But declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.
Many call themselves Christians because at some point in their lives they made a prayer in which they recognized Jesus as their Lord and Savior. And some of those people allegedly accepted Jesus, but continued to live the life they had before their encounter with the Lord. Is this a Christian according to the Bible? In Acts 26:20, the Apostle Paul sums up the essence of the gospel and true conversion, repentance of sins, turn to God and do works befitting repentance.
The reason why there are false conversions that is because churches are attracting people to Christ with wrong motives. Many people come to the Lord’s feet believing that their life will improve and their problems will disappear. As long as things go well, these people will feel comfortable being Christians; but when the trails come they will run. The American pastor John Barber said: “Much of contemporary evangelism is producing a bumper crop of believers unregenerate.”
But the false conversion is not always of a product of an adulterated gospel message. The American evangelist David Wilkerson (1931-2011) said: “I can tell you that in our church not everyone who calls himself a Christian is a truly converted, saved believer. At the same time, I can assure you that if such people come here and end up being doubly a child of hell, it will not be due to an incomplete gospel message. Do not! It will be because they rejected convicting, Holy Ghost truth.”
The American pastor John MacArthur said something very strong, but also very true: “Did you hear once someone standing before a crowd and say, ‘If you want to be Christian kill yourself to yourself, deny yourself all that crave and crave? Be willing to die and meekly submit yourself in obedience to Jesus Christ?’ This message does not sell; it is not a clever promotion. But it turns out to be exactly right. The gospel must be the gospel. The principle is: you come to an end, if you want to follow Christ. It’s the end of you. You no longer exist.”
It is inconceivable to say that we have become to Christ and continue practicing sin. True conversion involves repentance and voluntary renunciation of past life. You should be unable to continue pleasing the world and share the things of the world because they all oppose to God. True conversion is in the fruits, that is, what Paul calls the works worthy of repentance.
The British minister Iain Murray (1931- ) said: “There is something so seriously wrong in human nature that nothing can correct except a new beginning, a second birth. Nothing can change the nature of a person, or education, or even joining a church. The change that sinners need is so great that only God can do it because it is nothing but a change from death to life.”
Indeed, as Murray says, true conversion is a change from death to life, from death as the wages of sin to eternal life gives us by grace. The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sinful life and reminds us of judgment and justice. Born again of the Spirit it is to leave our past behind forever. God bless you.