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Saved -or ‘Being Saved?’
A couple of recent articles in Christianity Today discuss the current state of evangelism and outreach. One observes that “revivalism” is dead, with its emphasis on “praying the sinner’s prayer” and certainty of a specific time when you were “saved.”
Conversion is fast becoming more of a process than an event, with many in the new generation unable to identify a point where they repented of their sins and committed their lives to Christ. Altar calls are less visible in the newer, “user friendly” churches.
This fits with the approach to church that tries not to make the sinner uncomfortable. It is primarily on an emotional level, failing to recognize that the love that the Bible talks about is rooted in the will to follow Christ no matter how it feels.
There are some interesting developments that have gotten us here. First of all, modern bibles play down the awfulness of sin, existence of hell and judgment of God. “Turn or burn” may seem a little harsh, but that is exactly what the Bible teaches. With the new approach, one can keep one foot in the world and God’s mercy is so big that few, if any, are condemned to eternal fire, if such a place exists at all. Another factor is allowing cults into the fellowship such as Roman Catholicism, that teach a process of “being saved” rather than an event of regeneration of the heart.
It is true that the last generation of Christians has had its hypocrisy and show biz. But there was enough truth there that the sincere seeker could find it. But the person set in his selfishness could find plenty of excuses for refusing the truth. The devil always has plenty of lies to feed to those with only a halfhearted interest in Christ.
One major shift in the last generation is toward “friendship evangelism,” away from presenting a solid challenge with the gospel. Of course, a friendly attitude is essential in personal evangelism, but to delay presenting the gospel until a long-standing personal bond is established requires a huge investment of time. How much better it is to present the gospel early on, and use that time to disciple the ones who respond.
Jesus said few there be that find the narrow path. Most are unwilling to even try an on-ramp to that road. Jesus said we should sow the gospel broadly in the field. Then you can quickly tell which seed falls on good ground and cultivate it into mature fruit.
No one disputes that our nation needs a change and as believers, we know that the only good change must come through righteousness. (See Proverbs 14:34.) The weight of America’s sin has become so heavy we are in deep reproach —under God’s wrath instead of his mercy.
Satan’s primary target is the great commission. If he can limit our use of it, he can condemn more to hell. We need to use every method available, not disparage some in favor of others.