I did not know that your email account would shut down if you got to 15 gig of data. And I had no idea anyone could accumulate that much stuff. That happened last Friday. I was forced to clear out a lot. I ended up deleting 12 gig worth. I hope I didn’t delete anything vital. Probably not.
But I still had about 700 emails in my inbox. I’ve been trying to work through those.
I found an email from 2018 asking me to respond to a 2006 article by David Cloud entitled “How to Avoid False Professions.” You can read the article here.
A false profession is by a person who claims to be born again, but who is not. There are two reasons for false professions. First, someone may have the wrong understanding of what one must do to be born again. Second, a person may know what the Bible says you must do to be born again and then lie and say he has done that, when in fact he has not.
Most false professions fall in category number one. But–and here is the catch–if we do not agree on what a person must do to be born again, then we do not agree on what a false profession is.
My view is that the condition of the new birth is believing in the Lord Jesus Christ for it (John 3:16; 5:24; 11:25-27; Acts 16:31; 1 Tim 1:16). Thus anyone who cites the reason he is born again as his commitment to serve Christ, his turning from his sins, and his obedience to Christ is either a believer who has been bewitched (Gal 3:1), or a false professor who has not yet been born again.
David Cloud believes the condition of everlasting life is turning from sins, commitment of life, and perseverance in obedience. In his view a false professor is discerned when we look at his works, not when we consider what he believes.
I suggest we must look at the root. Cloud insists we look at the fruit.
Cloud suggests nine ways to avoid false professions:
- “Don’t Be Hasty; Avoid Shallow Presentations of the Gospel. Salvation involves understanding the gospel. Romans 6:17 describes salvation as obeying “from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you” (emphasis added). Salvation is obeying Scripture.
- “Emphasize Turning to the Lord…At its simplest, repentance means to turn, to change direction. That is what the soul winner must be careful to explain to the sinner. He must be ready to turn and to let God take control of his or her life. Salvation is not by works, but salvation definitely results in works. Repentance is to yield to God; it is a surrender.”
- “Avoid Manipulating People.” Cloud is talking about trying to get people to pray sinner’s prayers and altar calls where gimmicks are used to get people to go forward. Amen and amen. We agree here.
- “Be Careful about Giving Assurance.” You might think he is arguing for assurance being of the essence of saving faith. No. Just the opposite. He warns that assurance is only for those who give “evidence that [he] was truly saved.” Works, not belief, are the basis of assurance, according to Cloud (contra John 3:16; 11:25-27; 1 John 5:9-13).
- “Don’t Confuse Interest in the Gospel with Salvation…The bottom line is that genuine salvation will always be accompanied by biblical evidence (Heb. 6:9; 2 Cor. 5:17; 1 John 2:4).”
- “Guard the Ordinance of Baptism.” Cloud wants churches to avoid baptizing people until they have enough time to follow the practice in the book of Acts where the Apostles only baptized those where “the conversion was very plain and dramatic and the evidence of repentance was clear.”
- “Maintain the Bible Standard for Church Membership…The standard for church membership, as demonstrated by the example of the first church at Jerusalem, is repentance and faith (Acts 2:38), evidenced by the glad reception of God’s Word (verse 31) and a commitment to the church of God (verse 42).”
- “Be careful about terminology. Since there are so many empty professions today, perhaps it is best to use different terminology. Instead of saying, ‘20 people got saved yesterday,’ we could say, ‘20 people professed Christ yesterday.’ That way, at least we are not making false claims.” Better yet, why give such a report at all? Why not just share Jesus’ promise of everlasting life to the believer and leave the results up to God?
- “Be Patient, Depending Upon God to Perform the Miracle of Salvation…we need to follow the Bible pattern and wait upon God’s miracle-working power to be evident in the person’s life through conviction of sin and repentance toward God.”
As can be seen in most of Cloud’s nine points, confusion by the evangelist leads to confusion in the listeners. When the evangelist says that to be born again one must turn from his sins, commit his life to Christ, and begin a life of obedience, the listeners are being set up for false professions.
But when we tell people that whoever believes in Jesus will not perish but has everlasting life, then we make it easy for the listeners to be sure of their salvation and to be true professors.