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Are There Different Kinds of Christians?

Our question this time is: "Are there two types of Christians, carnal and spiritual, or only one type ('If He is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all'), namely, spiritual?"

According to those who believe that there are different kinds of Christians, some carnal and some spiritual, a carnal Christian is one who has been saved, but who remains "carnal," that is, his life continues much the same as before he was "saved." He (or she) shows few or none of the fruits of holiness.

Closely related is the notion, popular in some circles, that a person can have Jesus as Savior without having or acknowledging Him as Lord. That Jesus is Lord, means, of course, that He owns us, body and soul, and with all we have, and claims for Himself our whole life, demanding daily obedience of every one of us. Those who (supposedly) are saved without having Jesus as Lord are those who do not understand or acknowledge His claims and continue to live a life that is little changed by the grace that "saved" them.

Such teaching traces to the Scofield Bible notes and arises out of its "theology" and the kind of evangelism work that is done on the basis of that theology. The theology is that of "free-willism" and teaches that the will of the sinner is decisive in salvation. God loves all, wants to save all, has sent Christ to die for all, and offers salvation to all in the gospel. It is now up to the sinner to accept or reject that salvation-all depends on him.

That teaching is reflected in the altar calls, appeals, pleas for decisions, and all other such perversions of the gospel that are so much a part of evangelism work today. And the teaching that there is such a thing as a carnal Christian is an attempt to cover up the fact that the vast majority of persons who come forward in response to altar calls and appeals are not saved at all, as is evident from their carnal lives. And, in order that they may continue to count those saved who have responded in some way to their evangelistic efforts, they have dreamed up this notion of "carnal Christians."

In fact, there is no such thing. One can no more have a "carnal" Christian than a square circle. Scripture makes this clear in such passages as Romans 6:1-2. There are many reasons why this cannot be, not the least that the justice of God requires otherwise. Having been forgiven, there is no reason anymore why we should still be left in the slavery of sin. The redemption price has been paid by Christ, and we must, in the justice of God also be redeemed and released from our spiritual bondage.

Christians do fall into sin. There are innumerable examples of this in Scripture (David, Peter), but if they are truly saved, they will not only repent of such sins, but will return again to the way of holiness and obedience to God. Christians can behave in a carnal matter (I Cor. 3:1-4), but the distinction in Galatians 5:17-24 and Romans 8:1-9 is not between carnal and spiritual Christians, but between those who are Christ's and those who are not (Gal. 5:24), -- those who are in Christ and those who are not (Rom. 8:1). The only two classes of people are the saved and the unsaved, Christians and non-Christians.

This "carnal Christian" teaching is unbiblical and dangerous. It encourages what is called carnal security, the belief that one is saved while in fact one is not. It gives Christians an excuse for sinning, which none of us need. Worst of all, it denies sovereignty of grace, the justice of God, and the finished work of Christ - He did not die only to redeem us, but to make us holy and beloved (Eph. 1:3-4). Rev. Ronald Hanko

We have a new pamphlet published that should prove of great interest to our readers: "Genesis 1-11: Myth or History?" by Prof. David J. Engelsma. Write to the address on the masthead for your free copy.

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Additional Info

  • Volume: 8
  • Issue: 1
Hanko, Ronald

Rev. Ronald Hanko (Wife: Nancy)

Ordained: November 1979

Pastorates: Wyckoff, NJ - 1979; Trinity, Houston, TX - 1986; Missionary to N.Ireland - 1993; Lynden, WA - 2002; Emeritus October 15, 2017

Website: www.lyndenprc.org/sermons/

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