The tent meeting with Willowdale Baptist Church in Vilas, NC finished on a very high note. The Lord moved in the service and arrested the heart of a young woman and saved her by His marvelous grace. This lady came out of a Roman Catholic background. Some time ago she made a profession, but Friday night she saw for the firs time that she was a sinner in need of a Savior. She saw that she was a tare and not fruitful wheat. She saw that she was a goat and not a sheep. God broke her during the service and she came to Jesus under Holy Ghost conviction. I praise His name for that!
During the course of the message I made a statement that many people will find objectionable. (That’s nothing new!) I said that decision oriented preaching has done more to fill our churches with goats than anything else. I said that our insistence on people praying a certain prayer and following a prescribed formula has led many to be deceived about their salvation. I just believe that salvation is a sovereign work of God in a lost heart. Surely the lost sinner has to believe the Gospel, but there is not scripted method in the Bible for doing that. Many would hold up the prayer prayed by the publican in our Lord’s parable in Luke 18, where the lost man said, “Lord, be merciful to me a sinner”, as the prayer everyone has to pray. Of course, if you read the conversion accounts in the book of Acts, that theory falls apart quickly. When Paul was saved, the Lord struck him down and Paul’s response was to say “Lord, what wilt thou have me do?” If you look at how the disciples were saved, the belief that you have to follow some sort of script will not hold water. Take Matthew for instance. Jesus called him while he was collecting taxes for Rome. Matthew simply got up and followed Jesus. There was no prayer and no one led him down the Roman Road. Now, I am not against people praying some prayer, but when we say that lost sinners must come to Jesus in a certain way, following a pattern we lay down, I do have problems with that. And, I think the Lord might have problems with it too! You see, salvation is of the Lord, and does not come to us because we follow some man made formula. Salvation comes when a lost sinner under Holy Ghost conviction looks in faith to the finished work of Jesus Christ at Calvary and the empty tomb as the sole basis of salvation. It might not even involve a prayer, it might be a transaction in the heart between the sinner and God. Of course, there will be fruit when a person comes to Jesus and is truly saved. No fruit in a life equals no root, no matter how many times a sinner prays any prayer.
So, instead of calling people to make a decision for Jesus, maybe we should be simply preaching the Gospel and trusting the Holy Ghost to draw them as He sees fit. If you do what I tell you, you have no guarantees that you will be saved. But, if you do what He tells you, it will work every time! What does He say, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” (Rom 10:9 KJV) It’s as simple as that!
Why do I say all this? Well, after the service a woman approached me to say that she had been saved for about a year. A couple of weeks ago another woman in her church came to her and told her that she wasn’t really saved because she hadn’t prayed the so-called sinner’s prayer. This lady told me that she had second guessed her salvation since that time. If your hope of salvation is in a prayer you prayed, you are still lost in your sins! If your faith is in the finished work of Christ alone, you are saved. That is the bottom line! Here is how John said it, “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” (1Jo 5:12 KJV)
I believe the Bible teaches us that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone! Thank God for that!
Have a good day in the Lord’s house today. Preach His Word in power preacher and trust Him to do His work in the hearts of His people!