'I think one of the biggest problems facing the American Evangelical church — not just the Assemblies of God — is our lack of emphasis on genuine spiritual transformation through and beyond the salvation experience. We seem to be content to get people to say the sinners’ prayer and let them warm the bench while the pastor does all the heavy lifting. Instead, we need a return to spiritual transformation and the expectation that character and behavior will noticeably improve after salvation, and continue improving. In the early-to-mid-1900s we had this expectation, and it devolved into legalism. Perhaps, in our reaction against legalism we have too quickly embraced a cheap and easy grace. There must be a balance."An awesome analysis in my view, and one which highlights my concerns that the first word of the biblical salvation message has been lost through disuse. Jesus preached, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." The Apostles preached, "Repent! ..." Even in "counseling" the woman caught in adultery Jesus said, "go and sin no more."
What I want to know is, where is the "REPENT!" today? It just isn't part of the evangelical fabric that's in fashion these days. Are we so afraid that people will not respond to that nasty little word, that we have abandoned it and now depend on manipulation and marketing instead? When we rely on such measly human efforts that utilize enticement and stroke the flesh, what sacrifice is any respondent prepared to make?
The Brownsville Revival, love it or hate it, was refreshing if for nothing else than this: the message of repentance blistered the the ears of all who heard Steve Hill preach. I'm not necessarily a fan of fire and brimstone, but to be a Christian one must embrace his or her own death and trust Christ to raise him or her up to a new (and better) life. Brownsville should tell us that people today, all modern and educated, are ready to hear and respond to the call to repent and follow Jesus.
Christianity is about a radical change in direction, a night and day difference for the one experiencing new birth. For those who would style themselves as radical and innovative preachers in this day, a message that would actually match that characterization should start with the word REPENT! Now that's a radical invitation that might actually produce new life.