I think it was about a year ago when my childhood mate Joshua introduced a YouTube video to me. It was an hour long sermon preached by Paul Washer (from HeartCry Missionary Society) in a 2002 youth evangelism conference in the US. It was a shocking message, but to be more exact, a controversial one. In that sermon, he addressed errors in American Evangelism and taught Matthew chapter 7.
Today, I watched that sermon again for the second time, on the bus. This time around I fully understood what he preached. But now I am more troubled than ever, because what he says is so controversial that I don't know if I can believe him. If you were to google his name, you would even find a website claiming that he is a false prophet who teaches "Lordship salvation". In the sermon, he goes against what is now the mainstream way of evangelism, and challenges what he believes to be a single major heresy in American Evangelism. My mind is now in a state of confusion, of uncertainty, and of trepidation because if what he preaches is true, then many churches in the world might be wrong.
What I'm concerned about revolves around the primary question of "how do we become Christians?" Well you might say that's easy. From young, and in Sunday school, we were all taught that as long as we sincerely prayed a prayer to invite Jesus Christ into our hearts, then we are Christians, and our lives would be transformed. That means, we have believed in Christ and received salvation.
But according to Paul Washer, this is a heresy. I quote him from his sermon: "The greatest heresy in the American evangelical and Protestant church is that if you pray and ask Jesus Christ to come into your heart, He will definitely come in." THIS is shocking. If what he teaches is true, then so many churches would be wrong! I was brought up taught that I became a Christian by praying a pray asking God to enter my life. But Washer says that we become Christians through first repenting from our sins and then a transformation of our lives. Furthermore, he says that this repentance must be continual and not one-off. He says that it is a misbelief that one single prayer will grant us salvation... and that many who claim to be Christians are actually not Christians, they lead a life no different from the world, and will go to hell. Seeing the larger picture, he also claims that our view of Christianity today is based more on a culture formed from what's written on Christian t-shirts and modern Christian music than on the word of God.
I don't know, I'm confused and my mind is in a whirl as I type this. On Hillsong CDs, in the lyrics booklet, there will usually be this small section which says something like if you want to become a Christian, then pray this prayer acknowledging that Christ died for our sins and then ask Him to enter your life, and you are now a Christian. So am I supposed to believe that all this is not true salvation? Is everything I knew all wrong gospel?
Then those who claim that he preaches "Lordship salvation" and thus is a false prophet argues that the Word of God clearly teaches that a person is saved by FAITH ALONE in Christ. They say the Bible always speaks of repentance TOWARDS GOD, and not from sin, thus Washer is wrong... So I'm really confused. Who is right? How do we gain salvation? Through a simple sincere prayer, or through repentance from sin?
Perhaps the best answer is always from the Word. I'm no expert when it comes to Christian theology, but I know that any doubt will be addressed by the infallible Word of God. So I'll be studying the Bible for answers, and praying that God would reveal the truth to me in His timing :)