The church today is filled with people who have “made a decision for Christ” but have never been born again. They have been presented with all the logical arguments for the faith and asked to raise their hand or pray a prayer, but have never really committed their lives to Christ.
These people have been presented with a “gospel lite” that emphasizes the blessings of belief without repentance for sin. Without repentance for sin, there can be no reconciliation to God, and therefore no salvation. Our sins have separated us from Him. They are so grievous that God the Father had to sacrifice His only Son in order to make reparations and restore us to fellowship. When we preach a gospel that does not call for repentance as the first step to believing faith, then we belittle that sacrifice as though it really wasn’t necessary for Christ to go to all that trouble on our account.
The Bible says the heart is desperately wicked, that no man seeks after God, and that only when the Holy Spirit opens our hearts to receive the Word of God and confess our sins can we receive Christ (Jer 17:9, Rom 3:11,Jn 3:7) . None of us has the ability to choose Christ on our own. The Apostle Paul says no one has reason to boast before God because He chose us when we were still at war with Him and dead in our trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1-10). Dead men cannot make choices. Spiritual death cannot produce spiritual life. Spiritual life must come from the source of all life and righteousness and that is Jesus Christ (Jn 14:6).
Some people claim that they chose Jesus Christ. But Jesus says, “You did not choose me, but I chose you“(Jn 15:16). Believers have been chosen in Christ by God the Father from the foundation of the world and are a gift from the Father to the Son (Eph 1:3-8, Jn 17:6). Jesus told Nicodemas, “You must be born from above” (Jn 3:5-8) That means spiritual life does not reside in you.
Many professing Christians believe that confronting a person with their sin will only drive them away from Christ. Obviously, these people do not believe God is capable of drawing people to Himself through the convicting power of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. Jesus said the role of the Holy Spirit was to convict of sin, righteousness and judgment, not to give a warm, fuzzy feeling of blessing (Jn 16:8). Jesus said that the true believer must sacrifice everything for Him, take up his cross and follow Him (Lk 9:23, Mt 16:24, Mk 8:34).
You can search the scriptures from front to back and you will not find a single seeker friendly message or instance where someone came to faith without repentance. Jesus and the Apostles all began their presentations of the gospel with a call to repentance. John the Baptist and Jesus both said, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand“(Mt 3:2, 4:17; Mar 1:15). Peter accused the crowd at Pentecost of killing the Son of God. They were so smitten with grief that they called out, “What shall we do?” He told them to repent and believe (Acts 2:22-42). Stephen accused his attackers of killing all the prophets (Acts 6:51-53). He did not plead with them to consider their own spiritual welfare. When Christ encountered Saul on the road to Damascus, He did not appeal to his sense of fairness or compassion. He said, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:3-5)
The blessings of spiritual life which false teachers promote are temporal. So people come to Christ for selfish reasons. But the blessings of true faith are eternal – peace with God, adoption into His family, an inheritance with Jesus Christ, and most important, righteous standing before the Judge of the Universe. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble” not health or wealth or safety or security. He said the one who comes to Him must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Him (Mat 16:24, Mt 8:34, Lk 9:23). He must forsake father and mother and brothers and sisters (Mt 12:50, Mk 10:29,Lk 14:6). He said the one who suffers for His sake will receive great blessing and honor in the world to come (Mk 8:35).
Those who object to confronting unbelievers with their sins are trying to win people to Christ by appealing to their natural desires. But people’s natural desires are sinful. They seek to serve self first. So if there is nothing in it for them, they will not come to Christ. Those who begin by confronting others with their sin are trusting the Holy Spirit to do a work of conviction in the hearts of those to whom God has already chosen to impart spiritual life. Those who respond to this kind of appeal can only do so because the Holy Spirit gives them new life. Those who make a “decision for Christ” based on some spiritual benefit offered to them may or may not be genuinely converted. People who come to Christ under their own power, by their own reasoning, or to get all the benefits of spiritual blessings misunderstand the gospel. Many if not most of them have never been born again. Most are not willing to sacrifice anything for the One who gave Himself for them. Many never come to the place of genuine remorse for their sins and repentance. The first time they come under pressure for their faith, they buckle. It is these people of whom Christ spoke when He said, “Depart from me for I never knew you.” (Mt 7:23)
Today the church looks little different from the world. The divorce rate is about the same. Church staffs have to do background checks on those who work in children’s ministries to eliminate pedophiles. Many men and even some pastors struggle with pornography. People are unscrupulous in their business dealings and make a practice of lying and stealing. Giving averages only 4% of income. Pastors don’t encourage believers to give generously out of gratitude for all God has given them. Instead they tell people not to give if they are visitors or unbelievers. Sanctuaries are built with all the comforts and conveniences of modern theaters or auditoriums just to attract people who won’t accept less. Worship is dumbed down for the seeker instead of being offered in reverence and awe to a holy God. Messages are filled with personal anecdotes instead of a thorough and serious exploration of the biblical text from a grammatical and historical perspective. And this is why people are not attracted to the church. It is because church is no different from the rest of society. It is redundant, a waste of a beautiful Sunday morning. People are offended not because someone has called attention to their sins, but because when they look at Christians, they see a bunch of unregenerate reprobates trying to pass themselves off as followers of Jesus Christ.