By Connie W. Adams
It does not appear to me that as many are obeying the gospel in this nation as was the case a few years ago. This is not because there is less preaching and teaching. In some cases there may be a shortage of personal evangelism. But I do not believe this is the primary reason. Many are not even saving their own children. In place after place we go for gospel meetings, we meet parents who are concerned for the salvation of their own teenagers. They may come to every service, sit quietly, act friendly and remain unsaved.
Why is this? They are like the wayside soil the Lord described. “Those by the wayside are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved” (Lk. 8:12). They do not believe! That is it, pure and simple. If they believe they would obey the Lord. Now, there may be varied reasons as to why they do not believe and there may be several ways the devil takes away the word before they can believe and be saved.
1. The devil may take away the word by Godless education. Can any sane observer deny that strong efforts have been made, with measured success, to keep the concept of God and his word out of our public schools? Reverence for the true God has been replaced by the worship of man himself. That is what humanism does. “Man is the measure of himself” we are told. God is left out of the study -of origins. Text books written by unbelievers sing the praises of evolution. Social sciences deal with human relations in terms of secular values. Sex education must not “moralize.” One fifteenyear-old in Oregon told me that he regarded his sex education course as a study in how to commit fornication without getting someone pregnant or contracting AIDS. There is a deadly combination between Planned Parenthood and the public schools. Marriage is presented as an alternative lifestyle, no better, or worse, than just living together, or than homosexuality. Moral judgments are based on respect for divine law.
Children who spend several years in a climate of education away from God and his word, surrounded by peers whose home training is vastly different, and where there are fears for basic safety, have to be affected by all of this. A constant diet of dealing with issues ranging from pre-marital sex to ecology (the new religion) to abortion to capital punishment, without any guidelines except what feels, or seems right, is calculated to generate unbelief. There may be other factors, but folks, I firmly believe this is a big part of why your teenager does not believe in the Lord or his word. They are being educated away from it, not toward it.
2. The devil takes away the word by Godless entertainment. The standard fare on nightly television, not to mention MTV, videos which feature gore, sex, vulgarity and profanity are not calculated to make your children virtuous. What kind of music are they listening to by the hour? What does it say? Who are their heroes? Are they movie stars, TV stars, rock or country musicians, sports figures? “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Our young people, nor the older as well, will never be better than what they (or we) think about. What is programmed into the heart has a direct bearing on character. The devil understands well that there is a certain appeal, a titillation in the very nature of the things we have been describing here. The stronger the interest in these becomes, the weaker spiritual interests will be.
3. The devil takes away the word by family destruction. The devil has never found a more useful tool for his work than the destruction of families. Roles and relationships are disrupted. Trust is destroyed. There is a relationship in a child’s respect for his or her father and respect for the Heavenly Father. When earthly fathers abuse that role, they are helping the devil take away the word from the hearts of the young lest they should believe and be saved. And what of those instances where children have never even known who their father is? Divorce unsettles the lives of children for the rest of their days. Where parental trust is weakened, lack of trust in God will not be far behind.
4. The devil takes away the word by hypocrisy in the lives of those who claim to follow the Lord. Children who grow up in an atmosphere where there is constant turmoil, malice, scheming and backbiting in the church will attend as long as they have to but when the time comes that they can make a choice, they will be gone. They know a hypocrite when they see one. In some congregations, whole generations of young people have been lost for this very reason. Not only do they have poor choices of heroes in their secular world, often they look in vain for them in the spiritual realm. They come to see religion as a front for people who don’t believe what they profess any more than they do.
As a preacher of the gospel, I am delighted when I see a young person obey the gospel. I don’t see that happen much any more. It is so refreshing when that does occur. The problem of wayside soil is not limited to the young. There are older people whose hearts are hard and unreceptive. The devil is adept at snatching away the word from their hearts as well, lest they should believe and be saved.
“But without faith it is impossible to please him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb. 11:6). When we scatter the seed of the gospel on wayside soil, it will not produce a harvest. It just seems to me that I am finding more of that kind of ground than ever before.
Guardian of Truth XXXVIII, No. 22, p. 3-4
November 17, 1994