I am becoming more and more convinced that it is a problem in our day when we say to people, “Are you saved?” And they say, “Yes, I went forward at such and such a church” or “I did this.” And I would suggest that that problem is indicative of exactly what I’m talking about. They’re in a mindset about salvation that focuses on some point in time and decision that they sealed the deal with God.
Now, don’t misunderstand me. Coming to Christ is and does involve a decisive point. My point is that the way we’ve communicated the gospel in the last 150 something years, has tended to focus on that transaction more than “How do you know you’re saved?” Someone talking about the finished work of Christ or his righteousness or we talk about the transaction. Because to many in our day, their only actual assurance of salvation is that they did something.
It’d be akin to if I walked up to a corpse and I said to you, “Is this guy alive?” and you pulled out a birth certificate and said, “Yeah, I’ve got his birth certificate right here.” And I didn’t say to you, “Was he born?” I didn’t say, “Does he have a birth certificate?” I said, “Is he alive?” And we’ve tended to do the same thing spiritually. We go “Are you alive?” And they go, “I was born.” They don’t say, “Yes.” They don’t show the marks of regeneration as the assurance of salvation. They go back to a decision.
Last week, I mentioned a message by Dr. Doran called “Decisions or Disciples?” from the 2004 Mid-American Conference on Preaching. In the message, he disagrees with the idea that salvation and discipleship are two different steps in the Christian life. He also says that the concept is foreign to the Scriptures, noting the “make disciples” of Matt. 28:19-20.
He makes a good point there. Have we emphasized the birth aspect of the new birth so much that we forget what it is supposed to accomplish? I think these thoughts deserve some careful thought and prayer. The way we handle the gospel is vitally important.