This is a very sobering and humbling article to write, as I think about my own life and the lives of so many that are dear to me. I think of those that I believe have truly been converted. I marvel at God’s work and how He is the author of salvation. He does the work … according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace… (Ephesians 1:5-6).
I also consider those, just like I once was that are deceived in their conversion and have a false hope. They don’t know they have a false hope; they are comfortable in their “christianity” and you can’t convince them otherwise because they are blinded with pride. They’ve been “good”, they’ve been moral, they’ve gone to church, they know the right people, and they have been properly set up to believe in their hope. Yet if you were able to really dig deep and really examine the claims closely you would get a troubling picture that may actually challenge their lives, yet they won’t allow it.
It is my earnest prayer, and desire that those of us that are truly regenerated, and are new creations in Christ can lovingly call those to examine their lives by the truth of God’s Word and these powerful words penned over four centuries ago will have an impact on us today, as it has for centuries. It will awaken those out of their slumber, it will turn off this cruise control “christianity” that so many have become accustomed to and the Lord of Glory will shine His light in a dark place and reveal their true natures. May His name rise above all names as the “One” that is worthy.
Alleine gives us (5) mistakes about conversion that continue to condemn people to hell the same today as they have since time began. Let’s take a look at those today as outlined in this first chapter of A Sure Guide to Heaven.
Conversion is not the taking upon us the profession of Christianity
With a twenty dollar bill in my hand I can get anyone I want to profess the name of Christ. Just try it and see. Approach someone and say if you say these words I will give you this twenty dollar bill. “Jesus is Lord and Savior”. Are they now saved and on their way to heaven? Of course not that’s ridiculous; anyone that has any sort of knowledge of God knows this. Don’t they? Yet many will think because they said a prayer at one point in their life they are okay with God.
Are there not many that name the name of the Lord Jesus, that do not depart from iniquity (2 Tim ii 19), and profess they know God, but in works deny Him? (Titus I 16), And will God receive these for true converts? What! Converts from sin, when they still live in sin? It is a visible contradiction. Page 19
Conversion is not putting on the badge of Christ in baptism
‘If this is true, thousands may go in abreast; and we will no more teach that the righteous are scarcely saved, or that there is need of such a stir in taking the kingdom of heaven by violence, and striving to enter in (1 Peter iv 18; Mt xi 12; Lk xiii 24). Surely, if the way be so easy as many supposed, that little more is necessary than to be baptized and to cry out, ‘Lord, have mercy’, we need not put ourselves to such seeking, and knocking, and wrestling, as the Word require in order to salvation. Again, if this is true, we shall no more say, ‘Few there be that fine it’; we will rather say, ‘Few there be that miss it.’ Page 20
… If men are evidently unsanctified, they must be renewed by a thorough and powerful change, or else they cannot escape the damnation of hell. ‘Be not deceived; God is not mocked.’ Whether it be your baptism, or whatever else you pretend, I tell you from the living God, that if any of you be a prayerless person, or a scoffer, or a lover of evil company (Prov xiii20), in a word, if you are not a holy, strict, and self denying Christian, you cannot be saved (Heb xii 14; Mt xv 14). Page 21
Conversion does not lie in moral righteousness
Paul, while unconverted, touching the righteousness which is in the law was blameless (Phil iii 6). The Pharisee could say, ‘I am no extortioner, adulterer, unjust’, etc. (Lk xviii 11). You must have something more than all this to show, or else, however you may justify yourself, God will condemn you. I do not condemn morality, but I warn you not to rest in it. Piety includes morality, as Christianity does humanity, and as grace does reason; but we must not divide the tables. Pages 21, 22
Conversion does not consist in an external conformity to the rules of piety
It is manifest that men may have a form of godliness, without the power (2 Tim iii 5). Men may pray long (Mt xxiii 14), and fast often (Lk xviii 12), and hear gladly (Mk vi 20), and be very forward in the service of God, though costly and expensive (Is i 11), and yet be strangers to conversion. They must have more to plead for themselves than that they go to church, give alms, and make use of prayer, to prove themselves sound converts. Page 22
Please don’t let this one slip past you. Consider this in your life. Do you have a form of godliness? Have you been converted? Do you know when this happened? Do you have a testimony?
Conversion is not the mere chaining up of corruption by education, human laws or the force of affliction
It is too common and easy to mistake education for grace… Page 22
In short, conversion does not consist in illumination or conviction or in a superficial change or partial reformation. An apostate may be an enlightened man (Heb vi 4), and a Felix tremble under conviction (Acts xxiv 25), and a Herod do many things (Mk vi 20). It is one thing to have sin alarmed only by convictions, and another to have it crucified by converting grace.
Others think that because they have given up their riotous ways, and are broken off from evil company or some particular lust, and are reduced to sobriety and civility, they are now real converts. They forget that there is a vast difference between being sanctified and civilized.
O sinner, let the Word convince you now in time, and let go your false and self-deluding hopes, than have death open your eyes too late, and find yourself in hell before you are aware?
O wretched sinners, with whom God is scarcely in all your thoughts; that are so ignorant that you cannot pray, or so careless that you will not? O repent and be converted, break off your sins by righteousness… O that you would heed the warnings of God! In His name I once more admonish you. Turn ye at my reproof. Forsake the foolish, and live. Be sober, righteous, and godly. Wash your hands, ye sinners; purify your hearts, ye double-minded. Pages 21, 22 & 23
Friends are you double-minded? Do you want to hold things of the world dear? How much do you dwell on God in your thoughts and in your mind on a daily basis? How much do you read His Word? How much time do you spend in prayer? How much time do you speak of His glory with others?
Test yourself and be challenged, if Christ dwells within you, this should not offend you.