The American Evangelical Christian is aware of the need for a major change within the church and government. There is a call for revival but is this what we need? The question that should be asked is why a revival? The common practice to fight off spiritually lethargic attitudes within the church is to have a revival. So we call an “evangelist” to instill new life into the congregation and a new commitment to Jesus Christ. These special meetings are scheduled for the spring and fall each year. These meetings will run from a “Weekend Revival” to as much as a “Ten Day Revival” depending on how much money has been budgeted and the results will be the same each time. Everyone gets emotionally charged with “spiritual feelings” and talks about the great music and messages. Now before you stop and disregard this as the ramblings of someone who has lost his way let me at least present my case.
First, these meetings should never be called a “revival”. A “revival” will bring about a change not only in the church but within the community as well. Just because there has been some “spiritual activity” does not mean a “revival” has occurred. Many of the so called “revivals” are no more than the church leadership trying to retain control over the congregation. Not to get sidetracked with all the ways church leadership has abused its power and authority let me just say we do not need “revivals” we need transformation.
This transformation is not achieved by emotional “spiritual feelings” but from the power of the Holy Spirit. Transformation is the product of true repentance, forsaking the old life, and being filled with the Holy Spirit. When a believer is truly converted they will be standing fast in the WORD, not wavering, not compromising, and not being overcome with fear but steadfast in TRUTH.
What has been frustrating to me is the number of people who are unstable in their walk with Jesus Christ. Many have their spiritual life attached to their emotional feelings. The question I have asked many times is what does being a Christian feel like? Why is it that some people can wake up in the morning and feel they have lost their salvation? What is sad is that many preachers play upon these emotions. Ministers are taught to be result oriented. How many conversions, how many baptisms, how many rededications, and how many members did you have this year?
This is not new, actually Charles Finney gave the Evangelical movement the revival meeting, the altar call, the mourner’s bench, the invitation or decision to “accept” Christ based on an emotional appeal. These new methods were designed to give results.
Finney "believed that all that was needed for conversion was a resolution signified by standing, kneeling, or coming forward, and because the Holy Spirit always acts when a sinner acts, the public resolution could be treated as `identical with the miraculous inward change of sudden conversion'."
Finney believed that conversions could be obtained by the "use of means" to get people to walk the aisle, and he got results. But many of his converts fell away soon after making their "decision." One of his ministry associates, in a letter to Finney, stated: "Let us look over the fields where you and I have labored as ministers and what is now their normal state? What was their state within 3 months after we left them? I have visited and revisited many of these fields and groaned in spirit to see the sad, frigid, carnal, and contentious state into which the churches have fallen and fallen very soon after we first departed from among them."
It is this type of results the church has contended with since the time of Finney. The transformation that takes place to bring about a new creation is Christ Jesus cannot be staged by the manipulation of men. Something is wrong when new converts are not demonstrating the fruits of salvation. Evangelists are ranked by the results they get. To get these result they have become emotional manipulators rather than depending on the Holy Spirit to convict them of their sins. The Holy Spirit does not need gimmicks to convict men of sins. If the power of God is in the message it does not matter whether or not an altar call is made.
Here is where my friends are going to think I have totally lost all sense of what the ministry is about. Some will even place me in the heretic category. But hear me out.
The Evangelical church depends on entertainment (Song Evangelist) psychological manipulation and methods to get people to come to the altar, shake the preacher’s hand, or repeat some canned prayer asking Jesus to come into your heart. All this has been done by men using the same tools used by Hollywood and Wall Street to get people to make a decision. Is it any wonder that the people who join the church without a transformation of their soul turn out to be as mean and carnal as the Devil. The Church has been suffering from false profession of faith without the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.
Evangelists today are little more than a super salesman with the title of “soul winner” who is only concerned with closing the “deal”. These preachers have corrupted the message of Salvation and minimized true repentance. The result is a nation of those who call themselves Christians but lack the vital godliness that goes with being a follower of Jesus Christ. The result—a generation of professing Christians who have not possessed the transforming power of Jesus Christ, making them a new creation.
There is very little preaching today about true repentance. Today’s evangelists are more concerned with their own glory demonstrated by the number of converts they can claim at the next conference. The Church has been tricked into making salvation a decision of the mind rather than a spiritual change of the heart. The large numbers of converts today are a disgrace to the cause of Jesus Christ. Many who profess to be “Christian” are no more than superficial professors of a religion they call Christianity.
Evangelicals are so desperate for results that we use every psychological trick in the book to get them to kneel at the altar and pray a prayer that is no more than a mantra asking Jesus to come into their heat and then convince them that they are saved by their acknowledgement, “ I am so glad Jesus came into my heart.” No wonder we are in the spiritual mess we are today.
Here is what has convinced me that results at any cost are not what the Church should be seeking. In the book of Acts the early Christians turned the world upside down in about twenty-four months, without going to church on Sunday, church buildings, professional clergy, Sunday school, revivals, workshops, conferences, Christian Books stores, Gospel music and all the other 'advantages' enjoyed by Evangelicals today. How did this happen--by the TRANSFORMATION of the soul and these converts become a royal priesthood responsible for their own salvation. ( . . .work out you own salvation with fear and trembling.)