Christianity Today Magazine – What Conversion Is and Is Not

Stackhouse makes some good points concerning conversion. Conversion is both an event and a process. If the process does not exist, the event has not happened. I think that is what James is getting at when he says “faith, if it hath not works, is dead”.

However, I have to take issue with Stackhouse on this conclusion:

“Is he saved?” I don’t know, and I cannot know until “the roll is called up yonder.” The actual condition of another’s heart is mysterious, even to that individual. So from the outside I certainly cannot presume to know, and therefore I do not need to try to know.

It seems to me that this conclusion flies in the face of God’s clear revelation, at least as far as personal assurance of salvation is concerned. The apostle Johns says “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life.” 1 John 5:13. John says we can know. I will accept him as a much higher authority than Stackhouse on this point.

Further, the apostle Paul says “and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” Romans 8:30. All of these verbs are aorist tense, viewing the action as an accomplished fact. While there is a process of sanctification leading to glorification in this life, the event is already complete in Christ. If I am in Christ, I am glorified. I don’t have to grow into it.

Thus, while Stackhouse’s article provides some push towards a right and godly motivation for pressing on about our own conversion (as a process), i.e., sanctification, it betrays the corrupting influence of his liberal friends and does not adequately portray the biblical picture concerning conversion.

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