The “inoculated” person feels that they are safe, not sick and have no need of the gospel. They are like the person who has received a flu shot and who feels that they are protected from influenza.
How does this work? Sometimes it is like this: an individual is born into a religious home and are brought to the church to be baptized as an infant (though this is not taught anywhere in Scripture, it has become the tradition in many ritualistic churches). This initial baptism supposedly forgives original sin and makes the baby a child of God. Later the vows given by the god-parents are repeated by the child at his/her confirmation. Confirmation, therefore, serves as kind of a “booster shot” to the original one given at their baptism. So now the confirmant feels they are safe and secure for their sins were washed away by the waters of baptism and they have made their vows to God through confirmation. Sadly, their security is based upon their religious works, rather than upon Christ and His work of salvation. They have been inoculated against the gospel; the gospel has become of “no effect” or ineffectual for them.
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. 1Corinthians 1:17
Now, when this person hears someone say that they need to be saved from their sins, they do not understand. After all, they have been baptized and confirmed – they do not need Christ; they do not need to be born again; they have been there and done that! Jesus described them this way: "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick” (Matthew 9:12). Unfortunately, the inoculated person is usually farther away from salvation than a drug addict or prostitute because the outright sinner is more likely to admit his/her lost condition. To lead such a “gospel resistant” person to Christ requires convincing them that they are lost sinners despite their religion. They are much like Nicodemus in John three, a religious Pharisee who Jesus had to convince that he needed to be born again. Likewise, Paul in Philippians three had to exchange his religious works for the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
Other inoculated people include many who have gone forward in a church service; those who have prayed the sinner’s prayer, or asked Jesus into their heart, or made a commitment to God but have no real understanding of the gospel. They have done something external, but they have never really understood their sinful condition before a holy God, their inability to save themselves, and the truth that Jesus died on the cross to provide forgiveness of sin and eternal life. Gospel presentations must include an explanation of man’s condition (Romans 3:10, 23, 6:23) and God’s provision through Christ (Romans 5:8, 1Corinthians 15:3-4, 2Corinthians 5:21, 1Peter 2:24, 3:18, 1John 4:10). Finally, the sinner must understand that salvation is received by faith alone apart from works (Romans 4:5, Titus 3:5, Galatians 2:16).
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
Let me ask you this: Is your hope of eternal salvation based on your baptism, church membership and other religious works; or have you trusted Jesus Christ, His perfect work and His promise to save all who come to Him in simple faith? If so, you can claim this guarantee from God’s Word:
These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life