Are prisoners who accept Jesus true Christians?
Some say that becoming a prison Christian is just a crutch to get you through hard times behind bars. Do you know anyone who has had such an experience? Please share.
We all need Jesus, whether we're behind bars or not. It would seem that those in prison are desperate, and they are--because they are confronted, every moment of every day, with their need for help. If a prison conversion is genuine, it will bear fruit long after a person is released. I have a good friend whose conversion, shortly before being incarcerated, was more than tested while in prison; and now that he's been out for a while, the impact his life is having on others through Christ is unbelievable.
To suggest that Christianity is a "crutch" is absolutely true--it's a crutch we all need, because we're all crippled people. To say that someone in jail is just accepting Jesus to "get through" his or her time is like accusing someone who is gravely ill of going to the doctor "just" to survive. Of course that's why they go: because without it they have no hope.
Many behind bars become christians. Those who witness to them have a better chance of having a "captive" audience who might accept Jesus as their Savior. Yes, many are saved while in prison, but just as most others on the outside, it might be simply a convenient time in their lives. Afterwards, they might turn their backs on Christ. Remember, we can lose our salvation if we do not keep our end of the bargain. According to scripture, some will fake it, some will keep it for a while, but a few others will continue to develop a personal relationship with their Savior that they never let go of. I'm sure I've known many through my life, but two come to mind. One came out after nearly 20 years and has been preaching at a church for about 5 years now. He was saved in prison not long after he went in. Another is still in who was saved while there. We will see after he gets out. We will know them (those who are truly "saved" ) by their fruits. My husband and I love to share Bible truths if you want to know more.
Here's the thing, nobody but the person who accepts Jesus as their savior knows for sure if they're saved. The way that those around them will be able to tell is by how they choose to live their lives from there on out; if they're performing good deeds, changing their lives, and growing in their faith. However, you do also have your carnal Christians, who choose only to accept Jesus then go back to living their lives however they want to; which IS sad, because they've accepted something truly amazing and decided to just kind of walk all over it. But God is like a loving parent, no matter what you do, He will always love you; regardless of how far people stray, from the moment they accept Christ, they will always be saved.
Ultimately, a person is a Christian if they are united to Christ by faith in His finished work on the cross. Romans 10:9-10 says, "If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. " (NIV) This salvation is a free gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9) and since it is essentially a work of God in your heart, it does not depend upon where you are, who you are, who you are related to, what church you go to or anything else. Salvation belongs to our God, and any lost sinner who puts his or her faith in Jesus will be saved.
Here are a handful of Bible passages that might help you to solidify in your mind what God has already guaranteed through Christ the cornerstone. 1 John 5:11-13; Romans 8:1; John 1:12; Romans 8:15-16. I would bet that there are countless other verses that would help.
Oh, two other thoughts - people will know that we are his disciples by our love for on another. (John 13:35) And I really liked SJmorningsun25's comment about a "crutch" - we all hobble into God's presence in our weakness and His strength.
My church has had a prison ministry over the last several years. The prisoners must request to be in the program, and they profess to be Christians. We can't know what is in anyone heart, but the recidivism rate for these men is the lowest in the state. A large number of men from the church make the long drive to the prison to mentor these men. The church has donated musical instruments for the men who know how to play instruments. Now they are able to have music during their church services. In addition, the men have the option to attend classes and have the opportunity to get their GED if they haven't graduated from high school. We have had some men who have attended college when they were released. They are also given anger management classes and individual counseling as necessary. When they are released from prison there is a halfway house for those that need the help. I have heard numerous testimonies about men getting jobs; they may attend our church or one of their choosing. So, to answer your question, I think most of these men are Christians and there lives are changed.
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