Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Damming Effect of Decisional Regeneration (Part III)

Decision or Delightful Duty

Mega church pastor Steven Furtick says he's setting "strategic goals in the areas of attendance, salvation decisions, (and) baptisms.”. That's what Steven reports on another post in which he shares how God told him that "100 people would give their lives to Jesus" , and before he preached a sex sermon God told him that "50 people would be saved.

A staffer at one church talks about their goal of saving "hundreds" over the upcoming year.

Another church, on the verge of their upcoming iPod sermon series, says that the 200 people that recently got saved are just the tip of the iceberg this year. How do they know that? What if God decides to melt that iceberg?

At Granger Community Church, where church-goers were once asked to make salvation decisions by coming forward and signing a Davinci painting, 600 were said to have "decided to follow Christ" this time, but they don't mention anything about God's role in those salvations.

The Cool Church mission’s blog points out that 300 made decisions when "Pastor George spoke". Elsewhere, Pastor Greg talks about 1600 people who got saved in jail, and makes a special point of mentioning that "I led over 130 to the Lord myself".

A nursing home evangelist says that he resists boasting about 'decisions' but, you guessed it, he ends up doing it anyway. Not only that but, he lets you know that the decisions occurred "due to our ministry".

Another church says 50 kids decided to let "Jesus be the boss of their life" through their VBS.

Here's a pastor that says in ALL CAPS that 6 people made "REAL decisions.” But just saying they are REAL doesn't demonstrate that they really are[1]

These wild statements, comments, and “promises” are not restricted to the fringe, or the Emerging Church, or to mega churches. You find this same kind of mentality right at home in our own evangelical/fundamental bible, community or Baptist churches. The average church today bases the eternal security of its membership on a decision that was made on a certain date.

The Apostle John wrote his first letter with a distinct purpose of providing “proof” or assurance of salvation in his readers. He never mentioned “decisions” or “dates” as the means of obtaining or maintain assurance. The whole body of his letter deals with the grounds of Christian assurance of salvation. He writes that the grounds of assurance are found in: 
  • Defining and Describing true fellowship with God through the Son
  • Discerning the truth from error in various conflicts of our faith
  • Demonstrating true God-like love for both God and the children of God
  • Determining our son-ship, or true Christian faith by the witness of the Holy Spirit 
John wrote some pretty deep and “heavy” things about these topics. He pulled no punches and minced no words. He was clear and direct as he spoke of the evidence of salvation. There was no “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life” for John. Salvation was free and it was a gift. Salvation was received by faith. But true salvation was not guaranteed by a decision but by delightful duty as one worked out one’s salvation in works in fear and trembling.

How did we get here? Where did this hellish and demonic idea of decisional regeneration develop? Before we look at the evidences given by John for the assurance of salvation, let’s answer this question.

To be continued…

[1] Cited from “Philosophy of Joel” weblog, dated August 26, 2007 entitled Man Saves Man and Decisions are the Plan


Leslie Wolf said...

The quotations remind me of a lecture that David Calhoun gave on the Second Great Awakening. In the lecture, Calhoun quoted Finney as saying that there was a scientific method for making converts to Christianity that was as effective and certain as modern agricultural methods for growing wheat. Finney said that all you need to produce wheat is good grain, soil, and water, and that a competent Christian minister could produce Christians from non-believers just as easily.

I am disturbed by Finney's comments, and it seems that the pastors you quote have bought into Finney's mentality. I greatly admire the zeal of these Christians, and I am sure that they love Christ. They are also to be congratulated for preaching the gospel. However, it seems to me that the doctrines of grace and God's sovereignty have been lost here. Reform-minded Christians need to do a much better job of preaching the doctrine of justification by faith alone through grace alone. This doctrine was taught by Augustine, Luther, Calvin, and many Baptists. It is also taught by the Bible. Furthermore, this doctrine is God's answer to Finney and his modern heirs.

This doctrine can be difficult to understand, and it can also be hard to accept. It can make it seem like we have no control over our own faith, and that this is somehow unjust. We need to instruct these Christians gently and lovingly. We need to point out that it is not the doctrines of grace and sovereignty, but rather their denials, that are unjust. If God is not entirely in control of our faith, then someone can fail to have faith, and so be divorced from God, as a result of not having been blessed with a good pastor, or a good small group. And that certainly seems unfair. But, if God is in control of our faith, then we can trust that God will distribute faith in a way that is perfectly just, for God is perfectly just. So much to say! Sorry for rambling.

Just one more thing - let's engage these Christians as our brothers and sisters in Christ.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Another late night for me commenting tonight, Loved the write Gregg, Thanks for the visit and comment.
Have a good day/night.