Some of the online circles I frequent spend a lot of time talking about false conversions, and many of the people claim to have once been false converts. At times, I catch myself wondering if some of their confessions represent the latest Christian fad, although I understand the sinful folly of making that sort of judgment. If they feel convicted that they initially made insincere or misdirected professions of faith, I must accept their testimony with thanksgiving that Christ has at last granted them true repentance and faith.
Interestingly, I’m presently reading Matthew’s gospel, and I notice how many of the Lord’s parables deal with this very topic. The fact that Jesus spoke so often about this matter indicates that many people believe themselves to be Christians when in reality they’ve never experienced genuine salvation. Therefore, false conversions not only really happen, but the typical church has many members who lack authentic saving faith.
The understanding that false converts fill even the best of local churches led me to question my own standing with God. The Bible recommends such self-examination (1 Corinthians 11:28, 2 Corinthians 13:5, 2 Peter 1:10). Yet, I can tend, in examining myself, to scrutinize my failures to such a degree that I eclipse all the ways the Holy Spirit indeed has demonstrated His activity in my life.
Yes, for all too many years I found ways to take some credit for “accepting the Lord.” And I felt some self-righteousness about my outward obedience. When I actually did face up to various ongoing sins, I’d worry that I’d lose my salvation. But even with my faulty theology, the Lord always brought me back to the assurance that He had paid the totality of my debt on the cross.
Certainly, I spent 31 years in Charismatic circles, 18 of which I identified as a Charismatic. For 12 years after that, I belonged to a market-driven church. The teaching in these churches wasn’t necessarily false, but neither was it as faithful to Scripture as it should have been. Yet even at my most Charismatic point, I wanted to be faithful to God’s Word, and I sensed discrepancies between what the Bible said and many teachings I received.
Looking back, I see many serious problems that hindered my maturity in Christ. I even fell into several deceptions. But I also see that, in spite of myself, the Holy Spirit had His hand on me, and He graciously kept me from totally embracing error. On the basis of His faithfulness to constantly steer me back to trust in His shed blood and in His Word, I stand by my belief that He brought me to genuine salvation in 1971. Definitely, many false converts do mingle with true believers, giving me good reason to question my salvation. Thankfully, however, the Lord has confirmed that, without a doubt, He has claimed me as His own.