13 Evangelistic Phrases That Produce False Conversions, by Todd Friel
Churches divide over carpet color, building additions and budgets. In the meantime, our fellow church members are going to hell by the boat load.
A.W. Tozer said, “It is my opinion that tens of thousands of people, if not millions, have been brought into some kind of religious experience by accepting Christ, and they have not been saved.”
D. James Kennedy said, “The vast majority of people who are members of churches in America today are not Christians. I say that without the slightest contradiction. I base it on empirical evidence of twenty-four years of examining thousands of people.”
Friend, we argue over so many petty things. May I suggest we have lost sight of the most important debate of all, “What is salvation?” My theology teaches that salvation happens when a man repents and places his trust in Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21).
I would like to present thirteen ways that we have re-defined how a person becomes a true convert. Have we done this intentionally? Certainly not. We have simply created lingo that has a grain of truth in Scripture, but it is so open to interpretation that the un-converted understand it in ways that lead to false conversions.
1. Make Jesus your Lord and Savior. We cannot make Jesus our Lord and Savior, He is our Lord and Savior. We are living in rebellion to Him and He commands us to repent and trust Him.
2. Ask Jesus into your heart. Does Jesus come into our hearts? Yes He does. The question is, “How does He get in there?” It is not by simply asking Him in; it is by repentance and faith.
3. Just believe in Jesus. The demons believe and they tremble. We must repent and trust.
4. You have a God-shaped hole in your heart and only Jesus can fill it. We have far more than a hole that needs to be filled so we can feel complete; we have a wretched, deceitful, sinful heart that needs cleansing. Repentance and faith applies the blood of the lamb for that cleansing.
5. Accept Jesus. Whoa. We need to accept Jesus? This is entirely backward. We need Jesus to accept us–and He will, if we repent and trust.
6. Make a decision for Jesus. Decisional regeneration puts man in the driver’s seat of salvation. When we repent and trust, Jesus decides to save us. That puts Him in the driver’s seat…where He demands.
7. It is easy to believe. While the formula of repentance and faith sounds simple, a complete surrendering of self in repentance is anything but easy. It’s hard.
8. God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. The only promises for the convert are trials, temptation and persecution. If that is how you define a wonderful life, fine. Otherwise we must command all men everywhere to repent and trust.
9. Come to Jesus just as you are. We should come to Jesus just as the sinners we are, but He also expects a broken heart and contrite spirit demonstrated in repentance and faith.
10. Come to Jesus and you will receive forgiveness of sins and ________________ (fill in the blank with money, health, a healed marriage). Jesus didn’t promise healed marriages; in fact He promised broken homes because we would divide when one member repents and trusts.
11. Come to Jesus and experience love, joy, peace. Do we get the fruit of the Spirit upon conversion? Yes. But if we come seeking the gifts and not the giver, we will receive neither. Instead, we must repent and trust.
12. Jesus is the missing piece. Um, no, the God of the universe is not the missing piece, He demands that He is the center of our lives when we repent and trust.
13. Jesus is better than fame and fortune. That is an understatement, and frankly, it is insulting. Saying Jesus is better than money is like saying that a steak dinner is better than eating a dung hill. He defies comparison and we trivialize the Son of God. Instead, we should be pleading with all men everywhere to repent and trust.
If I showed up at your door with a can of grapefruit juice and a roll of paper towels and offered to change your oil, you would say, “No thanks.” If we wouldn’t let someone mess with our car using the wrong method, why do we allow the Gospel to be presented so ambiguously?
Would you let a doctor operate on your child who was “sort of” accurate? The salvation of men is far more important than an appendix.
I beg you to consider how you share the Gospel. You and I know what we are talking about when we use these phrases, but do the unregenerate? Is it possible that we have so many backsliders today because they never slid forward in the first place?
Is it because they were never told that they must repent and trust?
If we are willing to debate shag verse plush in the fellowship hall, shouldn’t we be more concerned about an issue that has eternal consequences?
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