One of the things that has really been on my heart, of late, is the use of the terms “true Christian” or “true believer” or “truly saved.”
Modern Christendom is flooded with these terms. For example, I did a search on Google using “true believer in Christ” and found 2.4 million results. The only problem is, I can’t seem to find any of these terms in the Bible.
I only looked at a few of the sites that came up in my internet search. Most of them included “tests” of feelings, or behavior, to help one determine whether or not he is a “true believer.” Such “tests” are often tools of the devil, designed to have us look to ourselves for assurance of salvation, rather than to Jesus. And, since there is no Biblical reference to a “true believer”, any test of a “true believer” is, by extension, unbiblical.
One of the more troubling things I found in my internet search was from a website that claims to reject Lordship “salvation”. The author of the article, David J. Stewart, wrote the following (I have bolded selected phrases for emphasis):
Wicked people, living the most ungodly lives, can be heard professing to be born-again Christians. Pornography models and homosexuals claim to be saved Christians, while yet arrogantly living in their sins. There are even churches with Sodomite ministers and a Sodomite congregation. Surely, this is not acceptable to God in Heaven. These are not true believers, though they may be sincere! Genuine repentance brings about a change of heart, which should discourage a believer from parading their sins in public with no sense of shame or remorse. Although a person does NOT have to give up their sins to be saved, there should at least be a desire to give up their sins because they ARE SAVED. There’s a big difference between the two.
I’m sorry Mr. Stewart, but what you have said is just Lordship “salvation” 101. Are Mr. Stewart’s sins any more acceptable to God than the sins of those whom he is condemning? While I do not advocate homosexuality or pornography, a believer can persist in a sinful lifestyle. The Bible gives clear evidence that such is a possibility:
Romans 6:12: Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
Romans 12:2: And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
1 Peter 2:11: Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
We cannot look to our feelings or behavior, or anyone else’s behavior, for evidence of salvation. It is heretical to do so. Following is an excerpt from the Statement of Faith of Calvary Community Church in Tampa Florida, with which I agree:
We believe the only evidence of salvation is revealed in whom a person is trusting in to get him to heaven. We believe it is heresy to teach that a person can know he is saved or lost because of his behavior, or for others to believe a person is saved or lost because of his behavior. (Galatians 2:16; Romans 4:5; 11:6).
Someone either believes in Christ for eternal life, or he does not. There is no such thing as a false believer. There are believers in false gospels. That is why it is essential to determine whether someone professing faith in Christ has believed the real gospel, or one of its many counterfeits.
A “true believer” in Christ is someone who has received eternal life by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. In other words, a TRUE believer is just a BELIEVER. Let’s stop adding qualifications to belief that the Bible does not!