“so that although they look they may look but not see, and although they hear they may hear but not understand, so they may not repent and be forgiven…..” The sower sows the word. These are the ones on the path where the word is sown: Whenever they hear, immediately Satan comes and snatches the word that was sown in them. These are the ones sown on rocky ground: As soon as they hear the word, they receive it with joy. But they have no root in themselves and do not endure. Then, when trouble or persecution comes because of the word, immediately they fall away. Others are the ones sown among thorns: They are those who hear the word, but worldly cares, the seductiveness of wealth, and the desire for other things come in and choke the word, and it produces nothing. But these are the ones sown on good soil: They hear the word and receive it and bear fruit, one thirty times as much, one sixty, and one a hundred.”” Mark 4:12, 14-20 NET https://bible.com/bible/107/mrk.4.12-20.NET
Many hear and have heard the gospel, but only a few will enter the kingdom of heaven. Quite amazing, really. God loves everyone, but few make it into heaven. Jesus died for everyone, but not many will receive the eternal life He died for and offers everyone. This no doubt explains the long duration between His first and second coming. Jesus, God Himself, does not say those who say a prayer will live forever with Him. Jesus begins with our need to repent and seek forgiveness. Repentance is recognizing we are disobeying God, admitting to that disobedience, and committing to cease disobeying God. We must confess, pray, with our mouths, that we need a Savior, ask His forgiveness, and receive His pardon. This is the beginning of our life with God, not the end of it. We now take up our cross and follow Him. Following Him is living as He lived on earth when He lived among us as one of us. His food was every word that came from the mouth of His Father. His will was to do the will of the Father Who sent Him. His identity was to serve the interests of God and not be served by men to fulfill His self-interest. Only the person who bears fruit, who applies God’s word to their lives by doing God’s will with their lives, will receive eternal life. This is not because these people have earned their way into heaven through their works but have proven their repentance and faith in Jesus by denying themselves, no longer living for the temporary things of this world, and seeking the treasure of heaven that lasts for eternal life.