This is a subject that my wife and I first started discussing some thirty-five years ago. The Bible describes those who are born again differently than we seem to describe them today. Something is seriously wrong with a profession of faith that leaves the “new convert” without any desire for the Word of God or the house of God.
I know pastors and other godly people who have lost their children to the world, to other denominations, or to cults. These children were raised in good churches and had made a profession of faith. They had been involved in church and, to all outward appearances, they seemed to be good Christians. Why did they depart from what they professed to believe?
1 John 2:19 says, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” This may be hard to swallow for some who have lost their children. They did the best they knew how in raising them, and still their children departed from the faith they had been raised in.
Rather than getting angry at someone who would propose that they departed because they were not truly saved, or rather than sticking one’s head in the sand, those who have lost their children or have seen their new converts fall by the wayside should search the Scriptures to find out why. This is the only way that they can be won back and it is the only way to prevent it from happening to others.
Another passage that relates to this subject is Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” A multitude of excuses are made to comfort or excuse parents whose children depart from the faith but this passage tells us that the way we train our children will last a lifetime. It is a promise of God and means what it says.
None of us are perfect parents and there are holes in our training that give our children room to depart. There is a way to protect our children from our mistakes in raising them. This brings me back to the subject of this article. 1 John 2:19 tells us that if they depart, they were not of us. If they were not of us, they were never saved because if they were they would not have left.
I think the reason we are loosing so many of our children and why so many “new converts” drop out is that we are leaving something very important out of our Gospel presentation. Before I tell you what I think is missing, let me talk a little about how the Gospel is most often presented.
First we get the candidate to admit they are a sinner. Only a fool would say they were not a sinner so this is pretty easy to do. One young girl put it this way when asked if she had ever told a lie: “Yes, but that doesn’t make me a bad person.” When asked if she had ever stolen anything she responded, “Yes, but that doesn’t make me a horrible person.”
When most people admit they have sinned, what they really mean is that they have made some mistakes in their lives, but they are as good or better than most other people. There is no conviction of having done anything worthy of Hell.
Next we tell the candidate that his sin makes him guilty before God. If we would follow this up with a question like, “Do you think God would send you to Hell?” they will usually answer no, because they don’t think their sin rises to that level.
We talk about sin as if it was against other people. David knew that his sin was against God. We need to make God central in our presentation.
The rest of our Gospel presentations are pretty much where they should be. We show that the candidate must repent and trust Christ for their salvation. The Gospel itself, however, should not be presented until there is real conviction of sin and there is a repentant heart. The Gospel is not good news to those who do not understand that they are truly condemned to Hell.
The problem is that most people think repentance means to stop doing things that hurt others. They believe in a loving Jesus who puts no demands upon their lives and will make all of their problems go away. This may seem to line up with Ephesians 2:8-9, but it doesn’t line up with Ephesians 2:8-10. Verse 9 tells us that we are not saved by works, but verse 10 tells us that those who are save are expected to work. Neither does it line up with 2 Timothy 3:12 which says, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”
James tells us that a faith that doesn’t produce works is a dead faith. A dead faith will not save anyone.
So, What is missing from most Gospel presentations today? It is an introduction of the God of the Bible. People need to know that God is a holy and righteous God, that He cannot allow sin into His Heaven and He, because of His holiness, must punish all who will not come to Him on His termsfor forgivenessby banishing them to the Lake of Fire.
How did Peter present the Gospel in Acts Chapter 2? He was speaking to a Bible believing crowd and he started by showing how all they had just seen come to pass was prophesied in the Old Testament. His emphasis was on God, not on the sinner. He showed how a righteous God had sent His Son to die for a lost world. He showed how they had rejected Jesus, who was Lord (God) and Christ (the anointed Saviour of the World), and had crucified Him. He showed that their sin was against God.
In speaking to a crowd who did not know the Bible, Paul, in Acts 17:22-31, started his presentation of the Gospel with an introduction of the God they did not know. He presented Him as the Creator of all, as greater than anything man can imagine, as one who should be feared and sought, and that each one must repent because there is a coming judgment by the Man appointed by God, His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
You will notice that neither presentation we have looked at (Acts 2 and Acts 17) mention the love of God. You will also notice that the wrath of God is shown in one way or another. Peter showed it by implication when he said they by wicked hands crucified the Lord. Paul was a little more direct when he said that there was a coming judgment by the Lord.
Peter’s preaching turned Jerusalem upside down and Paul’s turned the world upside down. Do you suppose that the way we present the Gospel may have something to do with the fact that we are not seeing as many lives changed as we should? Do you suppose that the reason the world is laughing at us has something to do with the fact that our Gospel presentations are not resulting in changed lives?
Copyright 2017 Pierre Coovert, All rights reserved