Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. Luke 15:10
When a sinner repents – when a sinner is saved – there is joy in Heaven. Some use that as justification for rejoicing here on Earth when someone is saved. But should we? Those in Heaven certainly can rejoice because they see things we cannot and they truly know when a sinner repents and is born again. But how do we know for sure? Aren’t there false professions? How can we distinguish at that moment whether a person has truly repented and trusted in Christ or if the person still has his or her eyes darkened and just went “through the motions?” Even my pastor frequently tells how he made a false profession when he was about eleven years old, but didn’t truly repent and trust Christ until he was eighteen. When we rejoice when someone makes a profession and unbeknownst to us that profession is false, are we contributing to that false convert never becoming a true convert? Will all our rejoicing become a stumblingblock to the false convert never becoming a true convert?
A few months back, I went with our teen group to a service held by another church. They use a school gymnasium as their meeting place. There was probably over 500 teens in attendance. At the end of the message, there was an invitation. I remember one young man in particular that came forward. He stood up front next to the stage as a youth leader showed him some things in the Bible. After a few minutes, there was a handshake and the teen went back to his seat. At the end of the invitation, the youth leader took the mic and announced the young man had been saved and that we should “give it up for him.” Many shouted and whistled and clapped. Several things bothered me about what happened. I watched the teen as he stood up front. He kept looking around as if he was looking for someone. Everytime I saw his face, he was grinning and chomping away at his bubble gum. Every now and then, he would nod his head. If there was any conviction and godly sorrow, I couldn’t see it. Granted, one doesn’t have to weep and boo-hoo in order to be saved, but if someone is awakened to God’s righteousness and holiness and our guilty standing before him, the gravity of the situation should arrest our attention. Judge me if you wish, but I don’t believe that young man was saved that night. And a giant stumblingblock was laid before him because the youth leader announced he did get saved and encouraged the crowd to cheer. This young man will look back at that night and remember that he went forward, nodded his head a few times, was told he was saved, and had people cheering for him.
Let me use another example. If you have children, how did you react when one of them made a profession? Did you go around telling others your child was saved? Or did you take a wait and see approach? Knowing the seriousness of your responsibility as a parent to see your children saved, don’t you take a cautious approach? Three of my children have made professions. I’ve not told any of them that they are saved. I did not get on the phone and tell others about it. I waited and watched for fruit. I don’t want to be a stumblingblock to any of my children. I don’t want any of them to not get saved because “Dad said I was” and that was enough for them. Shouldn’t we be cautious about everyone else too? Read what a great preacher from the past said:
There are so many stony ground hearers, who receive the Word with joy, that I have determined to suspend my judgment till I know the tree by its fruits. I cannot believe they are converts till I see fruit brought back; it will never do a sincere soul any harm. George Whitefield
We seem to be extremists by nature, and I know we can take this to an extreme. But should we tell others they are saved or should we let God tell them? Since we don’t know for sure if it is a true or false conversion, should we rejoice? I don’t know – what do you think?
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