Please open your Bible to John 9:35, where it is written: “Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said unto him, Do you believe on the Son of God?”
Jesus was speaking with a man who had been born blind. By trade, the man was clearly a beggar. He was probably of filthy, meager appearance, friendless and despised. It is apparent that he had no technical skills or social graces to commend him to others: his natural family considered him a liability. The cause of this man’s natural blindness appears to have been a subject of much speculation in the community — neighbors and former friends wondering which one of the family it was that had sinned so grossly against God that He would curse them with a son like this. It was not long into this life of blindness that the parents of this beggar had set him out on the street to fend for himself, perhaps disowning him in an attempt to recover their social standing in the community. Regardless, one thing is plainly evident and may be deduced quite simply. Jesus was talking with a man who, outwardly, was little more than a body. It is in the inward man, however, that we find out why Jesus was talking with this lowly beggar.
Jesus had spoken briefly to this beggar earlier, as he sat by the roadside begging. Before speaking to him, Jesus had purposefully dirtied the man’s face by spitting on the ground, making clay of the spittle, and rubbing the mud over the blind man’s eyes. He then told the man to go wash off the mud, and went on His divine way. He promised the man no healing, showed him no plain sympathy, and engaged him in no comforting conversation. In fact, in this first little meeting, it might have seemed that our Lord Jesus treated the lowly beggar rather coldly.
For whatever reasons, the beggar found it within himself to follow the instructions he had been given: difficult, needless, inconvenient, and embarrassing as they may have seemed. After all, if this Jesus fellow had intended to do him any good by dirtying his face with mud, could He not have done it in a more charitable way? Was it really necessary to require a trip to a public pool from a blind man? Was the blind man familiar enough with the area that he could travel confidently in his blindness? If not, dirty and unsightly as he probably was, it is not likely that he found many to help him on his way.
The poor man did, however, find the pool, and did wash off the mud from his eyes at the very location that Jesus had commanded of him. This man was obedient, even though the instructions may not have made sense to him. As the water dripped from his sun-blackened wrinkles, this lowly man lifted his eyelids to see God’s light for the very first time in his life.
Doubtless there was great joy in this poor man’s heart. Perhaps he enjoyed the thought that soon he might gain employment and the acceptance of his family. Perhaps he felt that the end of his rejection was nigh. He could have willed it so, were it not for an internal sense that his spiritual eyes needed healing more desperately than his physical eyes ever had. Whatever his thoughts, he returned from the pool filled with the sights of a world he had only known by sound, scent, and touch.
Quite soon, folks in the neighborhood began to recognize the poor beggar. Do you suppose they rejoiced with him? Would to God they had! The people were instead suspicious … and began to question him. They had taken no personal interest in the blind man before … but now their interest was keen: he had been healed on the Sabbath. This was against their laws; they brought him to the Pharisees. Shortly, the beggar was faced with a very plain decision.
The Pharisees had not been offended by this man’s begging, but now they were offended in his healing. The wholeness of his body rang out with supernatural fiber, imparted from a Man walking among them that they wished to control and could not. His presence among them, and His almighty signature on this beggar, intimidated them and threatened their status as religious leaders.
They reasoned guardedly with the man, based on their authority as his religious leaders, to reject the authority of the One Who had healed him. They gave him a command to give God the praise, and commanded that he purposefully disassociate his healing from the Healer.
Obedient as the beggar had been at the instructions of Jesus, he was unwilling to sin against plain fact, even at the expense of his newly found potential for worldly comfort. He would not cater to the obvious bias of his religious leaders, even though they were very powerful, highly esteemed, and greatly learned men. He persisted to think for himself, illiterate and ignorant as he was, and held fast his integrity. He knew not where Jesus was, and did not even know what He looked like, but openly confessed to be His disciple. He knew this meant death for him, but what did he really have to lose? He would look for healing in his spiritual eyes and trust God to open them before he died.
The Pharisees cast him out, or excommunicated him from the Jewish synagogue — and effectively from Jewish life. This was no surprise, but it meant that he could not seek employment in the immediate area with any hope, he could not be reconciled with his family … he could not even beg. It was a death knell for him if he was to remain a Jew. But what of it? He had been as good as dead all along — and to live in hypocrisy and spiritual blindness along with those who had trampled him underfoot for so long was worse than death. He headed to the temple to seek the face of God for his spiritual eyes. It was there that Jesus found him and asked him the question with which we began.
The question does not seem unusual to us at first perhaps. It seems natural that Jesus would confront the beggar with this penetrating question: “Dost thou believe on the Son of God?” Of course, the Master asked the question to provoke some essential testimony from this lowly man, knowing that the man’s continued spiritual blindness was more devastating than his physical blindness had been. It does not seem profound at a shallow glance.
If it is so natural then, why did Jesus not ask this question of the blind beggar to begin with, while he sat beside the road? And, why is it that this is the only man, as far as we know, whom our Lord Jesus ever confronted in this way during His earthly ministry? It seems, upon reading the New Testament, that this was not the normal pattern of our Lord. Perhaps the apparent lack of bold confrontation concerning personal salvation should seem unusual to those who think of Jesus Christ as the great soul winner. Where else do we find the Lord seeking out an individual, asking that individual if he believes in Him, and declaring His divinity to the individual?
I think Christ was treating this man in a very unusual manner. Nicodemus came questioning Christ and was given a perplexing parable about being born a second time. The rich young ruler came asking “What good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” He was told, “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” (Mt 19:16-17)
Unless I am mistaken, in this encounter with a lowly beggar, we find the only time Jesus purposefully sought out an individual and made His divinity evidently plain to that person so that the person could believe on Him in a saving way. In my opinion, not even the apostles were given this privilege (but that is another subject … for another time). I think there is great significance in this.
I believe that the significance lies in the fact that this poor beggar is perhaps the only lost soul that we read about in the Gospels who had a sincere earnestness in his immediate eternal salvation. To be sure, there may have been others, but we read of none who were approached so directly by our Lord Jesus. This man seems to have counted the cost of believing on Jesus and following Him and was willing to pay it. He wanted Jesus more than life itself, and Jesus responded to him as He apparently did to no other. While Jesus was seldom plain with people concerning personal salvation, Jesus was very plain with this man.
There are many facets of this man’s character and life which I am compelled to explore, which might shed some light on what kind of people God is very plain with concerning personal salvation, but this must yield to the matter at hand: dost thou believe on the Son of God?
I will assume that God has either already been plain with you in this, or that He will be so now. Let it be a plain question from Jesus Christ of Nazareth to you. Are you as earnest in your eternal salvation as was this blind beggar? If you are not, why aren’t you? Is your eternal welfare negotiable? If you value salvation-truth as highly as this beggar did, you either already have it, or (I trust) soon will.
To begin, let me ask you to consider what your chances are of going to heaven. If you were to measure your confidence in finally and ultimately arriving safe and sound in heaven as a probability, a % chance, what would it be? What do you suppose? 99.9%? 90%? Perhaps you have even been trained to say with outward confidence, “I am 100% confident of going to heaven”, yet only you know that you really still doubt your ultimate eternal destiny to some degree, some times. You may have also been trained to ignore this doubt as devil-trouble and “sweep it under the rug,” and go on in your doubt while stating 100% confidence, “speaking lies in hypocrisy.” (1Ti 4:2)
Or, perhaps, you actually do have a genuine assurance of personal salvation and it is no longer an issue for you. You are as safe from Hell right where you are, right now, as you will be after you have been in heaven for ten thousand years. There is no more possibility of you spending eternity in the lake of fire than for Jesus Christ Himself … you are as safe as He is.
Carefully consider where you are right now, and be honest. After all, what could a bit of honesty on this subject hurt … right now? No one is going to ask you to raise your hand and walk an isle in some public meeting … no one is here to embarrass you.
Mentally note your status of assurance as well as the reason for it. What gives you the perception that you have some expectation (or complete assurance) of heaven? Why do you perceive your “chances” of heaven to be as you do?
I would now like to examine several ways in which you might be trying to obtain salvation, and ask you to consider each way with me. As will become evident, I have one particular error to expose (the last of three I present), which I personally followed for many years. I am very thankful to God that He delivered me from it, yet I fear that many are still deceived by it. This is my purpose in writing; I write mainly to those who are deceived as I was.
Perhaps you are hoping that you will be forgiven and accepted into heaven because you have gone to church, served as a Christian leader, or have been a good person. Perhaps you have even given your entire life to serve God. If this is all you have, it is not enough. Jesus said, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Mt 7:22-23) No, you cannot win God with deeds: (Is 64:6) Even if you had truly good works to your credit they would not atone for your sin: your sin will be dealt with. You do have sin, “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.” (Ecc 7:20)
Are you hoping to go to heaven because you have confessed your sins and asked God for forgiveness? Well, I say it is good to confess your sins and ask for forgiveness (1Jo 1:9), but you have no claim to forgiveness simply because you do this. It is only the children of God who have this promise. (1Jo 2:1) How confident are you that you are a child of God? This is essentially the same as your confidence of going to heaven … for every child of God will spend eternity in heaven. (Lk 20:35-36)
Your sin must be punished. Either you will be punished, or someone else who deserves no punishment must take your place: “without shedding of blood is no remission.” (Heb 9:22) Admitting that you have sinned and asking for forgiveness is not enough to gain forgiveness of your sins, any more than it is in the lower justices of human courts. Sin must be paid for: you must die for your sin, or appropriate the death of Jesus Christ as your own. You must believe on the Son of God. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (Jn 3:36)
Lastly, do you trust that because you sincerely repented of your sins, and earnestly asked Jesus Christ to come into your heart and save you, that He did? He gave no promise that He would. God does not justify askers; He justifies believers. You will search the Bible in vain for salvation promises to mere askers, no matter how sincere. The promise is to believers; you must have faith in Jesus Christ; you must believe on the name of the Son of God. Asking and believing are not the same. They are actually quite different.
When you examine your salvation, when you probe the eternal safety of your soul, when you check to see if you are eternally safe … do you indeed look back to an act of asking Jesus for salvation? Do you remember a time when you prayed to invite Jesus Christ to come into your heart? Is that why you are saved? If you do base your salvation upon such an experience, this is a serious mistake.
First, there is no promise that God will save you if you repent from your sin and ask to be saved. Such a promise is not in the Bible anywhere. You may have heard there are promises to this effect, or you may have carelessly identified such promises. If you will carefully reconsider the wording of any text in the Word of God, you will see that there are no such promises. You can only wring such teaching from the Word of God if you consider asking and believing to be equivalent. They are not. This type of mechanical approach to faith should be discarded as foreign to the workings of God.
Second, there are no examples anywhere in the Word of anyone asking for eternal salvation, much less receiving it because they asked. Neither do we read about anyone asking Jesus to come into their heart. In all of the conversions recorded in the Word of God, NONE involve a prayer requesting salvation or asking Jesus Christ to come into the heart or forgive their sins. In fact, none of the conversions recorded in the Bible involve a direct prayer of ANY kind. Linking salvation with prayer is as dangerous as linking it with any other work.
Common examples cited of a “sinner’s prayer” experience include the publican in the temple, who “went down to his house justified” for praying, “God, be merciful to me a sinner.” (Lk 18:13-14) He departed from the temple having prayed with an appropriate spirit, which it is the intent of the story to illustrate. (v. 9, 14) “Justified” is not necessarily an implication of eternal justification as many would make it out to be. It may simply be a description of the fact that his manner of praying was appropriate, correct, and defensible. The man was a sinner and was asking God to be merciful to him. This should always be the attitude of any one in prayer … and in life. (Rom 3:4) Saying such a prayer and meaning it does not imply that one has been eternally justified.
The thief on the cross was not eternally justified by praying, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” (Lk 23:42) If you think carefully about what he was doing, asking a dying Man to remember him in a coming kingdom, you will understand that this man was already “saved” when he asked the question, and merely asked to be noticed and acknowledged in that kingdom, not “saved.” He went from that cross to Paradise, and spent the rest of the afternoon with Christ. His salvation was revealed in his request, not gained by it.
When Peter cried out, “Lord! Save me!” (Mt 14:30) was it an expression of faith in Jesus Christ that we might consider using as an example in salvation? Granted, Peter wanted salvation from drowning at that point, but can we still make the application?
If Peter really “believed in Jesus” when he called out to be saved from drowning, we know that he would have had no fear of drowning when he called. That is what believing produces: assurance; it is the immediate and inevitable fruit of faith. (1Th 1:4-5) Clearly, it is possible, yea likely, that Peter was calling out to be saved in desperate fear of drowning rather than in faith that he was safe from drowning due to Jesus’ capability and willingness to rescue him. The fact that Peter called does not actually indicate that he had faith, all it indicates is that he had an intense desire to be rescued … and that cannot itself be taken as sure evidence of faith. Jesus does not indicate in His response to Peter that Peter had been calling in faith, but rather He gently inquired as to why Peter had been troubled with doubt and unbelief to begin with. Thank God that He is not limited in His work by our lack of faith and understanding!! … He rescued Peter anyway.
Do you think of other counter examples to my claim? They are all of the same substance. There is only one way to be justified: “for by grace are ye saved through faith:” (Eph 2:8-9) salvation has nothing to do with asking for it.
There is inherent inconsistency in believing that asking to be saved is equivalent to believing on the Son of God. If you ask for salvation, you are admitting you do not have salvation. If you do not have eternal salvation it is because you have not believed on the Son of God: “He that believeth on Him is not condemned.” (Jn 3:18a) Asking Christ to save you when you do not believe on Jesus Christ and calling that “receiving Christ” is blindness at best. At the time you are calling upon Him to save you, you are expressing unbelief instead of faith.
Asking for salvation is asking in unbelief because needing salvation is equivalent to being in unbelief and needing faith. If you do not have faith in Jesus Christ, you should ask Him to work faith in you (Mk 9:24); you should not ask Him to save you as you continue in your unbelief: this He will not do. It is unreasonable to expect that God saved you simply because you asked Him to.
Further, it is unreasonable to ask for salvation if you do believe on Jesus Christ since you already have eternal salvation if you believe on Him. Neither can you properly ask Him to come into your heart if you believe on Him … because He is already indwelling you if you believe on Him. Therefore, you cannot be believing on Jesus Christ and rightly asking Him to save you at the same time, because asking Him to save you implies that you do not believe on Him.
Asking to be saved when you believe in Jesus Christ is rather like thinking that you need to go apply for a small loan to make the car payment next month when you have just won the lottery and you can see and feel ten million dollars right there in your hands. Anyone who would think this way is … clearly … either VERY ignorant and confused … or totally insane. It is not a matter of semantics, the thinking exposes a vast, fundamental contradiction and disconnect in the mind: it just doesn’t make any rational sense at all. It cannot.
So whether a person believes on Jesus Christ or not, in either case, asking for salvation as a means of receiving Christ or becoming saved is inconsistent. Thinking that believing on and receiving Jesus Christ is the same as asking Him to save you is at best confusion. At worst, it is a deep corruption of the Gospel.
When you come to examine yourself, whether you are safe from eternal Hell, you should be looking to the atoning death and resurrection of Jesus Christ … not to an experience you have had asking Him to save you. If you cannot find assurance of your salvation solely in Jesus Christ and in what He has done, if you must look to anything at all that you have done or experienced, you may yet remain dead in your trespasses and sins. The only rock of salvation is the atonement of Jesus Christ. If you look to anything else or anyone else for assurance, you are likely still in grave danger.
If you have not believed in Jesus Christ with God-given supernatural faith it doesn’t matter what kind of prayers you have prayed, it matters not how deeply you have repented of sin or how sincerely or strongly you have requested salvation. If you do believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior, then why would you look back to an act you have performed as the basis of your salvation? God accepts no substitute for faith in His Son. If you claim salvation because you have repented of sin and asked to be saved you are confused. It is this last consideration which I have found to be most common among evangelicals, in which I myself was deceived.
It is certainly possible for someone to be saved while asking Jesus to come into their heart, or asking Jesus Christ to save them: God can save a person whenever He wants to, under any set of circumstances He wishes. Just because you prayed such a prayer at the time you claim to have been saved, this does not necessarily mean that you are lost. If you have faith in Jesus Christ, and God gave it to you when you called out to Him to save you, or when you asked Jesus Christ to come into your heart, His name be praised! However, you are not saved because you asked Him to save you or come into your heart, and your asking did not bring you into the kingdom of God, as others may have lead you to believe. God saved you when He did in spite of the fact that you were confused, not because of it.
When God saves a person, He gives them faith in Jesus Christ. When one has faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, one becomes assured of their eternal safety by looking to their Savior and what He has done to rescue them. If one receives that faith while asking for salvation in unbelief and confusion, that is God’s prerogative.
However, this does not mean one should look back to such an experience for assurance of eternal life, nor does it prove that encouraging someone to ask for salvation is a clear way to lead a soul to faith in Christ. This was not done in the New Testament. There are no instances of anyone leading a sinner in any type of prayer to receive Christ, neither is anyone encouraged to pray any kind of prayer as part of the experience of receiving Christ.
It is common fact that many western evangelical churches are substituting a prayer-praying technique for biblical saving faith in Jesus Christ. Leading people in a prayer to receive Christ, and then assuring them that they now have eternal life even if they continue in doubt about their eternal safety … this is absolutely devastating.
To tell someone, “Don’t trust in your feelings,” is to say, “It really does not matter whether you have assurance or not, you really are saved even if you do not believe, because you have done what the Bible says you have to do to be saved.” This is a devilish lie. Continuing in doubt and unbelief and confusion is the natural fruit of the continuing state of damnation and should not be ignored and covered up. The fact that some prayer was said as an act of receiving Christ is totally irrelevant. The doubting soul should continue to seek God until complete deliverance from doubt is realized, and full assurance of faith is obtained. Instead, the yet-damned soul is comforted and told to rest in their unbelief. Evangelicals are taking this poison to the world with a passion and boldness that is only mildly recognized. What a terrible waste!
Do not get caught in this trap. Do not remain in it if you are already caught. It is just as wrong to lead a soul in a prayer to receive Christ as it is to lead them in baptism to receive Christ, or to lead them to take communion to receive Christ, to give up their possessions, or follow a life of good works as a condition for eternal life. If a “conversion” is not a simple coming to an unwavering faith in the Person and atonement of Jesus Christ … have no part with it. Until assurance of eternal life is complete, conversion is absent and regeneration is still far from the soul.
The danger in offering some mechanism in place of genuine faith is that the unconverted soul will cling to the act associated with the supposed “receiving” instead of to Christ Himself and to His atoning sacrifice. To associate any physical or mental activity with receiving Christ is then to place the unconverted soul in very great danger.
Why not rather encourage an unbeliever to seek from God the faith which they lack? This faith would be “counted unto him for righteousness” (Rom 4:3) and this is what is needed. To try to convince a soul that they can claim eternal life because they have repented and said some prayer, however sincere, is gross error. It is a device of Satan to confuse and corrupt the gospel: Satan would provide a counterfeit gospel that smacks of genuineness.
Believing on Jesus Christ is not an act; it is not an act of the will; it is a state of being that is outside of the will and undergirds the will. The believer is a participant in believing, but a passive participant. Faith is the result of the gift of a new nature that is imparted by God: “faith … not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Eph 2:8-9) Faith is not an act springing from the darkness and deadness of an unconverted heart. Believing is not something you “do” but part of what you are: your state of being. To believe on Jesus Christ you must become a new person; you must be born anew.
Being “born again” spiritually is also not a decision or an act on the part of the one being born again any more than being born physically is decision or an act of the will. Did you “decide” to be conceived physically? Certainly not. Neither did you “decide” something and become saved, spiritually “conceived”, as a result. “Of His own will begat He us with the word of truth.” (Jas 1:18a) “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (Jn 1:13).
Further, coming to faith in Jesus Christ, being born again, is not a process that happens over time. This is evident since there are only two destinations to which one can go when they die: heaven or hell. Should the body and soul become disengaged at any instance only one destination is possible. This implies that there can be no intermediate state … one is either saved or one is not. The transition between the two states must be instantaneous by definition. This instant is the instant of the divine impartation of faith, the first time one is supernaturally convinced of their absolute safety in the finished work of Jesus Christ. This faith is the gift and work of God.
Even repentance itself is not an act of the will: it is also a gift of God: “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves, if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.” (1Ti 2:25) It is a state of repentance that causes you to will to do the right things. Without repentance, your will is totally broken: you CAN’T want to do the right things. Can a dead man raise himself up? Can he respond to the light? No. Neither can you or anyone else respond to God in repentance and faith in the matter of your salvation without being quickened and drawn by His Spirit.
A sinner’s will is certainly involved as God draws and quickens, but the will is not allowing God to work, or preventing Him from working … the will itself is what God is transforming. Conversion, though it involves the will, is not finally subject to the will. On the contrary, the will is the object of conversion, the drawing of the Spirit of God is what converts the will.
There is nothing that you can do to actually effect your salvation if you are not saved … other than seeking salvation in earnest until God rewards you … and He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. If you long to be saved, seek salvation from God until you actually have it. And all along the way, be exceedingly thankful that you have such a strong desire to be saved … you would not even want to be saved unless God had worked that desire in you. Even the desire to be saved, if you have it, is a rich gift from God. Do not think you have even that simply because you chose it.
No. Do not attempt to reconcile yourself or others to God through a prayer of unbelief, or any other physical activity, act of the will, or decision of the soul. Salvation is not for the asking, it is not for the deciding, it is for the believing; it is for those who have faith in Jesus Christ.
Please recall your earlier perception of your percent chance of going to heaven, and your reason for such assurance. If you feel your “chances” of going to heaven are anything less than 100% — if you perceive you are not as safe from Hell right now, right where you are, as you will be after having been in heaven for ten million years – if you are not as safe as Jesus Christ Himself — if it is possible for you to be any MORE sure of your salvation than you are right at this very moment – then you are NOT believing in Jesus Christ … you lack faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and it is a matter of grave concern.
You need faith. Faith contains NO doubt whatsoever, contrary to what you likely have been told. If you are doubting your salvation in any manner it should concern you enough to seek the face of God in desperation, humility and repentance. If you have never been completely and totally sure of your eternal salvation, then you have never believed on Christ and you are in danger of Hell-fire at this very moment. Put away your evil doings and refuse to live comfortably with your doubt any longer. Open up your faithless, dirty heart to the God Who made you and Who can heal and cleanse you. Do not seek again to the formal empty mechanics of a false evangelical religion; they will not hide you in the last day … the day of God’s Wrath.
Be earnest to seek the face of God, to break off those things from your life that are a displeasure to Him; stop making excuses for your habits and selfishness. You are grieving and angering a holy God in your willful disobedience to Him and this is not to be taken lightly, but soberly. Ask God to grant you repentance and faith, cast yourself desperately upon His mercy and long for the light of life which only He can give to you. Do not rest complacent until you have life. Nothing else will do.
Concerning my appeal to you, do not think to say within yourself, “This man is an idealist. No one can be completely sure of salvation! Faith and doubt are not mutually exclusive. No one is perfect! No one can be completely free of doubt. That is totally unreasonable.” My friend, the simple problem with this type of reasoning is … it is wrong.
Remember what Phillip said unto the Ethiopian Eunuch, “If thou believest with all thine heart.” (Ac 16:31) There is no room for doubt in faith. “Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.” (Jas 1:6) To say otherwise is no different than believing in salvation by works and then assuming that God has lowered the standard of what is acceptable so that you and I can achieve it in our own strength.
The simple truth is that I, for one, AM completely sure of my salvation … and you can be too.
Perhaps you reason that God would not command you to believe if you were not able to do so on your own, therefore you reason that the standard of faith must be something within your own reach. In my opinion, this is the heart of the evangelical message and the motivation for its perversion of the definition of faith. God has also commanded you to be perfect. (Mt 5:48) Are you capable of that on your own? God does not limit His commands by your ability to keep them. God commands you to do what is right because it is right for Him to do so, not because you are able to obey. Do not infer anything about your ability from the commands He has given to you.
Another emptiness is to recoil from the idea that you do not control your own spiritual destiny, that it is not subject to your own free choice, obtainable by an act of your free will. Evangelicals want to see God as having done all He can to save you, and then leaving the rest up to you. When the Bible says faith is the gift of God, that salvation is under the direct control of God, and not an act of the will … dirty humanism is violated in this, nothing else. You will search in vain throughout the Word for substance to support your own ability in salvation. There is nothing you can do to save yourself. God has provided the means of your salvation, yet He must also enable you to obtain it. You are absolutely helpless apart from Him. Cast your entire self at the feet of God as utterly helpless and without strength in this matter, for that is exactly how you are.
Dirty hearts are cleansed by faith in the blood of Jesus Christ: “God hath set forth (Jesus) to be a propitiation through faith in his blood.” (Rom 3:25) “Faith . . . is the gift of God ” (Eph 2:8) that allows one to be completely without doubt (Mt 21:21) about their eternal destiny. Pray for faith to believe on Jesus. (Lk 17:5) Pray to be saved from your unbelief: do not pray to be saved as you continue in it. Continue to pray and seek the face of God until you are totally delivered from doubt — until it is your natural and continuing sense that you are a child of the eternal God, in an unthreatened position of absolute eternal safety, as safe as Jesus Christ Himself. Persist in prayer until you obtain what you are after: faith in Jesus Christ.
God has given faith to others and He can give it to you. It is not something that you have to create within yourself or conjure up from the darkness within. You cannot create faith any more than you can create light so that you can see. Do not rest with any substitute for genuine faith in God.
Until all doubt about your eternal destiny is gone, you lack faith unto salvation. When you are granted faith to believe on Jesus Christ you will have eternal salvation. Your sins will be forgiven, you will be clean, and you will know it beyond all doubt. Jesus Christ will come into you when you are clean, you will not have to ask Him to come in.
I have stated plainly and repeatedly that it is an error to lead a soul to pray a prayer requesting salvation as an act of receiving Jesus Christ and being born again. If I am to claim this with integrity, there is a text which ought to be considered lest one should cite it as a counter text (can there be such a thing in the Word of God?) to the plain teaching of the Scripture on the dynamics of conversion: “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the LORD shall be saved.” (Rom 10:13)
If the text is taken to mean that when one asks for salvation then one is necessarily saved, it can also be used to show that anyone who ever prays any kind of prayer under any circumstances for any reason for any thing is immediately and eternally justified. The text does not require any content in the prayer made, it simply requires calling upon “the name of the Lord.” This might be for anything, even to obtain something sinful or to achieve some sinful purpose.
Taking the text to mean that anyone asking God for anything is saved is then “saved” a serious and obvious mistake. Jesus openly condemned many who frequently prayed to God: the Jewish Pharisees. “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins.” (Jn 8:24)
If we look carefully at this text we will notice that it says those “who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” What does this mean, to call upon someone’s name?
A person’s name is synonymous with their character and reputation. (Pr 22:1) When you “call upon” a person’s name you are invoking their character as something you claim to be worthy of implicit trust and confidence: you are appealing to their faithfulness and integrity. You are implicitly and confidently trusting them, and relying on their character in the context of your appeal. Those who do this with God, expecting Him to do that which is consistent with His nature, thus believing in Him and on Him, will certainly be delivered.
The words “saved” and “salvation” can refer to the obtaining of eternal life, as in the earlier context of Romans 10:9-10, “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation,” or they can refer to “deliverance” from any unpleasant or adverse circumstance, as in Philippians 1:19: “For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” It is actually in this second sense which the word “saved” is used in the text we consider. It actually does replace the word “delivered” in the Old Testament text (Joel 2:32) which Paul is quoting in Romans 10:13.
The concept of justification by faith apart from prayer is plainly evident in the immediate context: “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth … the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise … that is the word of faith, which we preach … with the hearth man believeth unto righteousness … whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed … How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? … Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing …” (Rom 10:4-17) It is error indeed to conclude from Romans 10:13 that faith is not the relevant factor in salvation and then to rest one’s soul upon a prayer of unbelief and try to wrest an artificial assurance from the text.
As we’ve just noted, the text of Romans 10:13 quotes Joel 2:32: “And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered.” The context appears to involve those undergoing the turmoil of the coming great tribulation, who are plainly aware of the pouring out of the wrath of God upon the earth in judgment of sin, and who, for the most part, “blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.” (Rev 16:11) The text of Joel, which is also the text of Romans 10:13, implies that anyone who would turn to God during this time, and call out to Him in repentance and humility, formally yielding in their open rebellion against the Almighty, would be spared in some sense: physically relieved and/or granted faith for spiritual healing.
In Romans 10:13 Paul uses the text in Joel to show that God is not a respecter of race or nationality when responding to human need, drawing on the “whosoever” in the passage. He says leading up to verse 13, “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the LORD shall be saved (or “delivered”, as in Joel).” (Rom 10:12-13) Paul was proving that one does not need to be a Jew to be a child of God, and that God does not consider nationality or culture in this matter of believing on the Son of God.
This text was wrested from its context and used to try and convince me that I was saved after I had prayed to be saved in open, confessed unbelief. I was told that I was saved, based on this text, even though I did not think so at the time and continued to agonize in doubting and faithlessness. I was repeatedly coaxed to rest in my faithless condition simply because I had repented of my sins and had prayed sincerely to be saved. Had I done so, and persisted in that state until death as advised, I would have found my eternal home to be a devil’s hell, and it would have been entirely my own damned fault.
While those who push this technique appear to mean well, honestly, to trouble a seeking soul like this … to shut the gateway to everlasting life while a lost soul is still struggling to enter, telling them they’re already inside … well, there’s just not anything you can do to a person that is worse than this. (Mt 23:13) It is inexcusable to persist in this ignorance once the truth of the gospel is plainly revealed. To be willfully ignorant of God’s truth in this critical area is even worse. As harsh as it may seem, God says that those who preach a false gospel will be damned if they continue. (Gal 1:8-9) Teaching salvation by repentance and prayer is a false gospel, and this is very serious business with God. No child of God can willfully engage in this once presented with the truth. Anyone that does persist in this error after being shown the truth should be cut off (Gal 5:12, killed) and will one day be unless they repent.
Western churchdom is far removed from the principle upon which God saves a soul. It is no wonder that many struggle with doubts about their salvation and brush them aside as prompts from Satan. Very few are diligent about the eternal welfare of their own souls, much less that of a loved one, friend, or stranger. Eternity is not negotiable: no one can afford to be wrong about salvation! “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.” (2Co 13:5) “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life.” (1Ti 6:12)
How do you examine your spiritual state, and determine whether you are in the faith? How do you know if you believe on the Son of God? How are you to prove yourself? How does one lay hold on eternal life?
Simple. There are certain things that accompany salvation. (Heb 6:9) When God describes a Christian, does He describe you? If so, then you believe on the Son of God, you have been converted, you are a Christian, a believer, a saint … if you are as one born again, then you are born again. If not, you aren’t. It is quite simple.
God says that the Holy Spirit witnesses within a Christian that he is God’s child, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” (Rom 8:16) If you are a Christian, you have the witness of this by His Spirit within.
God says that faith brings assurance: “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith.” (Heb 10:22a) If you do not have assurance, 100% confidence that you are as safe from hell right now as Jesus Christ, you do not have faith in Jesus Christ. At conversion the power of the Holy Ghost fills believers with assurance as they hear and receive the Gospel: “For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance.” (1Th 1:5) If you have never had such assurance, you have never had faith. If the Holy Ghost has never come upon you in power and quickened your understanding of the gospel, giving you repentance toward God and faith towards the Lord Jesus Christ, then you have never been converted and you have not been born again.
God says every Christian loves Jesus Christ. “Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.” (Jn 8:42) God says the inverse as well, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.” (1Co 16:22) Anyone who does not love Jesus Christ will be Anathema Maranatha, “cursed at the coming.” There will be no Christians among these. He said in addition, “he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” (Jn 14:21b) We have equivalence here, a necessary and sufficient description of a Christian: all Christians love Jesus Christ; only Christians love Jesus Christ.
God says that every Christian loves other Christians. “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.” (1Jn 3:14) Only Christians love other Christians. Every Christian loves other Christians. That means you seek their good and find kinship with them as part of your heavenly family.
God says that every Christian obeys Him and keeps His commands: “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.” (1Jn 2:5) Every Christian keeps (obeys, cherishes) the words of Jesus Christ. “ Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” (Jn 14:23) “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” (1Jn 5:2-3) By walking in obedience to God and keeping His commands, every child of God practices righteousness: “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother .” (1Jn 3:10) There are no exceptions.
Every Christian overcomes the world by faith. “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” (1Jn 5:4) No true Christian is overcome by the world, and succumbs to the relentless intrusion of darkness as a manner of life. “Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.” (1Th 5:5)
Believing on Jesus Christ, receiving Jesus Christ, having faith in Jesus Christ, being a child of God, loving other Christians, loving your neighbor, loving God, loving Jesus Christ, walking in obedience, and overcoming the world … all these go together … and they always go together. You cannot have any of these things without having all of them. Some of them are in degrees, some of them are not. Every Christian has them all … in tact and complete, and only Christians have any of them. Though there is always room to grow in love, obedience, knowledge, and what you believe, you must be functional in every area as a Christian is defined. Prove yourself; lay hold on eternal life.
So, how is it with you, Friend? Do you believe on Jesus Christ? Do you know that He has given you repentance and faith? (Ac 20:21) Do you know that you are begotten of Him, that you belong to Him, and that you are in Him? If so, rejoice in Him! If not, seek His face with all earnest and prayerful diligence and purpose until you are. Start now!
Is there any wisdom at all in being negligent or careless in this matter? I say not! “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? ” (Mark 8:36) “Give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.” (2 Peter 1:10) Lay aside foolish fears; fear God not man … hear God not man. Get alone with God and your Bible. The Holy Spirit must open your heart to believe on Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God. By real God-given faith you must see your sin placed upon Jesus Christ: all of your sins past present and future placed upon Jesus Christ once and for all forever … and His righteousness placed within you. You must believe without any doubts whatsoever that His death was for you personally, and that His death has become a covering and payment for your own sins. You must be completely assured of the forgiveness of your sins based only upon the work that Jesus Christ finished on the cross on your behalf. You must see the fruit of faith in your love for God, your love for others, and an obedient nature born within. God must work this reality in you.
“Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!” (Jn 1:29) Meditate upon the atonement, picture the Lamb of God upon the cross in your place. Set your gaze upon Him, place your hands upon His head and place your sin upon Him as your own personal sin-Bearer. See Him suffer the wrath of God in your place for all you’ve done wrong (and ever will do wrong), and may God fill your heart with faith and understanding in the principle of substitution, the principle of atonement! See Jesus Christ rise again from the dead as living proof that your Sacrifice, Jesus Christ, has been received, and that your sin is gone forever!
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” (Ac 16:31) Do not rest with doubts. Seek God with all of your heart and He will be found of you (Jer 29:13) for “He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” (Heb 11:6)
“Dost thou believe on the Son of God?” The true answer to that single question will part you for Hell or Heaven. There is no more important a question to answer for you or anyone else. Do not rest your soul until you know the answer is positively, without any hesitation, a confident and resounding … “YES!”