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Tag: Salvation

Another Christian Who Doesn’t Get It

saved or lost

Deon Nel43, a devout, I-know-I am-right, filled with the Holy Ghost Christian, left a comment meant to show the deluded readers of this blog the error of their way. What follows is Deon Nel43’s comment and my response. My words are emboldened and italicized.

Email begins here

It is sad to notice that when people on this site describe their past conversion, it ends up to be something like:

  1. Being a member of a church.
  2. Doing what the church and the pastor expected i.e. reading my bible, praying, outreach etc..
  3. Having lots of zeal and being sincere or even on fire for the Lord.

I don’t know of anyone who describes their conversion this way. The things listed by Deon Nel43 are what we would have called the fruit of faith, the evidence that we had been converted.

Is Deon Nel43 suggesting that Christians aren’t members of a church, don’t have to submit to those who the rule over them, or don’t need to pray  and read the Bible? Is Deon Nel43 suggesting that Christians shouldn’t be zealous unto good works? I would be glad to provide proof texts for each one of these. Let the Bible proof text duel begin.

Bruce’s testimony of his past Christian experience sounds much the same and is also a bit confusing.

See above.

In one post he says that his past experiences was ‘REAL’ yet he turned his back on it??? Figure that one out. Maybe he should say that he was sincere.

My experiences were real because I physically, emotionally, mentally, and intellectually experienced them. These experiences are what we call life. I lived it and I know what I experienced. Is Deon Nel43 suggesting I had some sort of out-of-body experience?

And I was sincere too. Deon Nel43 wants to paint me as someone who was sincere but lost; someone who intellectually knew the “facts” but didn’t spiritually possess them. The only problem with this argument is that it is not true. This is just Deon Nel43’s way of dismissing a story (mine) that he can’t explain within the context of his version of Christianity.

That I can understand but how can something be real and then discarded like a dirty rag? Contradiction of words used. Unfortunately, the conversions described on this blog are not the conversions spoken of in scripture.

Who discarded Christianity like a dirty rag? I didn’t. It took several years before I was willing to say I was no longer a Christian. I agonized over this, and it was, by far, the hardest decision I ever made in my life.

It took a lot more soul-searching to get unsaved than it ever took to get saved. People like Deon Nel43 have never walked the path of deconversion so they have no idea how difficult it is to come to a place where you are willing to walk away from all that you considered precious and true.

conversion has always been:

  1. A personal conviction of one’s fallen state and sinfulness
  2. A personal revelation of my inability to do what God requires consistently.
  3. A personal  revelation of His justice and goodness and that those who do such things will not go unpunished.
  4. A personal revelation of God’s love towards one in Jesus Christ.
  5. A personal revelation of Jesus, the need for His death on the cross, His resurrection and ascension.
  6. Jesus personally coming to live in the person through the infilling of His Spirit.

Memo to Deon Nel43: When I was a Christian I wholeheartedly, without reservation believed every one of your six points of conversion. Not only did I believe them, I preached them to others.

Of course, I know how Deon Nel43 will respond to this…I didn’t REALLY believe these things, because if I had I would still be a Christian.

And around and around we go…

Bible conversion therefore takes place when one had the above mentioned revelation, then turns from serving himself and gives himself fully to the Lord never to turn back (true repentance). God will then fill him with His Spirit as He promised. When His Spirit enters that person, a change takes place. This change is describe in the bible as ‘being born from ABOVE’ and ‘conversion’. Conversion is the same as transformation and metamorphosis e.g. a worm that transforms into a butterfly.

How can one be transformed and not know it? How can one have a revelation of one’s sinfulness, of God’s love and righteousness, of Jesus Himself and having His Spirit abiding inside one and still be totally unaware of it? How can one turn from darkness to light and see no difference?

I agree with Deon Nel43. I knew I was a blood-bought child of the living God. I knew the Holy Spirit lived inside me.  And many of the people who read this blog would say the same.  We were there when Jesus saved us. We were there when Jesus transformed our lives. Our attitudes and desires were for the things of God. We were, as the Bible says,  reborn from above.

The bottom line is this: we were every bit as much a Christian as Deon Nel43 is now.  It doesn’t matter whether Deon Nel43 can square this with his particular brand of theology or personal experience. The fact remains, I once was a Christian and now I am not; I once was saved and now I am not. To suggest people like me “never were saved” is to deny reality.

The answer is plain.The conversion experienced does not come from above but is earthly, sensual and demonic and should be repented of, rejected, and cast away…

However there are a true conversion that leads to an abundant life here and in the hereafter…

Here is what is plain for all to see. Neon Del43 thinks his interpretation of the Bible is truth and that his experience is normative. Anyone who does not believe as he believes is not a Christian. Simply put, Neon Del43 is the template for all those who want to be Christian and go to God’s Motel 6 when they die.

The real issue here is that Deon Nel43 doesn’t know what to do with the former Christians on this site. His theology tells him a true follower of Jesus can’t fall from grace, yet here we are.  Rather than recognizing his theology might be wrong, he insists that people such as myself “never were saved,” He ignores the fact that a persuasive case can be made for the Bible teaching that Christians can, in fact, lose their salvation.

Deon Nel43 is just another example of a Christian who doesn’t get it. Many have come before him and I am sure many more will follow.

Why Baptists Refuse to Believe I Once was a Christian

saved or lost

My story poses a real problem for Baptists.  According to Baptist soteriology (doctrines pertaining to salvation), once nonbelievers are saved (born again, becomes a Christian), they can never lose their salvation. This belief is called once saved always saved, eternal security, or the perseverance/preservation of the saints.

All Baptists, except Free-will Baptists, believe that once a person is saved there is nothing a Christian can do nothing to lose his or her salvation. John 10:28, 29 says:

And I (Jesus) give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.  My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.

This is why some Baptists believe I am still saved. No matter what I do, Jesus will never disown me. No matter how much I blaspheme God, Jesus will never leave me or forsake me. It is like getting  married without having any provision for divorce. Once married, you are married for life. No matter what the husband or wife does, be it adultery or physical abuse, their marriage cannot be dissolved. So it is for me. No matter what  I say or do, I am still saved. God might chastise me or even kill me, but there is nothing I can do to get God to let me out of my eternal life contract.

Of course, this kind of thinking is silly and some Baptists realize this, leading them to take a different approach to my life. Instead of once-saved-always-saved, they say I never was saved.  According to them, I never really put my faith and trust in Jesus Christ. While I may have outwardly given evidence that I was saved, inwardly I knew that I really wasn’t. I was a faker, a pretender, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. My becoming an atheist is proof to them that I never really was a Christian. In their mind, I always was an atheist.

In a post titled, The Logical Consequences of You Never were a Christian, I wrote:

People who believe a Christian can not fall from grace are forced to dismiss me as a life-long deceptive servant of Satan. For 36 years I deceived every Christian, every church member, every pastor, every evangelist, every Christian college professor I came in contact with; and most of all I deceived my entire Christian family.

No one, over a span of 36 years, ever said “I think Bruce Gerencser is not a Christian.”  Think about this for a moment. Think of the deception necessary to pull this off.

  • I preached thousands of sermons…all preached in the power of the flesh.
  • I  prayed thousands of prayers, none of which was ever heard by God.
  • Hundreds of people who made professions of faith did so after hearing the preaching of a deceiver, a follower of Satan.
  • Hundreds of people who were baptized by me were immersed by a charlatan;  a man who rejected the  vows confessed during a baptism.
  • I counseled hundreds of people over the years. Every person I counseled received counsel from a false prophet.
  • Every moment spent in private prayer, every moment spent in devoted study of the Word of God, all the time spent in devotion to the living Christ was spent as a person no better than Judas.

The truth is, Baptists (along with Evangelicals who eschew the Baptist label but have a similar soteriology) are in bondage to their theology. To admit I once was a Christian means that their belief about eternal security is false. Instead of admitting that I once was a Christian, keepers of the Book of Life  scour my life looking for defects in my story. They then exploit these defects to show I really never was a Christian.

Years ago, I was co-pastor of Community Baptist Church in Elmendorf, Texas. When we moved to Texas, another family, Larry and Linda Johnson,who were members of the church I pastored in Ohio, moved with us. Every person joining Community Baptist had to give a credible testimony of faith in Jesus Christ. Larry told his salvation story to  Pat Horner, my fellow pastor.  Pat became alarmed over what Larry told him. Larry used language to describe his faith that most Baptists didn’t use. He talked more about God than he did Jesus. Pat took this as evidence  Larry might not really know Jesus. I assured him this was not the case. Larry was a good man who took matters of faith seriously.

So it is with some Baptists who read this blog. Instead of accepting my story at face value, they look for things in my story that don’t line up with their own experience. They then conclude I never really was saved. They go to great lengths to deconstruct my life, poking and prodding, looking for anything that will invalidate my claim of once being a Christian. And guess what? They always find what they are looking for.

When people are committed to upholding certain theological belief at all costs, they end up thinking and saying things that are silly. So it is when people say I never was saved or that I am still saved. The only way anyone can judge the validity of a person’s life is by how he lives. I told parishioners countless times over the years, we give evidence of faith in Christ by how we live not by what we say we believe. This fact seems to be forgotten by my critics. Look at my life as a Christian and as a pastor.  What in my conduct and lifestyle remotely suggests I was not saved? If I wasn’t a Christian then it is fair to ask if anyone is.

Part of the problem is that I am willing to talk about my failures as a Christian and as a pastor.  I am willing to admit that I sinned, that I did things considered wrong by most Baptists. These confessions are taken as proof that I never was saved. Evidently, the perfection standard applies only to Jesus and Bruce Gerencser. None of the people I pastored or the men I considered colleagues in the ministry was perfect.  Because they are still professing Christian means they are judged by a different standard than I am. They are allowed to be sinful, yet saved, but I am not.

Thousands of people read this blog. Many readers are former Evangelicals. If I asked them what was the one thing that Christians said that offended them the most they would likely say, Christians who dismiss my past life by saying I never was a Christian. Sadly, many Christians fail to see, or don’t care, how offensive such a line of thinking is.

Put the shoe on the other foot. Suppose atheists began going through a Christian’s life with a fine tooth comb, pointing out discrepancies or contradictions in his life story. Imagine being told, it is evident you never really were saved. I suspect they would be quite offended by such a statement.

Here’s what I know…I once was saved and now I’m not.

Dear Christian Friend and Former Parishioner, Am I a Good Person?

bruce gerencser 2015-002
Bruce Gerencser, 2015
A good friend of mine, and a former parishioner, wrote on Facebook an update that asked: can anyone be good without God? He then answered his own question with a No and quoted some Bible verses.

I replied:

Am I good? I am your friend. Does that make me a good person?

Evidently, my words cut to the heart of the matter because the update and my comment were deleted.

Christians are really good at spouting what they believe, what the Bible says, blah, blah, blah. On Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and in the safety of their houses of worship, the rhetoric and judgment flows, but when confronted with the reality of their words Christians often backtrack, reverse course, apologize, or say they didn’t mean what they said.

Why is this? The short answer is that they realize their words are hateful, bigoted, arrogant, or judgmental, and since they care about what others think of them, Christians are quick to distance themselves from what they previously said. Perhaps they realize that words posted to Twitter, Facebook, on a blog, or in an email are not likely to convert a person to Christianity, especially when the words are  hateful, bigoted, arrogant, or  judgmental.

Of course, there are other people who say, I just let the chips fall where they may. It is GOD you have a problem with. I am just speaking God’s words. They are so blind that they don’t see how arrogant and filled with self they have become. My friend knows, despite what his Bible and theology tell him, that I am a good person. He knows how good I was to him when I was his pastor.  And he knows how well I treat him now, even when his theological pronouncements irritate the heaven out of me.

Reality almost always trumps theology, and this why only a rocks-in-their-head Bible thumping, Bible-verse-regurgitating, robot of a Christian will say that someone like me is not a good person. Unable to see beyond their theology, they are forced to judge and condemn good people who haven’t joined their Christian club. In their mind, all the good works in the world can’t erase the stain of sin, and the non-Christians’ unwillingness to confess Jesus as Lord makes them the enemy of God, headed for hell unless they repent of their sin.

Back in the real world, good is defined by what you do. If Christians like my friends would look a little closer at their Bibles they would find that this is how God defines good as well. Salvation by right belief  has turned millions of Christians into hateful, bigoted, arrogant, and judgmental people. There is no hope for them until they come to see that their theology doesn’t match reality.

Don’t tell me what you believe. Don’t quote the Bible to me. Show me what you believe by doing disinterested, no-strings-attached good works. Works like homeschooling, pastoring, teaching Sunday school, inviting people to church, reading the Bible, praying, evangelizing, reading theology books, and tithing don’t count.  These works are the price of admission to your Christian club, feel good stuff that benefits the member and does little or nothing for anyone else. I’m interested in how you treat those the Bible calls, the least of these. I’m interested in how you treat and help your atheist, Muslim, or Buddhist neighbor. I’m interested in how you treat and help those who have a skin color or sexual orientation different from your own,

Evangelicals are so obsessed with right beliefs, building big churches, and laying up treasures in heaven, that they wall themselves off from the rest of the human race.  Evangelicals make periodic forays into the land of the Philistines and Canaanites, hoping to gain members for their club, but then return to the safety of the clubhouse in time to hear the church band riff on the latest praise and worship song. Most of their time is focused on self-improvement and building the most awesome church in town. Lost on them is the fact that most of the new people joining their club are just transfers from other clubs.

If Evangelical Christians truly want to make a mark in this world, they must leave the safe confines of the clubhouse and join hands with those whom their theology says are broken, wicked, vile sinners. Let’s leave matters of salvation and heaven and hell to another day. War, violence, starvation, poverty, and global climate change threaten our collective future. Are not these matters more important than winning the village atheist to Jesus?

When I see Evangelicals knee-deep in the refuse of this world helping others with NO expectation of return, I might, at the very least, believe Christianity has something to offer to the world. While it is unlikely that I would ever return to Christianity, I could be persuaded to admire a religion that values others and invests their believers’ time and money in helping the least of these. (Matthew 25)

Are These Seats Saved? 

football fans
Yesterday, my oldest son and I, along with Bethany and two of my grandchildren, attended the Tinora vs. Fairview football game. We arrived about an hour before game time and found our seats at the 50 yard line on the Tinora side of the field. A half hour or so later, an older man and woman came near where we were sitting and the following conversation took place:

Woman, pointing to the seats in front of us: Are these seats saved?

Bruce, the Evangelical turned atheist: No, they are lost.

Woman, clueless that she has stumbled into a theological snarkfest: Well, they are saved now.

My son and I had a good laugh.

There’s No Such Thing as a Former Christian

saved or lost

Like Hotel California, once you are in you can’t get out.

Once you are saved, you can never be lost.

Once God’s hound dog, the Holy Spirit, tracks you down you belong to God forever.

Or so says Charles Smith:

If you scour the world-wild-web for any amount of time using atheism as your search term, you will undoubtedly find pages and pages of sites laced with the famous proclamation, “I used to be a Christian.” While this may be intriguing to the seeker, desiring a glimpse at the testimony of a formerly professing believer turned cynic in hopes of discovering reasons to remain religiously repulsed by Christendom, or possibly the opposite – looking to see if their retroversion experience is sensible – one thing is certain…there’s no such thing as a former Christian.

Cultural Christianity is quite the phenomenon of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries…

After “leaving the faith,” these misguided, false-converts then find their voices in the blogosphere, social sites, chat rooms, discussion boards and every other form of digital media outlet known to man – exhaustively expatriating as many “cardboard Christians” as they can sink their flaw-full claws into. Ironically, if they would spend as much time truly investigating and begging with a contrite heart, “God, please show yourself to me!” they would discover that He is absolutely faithful to do so – and the door the Lord has once opened, can be closed by no man.

These poor misinformed “ex-Christians” were never truly reborn of the Holy Spirit of God. They followed the crowd in church, were dunked under water, consumed crackers and gulped grape juice, sang songs, talked the talk, looked the part, memorized verses and so many other religious acts, but never came to a saving faith found in a relationship with the only begotten Son of God. Like so many of their contemporaries who weren’t led to the foot of the blood-stained cross of Calvary, they never saw their sins in the mirror of the ten commandments and consequently, never realized the magnitude of their debt – owed to a God who, because of His perfect love and justice, must punish sin – and they never saw the spotless Lamb for who He was and is, the ransom payment – the sacrificial substitute – who carried their sins before the Father and said “I will take their punishment.” Their prideful hearts of stone never crumbled under the weight of such a love and therefore, they simply socialized and enjoyed the music and learned to get along. But, of course, anyone who goes through a “phase” knows, it wore off and they moved on and Jesus wept…

Let the reader understand, just as you can’t become unborn once you have evacuated the womb, you also cannot become un-born-again. It is impossible to un-ring a bell, un-cook an egg or un-kill the living. If you are a spiritual seeker, please know that there is no such thing as an ex-Christian and if you want the truth, please look in a good Bible teaching church for assistance. If after reading this you still claim to be a “former believer,” you just do not understand…

While Smith’s argument certainly might apply to cultural or nominal Christians, it falls flat on its face when it comes to people like me, those who were sincere, committed, devoted, sold-out, on fire, consecrated, dedicated, sanctified followers of Jesus. While it is quite easy to dismiss those who never really took Christianity seriously, what about those of us who did? Did I really spend most of my adult life deceived, never having come to faith in Jesus Christ? Only in the echo chamber of Smith’s mind is such a claim possible. The only way he can square his theology with the life of someone like me is to say I never was a Christian, and since theology always trumps reason, Bruce Gerencser never was a Christian.

Look, I understand. I really I do. Christians like Smith can not fathom anyone walking away from their Jesus. Why would anyone want to walk away from J-E-S-U-S, the most awesome God-man in the world, the biggest, baddest God is the entire universe. Why would anyone walk away from a golden ticket to God’s Motel 6? No more pain, no more suffering, no more death…who in their right mind would turn down such an offer?

But I did, others have, and more will continue to do so. Evidently God didn’t want us bad enough to keep us.

Bruce Gerencser