Wednesday, 25 March 2009

The Marks of a True Believer...

Dr Andrew Corbett
Jesus described the difference between true conversion and false conversion when He told the Parable of the Sower. Jesus said that some people hear the Gospel but never receive it - they just don't get it! But in this parable He also describes those who think they have received the Gospel because they "received it with joy". Yet He goes on to say that these people are soon exposed as false converts because when the heat of the day comes they wither away. Other people also look like they have been converted but they haven't really been. They are more concerned about "the cares of the world" and Jesus said - "the desires for other things enter in" (Mark 4:19).

Mark 4:18-19 And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.

The key to understanding Christ's disappointment is the result of such a false conversion: it proves unfruitful. Here we are given our first clue to identifying a true believer (convert): fruitfulness. Of course Christ not only distnguishes the results of true conversion (fruitfulness) with the results of false conversion (unfruitfulness), but He also identifies the cause: the false convert cares more about this life and this world.

Mark 4:20 But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

The marks of true converts are therefore-

(i) Planted in good soil

(ii) Free from choking weeds

(iii) Cleared of rocky sods

(iv) Well watered

(v) Shaded

But most importantly,
(vi) Fruitful.

We want to be a Church (def'n. the organised community of God's people who are led, and ministered to, by God's authorised, Spirit filled and gifted, servants who are charged to both disciple and discipline the members of the fellowship and administer the sacraments of baptism, Holy Communion and marriage so that cause and honour of Christ are outworked through: individual and collective witness; the proclaimation of the Word; corporate worship of God; with the aim of reproducing more autonomous yet co-operative churches) that is good soil, is free from choking weeds, has been cleared of rocks and hard sods, is well-watered and protected against the opposing elements. We can only be this kind of church on the basis of people being truly converted to Christ.

This is why true believers love their church. They treat their church as their home not their hotel. (It's worth considering the difference.) This is yet another mark of a true believer: they are committed to their local church. A true believer is also commited to being fruitful. We want our church to be fruitful. This is pleasing to our God: Jesus Christ. I pray that we can be fruitful together in seeing the people of our city come to know Jesus Christ as their Saviour and Lord. I think we should both pray that God blesses us with the fruit of true conversions.

Philemon 6 and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.


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