The city where I pastor is a very popular place to come in the summer time. For that reason, I have the chance to meet a lot of different people over the course of a summer as they come and visit us on a Lord’s Day or to attend one of our prayer meetings. This past summer, I had the chance to meet some folks who were here vacationing and who attended two of our Lord’s Day services. After the final service they attended at Faith, they came to me bothered about my definition and emphasis on the matter of repentance on the part of those that come to Christ by faith (we were studying John 4 at the time). In the process of the conversation, I was accused of being “a fruit inspector” apparently for stating something to the affect that if someone truly comes to Christ by faith, their life is going to reflect that decision. A few weeks later I received a large packet of information further telling me why I was wrong in my position…so on and so forth. It is not my practice to debate lay people on matters such as this, so I refrain from answering these sorts of things and from engaging in debates along these lines. This issue did however, get placed into my “blog incubator” to simmer for a time such as now when I wanted to write a series of articles about this matter and issue.
Call it what you want, this is a significant issue in evangelical churches today. I have heard it called “fruit inspecting”on the part of those who don’t believe a pastor or another believer should be using the life a person for a litmus test as to whether they are truly a believer (which is true, but as we will see, Scripture actually does the inspection for us). I have also been told that a person living in sin could really know the Lord but is a “carnal Christian.” My question whether this is indeed a Biblical concept and if it isn’t, those who take such a position are on dangerous ground is condoning lifestyles of sin that the Bible is really explicitly against.
For the purposes of these blog articles, I am going to call this issue “The Doctrine of Perpetual Carnality.” The reality is that this is a doctrine on the part of those that believe that a person can live in a years long carnal or fleshly state while still having a relationship with Christ and being a Biblical Christian.
So, here are the things we are going to cover in this series. I hope they wet your appetite a little:
- When does one become a disciple of Christ?
- Perpetual Carnality in light of Jesus teachings
- Perpetual Carnality in light of the Epistles of Paul
- Perpetual Carnality in light of the Epistle of James
- Perpetual Carnality in light of I John
- The Results of one’s position on this issue
- A few other things that I am sure I haven’t thought of yet
In all seriousness, I hope that you will follow this series. At the very least, I will post one article a week, and the most I will post two or three a week, depending on the amount of time I have. This is a serious matter and one that needs to be looked at through the lens of Scripture. The implications of this “doctrine” reach far into such places as counseling, church ministry philosophies, gospel presentations, and so many other practical areas. There are some that will not agree with me on this, and there is liberty to do that (to some extent) but I hope that these posts will at least get us thinking about a consistent, fleshly lifestyle in relation to how Scripture describes a true believer in Christ.