Should We Press People To “Decide For Christ”?

“The Puritans insisted that the ultimate effectiveness of preaching is out of man’s hands. Man’s task is simply to be faithful in teaching the Word; it is God’s work to convince of its truth and write it in the heart.

The Puritans would have criticized the modern evangelistic appeal, with its wheedling for “decisions”, as an unfortunate attempt by man to intrude into the Holy Spirit’s province. It is for God, not man, to fix the time of conversion.

It is, in fact, the rankest Pelagianism to suppose that a sinner can “decide for Christ” whenever the evangelist wishes. When he has finished instructing, applying and exhorting, his pulpit work is done. It is not his business to devise devices in order to extort “decisions”. He would be wiser to go away and pray for God’s blessing on what he has said.

It is God’s sovereign prerogative to make His Word effective, and the preacher’s behaviour in the pulpit should be governed by recognition of, and subjection to, divine sovereignty in this matter.”

(Puritan Preaching, J. I. Packer)

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