"I have already received Christ as my Saviour, in fact, I pray to Jesus every day since I prayed the sinner's prayer." This was how my conversation began with a young man from India some years ago over a cup of coffee at Starbucks. I was thrilled to hear of his salvation experience, because I knew that he came from a Hindu background! I began to probe a bit deeper into his experience by asking what circumstances surrounded his salvation experience. "I was at .... .... Baptist Church and the pastor at the conclusion of the service asked if anyone wanted to be saved to raised their hand and pray the following prayer in their heart." "I prayed the prayer that the pastor asked me to pray, therefore I believe that I became a Christian on that day." As I listened to the testimony of this dear young man, I began to become very concerned with some things that I was hearing and some things that I was not hearing in his testimony. I asked him one final question: "Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the one true God and the only Saviour for mankind?" The young man's response was simple, "No, I believe there are many gods, I simply on that day prayed to add Jesus to my other gods. I now pray to thirty-one gods every day."
The account that I just shared with you is not spun or exaggerated, this is the exact way our conversation went on this day. I began to explain to this young man that if he was going to become a Christian and be saved from his sins, that Jesus was not a way, He is the only way. Jesus is not a god, but He is the "One God and one mediator between God and man." As I shared these truths with this young man, I remember watching his face fall in disappointment, he then replied, "I am not willing to give up my other gods at this time."
This is a heart-breaking story for me as a preacher of the gospel of Christ. It is heart-breaking because this young man to this day still refuses to embrace Jesus Christ alone as His Saviour. This story is more heart-breaking to me because the pastor that "led him to Christ" notched his belt with a false convert that has been made a twice-fold child of hell. The same pastor shared with me six months ago that he was able to get a young man to pray the sinners prayer but he was not sure that he really understood the gospel. My question is simple, "Why did you lead him in a prayer if he did not understand?"
Some years ago following a meal with a pastor, the waitress who had served our meal came up to us with our bill. The pastor instead of taking the bill took her by the hand and said "Do you want to go to heaven when you die?" She in a stunned voice said, "Sure, who doesn't?" The pastor said, "If you want to go to heaven when you die, pray this prayer with me right now!" She prayed a prayer with him, walked away stunned, pointed to us like we were nuts to her colleagues, then had someone else bring back the bill so she would not have to face this pastor again. When we walked out of the restaurant, the pastor said to me, "John, that is what it is all about, bringing souls to Jesus." Friends, he is right, bringing souls to Jesus is what it is all about, but that poor waitress did not come to Jesus that night, she was led in a prayer without any understanding of what she was praying or doing.
Why does this type of thing go on all around our world? Why is it that we have so many Christian "casualties" from our evangelism efforts? Before you think, "That is a problem exclusive to London where all the melting pot cultures of the world have come together." I promise you that this is just as much of a problem in your community as it is in my city. I am afraid that we have sold out Biblical evangelism on the altars of numbers, success, hype, and perception. False religion is not a new problem, this is a problem that has been around since the Garden of Eden when Cain attempted to worship God in his own way.
Since that time, man has always desired to come to God anyway except the way that God has prescribed in His Word. The problem that we are facing today is that an unbiblical sub-culture has been set in our churches that evangelism is getting people to pray prayers so that we can report our numbers to friends, pastors, and churches. There has always been false doctrine, but now we no longer are calling people to repent from false beliefs about Christ, we just bypass that to get them to pray with us as quickly as possible. This is not Biblical and I am very afraid that we are filling our baptismal tanks and our church membership roles with people who have prayed but have never "obeyed the gospel of Christ."
Before you begin to draw conclusions about this post that are not accurate, let me quickly say, I believe strongly in aggressive evangelistic efforts. I believe that it is the obligation of EVERY New Testament Church to preach the gospel to EVERY creature. Saturday, we will be out in our community passing out gospel tracts and inviting sinners to come to the Saviour! But with these efforts, there will also be an emphasis on understanding the gospel not praying a prayer. Over the next few blog posts, I will share some Biblical Keys to Biblical Evangelism from the Word of God.