Jesus frequently addressed the issue of genuine believers and false believers, making a clear distinction between possessors of Christ, who own God in their hearts and souls, and professors of Christ, who merely honour God with their lips but their hearts are far from Him. In several of Jesus' teachings, He told us plainly that the kingdom of heaven, also called the kingdom of God, would consist of genuine believers and false believers together.
1On that day Jesus went out of the house, and was sitting by the sea. 2And great multitudes gathered to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat down, and the whole multitude was standing on the beach. 3And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, "Behold, the sower went out to sow; 4and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. 5And others fell upon the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. 6But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7And others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. 8And others fell on the good soil, and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. 9He who has ears, let him hear."
18"Hear then the parable of the sower. 19When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. 20And the one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word, and immediately receives it with joy; 21yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. 22And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 23And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit, and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty."
Matthew 13:1-9, 19-23; cf. Mark 4:1-9, 13-20; Luke 8:4-15
24He presented another parable to them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25But while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares also among the wheat, and went away. 26But when the wheat sprang up and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. 27And the slaves of the landowner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?' 28And he said to them, 'An enemy has done this!' And the slaves said to him, 'Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?' 29But he said, 'No; lest while you are gathering up the tares, you may root up the wheat with them. 30Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn."'"
36Then He left the multitudes, and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, "Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field." 37And He answered and said, "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, 38and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; 39and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels. 40Therefore just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. 41The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, 42and will cast them into the furnace of fire; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43Then THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear."
Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
47"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea, and gathering fish of every kind; 48and when it was filled, they drew it up on the beach; and they sat down, and gathered the good fish into containers, but the bad they threw away. 49So it will be at the end of the age; the angels shall come forth, and take out the wicked from among the righteous, 50and will cast them into the furnace of fire; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 51Have you understood all these things?" They said to Him, "Yes."
After Jesus said these things, He said something so profound, yet simple, that most people seem to miss it. Contrary to what some professors claim from their unbelieving lips, a person's faith is not personal and private. Observe what Jesus had to say on the issue.
21And He was saying to them, "A lamp is not brought to be put under a peck-measure, is it, or under a bed? Is it not brought to be put on the lampstand? 22For nothing is hidden, except to be revealed; nor has anything been secret, but that it should come to light. 23If any man has ears to hear, let him hear."Jesus said other similarly revealing things as well.
Mark 4:21-23; cf. Matthew 5:14-16; Luke 8:16-18
15"Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles, are they? 17Even so, every good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20So then, you will know them by their fruits."In other teachings from Jesus, contrasting genuine believers and false believers, He informed us of the kind of character that genuine believers would exhibit.
1"Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps, and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2And five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. 3For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. 5Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. 6But at midnight there was a shout, 'Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.' 7Then all those virgins rose, and trimmed their lamps. 8And the foolish said to the prudent, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' 9But the prudent answered, saying, 'No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.' 10And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. 11And later the other virgins also came, saying, 'Lord, lord, open up for us.' 12But he answered and said, 'Truly I say to you, I do not know you.' 13Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour."
1"I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit. 3You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 5I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you. 8By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.
9"Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 10If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love. 11These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full."
The good soil versus the rocky soil and the thorny soil, the wheat versus the tares, the good fish versus the bad fish, the wise virgins versus the foolish virgins, the branches that bear fruit versus the branches that are barren, and the sheep versus the goats, etc. All of these are pictures of genuine converts and false converts growing up in the universal church together until Jesus returns to separate the wicked from the just (see Matt. 25:31-46). This is why Jesus says things like this:
21"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' 23And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'"These people believe themselves to be saved, otherwise they would not say, "Lord, Lord." However, Jesus, knowing their hearts, exposes the truth that they were merely professors whose lips honoured God but whose hearts were far from Him. This lends to why the Bible tells us to examine ourselves so much, to take the log out of our own eye before trying to take the speck out of another's eye. The heart is very deceitful, and with so many false gospels being preached of "easy believism," it is very easy for us to convince ourselves we are saved when in fact we are not. Do we hide our Christianity and refuse to speak about it? Or are we bold and confess Jesus before others regardless of what they might think of us?
Which type of Christian are you? Genuine? Or false? There is no such thing as a "carnal Christian."