Ever heard of people who said they were Christian but then supposedly decided to change their beliefs to something else? Well then you must think the title of this post is a pretty simple answer. It is, but you need to understand some key facts that define the true answer to this question because to convert in essence means to loose your salvation in Christ. So what happens when a person actually becomes a Christian?
1) When a person becomes a Christian, their whole identity is changed. They become dead to their old nature and become born again in Christ.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
(2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV)
This transformation isn’t superficial. It isn’t a humanistic change of the heart or mind that is based off of your preferences, but rather a spiritual transformation that allows one to realize that the God who has created our very existence shatters all our human urges and tendencies through His Word, Spirit and very nature.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
(Galatians 2:20 ESV)
Being transformed in Christ means death to our old, selfish outlook in life and a desired focus on God who shows the truth to this world. This is crucial as it changes not only the outlook of our human nature, but through the Holy Spirit, we have the ability to go against what our human nature’s sinful desires would normally allow us to do. Our change isn’t one of selfishness but because of a desire to please the one true God who has created our very being.
So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
(Rom 8:12-17 ESV )
It also means we have been adopted as fellow heirs with Christ. Imagine being adopted into a king’s family and not only that, the King of kings and Lord of lords. As such, Christians have been given as an inheritance so much more than anything this world can offer us. Choosing something else would be like choosing a grain of dirt over a country made of gold. The gift of eternal life is priceless mind you (so my example was a very poor comparison), but God gives us more then that because we are His precious children.
2) Since true Christians have been saved by the all powerful God, He assures that NOTHING can snatch you away from Him.
I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
(John 10:28-30 ESV)
This is an absolute statement by Jesus Christ that not only shows the truth about His identity and unlimited power, but also His devotion and immeasurable love for us. This is the ultimate assurance to the believer because they know the truth about just how BIG God truly is and how absolute He is with regards to keeping His promises and delivering on them.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? … For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:35, 38-39 ESV)
He’s assured us that nothing in this existence has the ability to separate true believers from Him and His love. In the same instance that we don’t have the power to earn salvation in Christ, we don’t have the power to revoke that salvation. And why would one want to if they truly understood how wonderful that salvation is? Unlike us imperfect humans, God keeps His word and has full power to do so. This should be the greatest comfort to Christians no matter what trials or tribulations they face.
3) True Christians at their core will desire to draw closer to Christ
And those who know your name put their trust in you,
for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.
(Psalm 9:10 ESV)
Trusting God is like trusting someone who will never lie, cheat or betray you and when one is focused on Christ, there is no room to focus on the temporary, immoral and selfish aspects of life. This is the power God has given his children when they are first saved. The ability to be holy as Christ is holy. How does one focus on the Lord? They continually seek Him through His Word, pray to commune with Him, and commune with fellow Christians as family to strengthen one another in Christ. A Christian knows in their heart that they are to make sure their eyes are on the Lord and what He would have us do to share His love and truth to others. This focus also allows God’s peace to continually support our lives through any storm and assures us that we have a strong foundation to stand firm and boldly in this life for Him.
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.
(Isaiah 26:3-4 ESV )
Even if a Christian slips from what they know to be true and looses focus, a true believer will come to the same conclusion at the end of the day. That God is the purpose for life, that we are to be in a right relationship with Him and that we need to discard the desires of our flesh and be more like Christ. I’m not saying there is any excuse for anyone to sin and even more so, it is a lot worse for a Christian to sin because there is a lot more accountability due to the truth they know in Christ. This is why we must make a continual effort to check ourselves on a daily basis to see if we are really focused on the Lord. That focus allows Christians to equip themselves to fight off false truths from this world, be bold in sharing Christ’s love amidst obstacles and to stand firm in following God’s truth on a daily basis despite the world’s hate and persecution. But in those instances we do fail, no matter how deep into the pit we fall, Christ will always be there to pick us up when we repentantly and humbly seek Him and his forgiveness. True Christians deep inside have the assurance of that hope and truth from the Lord.
So the simple answer to our question is:
No, it is not possible to convert a true Christian because we have been transformed into a new nature, are God’s children and are held protectively by Him.
I hear some of you grumbling about knowing people or being someone who was so devoted at one point but loosing their faith for whatever reason. Taking into account the facts above, the answer is also simple whether we want to acknowledge it or not. The truth of the matter is that those who claim to have lost their faith were never Christians to begin with (ouch that truth hurts doesn’t it?).
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.
(John 10:14-16 ESV)
There is no mistake as to whether God can distinguish between those who are His and those who are not. You’re talking about the God who knows everything (even how many hairs are on your head). For people who say they lost their supposed faith in Christ, they may have sincerely thought they were Christians as they went through the motions of going to church, doing good works, emotional highs, or theological memorizing, but those don’t equate to a transformed heart in Christ. Only those who have really been saved will know the true value and joy of experiencing God’s unchanging love and unmerited salvation towards us as sinners and how life transforming it is.
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
(Romans 5:1-2 ESV )
Let’s make something clear; Jesus Christ never said that the Christian life would be a walk in the park. He didn’t promise a painless physical life nor did He say that Christians would never encounter trials that would test one’s faith in Him. If anything, the more you become closer to Him, the more trials you will end up facing because they are meant to strengthen your faith in Him like a refining fire and to build your character in Christ which is something to rejoice about (Romans 5:3-5 ESV). There will be things we can never understand about God or His word because our brains are so finite in comparison to the One who created everything. There will also be many things that God’s truth condemns which our societies and the world fight against. But when you’ve truly come to the realization that God is bigger than all these things, the worlds logic which aligns with your fleshly desires will be overshadowed by His love, grace and mercy for you.
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
(Romans 5:3-5 ESV )