The Danger Of Decisionism  

Many of you are probably wondering what Decisionism is and why I consider it to be dangerous? Let me begin by defining the term. We’ve all probably heard the terms Atheism, Humanism, Hedonism, and even Materialism over the years. Decisionism is best described as an instance when an unsaved person makes a public profession of faith (in Jesus Christ) by repeating a prayer and is then immediately identified as a new creature in Christ.

Most proponents of Decisionism use Romans 10, verses nine and ten to support the doctrine. 

“…because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believers and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved…” 

The reason Decisionism is so dangerous is that millions of individuals have repeated the “sinners prayer” verbally, but have not been regenerated or born-again. Jesus says, “The people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honereth Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me.” (Matthew 15:8) This means that the inner work of the Holy Spirit on the human heart is responsible for re-creating the fallen human nature. A simple sentence or repeated phrase is not the determinate (for salvation) but a radical and complete transformation wrought in the soul by God.

The verse previously referenced, contains two important words that, if properly understood, would nullify Decisionism. The first being “confess” and the second “believe.” The word confess means to say the same thing, or to agree with someone. This agreement implies that the person making the profession has submitted their lives to His Lordship, and it also indicates that Christ now Master of ones being. Through repentance (of sin) and faith in Jesus Christ the result is a complete trust in Him for salvation.

This requires “belief” or “believe” in His claims as taught in Scripture regarding His identity

(Deity, Sinlessness, Virgin birth, etc.) as well as His work on Calvary (Crucifixion, Death, Resurrection, etc.).  According to Elmer Towns in his book titled, The Gospel of John: Believe and Live, he states, “In the Gospel of John, believing is the total response of the whole person to God as He has revealed Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ.” (Towns, pg.17) Regeneration occurs immediately and a new man is developed through the sanctification process.

In Chapter three of the gospel according to John, Jesus instructs Nicodemus on the regeneration process. The Lord indicates that new birth is not visible by the human eye, but is a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. A person born of a women had no input regarding his/her conception. Similarly, an individual has no say in his/hers spiritual new-birth as well because it is a work of God.

“According as He hah chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world…Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself…” (Eph 1:4,5) 

“Which were born, not of blood, nor the will of the flesh, nor the will of man but of God…” (John 1:13) 

  

According to the MacArthur Study Bible, “Jesus point was that just as the wind cannot be controlled or understood by human beings, but its effects can be witnessed, so also is with the Holy Spirit. He cannot be controlled or understood, but the proof of His work is apparent. Where the Spirit works, there is undeniable and unmistakable evidence.” (MacArthur, pg. 1540)  

Good fruit is confirmation that new birth has occurred. Pronouncing a person as saved at the altar moments after praying the “sinner’s prayer” gives many professing faith in Christ a false hope of security. What should transpire at the altar is a commitment to place that person under watch care. In other words, that person will be instructed in the ordinance of baptism and encouraged to join a discipleship group or class. Steadfast obedience to both and confirmation by the Holy Spirit (Roman 8:16) is initial evidence that a person is “born-again.”

“Then they that gladly received His word were baptized and the same day there added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued steadfast in the apostle’s doctrine and fellowship and in breaking of bread, and in prayers…” (Acts 2:41-42) 

Steven A. Glover

Evangelize4Life Co-Founder

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