There are people in this world who are convertible to Christ; others who are nonconvertible. Jesus was not able to convert everyone, nor were the apostles, and, in fact, the Bible clearly teaches that while many will be saved (Heb. 2:10), the majority will be lost (Mt. 7:13, 14).
There are major differences between the convertibles of this world and the non-convertibles. The non-convertibles consider the message of the cross foolishness. They see no need for a Savior, a cross, blood, atonement, or a message of salvation. As one young man said after hearing the message of the cross, “I’m sorry; it makes no sense to me.”
The non-convertibles have hearts closed to the gospel. The convertibles have hearts open to the gospel. They are willing to listen, to consider the evidences, to reason.
The non-convertibles glory in human wisdom. They are impressed with the intellectuals of the day who take on airs of superiority and infallibility.
The convertibles bow in humble submission to God’s wisdom. They recognize that in Christ “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3). They withstand those who would rob them “through philosophy and empty deceit” (Col. 2:8). They believe anything God says and are willing to obey anything He tells them to do. They see the foolishness of injecting their own subjective thinking into anything clearly taught in God’s word. For them, a “Thus says the Lord” is the end of all controversy. Just show them the scripture.
The key to converting the convertibles is not so much in our approach or study material we use. The key is in hearts that are open to the gospel. Nearly any approach will work if it includes the teaching necessary to bring them to Christ.
On the other hand, there is no approach that will convert the non-convertibles. If they refuse to open their hearts to the word, they cannot be brought to faith, for “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). They would not “be persuaded though one rise from the dead” (Luke 16:31). There are just some people who cannot be converted. Any attempt will be futile. They reject the only means by which one can be drawn to the Lord, the lifted up Son of God (John 12:32).
Can the non-convertibles change their hearts and join the ranks of the convertibles? Yes! Can we contribute to their change of heart? Yes! We think of a friend in north Florida, who for years had refused the gospel, but opened his heart as he neared death, sought the assistance of his grandsons who were gospel preachers, obeyed the gospel, and requested visitors to read the scriptures to him for the remainder of his life. What changed his heart? No doubt a combination of things: the godly conduct of his wife, children, and grandchildren, the sermons he had heard through the years, his longing for something better as he neared the end. Who opened his heart? The Lord did (Acts 16:14), no doubt using this combination of influences as tools. But the point is this: Our friend never joined the ranks of the convertibles until he had a heart open to the gospel. All attempts to convert him before that time had been futile.
Meanwhile, a failure to recognize that these two classes of people exist can lead to danger.
Is it possible that some have softened their stance concerning divorce and remarriage and even the necessity of baptism because Bible teaching on these subjects gets in the way of “converting” the lost?
It is possible that some have lost their faith in the power of the gospel and have turned to their own schemes and gimmicks in their effort to “convert” the non-convertibles?
Jesus once saw many of His disciple go back and walk with Him no more. He turned to His disciples and asked, “Do you also want to go away?” Peter spoke for the group, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).
Many today will not walk with the Lord. Those who will are those who see that He, and He alone, has the words of eternal life.
— By Bill Hall, Biblical Insights – June, 2014