Something happened last night that concerns me. But before I tell you exactly what, let me explain what led up to it.
Last night, we were out going door to door. As we were walking, I saw three children around the age of 9 and began talking to them. I asked if they knew what happened after they died. One boy, Robert, said he was going to Heaven. I asked him if everyone goes to Heaven. He said that just good people go. So I asked him if he was good. The Bible says most men will proclaim their own goodness and Robert held true to that. He said he was good. I began going through some of the Ten Commandments and asked him if he had kept each one. I also asked the other two that were with him. Each one admitted to breaking at least a few of them. I then asked them if God was to judge them by his commandments, would they be innocent or guilty. All three said guilty. After I asked what God should do to them for breaking his law, they all admitted they should go to Hell. Robert had that “caught with his hand in the cookie-jar” look. I then went on to explain to them how God sent his son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to this earth, that Jesus lived a sinless life, and that while he was dying on the cross, he was paying the fine for them. I told them Jesus paid their fine so God’s justice was satisfied. I told them the only way to enter Heaven was by repenting – turning from their sin – and putting faith in the Lord Jesus Christ – they had to trust that what Jesus did satisfied God’s justice. I then encouraged them to think about what we talked about, to read the tract I handed each of them, and to repent and trust Christ before they went to sleep that night. I did not lead them in a “sinner’s prayer” nor did I ask them leading questions like “wouldn’t you like to ask Jesus to save you now so you can spend eternity in Heaven?”
Now on to what concerns me. As we were heading back to the church, one of the fellows I was with asked if the kids got saved. I said no. A few minutes later, this fellow was talking on the phone with someone and said that I had talked to a few kids. After a pause, he said “No, nothing happened.” This is what concerns me. By the way, it doesn’t matter exactly who said it; there are many in our churches today who would think and say the exact same thing. Just because I didn’t “close the deal” and lead three children in a sinner’s prayer so I could tell them they were saved, nothing happened?!?! That is simply not right! Something wonderful happened! Three lost souls heard the gospel preached to them! Seeds were planted! God’s word went out and it will not come back void! Every person the apostle Paul spoke with did not pray a sinner’s prayer.
I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 1 Corinthians 3:6
Paul said he planted and then someone else, Apollos, came after him and watered before God gave the increase. Is Paul’s planting nothing? Is Apollos’ watering nothing? No, of course not! To produce fruit, a seed must first be sown and then watered. In the parable of the sower, we see the seed that springs up right away doesn’t last. Jesus said this seed was lost. When the heat of the sun came, the seed was scorched and died because it had no depth of root to draw water from down deep to sustain it.
When we lead a lost person in a sinner’s prayer, we are throwing seed on stony ground. We get it to spring up immediately, but after a while it is scorched by tribulation or persecution and thus dies. Getting people to pray a sinner’s prayer is producing false converts. Our churches are filled with them. True converts only come when the ground is first prepared (the good ground hearer), the seed is sown and watered, and then God will give the increase.
If you want your church filled with false converts so you can boast about how many you’ve won to Christ, go ahead and continue leading lost people in a sinner’s prayer. I’ll just keep on planting and watering and trusting God to give the increase.