Summary: How to know that you are truly saved.

“Nominal Christianity”

2 Corinthians 13:5-6

Scripture Reading

2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

2 Corinthians 13:6 But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates.

I think it’s very important and needful to define the term “Nominal Christianity.” Here are two definitions gleaned from a web search:

Mainstream/Secular definition: A nominal Christian is one who says he/she is a Christian but hardly ever goes to church. Or, someone who selects "Christianity" as their religion for any official purpose (e.g. national census), but consider him/herself to be a non-practicing Christian.

Christian definition: A nominal Christian is one who says he/she is a Christian, but does not possess a trusting, faithful, dependent relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ; a relationship made possible by Christ's propitiation on the cross and the gift of the Holy Spirit to those predestined by God the Father. The church attendance of a nominal Christian is not relevant to whether they are nominal or not; a nominal Christian can attend church weekly or rarely. A nominal Christian may undertake religious activities (especially at Christmas/Easter), and proclaim fellowship with followers of Jesus (for example, through being a "member" of a church), but in their heart they will possess apathy or even unbelief toward the sovereignty of Jesus Christ.

I. The Truth about Nominal Christianity

a. An observation – First, let me say that where this subject is concerned, I do not pretend to have all the answers. I am in the same boat as you are, so to speak. I do not have a personal axe to grind or a pet theology, my only desire is to help those who may be struggling or who may be sincerely wrong about this issue of what it means to be a Christian. There are so many organizations and institutions that have rigid requirements for membership and you have to provide concrete evidence to support your claim as a member. In the book, “Am I Really a Christian?” author Mike McKinley makes the following statement: “A lot of subcultures and cliques are notoriously picky about who really “belongs.” For instance I am a member of the AARP and there is an age limitation and a financial obligation involved in being a member. If I didn’t meet those criteria then I could not be a member. Yet, whether or not I belong to AARP is not of eternal consequence. Let me give you another example: Spend a little time with my friend Scott and you will find out that he is a huge Alabama football fan. He follows the team closely, wears the memorabilia, has the team logo plastered on his vehicle, his home, and his business, is a season ticket holder and goes to the games, and depending on whether they lose or win, he may be in a bad mood (thankfully for Scott, they win most of the time). I have another friend who also claims to be an Alabama football fan but he does almost none of the above. I would not consider him to be a “real” Alabama football fan. That being said, whether or not you are an Alabama fanatic or just a fan is pretty meaningless in the grand scheme of life. In the final accounting it will matter. However if we turn the topic to whether or not you are a Christian we leave the trivial pursuits of life and get into some very deep water!

b. An obstruction – I’m afraid that to some degree the church is complicit in this problem and must take some responsibility for the development of nominal Christians. Let me share 6 things that have been critical in this issue. First, there is:

1. A false assumption where the Gospel is concerned. In this post-modern culture that we live in we in the church assume that folks know what we means when we use the word Gospel. This might have been true in the past but it is true no longer. We must tell them what it is and make it plain.

2. A failure to appreciate the seriousness of sin. You can see this in the terms that we use to describe and define sin. For instance, a drunkard is an alcoholic or someone with a deep set inferiority complex, a liar is someone with an over active imagination and a thief is just trying to get even and is not really to blame. See what I mean?

3. A failure to take church membership and discipline seriously. This subject was treated very differently in the early church. Peter took bold and decisive action where Ananias and Sapphira where concerned and Paul directed the Corinthians to discipline a member who was living in sin.

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