Worldly Christians or Unsaved Churchgoers?
I would also add, that depending on the church, there may be less of one and more of another, IMO.
Every Christian is constantly growing and maturing, learning what it means to be perfected by the Spirit, and not by the law.
For me it is not so hard to tell which people are real Christians. You can always feel the peace and joy that they have in their lives, even when things are difficult. Joy is something that cannot be faked. You can fake a smile, but you cannot fake joy.
Information on Jim
Whenever I think of this issue, I bring to mind a man in my old church, up in Wisconsin. He is in his mid-50's and has been struggling with an addiction to crack cocaine for many years. After knowing him for a number of years, I truly do believe he is saved, for too many reasons to list here. However, he goes through cycles with his crack addiction. The longest stretch I saw him go without crack was about one year. Since that time, his attendance has been sporadic. Every time he did come back to church, however, he would smile sadly and say something to the effect of, "Satan's fighting against me, but I'm not giving up."
I do believe the man is a born-again believer. This is why each case must be considered on it's own. When I think of perseverence of the saints, as the fruit of real salvation, I think of this man. He is not always victorious or triumphant, but he has never stopped struggling and fighting. He has persevered in spite of his crippling sin.
The issue is when you have person who professes Christ, but has no outward spiritual fruit whatsoever, or even an inclination to develop any! We all know these people and see them in church every Sunday. They bolt for the exits as soon as the concluding prayer is uttered, leaving the Pastor and others little time to actually develop a relationship with them. They're essentially ciphers; they're in church every once and a while, but you don't know them at all. Moreover, they don't seem to want you to get to know them! What are we to do? Love them and pray for them, and hope their hearts are softened.
TylerR is the Pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Divernon, Il. He blogs here.