False Conversion: The Suicide of the Church

This is the third post with my sermon notes from the Together for the Gospel Conference (T4G) that was held from April 10-12 in Louisville, KY. To see my other sermon notes from T4G, click here. More sermon notes to come.

Speaker: Mark Dever                                             Key text: 1 Timothy 4:16  

Listen to the full sermon: Audio || Video

God’s Plan

God has an overarching plan to get glory through his people. He is infinitely glorious and wants the creatures made in his images to glorify him. He brings this about through the people he purchased (the Church) and Jesus Christ. God’s people are the means to bring him glory.

The Problem                                      

God’s people are faithful. He always deals with unfaithfulness in a way that gives him glory. The actions of Christians reflect on God; they are ultimately meant to bring him glory, not bring the individuals glory.

  1. The Problem for Individuals that are Deceived
    False converts think they are saved, but they aren’t. It’s harmful to let someone made in the image of God think that they are saved when their life shows no evidence of gospel transformation or spiritual fruit.
  2. The Problem for the Local Church
    False converts are a drain on believers and people in leadership in the local church. The more false converts in church, the more worldly it is and the less gospel-focused it is.
  3. The Problem for the Church’s Mission
    False converts subvert the Church’s mission. The global Church is called to be in the world, not of it. Jesus prays for this specifically in what is referred to as his High Priestly Prayer in John 17 (specifically verses 15-18). When the world is in the Church, the Church disappears from the world.
  4. The Problem for God’s Name
    People that call themselves Christians, but really aren’t, defame the name of God. The Church that was designed for his glory becomes a grounds for scoffing from those in the world. Local churches are to reflect his glory; we work against him with local churches that camouflage his glory.

Source of the Problem

The source of the problem of false converts is teachers that cater to peoples’ itching ears with bad doctrine. Teaching the wrong things has disastrous results. False teaching isn’t ignored; it leads to false converts. There are five truths that are often overlooked:

  1. Judgment is coming– Avoiding the doctrine of hell is one step away from denying it altogether.
  2. Humans deserve God’s judgment– Those that are unsaved naturally reject the message of the gospel. Everyone needs to feel his or her own hopelessness apart from Christ. When we experience hopelessness apart from Jesus, our sense of God’s grace becomes a sense of God’s mercy. He who thinks lightly of sin thinks lightly of the Savior.
  3. Our only hope is in Christ– When this truth is preached, the right people are attracted to and offended by the gospel.
  4. Christians don’t see the fullness of salvation in this life– Christians aren’t guaranteed a life free of trials and suffering on Earth. We are promised that God will use both the good and bad times for our sanctification and for his glory.
  5. We can deceive ourselves and others about our relationship with God– Just because you prayed a prayer, walked an aisle, or go to church every once in a while doesn’t mean you are a true convert. Conversion is evidenced by a change in what you desire and worship. False teachers create false converts that hire false teachers. This is suicide for the Church.

There are also three common in how the Church is presented to the world that proliferate the problem of false converts:

  1. Presenting a Church without holiness– Unholiness thrives in churches without doctrinal accountability.
  2. Presenting a Church without suffering– True Christianity calls believers to suffering for the sake of the gospel. Christ saves us from eternal suffering and death, but not suffering for his gospel while on Earth.
  3. Presenting a Church without love– If love doesn’t mark the Church, it will only attract spiritual hobbyists without issuing a call for faith and selfless sacrifice. One of the most striking needs of our world is churches full of Christians that are full of love and give themselves up for each other.

The Solution

  1. Never stop evangelizing
  2. Always be shepherding sheep
  3. Always remember the account you have to give to God

Learn It. Love It. Live It.

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About Lawson Hembree
Lawson is an entrepreneur, ministry leader, and outdoors enthusiast who also enjoys blogging about business, ideas, and theology. Want to continue the discussion or write a guest post? Let's Connect!

3 Responses to False Conversion: The Suicide of the Church

  1. Drew says:

    Thanks for posting these notes. I was at T4G as well and loved every minute of it! It was a joy to worship with you, and thanks again for making your notes available.

    • You bet! Glad you enjoyed T4G; it’s such a great conference. Now to get started on that stack of books…

  2. Pingback: Endurance Needed: Strength for a Slow Reformation and the Dangerous Allure of Speed | Lawson Hembree's Blog

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