What happens if a person accepts Christ, but later, doesn’t follow Him?
Youth group member from Oak Park, IL asks:
If someone accepts Christ when they are young and don’t follow Christ, when they die do they go to heaven?
Ray Pritchard’s answer
That’s a good question, isn’t it? After all, not everyone who “prays the prayer” or accepts Christ stays with the Lord. Some people seem to get sidetracked, others get discouraged, some drop out altogether, and a few get mixed up with false doctrine. And it’s certainly true that some people accept Christ but then return to their old sinful lifestyle.
What about people like that? The Bible tells us that the Lord knows those who belong to him. He knows his own children and calls them by name. Just as I know my three boys and can pick them out of a crowd, the Lord knows his own. And even when our children disappoint us – or even disown us – nothing can separate them from us. Those whom God saves he saves forever. He never says, “You blew it. You’re not my child anymore.” The Lord knows his children, even if sometimes we don’t.
Oftentimes we won’t know if a person is a Christian or not because he has drifted so far away that his life gives no credible evidence of knowing Christ. In such cases I think we should adopt a basically agnostic attitude, which simply means that we pass no final judgments on professing Christians who stray from God for long periods of time. Only God knows, we don’t, and he will deal with each person fairly.
But what if you are the one who strayed away? If you are still away from the Lord even though you made some profession of faith years ago, I urge you not to trust in that profession but to turn from your sin and trust Jesus alone for your salvation. Don’t think that a momentary prayer can save you if it is followed by a life of selfish disobedience to God.
Some of you will be old enough to remember the slogan for Clairol Hair Coloring: “Only your hairdresser knows for sure.” Today we have too many “Clairol Christians"-"only the Lord knows for sure.” The answer for all of us is quite simple: Live so that no one can doubt the reality of your own commitment to Christ.