By Pastor Jeff Alexander
There is a growing pressure on society to define toleration as the unquestioned acceptance of all diversity. We have always had a diverse culture, but we have traditionally allowed opposing opinions in a climate of friendly debate. However, this is changing. No longer are we permitted to believe that one view is right and another is wrong. This philosophy runs head-on into real Christianity—a fact that is making Christianity unpopular with many today. Many who have thought themselves to be Christians, are now reconsidering their position, something that I encourage. We have too many people who think they are Christians, but have never been made so by Christ.
Many Christian leaders, past and present, have stressed the alarming fact that many church members are not real Christians. How did they arrive at this conclusion? It is really a simple matter. They show no evidence that they are. They give a religious performance, but give no indication that God has changed their lives. They are worldly and self-centered, and show little interest in the Bible, prayer-meetings, or ministry. They have been led by mistaken workers to think they are saved because they prayed a prayer and put their name on card.
One clear issue that many preachers today seem to have missed, is that one does not become a Christian by doing something, that is, works of righteousness (Titus 3:5), nor by being willing to be saved (John 1:12, 13). Making someone a Christian is the sole and exclusive work of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8, 9). He is not called a Savior simply out of respect to His position. A Savior saves those who cannot save themselves. All our language about salvation is passive—“I was saved.” It is not “I saved myself with Jesus’ help.“ What makes it even more amazing is that He saves those who not only can’t save themselves, but those who don’t deserve to be saved at all! (Job 25:4-6).
Our sense of pride and self-determination makes a monergistic salvation a loathsome thing. Most evangelicals teach that even though we cannot save ourselves, Christ can’t save us without our cooperation. They base that on Scripture that calls for us to repent of sin and believe on Christ, yet they ignore other Scripture that teach repentance and faith to be special gifts of God. Salvation must be God’s work because (1) we will not come to Christ (John 5:40) because we hate God (Romans 1:30); and (2) we cannot come to Christ (John 6:44) because we are dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1, 5). That is why Jesus must raise us from the dead (John 5:25) and give us a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26), if we are to be saved. This is very humbling to proud and stubborn humans, but God will not share His glory with us (1 Corinthians 1:23-29).
Now, a real Christian is one whom Jesus saves, regenerates with new life, transforms by His Spirit in power, translates from the kingdom of darkness to light, and begins the process of making him a new creation. He is changed from a habitual sinner to a son of God who, like God, loves and practices holiness and righteousness (1 John 3:7-9; 2 Corinthians 5:17). That is what a real Christian looks like. Are you one?