Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy:
I read something the other day written by a layperson of a local congregation I use to attend praising the union of two well known Independent Baptist preachers. That’s not what I wish to address here, but something that was said in the note. He makes the comment that there is no such thing as easy believism. With a metaphorical hand waive, a very real, very intense, very vital, ongoing battle over truth has been dismissed. You see, there are two major tactics men take against truth: 1. is to misrepresent it by building a straw man, and then burn the straw man and declare one’s self the victor.(I believe John R. Rice falls in this category, although I think he unintentionally misunderstood it.) Or 2. Claim the issue isn’t even real and ignore it (the category of our friend who wrote the note mentioned above).
Easy believism is, essentially, the belief that once a person makes a profession of faith, it matters not what their life is like after that profession. They are deemed to be saved on account of their profession, regardless whether they live as if Jesus is their LORD or not. The saying goes, “You can accept Him as Savior without accepting Him as LORD.” They claim that to have Him as LORD is something that may come later, but is not necessary in the life of a Christian. They claim that to tell a lost man to repent and believe is to add works to salvation. (Strong accusation, eh?) But in Scripture, repentance is mentioned along side faith. They are two sides of the same coin. The apostle James made it very clear that faith without anything to back it up is dead. (easy believism isn’t new, this false teaching was around in Jame’s day also.)
The danger of those who espouse “easy believism”, and many do, is that they are giving false assurance to many who are not saved. They are teaching men that if they give mental assent to some gospel truths then they are saved. It is not the gospel! Getting a man to say “yes” at the proper times doesn’t make him a true convert. Scripture makes it clear that men are called to repent and believe; to not just believe on Jesus as Savior, but as LORD and Savior. Now some men, like John R. Rice, may have mistaken repentance for sanctification. But no one is saying that they must physically cease every sin they have ever engaged in never to lapse again. The book of I John, which clearly denounces easy believism, also refutes sinless perfection while here on this earth. The call to repent is to turn from one’s rebellion and believe the Jesus is LORD as well as seeking refuge in Him. Its a change of heart that results in a change of action. A true believer is submitted to the Lordship of Jesus. This will evidence itself in sanctification. As The Holy Spirit manifest areas in the believer’s life that needs to be altered, the believer will joyfully obey.
To compensate for some of the problems, the easy believist then creates the doctrine of “the carnal Christian”. These people are believers, but they don’t live like it. Some even go so far as to say that they can fall out of church, never to return, and live like a hellion, but since he made a profession of faith years ago then they’re saved. “Once saved, always saved!” is the slogan they say (which is a total misunderstanding of eternal security).
The other error that feeds on this is legalism. All these professing believers need to be told how a good Christian lives, and given enough incentive to abide by the rules. The Lordship of Christ isn’t sufficient, as they aren’t living under that. So they turn up the spiritual peer-pressure. Things like “How to be a 5 Star Christian” and the like, are propagated in order to get these people who have prayed a prayer and been baptized to keep living right. Love becomes rule keeping instead of obedience being spurred by love. In some of these churches, if you fail to keep all the rules, then they may label you as a false convert (somehow they realize mental assent isn’t enough in the long run).
Easy believism is very real and has infiltrated our churches. I am not blowing this out of proportion. I have a friend who doubted his salvation when we were younger. He went to his pastor and talked to him. The pastor told him that whenever my friend doubts, just ask Jesus to save him again! I interned under a pastor who had a doubting young man in the youth group. This pastor resorted to the normal “did you ask Jesus to save you?” to which the boy replied yes. Then the pastor followed with the next question, “did you mean it?” If the person meant it at the time of asking then he is assured that he is forever saved, because God isn’t a liar. (The synergistic doctrine of “you do your part in salvation and God will do His” is another heresy that cuddles up to this easy believism.) I graduated from a school that sells booklets attempting to refute “Lordship Salvation”. I was raised in a movement that taught this very thing. I struggled with assurance for years (from 8 years old until 23 years of age). I was told to take Satan back to the day I asked Jesus into my heart. I was told to write the date down in my Bible. I was given the reassuring questions of “did I ask and did I mean it” and I dealt with the questions of “How do you know you meant it? Did you mean it enough? Maybe you just think you meant it.” I had another friend who was doubting his salvation and his way of settling it was to tell God that he had asked Jesus to save him so God couldn’t let him go to hell. My friend reminded God that he had done his part and God had to keep His end of the bargain. Per this horrid teaching, my salvation hinges upon whether or not I do something correctly, and earnestly enough. My assurance isn’t grounded in the work of Christ, but in my keeping my end of the bargain. My faith becomes rooted in my faith.
Easy believism avoids the issue of the need for a new heart. It fails to see man’s utter wickedness and inability to submit to God. It was the lack of submission that was entailed in the first sin. But in order to make the gospel more palatable to people, Jesus is offered as a ticket out of hell. Once we get them in the church pew, then we may pound them with a list of rules to live by; or just let them do whatever since they’re glory bound regardless. Jesus, on the other hand, was up front with His invitation and demands. Following Him would cost a man everything, and if he wasn’t willing to forsake all and follow Jesus (in other words repent and believe) then that man was ready, or worthy, to be a disciple of Jesus.
Are you truly believing on Jesus? Have you lost yourself in total abandonment to The LORD of all creation? Or a more telling question – If you knew that if you served Jesus with all your might every minute of every day for your entire life and He would still cast you into hell, would you serve Him?
May God turn our hearts to Him, and by His grace, may we preach the unadulterated gospel of Jesus Christ.