Quick Hit: “Almost Saved” = Totally Lost?

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My aversion to “wretched urgency”–that impulse within evangelicalism that the only thing that matters is telling as many people as possible about Jesus in order to get them saved–is well documented here on this blog.

One consequence of our fetish with “getting people saved” is the notion that until someone has made the decision to accept Christ, they are going to hell, no matter what, no ifs, ands, or buts about it.  We are not guaranteed a single moment of the future, so the only thing that matters is that you make the decision to receive Christ NOW!!!  Because we believe the only thing that matters is getting people across the line of faith in Christ, some of our evangelistic efforts can become quite pushy or confrontational.

And in some instances, quite bizarre.  I remember going to a church several years ago where the pastor said that because he was sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading he would sometimes mix things up and have the invitation midway through the service rather than at the end, as is usually done.  As if a few minutes could make the difference between whether a certain person (or people) receive Christ and go to heaven, or not receive Christ and end up in hell.

The decision to receive Christ is the most momentous decision that a person can possibly make.  For this reason, I think it is foolish to expect people to make this decision instantaneously the moment we hit them with our preaching or evangelistic spiel.  The quality of converts that we get as a result of such hasty decisions is generally not very good, and most of these impulse converts are likely to reject the faith just as impulsively as they received it when they encounter their first hint of real adversity.

One of the things which I appreciate about my church is that it is intentionally set up to allow people who have not yet received Christ the space to consider, ask questions, and move at their own pace toward making a decision.  Explicitly evangelistic appeals are few and far between, and they are delivered with class and respect for all who are hearing the message, wherever they may be spiritually.  There is no attempt to pressure people into making decisions to receive Christ.  Also there are environments which are specifically set up so that people who are seeking but have questions or doubts can ask their questions and express their doubts in a nonthreatening place.  All in all, I believe that this results in a much better quality of believer for the ones who do decide to follow Christ.

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