Mere revelation alone is no evidence of conversion. God has in certain times and places revealed certain truths about Himself to people who were predestined for destruction. Consider, for example, the nation of Israel at Mount Sinai. Most of those people, we are told, would go on to perish for their unbelief. Or consider Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 2. It was revealed to him that the God of Daniel is the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries. This is the same man who would then go right on to make an idol of himself and demand the entire nation to worship it. Or consider Darius in Daniel 6:26-27, or even the Egyptians who had witnessed the awesome power of God. The most obvious example, however, lies with the entire population of the earth from the beginning of time until now.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
No man has an excuse. Why? Because God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. This revelation comes by way of the natural order, for God’s invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. I repeat, mere revelation alone is no evidence of conversion.
Imagine my surprise then when I read the following comment from a Primitive Baptist whom I had been recently conversing with.
Yes. It is my position that people born of God offer “Satanic countenance.” It is called remaining sin and it is an undeniable reality of the Christian walk (I John 1:8). Examples of God’s regenerate children exhibiting such behavior could be multiplied (II Samuel 11:4) but suffice it to say that EVERY instance of sin or unbelief in the life of a regenerate man is a manifestation of a “satanic countenance” that is not in accordance with the truth. It is NO evidence that one is unregenerate, it is merely proof of their remaining sin and their need for conversion.
How can a man exhibit evidence of the “undeniable reality of the Christian walk”, provide no sure evidence that he is not regenerate, while at the same time existing in a state of unconversion? This Primitive Baptist is assuredly confused and deceived.
First, I should mention that the Primitive Baptist’s argument has been that Peter the disciple gave evidence of being born of God at the moment he confessed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and yet even then, even though he was born of God, he was still as yet unconverted. The PB bases his assertion upon a single verse in 1 John 5:1 taken out of context.
1 John 5:1 Everyone who believes Jesus is the Christ has been born of God
Well, there you go. Except there you don’t go, because John did not write this sentence in a vacuum.
What does John mean by the words, “Jesus is the Christ”? Does he mean what Peter meant? Or did John mean something different?
Fortunately for us, John told us exactly what he meant.
Speaking of the Jesus who is the Christ and the Son of God (1 John 5:5), John wrote the following:
1 John 5:6-8
This is He who came by water and blood – Jesus Christ, not by the water only, but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify; the Spirit and the water and the blood, and these three agree.
Everyone who believes Jesus is the Christ has been born of God. But which Christ is that? I ask because, keep in mind, John wrote his first epistle in response to an attack from Gnosticism which had been trying to creep into some of the churches he was overseer of. The Gnostics maintained that Jesus had not come in the flesh and therefore had not died on the cross.
So which Christ is John referring to? John tells us. It is the Christ who came by water and the blood. Water, in this instance, is not in reference to baptism, but rather in reference to the new covenant terms God promised His people through Ezekiel. It is this same water Jesus mentions in John 3, when He said to Nicodemus, “You must be born of water and the Spirit.” Blood, of course, refers to His bloodshed and death
In other words, He came by covenant promise and bloodshed. He shed His blood to seal a covenant God had made with His people.
Is this the same Christ Peter was thinking about? No, it was not!
In Matthew 16, just 5 verses after Peter confesses to Jesus that He is the Christ, the Son of God, Peter chastises Jesus after Jesus tells the disciples that He must go to Jerusalem to suffer and to die. Jesus rebuked him sternly, saying, “Get behind Me, Satan!”
From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
How could Peter be referring to the same Christ John was referring to when Peter denied the testimony of the water and the blood?
What Peter was testifying to was the fact that Jesus is the Son of God. Like most Jew in those days, Peter still labored under the very erroneous belief that the Christ would come to set up an earthly kingdom by restoring national Israel. All the disciples did. The revelation he received at this particular moment in time was not the Christ testified to by the water and the blood, but rather the truth that Jesus is the Son of God. Peter still had the completely wrong idea though, about what Jesus meant to do and why.
Mere revelation is no evidence of conversion. There are plenty of unbelieving people, heretics even, who confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Even Rome confesses as much! Demons confessed as much!
And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.”
As for remaining in sin being the undeniable reality of the Christian walk, this is absurd.
1 John 1:8 reads: If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
John is not speaking to the idea of remaining in sin. When the Bible talks about remaining in sin, it means remaining under the sentence of condemnation as punishment for sin. It remains to remain under legal wrath for sin.
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
Baptized into His death. His death was not a death to sinning, because He had never sinned. Rather, His death was a death to the punishment for sin. That is, God imputed to Him, the sinless one, all the sins of His elect. Christ was imputed with the guilt of His people’s sins and there upon the cross He died their death which was the punishment for their sins.
So no, Christians do not remain in sin. They do certainly still sin, but the punishment for these sins has already been paid for by Christ.
Contrary to the argument the Primitive Baptist wishes were true, people who are born of God do not make false confessions about Jesus the Christ. And the only people who have been born of God are those who have been converted.