There are approximately 7.5 billion people upon the earth at this time (July 2017). This is a small number when compared to the many billions who have already passed on. Every rational creature that has lived can, and some day will, be placed in one of two classifications. We are either converted or unconverted. One is either saved or unsaved. The tragedy of all tragedies is to die unconverted. By studying cases of conversion and non-conversion we may enable ourselves to view our own condition more objectively, and thus guarantee that ours will be a case of conversion.
In the Bible we read about individuals and groups of individuals who were not converted, and the reason for their non-conversion is apparent. In many instances the reason for their failure to become Christians is the same as that of people today. In the past centuries there have been no drastic changes in the nature of people. It takes the same Gospel to save people today that it took in the first century, and many today reject this Gospel for the same reasons first century individuals did.
A Rich Ruler
In Matt. 19 we read about a certain rich ruler that came to Jesus. He had been attracted by the message that Christ spoke. “And behold, one came to him and said, Teacher, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why ask me concerning that which is good? One there is who is good; but if you would enter into life, keep the commandments. He said unto him, Which? And Jesus said, You shall not kill, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and your mother, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself. The young man said unto him, All these things have I observed:. what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If you would be perfect, go sell that which you have, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. But when the young man heard the saying, he went away sorrowful; for he was one that had great possessions” (Matt. 19:16-22).
Here was a young man who devoutly had followed the Old Testament law, but wanted to live by the higher law of Christ. He was one that did not know what it would involve, or what it would necessitate. He had never thought that it would demand that he forfeit his riches to be a disciple of Christ. There is a class of people just like this rich young ruler. They would like to follow Christ, but they love the riches of the world too much. Some people acquire their money through wrong means, so they are not willing to give up their practice. The trouble with this class of people is that they have not really purposed to do the will of God. This man would like to be Christ’s disciple if he would dictate to Christ what would be expected of Him.
For one to ever please the Lord Jesus Christ, his attitude must be that I will forsake, and forfeit all for my Lord. We must say, “Where he leads I’ll follow, follow all the way.” Our heart must cry out, “Speak Lord, they servant hears” (1 Sam. 3:9); and I will obey. If we fail to do this, in the day of judgment we will go away sorrowfully into everlasting punishment.
Fulfilling Isaiah’s Prophecy
Then there is another class of people who are unconverted. They are people who close their ears and their hearts. They do not want to learn what God demands of them. There was such a class in New Testament times. Of this class Jesus said, “And unto them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which said, By hearing you shall hear, and shall in no wise understand; And seeing you shall see, and shall in no wise perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, And their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed: Lest haply they should perceive with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should turn again, and I should heal them” (Matt. 13:14, 15). Are there not people today of whom these words may very aptly be spoken?
Many have been the people who have closed their ears to other words from the Lord because they see where they are being led. Perhaps one is a member of a denominational organization, an organization of which one can read nothing in the Bible. When he begins to see enough of Bible truth to learn that to follow Christ, he is going to have to leave this human organization and be added to the one body, he turns away. Many people attend a few services of the Lord’s church enthusiastically, but they soon learn they must either obey the Gospel or continue to have their conscience pricked by the powerful Gospel of Christ. Hence, they come no more. Those who will attend no longer have closed their ears. They are exactly like these people of whom Jesus spoke in Matt. 13.
Christianity is founded and advanced by teaching. Jesus said: “Go you therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them…” (Matt. 28:19). Those who close their ears so tightly that the treasures of truth cannot penetrate to their heart, have closed the door to the only opportunity they will ever have to be saved. Billions have done just this.
In the parable of the sower, Jesus depicted another class of unsaved people and tells us why they are unsaved. Jesus told of a sower that went forth to sow, and as he went forth, some of his seed fell by they wayside, and the birds devoured them. To whom does this refer? Jesus tells us, “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. And those by the way side are they that have heard; then comes the devil, and takes away the word from their heart, that they may not believe and be saved” (Lk. 8:11, 12). The precious word of God was so carelessly handled by the recipient of it that the devil snatched it away lest he should believe. In Matt. 13 Jesus tells us that these people understood not the word. But there are many people who do understand the Gospel, but they handle it carelessly rather than burying it deeply in their heart. The seed that fell by the way side should have been properly buried in fertile soil, but it was not. Hence, it brought forth no fruit. Much preaching of God’s word falls by the wayside. Careless hearers let the word be snatched from them to their damnation.
There are many careless hearers who know exactly what God demands of them, but they continue to treat God’s truth lightly. They enjoy living in sin too much. So they let the precious word of God lie outside their heart; Waiting to be carefully buried in a good and honest heart, until Satan snatches it away from them. Thus, carelessly they go on their way to hell.
Finally, the Jews as a nation represent another class of unsaved people. What was wrong with the Jews? Why did they reject Christ? John said, “He (Christ) came unto his own, and they (Jews) that were his own received him not” (Jn. 1:11). Again in speaking of the Jews, John said, “And you have not his word abiding in you: for whom he sent, him you believe not-” (Jn. 5:38). The Jews rejected and crucified the only Savior they will ever have. What caused these people to remain unconverted? How could they overlook the miraculous demonstrations of His divine power? The reason is a simple one. Jesus was not what the Jews expected Him to be. They have preconceived notions as to what the Messiah would be like. However, Jesus came just as God had said He would. And since He was not what the Jews thought He would be, they simply could not change their notion, so they rejected Christ.
The Jews expected Jesus to be a ruling monarch, and to lead them to victories over their national enemies, but He came meek and lowly, a crucified redeemer. Since Jesus did not measure up to their standards, they paid no attention to His commands. One of the big reasons for so many different denominations existing today is because people go to the Bible to try to prove what they already believe, rather than going to it to try to learn what it teaches. If my mind is already made up as I turn to the Bible for proof, I can never arrive at truth. The Jews could not, and neither can I.
People confidently affirm, “I know I am saved for I feel that I am”, rather than rationally studying what Christ and the apostles say one must do to be saved. One chooses a church, and then tries to prove it is the New Testament church, rather than first consulting the New Testament for a picture of the Lord’s church. One decides what he thinks one must do in order to be saved, rather than earnestly seeking God’s truth on the subject from the pages of His word.
Conclusion: Why are so many unconverted? We have noticed four reasons in this article. (1) They have tried to dictate to Christ rather than obey Christ; (2) They have closed their hearts; (3) They have handled the Bible carelessly; (4) They have preconceived notions.
How may one be converted? In every Biblical conversion, they heard the gospel (1 Cor 15:3,4 f; Rom 10:17), they believed and confessed Jesus to be the Christ (Rom 10:9,10), they repented of their sins and were baptized (immersed) in water for the remission of their sins (Acts 2:38). They were added to the Lord’s church (Acts 2:47). They continued in the doctrine of Christ and His apostles (Acts 2:42 f; 2 Jn 9). This is the only way to be transferred from the class of the unconverted to the saved group. Which one are you in today?