Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Easy Believism Equals False Salvation
Let me just say it - God is changing my mind.
I am becoming more and more convinced (I believe it's more of a conviction of the Holy Spirit) that the reason the church in America is not the salt and light that it should be and could be is because of a long-term flaw in the way we have been doing evangelism. Evangelists and pastors (including myself) have led people into easy believism - "Just accept Jesus as your Savior, pray this prayer and you'll be saved."
The problem is that you cannot find this kind of "plan of salvation" in Scripture. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that we don't need an orderly biblical presentation of the Gospel. What I am saying is that we need one that is truly biblical. John McArthur writes,
The gospel that Jesus proclaimed was a call to discipleship, a call to follow Him in submissive obedience, not just a plea to make a decision or pray a prayer. Jesus' message liberated people from the bondage of their sin while it confronted and condemned hypocrisy. It was an offer of eternal life and forgiveness for repentant sinners, but at the same time it was a rebuke to outwardly religious people whose lives were devoid of true righteousness. It put sinners on notice that they must turn from sin and embrace God's righteousness. Our Lord's words about eternal life were invariably accompanied by warnings to those who might be tempted to take salvation lightly. He taught that the cost of following Him is high, that the way is narrow and few find it. He said many who call him Lord will be forbidden from entering the kingdom of heaven (cf. Matt. 7:13-23).1
The reason the church is not making a difference in the world is because too many people sitting in the pews, or who claim to be Christians, are living like the world. I think Jesus makes it very clear that the person who is truly saved will be in the world but not of the world (Jn 15:19, 17:14-16). Many (if not most) church members are still living like the rest of the world because they have not truly been saved. They have not submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
How important is this issue? Again, John McArthur tells us,
This issue is not a trivial one. In fact, how could any issue be more important? The gospel that is presented to unbelievers has eternal ramifications. If it is the true gospel, it can direct men and women into the everlasting kingdom. If it is a corrupted message, it can give unsaved people false hope while consigning them to eternal damnation. . . .This is an issue that every single pastor and lay person must understand in order that the gospel may be rightly proclaimed to all the nations.2
1. John McArthur, "An Introduction to Lordship Salvation" at http://www.gty.org/Resources/Articles/2439