20 March 2014

Take and Eat: A False Convert at the Lord's Table

photo credit: SnoShuu via photopin cc
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. (1 Cor 11:23–26)
Every now and then, something strikes me as it never has before.

I remember the conversation well. I was maybe 12 years old. Perhaps a bit younger. I sat with my mother in the front living room one evening. Now that I was old enough to understand the meaning behind communion, it was important to her that we discuss the matter before I actually participated. Many parents in our church allowed their children to take communion at a much younger age, but even with a poor theological upbringing, my mother knew that the Lord's Table was not something to be approached casually or flippantly.

The following Sunday I took communion for the very first time. But I shouldn't have done so. Intellectually, I knew all the facts about Christ's life, death and resurrection—or at least all of the facts that had been made available to me over the years. But in spite of this 'head knowledge,' I was not saved. This was not the fault of my parents—as it turns out, none of us at that time knew anything of true salvation. My family assumed we were Christians because we grew up going to church and easily proclaimed that "Jesus died for our sins." But without a true knowledge of our depravity, and without a true grasp of our sins against a thrice-holy God, and thus without a genuine understanding of our need for a Savior, our professions were meaningless. And so I took communion that weekend as a young, deceived, dead sinner. And I would continue to celebrate the Lord's Supper in an unworthy manner for years to come.
Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. . . For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. (1 Corinthians 11:27, 29)
Flashback to another communion Sunday. Much older and now off on my own, I was attending a very large, well-known, seeker-sensitive megachurch. My life from about noon on Sunday through Saturday looked just like the lives of my unsaved friends and coworkers. "But I am different," I would rationalize, "because I go to church. And I wouldn't go to church if I wasn't a Christian, right?" As if sitting in a building that merely calls itself a "church" was somehow evidence of my faith!

I remember they offered communion that Sunday. The elements weren't passed, rather, at the end of the service each person could go to one of the communion stations and partake when ready. I lingered that day. I lingered and labored in prayer. It was as though I knew my life demonstrated no evidence of salvation, yet I was so immersed in my self-deception and sin that the truth could not penetrate the wall of ignorance. Flashbacks to that service remind me how intensely I prayed—not for the salvation I needed—but for assurance of the salvation I had convinced myself I possessed. It was almost a prayer of works as I hoped that if I prayed long enough before taking the bread and the cup, I might be reassured that, in spite of a sinful life of disobedience and rebellion toward God, I was still 'saved'. Saved from what? At that point, I did not know. And no wonder, for I was not really saved.

And so I finally took communion that day as a grown but still deceived and dead sinner. I knew nothing of the unity of the brethren, and understood nothing of the solemnity or seriousness of what I was doing. If I had, I would not have voluntarily taken part. I did not simply participate in communion in an unworthy manner, I was inviting myself to a table which at that time held no place for me. I was not simply an outsider at a family event, I was an intruder, an enemy of God.

I do not know if it had ever truly occurred to me just how many times I had approached and participated in the Lord's Table as an unbeliever before God saved me. Unworthy. Dirty. Exposed. A stranger to the Lord, still uncovered and laid bare without the righteousness of Christ to clothe me. Oh, to be sure, this is not the unforgivable sin, but how dare I? How dare I for so many years defile and denigrate the remembrance of our Lord's loving, gracious, sacrificial death on the cross? And why, Lord? Why would You save me in spite of this? Surely not because I was deserving! Surely it was to display Your goodness, kindness and forgiveness. Surely it was only because You are a good, kind, merciful God! May You be praised for daring to forgive such a sinner as I!

The story of my life as a false convert has many chapters and even more subheadings. But it is not a terribly unique tale. The sad reality is that there are countless false converts with similar accounts. In His goodness, God has saved many. Others still wallow in their self-love and self-deception. Will they ever come to realize the disgrace and dishonor that their lying lives bring upon the name of Jesus Christ?

How many in churches around the globe "take and eat" as strangers to the Gospel? The number must be staggering—a reality which truly grieves the heart of this rescued and undeserving false convert. It is often said that our mission field is in our backyard. But could it be in an even more unlikely place? Could it be in our Bible study, our 'small group,' our church? Could it be that that person whose eyes glaze over at the mere mention of Scripture is one who is lost in spite of his profession of faith? Could it be that the woman in your Bible study who is a very nice person but who seems ignorant of the faith she professes actually has no comprehension of what it means to repent of her sin and trust in Christ alone for salvation?

I daresay it could be true. And if you, dear Christian, do not have a heart of compassion and do not sound an urgent call for repentance to those whose lives contradict their lips, then who will? The fate of the self-deceived false convert is terrifying.
Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.' (Matthew 7:21–23)
May we do all we can, by God's grace and power, to snatch these from the flames and offer them a cleansing drink from the fountain of life, Jesus Christ (John 4:10, 14; cf. John 7:37–39).

Further Reading
Communion and Church Unity (sermon by Pastor Don Green)
Ladies, Pull Up a Chair and Join Us at Naomi's Table
Naomi's Table Interview: Discussing Dangerous Claims of Direct, Personal Revelation from God
Thank You, Lord. Reader Is Led 'to the Truth I Tried to Reject'

4 comments:

  1. It is such a joy to read a testimony like yours. There seem to be more and more with a similar story to tell, false "conversion" (which is really no conversion at all), years in false security and then one day the Lord dawns in the heart and regeneration occurs. I was saved at 57 with nearly forty years in the morass of religious nothing. Having the vocabulary right and being able to dupe other non-believers is no big deal, but the Holy Spirit cannot be fooled and bides His time to save the chosen at the pre-appointed time. For so long I wondered why He waited so late in life to bring me to salvation, the answer being found in 1Tim. 1:16. All of us "late-bloomers" were not late at all, but saved in the prescribed time. I have heard of few others claiming to be saved who do not have a similar story.

    It is sad to hear a man begin his "testimony" by saying he has no conversion experience to relate and then proceeds for twenty minutes or so telling a group of men all about his "ministry" that he has in the church for the Lord. He really believed he was doing God service. And then there are the preachers, pastors, and teachers, some well known, liked, respected, with national prominence in the evangelical world that proudly display on their web site their statement of "conversion" which is no conversion at all, rather an eye opening look inside the world of deceit that they have built, and all of that in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. And that is what makes a genuine statement of conversion (real salvation) all the more precious.

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  2. Good Morning Erin

    Thank you so much. I grew up in the Roman Catholic church then when I heard a preacher on TV preach I earnestly took the 'salvation call' and 'accepting Jesus into my life' then went on, slightly changed, but still living an unregenerate life. Sadly came across not 1, not 2, not 3, but 4 Charismatic churches each adding to the already false foundation I had built my 'life in the faith' upon. Praise God for the radio ministries which led me to the teachings by Dr. John MacArthur. I DO thank God for Him calling me out of the rubble of self-deception and while praising Him this morning (I am currently reading & studying "The Gospel According to Jesus") I was reminded of the sermon by Don Green entitled "How To Recognize True Repentance" from the Truth Matters 2011 conference. So this seems appropriate to mention it here and include the link to the Grace to You website. Thank you again all of you who are providing this blog especially for those of us who don't have this type of fellowship even though we are surround by 'churches'. My heart aches for those who are so self-deceived as I once was and I pray for them often.
    God bless you all this day.

    Colette - Canada

    http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/TM11-6/how-to-recognize-true-repentance-don-green?term=How%20to%20Recognize%20True%20Repentance%20don%20green

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  3. Communion has been completely abused by organized religion. Grape juice instead of wine, only performing once a month, attributing the stripes Christ received as atonement for sin and for "spiritual healing" instead of "discerning between the body and blood" and recognizing Jehovah Rophi as the Great Physician for our physical healing. You're better off doing communiion yourself at home; as Jesus commanded... "as often as you drink this wine and eat this bread".

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  4. I was raised pretty confused as to what Christianity was. On one side I went to a strict law based Baptist church where I was smacked over the head with the law, but no grace. Those who attended the church compared each other's works & bank accounts to see who was the "greatest" in the kingdom. (My family was poor so naturally we were shunned and ignored).
    On the other hand I was raised by a mother who managed to mix her mystic Roman Catholic roots with Christianity to create a lot of experiences, visions, direct revelations, and fear of an angry vengeful God who will send you to your sick bed if you disobeyed what my mother thought God told her. (Ex. My sister failed to sweep up the crumbs on the floor, so God "through My mother" cursed her to spinsterhood for her disobedience.) So, I had the law, wealth, & works being enforced at church & an angry God who took pleasure in cursing us through our mother's direct revelations at home.
    I was a false convert because I wasn't hearing the truth in any aspect of my life. Both church & my mother got Christianity and the attributes of God wrong.
    After rebelling in my teen years & then getting mixed up with TBN in my mid twenties, it wasn't until the past year that I listened to a podcast that told me the truth and the way to salvation, properly preaching the law & the Gospel. I repented of my sins and I know that I am saved. All those years of struggling with whether or not I am saved has been settled. I feel set free from all the chains and bondage placed on me by that church & my mother.

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