Published March 1, 2016

Paul's Epistle
"Pretending — Your Testimonies"

Last week's Epistle in this space (called "Riley's Testimony," read here) was a followup to a previous one (called "Pretending," read here) – both of which dealt with a significant issue in today's church. Far too many people believe they're Christians, but are in name only. They have not fully surrendered their lives to Christ nor truly asked for His forgiveness.

This is quite obviously a timely issue because I received many testimonies regarding this. Here are excerpts from just a few:

"Just recently I have added to my prayer list that God will show people Satan's lie to deceive people in this way. These testimonies clearly show the deceitfulness of Satan. Praise God their hearts were open to what God wanted them to do and they obeyed. I'm really concerned with the way the ‘Christian' label has been used lately..." – Ann Bateski

"A novel that I recently released touches on the very subject of ‘pretending' to be a Christian. Though a fictional romance novel ... it tells the story of Ciara Biardon ... who is a ‘pretending' Christian... So many people do simply assume they're Christians because they've gone to church all their lives or because they took a ‘walk,' as in my case, as a child without having a clear understanding of what that means. I can only hope that by passing this extremely important message along through story form that it will help others find their way." – Delaine Christine, author of The Blackthorne Saga

Here are interesting observations from two pastors:

"The Lord must be trying to stir up the awareness of this serious condition that, I'm afraid, so many are in today... There is a difference in professing and possessing. I'm reminded of Jesus' parable of the sower in Luke 8:5-15. I've seen a lot of people start, but very few that continue, and even less finish. What happened? What brought them to Christ? What did God do to cause them to leave? The Bible says if we are His, we will produce fruit. No fruit, dead at the root. Frankly, I think it's time we ask people straight out, have you been born again? Have you asked Jesus to forgive you and come into your heart? If so, tell me about your conversion..." – Pastor Gary Gillispie

"Paul, I can say that I have had a similar experience. I asked Jesus into my life at 17 and was baptized. That was in 1969. I rededicated my life to Jesus Christ in 1990. Before that I was just pretending to be a Christian and really didn't know what a Christian was supposed to do but pray on occasion or when I needed some help and go to church. When I was called into the ministry in 1994 my whole life changed. It took time, but I still realized that I was not fully trusting in Jesus. I had not put my life in His hands. But about ten years ago I did that. I don't do anything now without the Lord. My preaching has been more full and my life has definitely been richer from the experiences I have with the Lord. I tell Him I love Him every day and thank Him for saving me from my sins. Today I witness to people in church who are playing church and have never really turned their life over to Jesus Christ. I see and know ministers who have not turned their life fully over to Jesus Christ, and I pray that they will. When we turn our life over to Jesus and trust Him fully we will see a difference in our life." – Pastor Marshall Stewart, Raleigh, NC

These are powerful testimonies and observations. But there's work to do. I received this from one reader, whose name I'll withhold:

"Thank you so much for today's Epistle. It struck a chord in me. As Riley Harrison Clark expressed, I have head knowledge but not heart knowledge. Many people think I am a great sister in Christ. This is false. I know the words to say, and I do have some very big convictions about certain issues going on in our world today, but that is where it ends. I have head knowledge without heart knowledge. I can walk the walk and talk the talk, all the while saying in my heart, ‘Really? Do you really believe that?' I have prayed about this so many times that I can't count them. I didn't think about it being pride, however, and maybe it is, but it feels more like I need ‘proof' or something that God is real. I feel like such a doubting Thomas, needing to see the nail-scarred hands before I truly believe. This frustrates me so much at times... I do thank you for sharing that I am not alone in the world. I will continue to pray about this..."

I wrote back to that lady pointing her to two former Epistles, one about "Doubts" (read here) and another which was a followup to that (read here). But, as I told her, at some point you must simply say, "That's it. I'm through doubting. I believe." This is what faith is all about – the evidence of things not seen (Heb. 11:1).

Yes, as has been mentioned, this can be (and probably is) an issue of pride for many who have long claimed to be Christian. "Am I now going to humble myself and admit I've been living a lie?" Well, let's get down to basics, here. The only one you really need to confess this to is the Lord. Ask Him to forgive this. Accept Him fully today and put an end to such doubts through faith.

Then perhaps the Lord will surprise you with the boldness you need to share your story with others. And, in so doing, you (and the Holy Spirit) can help them see that they, too, have just been "pretending."

- Paul

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