“Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Cor 6:9-10)
No Faith Without Repentance
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 restore us to fellowship. When we preach a gospel that does not call for repentance as the first step to saving 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 dead in our trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1-10). Dead men cannot make choices. Spiritual life cannot come from those who are spiritually dead and unresponsive. Spiritual life must be imparted by the source of all life and righteousness, and that is Jesus Christ (Jn 14:6).
We Don’t Choose Jesus – He chooses Us
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) He meant that Nicodemas had no access to spiritual life because that comes only from the Father. He told Peter the same thing when Peter confessed Him as the Son of God, saying: “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.” (Mt 16:16-17) In other words, Peter didn’t come to the conclusion that Christ was the Son of God through his own rational processes, but by a revelation from God.
Many professing Christians believe that confronting a person with his sin will only drive him 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 produce a sense of spiritual ecstasy (Jn 16:8). He 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).
No Seeker-Friendly Messages in the Bible
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 based on all the spiritual blessings that would accrue to him. 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 present them with the blessings of new life in Christ. When Christ encountered Saul on the road to Damascus, He did not appeal to his sense of justice or righteousness. 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 spiritual – peace with God, adoption into His family, an inheritance with Jesus Christ, and most important, righteous standing before the Judge of all the Universe. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble” (Jn 16:33) 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).
Appealing to Natural Desires Doesn’t Produce Faith
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. Apart from Christ, everyone is self-serving. So if there is no immediate benefit in the gospel message for them, they will not naturally come to Christ. Christ continually stressed the sacrifice that accompanies true faith. He set the bar so high for the rich young ruler that he went away sorrowful because he was unwilling to give all that he had to follow Christ. This man was too attached to his wealth and Christ always required his disciples to forsake anything that took away from their love for him. People who come to Christ under their own power, by their own reasoning, or to get all the benefits of spiritual blessings misunderstand the requirements of true faith. Many, if not most of them, have never been born again. Many never come to the place of genuine remorse for their sins and repentance. Most are not willing to sacrifice anything for the One who gave himself for them. The first time they come under pressure for their faith, they buckle. It is these people of whom the Apostle John spoke when he said, “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.” (1 Jn 2:19)
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 pastors struggle with pornography. 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 whose lives are based on entertainment and self-gratification. 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 that is why people are not attracted to the church. It is because church is no different from the rest of society. It is a waste of a beautiful Sunday morning. People are offended not just 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.