Somehow during the journey of the Church the need for willful repentance became confused with making a “decision” for Christ. In a decision rooted in choice than true repentance for sin. Makes a huge difference!
For a faith without repentance/will of heart can only yield a decision, not faith. It’s only through real repentance=sorrow, that the Holy Spirit comes to the believer to unlock the Bible so they can understand God’s Word. This process begins a spiritual growth that over-time will yield spiritual fruit. Producing spiritual traits seen in a real conversion in Christ.
For repentance begins with the Law of God so that we can “see” our sin. It brings the knowledge of sin, and a Godly sorrow that will encourage true repentance to God.
Making a decision for Christ that lacks repentance can only remain an empty decision. Something that will hinder a believer from receiving the Holy Spirit, and without the Holy Spirit there is no Salvation.
Many don’t understand that the salvation of the soul is not a resolution to change a way of life, but “repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The modern concept of success in evangelism is to relate how many people were “saved” (how many prayed the “sinners prayer”). This produces a “no decision, no success” mentality. This should not be because Christians who seek decisions in evangelism become discouraged after a time of witnessing if “no one came to the Lord.”
The Gospel is a process of sowing and reaping. If we faithfully sow the seed, someone will reap. If you reap, it is because someone has sown in the past, but it is God who causes the seed to grow. If God’s hand isn’t on the person you are leading in a prayer of committal, if there is no God-given repentance, then you will end up with a spiritual stillbirth on your hands, and that isn’t a thing to rejoice about. We should measure our success by how faithfully we sowed the seed to then leave in God’s hands to grow. That way we will avoid becoming discouraged.
An example in someone making a decision void of repentance was my mother, who was raised a Catholic. At my church one-day she heard for the first time the need to accept Christ into her life by repenting from her sin. When our Pastor gave the invitation she remained still until my husband asked her if she would like for him to go down with her?
My mother adored my husband, so in her agreement to go forward I felt was to please him - not God. Something that was confirmed by the alter counselor who spoke to her afterward, and shared with me that my mom did not fully understand what she did. So my mother wasn’t saved that Sunday, nor did she ever desire to read the Bible, and over time, God revealed to me why.
My mother did not understand how her sin blocked her from God because she didn’t fully understand what sin was. She also was never taught the need to be born-again. Something I began to pray about in intercession prayer for her that would continue for years. Then one-day, the Lord saved my mother as I watched her repent before God for her sins, and boldly ask Jesus into her life. Afterward, my mother was different, and although suffering with Dementia, she maintained a calm spirit about her that the CNA’s witnessed. God had allowed my mother to make a decision based on the full understanding that she was a sinner, and had sin. Her clarity of thought and bold manor of prayer Jesus confirmed He heard my prayer, and was now opening up her mind to understand to finally be saved. Jesus reaped the harvest of my mother’s soul and I will see her again in heaven one-day. Those who love Jesus, understand that He does hear our prayers. It’s however, at His time when they are answered.
In this experience I’ve learned that Christians need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit in asking someone to make a spiritual decision void of repentance for their sin. For many asked may comply without fully understanding what they are doing like my mother became an example of. They may agree to pray out of obedience than true repentance towards the Lord.
Remember, all we can do is to bring someone to the Lord and tell them how they can receive Him. Do not force or put someone on the spot to pray unless they are ready.
The kingdom of God will not have stillbirth conversions but those who are saved by God’s amazing grace; who understand their need to repent for their sins before a Holy God. Their praise and thanksgiving to the Lord for their Salvation will then become automatic.
“We were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:13)
“We repent for our sins towards God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 20:21)
“If you have not repented, you will not see the inside of the kingdom of God.” Billy Graham