Thursday, March 31, 2011

Christians Do Sin.

  Lordship salvation does not teach that Christians can't sin. It does teach that Christians can't live complacently in it. Lordship salvation does not say Christians will be sinless. But it does insist that Christians will sin less. Christians do sin, but they don't practice it (1 John 3:6). Christians sin; sometimes seriously. But if they are Christians, they will suffer for it (Heb. 12). Complacency and contentment in sin are the hallmark of the unregenerate soul. Conviction is the sign of the saved one. In other words, the Christian will sin, but it will make him miserable. (Sam Storms)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Saving Faith

I never cease to be astounded at some of the things professing believers in Christ come up with in their attempts at interpreting the Bible. One recent cause for my astonishment is a graduate of a reputable Bible College using Exodus 22:16-17 as a justification for a young woman of tender years being compelled to marry the equally-naive and immature young man. The passage goes like this:

“If a man entices a virgin who is not betrothed, and lies with her, he shall surely pay the bride-price for her to be his wife. If her father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money according to the bride-price of virgins.”

I wonder just what kind of “bride-price” this reckless Bible School exegete had in mind for this young lady?

I digress.

This kind of cafeteria-style Biblical exegesis (pick and choose Biblical interpretation), this recklessness, is all too apparent when such eternal life and death issues are in the forefront of a discussion of the Gospel. When this lazy, good-for-nothing method of Biblical interpretation is adhered to, the exact nature of saving faith is lost to the eternal perishing of man's soul. That is precisely why this issue is so important. Without a clear understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, can a man obtain that righteousness without which no man shall see God?

This discussion is not just important. It is a life and death issue on an eternal scale.

An idea, no, an error, courses through professing evangelicalism that a man may be saved without mentioning sin, without explaining Biblical faith, without saying a word about confessing Jesus Christ as Lord (See Romans 10:9), and without saying anything about submission and obedience to Christ's commandments (See 1 John 2:3-9). There are those, and I am talking about professing Christians, both laymen and clergy, who teach that these issues have nothing to do in presenting the Gospel in an evangelistic presentation.

This half-baked false gospel has produced shallow and insincere conversions in society. Instead of genuine conversions producing true believers who show evidence of their submission to their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, there are pews filled with people who have a faith empty of any ethical meaning. In other words, their practice betrays their profession of faith. They made a “decision” for Christ, but there was no conversion. There was no becoming a New Creature in Christ (See Galatians 5:17). There is no repentance of sin.

So, what is being missed in the Gospel presentation of the 21st century?

1) Some who are in error (false teachers) preach that one may be saved with a mere intellectual assent to the “facts” of the Gospel without making Christ Lord of their lives. This is not just absurd; it is unbiblical:

“And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved.” (Acts 2:21)

“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:36)

“that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. ” (Romans 10:9)

If one is truly born-again, then Christ is Lord of his or her life!

2) Crucial to the Gospel of Jesus Christ is repentance. This is not merely a “change of mind” where one moment you don't believe the facts of the Gospel and the next moment you do. It is turning from sin and turning to Christ as Lord and Savior. It is a change of mind that always produces a change of moral conduct. It is an act of God generated in the heart of those whom He has chosen to redeem.

3) What is the nature of saving faith? The object of our faith is not the facts of the Gospel but the Person and work of Jesus Christ. It not an ideology that saves us. It is a Person who saves us: Christ. A faith that saves is one that confesses that Jesus is Lord, and believes God raised Him from the dead. A person who has that faith is the one who is saved.

4) The Two-Step Plan of Salvation: There are those who teach that one becomes a Christian at their initial salvation experience in which they believe the facts of the Gospel and later, or perhaps never, he or she makes Christ Lord of his or her life. This is such a misunderstanding of the Gospel and is on the level of the charismatic-Pentecostal error of the “second work of grace.” It is to say that Christ did “His part” to save you, now you have to do “your part” in making Christ as Lord of your life. This “Two-Step Plan of Salvation” is essentially the argument that the “Easy-Believism” crowd espouses. It also reduces the Biblical requirement to obey the commandments of Christ (See 1 John 2) to a “second blessing or a second work of grace” experience.

5) Where's the changed life? A shallow and watered-downed gospel offers an “unchanged” life at the moment of salvation. It is even said that someone can fall into unbelief and still have eternal life because they once “believed.” The Bible teaches that someone who apostatizes was never a believer in the first place (See 1 John 2:19).

Some say that this error really is the old heresy, Semi-Pelagianism. The more I study this issue; the more and more I believe this is the case. This kind of fraudulence is nothing more than an appeal to the sinful, fallen nature of man with a gospel in which a turning from sin will not be required. Man is not totally depraved, the appeal goes, but “tainted” and all he needs to do is “believe” with nothing more expected or needed.

J.I. Packer said this:

“When Scripture speaks of regeneration, which it represents as a new birth, a quickening of the dead, what is in view is an inner transformation of one's being, or "heart," which makes it impossible for one to go on living under sin's sway as one lived before. The effect of regeneration is that now one wants, from the bottom of one's heart, to know, love, serve, trust, obey, and honor the Father and the Son, so that obedient devotion and discipleship spontaneously spring up where there was only resentful hostility to God before.” i


Saturday, March 26, 2011

An Ancient Heresy?

Dr. S. Lewis Johnson once said, “...the central error underlying no-lordship doctrine is nothing but the ancient heresy of semi-pelagianism--the belief that saving grace cannot be efficacious without the prior cooperation of human free will.”

Semi-pelagianism is the theological system that teaches:

“...a moderated form of Pelagianism, taught that man has retained the ability to seek God in and of himself apart from any movement of God's grace. Pelagianism denied any real effect of original sin on human nature. Semi-Pelagianism, admitted that man's nature was "injured" by original sin, but maintained that man still has free will and the ability to cooperate with God's grace in the salvation process.”

Though I do not understand all of the nuances of Dr. Johnson's statement, I do see some connections between the Easy-Believism heresy and semi-pelgianism.

Easy-Believism is just another way of expressing “decisionalism salvation.” Until the 1800's, this idea of decisionism, or decisionalism salvation, was never a part of an explanation of the Gospel of Salvation. Through those centuries, there were theological and doctrinal debates concerning various doctrinal positions on different Biblical truths; however, there was no "decisionism" salvation. We can thank Charles Finney for introducing decisionism salvation to the church.

Finney, a theological Arminian, rejected the Biblical doctrine of total depravity. He held to the error that man could exercise himself Godward salvifically. Man could "decide" himself in and out of a state of salvation with God. So pervasive was his error that he taught that one could lose one's salvation while in heaven. Amazingly, Finney had a huge following.

Decisionism, or easy-believism, salvation has as its root, its very foundation, that man "can" exercise himself toward God in a salvation sense when confronted with the facts of the Gospel. It means that man is not hindered from seeking God, and if man likes what he sees, can choose Godward.

“Finney believed that conversions could be obtained by the "use of means" to get people to walk the aisle, and he seemed to get results.  But, many of his converts fell away soon after making their "decision." ” i

This is not the entire picture, however, with the decisionalism or easy-believism error. It is not just a matter of “conversions that do not last.” The core issue is a faulty view of the doctrine of original sin and a presentation of a Gospel that is not based in the exegesis of the Biblical texts, is it not? Consequently, what is preached from the pulpits or in one-on-one encounters with the unsaved is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ; thus the person's soul hangs in the balance.

The most appalling aspect of this error is the belief that salvation is a two-step process. First step: You accept the facts of the Gospel in a sort of mental assent much like you would a fact of history you learn in a classroom textbook for the first time. There is nothing else required of you but your mental assent. There is nothing said in the easy-believism plan of salvation about turning from sin—repentance. There is nothing said about a commitment to following Christ as the Lord of your life and soul. That is an issue of discipleship. That comes later—the Second Step.

“Shallow preaching that does not grapple with the terrible fact of man's sinfulness and guilt, calling on ‘all men everywhere to repent,' results in shallow conversions; and so we have a myriad of glib-tongued professors today who give no evidence of regeneration. Prating of salvation by grace, they manifest no grace in their lives. Loudly declaring they are justified by faith alone, they fail to remember that ‘faith without works is dead.'" - Harry Ironside, Except Ye Repent”

When you confront these so-called converts as to how they can still call themselves Christians while living as though God does not exist in their impenitence of sin of any ilk, they will often tell you that they made a decision for Christ when they were seven years old (or any age) and therefore God “has to forgive them.” I find this incredible. Listen to what the Prince of Preachers of 19th-century England had to say:

"Just now some professedly Christian teachers are misleading many by saying that ‘repentance is only a change of mind.' It is true that the original word does convey the idea of a change of mind; but the whole teaching of Scripture concerning the repentance which is not to be repented of is that it is a much more radical and complete change than is implied by our common phrase about changing one's mind. The repentance that does not include sincere sorrow for sin is not the saving grace that is wrought by the Holy Spirit." - Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Royal Saviour

The stupidity of all of this is that Evangelicalism is preaching a man-centered, fraudulent gospel. Often through psychological tricks in church dog-and-pony shows, unbelievers are manipulated into jumping through conversion hoops that have nothing at all to do with the Biblical Gospel and the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who come forward in the abominable practice of the “altar call” are further tricked into saying the “conversion magic words,” the easy-believism prayer that the decisionalism “counselor” leads them to say, and the person is then deemed a Christian.

“It is one thing to show some interest in salvation; it is quite another thing to be saved." - David Cloud

Is it not the point that in the long run, those who uphold the decisionalism, easy-believism (semi-pelagianism) doctrine are simply denying the Truth of Scripture? Do they not have a man-centered soteriology? In conclusion, I offer just one text of Scripture that, at least in my mind, obliterates the decisionalism, easy-believism heresy. My prayer is that the Holy Spirit would minister this, and other texts, to your heart and mind to correct this error that has invaded Evangelicalism.

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.” Titus 2:11-15 NKJV

Note if you will these points from Titus 8-15:

First: Paul exhorts to be a pattern of good works (Titus 2:8).

Second: Then, Paul gives the doctrinal explanations for the exhortation to be a pattern of good works.

  1. The Grace of God that brings salvation teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts.

  1. The Grace of God that brings salvation teaches us that we should live soberly, righteously, and

  1. The Grace of God that brings salvation purifies for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

Could this be any plainer? The Grace of God, while free, is costly. It cost us our ungodliness and worldly lusts; it requires us to live soberly, righteously, and godly. It purifies us for Christ as a special people zealous for good works.

That, my dear friends, is the Biblical Gospel.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Role of the Church Elder

The primary duties of an elder(s) of the church is to teach and protect sound doctrine to the members. They overstep their boundaries and take on cult-like roles when they seek to intrude into a family within their assembly and seek to undermine the head of the household by telling them who they can and who they cannot consider to be a part of their home. It is the elders duty to teach sound Biblical theology and ethics and the practice of it but it is NOT their role to tell families who they can accept into their family household as members of their family though not blood related. When they do, they've got one foot in the door of a cult.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Easy-Believism is Antinomianism

Someone asked me why the sudden focus on “Easy-Believism” in my blog. After thinking about it for a while, I suppose the answer to that question is the crushing weight of incredulity I felt when I recently heard someone offer the excuse for his sexual immorality, violence, filthy talk, binge drinking, and threats of physical harm was because he was a “babe in Christ.” Actually, it was the one who “led him to the Lord” who offered up that excuse on his “disciple’s” behalf. The person who was discipling the younger man was from a prominent Evangelical Bible School.

Easy-Believism is nothing more than your good old-fashioned antinomianism. It is the system of doctrinal error that states that obedience to the law, in any form, is not required in the Christian's life. This gigantic threat to orthodoxy and orthopraxy must not only be understood but must also be denounced from the housetops. But, to do so requires an understanding of what antinomianism is in order to understand the true threat Easy-believism is to orthodox Christianity.

Antinomianism is a compound word meaning against (anti) the law (nomos). Understood in the realm of theological studies, it means that the Christian is not under the law as a moral code of conduct. An antinomianist takes to an unbiblical extreme a misunderstanding of what the Bible actually teaches. What the Bible teaches is that we are not under the Law written in the Old Testament as a means of salvation (this was the Pharisaical perversion of the Law). Christ's death, burial, resurrection, and ascension fulfilled the Law (See: Romans 10.4; Gal. 3:23; Ephesians 2:15). To say that there is no moral law that believers in Christ must obey is not scriptural.

The insidious core of Easy-Believism is that a person can hear the facts of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and then exercise himself or herself salvificially Godward. The key player in this “transaction” is the human. The human, in other words, does his or her part and then God does His part. This “decision of the will” initiates the salvation act saving the person but effecting no moral change in the person. This belief concentrates on the justification of the believer but there is no “setting apart unto holiness” either positionally or conditionally. If sanctification is to take place at all in the life of the believer, than it must be on man's terms in something called “yieldedness.” To put it simply, repentance of sin in coming to faith in Christ is not necessary at all.

Not only do these folks believe that there is no moral law to be exhibited in the life of the believer, but also that the so-called Christian can remain a “babe” in Christ during his or her entire life and never show the fruit of the Spirit.

My concluding remarks are these:

Titus 2:11-15: "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee."

Recommended: Examine Yourself

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Rejection: Easy-Believism

If you've been reading my blog, you will no doubt understand that I do not believe in what has come to be called, “Easy-Believism.” This is a doctrine of salvation (soteriology) that teaches a sinner can get right with God (saved from his or her sin) by giving a mental assent to the doctrines described in the Bible about Jesus. This idea of “Easy-Believism” is also called “Decisionism.” By whatever name it is called, I reject it.

I reject to the core the teaching that salvation can be accomplished by the intellectual acceptance of a few biblical facts about the person and work of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, and then for the person to go forth living life like everyone else on the planet as though nothing has happened.

I know many people who profess Christ. What I mean is that they call themselves Christians and yet they live like the devil. Their “salvation experience” had no sense of the crushing weight of their own sin, which should cause them cry out, “God have mercy on me, a sinner.” (Luke 18:13) Yet, they point to a time in their past in which they prayed a prayer, walked an altar-call aisle (went forward), or raised their hand in a revival meeting and call themselves Christians though their lives show no evidence of being New Creatures in Christ (Gal. 5:17).

The Gospel of Jesus Christ was not, nor is not, just a call to receive “fire insurance” from the damnation of hell. Rather, it was (is) a call to be saved from the penalty and power of sin. Did you see that last phrase: “...from the power of sin?” Someone who truly is born again, has been brought by the Holy Spirit to faith in the finished work of Christ, is saved not only from the wages of sin, but is saved from the rule, dominion, control, or power of sin in their lives. That is why John wrote in 1 John 2:6:

He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.”

In fact, to come to faith and trust in Christ puts the professing believer on alert that if truly a Christian, one cannot have sin in any form reigning in his or her life.

Romans 6:12-14

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. ”

The Romans 6 text shows that when someone comes to faith and trust in Christ, he or she is united in the likeness of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The death Christ died to sin, we in Him also died. The resurrection of Christ from the dead, we in him were raised from being dead in our trespasses and sin SO THAT we might walk in newness of life and not like we did before we were saved.

Someone who is truly a Christian CANNOT live as they did before:

...according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath just as the others. “ (Ephesians 2: 2,3)

Note carefully what this is saying: As a non-Christian, you lived like everyone else did on the planet. You walked according to the dictates of the devil. You were a son or daughter of disobedience. (Living a righteous life was not in your plans.) You lived your life in the lusts of your flesh and sought to satisfy your sinful flesh and mind. Your nature, your very core, was a child of wrath just like all the rest of the world.

That’s the not-so-pretty picture of who and what everyone born in the world is like. And, this is what the “Easy-Believism” crowd thinks you can remain like when you “pray to receive Christ.” “Obedience,” I was once told, “is preferred but is not necessary.”

This is a horrific nightmare that modern-day evangelicalism will accept ANYONE who professes to know Christ and yet has a life that is not any different than those who “walking according to the course of this world, the prince of the power of the air (Satan), and are sons of disobedience.”

This is NOT the gospel. It is false and dangerous.

In the simplest of terms: the gospel call to faith presupposes that sinners must repent of their sin and yield to Christ's authority (John MacArthur)

What does the Bible teach?

The Bible teaches that the Gospel is a call to repentance: Acts 2:38, 17:30, 20:21; 2 Peter 3:9.

The Bible teaches that repentance is a true change of heart and behavior: Luke 3:8, Acts 26:18-20

The Bible teaches that repentance is NOT man's work but all of God's grace: Acts 11:18, 2 Timothy 2:25

The Bible teaches that the faith to believe is also NOT a work of man but instead is a gift from God: Ephesians 2:1-10

The Bible teaches that true faith will never be compromised: Philippians 1:6

(The Easy- Believism crowd believes you can actually stop believing in Christ and still be saved—see 1 John 2:19.)

The Bible teaches that Christ Himself is to be the object of our faith and not facts about Him: “and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” (2 Cor. 5: 15)

(Did you catch the point of that verse? The context in which this verse occurs is speaking about being reconciled to God, or in other words, salvation. Those for whom Christ died (God's elect) are not to live for themselves but for Christ who died for them. That is salvation!)

The Bible teaches that if you are Christ's sheep, you will follow Him. (John 10:27, 28) You not only will not live as you did before but if you are one of Christ's sheep (in other words a believer), you will follow Christ.

(Easy-Believism teaching says that giving an assent to the facts of the Gospel is all that's necessary and that no following of Christ is required. I actually heard this once in an evangelism meeting in which the preacher told the crowd that all one had to do to be saved is believe that Christ died on a cross and nothing more would be required of you.)

The Bible teaches that the faith wrought by the Holy Spirit in you to believe unto salvation produces a “New Creation” (2 Cor. 5:17) in the inner person that can do nothing other than bear fruit of repentance.

The Bible teaches very plainly that we can know that we have come to know Christ if we keep His commandments (1 John 2:3). And, if someone who does not obey Christ's commands and claims to be a Christian, that profession is false. In fact, the Bible calls that person a liar (1 John 2:4).

Whoever says, “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,” -1John 2:4 ESV

The Easy-Believism bunch believes most sincerely that obeying Christ's commands is an issue pertaining to a “second-level commitment,” 1 which sounds suspiciously like another gospel to me.

Galatians 1: 8

“But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.”

1 John MacArthur

Martin Luther on "Easy-Believism"

“They think one should not frighten or trouble the people, but rather always preach comfortingly about grace and forgiveness of sins in Christ and under no circumstances use these or similar words.

‘Listen! You want to be a Christian and at the same time remain an adulterer, a whoremonger, a drunken swine, arrogant, covetous, envious, vindictive, malicious, etc!’ Instead they say, ‘Listen! Though you are an adulterer, a whoremonger, a miser, or other kind of sinner, if you but believe, you are saved, and you need not fear the law. Christ has fulfilled it all!’…And it is saying yes and no to the same thing. For there is no Christ that died for sinners who do not, after forgiveness of sins, desist from sins and lead a new life…Now he who does not abstain from sin, but persists in his evil life, must have a different Christ, that of the Antinomians: the real Christ is not there, even if all the angels would cry ‘Christ! Christ!’

He must be damned with this, his new Christ…But our Antinomians fail to see that they are preaching Christ without and against the Holy Spirit because they propose to let the people continue in their old ways and still pronounce them saved. And yet logic, too, implies that a Christian should either have the Holy Spirit and lead a new life, or know that he has no Christ.” 1 (Note Luther’s expression “antinomians” here refers to church leaders who use the wonderful teaching of being justified and redeemed by grace through faith as an excuse for them and others to ignore or underemphasise the Biblical teachings on obeying God and living a holy life daily). Luther’s comments above are highly relevant to today.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Illness that Plagues Modern-Day Evangelicalism

Do you know the story of the conversion of Paul of Tarsus whom the Bible refers to as The Apostle Paul? If not, it goes like this:

Paul, according to the New Testament, was actually called Saul. He was a Pharisee whose life work had suddenly become to kill Christians. It isn't clear whether he threw stones, fed them to lions, or any other dastardly and heinous methods of killing worshipers of Jesus Christ. But, he did hunt them down, turned them into the authorities and this is where we pick up the story of his conversion.

Paul was fuming that day over the disciples of Jesus Christ. In fact, the text says that he was “breathing out threats and slaughter” about the chance to go on a Christian hunt and return with them bound and gagged into Jerusalem. i He had to go to the high priest to get written authorization to go on his murderous way. The permission was granted and off he went toward Damascus.

When he was getting close to reaching Damascus with his entourage of fellow Christian hunters, something happened. The Biblical text describes it:

“As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone.

Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes, he could see nothing. So, they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days, he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.” ii

If you continue in the text (and read Paul's epistles), you will find that the result of that “Road to Damascus” experience was a complete and total change in the man’s life. He went from a Christian killer to a Christ worshiper in an instant. In the blink of eye, he stopped killing and began obeying the Lord Jesus Christ and would go on to become the great Apostle Paul.

For a brief moment, lets assume a different scenario:

Paul has the conversion experience and, though profoundly emotionally affected, he goes on killing Christians. He continues, in other words, in his previous heinous activities. He is living like the Devil.

Jesus comes to Paul again in a vision:

JESUS: “Paul, Paul, you called me Lord. You went when and where I called you to go. Why are still killing my people?

PAUL: “Oh, well, I am just a baby Christian and after all, I am not that mature in the faith yet. And besides, I just killed 75 Christians this week. That's down from my normal average.”

JESUS: “But Paul, you don't get the point. When I save someone, I make him or her New Creatures in Christ. The old man and all his lusts and evil desires are done away with and all things become new.”

PAUL: “Ok. I'll reduce my Christian kill rate to only 50 per week. How's that?”

As absurd as this sounds, I sat speechless one evening this week listening to a young man who had professed to have become a Christian, but telling me that he still engages in the sinful acts he did before he “prayed to receive Christ” and gave as his justification that this was how he was raised. The man who had allegedly “led him to Christ” offered an excuse, “We are all sinners and he is just a babe in Christ.”

Now tell me: Would the Apostle Paul had been sincerely converted if he continued on with his murderous spree of killing Christians after The Road to Damascus experience? Can anyone really respond to that question in the affirmative?

Of the many illness that plague modern-day evangelicalism, one of the most insidious is the idea that one can become a Christian by raising a hand in a gospel revival meeting, by signing a card, by going forward in a gospel “altar call,” or perhaps by repeating the magic words found in the “sinner's prayer.” This illness is called “Easy Believism.”

I once heard an “evangelistic message” in which the one giving the message said, “All you need to do is repeat this prayer after me in your heart and nothing else will be required of you.”

Repentance of sin was never mentioned. The word “sin" is rarely heard it in today's churches.

"Today, in the ranks of our Independent Baptist churches, we are overcome by the super salesmen ‘soulwinners' who pull professions out of lost souls with a promise that they will go to heaven on the basis of a little prayer and a profession of faith in Jesus. They follow the Hyles, Hutson, Gray, Vineyard, statement of faith and never know the reality of passing from death to life. The followers of these preachers of corruption are promising lost souls liberty where there is not liberty. . . . One "Easy-Believism" preacher, Jack Hyles of the large First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, says that ‘sin does not have to be repented of, only forgotten.' ... I am afraid these preachers want to hide their sins instead of forget them." iii

Amazingly, the idea of repenting from your sin when you are brought by the Holy Spirit to faith and trust in Christ, as taught by those like John MacArthur, is often labeled as a legalistic and heretical promotion of a works salvation. This is astonishingly incomprehensible.

"To leave out or minimize repentance, no matter what sort of a faith you preach, is to prepare a generation of professors who are such in name only. I give it as my deliberate conviction, founded on 25 years of ministerial observation, that the Christian profession of today owes its lack of vital godliness, its want of practical piety, its absence from the prayer meeting, its miserable semblance of missionary life, very largely to the fact that old-fashioned repentance is so little preached. You can't put a big house on a little foundation. And no small part of such preaching comes from a class of modern evangelists who desiring more for their own glory to count a great number of converts than to lay deep foundations, reduce the conditions of salvation by 1/2 and make the other half but some intellectual trick of the mind rather than a radical spiritual change of the heart... . Such converts know but little and care less about a system of doctrine. They are prayerless, lifeless, and to all steady church work reprobate." iv

Evangelizing children is easy for the “Easy-Believism” crowd. This approach is something like, “Don't you want to see your grandmother again?” or, “Don't you want to live forever with your parents when you die?” Then, a call for a round of hand raising is made and most, if not all, the children hearing this gospel fraud raise their hands and they are counted as true conversions. The problem with this, says George Eager , “...that does not mean they are saved.  The Bible says that no one can be saved unless he repents. . . .  Repentance is being sorry enough for your sins to want to stop doing them."

Gospel presentations that do not wrestle with the terrible fact that man's sin is sending him straight to hell and one that implores men everywhere to repent of sin is fraudulence. Easy-believism preaching is not only fraudulent but it produces fraudulent conversions and people who are as hell-bound as they were before their fake conversions.

Horrifically, this has infected those preaching, those listening, those engaged in missionary endeavors, and those who are book authors. Evangelicalism has become a hoard of slick, smooth-talking frauds who show no sign of being made alive together with Christ. They scream from the rooftops that they are saved by believing in Jesus and yet fail to get the point that “faith without works is dead.” v

Recommended Reading: The Gospel According to Jesus: What Is Authentic Faith? John MacArthur

Acts 9:1–9, AV
Gaylon Wilson, Last Baptist Church
- B.H. Carroll, in Repentance and Remission of Sins
James 2: 14-26