"John, my friend Sarah who didn't know the Lord, came with me to church and went forward last month for prayer. The Holy Spirit came all over her and she was crying and said she felt such peace. But now, it doesn't seem like she has changed at all and she doesn't want much to do with me."
"I brought my friend to the service, and he raised his hand and we talked about the Lord afterwards, but today nothing seems to have changed."
I'm not talking about once saved always saved, I'm asking if they were ever saved at all. Before He went to the cross Jesus told the disciples that they knew the Holy Spirit for He was with them, and they had even healed the sick, cleansed lepers and cast out demons - all before they were born again. So it IS possible for people to know the Holy Spirit, to even take part in ministry, yet not be born again.
Collecting stickers like children
Our church culture counts hands raised and the number of people at the altar call and says "These were born again, see what we did with your money, please give us more." Whole ministries are validated by counting the numbers of people saved like reward stickers children get in kindergarten.
Yet I know from being in some of these places and knowing the people in charge, many of these same people 'got saved' last month for that ministry event, and the month before that for another ministry event, and last year for another ministry - yet the vast majority remain unchanged, living their normal sinful lives. But it sure looks good in a ministry newsletter.
As a result of church culture that says a hand raised and prayer prayed is being born again, there is confusion in the body of Christ when these same people remain unchanged. WE raised out hand and we were truly born again, but what about THEM? They went forward at an altar call with tears and repentance, and felt 'something' from God - but now they want nothing to do with you and think you are weird.
First thing first: God is always does good no matter who they are
The first thing we have to do is break out of the auditorium church thinking to become Bible thinking, by realizing that just because someone experiences God they aren't automatically born again. Our Father is so much larger than that, for He causes the sun to shine and rain to fall on the just and unjust equally. He will help all who call out to Him even if they have no intention of walking with Him, but are just crying out for His help for that moment.
For every person who tells you, "I was on the verge of dying but I called out to the Lord and told Him if He got me out of this I'll serve Him, and I've been walking with Him ever since.", there are thousands more who make that same promise and then don't keep their vow. Yet He is always faithful to do good to all.
The brief version
In a time of prayer my eyes were opened to His realm, I was as the apostle John says, 'in the Spirit'. My angel stood before me and after telling me what the Father had for me, said He had been given permission to receive questions from me. I asked, "How do you think of the Father?". Immediately we were flying away very fast, and landed in what he told me was somewhere in east Africa.
We were standing about 4' (1m) off the ground, looking at a man with a vegetable cart loaded with a harvest that I could see came from the plot of ground around his house. His wife was saying goodbye to him in a language I didn't understand, and he pushed his cart with vegetables down the road on the way to market.
As we walked along unseen at the man's pace, still 4' (1m) off the ground, the angel explained those vegetables on the cart and in the field at home represented most of the man's income, and he was hoping to find someone in the market to buy his crop. He said the wife wanted but didn't tell her husband, yet my Father knew her heart, 3 things for herself from the money: A hairbrush, comb, and hand mirror. The husband too wanted enough money to buy some goats to start a herd to better care for his family.
I will cut to the point - The angel told me, "Now watch what your Father has done" just as he made contact with someone at the market who bought all his crop. He came rejoicing back to his wife and the angel reported to me the Father was gracious enough not only to allow him to sell his whole crop, but He arranged the price so the man could afford to buy his goats and the wife her brush, comb and mirror.
When he got home and told his wife they started rejoicing and suddenly the manifestation of the Spirit called interpretation of tongues happened and I understood what they were saying - they were praising Allah for his kindness and blessing in allowing them to sell the crops and make that money.
I thought immediately of Hosea 2:7-8 where the Lord talks of idolatrous Israel praising Baal for giving them their grain, wine, oil, silver and gold, not realizing the Lord says, it was He who was giving them all those things that they might turn and realize He was the Source of all their good things, but they turned not.
I was shocked that my Father was blessing Muslims in the same way, and was both amazed and confused. My angel looked at me in a sort of how don't you get it look and said, "Have you not read that your Father causes the sun to shine on the just and unjust alike, and the rain to fall on the just and unjust alike, and aren't you commanded to be just like Him?"
I replied, "This is amazing, this is wonderful. I had no idea (how big and good He is). This should be on TBN, this should be in Charisma magazine!" He replied with a quizzical look, "Your Father does things like this multiplied millions of times all over the earth, every single day. How is it you think these things can be contained in a TV show or magazine? Only the ages to come will reveal the goodness of your Father!"
And with that I was suddenly all alone in my living room, totally in awe of my Father even more.
He will touch all who call on Him
When Jesus said in Matthew 5:44-48 to do good to your enemies He said it is because the Father does that - He causes the sun to shine and rain to all on all people equally - and we are to be like Him. So if a person the Father knows needs help, even if an enemy, He will give it, even when He knows they have no intention of walking with Him. As James said, Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of lights, and there is no variableness or turning in His character. (1:17-18)
Jesus said He only did what He saw the Father do, so what was said of Jesus is first true of the Father: "Who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil." (Acts 10:38) The Father goes about doing good. So does the Lord. So should we - to all, as we can.
Think for a minute; When a Buddhist couple get married, or a Muslim, or an atheist, don't you realize our Father will honor that covenant of marriage they made even if made to another god or no god/God, because the Father tries to do good to all mankind? He will try to grow them in love, to keep them from unfaithfulness and sin even if they don't know Him, because He always does good.
Do you realize when anyone no matter whether they are a citizen of the kingdom of light or darkness, does good, does kindness, the Father does His best to honor and work with that good action?
Bible culture versus church culture
All that means is that if a person raises their hand or goes forward at an altar call, or even calls out to God in the midst of a crisis, the Father will respond to do good to them whether they walk with Him or not - and they will be accountable for that on the last day. But that doesn't mean they are born again though they experience God mightily at that moment. Maybe they will return to Him, maybe not, but He did good so on that last day He will not be blamed.
Paul defined a false brother and false prophet quite differently than modern church culture, and if we look at what scripture actually says are the traits of a true believer and a false believer, we can determine pretty closely who prayed that prayer and were actually born again, and who just had an experience with the Holy Spirit but remain unchanged.
And that is where I'll pick it up next week, until then, blessings,