Why is it that we can hear a sermon about the Sovereignty of God in salvation one week, then hear about making a decision for Christ the next? Why can we hear about the Sovereignty of God in granting faith to a sinner in the same sermon that we are told that Jesus is knocking on the door to our heart? Why is it that we are exhorted to trust in the Sovereignty of God in salvation, and His unmerited grace toward sinners, in His regenerating power – in the same service that the pastor pronounces a person “part of the family of God”?

Schizophrenia. I don’t think it’s purposeful. I don’t think it’s an intentional compromise. It is, pure and simple, simple inconsistency, and perhaps a lack of examination concerning our methodology in our services compared to the theology we present. I’m not trying to be simply critical. I’m trying to understand why it is we do these things. Why do we present these contradictory viewpoints? Why do we offer an altar call and a decision – but yet proclaim the Sovereignty of God?

“…everybody is lamenting the fact that this country believes it’s saved, when it’s no more saved… it’s as lost, as they say in Alabama, as a ball in tall grass. But no one wants to point to what the problem is – and the problem is even when we preach the gospel correctly, we go to this thing of how to invite men that is neither Biblical not historical, we get them to jump through some Evangelical hoops, and say yes to the appropriate questions, and we popishly pronounce them to be saved. And when they believe that false, religious lie, given by a religious authority, when someone comes along later to preach the gospel to them, because they’re living in the world, they won’t listen. Because a religious lie has so much power.”

“…then afterwards, often after a person prays or is led in a prayer by the evangelist, he or she is assured that if they were sincere, then Jesus has definitely come into their heart, because He promised he would, and if He didn’t come in, He is a liar, because they were sincere. How many people do you know believe they are going to heaven because they are not so much trusting Christ, but in the sincerity of a decision they made a long time ago. Often times, after a few minutes of counseling, they are immediately presented before the church and welcomed into the family of God. Now, you tell me I’m wrong. They come down front, I’ve seen it so many times, they’re given over to a counselor, who’s been trained in a package counseling form, they’re talked to for about 5 or ten minutes while the invitation rolls on, and immediately they’re presented before the church, our ‘new brother or sister in Christ’. That’s the last most of them will ever, ever hear of conversion counseling. And then what will happen? If they never grow, or if they doubt their salvation, they are taken again back to that day when they prayed, and questioned as to the sincerity of their decision. If they ever come to the pastor again, doubting their salvation, he’ll take them back to that day again and say ‘did you ever pray and ask Jesus to come into your heart?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Were you sincere?’ ‘I think so.’ ‘Then it’s just the devil bothering you.’ If they never grow in the things of God, their lack of growth is attributed to the lack of discipleship, or the belief in the doctrine of the carnal Christian. One convention that I know of came to the conclusion that 60% of their converts never came to church. Their answer was that they had to do a better job of discipleship. No – Jesus? His sheep? They hear his voice. And they follow Him! Whether you disciple them, or not. Now, we ought to do discipleship. My friend, back in the 70s, discipleship became the big thing. Personal discipleship. We have just as many people leaving by the back door as are entering in by the front door ofthe church because we’re not doing personal discipleship. No! It’s because we’re not preaching the gospel correctly, and we’re pronouncing people converted that are not converted – and they went out from us because they never were of us. Now, you’ve got to understand this. We deal 5 MINUTES with a person on their conversion, and then we spend 50 years trying to disciple a goat into a sheep.”
~Paul Washer, “Regeneration v. The Idolatry of Decisional Evangelism”

I’m not trying to make a slam on anyone. I’m trying to understand why – why the schizophrenia? Our local church is at least a nominally Reformed church. Why doesn’t our practice match our preaching? Why aren’t we seeing the traditions of men for what they are? Why do we take a methodology that doesn’t match our theology, and use it as if it were? What practical necessity is present for us to use such anti-scriptural methods when it comes to the eternally significant care of a soul who is present before us, and under the apparent conviction of the Spirit? Do these practices line up with the NT? Do they have any precedent in the history of the church prior to, to be generous, a couple of hundred years ago? What then must we do? Repent, and believe. Both gifts of God. What about our heart? The untrustworthy, deceitfully wicked heart? Does Christ knock at the door to it? No. Christ does not knock at doors. He appears in their midst. He removes the heart of stone, and replaces it with a heart of flesh. Christ is not a supplicant. He is not a beggar. He is Lord, and we must fall on our faces in repentance, fear, and adoration of this risen Lord. Easter is not a “time of decision”. It is a time of regeneration. Salvation belongs to the Lord, not to the sincerity of men.