I have taken some time off over the past month for several reasons. The first is in order to spend more time with my young family. I have also endeavored to ensure that my main responsibilities to my church family have come first as well. But it is good to be back on here to explore some topics that are much needed today.
During my time off from here has also allowed me to spend time in prayer and reflection which led me to go back to the basics in my own church as we are exploring the core values of a Life Reformed (Historically Protestant) congregation. The third mark, evangelism, led me to revisit the need to understand not only what evangelism is, but also allowed me to explore and dissect the issues involved in evangelism today. The main issue is with the lack of true Biblical evangelism happening in American churches. The method of sharing the Gospel has been tainted by the "pray this prayer after me" or "walk this aisle" methodology. My push-back is nothing new as A.W. Pink, M.L. Jones and J.I. Packer have all said much on this issue in their days as well!
Why is this and why did this happen? I believe this happened because the message has become flawed in order to get decisions and to gain more "followers." Quite simply, the message followed the change in method.
How did the message change?
The message changed by swapping saviors. It traded Jesus as savior for the self to do the saving! The natural man wants to believe that he can do his own saving.
One who does something in order to gain salvation will be trusting in what one's own self has done in order to receive the Gospel, therefore transferring the trust needed in Jesus to one's own self and the decision they made. The one often "leading" the person to Christ even tells them to trust in what they just did or the prayer they just prayed or the decision they made! How blasphemous! This defeats what Ephesians 2:8-10 says "For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast. For we were created in Christ Jesus unto good works"
Grace is "God giving us what we do not deserve." What does God give us in salvation? He gives us grace which is the faith to believe in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Faith is also (Not of yourselves) but a gift too! Also, it says here that God created us into Christ Jesus to good works. This also is a gift! He is creator in our salvation. He also gives us Jesus Christ himself. He is the greatest gift of all. What part of saving do we play? None. Even the good works that follows salvation was given by God. We were created and purposed for this! We can take absolutely no credit!
If we think we can do anything to earn grace, it ceases to be grace. It is impossible for a sinner to earn grace or do anything in salvation.
When sharing the Gospel, if one turns to "say this prayer" or "walk this aisle" or "I see that hand" in order to garner a "decision" or a "soul won" we are intentionally pointing someone to themselves (Contra what Ephesians says *It is not of yourselves) and what they must do, rather than pointing them to who Christ is (who should be the object of faith) and what He has done. To point a dead sinner to themselves to save themselves is to aid them into further damnation.
This method of pointing sinners to self to save self has been (*generally speaking) the main evangelical method and message for the past 70 plus years. It is just another form of self-worship. It is also a form of works based salvation. To say you must do something to get saved is works based salvation. The manipulative method of arm twisting and manipulating emotions in order to get decisions so that an evangelist can pat himself on the back has been the "go to" method; but thankfully, many preachers today are realizing the seriousness of this problem.
As we have explored, many have not trusted in the Biblical method to make disciples and have therefore traded in the Gospel for a pragmatic and deceitful scheme ~ "what works to get decisions?" This has brought about countless false professions of faith within Christendom. We have merely given many goats a religious, self righteous "I made a decision" suit to put on, all the while their nature within has stood completely unchanged. Those goats who worshiped themselves are congratulating themselves on a prayer they prayed years ago while they skip steadily along to hell. "They have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof."
Why do you suppose the Puritans and our Reformed fathers spent so much time going over and over the order and nature of salvation within their various congregations? Maybe we should learn from our church history and see that this is a pattern that has already been addressed many times before.
I pray that this post will awaken many to the need to bring change. In the coming days, we will explore both the message of evangelism and the methods God uses through the proclamation of the Word empowered by the Spirit to bring dead, lifeless sinners to come to Life in Jesus Christ.
I am a great sinner saved by far greater grace. God has blessed me with a wonderful family and a beautiful Gospel congregation at Twin Lakes Bible Church.