Do you have a category in your mind for a person who professes to be a Christian, but actually possesses no genuine faith in Christ? Is there such a thing as a false convert? In Matthew Chapter 13, Jesus gives two parables that clearly illustrate the fact there are indeed those who may appear to be a follower of Christ, but in reality, have not been soundly saved.
In Matthew 13:18-23, Jesus tells the story of four types of soil which represent four types of people who all hear the word of the gospel. The first three soils hear the word, but it never takes root and therefore produces no fruit. These are people who may appear to receive Christ for salvation or make a public profession of faith, but in actuality, have never been saved. They may have gone through a religious exercise or undergone some type of ritual, but did not experience the transformational power of the gospel deep within their hearts.
For example, just because a person walks an aisle, goes forward at an altar call, gets baptized, goes through confirmation, or joins a church does not necessarily mean that he or she has actually been converted. We are not saved by these rituals as important as they be in our spiritual pilgrimage. We are saved by faith alone in Christ alone by grace alone.
In Jesus’ parable of the soils, only the fourth soil represents one who was truly saved because that person heard the word, understood it, and it bore fruit as a result of deep roots. In other words, there may be many who appear to love Jesus and say that they are a Christian, but when the temptations and cares of this world press in on them, they quickly fall away showing evidence that they were never saved in the first place. Only those who repent and trust Christ alone through being born again are truly saved.
In Matthew 13:24-30, Jesus tells another parable to further magnify this truth of false conversion. He pictures a field with both wheat and weeds growing side by side showing that in the visible church where many profess faith in Christ, there are those who are truly saved (wheat) and those who are only pretenders (weeds). On the final Day of Judgment, the pretenders will be exposed and will experience separation from Christ in hell.
Some of the scariest words in the Bible come from the lips of Jesus in Matthew 7:21-23 where he says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”
There will be many on that last day that may have gone on a mission trip, or walked an aisle, or got baptized, or joined a church, or went through confirmation that were never saved in the first place. Jesus never knew them in a saving way through repentance and faith.
So if you’re reading this today and you are pierced in your heart with doubts or concerns what should you do? Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 13:5 to “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!” Peter tells us in 2 Peter 1:10: “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure…”.
The Bible is very clear that one does not go to heaven based upon church attendance, the faith of parents or grandparents, being a good person, or going through a ritual like baptism, confirmation, walking an aisle, or saying a “sinner’s prayer”. You are saved when you confess your sins and repent and trust in Christ alone for salvation and by grace He radically changes you from the inside out by giving you a new identity. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Stop pretending and playing games! Instead, repent and trust in Christ today so that you can experience this new life of grace and a future home in heaven!