Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Thursday, September 3, 2009
"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." -Sam Adams
This article was copied from www.FaithAlone.org and is by Charles Bing, and I just love it. He is discussing language to use when sharing Christ with someone.
"Ask Jesus into your heart. Not that the heart is not universally understood as the very essence of our being and person. But the issue of trust in Jesus as the One who died in our place is hardly communicated. And wouldn’t this be confusing to a child who thinks concretely instead of abstractly?
As a mother drove with her young daughter in the car, she was explaining what it meant to have Jesus in her heart. The little girl leaned over and put her ear to her mother’s chest. "I’m listening to Jesus in your heart," said the daughter. "What did you hear?" asked Mom. The little girl replied, "Sounds like He’s making coffee to me!"4
Give your heart (or life) to God. A Halloween Gospel tract designed for children to leave at homes when Trick or Treating ends, "Well, thanks again for the treat, but the best treat for me would be for you to give your heart to Jesus."5 How appropriate this could be for Halloween! A child might imagine this as a gruesome display for the local haunted house. Again, picture the scene conveyed to a naïve child. When asked to give his heart to God, one child broke into sobs saying, "If I give my heart to God, how am I going to live?"6 The issue in salvation is not what we give to Him anyway, but what He gives to us. Eternal life is Christ’s life in us (1 John 5:11).
Invite Christ into your life. This is certainly a courteous approach, but we must remember that it is the Lord who does the inviting. Another form of this is the admonition to "open the door of your heart," based on Rev 3:20. Though I used to use this verse a lot, I now see that it was written to the Laodicean church as a whole and was more of an invitation for fellowship than salvation. Again, after you get a child to stop wondering where the knob on the door of his heart is, you have really told him nothing about what it means to believe in Christ. Adults are not helped either.
Receive Christ as your Savior. This one I hesitate to criticize, and even find myself using it sometimes, though I try to avoid it. There is some biblical support for the idea of receiving Christ—John 1:11-12 and
Make Christ Lord and Savior. No person can do this. The Bible says God the Father "has made this Jesus . . . both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36). Of course Jesus is Lord! But He is Lord whether we accept Him as such or not.
Repent of your sins. Sometimes less sensitively stated as "Turn or burn!" If by this it is meant that we must turn from every individual sin in our lives, then salvation and assurance would be impossible. Repentance in the NT speaks of an inner change of attitude and heart, not an outer change in conduct. Changed conduct is the expected result of true repentance, but we should not confuse the root with the fruit. As we come to faith we may change our minds about a number of things, for example, our sinful status before God, our need for salvation, or our opinion of who Christ is.
Pray this prayer. I have a pamphlet entitled "God’s Anointed Soul-Winning Plan" in which the author is explaining how to present the Gospel. The wording he suggests ends like this:
What I’m going to do toward closing our talk is to say a prayer. And as I say this prayer you can repeat it softly and He’ll come into your heart—but you have to REALLY MEAN it or the prayer won’t work.
Before we pray the prayer I want to say this, this prayer we are about to pray is a special prayer. Do you need to pray this prayer EVERY DAY to go to heaven, or just ONCE to go to heaven? (emphasis his).9
We should not give someone the impression that they can be saved by a ritual such as prayer. It is better to tell them that they must believe in Christ, and they can tell Him through prayer that they want the gift of eternal life or that they are thankful for what He has done.
Not all of the above conditions are totally void of all truth. The point is that they are often misleading or confusing. Why not be as biblical as possible in our communication of the condition for salvation? In the Gospel of John the verb believe is used ninety-eight times as the condition for salvation. We should take the hint, especially when the Holy Spirit had John tip us off that he wrote his book in order to bring people to faith in Christ (John 20:31). We don’t find any of the above language there.10
IV. A Clear Invitation
A minister acquaintance told me an almost humorous story of his conversion. When he was a totally pagan, long-haired bartender and bouncer, he attended a revival and went forward at the evangelist’s invitation. When he got to the front, the host pastor met him and asked, "Do you come to make a profession of faith in Christ?" Bill looked confused. The pastor asked several times. Bill finally said, "Look, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I just want Jesus." He told me if it had not been for the evangelist’s clarity in the sermon, he would not have found Christ up front with the pastor. As one of my seminary professors, Howard Hendricks, was fond of saying, "A mist in the pulpit is a fog in the pew."
A clear telling of the Gospel can easily become unclear when the invitation is given. Whether it is an invitation in a one-on-one encounter or a public invitation by a preacher, there are certain things that will keep it clear. Let’s look at some of the common invitations and comment on each.
Come forward. The invitation to come down the church aisle is used by many preachers, though criticized by others—sometimes rightly so.11 It has only been around since the 1800’s. Some people will quickly respond to such a public expression, and others would rather go through an IRS audit before they would stand up in front of a crowd. In spite of 18 verses of "Just As I Am," they are singing to themselves, "I Shall Not Be Moved"!
Walking the aisle is not harmful if the person clearly understands the issue. We probably all know someone who came to faith in this way. But people should never be led to believe that they must walk an aisle in order to be saved—even if the preacher’s ego is at stake. They should be encouraged to walk an aisle if they want to talk to someone about their salvation or if they want to make a public statement that they have trusted in Jesus Christ as Savior during the meeting.
Pray a prayer. An invitation involving prayer can be handled correctly. The Gospel teller must be careful to make the issue faith. When inviting people to Christ, I explain how it is that Christ saves us through faith, make sure they understand the issues, then ask, "Do you believe this?" If they say "Yes," I say, "Then why don’t you thank Him right now in prayer for dying for you and for giving you eternal life?"
It may not be possible to validate a public invitation from the Scriptures. But then we could not validate Gospel tracts and evangelism training classes either. Sharing the Good News implies an invitation to believe, and giving a clear invitation may help many to actually do it. The main point in relation to the invitation is that in no way do we want a person to get faith mixed up with works. If we have told someone that salvation is a free gift, then we must be consistent and not demand any action as a condition. In fact, when someone decides to respond to any kind of invitation, it seems logical that he or she is already trusting in Christ and just desires to express it somehow. An invitation gives people an opportunity to tell others about their faith, something they should be doing the rest of their lives. Such an expression can help affirm them in their faith.
Clear communication is an art. When it comes to telling the Gospel it is an art worth refining. We must work to tell the Gospel as clearly as possible. Not always will we succeed. But isn’t it a wonderful fact of life that God can still use us in spite of the misplaced approaches and methods that we use? We know, however, that He can accomplish more through us according to how clear and biblical our message and our methods are. And that means that we are clear in our motives, in our Gospel content, in our statement of the condition for salvation, and in our invitation to believe. Given all that is at stake, we want to share the Good News as clearly as possible in a way that is pleasing to God, not just convenient to men."
Jesus Christ said, "He who believes in Me has everlasting life" (John 6:47). He also said, "He who lives and believes in Me will never die." Eternal life is eternal.
Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the whole world (John 1:29). He has removed the sin barrier which separated us from God. However, we still lack spiritual life, eternal life. To get that life, we must simply believe in Jesus for it. There are no strings attached. Our eternal salvation is "not of works, lest anyone should boast" (Eph 2:9).
Simply believe in Jesus and He guarantees you will never die spiritually. You will go to heaven when you die, and spend eternity in God's kingdom. It really is that simple. That's why it's called Good News.