False Evangelism (Decisionism)

False Evangelism (Decisionism)
Robert Wurtz II

Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. (Acts 26:19–20 KJV)

For they have healed the wound of the daughter of My people slightly, Saying, “Peace, peace!’ When there is no peace. (Jeremiah 8:11)

If I were to make a list of the most important words in Christian vocabulary repentance and regeneration would be at the top of the list. If I had to make another list of Christian words that Satan has attacked the most I would list repentance and regeneration at the top of that list. In fact, these two words have been so thoroughly blasphemed that we have almost lost biblical Christianity all together in the West. Indeed, the blind are leading the blind by the millions and multitudes are falling into the ditch.  

Today, if you ask a believer what repentance means they will generally say it means, “to ask Jesus to forgive your sins.” However, this is not repentance. In fact, it is not even the beginning of repentance because it does not contain a confession or acknowledgment of sins. Repentance is what Paul preached; and what Paul preached is what John the Baptist and Jesus preached. I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. Paul gave this testimony on his way to die under Nero in Rome. What does it mean? He preached that people are to change their mind about sin and turn from it in such a way that there is verifiable evidence that you have forsaken it. When was the last time you heard someone preach that? And that is why we are losing Christianity and replacing it with some cheap counterfeit. 

It has been so long since repentance and regeneration was understood that I dare say that the vast majority of preachers have no idea how to do what Paul did in Acts 26:19-20. To most preachers salvation is an exercise in getting your sins forgiven. That’s all. Then the person is sometimes put through a new converts program to teach them how to be a Christian. This is utterly false and blasphemes the faith. True repentance leads to true regeneration in which a person is born of God. This means they have responded to the Holy Spirit who brings conviction of sin and have surrendered to Christ as Lord and King in a real way. This is not lip service. This is actuality. The pattern is simple: repent; believe on Christ; be baptized in water; and receive the Holy Spirit. Baptism in water is not sprinkling or something that happens in infancy. It is total submersion in water. Receiving the Holy Spirit is not “automatic” either. Nor is it the uttering of some unintelligable words or sentences. It is when God truly and I mean truly comes in to you. When these things happen the result is a new creature. If this is not your experience you are not born again no matter what some preacher or Christian may have told you.     

For they have healed the wound of the daughter of My people slightly, Saying, “Peace, peace!’ When there is no peace. (Jeremiah 8:11) It is an awful thing to pronounce a matter finished when it has only begun. To claim that a person is “healed,” when, in fact,  they are not, is to end their pursuit of the remedy. This is the  danger in our text. The people were in a state of perpetual backsliding. Their ongoing iniquity was like a festering leprous sore — designed to kill them. In fact, they were so hardened in their sins that they were unable to blush. They were past feeling. All the while, from the prophet to the priest — they were all given to covetousness. All they could think about was more money and more stuff. They lusted after all kinds of things. From these backslidden hearts issued the words, “Peace, peace!” However, it was a cruel pitiless lie. 

False Prognosis

God told them that they had preached, literally, “shalom, shalom.” In Hebrew, words are doubled-up for emphasis. This is “absolute peace.” Keep in mind that the word shalom means more than an absence of conflict, it denotes well being. This answers to the Hebrew word for wound. In other words, they are being told “it is utterly well” with them when in fact, there is no wellness at all. Their words had only “slightly” healed their festering wound. This word slightly in Hebrew denotes a flippancy towards the seriousness of the problem. 

Modern Application

In modern times, we often have a similar situation as played out in Israel. Because so many who preach the Gospel are given to covetousness, or are only interested in “building their ministry” (church attendees, TV viewers, email lists, etc.) they are unwilling to preach a message that will bring true healing to peoples’ sin-problem. Why? Because repentance does not sell. The so-called “sinners prayer” has become a sacrement in Protestant circles similar to the Catholic signing of the cross or praying the rosary. There is no power in it. 

Sadly, it is all most people know. They can’t even envision what Paul was talking about in Acts 26 because very few preachers follow Paul’s pattern. They behave as though they have a “better way” but they don’t. They are fooling themselves. In fact, they are so intrenched in their ways that they are unchallengable and unteachable in this area. The practice is going to die with them. What did they do? Why is it dangerous? Because people are often asked to repeat it who have not even come under genuine conviction of sin or godly sorrow. If Martin Luther were alive today and nailed a 95 part thesis to the wall of Evangelicalism, it would not look much diferent than the first one. Consider number one through three from his 95 Thesis:

  1. When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, “Repent” (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance. 
  2. This word cannot be understood as referring to the sacrament of penance, that is, confession and satisfaction, as administered by the clergy. 
  3. Yet it does not mean solely inner repentance; such inner repentance is worthless unless it produces various outward mortification of the flesh.

What happens? As Jeremiah said, they heal the wound “slightly” by preaching messages that do little more than serve as a numbing agent to stop the “pain” (conviction). Consider Luther’s last three points:

92. Away, then, with all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, “Peace, peace,” and there is no peace! (Jer 6:14) 

93. Hail, hail be all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, “Cross, cross,” and there is no cross! 

94. Christians should be exhorted to be diligent in following Christ, their Head, through penalties, death and hell. 

95. And thus be confident of entering into heaven through many tribulations rather than through the false security of peace (Acts 14:22).

In place of repentance and faith, their message is more along the lines of (you are) “well, well;” “healed, healed;” or “forgiven, forgiven.” Nothing is said about the deadly wound that is ready to destroy the soul. In fact, people are made to feel good about their condition, when God is trying to bring conviction and Godly sorrow. 

An Inadequate Beginning

God’s unaltering plan is to bring many sons (and daughters) unto glory. (Hebrews 2:10) To accomplish this, people have to be born of God. (John 3:31 John 3:91 John 4:7) This is not a “slight” healing: it is a radical change of the inward man. In fact, the change is so thorough and profound that afterwards Christ is not ashamed to call us brethren. (Hebrews 2:11) This is a new creature in Christ. The old passes away and all becomes new. God gives us a new heart and a new spirit with all new desires. Nevertheless, multitudes are coming to Christ who were never born again. Ministers led them in a prayer or had them sign a church membership card; but they were never genuinely changed.

Most Christians are hostile to the teachings of Darwinian Evolution; however, the doctrine itself is thoroughly embeded in their thinking process. When most Christians think of Christianity, they think of a person starting out with a simple confession of faith and then slowly evolving into a child of God. In other words, with each passing month or year, they become more like Christ and less like the Devil. This is false.

True Christianity begins with a crisis event in which a person passes from death unto life — from the power of Satan to the power of God. This crisis event is known theologically as regeneration. The person is ” born ” of the Spirit (See the illustration above). Once they are ” born ” again, they can begin growing in grace. This is what Jesus was referring to in John 3:3 when He said, “You must be born again.” This is a transformation by the Holy Spirit that renders a person a child of God. They were of their father the devil — performing his lusts; however, now they are born from above and God is working in them both to will and to do His good pleasure. Anything less than this result and we are back in Jeremiah 8:11 having been “healed slightly.”

Another Tragic Mindset

Sometimes false teachings go together like cause and effect. We get one thing wrong and generally some other error is close by. In addition to our subject “Evolutionistic Evangelism,”  we also have to deal with “Industrial Innovations.” That is, we have many innovations that have come into evangelism since the industrial revolution that place the emphasis on speed and quantity, rather than birth and quality. 

What is the goal of an assembly line? Speed. Obviously, there is a desire to maintain a standard, but 
everything is systematic. This is light years from, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8 NKJV) For over a hundred years society has been conditioned to want to speed things up. Nevertheless, we can’t speed up New Birth.

Since so few are willing to preach a message that will bring about New Birth; and even fewer are willing to pray patiently with people to see them pass from death to life; we have a deficiency in new births and an abundance of folks that are trying to “evolve” into being a child of God. It is impossible.

For they have healed the wound of the daughter of My people slightly, Saying, “Peace, peace!’ When there is no peace. (Jeremiah 8:11)

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