HAVE YOU BEEN CONVERTED?
It’s common at large worship events for dozens of people to respond to an altar call. For those who may not be familiar, an “altar call” is when a pastor, worship leader, or speaker invites unbelievers to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. I’ve heard Biblically sound altar calls that explain the Gospel truth – we are all sinners under God’s wrath, and only through belief in Christ Jesus can we be saved from our sinful nature and the wrath of God. (John 14:6, Acts 4:12, Romans 6:23). But I’ve also heard altar calls that failed to honor the Word of God.
Such altar calls usually imply Jesus can give you a “fresh start in life” or that faith in Christ will lead to blessings of prosperity and good health. These invitations usually lead to a greater number of responses, but did these people really accept the Gospel if they didn’t even hear the Gospel message? And even those who respond to an accurate representation of what it means to be a Christ follower, is that all that is required to enter the Kingdom of God?
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” John 5:24
From an initial reading of Scripture, it would appear that, indeed, one simply needs to believe in Jesus to escape judgment and enter Heaven. But I encourage you to look deeper into the Word of God. The Greek word for “believe” is “pistis” which means “to trust in” or “have confidence in”. So when Jesus says that whoever believes in Him shall be saved (Romans 10:9), what He is really saying is that whoever puts their trust and confidence in Him shall be saved. Well, what does it mean to trust in the Lord?
According to Oxford Dictionary, trust is defined as: “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something”. Do you have a firm belief in the promises of Scripture? Do you believe that what God declares is sin is, in fact, sin? Do you trust in the strength and ability of the Lord? Or are you placing your confidence in princes and chariots?
Thus, the mark of a true disciple of Jesus is not whether he or she responded to an altar call. Indeed, whether one believes in the true sense of the word is demonstrated by whether one has been converted.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” Ezekiel 36:26
A sinner that has been converted receives a new, regenerated heart and the Spirit of God dwells in him. Accordingly, he pursues righteousness and holiness. (1 Timothy 6:11). He abhors what is evil and flees from sin. (Romans 12:9). He lives a life that demonstrate that he has been made new. (Galatians 5:16-22). As such, repent in Greek means ‘to change one’s mind or purpose”. Some translations say, “change one’s direction.” Either way, there is an altering of something. Similarly, “conversion”, by definition means “to change from one form to another”. If you are really saved, then there must be change.
Have you been changed? Did your altar call response lead to actual evidence of salvation? To be sure, we all fall short of the glory of God. But does your moral sense of responsibility align with God’s word and does your heart desire to please and honor Him? Or do you remain dead in your sin while claiming to follow the Holy God?
“Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” Matthew 15:7-9