Many of you are familiar with the old saying, “the world is made up of all kinds of people.” And rightly understood, this is true. Yet from an eternal perspective, there are only two kinds of people. There are people who are in Christ by faith and those who are not.
I say this because I have noticed a tendency to try to divide mankind into three categories. Here’s how it works. In the first category you have believers. They love God, believe the Bible, and follow their Savior. God loves them and they are His children. In the second category you have non-believers. They do not love God, believe the Bible, or follow Jesus. And God is angry with them. They are not His children.
Then you have the third category. These are the people in the middle. They’re not completely on one side or the other. They’re quite sure that they don’t belong in the second category of non-believers because they believe in Jesus. Nor do they belong in the first category because they’re not living like they should. They’re just in the middle.
How did they come to be in the middle? It all started back when they “got saved.” They remember it well. They felt joy. They were on fire. They were in church whenever the doors were open. They stopped smoking and cussing. They knew they were doing right.
And things went well for a while. But gradually they started to slip. They stopped going to church like they should. Things just seemed to go against them. Hard times came. The devil really started pulling them down. The old habits started creeping back again. They got in with the wrong crowd. They took their eyes off Jesus.
Then it happened. They backslid. Now they’re no longer saved. They’re back to square one. It wasn’t God’s fault, they say. He never lets go of us. We let go of Him. They usually wait in this condition until some crisis moves them to get saved again. Then the cycle repeats itself.
Meanwhile, they create a third category. Since they are no longer living right, they cannot call themselves Christians. But in their minds, they are not really unbelievers either. After all, they still believe. They always have. And God knows they would be serving Him right now if they could. So they think of themselves as being in a third category.
There is only one problem in all this. The Bible knows nothing of a third category. We are either in darkness or light, under the power of Satan or of God, forgiven or not forgiven (Acts 26:18). We are either God’s children by faith in His Son (John 1:12), or we are children of the devil (John 8:44). Jesus said, “He who is not with Me is against Me” (Matt. 12:30). John said, “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (I John 5:12). We are either “dead in trespasses and sins” or “alive together with Christ” (Eph. 2:1&5). Either you love Jesus, the light of the world, or you love “darkness rather than light” (John 3:19). You are either under His wrath or His blessing (John 3:36). There simply is no third category in the Bible when it comes to salvation.
May I offer a suggestion? Will you let God’s Word tell you where you really are? If you see yourself in the third category, understand that God sees you as an unbeliever. There is no in between. Be honest with yourself. Then believe in Christ for salvation.
I only say this because you’re more likely to believe in the gospel of grace if you see yourself in great need of grace. Third category people really don’t see how desperate their situation is. They think they’re neutral. And neutral people won’t cry out to God for mercy. They will wait until they can save themselves. But they are waiting for something they will never happen.
John Belden is the pastor of Covenant Reformed Presbyterian Church
in Neon, Kentucky.