Salvation

Throwback Thursday ~ He Knows My Name

Originally published September 6, 2016

440px-Hello_my_name_is_sticker.svg

One of the things I love about checking my notifications on my social media pages is learning my readers’ names. They are all so interesting!

Some of you have the same names as some of my family members, which makes me think fondly of them and wonder if you’re like them in any way.

Some of your names remind me of characters in funny movies and make me smile.

Some of your names sound like they are French or Chinese or Middle Eastern or African or originated somewhere fascinating, and lead me to think about the beautiful places God has created all over the world.

Some of your names are a mystery of phonetics, and I have a fun time trying to figure out how to pronounce them.

Some of you have biblical names, and those call well-loved Bible stories to mind.

But whatever your name is, it doesn’t really matter what it makes me think of. What matters is what God thinks. He who calls the stars by name (Psalm 147:4) certainly knows your name. What does He think of you when He sees your name?

Does He see your name written in the Lamb’s book of life (Revelation 21:27) because you have repented of your sin and placed your faith in Christ alone for salvation?

Or, when your name comes before Him in eternity, will He say, “Depart from Me. I never knew you”? (Matthew 7:23)

If you’re not sure of the answer to those questions, or how God sees you, here are some resources that can help. God wants you to know for sure (1 John 5:13).

Basic Training: The Gospel

Am I Really Saved? A 1 John Check-up

Salvation, Sanctification

Throwback Thursday ~ Sinatra Saints and Developing Disciples

Originally published September 7, 2018

“I don’t get it. I just don’t get it.”

My friend, who’s also in women’s ministry, and I were discussing a phenomenon we’re seeing more and more among professing Christian women (and among men, too, I’m sure). I call it “Sinatra Sin-drome”.

Most of us are too young to be able to remember Frank Sinatra in his heyday, but one of the songs he was best known for was My Way. The lyrics open with a man who’s near death looking back over his life. He recounts his adventures and regrets, the good times and the bad, but no matter what came his way, he faced life on his own terms. “I did it my way,” is the refrain woven into the fabric of the entire song. The last stanza is especially telling:

For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows and did it my way.¹

This man kneels all right. He kneels at the altar of self. Nobody else is going to tell him what to do. He’s going to do what he wants to do.

Most of the women my friend and I were discussing are either savvy enough or self-deceived enough that they would never dream of even thinking in these clear-cut terms, much less stating them so boldly. And yet, for many, their hearts beat to the rhythm of My Way.

One example of this kind of mindset – though it may have been an isolated incident in the lives of some women – came out in some of the comments on my recent Mailbag article, Should Christian women cover up while breastfeeding?. The sentiment behind the words from several women was, “What the Bible says about the shame of nakedness and denying self to serve others means less to me than: the law that says I have a right…the culture where I live that says it’s OK…my personal experience with the way my baby nurses that demands that I not cover up.”

It came out in a rather puzzling conversation I had with a reader, “B”, who sent me the link to my article on Priscilla Shirer and demanded to know why I think Priscilla is a false teacher (even though the article, which “B” claimed to have read, clearly demonstrates from Scripture why she’s a false teacher). It wasn’t that “B” didn’t have the information and Scriptures right in front of her, it was that she didn’t like what Scripture says about Priscilla. She loves Priscilla Shirer, so she’s willing to put her own feelings above what Scripture says.

It comes out constantly with the issue of women preaching to, teaching, and exercising authority over men in the church setting in violation of 1 Timothy 2:12. “I feel called to preach.” “It’s OK if I teach this co-ed Sunday School class because I have my pastor’s/husband’s permission.” “I can preach a sermon to a mixed audience at this event, because it’s not in a church, it’s at a Christian conference.”

And it always comes out when the topic is Christian women dressing modestly. “I can wear what I want! If men have issues with lust, that’s their problem. They can just avert their eyes.”

Now, let’s be clear, any time you or I or anyone else sins, we are – consciously or subconsciously – saying through that sinful thought, word, or action, “I don’t care what the Bible says about this, I want to do what I want to do.” I’m sure my own words and actions have shouted that rebellion against God loud and clear on many occasions.

But there’s a difference between…

A Developing Disciple
A Christian who is striving to do things God’s way, who occasionally stumbles into sin or gives in to a momentary weakness of the flesh. When confronted with what Scripture says on the subject, she sorrowfully repents and submits to God’s Word.

and

A Sinatra Saint
A person who claims to be a Christian and generally aligns with what the Bible says as long as it agrees with her. When confronted with what Scripture plainly says about her beliefs or actions, she doesn’t repent, but digs in her heels and attempts to justify herself, often with claims like, “Well that’s just your opinion/interpretation,” or “That’s not really what that passage means.”

Sometimes it can be hard to come to grips with a difficult passage of Scripture that challenges something you’ve believed or done your whole life. (Hey, I’ve been there. It’s no picnic.) But the difference between a Developing Disciple and a Sinatra Saint is that the Developing Disciple will grapple with the passage with an overall desire to properly understand and submit to that Scripture, even if it’s hard, while, for the Sinatra Saint, it’s a no-brainer. Her opinions, feelings, or personal experiences win. Because it’s not just that one isolated issue, it’s her whole outlook and approach to life.

Am I saying that a woman who thinks it’s OK to let it all hang out while she’s nursing her baby isn’t saved? Of course not. What I’m saying is that if your general approach to life is, “I’m doing it my way and if the Bible wants to align with me, fine, and if not, that’s fine, too,” you’d better start examining your heart pretty carefully against Scripture to discover whether or not you’re actually saved.

Why? Because that’s what the Bible says. And if you claim to be a Christian, the Bible is your authority in life, not yourself.

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
Ezekiel 36:26

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
2 Corinthians 5:17

This isn’t just flowery, poetic language. When Christ saves a person, he literally changes that person into a new type of creature with a different way of thinking, different likes and dislikes, different goals, different responses.

Imagine if you had a magic wand and could change a house cat into an elephant. When the cat was a cat, he wanted to chase mice. Now that he’s an elephant, he’s afraid of mice. As a cat, he craved tuna, but as an elephant, he turns his trunk up at meat, preferring an herbivorous diet. No more baring his claws to scratch at an enemy; now he tramples and uses his tusks to ward off danger. The coziness of hearth and home? Nope. The elephant prefers the wide open savanna.

And all of that is nothing compared to the radical transformation that takes place in the heart of someone who has been genuinely regenerated by Christ.

Christ changes our mindset from the mind set on the flesh to the mind set on the Spirit:

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
Romans 8:5-9

Christ changes our will – from desiring what Satan desires to desiring what God desires:

You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.
John 8:44a

Now may the God of peace…equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Hebrews 13:20a,21

Christ changes our behavior from willful disobedience to joyful obedience:

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?”
Luke 6:46

If you love me, you will keep my commandments. John 14:15  Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. John 14:21a  For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 1 John 5:3

Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,
1 John 2:4

And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.
1 John 2:3

Christ changes us from His enemies to His friends:

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
James 4:4

They are…haters of God
Romans 1:29b,30a

The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.
Psalm 25:14

You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
John 15:14-15

Christ changes us from believing Satan’s lies to believing God’s truth:

Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”
John 8:43-47

Has there been a radical transformation like that in your heart and life as a result of repenting of your sin and placing your faith in Christ? You can be your own authority and have “I did it my way,” as the theme song of your life, but you can’t do that and be a Christian too. The two are mutually exclusive. It doesn’t matter if you’ve walked an aisle, made a “decision”, prayed a prayer, been baptized, joined a church, are a “good person”, and do all sorts of good deeds, if your heart and your desires aren’t generally oriented toward Christ, growing toward in Him and away from self, you aren’t saved.

But that can be remedied right now. The gospel is right there, ready for you to repent of your sins and believe. Take some uninterrupted time alone with God and measure your life and your heart against the plumb line of His Word. Is it “I did it my way,” or “I’ll do it Thy way.”?

Are you a Developing Disciple or a Sinatra Saint?


¹My Way. AZLyrics. https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/franksinatra/myway.html
Homosexuality, Salvation

Throwback Thursday ~ God Loves Gays

Originally published May 8, 2015god loves gays

Last week, as I was mindlessly flipping through Facebook, this picture caught my eye. It was attached to a news article about the Supreme Court’s hearing on same sex “marriage”. I was already at my saturation point with the reporting on the day’s events, but this picture just reached out and grabbed my heart.

“God loves gays,” the young man’s sign says. Rarely, perhaps never, has a statement been so beautifully true and so painfully false all at the same time.

For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:7-8

It’s true. God does love gays. He doesn’t love them because He sees what they might someday become after leaving the lifestyle behind. He doesn’t love them because they’re great “fixer upper” projects. He doesn’t love them because He feels sorry for them. He just loves them. Right where they are. Not after they get cleaned up. Now.


 God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.


Have you ever really thought about the implications of that statement?

God loves the homosexual man while he is sodomizing his partner.

God loves the gang banger while he is pulling the trigger of his gun.

God loves the prostitute while she is servicing her client.

God loves the child molester while he is violating that precious little one.

God loves the atheist soldier in a godless country while he is torturing Christians.

In the deepest, blackest night of our sin, God loves each and every one of us. Only a profoundly, unfathomably good and kind God could, or would, do such a thing.

But the story doesn’t end there.

You see, as unbelievable as it is that God could love someone so drenched in evil, He takes things a step further. God’s love motivated Him to act.


while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.


Rescue. Redemption. Salvation. However you want to put it, God personally came down and sacrificed Himself so that even the most wretched sinner would have a way out. No more enslavement to evil. No more being pawns of the devil in his never-ending quest for revenge against the King. No more separation from God, now, or in eternity.

God drove a cross-shaped stake into the ground at Calvary and said, “No more.”

God does love gays. And murderers. And child rapists. And hookers. And even prideful, rebellious, good little Sunday School girls like me. But not like this young man’s sign implies. He thinks God shows love by approving of his homosexuality. But an all-powerful God who would say He loves sinners and yet leave them to rot in their sin without lifting a finger to help them isn’t loving. Isn’t all-powerful. Isn’t God.

God does love you, my young friend. You simply have no idea how much.

Salvation, Sanctification

Sinatra Saints and Developing Disciples

“I don’t get it. I just don’t get it.”

My friend, who’s also in women’s ministry, and I were discussing a phenomenon we’re seeing more and more among professing Christian women (and among men, too, I’m sure). I call it “Sinatra Sin-drome”.

Most of us are too young to be able to remember Frank Sinatra in his heyday, but one of the songs he was best known for was My Way. The lyrics open with a man who’s near death looking back over his life. He recounts his adventures and regrets, the good times and the bad, but no matter what came his way, he faced life on his own terms. “I did it my way,” is the refrain woven into the fabric of the entire song. The last stanza is especially telling:

For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows and did it my way.¹

This man kneels all right. He kneels at the altar of self. Nobody else is going to tell him what to do. He’s going to do what he wants to do.

Most of the women my friend and I were discussing are either savvy enough or self-deceived enough that they would never dream of even thinking in these clear-cut terms, much less stating them so boldly. And yet, for many, their hearts beat to the rhythm of My Way.

One example of this kind of mindset – though it may have been an isolated incident in the lives of some women – came out in some of the comments on my recent Mailbag article, Should Christian women cover up while breastfeeding?. The sentiment behind the words from several women was, “What the Bible says about the shame of nakedness and denying self to serve others means less to me than: the law that says I have a right…the culture where I live that says it’s OK…my personal experience with the way my baby nurses that demands that I not cover up.”

It came out in a rather puzzling conversation I had with a reader, “B”, who sent me the link to my article on Priscilla Shirer and demanded to know why I think Priscilla is a false teacher (even though the article, which “B” claimed to have read, clearly demonstrates from Scripture why she’s a false teacher). It wasn’t that “B” didn’t have the information and Scriptures right in front of her, it was that she didn’t like what Scripture says about Priscilla. She loves Priscilla Shirer, so she’s willing to put her own feelings above what Scripture says.

It comes out constantly with the issue of women preaching to, teaching, and exercising authority over men in the church setting in violation of 1 Timothy 2:12. “I feel called to preach.” “It’s OK if I teach this co-ed Sunday School class because I have my pastor’s/husband’s permission.” “I can preach a sermon to a mixed audience at this event, because it’s not in a church, it’s at a Christian conference.”

And it always comes out when the topic is Christian women dressing modestly. “I can wear what I want! If men have issues with lust, that’s their problem. They can just avert their eyes.”

Now, let’s be clear, any time you or I or anyone else sins, we are – consciously or subconsciously – saying through that sinful thought, word, or action, “I don’t care what the Bible says about this, I want to do what I want to do.” I’m sure my own words and actions have shouted that rebellion against God loud and clear on many occasions.

But there’s a difference between…

A Developing Disciple
A Christian who is striving to do things God’s way, who occasionally stumbles into sin or gives in to a momentary weakness of the flesh. When confronted with what Scripture says on the subject, she sorrowfully repents and submits to God’s Word.

and

A Sinatra Saint
A person who claims to be a Christian and generally aligns with what the Bible says as long as it agrees with her. When confronted with what Scripture plainly says about her beliefs or actions, she doesn’t repent, but digs in her heels and attempts to justify herself, often with claims like, “Well that’s just your opinion/interpretation,” or “That’s not really what that passage means.”

Sometimes it can be hard to come to grips with a difficult passage of Scripture that challenges something you’ve believed or done your whole life. (Hey, I’ve been there. It’s no picnic.) But the difference between a Developing Disciple and a Sinatra Saint is that the Developing Disciple will grapple with the passage with an overall desire to properly understand and submit to that Scripture, even if it’s hard, while, for the Sinatra Saint, it’s a no-brainer. Her opinions, feelings, or personal experiences win. Because it’s not just that one isolated issue, it’s her whole outlook and approach to life.

Am I saying that a woman who thinks it’s OK to let it all hang out while she’s nursing her baby isn’t saved? Of course not. What I’m saying is that if your general approach to life is, “I’m doing it my way and if the Bible wants to align with me, fine, and if not, that’s fine, too,” you’d better start examining your heart pretty carefully against Scripture to discover whether or not you’re actually saved.

Why? Because that’s what the Bible says. And if you claim to be a Christian, the Bible is your authority in life, not yourself.

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
Ezekiel 36:26

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
2 Corinthians 5:17

This isn’t just flowery, poetic language. When Christ saves a person, he literally changes that person into a new type of creature with a different way of thinking, different likes and dislikes, different goals, different responses.

Imagine if you had a magic wand and could change a house cat into an elephant. When the cat was a cat, he wanted to chase mice. Now that he’s an elephant, he’s afraid of mice. As a cat, he craved tuna, but as an elephant, he turns his trunk up at meat, preferring an herbivorous diet. No more baring his claws to scratch at an enemy; now he tramples and uses his tusks to ward off danger. The coziness of hearth and home? Nope. The elephant prefers the wide open savanna.

And all of that is nothing compared to the radical transformation that takes place in the heart of someone who has been genuinely regenerated by Christ.

Christ changes our mindset from the mind set on the flesh to the mind set on the Spirit:

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
Romans 8:5-9

Christ changes our will – from desiring what Satan desires to desiring what God desires:

You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.
John 8:44a

Now may the God of peace…equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Hebrews 13:20a,21

Christ changes our behavior from willful disobedience to joyful obedience:

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?”
Luke 6:46

If you love me, you will keep my commandments. John 14:15  Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. John 14:21a  For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 1 John 5:3

Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,
1 John 2:4

And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.
1 John 2:3

Christ changes us from His enemies to His friends:

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
James 4:4

They are…haters of God
Romans 1:29b,30a

The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.
Psalm 25:14

You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
John 15:14-15

Christ changes us from believing Satan’s lies to believing God’s truth:

Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”
John 8:43-47

Has there been a radical transformation like that in your heart and life as a result of repenting of your sin and placing your faith in Christ? You can be your own authority and have “I did it my way,” as the theme song of your life, but you can’t do that and be a Christian too. The two are mutually exclusive. It doesn’t matter if you’ve walked an aisle, made a “decision”, prayed a prayer, been baptized, joined a church, are a “good person”, and do all sorts of good deeds, if your heart and your desires aren’t generally oriented toward Christ, growing toward in Him and away from self, you aren’t saved.

But that can be remedied right now. The gospel is right there, ready for you to repent of your sins and believe. Take some uninterrupted time alone with God and measure your life and your heart against the plumb line of His Word. Is it “I did it my way,” or “I’ll do it Thy way.”?

Are you a Developing Disciple or a Sinatra Saint?


¹My Way. AZLyrics. https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/franksinatra/myway.html
Book Reviews, Guest Posts, Salvation

Guest Post: A Review of “From Death to Life: How Salvation Works”

If your theology pretty much matches up with mine (as outlined in the “Welcome” and “Statement of Faith” tabs) and you’d like to contribute a guest post, drop me an e-mail at MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com,
and let’s chat about it.

photo credit: Stephen J. Melniszyn

A Review of Allen S. Nelson IV’s
From Death to Life: How Salvation Works
by Katy B.

The most agonizing, frustrating experience in my ministry to women is the woman who claims to be “saved” but gives no evidence of it. No interest in talking about Jesus, no interest in holiness, reading the Bible, going to church, serving God’s people. She has a salvation testimony (often dramatic and self-glorifying) that is superficial, shallow, and devoid of any real repentance for her sin. I suspect she’s a false convert. And I find it exceptionally difficult to talk to false converts.

In From Death to Life, Pastor Allen Nelson confronts the disaster of false conversions, linking them to a false understanding of salvation: what it is, what it does, and how it works. He writes, “Ask fifteen people what it takes to be saved and it’s not out of the realm of possibility that you’ll get twenty different answers.” (Loc 173

He makes the bold statement that “there is no spiritual life in many who claim to be Christians in America.(Loc 247) He calls them the “walking dead”.

How does that happen? What would cause a person to wrongly believe he or she is a Christian? He lays some of the responsibility at the feet of churches that use methods such as external manipulation, diluted gospel presentations, the altar call, and the sinner’s prayer to lead the walking dead to their false professions of faith and their false assurances of salvation. He blisters easy-believism practices that, even if well-intentioned, have done damage to churches more influenced by a fallen culture than by God’s own Word.

So how does salvation work? The author has narrowed the answer down to five main points:

1. The gospel must be proclaimed.

2. God must move.

3. The sinner must respond in faith and repentance.

4. God justifies the sinner.

5. The sinner grows in the Lord over a lifetime.

Pastor Nelson not only unpacks, but folds, hangs up, and neatly puts away each of these main points in a few short chapters. In doing so, he poses and then answers questions such as, “What is the true gospel?”, “What is biblical repentance?”, “What is saving faith?”, and “What exactly is justification?” His answers are delivered in a direct, engaging, accessible style with plenty of biblical illustrations and scriptural references. No theological dictionary needed.

The book includes “howto’s” but doesn’t read like a “howto” manual. The tone is pastoral, sometimes comfortable, sometimes convicting, but never harsh. At times, the reading felt like sitting over coffee with Pastor Nelson, asking questions about various evangelistic situations, and receiving useful advice on how to respond.

A destitute woman in a homeless shelter, eyes pallid, needle tracks running down her arms, naturally incites my heart instinct to put my arms around her, tell her Jesus loves her, and give her some money. But Pastor Nelson reminds us:

“People need to hear more than “Jesus loves you,” What they need to hear today is what they’ve always needed: to know that they are sinners, that they need a Savior, that Jesus is that Savior, and until and unless they come to Him in faith, they will justly spend an eternity facing the punishment of their sins.” (Loc 2413)

He points out that it is vital that we all (not just the “trained professionals”) know what to say when the time comes to share the gospel of Christ. And while there is no formula, it is essential that the facts of the gospel are understood. The book helpfully guides the reader in a biblical understanding of how salvation happens and presents realistic examples of responses that can be used with unbelievers/false converts in evangelistic conversations.

The chapter “Plant, Water, Trust God, Repeat” is a compelling warning to stick to a biblical approach to evangelizing the lost. (Throughout the book he gives examples of unbiblical approaches.) In this encouraging chapter, he discusses applying how salvation works in real life scenarios, acknowledging that it is not always easy. He doesn’t present himself as a superhero evangelist.

This is a serious book, but the author can also be funny. I got a laugh out of his response to the command to “ask Jesus into your heart”. His tone, however, is utterly serious when discussing repentance:

“God doesn’t beg people to repent so they can be the star player on His team. He demands repentance. He owes mankind nothing. What a fearful and insolent game we play by making repentance an optional feature to becoming a Christian, refusing to properly define it in hopes of sneaking people into the kingdom, or by flat out dismissing it altogether.” (Loc 1164)

He spends a good bit of time parked on repentance, emphasizing that biblical repentance is necessary for any person to become a Christian. He asserts, “Remorse does not equal repentance” and goes on to give what he calls the bare necessities of repentance.

Is it possible to know if a person has actually been converted? In the chapter on sanctification, the author acknowledges that while we can’t see the heart, we can use the discernment God gives us to see evidence of true conversion. He provides a practical alliteration method to assist in discerning whether or not the gospel has actually taken root in a person’s heart and the changes we would expect to see in a truly converted person.

He warns the church against haphazardly affirming people as Christians without exercising grace-filled discernment:

“Often, we claim that the problem in our churches is that too many people are immature believers when the real problem is that many we call immature, actually have no life in Christ at all. They aren’t growing because they aren’t living.” (Loc 1878)

The sanctification chapter, my favorite, thrust me to a fresh examination of my own life using his alliteration template. What evidence of salvation would others see in me? What would they discern as my motivation for life? There is plenty of self-application for the reader.

The book has three appendices. Appendix 1: The Sinner’s Prayer, Appendix 2: Acts 2 is Not an Altar Call, Appendix 3: Putting “Baptist” Back in Your Church. In these appendices, the author makes some “say whaaaat?!? observations that will rock your world if your church endorses these practices.

This is a short book. Although the print version is only 200 pages, there is nothing shallow about the content. The reader will step into a deep pool. Did I know how salvation works before I read the book? Yes. Have I been guilty of using unbiblical methods to try to bring about a conversion? Yes. I finished the book with an unanticipated, heart wrenching reorientation to the gospel as the power of God unto salvation. I bet I’m not the only reader who closed the book and repented.

I began by saying I find it exceptionally difficult to talk to false converts. What do you say to someone who believes she is saved when it is clear that she is not? Pastor Nelson is immeasurably supportive in reinforcing that “we must proclaim the gospel. Without it, people will go to hell. It’s as simple as that.” (Loc 441)

The book left me feeling hopeful, energized, looking forward to my next evangelistic encounter. God saves sinners. God saves sinners. And he uses sinners like me to do so.

Pastor Nelson writes, “Every single one of us is charged with sharing the gospel with those God providentially places in our life.” What a calling, what a staggering privilege. God could sovereignly call His own to Himself without us, but He has chosen to work through us. This book will certainly help us in our evangelism. I recommend it for everyone.

¹Katy reviewed the Kindle edition of the book and used Kindle location numbers rather than page numbers.


Allen “Cuatro” Nelson, IV, author of From Death to Life, is the pastor of Perryville Second Baptist Church in Perryville, Arkansas, and co-host of The Rural Church Podcast. Contact Him directly via Twitter to receive a free study guide with your order of From Death to Life or a discount on bulk orders. You can also order from Amazon.

Katy can’t remember when she became a Christian but is assured that, by the grace of God alone, she is a Christian. She ministers to women in her OPC church, in homeless shelters, in a prison, and sometimes at the grocery store. She is an executive with a United States health care corporation and enjoys her work, although she would rather be reading. You can find Katy on Twitter at @KatyvonBora.

ALTHOUGH I DO MY BEST TO THOROUGHLY VET THE THEOLOGY OF THOSE WHO SUBMIT GUEST POSTS, IT IS ALWAYS POSSIBLE FOR THINGS TO SLIP THROUGH THE CRACKS. PLEASE MAKE SURE ANYONE YOU FOLLOW, INCLUDING ME, RIGHTLY AND FAITHFULLY HANDLES GOD’S WORD AND HOLDS TO SOUND BIBLICAL DOCTRINE.