Roadblocks to Revival: “Hard-Believism”

Yesterday, I went to a rescue mission and preached a clear gospel message to a group of men. I prayed earnestly that some would be saved, and preached a very practical, “in-your-face” style message that got the men sitting forward in their chairs. I then explained how to call on the Lord. At the invitation time, ten men prayed and called on the name of the Lord to save them.

I was ecstatic! I have no doubt those men believed what I preached to them. I believe they called on Christ, and are now eternally secure!

But as I began thinking about this, I caught myself with a tiny bit of apprehension… apprehension towards expressing to other Christians my joy over the salvation of these men. Why would I feel that apprehension? Because I have encountered Christians who don’t like it when you say “They were saved.” They prefer that you say “They professed salvation.” These same Christians use the “Sanctification” factor to determine whether the person was ever saved in the first place.

I guess the big question is, should we accept someone as a new brother in Christ, before they prove it by doing right, adopting proper standards, reading a proper Bible, attending a proper church, talking proper talk, etc? Most would say “Yes! Of course we should!” But why do they then show disbelief when they hear that the Gospel brought a soul from darkness to light?

There’s a certain “ism” that people like to talk about: “Easy-Believism.” This term spawned from the unfortunate fact that people will water down the Gospel, not explaining the abomination of sin, the horror of hell, the cruelty of the cross, and the glory of the resurrection. Instead, some will just tell you to “believe on Jesus” and then lead them to pray an empty prayer, as if it were a magical incantation. They then go on to brag of seeing 40 people saved that day.

This is where the opposition for what we know as “easy-believism” is rooted.

In other words: “Easy-Believism” is handling the Bible deceitfully, covering up the difficult portions of the Gospel because the preacher is afraid of being seen as extreme.

This is wrong.

Now, remember that 40 in one day is actually a small number, Biblically speaking. If we are preaching the same Gospel they did at Pentecost, we should be seeing more than that saved in one day. Why? Because it is not complicated, and it is very attractive! Salvation is only perceived as difficult when a lost person has baggage to overcome; whether it’s pride, fear, or religious misunderstandings. Once they understand Jesus Christ and His gift of eternal life, trusting Him is easy. When we see people fail to explain the hard points, but rather lead people to pray an empty prayer without actual knowledge of the gospel, we react. Some react by perverting the gospel in an different way; by making it seem difficult to get saved, and doubting any report of a salvation (unless the person was already “doing right.” Then its believable.) This is what I call “Hard-Believism,” its unconsciously connected to true legalism, and it is just as abominable as “Easy-Believism.”

“They were Saved”  substituted for “They professed Salvation?” Subtle right? But it marks a certain problem with your perspective. Let me explain why I think people make this subtle line.

  1. Christians recognize that many of the popular “preachers” water down the doctrine to get huge numbers of followers. Because of the frustration they feel about this, they label it with an “ism” (which doesn’t completely explain the problem) and they eventually respond to any salvation with “well… maybe… we’ll see. Time will tell.”  My answer is this: you are correct that the gospel is abused, and many preachers are all about the popularity. This does not, however, change the fact that “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13.)” Don’t be reactionary against those who pervert the gospel with ultra-simplicity by perverting it with complexity. Just teach the Gospel the correct way, and people will respond.
  2. Many believe you cannot know if someone is saved unless they show it with works. It is an alluring trap to believe that if someone does not continue in sanctification/discipleship/church membership/growing in grace/service, that they were “never of us.” This appeals to our carnal nature. It makes us feel more secure, because we are contributing something, but they are not! We access that feeling of security by comparing ourselves to those who are not even trying to live for the Lord, and saying “Well, if they are doing that, are they even really saved?” Strange, really. It is a form of pride. This is one reason “perseverance of the saints” is a popular false teaching in our churches. My answer to that problem is this. Ask the baby Christian if they believe Jesus Christ died for their sins, and rose again. If they confess that the blood of Christ is the payment for their sins, then they are saved. They need to grow, yes, but they are saved! Simple, right? Anyone that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God– that is Bible! If someone is trusting the blood of Christ as the only payment for their sins, I call that man “brother.” Now, if those more mature Christians are worried about the spiritual health of their baby-brother, they should spend the time to teach them and lead them to a better relationship with the Lord; not judge the status of their salvation from across the room. That’s pointless, and not very Christ-like.
  3. Some percentage of Christians are insecure about others seeing fruit in the Gospel,  because they themselves have not seen fruit for a long time (if ever). This same group will disparage churches that are growing, accusing them of being unbiblical, self-serving, “seeker-friendly-mega-churches.” It is good to label false doctrines and unhealthy philosophies, but only if you do so 1) with the Bible and not your personal opinions,  and 2) with the intention of bettering a situation, and not just complaining. However, in my experience, most of those who sit in judgment aren’t doing so with the Bible or for any constructive reason; rather, they are doing so because of insecurity. They see their own church atrophy, weaken and shrink; and want the problem to be somewhere other than themselves. My answer is this: there is power in the Gospel, and the Bible is easy to understand.  If you want God to bless your church, make your church about what God is about. The Gospel works if you do! Having a form of godliness is not what God is interested in, He makes that very plain all though the Bible. What God is interested in is redeeming people from death to life, and adding them to His family. If you or your church are more about the system than the Savior, you need to repent; and while you are repenting, don’t be a bucket of cold water on the zeal of more enthusiastic Christians.

If you don’t believe the Gospel can still save people at their worst, then sit back and watch as biblical Christians prove you wrong. If you cast doubt on the salvation of those who call on the name of Jesus; check your heart, and your Bible. You might have good underlying reasons why you react this way, but you are discouraging people from being excited about the gospel’s saving power: you are being a “Roadblock to Revival.”

JL

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