This is a chapter from, “Boldly Contending as a Military Chaplain,” which was written by Sonny Hernandez. When I found this article, I ordered the book. Caution: Not for the weak hearted.
American Evangelicalism is a dark ominous cloud on the horizon. It is a belief that embodies everything that is not orthodox Christianity, because it disregards holiness for happiness, substitutes the Gospel for gimmicks, exchanges theology for theatrics, disregards evangelism for entertainment, replaces overseers with opinions, embraces palatable, innocuous stories in lieu of powerful inspiring sermons, and does not promote sound churches, but social clubs. The delusion and superstition of American Evangelicalism will never liberate anyone from the retribution of God. Why? It is a truncated gospel that will never deliver, only deceive, and will never produce faithful servants, only false converts.
There are incalculable amounts of professing Christians that are in danger of false assurance. False assurance is walking the aisle at church and offering the lip service of magical prayers (asking Jesus into your heart), romancing Bible verses, oversimplifying the Gospel, and relying on the freedom of the will as a means of salvation. When professing Christians are encompassed by false teachers, rely on traditional conceits, and they embrace everything that syncretism offers, they must be warned that regeneration only comes from the Spirit, not superstition (John 6:63-66). This article will provide several questions for professing Christians to examine their lives to see if they are truly born again. Charles Spurgeon provides an invaluable injunction that will articulate genuine and false conversion:
Beware, I pray thee, of presuming that thou art saved. If thy heart be renewed, if thou shalt hate the things that thou didst once love, and love the things that thou didst once hate; if thou hast really repented; if there be a thorough change of mind in thee; if thou be born again, then hast thou reason to rejoice: but if there be no vital change, no inward godliness; if there be no love to God, no prayer, no work of the Holy Spirit, then thy saying “I am saved” is but thine own assertion, and it may delude, but it will not deliver thee.
1.) Do you earnestly desire God?
The Bible provides a regulated commandment to love the Lord (Deuteronomy 10:12). If a professing Christian is truly in love with God, he or she will passionately cry out in fear of God to know and praise Him with joyful lips, and be clothed in humility when yielding and submitting themselves before the tribunal God of Scripture. Authentic love for God is when a believer prays without ceasing that God would forebear the executions of His wrath, and their life exhibits prayer, supplications, and lamentations for lost sinners. Authentic love for God will produce a vehement belief that the Spirit, which propels the Word of God, will strike a penetrating conviction in the soul to cause a believer to hate sin, yield to the peaceable fruits of righteousness, and be radically obsessed with love for the Law of God because they meditate and memorize daily. According to the apostle Paul: If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come (1 Corinthians 16;22)!
Most professing Christians will profess love for God. Notwithstanding a profession of love, professing Christians must offer more than just lip service. There must be evidence of salvation (2 Corinthians 13:5)! Without evidence of salvation, a professing Christian has nothing to measure their Christianity upon. On the Day of Judgment, if God were to ask professing Christians if they love Him, and they respond by saying: “yes Lord, you know I love you,” but their life does not reflect evidence of salvation, what will be the final disposition for professing Christians on that Great Day? Here are tenable questions that should motivate professing Christians to examine their lives for fruits of salvation:
1. If you say you love God, then why do you spend more time on Facebook than your face in His book?
2. If you say you love God, then why do you have over five hundred text messages and over one thousand minutes on your cell phone every month and yet you have no time in prayer? It’s obvious what lord you serve!
3. If you say you love God, then why do you pay money to be entertained with movies that slander His Name and espouse all of the things He hates?
4. If you say you love God, then how come you never tell anyone (evangelize) about Him?
Counterfeit love for God is a revolting practice that must be admonished. It is not uncommon to hear many professing Christians treat God like He exists in a prescriptive medicine bottle, because they believe all they have to do when they are feeling bad is take their eight hundred milligrams of God to feel better. It is not uncommon to hear many professing Christians twist Scripture when they share Jeremiah 29:11 on social media, and ask all their friends to share with everyone they know to receive a blessing. This type of garbled claptrap must be rejected by telling them: God is not your prescriptive medicine, He is not your genie in a bottle, and He is not your fairy godmother. He is your Lord!
It is also not uncommon for many professing Christians to believe in a liberal Jesus, whose only attribute is love, and looks just like Fabio or a member of an effeminate boy-band, from the many egregious paintings that portray Him. Sadly, there are many professing Christians that believe Christ will return on the Second Coming by coming out of the clouds, riding a pony, and wearing a red t-shirt that says free hugs. This false, liberal Jesus is not the savior, but Satan, because when Christ returns, He will be riding a white horse with His robe dipped in blood. He will rule the nations with a rod of iron, dash them to pieces like the potter’s vessel, and tread the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of the almighty God to wage vengeance on those who do not obey the Gospel (Psalm 2; Revelation 19:11-15; 2 Thessalonians 1:8). Professing Christians must count all things as loss for the surpassing worth of knowing Christ (Philippians 3:8), and embrace the Lord for who He is. The Westminster Longer Catechism (question 7) provides a biblical teaching lesson on the attributes of God:
Question: What is God?
A. God is a Spirit, (John 4:24) in and of himself infinite in being,(Exodus 3:14) glory,(Acts 7:2) blessedness,(1 Timothy 6:15), and perfection;(Matthew 5:48) all-sufficient,(Genesis 17:1) eternal,(Psalm 90:2) unchangeable,(Malachi 3:6) incomprehensible,(1 Kings 8:27) everywhere present,(Psalm 139:1-13) almighty,(Revelation 4:8) knowing all things,(Hebrews 4:13) most wise,(Romans 16:27) most holy,(Isaiah 6:3) most just,(Deuteronomy 32:4) most merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.(Exodus 34:6)
2.) Are you passionate about church?
Church membership is a vital doctrine. Professing Christians must be subjugated under the headship of Christ (Ephesians 5:23), subservient to local church elders (Hebrews 13:17), able to provide offerings (1 Corinthians 16:2), never neglect meeting with the saints (Hebrews 10:25), devote themselves to teachings, prayer, fellowship (Acts 2:42), and faithfully observing the Sabbath and keeping it holy (Exodus 20:8-11). If professing Christians willfully neglect the aforementioned commands from Scripture, they must be reminded that Jesus said: “If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15). If professing Christians do not obey Christ, then His Word calls them liars (1John 2:4).
It is imperative that local churches teach on church membership. In the current culture, youth are being deceived into accepting a gospel-less, soft-peddling church slogans that are not the Gospel, but gimmicks such as: “come as you are,” “dress casual,” “contemporary music,” “love God love people,” “hate sin and love the sinner.” Instead of trying to woo the youth to attend church or stir their emotions, a message must be sent that can actually save: “repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:15).
What happens when the youth are not taught about the importance of church membership? They will attend church because their friends attend, or because it pleases their mom and dad, grandpa or grandma, or because they want to meet friends. The youth must be taught: “you do not attend church because of your friends; you attend church because of God.” “You do not attend church because it pleases your parents or grandparents; you attend church because it pleases God.” “You do not attend church because you desire friends; you attend church because you need to desire God.” Sadly, it is quite possible that many youth are taught poor examples of church membership because of their parents. Here is an example: when parents become exhilarated over the “day after thanksgiving sale” where they have to wake up earlier than normal, but on the day of church, their bed becomes a mixed martial arts arena or boxing ring, because they literally have to fight with themselves just to get out of bed to make it to church on time. These types of parents do not attend church because they want to be godly and dignified, but rather a good deed. They do not care about being sound and Christ-centered, but rather to sooth their Christian conscience. This is why church membership is important.
3.) Is authentic worship important to you?
What is authentic worship? Christians are called to bow down to Him (Psalm 95:6), worship at His footstool (Psalm 99:5), proclaim His Name (Psalm 105:1), ascribe to Him the glory due His Name, worship in the Splendor of His holiness (1 Chronicles 16:28, 29) with reverence and awe (Hebrews 12:28-29), and fear God and give Him the glory (Revelation 14:7). The 1689 London Baptist Confession provides a summarization of the faith, an affirmation of worship, a teaching outline, and a guard against apostasy that will amplify a professing Christian’s comprehension on worship:
The light of nature shows that there is a God who has dominion and sovereignty over all. He is just and good, and He does good to all. He is therefore to be feared, loved, praised, invoked, trusted and served by men with all their heart and soul and strength. But the only acceptable way of worshipping the true God is appointed by Himself, in accordance with His own will. Consequently He may not be worshipped in ways of mere human contrivance, or proceeding from Satan’s suggestions. Visible symbols of God, and all other forms of worship not prescribed in the Holy Scripture, are expressly forbidden (Exod. 20:4-6; Deut. 12:32; Jer. 10:7; Mark 12:33).
There are myriads of professing Christians that are culpable of worshipping God in a manner which He has not commanded or prescribed. Many will worship Him based on personal experiences, tradition, musical preferences, modern consensus, or by other means devised by human ingenuity that is undoubtedly carnal fiction. God will condemn fabricated worship that is defiled with imagination or devices of men. When Nadab and Abihu offered an unauthorized worship before God which He had not commanded: fire came out from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord (Leviticus 10:2). According to John Calvin: “Those who set up a fictitious worship, merely worship and adore their own delirious fancies; indeed, they would never dare so to trifle with God, had they not previously fashioned him after their own childish conceits.” This is why it is imperative to remind professing Christians: it does not matter what you like in worship, it matters what God commands.
It is condemned in Scripture as gross idolatry when God is not the object of worship, or when God is worshiped in a manner that is cultivated by human invention. When carnal people feel that children need to find a church where they can meet friends their age, music, and programs they like, or a cool youth pastor who can relate to them just because they wear dingy pants, plaid shirts, nerd glasses, have spiked hair, show off tattoos, or use juvenile vernacular, they need to be reminded: none of those things can strengthen a child’s faith, because they are fiction. They can never save because they are sinful. God does not command any of those trifling and obstinate practices.
Objections: Here are some additional objections that professing Christians commonly make when it comes to worshipping God as He commands (i.e., Regulative Principles), and also cogent responses:
- Objection:“I was not raised in a church that worshiped this way. I did not worship like this in my last church.”
Response: He is not the God of your idle traditions. He is the absolute sovereign God of Scripture. The Pharisees loved their tradition that nullified Scripture, but Jesus did not (Matthew 15:1-20).
- Objection: “I need a worship pastor who can stir my emotions and put me in the mood to worship.”
Response: is the incomprehensible grandeur & supremacy of God not good enough for you (Psalm 72:24-28)?
- Objection: “We need to change our worship so we can attract the youth.”
Response: you will not find such a commandment in Scripture which corroborates the fact that it is you who needs changing because the youth do not direct worship, God almighty does (Exodus 20:1-6).
- Objection: “I want to sing a song that reminds me of: grandpa, grandma, mom, dad, someone I love, or a time in my life that is most memorable.”
Response: it is called nostalgia when you embrace a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past; it is called idolatry when you sing these songs in church because your emotions have replaced the incommunicable attributes of God as the object of worship (Exodus 20:1-6).
- Objection: “I want to hear a worship pastor who is talented in singing, or else I will not attend your church.”
Response: you must not have read the sign outside that said church, not a talent show.
- Objection: “If we do not get our worship pastor that we like, we are leaving.”
Response: it is better to lose people than lose God, and it is better to offend you than offend God (Proverbs 1:25-29).
The Bible commands believers to worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24). In public and private worship of God, there must be exaltation, not entertainment. Professing Christians must embrace Christ-centeredness, not childish conceits, and they must focus on the fear of God, not fun and gimmicks. Even when there is contention in the church over worship methodologies, professing Christians must worship as God commands, and not because goats complain! The 1689 London Baptist Confession provides a biblical example:
The reading of the Scripture, the preaching and hearing of the Word of God, the instructing and admonishing of one another by means of psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with heartfelt thankfulness to the Lord, the observance of baptism and the Lord’s supper-these are all parts of divine worship to be performed obediently, intelligently, faithfully, reverently, and with godly fear. Moreover, on special occasions, solemn humiliation, fastings, and thanksgivings ought to be observed in a holy and reverential manner (Exod. 15:1-19; Esther 4:16; Ps. 107; Joel 2:12; Matt. 28:19, 20; Luke 8:18; 1 Cor. 11:26; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; 1 Tim. 4:13; 2 Tim. 4:2).
4.) What is the standard of truth in your life to measure conduct?
The Holy Scripture is unequivocally the only source and substance of truth. His Word alone is perfect and pure (Psalm 19:7-8), proven true (Proverbs 30:5-6), stands forever (Isaiah 40:7-8), never returns void (Isaiah 55:11), never passes away (Matthew 24:34-35), is breathed out by God (2 Timothy 3:26); believers cannot live without (Mathew. 4:4), and never wrong (Titus 1:2). When a person casts doubt on God’s Word, they are partaking of the same execrable act performed by the Devil in the garden when he said: “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). If a person professes to be a Christian, they must embrace purity and not pollution. Charles Spurgeon provides an analogy of a pig to explain:
If you put on one side of a room a slap up a meal from the best chef in England, and on the other side, a pig trough filled with pig slop and you release a pig in that room, every single time he would go to the pig trough.
Why? Because he’s a pig. It’s what pigs do.
Now, if the pig was supernaturally transformed into a human being, he would not want to eat from the pig trough anymore, he can’t even take pig food without vomiting, and so he’d go to the slap up meal.
Why? Because he’s a human now. He’s not a pig anymore.
There is a disparity between true Christianity and counterfeit Christianity. True Christianity is where a believer yields and submits to Scripture as the sole source of truth that constitutes salvation. Counterfeit Christianity devalues the Bible as a verbose book that has good stories that are emblematic with virtue, but not inerrant. If a person is not subjugated to the Bible, and without a reasonable doubt believes that the Holy Scripture is the infallible Word of God, then here is an important message: you are not a Christian because you have nothing to measure your Christianity upon! This is why no one can deny the truth of Scripture. If someone dares to contend with God’s Word, it is not because the Word of God contradicts itself; it is because the Word of God contradicts them.
What are some common excuses in the church that professing Christians will make to neglect obeying the Scripture? Here are a few examples:
- “I think we should do it this way.”
- “At my last church, we have always done it this way.”
- “When I was a child, we did it this way.”
Responding to unbiblical excuses is important. When someone says: “I think” we should do it this way, remind them that their first problem is that “they think,” and they do not read. When someone lays the axiom about truth based upon an unbiblical tradition and they say: “at my last church” or “when I was a child we always did it this way so this is how it should be done,” it is imperative that they are reminded: that is called an unbiblical tradition, and not unprecedented truth. Taking Scripture out of context, romancing Bible verses, twisting Scripture, and laying the axiom about truth based upon personal experiences or traditions are examples of nullifying God’s Word. This is why the Holy Scripture must be the standard to measure Christian conduct:
All religious controversies are to be settled by Scripture, and by Scripture alone. All decrees of Councils, opinions of ancient writers, and doctrines of men collectively or individually are similarly to be accepted or rejected according to the verdict of the Scripture given to us by the Holy Spirit. In that verdict faith finds its final rest (Mat 22:29,31-32; Acts 28:23; Eph 2:20).
5.) How is holiness evident in your life?
The Holy Scripture patently declares God as holy (1 Samuel 2:2). In the year that King Uzziah died, Isaiah saw a blazing manifestation or theophany of God, and the angels crying out with a loud penetrating voice: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:3). It is impossible to know what holiness is if people rely on their own folklore, melancholy, or other credulous sentiments that are radically inconsequential. Why? They are nothing more than vain repetitions and dreams of human diatribe against the authority of Scripture, and that is the malady to be found which separates false Christianity from the marks of biblical Christian Orthodoxy.
God’s eyes are too pure to approve evil, and He cannot look upon wickedness with favor (Habakkuk 1:13). This means that God cannot have fellowship with anyone who is not regenerate, and the boastful will not stand in His sight because of His hatred against workers of iniquity (Isaiah 5:4-8). How can this be explained? If God gives grace to the humble (James 4:6), sanctifies His people with truth (John 17:17), speaks life into existence (Genesis 1:1-31), denounces self-righteousness (Isaiah 5:21), lies (Exodus 20:16), and division (Romans 16:17-18), then God must hate anything that is antithetical to His Word, as the wisdom literature will explain:
There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers (Proverbs 6:16-19).
Christians are commanded to be holy (Leviticus 20:26), and not be conformed to the passions of their former ignorance (1 Peter 3:13-17). It would be incumbent upon all professing believers to inculcate an understanding of what perfecting holiness in fear of God means (2 Corinthians 7:1), so they can put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted Word which is able to save their souls (James 1:21). Why are these principles important? Charles Spurgeon provides an invaluable response:
Christ will be master of the heart and sin must be mortified. If your life is unholy, then your heart is unchanged, and you are an unsaved person. The Savior will sanctify His people, renew them, give them a hatred of sin, and a love of holiness. The grace that does not make a man better than others is a worthless counterfeit. Christ saves His people, not in their sins, but from their sins. Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord.
It is imperative that professing believers practice holiness. If a professing believer is truly holy, their heart will ache when it devises schemes that are not commensurate with the Law of God, they will have a foul taste in your mouth and their eyes burn with enmity when they see the rampage of sin is prevalent in their life. There are always going to be people laden with iniquity that will provoke the Lord to anger, and they will not practice holiness. They will not petition the outstretched power of God to grant clemency from showering them with hell by the way they conduct themselves. Examples of this would be when professing believers pay money to be entertained with movies that God hates, and by spending all their time watching sports, and not reading any Scripture. How should a Christian hold another professing Christian accountable for such conduct? Here are two ways they can be warned:
- Self-professing Christians and sports: woe to you when your love for sports supersedes your love for Scripture. Do you not realize that when you abandon Scripture to spend countless hours watching the big game, you will elevate your understanding of players and statistics, but you will never become wise in salvation because you will be nothing more than an illiterate babe that exalts a few hours of entertainment above the commandments of God?
- Self-professing Christians & movies: when your life exemplifies a person who would rather indulge in a cinematic experience (movies) that entertains and encroaches your carnality, with sensuality, sexual immorality, obscenities, blasphemies, crude joking, and all the things that are detestable to God, rather than amplify your mind and feed your soul with the purity of Scripture that can make you wise in salvation. God knows what Lord you serve. It is not the God who established the heavens and laid the foundation of the earth. It is the false god that is only 30-55 inches that you call a flat screen TV, but God calls a golden calf.
It would be dreadful for any man or woman to be deceived into believing they are saved, and then be condemned to hell as an object of God’s wrath. If a person is truly regenerate, they have become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), and their life will come to fruition that Christ abides in them (John 15:5). Without evidence of God’s effectual power and steadfast love in drawing a sinner to Himself, and granting the inseparable graces of faith and repentance, then all a person will ever receive is the perpetuity of His wrathful rebukes with a flame of fire and everlasting torment (Isaiah 66:15-16; 24), where Christ will say to them: “I never knew you, depart from me you who practice unrighteousness” (Matthew 7:23). This is why you must:
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test (2 Corinthians 13:5)!
2. See 1689 London Baptist Confession (Chapter 22): Religious Worship, and the Lord’s Day (1) ↑
3. John Calvin and Translated by Henry Beveridge. Institutes of the Christian Religion. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2008, 13. ↑
4. See 1689 London Baptist Confession (Chapter 22): Religious Worship, and the Lord’s Day (5) ↑
5. See 1689 London Baptist Confession (Chapter 1): The Holy Scripture (10) ↑
[Contributed by Sonny Hernandez]