The root of these issues is that fact that the Gospel convicts and demands repentance of sin. People do not appreciate conviction and condemnation. Churches are making attempts to remove conviction and condemnation to draw more people and meet the world’s definition of success.
In 2012, I met two Baptist pastors in Punjab, India, who told me Jesus appeared to them in a vision when they—at separate times and as Sikhs—were on their way to commit suicide. Apparently, suicide by train has become a tragic, widespread practice among men in India. In both cases, the men immediately found someone who shared the gospel with them and they placed their faith in Jesus.
As a Calvinist I remember shaming other Christians for “stealing God’s glory” by suggesting they played any role in their salvation. I insisted they would be “boasting” to believe that they chose to come to Christ unless they first admitted that God irresistibly changed their nature to make them want to come.
This morning, I got dressed for work and my wife told me I needed to change. Yes, my clothing has to pass inspection every morning before I leave the house. I must confess: I’m a lousy dresser. I know many people who are fastidious about their wardrobe, but I’m not one of them. If it fits, I wear it. This philosophy helps simplify my life. But this morning, my combination wasn’t right for the weather, and I was instructed to put on a sweater.
The year was 1751 and Oliver Hart had just come to Charleston to take the reins of the church at Charleston. He could have concentrated solely on building up the church, which had been down, but instead he sought to reach out to other congregations’ just starting or needing encouragement.