But … Do You Love Him? December 26, 2014Posted by stevekerp in Christian living.
My first church exposure after being saved was in my wife’s home church in Racine, and they beat me up continually with their 5-step “plan of salvation.”
Back then, and probably still, the “candidate” (I don’t think that was the word they used) would come forward at the end of the service as the congregation sang the “announced invitation song” and then the minister would explain the 5-step plan (I understand some churches have added a sixth) and ask the candidate if he believed that Jesus died for him, etc. The candidate would say “yes” (then, as now, the minister did almost all of the speaking), and that one-word response was accepted as a confession of faith (Matthew 16:16), and then the minister would announce, “that confession brought death to Him but will bring life to you when you complete your obedience in baptism” (or something very similar).
I’m no mind reader, but I’m inclined to think many of these candidates were thinking quid pro quo – that “for this ONE act of public humiliation, I won’t have my parents on my case any more and God will BE REQUIRED to keep me out of hell.”
Such a deal.
As I said, I’m no mind reader … but I saw and heard lots of resistance to baptism (and still do!) and I saw little evidence of renewed minds or transformed lives.
My thought is that the “formula” is flawed. Paul boiled it down to one simple statement, which he gave in 1 Corinthians 16:22 –
If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. (I would guess that “remain accursed” would be an equally valid translation. -scc)
How basic can you get? It’s right there: the delineation between blessing and curse. And yet I never heard any minister (or anyone else, for that matter) ask a baptismal candidate or new believer if he (or she) loved Christ and, if so, why.
I’m in no hurry to “do the deal” and get people to make “decisions for Christ.” As you know, there is no such thing in the scriptures. Men say (and especially at this time of the year) that “wise men still seek Him” but I doubt it. We don’t seek Him; He has come seeking us (Matthew 18:22). And according to Paul, “…not many wise…” (1 Cor. 1:26) are called.
His disciples LOVE Him. Because they love Him, they keep His commandments. His “fans” only want what Jesus can do for them (stay out of hell, acceptance in the Christian sub-culture, etc.); they don’t want Him. This is a distinction easily lost in evangelistic fervor, as you are no doubt aware.
So the questions we should be asking are: “Do you LOVE Christ? If so, why? If not, why not??