A Startling Word from Mark Dever on False Conversions

Justin Taylor is live-blogging Together for the Gospel, which is quite a feat given the extensive content yielded by this outstanding conference.  Yesterday, he summarized Mark Dever’s message on “False Conversion,” which included the following.  It’s well worth pondering as a pastor and a Christian.

“In reading through the NT, there are five summary truths that were being distorted in NT times and are still being distorted again—on these we must be especially clear on:

  1. God’s judgment is coming (2 Peter 3). You can easily fill a church with people who will follow their own evil desires. Avoiding the doctrine of hell is one step away from denying it altogether.
  2. We should be judged by God. It’s not just out there for someone. We need to feel our own helplessness. God is good and we are not. We need to understand and teach clearly our natural state and indisposition—we love darkness rather than light. This will preserve us from the idea that if we just fiddle with stuff enough, things will be successful. Meditate on Ezekiel 3. Don’t deny or downplay natural human lostness. We cannot deserve—but Someone Else has deserved for us. He who thinks lightly of sin will think lightly of the Savior.
  3. Our only hope is in Christ. We must trust in Christ—who he is and what he is done. We cannot be converted through our own works. The bodily resurrection is an essential part of our message. Without Christ’s person and work, you can make “converts” but you will not have a Christian church. When we get this right, we begin offending and attracting all the right people. Only true converts respond to the truth about Jesus Christ.
  4. We don’t see the fullness of our salvation in this life. Christ’s death and resurrection secure forgiveness—but it’s not true that salvation is mainly for this life only. There is a blessed hope—the glorious appearing. If only for this life we have hope, we are to be pitied for all men (1 Cor. 15:19). Wanting health and happiness is not the same as repentance. We need to see Christ as worth more than all worldly treasure.
  5. We can deceive ourselves and others about our relationship with God. It’s counter-intuitive in our culture, but clear in the Bible. Please teach this! How would your congregation understand 2 Corinthians 13:5: “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!”
  • http://between2thieves.blogspot.com Chris

    #5 hit me like a ton of bricks this morning. I’ve created a t-shirt design that is meant to get people thinking about this very thing. This morning, I was contemplating removing that design because I worried that people might not “get” it. Now I’ve decided to keep it, because it is vital that we always check ourselves. Our hearts are truly deceptively wicked and if we listen to ourselves too much rather than tell ourselves what the Bible says about us, we can definitely decieve ourselves. Thank you for this post!

  • Tony

    First of all, thank you for this post. Second, as a preacher I am pleased to see people, leaders speaking out about false conversions. False conversions are the bane of American Christianity. When you have a church where 92 people profess Christ in a year but then only two are visibly active in that church the following year, something is terribly wrong.

  • http://jerrycorbaley.blogspot.com Jerry Corbaley

    Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior. Those who want to be rescued from sin are rescued from wrath. The danger sign becomes evident when we ask ourselves the question: “Which do I want more?”

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