Who needs acceptance?

So I was reading this dissertation earlier today. It was on the history of the "sinner's prayer." It brought up a couple of interesting points, but there is one that has been coming to mind over and over again today. It seems like all evangelism or preaching today aims at getting a sinner to accept Christ. Its put different ways of course... Ask Jesus into your heart, pray to receive Christ... all basically meaning that we are ready, at that point of our lives, to accept Jesus.

However, if you read evangelistic literature before the middie 1900's or so, it is somewhat the opposite. Before that time, the sinner was admonished to ask God to accept him! It was assumed that we were the ones who needed acceptance. One prominent example is during the First Great Awakening, the greatest revival America has ever known. People under conviction of sin are said to have wailed aloud and convulsed for fear that God was not ready to accept them. They had a sense of the reality and weight of sin in their hearts. They knew God had to reach out and accept them! Some of these sinners under conviction would go for weeks in a state of near depression for fear that God had not yet accepted them. Until one day they would "obtain a hope" and be assured of their good estate with God.

What a contrast!

Now I'm not saying they were perfect in that time period, but it seems they may have had a lot right. Maybe more than we do. Maybe our focus in evangelism should be less on convincing someone to accept Christ, and more on convicing them they need to be accepted by Christ.

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