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WE ARE AGAINST DECISIONISM -
IN BOTH ITS MAIN FORMS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord's Day Morning, June 26, 2005
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

"He is despised and rejected of men" (Isaiah 53:3).


A preacher recently told me that he had read one of my books, Today's Apostasy. He said, "You are against easy believism." We were with a group of pastors, so I said nothing. But afterwards I realized that this man didn't truly grasp my thoughts. I never use the term "easy believism." I can't think of a more confusing term! It naturally makes a person think I believe in Lordship salvation, which is the opposite of "easy believism." The truth is, I reject both. I do not believe that a person can be saved by mouthing a "sinner's prayer" and I do not believe that a person can be saved by "making Christ Lord." Easy believism and Lordship salvation are simply two sides of the same coin. Both of them can best be described as two forms of "decisionism." I think that the British term "decisionism" is by far the best term to describe what is wrong with modern evangelism. Easy believism and Lordship salvation are both man-centered. But salvation in the Bible is not man-centered. It is God-centered!

What do I mean by that? Very simply, I mean that man is lost, and cannot learn, say, or do anything to save, or even help save, himself. No decision of any kind, either through easy believism or Lordship salvation, can help to save anyone. The Disciples

"were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible…" (Mark 10:26-27).

There you have the answer, in clear terms from Christ. Who can be saved? "With men it is impossible." However, Mark 10:27 does not end there. Jesus continued by saying, "but not with God: for with God all things are possible."

This puts things in their proper perspective. God in Christ is the author and finisher of saving faith (Hebrews 12:2). As the prophet Jonah so perfectly put it,

"Salvation is of the Lord" (Jonah 2:9).

Or, as John the Baptist said,

"A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven" (John 3:27).

God in Christ is both the author and finisher of our faith. Salvation is from the Lord. A man can receive nothing except God gives it to him.

"Who then can be saved?…With men it is impossible, but not with God…" (Mark 10:26-27).

So, the Bible teaches that salvation is neither "easy" nor "hard." No, it is not easy; and no, it is not hard! It is, quite simply, impossible. That is my position. I reject both easy believism and Lordship salvation because the matter does not rest in any form of decisionism. "With men it is impossible." Now, you may ask if my position is Scriptural. Let us look at several verses in the Bible to see whether it is or not.

I. First, man naturally and universally rejects Jesus.

I can't think of any verses that are clearer on this subject than Isaiah 53:3 and 6. Please look at Isaiah 53:3 again. Let us stand and read it aloud.

"He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not" (Isaiah 53:3).

This is the universal description of the human race regarding Jesus Christ. He is rejected by all. All men hide their faces from Him. No man esteems Him. Now read the first half of verse six aloud,

"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way…" (Isaiah 53:6).

What could be clearer than that? We have all gone astray. Every one of us has turned to his own way. Christ is universally rejected, hid from, and not esteemed by man in his unconverted state. You may be seated.

That's the reason why 88% of children raised in Bible-believing churches "depart from the faith never to return" according to Dr. James Dobson. They have made nearly every conceivable "decision." Most of them have been offered both modern methods - easy believism and Lordship salvation. Billy Graham offers both alternatives in the closing remarks of his sermons. Others do the same thing. And yet neither easy believism nor Lordship salvation are able to hold more than 12% of these kids in church past the age of about 23 or 24, according to Dr. Dobson. What is the reason for this deplorably poor showing? Very simple - they were never saved through either Lordship salvation or easy believism.

After all the memory verses have been learned, and all the altar calls have been given, and all the youth camps have been attended, and all the commitments have been made, these young people still reject Christ, hide their faces from Him and do not esteem Him. They still go astray and turn "every one to his own way" (Isaiah 53:6).

You see, this is the natural condition of all human beings, whether they have grown up in an evangelical church or not. And it will continue to be your condition unless God intervenes and does for you what you cannot do for yourself. For

"A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven" (John 3:27).

"Who then can be saved?…With men it is impossible, but not with God, for with God all things are possible" (Mark 10:26-27).

"Salvation is of the Lord" (Jonah 2:9).

Without the intervention of God, all of your "religious exercises" are nothing but wood, hay and stubble. And Christ, to you, is still

"Despised and rejected…and we hid as it were our faces from him…and we esteemed him not" (Isaiah 53:3).

That was true of me before God intervened in my life. And it is certainly true of many young people here in church this morning. And you will go right on despising, rejecting, hiding your face from Christ, and not esteeming Him - until the day that you finally leave the church and go headlong into the world - unless God intervenes and does something for you that you cannot do for yourself! You will naturally and universally reject Christ unless God does something very special in your heart. And no amount of easy believism or Lordship salvation can help you in the slightest to obtain what you must have.

Let me give you a simple illustration. A young man who had been through all the forms of easy believism came to our church. In the service he was told by a visiting preacher to surrender completely to Christ, even if it meant becoming a preacher. He "came forward" at the invitation and made that Lordship commitment. But that was the last time we ever saw him! He "left the church, never to return," as Dr. Dobson put it, immediately after making a Lordship commitment, and after so many attempts at easy believism. So, neither one of these man-centered forms of evangelism did him the slightest bit of good. Christ was still despised and rejected by him. He still hid his face from Christ. He still did not esteem Christ. He was still lost! He needed something more than either easy believism or Lordship salvation.

II. Second, you must be pricked in your heart by God
 or you will not believe on Jesus.

I can't prick you in the heart. Even my sermons cannot prick you in the heart. And the counselling we do after the services cannot prick your heart. Only God can do that! Please turn to Acts 2:37. Let us stand and read this verse aloud.

"Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37).

You may be seated. You see these men weren't given easy believism or Lordship salvation in Peter's sermon at Pentecost. They were confronted with their sin of rejecting Christ, and the Holy Spirit of God convicted them so deeply that the Bible says that their inward hearts were "pricked." I can't do that for you. You can't do it for yourself. Only God's Spirit can prick you and trouble you and cause you to be weighed down with guilt for your sins.

Up until now you have sat in church listening to sermon after sermon, some of you for a long time, but all this preaching has not done you any good. And I must say emphatically that your church attendance, Bible reading and religious duties will never do you any good at all until you are pricked in your conscience, and made to see that you are a terrible sinner in the sight of God.

Now, why does God prick people in their hearts and make them feel sinful and wicked? The answer is simple - you will never feel any real need for Christ, until you are overwhelmed with a sense of your own sinfulness. Unless you become deeply concerned about your sin, you will go right on rejecting Christ, hiding your face from Him, and not esteeming Him as worthy of more than a passing thought or two.

And this is precisely the point that is left out of most gospel preaching today. The condemning of your sin, your awful guilt of sin, and the wrath of God on you for sinning, are usually left out of modern preaching. No wonder we lose 88% of the young people who come to church. They never felt guilty enough for sin to esteem Christ - or even to think deeply about His sacrifice for their sins on the Cross. Preaching the law of God against your sins is a necessary preparation, or your heart will never be thoroughly pricked by the Holy Spirit, and you will never be truly converted. You must be brought by the Holy Spirit, through the preaching, to say within yourself,

"Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice" (Psalm 51:8).

The pricking of your conscience over your sins must be so heavy that it feels like your bones are broken! And, then, you will say to God,

"For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me" (Psalm 51:3).

Has that ever happened to you? Has God convicted you of your sins and pricked your heart until it almost felt like your bones were broken? Are your sins ever before you, haunting you at night, and making you weak with fear and loathing because your sins are "ever before" you? If you have never been pricked and crushed under the weight of your sin, you will never feel the need for Christ. You will just go on like any other church kid - fooling around in church - until the day you join the other 88% and finally fall away. You must come under conviction of sin from the Spirit of God or you will never be saved!

III. Third, you may then believe on Him.

I say, "You may then believe on Him." Some come under very deep sorrow over their sin and still reject Christ. I do hope that doesn't happen to you. It did happen to Judas, but he never trusted Christ. Even though he was deeply convicted, he continued to reject Christ, hide his face from Christ, and not esteem Christ.

I hope you are not like Judas! When God shows you your sin, and crushes you under its horrible weight and awful judgment, I hope it will move you to feel your need for salvation in Christ.

Why do some people believe on Christ while others do not? Luther said that this is a mystery, beyond human understanding, and not revealed in the Bible. I think he was right on that point. But this much is certain - no one will turn to Christ until he is brought under conviction of sin. This happens very quickly in some people and more slowly in others.

"He is despised and rejected of men" (Isaiah 53:3)

until they are brought under conviction of sin, and see no way to escape from their sin except by turning to Christ. The prophet Isaiah said,

"Turn ye unto him from whom the children of Israel have deeply revolted" (Isaiah 31:6).

The Apostle Paul said that "both Jews and Gentiles…are all under sin" (Romans 3:9). You must turn to Him, from whom the whole human race has revolted.

Your sin can be cancelled by "faith in his blood" (Romans 3:25). You can be justified by believing on Jesus (Romans 3:26).

"He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already…" (John 3:18).

You are already condemned by your sin. But if you believe on Jesus you are not condemned. Christ is "despised and rejected of men" (Isaiah 53:3). Up until now you have been just like everyone else. You have rejected Christ. But if you feel condemned by your sin,

"Turn ye unto him from whom the children of Israel have deeply revolted" (Isaiah 31:6).

Turn to Christ. He will receive you with open arms. He will wash away your sin with His Blood. He will justify you if you believe on Him.

I hear Thy welcome voice, That calls me, Lord, to Thee,
For cleansing in Thy precious blood, That flowed on Calvary.
   ("I Am Coming, Lord" by Lewis Hartsough, 1828-1919).

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."


Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Mark 10:23-27.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
"I Am Coming, Lord" (by Lewis Hartsough, 1828-1919).


THE OUTLINE OF

WE ARE AGAINST DECISIONISM -
IN BOTH ITS MAIN FORMS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.


"He is despised and rejected of men" (Isaiah 53:3).

(Mark 10:26-27; Hebrews 12:2; Jonah 2:9; John 3:27)

I.   First, man naturally and universally rejects Jesus,
Isaiah 53:3, 6.

II.  Second, you must be pricked in your heart by God
or you will not believe on Jesus, Acts 2:37;
Psalm 51:8, 3.

III. Third, you may then believe on Him, Isaiah 31:6;
Romans 3:9, 25, 26; John 3:18.