"Whoever believes…that’s it. It’s not whoever turns, tries, seeks, surrenders, stops, starts or anything else!"

Terms That Abuse the Gospel

1. Let Jesus into your heart.
2. Invite Christ into your life.
3. Just say this prayer and you’ll be saved…
4. Make Jesus the Lord of your life (we don’t make him Lord. He IS Lord!)
5. Turn from all your sin (and, no, that’s not what “repent” means!)

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Joshua Caucutt's picture

I'm guessing that most here at SI agree with Mr. Stier.

Yet:

And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Romans 2:2-10

formerly known as Coach C

handerson's picture

Of course we need to re-establish faith/belief as the core of our understanding of the gospel, but I think Stier's argument is somewhat simplistic. It sidesteps the larger question that we're trying to answer when we use other terms: namely, what will saving "belief" look like? (Because "belief" in name only is not belief - James and the demons can tell you that much.)

I think the core problem then is not using terms not found in the Bible, but using them apart from what they are intended to explicate. And doing so to the extent that we lose the original meaning. We need to remember that many of these "abusive" phrases are rooted in Biblical context. And I very legitimately could tell someone to "invite Christ into your heart" if I had just walked through Revelation 3 that also handles the issues of repenting, hearing Christ's voice, and opening the door to Him when He knocks.

Mike Harding's picture

Repentant faith in the person and work of Christ on the cross is what God requires for the reception of eternal life. Faith is ultimately a gift from God through the Holy Spirit enabling a person not only to acknowelge the certainty of the truth of the Gospel, but most importantly to place one's unreserved trust in the Person and Promise of God. True repentant faith produces spiritual fruit in keeping with repentance and the evidence of regeneration. True faith also continues in the faith. I think the article is somehwhat simplistic and reductionist.

Pastor Mike Harding

Kevin Subra's picture

The comments on the actual article page are indicative of the many wires that have been crossed in this area. People confuse passages of Scripture and the contexts in which they appear. For example, "the devils believe and tremble" cannot relate to salvation for the simple reason that salvation has not been offered to "the devils."

Many such mix-ups come from confusing salvation by faith from sanctification by faith. The two are distinct, and must be separated for a proper understanding of salvation by faith (belief). "If you LIVE in the spirit, let us also WALK in the spirit." (Gal 5:25). "As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord [i.e. by faith ] so walk in Him [i.e. by faith ]" (Col 2:6).

From Genesis 15:6, where Abraham "believed in the LORD, and it was accounted to him for righteousness," to extremely clear passages as John 3:18 (where belief is THE determining factor) to Acts 16:30-31 where Paul and Silas answer the clear question and give a very clear answer, belief in Jesus as the Divine Sin-bearer has been the criteria for salvation.

Discussing what belief "looks" like is limited to the realm of sanctification, and even then, our evaluation process cannot detect false conduct. Even the devil himself presents himself as an angel of light. That's good acting.

I believe that the Bible is very clear in many passages (Rom 4:5 is my favorite verse). Confusion comes from mixing the unclear with the clear (Rom 10 is often taken out of the context of the book of Romans or even the Chapter context, for example), producing endless arguments and criteria that cannot be fit into the Scripture's clear Gospel command to believe.

For the Shepherd and His sheep,
Kevin
Grateful husband of a Proverbs 31 wife, and the father of 15 blessings.
http://captive-thinker.blogspot.com

Peter Laitres's picture

handerson wrote:
Of course we need to re-establish faith/belief as the core of our understanding of the gospel, but I think Stier's argument is somewhat simplistic. It sidesteps the larger question that we're trying to answer when we use other terms: namely, what will saving "belief" look like? (Because "belief" in name only is not belief - James and the demons can tell you that much.)

I think the core problem then is not using terms not found in the Bible, but using them apart from what they are intended to explicate. And doing so to the extent that we lose the original meaning. We need to remember that many of these "abusive" phrases are rooted in Biblical context. And I very legitimately could tell someone to "invite Christ into your heart" if I had just walked through Revelation 3 that also handles the issues of repenting, hearing Christ's voice, and opening the door to Him when He knocks.

Revelation 3:14-22 has nothing to do with salvation and never mentions "inviting Christ into your heart." These abusive phrases ARE NOT rooted in the Bible, but skew the Bible's clear teachings and the gospel itself. We need to avoid confusing and unbiblical terms and metaphors. Is it so difficult to stick to the gospel as given in 1 Cor. 15:3-4?
I hope that you never ask someone to invite Christ into their heart, but rather I hope you lead them to a decision of faith and repentance, trusting Jesus Christ and His finished work only.

Twitter: GodsLaw1 *** www.peterlaitres.net ***  

“I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.” - Galatians 2:21HCSB

Lee's picture

Peter Laitres wrote:

Revelation 3:14-22 has nothing to do with salvation and never mentions "inviting Christ into your heart." ...

THREAD DIVERSION ALERT!!! Not meaning to hack the thread, but I have heard this a lot recently. I assume you particularly reference the vs 20 FF portion of the passage. Since it has "nothing to do with salvation" would you care to enlighten as to what it specifically does reference? My curiosity knows no bounds.

Lee

handerson's picture

Lee, FWIW, I don't think you're diverting the thread at all: this is precisely what is at stake. What does a passage like Rev. 3:20 reference? And what are legitimate ways to represent the core concept.

In my understanding, the passage is first and foremost dealing with repentance. And in this case, the Holy Spirit inspired the metaphor of a door and a knock to represent what it will look like when people repent. When people repent, it's as if they are opening the door to Christ's knock, and letting Christ into their "hearts" to engage in intimate fellowship with Him. And they have the promise that when they do, He will come in.

So whenever a person is repenting of sin to embrace Christ (either at conversion or throughout the sanctification process), I don't see how you can say it is unbiblical to represent it in the very way that Scripture itself does. The danger is not in the phrase of "letting Christ into you heart" -- the danger lies in relying only on the metaphor apart from the truth it is meant to illustrate.

I'm just approaching this from a linguistic background and all I'm saying is that the problem is not with words we use, but that we've lost the greater meaning surrounding the words. It's an issue of pragmatics. And FWIW, linguistically speaking, it can happen to words like

Quote:
a decision of faith and repentance, trusting Jesus Christ and His finished work only
just as easily as any others.

Kevin Subra's picture

(1) Like the other 6 churches in Rev 2-3, Revelation 3:20 is written to an assembly of believers, albeit not obedient ones. (2) In question are their works (practice), not their salvation (position). (3) There is no mention of "heart" in the passage, and "inviting Jesus into your heart" is completely foreign to all of Scripture. In fact, Christ dwelling in the hearts of believers appears to be conditional, not true of all believers (Eph 3:17 where the word "dwell" is probably better rendered "occupy" as in a controlling entity). Christ cannot save because of an invitation (which does not eliminate sin or guilt), but through belief in His propitious sacrifice.

We do not need unbiblical phrases to explain an already clear Gospel. We just need to hold to and teach what is declared.

I will yet return all to the clear, single criteria verses of Gen 15:6, John 3:18, Acts 16:31, and Rom 4:5 (and many others like it). There is one requirement (belief in Who Jesus is and What He has done), or these verses are erroneous. Adding calling, confessing, appropriating etc. might not keep people out of heaven (though they could), but they certainly make things confusing which the Word makes very clear.

For the Shepherd and His sheep,
Kevin
Grateful husband of a Proverbs 31 wife, and the father of 15 blessings.
http://captive-thinker.blogspot.com

handerson's picture

by this criteria, Christ Himself would be in error for telling people, "Come unto me all you that are heavy-laden and I will give you rest." Is He in error for telling people to "come"-- wouldn't that be adding to belief? Of course it isn't--it is a Gospel invitation. Along with the other numerous metaphors that Christ used to indicate what belief and repentance look like.

I think we're missing the forest for the trees.

Lee's picture

Kevin Subra wrote:
(1) Like the other 6 churches in Rev 2-3, Revelation 3:20 is written to an assembly of believers, albeit not obedient ones. ...

Yet each message has a specific personalization as the conclusion that is clearly to individuals:
Ephesus: "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life..."
Smyrna: "...be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life."
Pergamos: "To him that overcometh will I give to eat...manna...a white stone, and...a new name written..."
Thyatira: "...he that overcometh...will I give power over the nations...and...the morning star..."
Sardis: "...He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before the angels."
Philadelphia: "Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God...and I will write upon him the name of my God...and I will write upon him my new name."

Why would I then presume that the final message to Laodicea, which appears to personalize as do all the others, is not actually addressing individuals as the others undoubtedly are?

Lee