By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen, First Baptist Church, Spearfish, SD
I told in a Facebook post about two of my friends from years ago. One was Clifford, the humorous man with Down syndrome. The other was Larry, with whom Clifford and I would have lunch in my car while we listened to Paul Harvey’s radio program. Larry is the one who said “Oh shoot!” when I interrupted an interesting Paul Harvey story by asking Larry to thank God for our food.
Well, let me tell you about when and how “Oh shoot!” Larry became a Christian. We lived in Miles City, MT and his sister lived in Glendive, MT. One day she called me and said she was concerned about Larry’s need to become a Christian. She then asked if I would go and speak to him about accepting Jesus Christ as his Savior. I said I would, and got Larry’s address from her. Then a deacon of church and I went to visit Larry at his apartment. He let us in, and we spoke to him about the importance of accepting Jesus Christ as his Savior. I told him that without the Lord as his Savior he would never be allowed into heaven. Larry said he was ready to ask Jesus Christ to forgive his sins and to save his soul. So, we bowed our heads and I led Larry in a simple prayer, during which he told the Lord he needed him as his Savior. After Larry’s prayer, I showed him some Bible verses that reassured him that if he had, indeed, believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, he was now a forgiven and saved man, and would be allowed into heaven. Then, the deacon and I left his apartment and went back to my car to go home.
When we got in the car, I told the deacon that Larry’s prayer was so dry, figuratively speaking, that it made me wonder if he was sincere when he prayed to the Lord for salvation. But Larry soon showed the sincerity of his prayer to become a Christian. He did so by attending our church regularly, by reading his Bible, by letting me take him through some Bible studies for new Christians, by giving Gospel literature to those who might not be Christians, by being baptized as a profession of his faith in the Lord, and by joining the church. His life demonstrated by these and other ways that he had become a sincere Christian.
I have said all these things abut Larry to make one primary point: He proved that a person can be very sincere about accepting Jesus Christ as his or her Savior without showing a lot of emotion at the time. It’s not the emotion of a prayer to be forgiven and saved that proves its sincerity, but it is the changes that come into one’s life as a result of sincerely accepting the Lord as one’s Savior. The fact is, someone can cry a river of tears when they say what might be called “the sinner’s prayer to be saved,” but show little or no long-term proof that their heart was in that prayer. As someone else put it so well, we can call these persons “Alka-seltzer Christians” because they fizz for awhile and then disappear.
The Lord Jesus Christ himself spoke about this subject in one of his parables. The parable is found in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and is quoted here from Luke’s Gospel, chapter 8, verses 1 – 15. The quote is taken from the Modern English Version, which was published in 2014. For those not familiar with the Bible, the numbers seen in the Bible verses are the verse numbers. ( 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, all the way through number 15.)
Luke 8 Modern English Version (MEV)
Women Who Accompany Jesus
8 Afterward, He went throughout every city and village, preaching and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. With Him were the twelve 2 and some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had come out, 3 and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, who supported Him with their possessions.
The Parable of the Sower
4 When a large crowd had gathered together and people were coming to Him from every city, He told this parable: 5 “A sower went out to sow his seed. As he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. 6 Some fell on a rock. And as soon as it sprang up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. 7 Yet some fell among thorns. And the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. 8 And other seed fell on good ground and sprang up and yielded a hundred times the amount sown.”
When He had said these things, He cried out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
The Purpose of the Parables
9 His disciples asked Him, “What might this parable mean?” 10 He said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but to others they are in parables, so that
‘seeing they may not see,
and hearing they may not understand.’
The Parable of the Sower Explained
11 “Now the parable means this: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those along the path are those who hear. Then comes the devil, who takes away the word from their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rock are the ones who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root, for they believe for a while, then in the time of temptation fall away. 14 That which fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with the cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity. 15 But the seed on the good ground are those who, having heard the word, keep it in an honest and good heart and bear fruit with patience.
Modern English Version (MEV)
The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.
This quote from the MEV was taken from this website: www.biblegateway.com.