I had a very interesting conversation with Chris Fabry on Chris Fabry Live! on Friday. The question Chris posed was: ““How much do you have to change in order to become a real Christian?” Once you’re a Christian, how much time do you have to quit certain sins?” You can listen to the podcast here (click on hour 2): http://www.moodyradio.org/brd_ProgramDetail.aspx?id=65837. I would be interested in hearing how you would answer Chris’s question.
Published by John Koessler
John Koessler is an award-winning author and retired faculty emeritus of Moody Bible Institute. He serves as contributing editor for Moody's devotional publication Today in the Word and writes the monthly Practical Theology column. His podcast A Stranger in the House of God can be heard on Amazon Podcasts, Apple Podcast, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. View all posts by John Koessler
2 thoughts on “Real Christianity?”
This reminds me of a conversation I had recently about whether people who committed suicide could go to heaven. I think two things are important for both conversations: first, our notions of salvation, and second, our conception of humanity. On the first, our salvation, “being a real Christian,” does not depend on our change, either to initiate or to sustain our salvation. It is a work of the Holy Spirit that enables us to trust the saving work of the Son and be reconciled to the Father. This redemption means that we have the ongoing, indwelling, sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit within us to conform us to the likeness of the Son. But this process of sanctification does not mean that we will not continue to struggle with sin.
On the second point, then, we believe that Scripture teaches that all of humanity are born with an inclination toward sin. We (especially those who have been followers of Jesus for a long time) sometimes forget about our own insidious sins (gossip, envy, anger, manipulating others for our own advantage) and instead cast doubt on the salvation of others based on their more visible sins (sexual sin, etc.). We forget that we can’t always see the work of the Holy Spirit in someone else’s heart, we don’t know his timetable, we don’t know the whole story of where someone else has been or where they are going.
This is not to suggest a moral equivalence about the way that Christians should live to bring glory to God. Rather, that we should always have humility about the prospect of ourselves or anyone else being free from sin until we are brought into the new heaven & new earth where we are free from sin and death. We should extend grace and charity toward others and embrace life in community where we exhort others and they exhort us to follow Christ.
Great comments, Heather. Really helpful!