While we know the Bible teaches that once one is truly regenerate (born again), that their salvation is secure (John 8:29, 6:37, 6:39, 10:28-29), there is another way that folks may “lose their salvation” that is rampant among the masses. This 2-part series will examine folks at each end of the spectrum.
We see many folks on the streets from all walks of life. Many times, when someone approaches our prayer stand or while one of us is open-air preaching, we greet them and ask them about their thoughts on eternity. Usually it’s something like, “What do you think happens when you die?” or specifically, “Are you a Christian?”
Often times, the response would lead one to believe the passerby to be saved with answers like, “Oh I believe in Jesus…” or “Oh I love Jesus…I’m going to see Him when I die because I love Him…” or even more convincingly, “I will be with Jesus because the Bible says [verses quoted]…”
While those sound great, more often than not when we delve just below the surface with more pointed questions, we find that person may not be headed for the eternity as they have been led to believe by some church or religious authority. For clarity, we do not that we see ourselves as “Holy Ghost, Jr.” or the “arbiters of salvation”. But as evangelists who care for the lost, it’s never a bad idea to probe a bit to get folks to test themselves to see if they are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).
As Christians we must lovingly, boldly, and accurately destroy any obstacles on the road of repentance with the power of the Holy Spirit through God’s word.
What we find many times is that though the person may have the “right” answers and even quote many Scriptures, they may have lost their salvation in 16″. That 16″ is the distance from their head to their heart. While they may know many Scriptures and truisms, that truth never makes it to their heart.
The Broken Road Called Repentance
I like to call that 16″ the “Broken Road of Repentance”. It seems that regardless which path such conversations take, they end up bottlenecking at the entrance to this road. And this road in such conversations is broken, impassible, or at best, not yet traveled.
We hear our Lord and Savior in His first sermon call us to “…repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:15). To repent is to not only turn away from our sin, but to turn away from our sin and turn towards God. Sadly, for many we minister to, they have never repented.
Real-life Broken Road Travelers: The Knowers
One evening during our local, weekly open-air times, we encountered such an individual. When asked, a young man was all too eager to proclaim how a local church (shall remain unnamed) had confirmed his supposed salvation and baptized him all at the same time. As we conversed, Adam asked him about his repentance to which he replied,”Repentance? Um.. Oh I haven’t got there yet…” Here we see the stereotypical roots of how a false convert is made. He is walked through some prayer, baptized, and told he is saved. Yet, he knows nothing about what Jesus requires, repentance.
Now that may sound harsh and judgmental, but that’s not the end of the story. Fast-forward a few weeks later and the young man is in an openly-admitted “friends with benefits” relationship with a married woman. While he knew the right answers, he is still as lost as a ball in tall grass and yet (hopefully) to travel the road of repentance.
Another such example I witnessed while open-air preaching on the Boardwalk in Ocean City, MD while on vacation. I was doing sketchboard evangelism and had many one-on-one conversations. After explaining the Gospel to one young man, he replied, “I’ve been in Bible studies and Sunday school all my life and have never heard anything like that…” He knew and nodded in agreement with many truths I was proclaiming. Yet, those truths had yet to make it to his heart.
As Christians we must lovingly, boldly, and accurately destroy any obstacles on the road of repentance with the power of the Holy Spirit through God’s word. For the “Knowers”, this means laboring with them until their head-knowledge reaches their heart to bring about true repentance that will lead to conviction, brokenness, confession, faith, and a true, tangible change (Matthew 7:16-20).
In part 2, we’ll examine the other travelers of the Broken Road of Repentance: The Lovers.
Soli Deo Gloria!