!
P.S. We are actually called to judge. People that think you aren't allowed to judge anything are ripping verses out of context and ignoring several verses telling us how to go about it righteously! Remember to read all of Matthew 7, not just the first 2 verses.
There is one thing that almost every Christian I know of is afraid to say; You aren't a Christian. I think this is something we all need to get past because it is hurting the Church big time
I know it can be a scary thing to tell someone they aren't saved, especially if they think they have been for a long time. Unfortunately, it still needs to be done, for their sake and for the sake of anyone else that might come to Christ. I genuinely believe that the majority of people that call themselves Christian today aren't real converts, and that is a truly terrifying thought. Millions of people going around saying they are Christian while living like complete sinners with no real faith in Jesus at all. They aren't saved, and no one they know is getting saved either. If anything they are turning further away from the faith because these false converts don't act any differently from them. False converts can only bring in more false converts and we need to do something about this.
As a general rule, these people are raised in the church and so they think they are fine. If not, they may have received a false or partial gospel which are honestly just as bad. Whatever the reason may be, they make up the majority of the Church as we know it. As long as we are afraid to tell these people they are in trouble they will stay that way. Now the obvious question is, Andrew, how do you know these people aren't saved? Every case is complicated, but there are two things I look for in everyone that are the main signs someone isn't actually saved. The first is more obvious, they don't actually know or understand the gospel. If someone is telling you they are earning their way to heaven through their good works or they don't actually know what Jesus did for them and who he is, odds are high they aren't saved. The second is their intentions behind everything that they do. It is one thing to still be a sinner, it is another to not care at all when you sin. We should always be striving to be better, to be closer to Jesus in anything we do. We are still going to fail at times, but we should never just be fine with it. If someone is happily living in sin, even actively searching for it, the odds are high they aren't saved. If you combine these two things then it's basically a guarantee.
Regardless of how hard it is, we need to be willing to tell these people, in love and with tact, that they aren't saved. We need to witness to them just like we would anyone else, kindly telling them the gospel. It is going to be hard. There is no one harder to reach then someone who has already convinced themselves they are fine. There is a solid chance that anything you say will fall on deaf ears, that they will just continue as they are. Another possibility is that they will straight up walk away from the church and never come back. This might seem bad but it is preferable to how things are now, better they be honest non-believers than fake Christians. Let's not forget the third and best possibility though, they come to Christ and put their full trust and faith in Jesus. They become genuine converts that will be eternally grateful that someone cared enough to tell them the truth instead of letting them stay as they are in fear.
I hope in the end we get more people to genuinely come to Christ than the other possibilities, but we need to understand that the way to heaven is narrow. Jesus told us that few would be going there and he also explained how to spot a false convert in Matthew 7. He didn't tell us these things for no reason. I am sorry to tell you but most people are going to walk away from being Christian, and in reality they weren't one of us from the start. They were just putting on a show, sometimes a convincing show as they themselves aren't even aware they're unsaved. But let's not be afraid to do what needs to be done and say what needs to be said. Because we love these people, we need to tell them the truth on where they stand so they can have every chance possible to truly put their trust in Christ.
Dedicated to making strong disciples of Christ.