2 Corinthians 13:5
Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
Where is the call for this self examination in the evangelical world? which seems to lead people to presume once they've said a salvation prayer, it's a done deal. There seems to be the attitude that if one just shows up to a church, they are "saved". Just like the old saying goes: "Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car".
There is the false notion, you are saved once you say that prayer at the Graham altar call and then you are done. Frankly I do believe anyone who truly repents and trusts in Jesus Christ, is born again, but getting people to say a prayer and have an "emotional moment" at a Franklin Graham Festival, Harvest Fest or Billy Graham crusade is no proof of that salvation or true repentance. Once, I had someone say the "sinners prayer" in front of me [urged on by a fundie baptist church member] wanting to please people but knew the conversion wasn't real and there was no life change.
This ignores the fact that the Holy Spirit is sanctifying and teaching a Christian many things during a course of a lifetime. It also sets up a sort of spiritual apathy among evangelicals, who think that once they are "saved" that is it, everything is smooth sailing, there will be no "tests", no "growth", no "race to be run" [2 Tim 4:7], nothing more to learn, and no danger of being deceived....
In fact in BG and neo-evangelical circles, they often couch with the "you are saved message": the dangerous idea, that once a person is born again they CANNOT be DECEIVED. This may true to a point, I believe the Holy Spirit does warn His children, but when you got a whole group of people who are not even examining themselves to see if they are in the faith, this is a perfect set up for folks who are SMUG about their position and put such things as self examination on the table and even if they managed to come out of previous cults, puts them in a very dangerous spiritual position. Add in those who do the double talk thing, sell a hard line vs a soft line--knowing people will choose the easier path and the deception gets even deeper. An example of this would be Franklin Graham's seemingly hard line against Islam but being fully involved in ecumenical functions.
We can see this is applied to the pastors. The attitude seems to be thus: "Pastor Chuck, Skip, and Greg, wouldn't lead us wrong, they have been "SAVED" is the thinking, it is impossible for my "saved" pastor to teach any false doctrine or do anything not in our best interests...sure they make a few mistakes like any other human being but they said the prayer, they had the testimony, that means they are "in" and we are going to follow them anywhere!"
So the done deal salvation thusly is applied to the pastors as well as the people in the pews.
Here is a good article: [I agree with David Cloud even about this being done in fundamentalist baptist circles]
Some argue that we should not worry about this matter, because “at least some people are being saved.” But to get people to pray to “receive Christ” when they are not under conviction of sin and are not ready to repent and trust Christ in a biblical fashion and to say that people are saved when they do not have evidence of Bible salvation is to confuse the gospel in a most fantastic way. It fills the land with people who are almost inoculated to the gospel. When you try to deal with these people about their need for Christ, they tell you they “have already done that.” Done what? Well, they have prayed that prayer, they have gone through those motions, they have done that little religious ritual. And just where did they get the idea that salvation is merely a prayer without a life change? They got that idea from those who are promoting this type of thing. The fruit, my friends, has been fearful. The charismatics are tremendously guilty of this, but so are great numbers of fundamental Baptists.So how many at the Graham crusades, festivals and events like Harvest Fest fit that criteria? How many have been inoculated against the gospel, having had that one emotional experience with no real conversion? and then later say things like "well I tried being a Christian, it didn't work out..." Want to know how many people I have witnessed to who had that BG experience or even had that church experience of saying the sinners prayer, and then presently living lives away from God? It is far too many. Course some will say they are all truly saved, they are back slidden etc....but what if the conversion never was real? Even daring to say such a thing, will gather you looks of horror and being called a "hater". No hate is intended, we are instructed to examine ourselves if we are in the faith.
These Crusades and Festivals too, seem to be about the "sell", as they brag of numbers and how many thousands made their "decisions for christ". Group dynamics play a part here too as many surge forward, group pressure playing a part in that "decision" and huge numbers along with the whipping up of emotions [rock bands included] that are not centered in biblical conversion.
Many church members could never conceive, that many of these folks were never saved to begin with, rejecting ideas that the true Christian life is about a growing record of sanctification. This is not works salvation but a life process of being taught by the Holy Spirit, and growing in the faith once someone becomes born again. There are many who fall away:
Luke 8:13 They on the rock [are they], which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.
When someone is in the position of "I am saved, there is nothing more to be concerned about" it serves as a way to close their eyes especially when it is applied to themselves and others. One even encounters insane ideas, that someone could murder 10 people [not exactly showing fruits of salvation there] and still be born again, if they were at a Billy Graham crusade in their youth and "sincerely" said a "sinners prayer".
What you get here too is a watered down "jesus". The type where false pastors shout focus on "jesus" while ignoring everything the real one taught about biblical separation and last days deceptions. The false "jesus" of rock music and easy believism. Honestly when the Grahams speak of the Pope following the same "jesus" that they do, they are making clear they follow the antichrist, the false "jesus" that led Billy Graham to tell Robert Schuller of all those people who "follow Christ" but do not know his name. [Just like the Pope and Jesuits with their false misnomer regarding the "anonymous Christians"] The "jesus" of all religions is not the Jesus of the Bible.
In these watered down churches and organizations, where salvation for everyone who spouts the name Jesus is a foregone conclusion, the possibilities of apostasy are considered impossible: Perhaps if the fruits grew bad enough, drug abuse, violent crime: Only then would some church-goers finally entertain the possibility that the guy "may not have been actually saved" but maybe not even THEN.
Anyhow this whole idea, that one just has to say a prayer and that is the end of the road, has set up millions for deception. A watered down Christianity, where anything goes and love for the world is paramount, and the idea of "I am saved and have nothing more to be concerned about" attitudes lead to all sorts of excuse making, compromises on sins and false preachers. These types try to tell us when a Calvary Chapel pastor serves on a BGEA board, he is just "making a mistake" after all he is "SAVED". Now one may ask, WHY DOESN'T he know any better then?
It has taken things to the point to where any preacher and politico...[think GW Bush, Benny Hinn, and Ted Haggard] can claim "salvation", and "following Jesus", and no one examines the fruits, or what goes with it, no questions asked. All they have to do is spout some nice words, about love, 'focusing on jesus", unity, peace, their emotional conversions and testimonies, and there you go. People are fooled. Some probably even fool themselves as well. The worse thing about it all, even more folks are inoculated against the gospel.