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The first passage that I thought of when I heard this illustration was in Matthew 3, where we read of the preaching of John the Baptist to the Pharisees and Sadducees:

NKJ Mat 3:7-12 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, ‘Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, 9 and do not think to say to yourselves,”We have Abraham as our father.” For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. 10 And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

And then, of course, Jesus came teaching the same idea, namely that true salvation is accompanied by “fruits worthy of repentance.” For example:

NKJ Matthew 7:17-21 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them. 21 Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.

And on another occasion, Jesus reminded His disciples:

NKJ John 15:8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

Does your life bear fruit worthy of repentance? Or do you say that Jesus is Lord, but deny His Lordship through your actions? Perhaps you are not a true believer, then? Or perhaps you are a believer such as the one Peter describes in his second epistle, who has become nearsighted or “shortsighted”:

NKJ 2 Peter 1:5-9 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.

Have you gotten just far enough away from your salvation experience and from a close walk with Christ that you have forgotten what it means to have been cleansed from your former sins? If so, then the answer for you is the same as it is for the false believer. You need the Gospel! You need to remember that we can only be saved by grace through faith in Christ alone, through His sinless life, His atoning death on the cross, and His resurrection from the dead. Ask the Lord to open your eyes that you may see and to renew faith and repentance in your heart. I am confident that he will answer!

But if you have never truly believed in Christ, but perhaps have learned to say all the right things and to make yourself appear to others as though you are a Christian, when you know you are not, then you need to recognize the precarious position that you are in. And you need to throw yourself upon the grace of God as well, asking Him to give you genuine faith and repentance for the first time. For only He can save you!

NKJ Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

The Bible teaches that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” and that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 3:23; 6:23). When it speaks of the “wages of sin,” it is speaking of what we deserve for having done wrong in the sight of God, but it also teaches us about the “gift” of eternal life which we do not deserve. Thus God offers us freely through Jesus that which we cannot earn. He offers to do for us in Christ that which we cannot do for ourselves.

Will you put your faith in Jesus to save you from the punishment your sins deserve? He is willing to forgive you and give you eternal life if you ask Him. “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).

If you want to know more about the Gospel, or you would like some counsel from God’s Word, please leave a comment with your email address, and I will contact you.

One thought on “Paul Washer on the Converted Versus the Unconverted Church Member

  1. Dear Pastor Keith:The Lord brought you and your wife to my mind just now so I did a search online to find you. I pray that your wife is in good health. I have been praying for her as the Lord brought her to my mind. I have been very encouraged by many of Paul Washer’s sermons. A sermon that I think you will value is called “Superficial Faith” by Charles Leiter, you can listen to it at Sermonaudio.com (just search for the title). My wife and I will be moving to Cleveland, OH next month where we will be starting residency. Please keep us in your prayers. Your brother,Jon Beary

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