We all (Calvinists and Arminians) vehemently DENY that anyone saves himself/herself! And that is as it should be. At the same time, aren’t we asking sinners to save ‘themselves’ when at an altar call, accompanied by emotional music, we say things like:
· Only YOU can open the door to YOUR heart.
· God has done his part, now you need to do YOURS.
· Will YOU accept Jesus as your Savior?
· Won’t YOU give YOUR heart to Jesus right now, tonight, before it’s too late?
· Why don’t YOU to surrender YOUR heart and life to Jesus?
While we would loudly deny that anyone saves themselves, we ask, or tell, sinners in the seats, or with whom we are sharing the gospel) to ‘do’ something that will usher in eternal life. Think about it from the perspective of the one to whom the message of the gospel has been presented, wither in a group or individual setting.
I’m a sinner who knows little of the things of God and I have just been told that Jesus came to save me and give me eternal life. Then I receive one or more of the above statements and/or questions respond positively to it/them. I am welcomed into the Kingdom of God.
With very little logic involved, I conclude that by my action, I just saved myself! After all, I performed the final action in a sequence of actions leading to my salvation, didn’t I?
I have to say that a friend of ours came to that very conclusion in a conversation with my wife one evening in our home. And at the same time, I have to confess that the above statements and questions could lead anyone on the receiving end to come to the same conclusion unless persuaded otherwise.
The question I now ask is “Why do we ask and/or say things that might bring unnecessary confusion to our hearers?” There are several possible answers to that question, and I’ll leave those to your imagination.
Rather, I suggest that none of the above questions and statements is actually Biblical. You might think they express Biblical concepts, but you won’t see any of them in any evangelistic encounter in the New Testament. Instead you hear about repentance and belief; repentance from sin and belief in Christ as the substitute for sinners. And you hear it first from the lips of Jesus when, at the beginning of his ministry he said:
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15V)
If it is God who opens hearts to hear the gospel and also who does all the ‘saving’, we need only be faithful to the message that Christ died for our sins and be able to explain what that means. Trust me, God WILL save his people from their sins!