I am absolutely amazed today at the millions of invitations that are offered by evangelicals when there is no genuine response to the gospel that we see. I mean come on, we have all done it. We have used the clichés: say this prayer, ask Jesus into your heart, invite Christ to your life, make Jesus your personal Lord and savior, make a decision for Christ, make a confession of faith.
These terms are extremely popular in evangelical circles today. But it isn’t the full gospel.
I am amazed at the easy-believism message going around today, denying the Lordship of Christ in salvation, and denying that repentance is an essential in salvation.
The Sinners Prayer- Is it scriptural?
Today in my Science class our teacher asked for any prayer requests. I had one. I asked if we could prayer for a friend of mine whom I just shared the gospel with.
So we prayed and here was my teachers prayer: “God, I ask that Bob (I’m using an anonymous name) would say the sinners prayer and ask Jesus into his heart.”
I was ticked. Here’s why. I could have done that. I could have easily persuaded my friend to say the sinners prayer and have him think that he saved. But here is the deal: Salvation is not a human event that we accomplish; it is a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit by which we are regenerated and justified.
When Jesus called Matthew, “he saw Levi, the son of Alpheus, sitting at the place of toll, and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he arose and followed him” (Mark 2:14). I want you to notice something. Matthew’s response here was not a public confession of faith; it was an act of obedience, which shows that faith and obedience are one in the same. Those who obey believe, and those who believe obey.
Lordship Salvation vs. Free Grace
I am utterly amazed at those who oppose this statement to obey, calling it a false gospel or Lordship salvation. Although, I was reading through my Bible and it says that you shall know them by their fruits. To be a disciple is to be a Christian, and to be a Christian is to be a disciple; there is no difference.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a great theologian of the 20th century put it this way: “Christianity without the living Christ is inevitably Christianity without discipleship, and Christianity without Discipleship is always Christianity without Christ” (Bonhoeffer, Dietrich).
Lordship Salvation is a simple fact that when Christ saves someone, he saves us from ourselves and to himself. God doesn’t just save us to do our own thing. He saves us to conform us to the image of his son (Romans 8:29). He saved us to make us holy and blameless (Ephesians 1:4).
“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die” (Bonhoeffer). I cannot find any other truth than this in the scriptures. When Christ calls us he demands self-denial and complete submission (Luke 9:23). The Gospel is a call to self-denial, not self-fulfillment (MacArthur, John).
Why Does This Matter?
The reason this principle is so extremely important is because of the way we evangelize. The worst thing we can do when we evangelize is to pressure them to make a decision that could lead them to thinking that they are a Christianity when in fact they have been mislead. The best thing we can do for them is to tell them the full gospel, persuading them to count the cost. Anyone who claims to be a Christian but whose lives look just like the rest of the world are deceived.
John MacArthur sums it up the best in his book the Gospel According To Jesus when he says that “The gospel Jesus proclaimed was a call to discipleship, a call to follow him in submissive obedience, not just a plea to make a decision or pray a prayer” (MacArthur, John). I affirm his statement and his position. Jesus calls not for casual acceptance, but for absolute surrender.
When we tell the gospel to our friends who are outside of Christ, we must not sugar coat it to meet their expectations. We must give them the full picture of the gospel, that “we have a loving father who will save us, but we also have a wrathful judge who may damn us” (Platt, David). We must give the full truth, not just a fraction of the truth. As a church we must put the call to follow as a number one priority in our lives.