Mental Assent or Conversion? (Part 13)

Discipleship Series
by Rayola Kelley

The concept of being a Christian has been greatly redefined through the years. Due to the professing Church embracing questionable beliefs, worldly philosophies and methods, along with the sweeping influence of “flash in the pan” movements, a dangerous spiritual vacuum has been left in its wake. For example, during the 1970s when I became part of the family of God after receiving Jesus as my Lord and Savior, the study of eschatology and the presentation of “easy believism” were on the rise, causing association with the Christian scene to become a popular fad that often overshadowed or confused the seriousness of the real message and purpose of the Gospel. In the 1980s different movements that embraced ecumenical ties rolled through Christendom, blurring the lines of holiness and truth, while encouraging unholy alliances. The 90s decade found some of the professing Church being swept up by heretical waves of delusion that hid behind the concept of pseudo revivals, “new revelations”, and the need to build bigger, earthly kingdoms (churches) in the name of Jesus.

This brings us up to the present decade. In this decade, we have faced the hateful design of terrorism to destroy anything that will not agree with or bow down to its oppressive, deadly ways. When we think of terrorism, we think of the Twin Towers in New York City. However, terrorism comes in different forms. One of the greatest examples of terrorism involves the affront that has been happening against unborn babies in mothers’ wombs since 1973. These silent victims are clearly being terrorized by inhumane, murderous practices that show no respect for the sanctity of life.

We know that terrorism’s main goal is to terrorize in order to intimidate and control through fear. Such treacherous acts are appalling to those who are being systematically pushed into a corner by a few people who have no real scruples. With this in mind, consider the threats or possible tactics (fairness doctrine) that could be used against the conservative and Christian talk show hosts as a means to silence them, as well as the recent controversial matter surrounding Miss California’s stand on marriage. Keep in mind that if Christians call certain preferences and practices sin, they are labeled as hateful and illegal. No doubt, any version of the Bible that fails to pass the test of political correctness will eventually be outlawed as well. There is also a move to redefine the word “terrorist” by applying the term to those who will not bow down to the wicked lunacy of how these people think. Is the attempt of these individuals to redefine “terrorist” a means to hide their own identity and purpose?

We clearly are living in a decade and age of terror where the events around us imply that we are living in the end of the last days. Jesus made this statement about the environment that would abound, “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Matthew 24:12-13).

Jesus made it quite clear that even in the midst of iniquity reigning, we as believers must endure to the end to ensure salvation. The question is how many of those professing Christianity will endure to the end when the Church is being refined in the fiery trials of oppression and persecution? Since, in the name of religious tolerance, there has been an unholy mixture of beliefs and practices placed under the umbrella of the  Christian faith, ecumenism and evangelism, we, as believers, have to wonder how much of what I refer to as quasi-Christianity will remain standing when tested in the fiery ovens of tribulation, and how much of it will give way to the pressure to sell, reject and trample under all truth in the name of the upcoming one-world religion. We also must consider how much of this quasi-Christianity has ignored, agreed with, inspired, and enabled the present abominable political environment to gain its present foothold. The heat is definitely being turned up for all of those who would dare defy the wicked agendas of these people to strip our Constitution of its authority and protection, and do away with the sovereignty of this nation, while ushering in a totalitarian government that will eventually come into line with the one-world government. We know according to Scripture that Satan and his cohorts will have their season of terror, and reign, in this world, followed by God’s wrath. Meanwhile, we must as believers endure by faith to the end to receive our salvation.

Recently, I watched a Christian documentary detailing how this present- day quasi-Christianity came into being. Even though there have always been counterfeits presenting their own take on Christianity, the present false staging started over seventy years ago. As most false presentations begin, the present quasi-Christianity started with a split between two respected religious leaders. One leader decided to enlarge the boundaries of the Christian faith to include ties with those of a different spirit and agenda in the name of evangelism, while the other leader maintained the need to stand on the truth and principles of the Bible that command believers to come out and be separate from that which possesses a different spirit and holds to a different Jesus and gospel (2 Corinthians 6:14-18; 11:2-4).

When people begin to veer from the center of truth, there is no way of telling how far they will depart from the faith that was first delivered to the saints, which points to apostasy or a falling away from the truth (Jude 3). As the interviewer on the documentary asked the people who were part of the more “tolerable Christianity” about their beliefs, it became obvious how far from the mark this pseudo Christianity had veered from the center. These people’s beliefs included the following: The Word of God was inspired, but it is not inerrant, Jesus was not born of a virgin, He is not God Incarnate, and we must avoid presenting the concept of Jesus as the only way to salvation, as well as eternal consequences because they are too negative. As I listened to how one particular individual judged eternal truths according to whether it would be positive, I had to wonder how he expected people to wade through his quagmire of positive hogwash that is devoid of spirit and truth, and come out with any real concept of salvation.

The one consistent thread that I could detect from the individuals who were part of this adjustable concept of Christianity is that when asked if they were saved, you could sense that they did not really have assurance of their salvation. Even though there was one who made reference to election, the individual could not stand on the Apostle Peter’s exhortation in 2 Peter 1:10: “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure; for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.”

The Bible is clear about what constitutes salvation. Since these people do not believe the inerrancy of the Bible, how can they be clear or have an assurance about salvation? They may have some sentimental notion and wishful thinking, as well as a vague hope for salvation because of their religious views, association, beliefs, or practices, but salvation appears to be far from them.

Since these people associate themselves with Christianity, what would they use to link themselves to this religious umbrella? Where is their common ground to the faith that was first delivered to the saints? After all, they do not consider the Bible their final authority nor do they believe the Jesus of the Bible, while shunning or mocking any possible consequences for deviation from established Scriptural truths and teachings. As you listen to them, you realize that they align themselves to Christianity because they can agree with certain aspects of it. Such agreement involves some type of mental assent where these individuals can agree with such things as the main theme of the Gospel, as well as certain aspects of Jesus’ teachings and character, while brushing over, adjusting, and changing the intent of other aspects that would not compliment their quasi form of Christianity. It is because of such mental assent that these people believe themselves to be Christians.

Granted, these people can talk a good talk, give an impression of piety, and give a good explanation for their acceptance of some beliefs and their rejection of others, but there are inconsistencies in their life that are exposed when truth challenges their fragile reality and belief system. These people become fearful, obstinate and angry. Sometimes you can see the war between the convicting power of the Spirit and the overpowering flesh occurring within the souls of these individuals, but their tendency is to maintain their mental conclusions, rather than repent and give way to truth regardless of the gain. Each time these people resist the truth, they become more blinded to the true light of the world and the Gospel (Jesus), as their hearts become harder towards what is pure and righteous.

Even though these people may have agreed with the Gospel, repeated the “sinner’s prayer,” had some religious experiences, studied the Bible, attended church, paid tithes, and been active in some type of ministry, they have not been truly converted to the ways of righteousness. They may agree with some truths because it makes logical sense to them, but if they have not embraced the whole truth of God’s Word by faith, they still walk in unbelief towards God. Even though these people may be adamant about some foundational Christian beliefs as being true, they have shown contempt for others by ignoring, shunning, and rejecting them.

Through the years, I have seen different stages of mental assent among those who call themselves Christians. There are those who have mentally agreed with Christianity on an association level because of family ties or how it makes them appear to others, but they have their own idea of what constitutes salvation. Others have shown mental assent on the basis of logic according to what makes sense to them, but these individuals often prove to be skeptical, mocking and unbelieving when challenged with what they consider to be the irrational side of Christianity. There are those who agree on a doctrinal level with certain principles and practices of the Christian faith, but ultimately will prove to be judgmental when their doctrine is challenged by truth that does not adjust to their understanding. There are those who agree with Christianity on a religious level, but because of their love of or for the world, it proves to be surface and hypocritical. These different forms of mental assent or agreement are devoid of a love for truth, genuine faith towards God, and true conversion.

The Bible tells us that we must be converted and become as little children in order to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:2-4). Salvation is not a matter of simply agreeing with aspects of the Gospel and the Bible, it is about being born again with the very life of Christ. The new life points to a new disposition within the believer that will be formed into the very likeness of Jesus. It is the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in each convert that develops Jesus’ lowly disposition and meek attitude in the Christian. Clearly, what identifies a person as a Christian is the presence of the life of Jesus in him or her. The Holy Spirit will be the one who bears witness to this salvation as the mind of Christ is worked in the believer. Obviously, Christianity is not  mental assent due to intellectual agreement, a religious cloak we wear, a doctrine we take ownership of, or a religion we practice when convenient. It is a life that is expressed through genuine commitment, a meek attitude and godly conduct. It is a walk of faith that is established and advances forward through obedience to the Word of God. It is a conversion that involves  turning away from the old (repentance) in order to be converted to a new way. Such conversion is not a one-time phenomenon, but an ongoing decision and action where one is constantly being converted to what is of truth and righteousness.

As I look back on my life, I can see where conversion has been ongoing for me. It is not a matter of just changing my mind about a matter; I must also be converted to what is right in order to experience a complete inward transformation or renewal. In fact, when I have been the most undone by a refreshed awakening to the depth of personal sin, is when the greatest conversions have taken place in my life. The transformation in my state of being has often surprised me as to the fruit that is produced by such awakening. In every case, my attitude about something has been completely changed, my priorities realigned, and my focus more concentrated on the matters of God.

We must remember that we are all like onions. We have layers of the self-life that must be stripped away to expose the influences, workings and activities of sin upon our lives. Once a layer has been exposed and repentance applied, then there can be true conversion towards the honorable, righteous ways of God to ensure transformation.

As we consider the present day quasi-Christianity, we must realize that the minds of these people may agree about certain matters, but their prevailing attitude and mood towards truth has never been changed by true brokenness towards sin and repentance from their old ways. Since their carnal minds will not depart from their present understanding to embrace the complete truth by unfeigned faith, they are never transformed by true conversion. These people remain set or obstinate in their way of thinking, preventing them from ever humbling themselves in disposition to ensure complete conversion towards the ways of righteousness.

Obviously, salvation is a matter we must not assume, cross our fingers about, or wish for the best. We must resolve whether we possess the very life of Jesus and the witness of His Spirit, thereby ensuring that we belong to the true faith. The real debate is not once saved always saved, the real issue is whether salvation has truly taken place in the heart and is being established by faith in line with the leadership of Jesus (Romans 10:9-10). And, in our desire to believe salvation has taken place, we must not foolishly cling to an empty shell that gives an appearance of salvation. We must ensure that those of us who claim to be Christians have been converted by the life of Christ through the born-again experience, are beingconverted to the life of Christ through discipleship and obedience to the ways of righteousness, and will be ultimately distinguished in conversion because we are indeed taking on His very likeness, thereby, reflecting His glory in a lost, dark world of despair and death.

This brings us to the question. Are you a Christian based on mental assent or true conversion?