It is common for people who accept teachings of the Christian faith to believe them selves to be a Christian. Christian standards today are practically none existent among ministers, but that has not always been the case. Standards for testing the validity of a person’s profession grow high during times of revival, such as “The Great Awakening.” The period in American history spanning from 1730 to 1770; so great was the preaching of men like George Whitefield that the whole of Philadelphia came out to hear him.
Biblically, a Christian is not any person who believes them self to be so, but one whom God makes a Christian. “And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved” Acts 2:47. In the Bible, the Lord always does the saving, Jesus said, “I will build my Church…”
Forgiveness of sin is not based on anything a person does of himself; the exercise of faith in Christ alone for salvation, repentance of sins, and recognition of a sinful heart and depraved actions are all secondary conditions to receive eternal life. God is the primary cause in salvation; His Spirit regenerates the soul, imparts faith, initiates repentance, calls the sinner to Himself, gives sight to the blind of soul, hearing to the deaf of mind, and raises the dead to life.
Today, among many “evangelicals” free will has become the god of salvation; men exercise their will and the outcome – they believe themselves to be saved. Biblically, this is impossible because man’s will is enslaved to sin. “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be” Romans 8:7. Until God does a work of regeneration in the human heart man is not capable of confessing Jesus Christ as Lord, nor would he want to. (For a full treatment on this topic, refer to “The Bondage of the Will” by Martin Luther or “The Freedom of the Will” by Jonathan Edwards.)
In addition, evangelists and pastors teach people not to question their salvation, but the bible has another word to say. “Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless, of course, you fail the test. I hope you will discover that we have not failed” 2Corinthians 13:5. (For a Biblical treatment of the tests of salvation, refer to 1John)
The person who buys into the false teaching that God wants them healthy, wealthy, and with all their personal wants met has not received the Biblical Jesus. Jesus said, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it” Matthew 10:34-36. Because of a false gospel many false converts have been added to “the church,” which explains bad or missing fruit among “Christians.” (For a full treatment on this topic, refer to “The Gospel According to the Apostles” or “Faith Works” by John MacArthur).
That person who confessed Jesus Christ as Lord but not by the Spirit of God took His name in vain, and if he dies in that condition he will not go unpunished!