[b]Problems with Decisional Regeneration[/b]
by James E. Adams
The doctrine of decisional regeneration is one that is often overlooked when discussing some of the problems with the modern gospel and evangelism. Many may not even be aware of this teaching because it is so commonly practiced and even frowned upon if not practiced.
Decisional regeneration is the process of urging an individual to make a decision for Christ and assuring them that they have eternal security (I really dislike using that term) because they have followed a simple formula and/or prayed a prayer and answered yes to the right questions.
During a witness encounter Mr. Evangelist urges Mr. Unconverted to make a decision for Christ and asks a series of questions. If Mr. Unconverted responds yes to the questions, he is urged to pray a prayer and then he is assured of his salvation. Thus regeneration is a result of the decision he has made.
As evangelists we are always faced with the question; do we pray the prayer while witnessing to someone who is clearly humbled by their sin before God? My answer is most often a resounding - NO! I have often been in situations where I so want to assure someone that if they truly believe and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and they have made a decision to follow Christ that they are saved. Why do I share this? Because it is a presupposition that has been truly hard for me to shake. In witnessing we all desire to see the fruits of our labors and have someone respond to the Gospel. We often struggle with wanting to urge someone to accept Christ or to ask Jesus into their lives, but where is that in scripture? Guess what, its not! Our goal in evangleism should not be finding creative ways to get someone to make a decision for Christ but rather to call all men to repentence and trust in Jesus Christ.
I often urge someone who is clearly humbled by the Gospel to go home and pray that God will have mercy and save them. I direct them to Psalm 51 and tell them that when they are alone to make this their prayer and repent before a Holy God. If they are unsure or would like me to pray, I often have them pray in their own words first and then I pray for them.
I think Charles Spurgeon said it best. He invited men to Christ not to an alter or to say a formulated prayer but rather to do business with God:
Before you leave this place breathe an earnest prayer to God, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. Lord, I need to be saved. Save me. I call upon Thy name
.Lord, I am guilty, I deserve Thy wrath. Lord, I cannot save myself. Lord, I would have a new heart and a right spirit, but what can I do? Lord, I can do nothing, come and work in me to do of Thy good pleasure.
Thou alone hast power, I know
To save a wretch like me;
To whom, or whither should I go
If I should run from Thee?
But I now do from my very soul call upon Thy name. Trembling, yet believing, I cast myself wholly upon Thee, O Lord. I trust the blood and righteousness of Thy dear Son
. Lord, save me tonight, for Jesus sake. Go home alone trusting in Jesus. I should like to go into the enquiry-room. I dare say you would, but we are not willing to pander to popular superstition. We fear that in those rooms men are warmed into a fictitious confidence. Very few of the supposed converts of enquiry-rooms turn out well. Go to your God at once, even where you now are. Cast yourself on Christ, at once, ere you stir an inch!
It is so very vital that we stay true to the Biblical Gospel and understand that it is the Holy Spirit that opens the hearts of men so that they can respond to the Gospel. If our proclamations of the Gospel are Cross centered they will be littered with invitations for non-believers to come to Christ. By staying faithful to the truth we wont falsely coerce an individual into thinking that their eternal destiny hinges solely on the decision that they make at this very moment.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon