The Ghastly Doctrine of the Carnal Christian

To understand what the Bible teaches about genuine salvation we must also have a category in our minds for false conversion. Many who profess faith in Christ are not truly regenerated (born again).

The following is a transcript from an excerpt of a sermon by Dr. R. C. Sproul concerning Mark chapter 4 and the Parable of the Sower. Quoting the text Dr. Sproul says:

And the ones sown on stony ground are those who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; but they have no root and endure only for a time…

Sproul-RCWhat I see here theologically is a vivid description of “the Spurious Conversion.” We see it all the time, where the Evangelist gives his altar call and the people rush to the front of the Church, sign the commitment card, they raise their hand, they make the profession of faith, they are all excited, they are filled with joy and the next day its “business as usual”…

I’ll never forget the night I was converted to Christ. My best friend and I were together. Before we went to bed, later that night we both sat down and wrote to our girlfriends about our conversion. When we woke up in the morning, my friend had completed repudiated what he had embraced with joy the night before – where my life was changed forever.

Its always haunted me, where I see people initially respond to the gospel but it doesn’t take root, it doesn’t last. The gospel says “immediately” that seed withers and dies because it has no place to take root.

Then Jesus said that some of those of the seed fell among thorns and the thorns grew up and choked it and it yielded no crop.

Again we see an example of a spurious conversion – how somebody who makes the profession of faith but is immediately intoxicated by the enticements of this world – the quest of money, fame, lust, whatever it is; and what they professed is choked out, never taking root again.

Beloved this is why, until you’re tired of hearing it, I keep warning you and telling you that no one was ever, ever justified by a profession of faith. We must possess that faith in order to be justified. That seed has to take root in our hearts if we are to enter the kingdom of God. A superficial profession of faith is no sign of true redemption.

One of the most ghastly doctrines that has made its way through the Evangelical Church today is this idea of the “carnal Christian.” The Carnal Christian is described as a person who is truly redeemed but whose life never brings forth fruit. Even though they’re saved they are still altogether and completely carnal. Don’t confuse this with what the New Testament teaches about the TRULY converted Christian who has to fight against his flesh all of his life. But there’s no such thing as a Christian who is totally carnal. It’s a contradiction in terms.

But why does that doctrine emerge? I’ll tell you where it comes from. It comes from Evangelists who can’t stand to admit the idea that they are dealing with false professions all the time. They see people who make the profession and have no change in their life and they say “well, we’ll still count them as converts. They’re just carnal Christians.” And this gives confidence to people who are not converted that in fact they are converted.

But if the parable really is going to be called the parable of the soil, then we have to understand the ONLY ONES who bring forth fruit, the harvest of thirtyfold, sixtyfold and a hundredfold, are those where the seed falls upon good soil.

Now here’s where we have to be very, very careful. We could say “well the good soil means that the seed is not going to take root unless the person who receives that seed, who hears that word is a good person. “I’m a Christian because I believed the word and the reason why I believe the word is because I am a good man.” If that’s how I think, I’ve never received the word at all.

That’s not the point of this parable.

What makes the soil “good” soil? Continue reading