It Begins With a Decision

My wife introduced me to the Baptist culture. Every good Baptist sermon in the day ended with a call to decision. Maybe they sang all 155 verses of “Just As I Am” (OK, I exaggerate) until someone comes forward who has made a decision.

Even today I am around many people who talk about making a decision “to be saved.” And they talk about other people–“he’s been saved”; “I don’t think she’s saved”; “we need to get them to be  saved.”

Rebel that I am, I’d frequently ask, “Then what?”

I had to ask, because so many people seem to think that the “salvation decision”  is all you need. Been saved, done that, got the T-shirt.

But nothing changes in your life.

There are people with addictive personalities who simple switch addictions. That’s good on one plane, but perhaps not spiritually healthy. Or they were obnoxious before, now obnoxious with a different message. Or weak in relationships before, and now still weak in relationships. No joy, still not much joy.

One of my favorite old songs goes, “I have decided to follow Jesus.”

What’s the decision? To become a follower. A student of the teacher. A person who models my behaviour on one person–Jesus.

Therefore the importance of spiritual discipline or otherwise called spiritual practices.

They also start with a decision. “Today, I will spend 15 minutes early in the morning reading from the Bible.”

Repeat that a few times, and it becomes a habit. Best of all, it is a habit intentionally cultivated designed to bring me closer to God.

Most of the early believers were attracted to the movement not because of dynamic preaching (remember to story of the young man who went to sleep while Paul was preaching, fell from an upper window, died, and had to be brought back to life by Paul, who continued to preach?). They were attracted by what the new believers had and by how they lived.

They organized their lives differently around prayer, study, service. They had a deep happiness and optimism. They were a community.

And they grew more followers. And it began with a decision.


4 Responses to “It Begins With a Decision”

  1. josephruizjr Says:

    Recently a family member has been making very poor choices and it’s impacting a lot of people. I’ve been asked “do you think they are saved” like you wrote today we tend to think of Christianity as an event, if you can’t name the date and time then are you really saved? Interesting how the great commission says nothing about being “saved” but everything about making disciples. It makes all the difference.

    • Gary Mintchell Says:

      Thanks for the note. Of course, it is important to the person to make that decision. Our job is to bring them along. So many people think we can force a decision on someone else. What we can do is share, nurture, mentor, encourage (notice all verbs on our part).

  2. Carl Henning Says:

    I once heard a sermon posing the question: “Believing in Jesus or following the Christ.” Not the preacher’s takeaway, but mine: You can’t have the latter without the former.

    • Gary Mintchell Says:

      Yes, Carl, it is not either/or. Faith is the key. However, we deceive ourselves if we think we can look into other peoples’ hearts. Heck, we often deceive ourselves about ourselves. What is apparent in others, as well as in myself, are the fruits of discipleship. And what I can to for others is to help disciple them.

      Maybe it’s like a quote I’ve seen attributed to many about education as the kindling of a flame, not the imparting of knowledge. I’m playing with that image in my mind currently. Maybe I’ll start a fire.

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