by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
December 15, 2002

When he called, he told me he had read several of my books and wanted to order the latest one. He had "gone forward" in a prominent church in the Middle West in 1971. The pastor baptized him, but he said he wasn't saved then. He "went forward" again in 1973 in a famous church in the South. The pastor baptized him again, but he told me he still wasn't saved. He read one of my books in 2001 and "went forward" yet again in a well-known church in the West. This pastor baptized him a third time. I asked him a couple of simple questions. He couldn't answer the most basic points of salvation. After questioning him, there isn't the slightest doubt in my mind - the poor fellow is still lost. Three of the most famous Baptist preachers in America have baptized him. Not one of them asked him three or four simple questions to see if he was saved. This is worse than irresponsible. It is tantamount to soul murder!  Yet countless Bible-believing Baptist preachers go on doing this decade after decade!

Our churches are filled with thousands of unconverted people because the pastors ask no questions, and listen to no answers. They baptize every lost person who raises his hand or comes forward. It never enters these preachers' minds to interview the lost by asking them a few simple questions in the quietness of their offices. They are like doctors passing out medicine to hundreds of people - without examining them to find out what's wrong with them. We are entering the bleakest period of modern Christian history - the new dark ages - as a result.

Most preachers don't even know how pastors in Spurgeon's day counselled the lost. Information about the old-time techniques was lost in the 20th century. We will never again see national revival unless we go back to the "old paths." We will just keep on baptizing and rebaptizing the lost!

Most preachers who know me personally tell me with great confidence that they are not "decisionists."  One man said this the other day, and I asked him, "How many weeks do you keep people waiting before you baptize them?"  His answer revealed that he is a deep decisionist.  Another pastor repeatedly tells me that he rejects decisionism, yet he is afraid to expose the young people in his church to Nettleton-like preaching.  He too is, in reality, a decisionist.  Men like these just keep baptizing and re-baptizing the lost.  It will take great courage to reverse the false trends of the last 125 years, since Finney brought these ruinous practices into our churches.

To learn the tried but true methods of our forefathers, you should read A Pastor's Sketches by Dr. I. S. Spencer. It was written in 1850, and it is the best book in print on this subject. There is no current book like it. It is an exciting reproduction of Dr. Spencer's interviews with the lost. While I disagree with his view of baptism, as presented in one brief "sketch," I heartily recommend the rest of the book to anyone who is truly seeking the old way of revival counselling, as it was once done by Baptist and Protestant pastors throughout the world, before Finney's "decisionism" ruined evangelism. You can order it from Solid Ground Books, P.O. Box 660132, Vestavia Hills, Alabama 35266. For prices, phone (205)978-9469 or (205)443-0311.

Another excellent book on the subject of pastors counselling the lost is titled, Revival Sketches and Manual, by Dr. Heman Humphrey.  It was first published by the American Tract Society in 1859.  Pages 237 through 267 of Dr. Humphrey's book should be studied by every pastor in the English-speaking world.  Your entire ministry could be changed forever by reading these forty pages!  Order it by phoning (540)434-8840 or by writing Sprinkle Publications, P.O. Box 1094, Harrisburg, Virginia 22801.