Okay, I got a little carried away there in the last sentence of the last post. It happens sometimes when you are arguing with yourself and feel that you are clearly winning. (If you don't understand that, then you haven't lived in my head long enough.;p) So, that is a little strong. I'm backing off a bit.
Some of you reading this blog are baptists, and others of you aren't. Regardless of your association, you have probably heard this type of thing said in a sermon before:
"Are you sure that you're saved? Are you sure that you're sure? Are you really sure? You could be a tare! You could be a weed in God's beautiful garden! You know what happens to weeds and tares, don't you? That's right, they get pulled up and burned. Roasted forever over the hot coals of God's wrath! So you'd better be sure. You better not be one of those people who just walk down to the front and shook the preachers hand and repeated a prayer. You may have been a member of Sleepy Baptist for 50 years, but that don't mean you're saved! You'd better remember a time when you accepted Jesus or you'll probably burn in hell. Yep, I'm talking to people tonight who are going to burn because they think they are saved but aren't really saved."
Now, it is good for a preacher to exhort the people to make their calling and election sure. But that is not the hellfire and brimstone type of preaching that I want to do. (I have done some hellfire and brimstone preaching, you can check the sermon log at www.thirstysoul.org, but it's different than this.) What I don't want this church discussion to turn into is a witch hunt for 'fake' members.
I have no doubt in my mind that there are people who are 'members' of my local church, over which God has called me as overseer, who are lost. They don't attend; they bare no fruit; they are Easter/Christmas members. They aren't really members at all.
As a person who holds to the eternal security of the believer (or better yet, the perseverance of the saints), I have often been asked this question:
"You mean that if somebody gets saved then they can just go out and do whatever they want to and they'll still go to heaven?"
My typical response:
"No, if they live like that it indicates that they were never saved in the first place. You see, following Jesus Christ means that a person is changed..."
I would never say, "Yeah, they were saved, but they lost it."
That, to me, is analogous to saying, "Yeah, they were church members, but they weren't in the real church."
I have no problem saying that there are folks on our roll and folks who say they are saved and that say they are 'members' of our fellowship. It would seem that they are. But they aren't really members, are they?
I think the next baptism talk will revolve around how one becomes a member of the church. This is really where the rubber meets the road. And Pilgrim, if you are still reading, thanks for coming over. We need some Presbyterians around here to keep us straight.