If most of today’s evangelistic efforts were summarized into a succinct sentence, it might be the title of this post – “Sinner, save thyself!”
Before you think me off my rocker, hear me out. You might change your mind, as well as your approach to evangelism (if you are engaged in that noble endeavor).
I make my assertion based largely on the very vocabulary we use! If and when we get to the point when we feel comfortable inviting non-believers to the Cross of Christ we way things like:
“Would you like to ask/have you ‘asked Jesus into your heart?”
“Would you like to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior?”
“If you choose to follow Jesus. . . .”
“Do you feel Jesus knocking on the door of your heart? Why don’t you just open that door and let him in?”
I even heard a dear family friend once exclaim “I didn’t know it was that easy to save yourself!” when she was told that because she accepted Jesus she was saved. I believe this friend is indeed a Christian for several reasons, and at the same time I think that the exclamation is a quite logical response, given the circumstances of the conversation.
I also know that some of us (evangelicals) believe that it is an individual’s personal natural free will decision that actually determines salvation, although had Christ not gone to the Cross salvation would not be possible for anyone. In other words, God made it possible for us to find salvation, and we ‘close the deal’, so to speak. It is widely assumed we all have the same degree of ‘free will’ possessed by Adam and Eve before the Fall.
Without getting into any doctrinal issues around that assumption, it exists all across Christendom and colors the majority of today’s evangelistic efforts. We establish warm relationships (a good thing), begin discussing matters spiritual and when the moment has arrived for a decision, we make a statement or ask a question requiring the prospective believer to do something and he/she will be saved!
Now I am not saying that we don’t accept/receive/choose Christ. We are, after all, responsible to do so. However, such language is not found anywhere in evangelistic encounters in the New Testament. The language of the NT is merely to ‘repent and believe the gospel’ (See mark 1:15).
“God doesn’t challenge us to volunteer for Jesus, He commands all people everywhere to repent.” Jim Wilson, Moscow Idaho
I can think of several reasons why we don’t simple use NT evangelism as the model for our own efforts, but it’s not the intent of this post to air my personal opinion. I just wanted to get folks thinking. Are we in fact telling those to whom we witness to ‘save themselves’?
If that’s the case, then we are giving to many ‘a reason to boast’, are we not? And doesn’t that collide with. . .
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” – Eph 2:8-9
Food for thought . . .
Have a blessed day.