by Raymond Kwong
Have you noticed that many who profess to be Christian never grow in the faith? Should not the evidence of salvation be an undeniable part of the Christian's daily life?
Is it possible that a great percentage of those claiming to be Christian have never actually been converted? If this is the case, how could it have happened?
Maybe a lot of churches (consciously or unconsciously) have adopted an unbiblical methodology in evangelism. In the early days of my Christian life, following an over-simplistic, easy-prayism evangelism method, I believed I led hundreds of souls to Christ. Today I ask myself where are most of them, and the sad but true answer is they have gone by the wayside.
Seventy-four percent of Americans, in a 1990 Gallop Poll, claim to have made "a commitment to Christ." Yet the George Barna Research Group found that 84 percent of respondents to their poll claim to be born-again Christians, yet deny that there is a devil or hell.
I am deeply troubled that so many shallow salvation "decisions" in our Bible-believing churches end up as spiritual miscarriages. And I am not alone. D. L. Moody lamented: "…There is only about one in ten, who profess Christianity, who will turn around and glorify God with a loud voice. Nine out of ten are still-born Christians (from New Sermons, Addresses, and Prayers, 1887). Dr. Dan Hawtree, a respected evangelist who is best known in Florida, told me that around 75 percent of our church people are probably unsaved. He estimates that only three percent of Americans are really born-again.
Dr. R. L. Hymers, in his booklet The Falling Away, collected the following estimates: Dr. W. A. Criswell said that he would be surprised to see 25 percent of his members in heaven! Billy Graham years ago estimated the percentage of lost people in evangelical churches at 85 percent; Dr. A. W. Tozer put it at 90 percent! Dr. Rod Bell and Dr. Monroe Parker put the figure at 50 percent, Dr. B. R. Lakin, and Dr. Bob Gray at 75 percent.
Dr. J. Vernon McGee was no extremist, yet he commented on Matthew 13:25, the parable of the tares: "If one out of ten responding to my invitation to receive Christ is genuine, I feel that my batting average is good.…" It is not easy to distinguish between wheat and tares until the harvest (judgment). Judas surely fooled all the apostles. Enron is not the only group that cooked the numbers. In thousands of churches, the statistics of souls saved have been inflated.
Dr. James Singleton, editor of The Whetstone newsletter, wrote in the June, 2001, issue: "…If true, this is a serious charge and deserves serious solemn attention. How terrible on Judgment Day to hear the Lord say, "Depart from me, I never knew you!" (Matt. 7:21-25).
Because of this heart-wrenching reality I would like to suggest some biblical tests of genuine conversion. They include: hunger for the Bible (1 Pet. 2:2), not being ashamed to witness (Rom. 1:16), and love.
Test drive these on your own experience. When you were saved, was there conviction by the Spirit (Acts 2:37, 16:31), resulting in genuine repentance (turning from sins and self)? Luke 13:3 tells us that without repentance we shall perish. Did your repentance and conversion result in observable fruits of repentance, as Matthew 3:8 says they should? Did the "old things" of your life pass away and all things become new, as 2 Corinthians 5:17 says they must?
Now, measure the evangelism formula(s) you have used and taught against these (and other) Scriptures. According to Richard Baxter's Treatise on Conversion, 1657, all churches back then expected a real Christian to be baptized, attend church, hate sins, pursue good works, etc. We have come (compromised) a looong way!
I found at least a score of such evidences of salvation in the Bible. Almost all are observable and objective fruits (see accompanying list).
To be concluded
Raymond Kwong has been pastor of the Bible Baptist church in San Francisco, Ca. for 16 years. He is a popular talk show host and has spoken at numerous family, revival, and prophecy conferences and retreats.
Editor's note: In Part 2, Brother Kwong discusses what genuine faith is.
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By Raymond Kwong
"Examine yourself whether you are in the faith" (2 Cor. 13:5)
"The spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God" (Rom. 8:16).
"Bring forth fruits in keeping with repentance" (Matt. 3:7,8).
Looking back at your overall life from the day you got saved, how many of these evidences do you see? These are not conditions of salvation, but rather natural results of salvation. No attempt was made to list them in order of importance.
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