What we believe is important. What we practice is important. Our beliefs and our convictions will determine our practice. One of my passions is that people who don’t know Christ come to know Him. I am burdened by nominal Christianity, which is Christianity in “name only.” I am convinced there are so many people who claim to be Christians and think that they are just because they live in a certain area, attend a certain church or just try to be a moral person. There are many reasons that this is the case. In this series of blogs, I want to contrast what has been called “Easy believism” with what the Bible teaches about True Conversion.
As I examined my own life, there were many times in my zeal to share the Gospel, I was attempting to get people to repeat a prayer after me. If I could just get them to admit that they were a sinner, then I would try to lead them in the “sinner’s prayer.” If they prayed with me, I would pronounce them saved. As time went on, some of those who prayed showed evidence of salvation and others did not. I began to ask some hard questions and dig into the Scriptures. I came to realize that many people that I had led in a prayer really didn’t understand some basic truths about the Gospel and were “doing something” because I asked them to more than they were trusting in Christ.
I’m convinced that we have preached a “God is love, just pray this prayer and you’ll be fine” message that is not resulting in conversions, but is telling people what they want to hear. Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” but in today’s evangelism we don’t start there. We start with “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” In Walter Chantry’s book, Todays Gospel: Authentic or Synthetic?, he walks the reader through the Rich Young Ruler passage in Mark 10:17-31 and compares it to modern evangelism’s message:
“Today, we are told that witnessing is to begin with ‘God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.’ Love is set before sinners as the foremost characteristic of God. But Jesus didn’t begin that way. And the Bible as a whole speaks more often of God’s holiness than of His love. This is probably because men readily remember all attributes that might favor themselves and totally forget those which threaten or alarm them.
Thousands of sinners think of God as having only one attribute- ‘love.’ Though that is part of the truth, when it is taken for the whole truth it becomes a lie. When you tell a stranger, ‘God loves you,’ his mind registers something like this: ‘Yes, He loves me and would never harm me. He loves me with forgiving and merciful kindness; so, all is well with my soul.’ In the concept of the average American, there is no idea that God is Holy; only a perverted concept that He has a gushy, all embracing kindness. Modern evangelism is helping to foster this misconception of God by its silence and vagueness.
To say to a rebel, ‘God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life,’ is terribly misinforming. The truth is that God is Holy. Thus, He is angry with the sinner at this moment. His sword of wrath already hangs over the head of the guilty and will forever torment him unless he repents and trusts Christ. This plan is not so wonderful. God’s redeeming love for sinners is found only in Christ, and the sinner is out of Christ. The modern approach is diametrically opposed to Jesus’ method with the young ruler. He did not soothe him in his ignorance, but stirred up fear by preaching that God is essentially good.” (pg. 28-29)
So for the typical churchgoer, the message has been God is love and this is all that they have accepted. Surely this is not the case for the majority of churches in our country, or is it? I wondered if the majority of churches were preaching the modern message or the Biblical one? I wondered if repentance from sin was being preached today like it was by Christ and the apostles?
In the next blog we will look at some statistics and examine some modern methods of evangelism.