Does this scenario sound familiar to you?
While at a recent worship event, we had the opportunity to hear an evangelist share the gospel. He was given a wonderful message from God, and openly challenged those listening to seriously consider what their lives are missing by not having Jesus as their Lord. After he had finished his message he told everyone to close their eyes. He shared that living for Jesus required a decision and that today would be a great day to make that decision. He again urged everyone to keep their eyes closed, and said if there was a person who wanted to make the decision to follow Jesus as their Lord, then they could raise their hand to signify that they wanted to make this decision. He then said that those raising their hands should hold them high and that he would count the hands with everyone’s eyes still closed. Then he told everyone who raised their hands to follow him in a prayer, but silently in their thoughts. After the prayer, he invited everyone to open their eyes and celebrate because the Gospel of Christ had saved several more souls!
I clapped with everyone else because I knew that the gospel message probably had changed a life that day, but I also cringed in my heart because I knew this method of calling men and women to repentance is another brand of cheap salvation. Here are just a few problems I have with this call to salvation:
1. Confess with your mouth – Romans 10:10 offer’s these details about salvation, “If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. ” [HCSB] This evangelist rightly challenged those listening to consider what God’s word was teaching them, and to believe in Jesus as their Savior. However, in this call for salvation they did not have to proclaim Jesus as Lord. This is made worse by the evangelist proclaiming that they have been saved after saying the prayer. The gift of salvation has gone from being a bold statement of forgiveness to a timid gesture understanding.
2. Saved, but afraid – If indeed a person has come to the point of understanding their sinfulness and their need of forgiveness, their first step towards the savior is done with a fear of people. This method for calling lost sinners to repent allows them to claim salvation while holding on to a fear of ridicule. But instead of a fear of ridicule, a genuine conversion will only seek God’s approval.
3. Are they fit for service? – Here is a passage from Luke 9. “Still another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.’Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.'” Luke 9:61-62 [NIV] Jesus shows us in this passage that when we make the decision to follow him, we must be ready there and then to begin the work of the Kingdom. Salvation is not a choice now, but then we only change when we’re ready. True repentance will demand change in your life immediately. But if no one was looking to see what commitment a person had expressed, they are given the chance to stay comfortable until they are ready.
4. How can the church help them? – Once a person comes to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, those who are already followers should immediately begin to offer discipleship and support to the new believer. New believers at the very least need to be held accountable to their confession. We are hindered from fulfilling the role given in the great commission to teach what Jesus has commanded to these new converts if we don’t even know who they are. Consider this also; there are many mature Christians who struggle to seek Godly counsel for their lives. Do we really expect someone who was only willing to make this decision if no one was looking to willingly seek Christian advice and instruction? We could equate this to asking a new born child to bring themselves to the table before we will give them something to eat.
Salvation is not a decision that can be accompanied by timidness or a secretive heart. If we have truly come to a point to where we will make Jesus our Lord, it is an act of boldness and confidence to approach a holy God and acknowledge your sinfulness and your need for His grace. It is time for the people of God to stop allowing for comfortable conversions. When we invite someone to come to Jesus, we should be willing to make sure they begin their life as a new creation the right way. When we are saved, we are recognizing that Jesus is Lord of all. Our moment of salvation should give us strength for the coming changes in our lives, not a heart that is wary of what others will think.
Written by Timothy Hegerich / Edited by Caroline Hegerich
There is truth in our world, and it lies within the word of the One who created the world. It is my prayer that my thoughts and writings echo this truth and inspire you to seek it for your life today!