Roger D. Campbell
We understand that not every person that hears the gospel will receive it. Our Lord’s parable of the sower certainly teaches that this is the case. The historical record of the Book of Acts also plainly shows that many who heard the word rejected it. On the other hand, when the truth is preached, some do believe and obey it. For this we are ever grateful and give glory to God.
Sometimes it is said about a person, “Don’t bother trying to talk to him, he’ll never change.” Probably all of us at one time or another have heard, said, or at least thought this about someone that we knew was not a Christian.
There certainly are those people that, based on what we have seen in their past life and attitude, on the surface do not appear to be “good prospects.” That is, it seems to us that the chances of such a person ever becoming a Christian are “slim to none.” So, we may be tempted to say, “Forget it, you are wasting your time trying to reach him. He’ll never change.”
We wonder, who gave us the right to decide in advance for another person whether or not he will receive the gospel? Brothers and sisters, our task is to be sowers of the seed (Luke 8:11), not predictors of men’s response to the gospel! We are treading on dangerous ground when we think so much of ourselves and our wisdom that we just “know for sure” that a particular person will never obey the gospel. Let us be careful lest we try to put ourselves in the place of God.
- “He’s caught up in his own religion, He’ll never change.” On the day of Pentecost about three thousand “devout men” of the Jewish religion received the gospel message and were baptized (Acts 2:5,41).
- “He’s a leader in his religious group, there is no way that he will give up his position to obey the gospel.” The Bible says, “Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house” (Acts 18:8). Crispus was a religious leader, but he changed when he heard the truth.
- “She’s an idol worshipper, she’ll never give up her idols.” Some in Thessalonica did: “. . . ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9). The same thing can happen today.
- “He’s really prejudiced against the church, don’t waste your time talking to him.” You would have to search a long time to find someone as prejudiced against the church as Saul of Tarsus was. Yet this man that at one time “made havoc of the church” (Acts 8:3) was later converted.
- “He’s such a hateful, mean-spirited person, forget about him ever humbling himself and becoming a Christian.” Paul wrote about how he and other saints conducted themselves before they became followers of Christ: “For we ourselves also were . . . hateful, and hating one another” (Titus 3:3). A heart filled with hatred can become one that is filled with love.
- “They are living in adultery, so there is no need wasting our time trying to teach them, they’ll never accept the truth.” Some members of the church in Corinth had been adulterers before their conversion. After listing “adulterers” as being among those that cannot inherit the kingdom of God, the Holy Spirit said, “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified . . .” (1 Corinthians 6:9,11). Those adulterers changed when they heard the gospel.
- “He is a homosexual, and there is no way that any homosexual is ever going to forsake his perverted lifestyle, so don’t bother trying to reach him.” Again, in 1 Corinthians 6:9,11 we read that some in the church at Corinth had been homosexuals before they became Christians. Those former homosexuals were among the many Corinthians that “hearing believed, and were baptized” (Acts 18:8). Who said it can’t happen?!
- “He’s a heavy drinker, and I don’t see any way that he’ll ever give up the bottle. There is no need trying to reach him.” The same passage, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, shows that some former “drunkards” turned away from their sins and obeyed the gospel. Let us not give up on drunkards who are baptized into the Christ (Romans 6:3).
Surely you have seen the point which we are trying to emphasize: let us not count out anybody. We do not at all mean to leave the impression that a high percentage of the people in the groups that we have mentioned will forsake their sins and obey Jesus’ truth. To this point in history such has not happened.
However, let us not take it upon ourselves to “write off” lost people before we even give them a chance to hear the gospel and decide for themselves how they will respond to it. Let us all be diligent sowers of the word, always searching for those that possess “an honest and good heart” (Luke 8:15).
If it be the case that you have a friend, loved one, or some other person whom you have tried to teach the gospel, but they continue to reject it, don’t give up. Hearts can change. Continue to be a godly example for them, treat them with kindness, and sow the seed when you have the chance. That person may one day give up his/her stubborn resistance to the truth just like you and I did.