Why are so many Christians lost and not truly in CHRIST JESUS the LORD?
As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore
Not too long ago, maybe three months or so, I started thinking about why so many Christians are lost? “Not everyone who says to ME, ‘LORD LORD’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of MY FATHER who is in heaven” were the words that kept coming to me. Those words spoken by the LORD JESUS CHRIST seemed to, in the past, be glossed over as though there were more important words I needed to hear. But as I began to think about the lost, especially those in the church, those same words began to penetrate into my heart making me examine why someone would give up such a great treasure (JESUS) and return back into a dark world – corrupt with deception and lies? Literally, for hundreds of years, we have heard about the greatest mission field being the “Church” and the lost in it. But why is this the case? Why would there be so many who claim to be Christians, followers/disciples of the LORD JESUS CHRIST who would either make a profession and then fall away, or those who have grown up in the church, asserting they have always been a Christian, or not been a follower/disciple at all? That is what this article is about. It is hoped that GOD will grant me mercy and the grace to write accurately, clearly – and by all means, by the power of the HOLY SPIRIT, so we may address this heart-wrenching reality. It is also hoped we, as the Body of CHRIST, may begin to take steps to, by the grace of GOD through HIS SPIRIT, address and confront. It is only when the Body of CHRIST, collectively and individually, walks as the LORD commanded, that love will be truly displayed.
When I was growing up, much of my childhood was spent living with my grandparents. My mom was divorced and after a bad car accident she, my brother and I, went and lived with them. Next door to my grandparents lived a family where the LORD JESUS was taught – they were Christians. There was more than one occasion where I feel certain they tried to witness to my grandparents – perhaps, even my mom. No one in the neighborhood particularly cared to associate with them. Don’t get me wrong, they were not persecuted, called names (at least to their face that I know of), or even ostracized. But, behind closed doors, at least in our home, they were talked about – and not in the best of light. I remember when my grandmother came in from talking to the lady next door. She began to say, “One thing I was taught, you never talk about religion or politics out in public.” Most people (those who knew my grandparents – especially my grandfather) would have said they were good people. My grandfather spent 30 years in the Navy and served in WWII. After the military, he did all that he could do, given his health, to help my mom and us out. Sadly, they would represent what most, in America, would consider to be a good Christian. If you asked my grandparents if they believed in GOD, I think without hesitation they would have said, “Yes.” I can still hear my grandfather saying grace before our meals each night. I also can remember him saying at the table one night, “The good LORD helps those who help themselves.” Sadly, the last words I know my grandfather spoke, before he died, was to his hospice nurse. He said, “Don’t leave me, I don’t want to die alone.” The nurse said he wasn’t going to die, left the room, and when she returned he had passed away. That day my grandfather passed away alone – and with an ache in my heart – I also believe he died spiritually alone. I don’t know what happened the last few minutes before he passed away. I don’t know if he repented of his sins and asked forgiveness of them in JESUS name. But what I do know was up until that very time, I had never heard my grandfather or grandmother speak of the LORD in any reverent way – they did not even own a bible that I can remember (at the very least, if they did, it was not put out anywhere). Yet, once again, they would have said they were believers and worse yet, the vast majority in America would have said the same thing. This, my friends, really gets to the heart of the matter. Just because you say you’re a Christian, having grown up in a Judaeo- Christian culture, does not make you Christian. Look at the Jews in the Old Testament – what did GOD say about them? –
Then the Lord said, “Because this people draw near with their words And honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote…”
This quote was also used of JESUS in Matthew 15:8 when speaking to the Pharisees and teachers. Today, as back then, there are so many who go about calling themselves Christians, when in reality, they are just moralist – just people who have a tag added to there identities, like doctor or teacher or dancer would be used. But don’t misunderstand me, this is not just an isolated case here in America. Since the LORD has saved me, HE has granted for me to travel to numerous locations to proclaim HIS glorious good news. What I have found in every place I have been sent, is the very same thing – Christians who do not really follow CHRIST, but follow an idol in their minds. The question remains – Why? Why does the religion of the ONE True LIVING GOD, to a large extent, resemble the idol worship of all the other world religions? I think what first has to be examined is, what do true Christians look like? Then we can progress onto the reasons so many are not like what the Word of GOD says we are to be.
So who is a Christian and what do Christians look like? Many opinions are given in the world – even in the church. People want to take what GOD’S Word says and then say, “but you can’t judge a persons heart.” Well, to some extent that is true, but not to the degree where our hands are tied behind our backs. There are so many who call themselves Christians and what they believe is not in accord with the Word of GOD. Many will have beliefs which are nothing more than an atheistic worldview, dressed up as spiritual. The liberal views of GOD’S Word leave it open for anyone to say they are Christian and hold to any ideological view they have formed in their minds. A Christian – a true Christian – is one who has been saved by the power of GOD, the gospel of the LORD JESUS CHRIST. This salvation also has an immediate impact and is apparent outwardly.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
The LORD JESUS was making it very clear that a Christian is able to be known from outward manifestations, resulting from an inward regenerated heart, upon repentance and faith. While there are many fruits that can be used to help identify a believer from a non-believer, I want to focus on just a couple: Love for GOD and the church, and obedience to the gospel.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
…when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
2 Thessalonians 1:7-8
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:
May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
1 Peter 1:1-2
Sometimes, the most obvious fruits are the hardest to detect. These two indications, love and obedience, are so pronounced throughout Scripture and preached on so much that I believe we become desensitized to the need for discernment in validation of these. A person can say they love GOD and their neighbor; they can say they live a life holy unto the LORD, but does what they say match up with what is being manifested? The LORD JESUS tells us very plainly that a true follower will be manifesting these two fruits continually. Not that there won’t be periods of dryness or times of chastisement. I am speaking of a life-long sanctification process by which these two will grow more and more. What becomes more evident is when what is spoken, is also validated by the actions that accompany those words. Think of Zacchaeus when he was called by name by the LORD JESUS. Look what words came from his mouth and look what actions he did just to see JESUS. There are so many accounts of salvation being demonstrated by love and obedience. These two fruits, accompanied by perseverance, are the two greatest indicators of a regenerated heart. In like manner, we, as believers, must be able to discern and examine these fruits to see if they are genuine or false. There too, in this discernment, we have not been left without direction and guidance. One of the foremost means by which we see genuine heart transformation is speaking the truth, in love, regardless of how the other person receives it.
But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”
And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;
1 Peter 1:22-23
A true believer will have a desire to be obedient in all things relating to the LORD – not from obligation, but love. Though we are under obligation, due to the saving work of CHRIST (see Romans 8) this we find out is, not out of duty – but love. This loving obedience will also be accompanied by speaking the truth. If there is one aspect of GOD which resonates in all of HIS children, it would be that HE is truth and we must therefore speak the truth. Even the “white lie” will be detested as contradicting the holiness of GOD. That is why Proverbs tells us about the fear of the LORD and the desire of following the LORD in truth:
The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil.
Pride and arrogance and the way of evil
and perverted speech I hate.
Two things I ask of you;
deny them not to me before I die:
Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
Truth and obedience are the two marks of a follower of CHRIST that shine brighter and give testimony to the believer, as truly belonging to his MASTER and KING JESUS. Though many will, time and time again, try to give reasons why these two may not be present at any given time, they are merely excuses. Upon close examination of any follower of CHRIST, these two fruits will be present, though there may be areas still being pruned and cleaned. Therefore, truth and obedience (from love) should always be looked at when examining a persons claim to be saved and redeemed. If these two are present and growing, then we have good reason to believe in what our ears are hearing from their lips. Now we know what a “true” believer looks like, why then do we see so many who claim to be Christians, actually living a life not in accord with the Word?
The very simple and direct answer to that question is unbelief. Ultimately, a person is condemned and judged because of unbelief in GOD. Even those who have never heard the name JESUS have no excuse because of GOD’S self revelation in creation (Romans 1). The blame for unbelief, of professed Christians, rests on two individuals, the individual themselves and the under-shepherd given charge to them. Once again, the ultimate charge is rested upon the individual but culpability is also shared with those leading the church. We will look briefly at these two and hopefully put into perspective why we see what we see in America and the world today. LORD willing, afterward, we will understand what great salvation this is and what great burden we have, in our striving to enter the narrow gate.
So, lets begin with the under-shepherds first. Why them? Why would they share blame for a “Christians” unbelief? The great commission in Matthew 28 lays responsibility at the feet of the Apostles to bring up the followers of CHRIST in truth. From the Old Testament through the New, GOD lays great responsibility for the caring of HIS sheep upon those whom HE has gifted and called –
The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord GOD: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them.
“Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: As I live, declares the Lord GOD, surely because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd, and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep, therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: Thus says the Lord GOD, Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them.
…Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.
Those whom GOD has called to lead and instruct HIS children have a great blessing, joy, and burden placed upon them. They are given charge not to add to or take away from the Word of GOD, but to teach the way of GOD in truth – not being partial to any. When the sheep of GOD go astray, GOD looks at those given responsibility over the sheep and examines what they have or have not done. When there becomes a general wide-spread departure from the Word of GOD, the responsibility is placed on those under-shepherds and the consequences are grave. We are shown in GOD’S Word to be careful of who is appointed to teach, as these must be faithful men able to teach with exceptional character…not perfect, but who tremble before the LORD. When being a pastor or priest is done for monetary gain or as a profession – or both – and not for the building up of the church to the glory of GOD, worldly greed and corruption creeps in and strong roots of bitterness develop and take hold. This, in turn, leads sheep astray, for they are no longer hearing the words of GOD and what HE demands of HIS followers/children, but of the world and its deceitful morality and denial of GOD. Yes, many “Christians” are lost because the pastors have not shepherded the sheep in truth and love. They, themselves have not demonstrated truth and obedience.
Finally, GOD does not absolve any individual from their sin and responsibility for it. When all is finished, GOD holds the individual responsible. Regardless of the others and false teachers, we are called to follow CHRIST JESUS the LORD, being devoted to HIM and students of HIS Word. The Berean’s were called “Noble” because they examined the Scriptures to see if what Paul was telling them was true. We are told to examine everything carefully, holding to what is true and discarding what is evil. We are called to be students of the Word, following after CHRIST. We are called to be devoted to HIM – and in all ways, reflecting HIM to a lost and dying world. One of the soils JESUS taught on in the Parable of the Soils, was the one which got choked out and did not bring forth fruit to maturity. In todays world, people have grown up in a culture of religion, like in the days of Israel. People became busy and turned to the world, rather than GOD and HIS Word. The “Pastors/Priests” of those days were teaching people how to live their lives in society, according to the law and not according to GOD and HIS Word. People would acknowledge GOD, but found obeying HIM was not necessary…they were HIS children, HIS covenant people, and because of their prosperity which GOD gave them, they became self reliant. No longer trembling at the Word of GOD, mourning over their sin, the teaching of GOD was nothing more than a social aspect of life.
“As for you, son of man, your people who talk together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, say to one another, each to his brother, ‘Come, and hear what the word is that comes from the LORD.’ And they come to you as people come, and they sit before you as my people, and they hear what you say but they will not do it; for with lustful talk in their mouths they act; their heart is set on their gain. And behold, you are to them like one who sings lustful songs with a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument, for they hear what you say, but they will not do it. When this comes—and come it will!—then they will know that a prophet has been among them.”
Why are so many Christians lost? Simply, those who call on the name of the LORD have forgotten, or never truly believed the blood of GOD had been shed to redeem them from the hand of the adversary. They have grown up in a culture where what you believe is “Ok,” as long as you say you believe it. The true teaching which brings about fear and trembling has been removed by the false teaching of peace and happiness, when there is no happiness outside of holiness. We have seen a mass falling away – or apathy – due to people not believing it is GOD who calls and upholds, but rather, it is up to man to save himself. People become tired and give up, not seeing the LORD as the pearl of great price. They feel faith is a “private, personal matter,” which, is opposite of what the Word of GOD teaches us. We have so many lost Christians, having the outward appearance of those who believe, but inwardly following the lusts of their own hearts. No one is exempt from this temptation…no one is shielded from this onslaught. What we find is people who fail to understand and live in the unfailing love of GOD, who will sustain and keep HIS own until the day of CHRIST. Look around the church and you will see opinion after opinion, but almost no one is willing to sit down and openly discuss these opinions, to see if we have learned and followed the Word of GOD correctly. We tolerate those who share views contrary to sound teaching, even going so far as to give validation to them. Pastors and lay people seek the approval of man and not of GOD. Their greatest treasure is not hearing, “well done good and faithful servant,” but, I am afraid, what they long to hear is, “You’re a good man and christian” from their fellow peers. So many are lost, because we have forgotten the gospel and devalued the price of HIS blood. So many are lost and wayward, because they have chosen the values of the Word and its comforts, rather than the hatred of the world, the shame of the LORD, and the riches which are in HIS presence. We have become tired of being oppressed and called demons, because we preach CHRIST crucified. Thus, when the world looks on, they have cause to malign the name of GOD. They look on not seeing the love GOD called us to, but a selfish love, which is contingent upon another fulfilling our individual needs. The world then says, “Why do I need to serve GOD, or what benefit is it in serving HIM?” Indeed the world sees the Church only with more hypocrisy and deceit.
When we, as the church (Called Out Ones), begin to value and treasure the gospel and the Word of GOD greater than the glory of the world, we will see an increase of tribulation and hardships. We will see a fire burning by which the dross is being removed so that only the face of JESUS is seen. This hardship is necessary, as it also produces worship and joy. It will be when the men of GOD start walking in the ways of GOD, fearing HIM and trembling before HIS Word, that we will see true repentance and healing. Then we shall sing with songs of joy, wallowing up from the innermost recesses of our hearts. How I long for the day when it is long forgotten, “Why are there so many Christians lost” and replaced by, “How can one not be a follower of the risen LORD JESUS CHRIST?” How I look forward to the time, and I pray that time is now, when we all sit around rejoicing in GOD and HIS unfailing love – feasting on the great banquet of HIS Word, celebrating the LORD’S supper, and seeing the grace of GOD being manifested continually. Let us rise up in the strength of the LORD, go forward, and fulfill our priestly work – to the glory, honor, and praise of the LORD JESUS. Amen.
So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture:
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,
“The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,”
“A stone of stumbling,
and a rock of offense.”
They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
1 Peter 2:1-12
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Shane Sands is the founder and president of United in Christ Jesus. In addition to local and statewide outreaches, he has organized and participated in numerous evangelism trips around the world and helped to establish a Reformed home church in Norway. Shane is a devoted husband to his wife, Holly and together they desire to follow the Lord’s leading to be based in Northern Ireland.