After hearing the gospel and praying the sinner’s prayer to give their lives to follow Jesus, why do so many people ultimately turn back?
The Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13) speaks of 4 men:
- The first man ‘hears the Word and does not understand it. Satan comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. ’
- The second man ‘hears the Word and receives it with joy, yet has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation and persecution arise on account of the Word, immediately he falls away.’
- The third man ‘hears the Word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the Word, and it proves unfruitful.’
- ONLY the fourth man ‘hears the Word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.’
ONLY 1 of 4 men continued in the faith. That is a 25% success rate.
During Jesus’ earthly ministry, (mega church) masses followed Him around waiting for the next miracle, wanting to be associated with Him, wanting Him to set up an earthly kingdom in Israel. But when He spoke hard truths, many turned back (John 6:51-69). Speaking hard truths reduced mega church masses to a small handful of true followers.
FANS of Christ follow when…
- The message is “positive and encouraging” .
- The majority appears to be doing the same.
- Following requires minimal life changes.
- Following means exalting self.
- Following involves chasing emotional highs.
TRUE FOLLOWERS of Christ follow even when…
- The message is convicting and offensive (John 6:69).
- Following requires standing alone, against the majority.
- Following requires surrender and sharing embarrassing truth about how bad we were and how good Christ is (Matthew 10:38).
- Following requires dying daily to self to live for Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:31).
- Following requires reading God’s Word daily.
New Years Eve at an Exciting Church:
In an effort to spice things up a few years ago, I periodically attended a Saturday evening or special service at an exciting church. After one service in particular, I remember being so caught up emotionally that I sat in my vehicle and sobbed.
Two years in a row, I attended the New Year’s Eve service. The preaching was dynamic. We were encouraged to trust the Lord for BIG things over the coming year. At the end, we were all asked to kneel and pray for something for which we were going to trust the Lord. As we prayed, the minister began to speak “Words of Faith” over us: ‘Somebody here has had trouble paying bills this past year. Better days are coming this year. Somebody here has been having marriage problems. God’s gonna fix that this year… Somebody here is going to adopt a child this year…‘ Adopt a child? Are you serious? That’s EXACTLY what I had been praying. As a new believer, that was all the confirmation I needed. I jumped on it. He named it, and I CLAIMED IT.
All was well and good until… it didn’t happen. Impatient and hot tempered, I was more than discouraged. I was angry with a just God, who created all things and knows all things, who is faithful. I tried to hold Him accountable for something He never said. A man said it. Big mistake.
This fall caused significant delays in His work in my life. In the church, we say, “God has a plan for your life.” It has been my experience that the train doesn’t leave the station until I’m onboard.
Had I acted out by going back to my old life, the penalty undoubtedly would have been much more severe. Did God promise that I would adopt a child that year? NO. Now that we are farther down the path, I am thankful that He did not. His plan is better than mine.
We must search the Word of God to see if what we are being taught is true (Acts 17:11). Things are not always as they appear or as they feel.
“And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.” – 2 Corinthians 11:14-15
We are at war. Our enemy is the author of confusion. Bombarded by voices, we struggle to discern truth from counterfeit. We are confident of one thing- Our Commanding Officer never goes against His Word. Know the Bible. Compare messages against it.
“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” – 2 Timothy 4:3-4
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” – Matthew 7:13-14
Lesson Learned: Don’t follow your heart.
“The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked…” – Jeremiah 17:9
Lord, please give us wisdom and discernment. Show us the difference between popular false teachings and Biblical doctrine. Remind us to read your Word daily. Help us to apply it.