There’s only one thing that gave me a sleepless night. There’s only one thing that troubled me all throughout the morning, and this is this. Within a hundred years, a great majority of people in this building will possibly be in hell. And many who even profess Jesus Christ as Lord will spend an eternity in hell.
You say, Pastor, how can you say such a thing? I can say such a thing because I don’t do my Christian work in America. I spend most of my time preaching in South America, in Africa, and Eastern Europe. And I want you to know that, when you take a look at American Christianity, it is based more upon a godless culture than it is upon the Word of God. And so many people are deceived, and so many youth are deceived, and so many adults are deceived into believing that, because they prayed a prayer one time in their life, they’re going to Heaven. And then, when they look around at others who profess to know Christ and see those people also just as worldly as the world, and they compare themselves by themselves, nothing troubles their heart. They think, well, I’m the same as most in my youth group. I watch things I shouldn’t watch on television and laugh about the very things that God hates. I wear clothing that is sensual. I talk like the world. I walk like the world. I love the music of the world. I love so much that’s in the world, but bless God, I am a Christian. Why am I a Christian? I don’t look any different than most of the other people in my church. Why am I a Christian? Because there was a time in my life when I prayed and asked Jesus Christ to come into my heart.
I want you to know that the greatest heresy in the American evangelical and protestant church is that, if you pray and ask Jesus Christ to come into your heart, He will definitely come in. You will not find that in any place in Scripture. You will not find that anywhere in Baptist history until about 50 years ago. What you need to know is that salvation is by faith and faith alone in Jesus Christ. And faith alone in Jesus Christ is preceded and followed by repentance . . . a turning away from sin, a hatred for the things that God hates and a love for the things that God loves, a growing in holiness and a desire not to be like Britney Spears, not to be like the world, and not to be like the great majority of American Christians, but to be like Jesus Christ!
[The audience then erupts in applause].
I don’t know why you’re clapping. I’m talking about you. I didn’t come here to get amens. I didn’t come here to be applauded. I’m talking about you.
People so many times come up to me and say, “Oh, I’d love to follow you into Romania”; “I’d love to follow you into the Ukraine”; “I’d love to preach where you preached and planted churches in Peru in the jungle.”
And I tell them, “No, you wouldn’t.”
They say, “Yes, I would.”
I say, “No, you wouldn’t.”
“Because you’d be excommunicated from the church down there.”
What we need to see . . . I’m not trying to be hard for the sake of being hard. Do you realize how much love it takes to stand before 5,000 people and tell them that American Christianity is almost totally wrong? Do you know what it’s going to cost me to never be asked back again to something like this? To be unpopular? Do you know why you do it? You don’t do it because you get paid well. You don’t do it because men love you. You do it because you love men and because, more than that, you want to honor God.
I want to tell you something. We’re going to go into Scripture, and I want you to look at it as it really is. It’s not comparing yourself with others who call themselves Christians. Compare yourself to the Scripture. When someone, a young person, comes to a pastor or a youth minister and says, “I’m not sure whether or not I’m saved,” the youth minister will usually throw out a cliché: “Well, was there ever a time in your life when you prayed and asked Jesus to come into your heart?”
“Were you sincere?”
“Well, I don’t know, but I think so.”
“Well, you need to tell Satan to stop bothering you. Did you write it in the back of your book . . . the back of your Bible like the evangelist told you when you got saved, write down the date so that any time you doubted you could point him to the Bible?”
What superstition has overcome our denomination? Do you know what the Bible tells Christians to do? Examine yourself. Test yourself in light of Scripture to see if you are in the faith. Test yourself to see if you’re a Christian.
Do you realize if I dismissed us right now and told everyone to go knock on every door in this city, do you know what we would find out? Ninety-nine percent of the people, at least, in this city believe themselves to be believers. If you go back to your hometown and knock on every door . . . because I went back to my hometown after I got saved and knocked on every door, and you know what I found out? Everyone in my town is a Christian. Eighty-five percent of them do not go to church, and those who do go to church are not concerned about holiness. They’re not concerned about serving. They’re not concerned about being separate from the world. They’re not concerned about the Gospel being preached among the nations. But, bless God, they’re saved.
Why are they saved? Because some evangelist who should have spent less time preaching and more time studying his Bible told them they were saved, and he did it so he could brag about how many came forward in his next revival.
This is an excerpt of Paul Washer’s SHOCKING YOUTH Message to 5000 Youth.
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Distributed by Grace Community Church in San Antonio, Texas.