What Does It Mean if There is No Transformation in the Life of a Christian?

Jonathan Edwards quote, transformation, assurance of salvation

If there be no great and remarkable, abiding change in persons,
that think they have experienced a work of conversion,
vain are all their imaginations and pretenses.
Jonathan Edwards


Jonathan Edwards was a Calvinist.
Edwards had a very high doctrine of grace and eternal security.
He had a very deep understanding of depravity and human inability. 
At the same time, Edwards, like so many of the Puritans (theological descendents of Calvin), also had a biblical doctrine of salvation.

Yes, salvation means justification and declaration of imputed righteousness.
But salvation also means union with Christ and his powerful life.
It means regeneration - made alive.
Salvation means a new nature implanted in the one who is in union with God.
Salvation means holiness is not just legally declared but actually imparted.
We are really saints - the holy ones of God.

So, when a person says they have been born again, that they have Jesus in their heart . . . BUT there is no great and remarkable, abiding change in them . . . many (but not all) of the theological descendents of Calvin said such people should have NO ASSURANCE OF THEIR SALVATION.

In fact, they should assume just the opposite. They they are not converted at all. Because Christ does not only forgive us, Christ changes us. It is a package deal. The forgiven are the changed. No change means the reality of forgiveness is truly in question.

Above all, this warns us about shoddy, shallow evangelism that presses for emotional conversions that are not really conversions at all. So the "supposed" convert is still unrepentent and unregenerate... but thinks they are saved!  "Vain are all their imaginations and pretenses."

This is not to preach a works salvation. Good works do not save us. Attempts at self-transformation do not save. But the saved find assurance they are saved because good works flow naturally from a life transformed by Jesus. And even more, these good works are not duty, they are delight.
 

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International

BrianRice@lcileaders.org

 

Sorry for the typo on the image (have, not hve). Once it was saved, it couldn't be changed.