The Bible warns that there are many false converts who are holding onto a false hope (Matt 7. 13-15) and so here is a list of false religious hopes that can send people to Hell. As you read them “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith.” (2 Cor. 13:5) and make sure you are not trusting in a false hope. Your eternity is at stake.
Select a Question Below
1. Being Born into a Christian Family.
2. Being Baptized and Joining the Church.
3. Having an Intellectual Understanding of the Gospel / Believing Biblical Doctrine
4. Being a Pastor, or Serving in a Church or Doing Evangelism
5. Moral Reformation
6. Having an Emotional Experience, Whether Joy or Conviction
7. Being Healed
8. Seeing a Supernatural Vision/or Having an Angelic Encounter
9. Being Blessed with Material Things/Riches/Money
10. Keeping the Law / Legalism (Trusting in Works)
11. Listening To Hard Radical Preaching
12. Having Answers to Your Prayers
13. Having “Religious Views: Christian” on your Facebook, or Similar
14. Praying a ‘sinners prayer’ or Similar, ‘accepting Jesus’, ‘made a decision for Jesus’ or walking an aisle
15. A Pastor told me I am saved or ‘welcome to the family of God’
16. Having a ‘Spiritual Gift’ like Tongues or Prophecy
Being brought up in a Christian home does not make someone a child of God. Jesus said: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13)
The Pharisees were trusting in their physical descent, that they had Abraham ‘as their father’ (John 8:33) however John the Baptist warned them: “do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father” (Matt 3:9) and Jesus warned them “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires” (John 8:44)
When someone gives a testimony of: “I’ve always been a Christian” this should start alarm bells ringing as Jesus warned “unless you are converted…, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” NASB (Matt 18:3).
Now it may be that someone who has grown up in the Christian faith, has the evidence of true conversion but is not exactly sure when they were converted, because they can look back on more than one point in time in which they may have been converted. But whilst there may be more than one possible crisis/turning points in which they were converted, there is never none. Salvation is coming “out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9). So they should be able to look to possible times that this happened.
Note: 2 Tim. 3:15 is often cited to claim Timothy did not know a point of conversion or was somehow converted gradually, but that is reading something into that text that simply is not there.
In Acts 8, after hearing the preaching of Philip (v12), Simon the magician “believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip” [joined the disciples/church]. But in verse 21 Peter told him: “You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God”.
So being baptized and joining a church is NOT conversion.
“You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” (Jam. 2:19)
And in the demons cried out to Jesus: “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” (Matt. 8:29) showing they knew both who Jesus was, that there was a judgment coming, and there is a place of torment for the wicked.
Faith begins with having a correct understanding of the Gospel. However conversion is more than just having the correct facts.
Jesus warned “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ (Matt. 7:22) These people were very busy for the church, but in the next verse Jesus declares to them “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” (Matt. 7:23) Also notice, Jesus does not say to them, that He once knew them but they lost their salvation, but rather that He never knew them. Even though they professed Christ as their “Lord, Lord” (v.21) and were very active in serving (v.22) they were never truly converted in the first place.
The Pharisees were considered by the masses to be highly moral people (Matt. 5:20), and someone can clean themselves up a lot on the outside without being converted (Matt. 23:27). The rich young ruler though he was doing a good job of keeping the commandments (Matt. 19:20), and Paul before conversion (Rom 7:9) felt ‘alive’ and was morally good before the Spirit of God worked in His heart.
When Jesus at the last supper said: “one of you will betray me.” (John 13:21) The disciples did not all point to Judas and say “it’s him”, but it says they were, “uncertain of whom he spoke” (John 13:22), revealing that Judas must have been outwardly moral in character.
Many unbelievers quit drinking, smoking, bad language etc. Moral reformation IS NOT conversion.
In the parable of the Sower Jesus spoke of those rocky ground hearers “who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy.” They had an emotional experience of joy when hearing the Gospel, however the verse continues: “But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away”
So these rocky ground hearers “receive” the word “with joy” and so have an emotional experience, they “believe for a while” but are NOT truly converted, as (v.15) tells us that only the “good soil hearers” bear fruit to conversion, and false converts are sown by the devil (Matt. 13:39).
Also Judas had an emotional experience and was convicted “Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse” (Matt. 27:3) but he was NOT converted.
Esau had an emotional experience, but was NOT converted as “he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears” (Heb. 12:17)
Felix had an emotional experience. When Paul preached the Gospel to him and spoke of “righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come” (Acts 24:25) it says “Felix trembled” KJV but he was NOT converted.
When Jesus healed the ten lepers only one was converted and returned to give thanks, the other nine, although healed, were still lost.
“11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”(Luke 17:11-19)
Supernatural healing may lead to conversion. “God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance” (Rom. 2:4) but it IS NOT conversion. Out of the ten lepers healed by Jesus only one was converted.
Many wrongly trust in some “near-death experience” they’ve had were they “saw a bright light” or they had a vision, dream or some angelic encounter, but this IS NOT conversion and the Bible warns “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Cor 11:14)
In Matthew 19 when Jesus told the rich young ruler to forsake his riches in order to follow Christ it says “he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”
This man was very rich but he was NOT converted. In fact his money and possessions were the very thing that kept him from eternal life with Christ. Jesus said “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matt.19:24) and in Luke 12:13-21 Jesus told the parable of the rich fool.
“Peter said, “I have no silver and gold” (Acts 3:6)
Jesus said: “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Matt. 8:20) so material blessings are no proof of God’s favour, nor is financial poverty and hardship an indication of God’s displeasure.
False teachers in the prosperity movement have claimed Jesus must have been financially rich, “because He had a treasurer” and they say “only a rich person needs a treasurer”. However, Judas simply carried the money bag for the disciples, and that he betrayed Jesus for just “thirty pieces of silver” (Matt. 26:15) which is less than three months wages for a common labourer reveals that there must have not been much money in the bag, otherwise he would not have been tempted with such a small amount and would have just took off with the bag.
Many are wrongly trusting in that they are “good people” or “they keep the commandments” or certain rules, but the Bible says “by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight” (Rom. 3:20)
In order to be justified by law/rule keeping one would have to keep the law of God perfectly for every single moment of their life as “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them” (Gal 3:10) but “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:10)
Any “good work” we do to try and earn favour with God is like a “filthy rag” (Isa. 64:6) as the reality is that trying to earn favour with God by our deeds, is like trying to bride a judge, but God is not corrupt and so will not accept man’s brides as only “the wicked accepts a bribe” (Prov 17:23)
Some people are wrongly trusting that they’ll be okay because they regularly listen to pastors like Paul Washer and Tim Conway who preach a hard and uncompromising message. However Judas regularly heard the strong and uncompromising preaching of Jesus, but was NOT converted.
In the mercy of God Cain had his prayer answered (Gen.4:13-15) but he WAS NOT converted (v.5, v.16), and also the ten lepers had their prayer answered and were healed (Luke 17:11-19), but only one was converted. So whilst God may occasionally grant the prayer requests of unconverted people, and in such cases “God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance” (Rom. 2:4), nevertheless having a prayer answered IS NOT conversion.
Merely professing to be a Christian does not make someone one. Jesus said on the day of judgment many will profess to be Christians (Matt. 7:21-22), but Jesus will “declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” (v.23)
It is a twisting of Jesus’ words to take “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 10:32) to mean that merely professing to be a Christian makes someone so when in fact they continually deny Him by their lifestyle. The Bible says: “Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil” (1 John 3:8) and as Jesus said: “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46)
14. Praying a ‘sinners prayer’ or Similar, ‘accepting Jesus’, ‘made a decision for Jesus’ or walking an aisle
Many are wrongly trusting they are saved because they’ve repeated some sort of ‘sinners prayer’, or/and they’ve wrote the time and date they did it in their Bible. But neither of these are to be trusted in. When the rich young ruler asked Jesus “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17) He did not reply ‘just repeat this prayer after Me’, but that he must forsake his idols “and come, take up the cross, and follow Me” Mark 10:21 NKJV A person is saved through Christ and not as a result of any work they have done (Eph. 2:8-9).
It is a twisting of “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Rom. 10:9) to make it somehow mean that someone is saved, just because they’ve ‘prayed a sinners prayer’ or ‘made a decision for Jesus’. The context of that quote is that it was written to a church in imperial Rome suffering much persecution (Rom 8:35-36) and confessing that one was a Christian had certain consequences of death, torture or imprisonment.
Jesus said that on the day of judgment not everyone who confesses Him with their mouth will enter Heaven “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21) these people are convinced they are sincere and they are doing many works ‘in Jesus Name'(v.22), However Jesus will “declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (v.23). And Jesus does not say to these “many” (v.22) who confess Jesus as Lord with the mouth, that they were once saved but lost their salvation, but rather that “‘I never knew you” (v.23) they were never converted in the first place.
Someone merely confessing to believe and saying “I know in my heart I am saved” does not mean someone is converted as the Bible warns “The heart is deceitful above all things,” (Jer. 17:9)
Whilst a person’s life over time will give evidence as to whether or not someone is truly converted or not (Matt. 7:16) one cannot be certain about the condition of another person’s soul as neither a Pastor nor any mere man can truly see into a person’s heart and Jesus warned there will be tares/weeds (false converts) among the wheat (true converts) and it would be too difficult for man to separate them (Matt. 13:29). So someone else saying “of course you are saved” is not something to be trusted or rested in. The Bible warns there are many false teachers telling people they are right with God when they are not (Jer. 8:11; Matt. 7:13-20) and also in the parable of the Sower Jesus warned that there are “rocky ground” hearers who at first look like they are converted, but later prove that they never were (Matt. 13:20-21).
Having a spiritual gift IS NOT conversion and certainly not to be trusted in. The “many” in Matthew 7, whom Jesus will say to them “depart from Me, I never knew you” were prophesying and doing many mighty works/miracles but they were NOT converted.
“On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'” (Matt. 7:22-23)
Caiaphas prophesized and “he did not say this of his own accord being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad”. (John 11:49-52)
The book of Hebrews speaks of those who “have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come” (Heb. 6:4-5) but they fell away revealing they were never truly converted (1 John 2:19; Matt. 7:23)
What are YOU trusting in to get you to heaven?
There is nothing else that will get a person to heaven apart from Jesus Christ finished (John 19:30) and perfect work on the cross alone (Heb. 10:10; Jude 1:3).
Many claim ‘they’re trusting in Christ but if you ask them “How do you know you are going to Heaven?” they will reply something like “because I accepted Jesus” or “because I go to church”. and reveal they are trusting in a false hope.
Dear friend, if you are trusting in any one of those or another reason apart from Christ alone as to why you think you are going to Heaven, then it indicates that it may not be well with your soul. Jesus said “I am the door” (John 10:7) and “he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber.” (John 10:1)
There is no other way to eternal life, “Jesus said… “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
The book of Hebrews says that the foundation of true conversion is “repentance from dead works and of faith toward God ” (Heb. 6:1). The context of the book of Hebrews is that professing Christians had fallen back into law keeping/legalism and so the “dead works” here are any false hopes people are trusting in apart from Christ alone for salvation. In order to be saved, one must turn away from, forsake trusting in their own [dead] works and put their faith/trust in the living God.