One of the most offensive claims Christ ever made in the pages of scripture was this: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
In a day and age when the predominant worldview is relativism, that each person finds their own truth, it’s difficult to be confronted with a belief that states that it is the only way to truth.
“I grew up in a semi-Christian household,” said Hess, “my Mom was the one who believed and my dad, basically, wasn’t. I was baptized twice in my teen years. And so, I was a false convert – sorry, I would clarify: someone is a false convert if they would give themselves the title of ‘Christian,’ but they are not saved in the fact that they don’t have that relationship with Christ, which is evidenced by a lack of spiritual fruit.”
Hess explains from his own experience how it is possible to be a ‘false convert.’
“When you have a true conversion, or when the Holy Spirit indwells you, God doesn’t let people go. Once you are saved, you are saved now and forever. And so I would say to the people who fall away, I would say there was never a true moment that that foundation was established, even though they may have been very convinced that they were, or they were sure that they were. As to the ins and outs of all that, I can’t explain to people, I’m not entirely sure, but I do believe that once saved, always saved. So I would say that they were never saved in that sense, although they were probably very involved in the Christian culture, and probably knew a lot about it.”
Hess, himself, went through this exact experience, living most of his life under the illusion that he was a Christian. That illusion began to break down in his adult years.
“I went to college and had inklings of faith at times (and by ‘inklings’ I mean that I felt conviction). But I hadn’t surrendered, I hadn’t bent my knee, so to speak. I started dating… but in retrospect I know that I was using her for my pleasure.
“And it’s hard for me to say that, even now, because it’s so despicable sounding, but it is what it is. I felt severe conviction about that for the last four or five months I was in that relationship. And I finally broke it off, since this horrendous conviction overcame me, and all that led up to one day when I was student teaching in a classroom and a young woman was talking, as I was walking around the classroom, I was talking to her, and she told me the story about how her grandmother had been on the operating table and died. And when her grandmother had died, she saw Jesus, and Jesus said ‘It’s not your time, go on back.’
“As this young lady was relating this story to me … I felt, like, a physical push on my chest, almost, it just took my breath away. And it went from the point of acknowledging intellectually that I believed in Jesus, to, ‘Oh, wow, Jesus is real!’ And I said ‘Oh, God, forgive me! Oh Lord!’”
Neil Hess is still a science teacher for a Middle School, but he also heads up ‘Soul Winning Ministries,' a ministry that “exists to equip people with the tools and knowledge they need to fulfill the great commission,” according to their website.
Hess also recently joined the speaking team, The Mentionables, a ministry which gives him the opportunity to bring his message to a national audience, along with his team members.
“I spent so much time as a false convert that I really have a heart for those people… I just feel like God has been calling me to do apologetics full time and just basically go out and give people the gospel. Super long story short, my goal is basically to equip other people to know and to share their faith and to share the gospel whenever they can.”