Here's a response I posted in response to a question on the RANDOM THOUGHTS side. I thought it would be good to post here also:
It is mind blowing what God has done so we don't "miss His Son"!! First, 100's of years before Jesus is born, God tells us in His Word, through His prophets, in detail, how it would happen. To name a few: 1) Born of a virgin 2) Born in Bethlehem 3) Called out of Egypt 4) Called a Nazarene 5) "Sold" for 30 pieces of silver - and that's just the tip of the iceberg! Then in His earthly ministry, Jesus tells everyone, "I am the One spoke about in the prophets"! Then all this happens upon His death! Then the resurrected Jesus appears to over 500 people for 40 days! Then the same disciples that ran scared and hid in upper rooms are now preaching Jesus until they are killed for it! The evidence is so overwhelming that it would have to be a powerful source to keep a person from seeing the Truth - in fact it is a powerful source - Scripture tells us that Satan has been given the ability to blind the minds of non-believers. It takes God to unveil our eyes and minds to receive the Truth - it is only then that we can say "dah, this is so obvious, the evidence is overwhelming." The things of God are spiritually discerned, natural man WILL NOT receive them.
Want to get heavier? Of course you do. The parable of the sower (found in Matthew 13) talks about 4 different groups - of the 4 only 1 is saved.
Group 1: They hear the Word, but they do not understand it, thus they do not receive it - Satan then comes in snatches away what has been sown in their heart. This seems to indicate that this group is in the same condition as they were before having heard - thus not saved
Group 2: They hear the Word, they immediately receive it with joy, but there is no root, therefore, when tribulation and persecution comes on account of the Word they fall away. (As a side note, this reminds me of events where they stir the audience up with music and an inspiring message, then do an alter call and pronounce them saved, yet there is no depth, there is no conversion) The Scripture says, "he who endures until the end will be saved" - thus, this group is not saved
Group 3: They hear the Word, and they must receive it to a certain extent, otherwise they'd be in group 1. But the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the Word and it proves to be unfruitful. Believers are called to be "in the world, but not of the world" AND followers of Christ will be fruitful - thus, this group is not saved
Group 4: They hear the Word, they understand the Word, they receive the Word, and they bear fruit. They don't fall away, they don't get deceived by the cares of the world, and tribulation and persecution do not stop them from serving Jesus. This group is saved.
It is interesting to consider, group 1 may end up in church, but probably not. Group 2 and 3 will definitely end up in church for a season. Therefore, we should not be surprised when a portion of the church looks and acts like the world. If we know this we will not get confused why the church often looks like the world - the wheat and the weeds will be together until the harvest when the true and false converts are separated out.