This weekend, my town of Omaha, Nebraska hosted a Luis Palau Festival. Much has been written about it in the blogosphere. Interviews were done about the stance our local church took by refraining from partnering with those involved with the event. Specifically the first time the Luis Palau ministry partnering with the Roman Catholic Church. As a personal wrap up I wanted to just see what all was written about it the local newspaper. I found an article in the Omaha World Herald published Saturday, July 14th, entitled “Palau Heartland Festival takes off with a roar.” The article describes many things like the numbers in attendance, the different performances present, and several positive interviews about the event. The one part of the article that stuck right out for me was the approach used to get folks to commit to Christ.
Palau went on to preach that salvation is a gift and that people can claim it through faith. He asked people in the crowd to signal their commitment to Christ by raising a hand on his count of three and then say, “I believe.” Hundreds did so.
Now I have been a member of a church that did very much the same thing by stirring up the crowd to make a commitment they may or may not keep. What the article did not say is if these folks were followed up on? Did anyone give them the true gospel? Because I know people who hang onto that “raising of a hand” or saying a sinners prayer, or walking an invitation aisle and have no fruit to show for that “commitment”.
Professing a faith is not a saving faith. Matthew 7:21-23 says:
21 Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? 23 And then will I declare to them, I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.
When a watered down gospel is presented to folks, much like this one was, people are deceived or deceive themselves into believing in a human work and not the sovereign work of God that saved them. It is my prayer that the Spirit of God did illuminate the hearts of those who made a profession. Because it is only God who can save. It is not a work of man. Ephesians 2:8-9.