“FALSE ASSURANCES, #6 (I love Christians!)”

Matthew 24.12-13



1.   Our congregation is fairly well prepared to deal with the wrong-headed notions of evangelicalism.  But the sprouting of weeds in the most well attended garden is an ongoing problem.  And so it is in our church.  This morning I will pull some theological weeds that have grown in our garden.

2.   The Great Commission, which is found in Matthew 28.18-20, is that charter in God’s Word that lays out the duties and responsibilities of the local church, since it is obvious in scripture that only local churches have the authority to baptize converts:

18     And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

19     Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

20     Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. 

3.   We can see in this passage that our Lord’s desire was for a progression to take place, for a sequence of events to unfold.  Disciples are to be made by, first, going and evangelizing.  Then, those who give the appearance of having been evangelized, those who eagerly clear the deck so as to show that they are properly qualified, are to be baptized.  After the hopeful converts are baptized they are to then be taught.  This is because true understanding, real instruction, always follows obedience.  It never precedes obedience.

4.   It is this departure from the divinely ordained sequence of events which is at least partly responsible for the astounding dullness that is exhibited by so many so-called Christians these days, resulting in so many who wrongly think they are Christians, who also wrongly think they are competent Bible students, and who are wrongly convinced that they are doctrinally grounded and scripturally knowledgeable.

5.   Are there consequences from such spiritual confusion?  Hebrews 5.12-14 suggests that there are:

12     For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.

13     For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.

14     But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. 

6.   Consider.  If this that I have just read in Hebrews can be written about those who were converted, and who had been scripturally baptized and taught, how much more profoundly unskillful must those be who are unconverted, or who are unbaptized, or who are pretenders who have crept in?  Additionally, what poor discernment do those who are unconverted, unbaptized and untaught necessarily have?

7.   This is why our guests and our children need to be very careful about asking the opinions of those who attend our church but who are not members of our church, or allowing yourselves to be instructed by those who, though they have no credible testimony and are not baptized, seem to want to voice their opinions to whoever will listen and to teach whoever will submit to them.

8.   Until you become a member of this church, at which time I may or may not assign someone else to mentor you, it is ill advised for you to allow anyone but me to instruct you.  After all, I am responsible for you, Hebrews 13.17, and no one else here is responsible for your spiritual well-being.  If you want to be taught by someone else, it is only reasonable that you attend another church.

9.   Genuinely converted people have always seemed to me to be eager to have their conversion testimonies scrutinized, energetic to address personal sins and shortcomings that might hinder their growth as Christians, and hungry for the instruction in God’s Word that will enable them to be doers of the Word and not hearers only, deceiving their own selves.[1] 

10. My suspicions about those who are reluctant to share their testimonies with me, and who are lethargic and unconcerned about dealing with their testimony destroying sins, and who are not eager to discover life-changing truths in God’s Word, are usually confirmed, I am sad to say.

11. It is typically those headstrong false professors who deny or who ignore the place in their lives of a gospel minister to evangelize them, to baptize them, and then to train them up for effective ministry, who make fatal mistakes about the assurance of their salvation.

12. This morning I want to lay out for your edification yet another of the many errors related to the assurance of salvation:



1B.    We have already seen in Hebrews that spiritual immaturity goes hand in hand with a lack of skill in scripture.  And in First Corinthians 2.14 we are told by the apostle that the natural man, which is to say the unconverted man, knows nothing because he has no spiritual discernment.  The problem, of course, is that the immature and the unconverted mistake an awareness of and an accumulation of facts, or some infantile insight into a Biblical truth, as if it were a weighty understanding when it is no such thing.

2B.    Thus, those I am referring to suppose that it is good evidence that they are Christians if they enjoy coming to church, if they enjoy opening their Bibles and discussing scripture with people, and if they delight in the company of the saints.  After all, they think, the devil would never motivate a lost man to love Christians as much as I do, to enjoy discussing the Bible, and such things as that.  Such a thing is directly contrary to nature of the devil and his minions, he thinks.

3B.    For lack of wisdom, or for lack of discernment, it is overlooked that the more excellent a virtue is the more likely it is that virtue will be copied, imitated, counterfeited.  Counterfeiters imitate one hundred dollar bills, but they have no desire to imitate one-dollar bills, or five-dollar bills.  So it is with Christian graces and virtues, with the most important (such as love) being counterfeited.

4B.    Thus, though the Lord Jesus Christ did say, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another,” John 13.35, it is a great mistake to imagine that such love cannot be counterfeited.  And the counterfeiting of Christian love can be so counterfeited as to trick even those who know what love is.  So you can see how easily fooled people are these days who know nothing of love from a biblical perspective.

5B.      This brings us to the text of this morning’s sermon, Matthew 24.12-13.  When you find that passage, stand for the reading of    God’s Word:

12                And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

13                But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.


6B.    If you are familiar with First Corinthians 13.8, where Paul writes, “Charity never faileth,” then you probably know that the word charity is synonymous with love.  Is there a contradiction between what the Savior said in our text and what Paul wrote?  No.  Real love will endure.  As Paul wrote, it will not fail.  But the Lord Jesus Christ was referring to a counterfeit love in our text, showing us three things:

1C.    First, counterfeit love is indistinguishable from real love.  I can’t tell the true from the false most of the time, and neither can you.

2C.    Second, counterfeit love is not durable.  Though it is indistinguishable from real love, God-given love, the kind of love which God’s grace provides, it will not hold up over time.  Eventually it will fizzle, it will dissipate, it will wax cold.  But can you wait that long to discern between the real and the counterfeit?  I think not.  That is why you must never marry for love, because you will find out too late if it isn’t real love.

3C.    Third, and in conclusion, love for the brethren (or even love for God) should not be relied upon by anyone as a certain evidence of conversion.  If there is no love for the brethren or God it is obvious the person is lost.  But if there is what appears to be love, it cannot be known from that love whether you are dealing with a lost man or with a Christian.

7B.    Thus, it is an error made only by those who are not spiritually mature, those who are spiritual babes or those who are not converted at all, to think that love for the brethren or love for God establishes a person as a child of God, proves once and for all that you are converted.  Not so!



1B.    As if the natural tendency of the unconverted man to comfort himself with a false assurance was not a serious enough error for a pastor to deal with, the problem is compounded by this matter of decisionism.

1C.   The result of the heresy of evangelist Charles Finney that first began to influence Christianity in the 19th century, and has now spread worldwide, “Decisionism is the belief that a person is saved by coming forward, raising the hand, saying a prayer, believing a doctrine, making a Lordship commitment, or some other external, human act, which is taken as the equivalent to, and proof of, the miracle of inward conversion; it is the belief that a person is saved through the agency of a merely external decision; the belief that performing one of these human actions shows that a person is saved.”[2]

2C.    Of course, such an approach yields many false professions, requiring an adjustment in theology to avoid having to admit great error.  So, along came C. I. Scofield and his reference Bible, which explained away the large numbers of so-called Christians who still consumed liquor and cussed, who still lived disobedient and proud lives, and who exhibited none of the traits and characteristics of spirituality that had always been associated with real conversion.  How did this occur? 

3C.    Scofield’s view of spirituality and carnality allowed for the explanation that those not living spiritual and consecrated lives were simply . . . carnal Christians.  Thus, contemporary evangelicalism, and fundamentalism for the most part as well, disassociates a person’s profession of faith in Jesus Christ from his behavior and lifestyle, as if the two have nothing to do with each other.

4C.    Over time it has gotten so bad that Second Corinthians 5.17 is now tragically misinterpreted as a statement of the Christian’s position rather than the Christian’s practice:  “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”  So, one who professes Christ is now said to have the position of being a new creature, even if his behavior never gives evidence of the new creature.

2B.    So, imagine the difficulty a gospel minister has when he must deal with someone who thinks his so-called love for the brethren, or his so-called love for God, convinces him that he is truly born again, added to the fact that we live in a society in which so-called Christians demand no connection between their profession of faith in Christ and their behavior.  That is a recipe for catastrophe.

3B.    Now, compound those difficulties by adding an autonomous and independent spirit of defiance and rebellion that insists, “I don’t care what that preacher says.  I know I’m saved.”  Yet such a person takes no care for the arrogance such an attitude requires, and considers not the danger to his own soul that results from denying the pastor the role Christ has assigned in his life.



1B.    The kinds of mistakes an unconverted man makes that further endanger his own soul are errors that will not be made by a seasoned minister of the gospel.  Such a man can hold “fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.”[3]  No seasoned and responsible pastor would make the mistake of assuming that love for the brethren is a certain evidence of conversion.  But the lost make such mistakes all the time.

2B.    Furthermore, Ephesians 6.24 gives clear evidence of the lack of sincerity of love for Christ that every pastor has experience at dealing with in his ministry:  “Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.”  Paul was precise in excluding from his pronouncement of blessing those who feigned love for Christ, but whose love was not sincere.

3B.    And then there is that sad admission we find in Second Timothy 1.15:  “This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.”  Think of Paul in that Roman prison, after his first appearance before Nero, when those so-called Christians from Asia who were supposed to stand with him did not, especially the two who he named.

4B.    Then, at the end of Second Timothy, Paul brings up the subject once again to his co-laborer Timothy:

9        Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me:

10     For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.

11     Only Luke is with me. 

5B.   Crescens and Titus were sent on important missions by Paul, but Demas forsook him.  What happened?  He loved this present world.  Things got a bit tense in Rome, so he left.  And that is what you will do . . . in the end.  You will leave.  It will be a matter of love when you leave.  And the reason you will leave is because your love will wax cold.  Real love does not do that.  Real love fails not.  But your love will falter and you will leave, and it will show you to be lost.

6B.    Go ahead and cling to your false assurance.  Go ahead and comfort yourself with the fact that you love God, and you love me, and you love our church, and you love Christians and Christian missions.  But unless you allow your testimony to be deeply probed, so that your assurance rests upon something profoundly more substantial and permanent than something so difficult to prove as love, then there is no basis for asserting that you are a Christian, and no basis for baptizing you into the membership of our church. 


1.   You will leave us some day.  Oh, you commit yourself to staying, but you will eventually leave.  Everyone who is unconverted will eventually leave.  Spend your whole life here up until now, but if you are not converted you will leave.

2.   And why will you leave?  You will leave for love.  Not really loving us and not truly loving God, you will leave for the love of another, or for the prospect of the love of another, or for the desire to experience the love of another.

3.   You will be like Lot’s wife, who looked back at Sodom.  Only instead of being turned into a pillar of salt, you will leave us, drawn back into the world, enticed to depart.

4.   There is really only one way to tell if your love is true, if your love is genuine, and that is if it endures.  Paul wrote “Charity never faileth.”  The apostle John wrote, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”[4]

5.   Addressing the same reality, the Lord Jesus Christ expressed Himself somewhat differently in our text.  He said, “the love of many shall wax cold.  But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”

6.   Notice how He contrasted  the counterfeit love that will wax cold with the Christian who has genuine love that will endure to the end.  That Christian, with real love, who will endure to the end?  He shall be saved.  He will be delivered in the end.

7.   So, you who are comforted by the fact that you love Christians, that you love God, that you love Christ, that you love His Word, that you love His cause.  Do you love Christians enough to protect them against betrayal by you in the future?  Do you love your family members enough to protect them from betrayal by you in the future?  Do you love this church enough to protect it from betrayal by you in the future?  Do you love God and His cause enough to protect it from betrayal by you in the future?

8.   Then come to Christ today.  And if you already are hopefully converted, allow me to counsel you thoroughly enough that you will no longer rely on some false assurance based upon what you think is love.

[1] James 1.22

[2] R. L. Hymers, Jr. and Christopher Cagan, Preaching To A Dying Nation, (Los Angeles, CA: Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles, 1999), page 38.

[3] Titus 1.9

[4] 1 John 2.19

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