The Master Deceiver
Remember, the enemy is a MASTER deceiver. A deceiver imitates and/or misuses truth; therefore, Satan counterfeits every spiritual gift of Romans 12 and Galatians 5. As a deceiver, his specialty is not obvious works of the flesh; rather, it is “truth” misused to serve his purpose. What would the enemy do to prevent one from seeing and/or acting on his need of the substitutionary death of Christ? Would he not give the necessary feelings and good works to prevent one from coming to Christ as his Substitute and Saviour? Would he not give “conviction of sin” if that “feeling” would draw a person away from Christ and to something else? He is the deceiver and an expert at using peoples’ emotions. [Rev 12:9. The devil is a spirit, specializing in working with man’s spirit against God’s spirit.] Also, one’s refusal to believe that he can be deceived will give the enemy greater ability to draw him away from the truth. [2 Tim 3:13; Jam 1:22]
The little girl, unless the Spirit intervenes, will always look back and say, “I’m saved because I did what they told me: I asked Jesus into my heart.” She may go on to understand the necessity of trusting Christ, but until she gives up what she was told as a six year old and realizes that she is a lost sinner on her way to hell who must come to Christ to pay for her sins, she will not enter into the Kingdom of God. In other words, we cannot “grow” into salvation; it is a one time event of being born again preceded by the presentation and understanding of Christ’s atoning work for them.
Our responsibility is to emphasize, as simply as possible, the atoning work of Christ and the sinner’s need to repent and trust in that work for his sin payment. It is the Spirit’s responsibility to make it understandable. Anything less than this is another Jesus.
To tell a person he will be saved by “Asking God to forgive his sins and asking Jesus into his heart, then trusting Christ to do that” avoids His atoning work and gives a false assurance of salvation which will take a supernatural working of the Holy Spirit to remove.
For our own benefit, we need to be reminded that the Holy Spirit MUST convict of sin and open the understanding to the Gospel. Far too often, we try to do the Holy Spirit’s work; it is HIS job to convict of sin and draw the sinner to Christ. If the Spirit’s drawing is not present, in Christ’s words, there can be no salvation. [Jn 6:37-45; 15:16; 16:8]
Back to Matt. 7:21: “…but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” Here we have two points. First, 2 Peter 3:9: it is “not God’s will that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Luke 13:3-5 also covers this: Repentance, a turning around, is required. But a turning from what? It is a turning from the sin for which a person is already condemned, especially his refusal to trust Christ as his Substitute and Saviour. [Jn 3:18; 6:39]
Therefore, God’s primary will is that all men should turn from their own ways of salvation to God’s way of salvation. Furthermore, the Father’s will is defined in John 6:39, 40: that we believe, that is, trust in His completed work, and, in doing so, have everlasting life.
There is a way that seemeth right unto man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. It seems right to be saved by “Asking Christ to save you,” but the end of that way is death to the sinner if he has not understood and trusted in the atoning work of Christ. The sinner must turn from his way to a complete dependence in what Christ has done in his place, “the just for the unjust,” and accept His payment in the sinner’s place.
The context of Luke 13:1-5 indicates that the ones to whom the Lord spoke when He said, “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish,” were religious hypocrites who displayed correct outer actions yet refused to turn from their way to God’s way. [Lk 12:56. Hodge gives us an extremely good insight on these religious leaders; they had a total, but false, assurance of heaven because they were circumcised decedents of Abraham. Charles Hodge, ROMANS, Geneva Series, Banner of Truth Trust, pg. 63. Therefore, what the Lord said here was “fighting words” to His hearers.] In other words, the Lord’s strong message to repent here is given to the outwardly moral person.
Matthew 7:21, “…will of my Father…” John 6:29, “Jesus answered and said unto them, this is the work of God, that ye believe (trust) on him whom he hath sent.” [Compare this with Rev 20:12; I Jn 3:23.] The only work that will please God for heaven is trusting Christ as our Substitute and Saviour. Thus both the will and the work of the Father for salvation is the same: trusting, receiving what Christ has done for us.
Matthew 7:21-23 tells of a person who had called upon the name of the Lord (“Lord, Lord”) without instruction in, and understanding of, the atoning work of Christ for him, and of his necessity of trusting in that work alone for the payment of his sin. “…Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name…” Many have preached great sermons and won many to the Lord; however, a person’s preaching of the gospel or leading multitudes to the Lord does not mean he is born again. “…and in Thy name cast out devils, and in Thy name done many wonderful works.” Many have worked bus routes, sung in church choirs, taught Sunday School classes, entered into great missionary endeavors, accomplished tremendous social programs and even held important church offices. But the Lord forbids looking back on those wonderful endeavors with the thought, “I wouldn’t be doing all of these things if I weren’t saved.” [Rev 19:10, “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Telling others about Christ or “prophecy” does not mean we are saved.]
Notice what the Lord will say to them: “…I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity…” The Lord tells these “Christian workers” that they are workers of iniquity because they had never trusted in the atoning work of Christ.
The devil is smart deceiver! He will not come as a roaring lion to Bible believers who profess to love God; he will come as a purring kitten, as a minister of righteousness, as a minister of Christ. He will not come with a blatant departure from the truth; he will come in crabways along side the truth with something that looks, sounds and feels like the truth. He will attempt to present his message as being the same as the truth, but, when exposed to the light of God’s total word, it is clearly not the truth.
Both Paul and Peter warn of heresies, that is, erroneous opinions which are a substitute for the truth, that might accompany the truth within the church. [1 Cor 11:19; 2 Pet 2:1-3] They warn of a quiet subverting of the gospel from the atoning work of Christ by something that approximates the truth. [For an excellent treatment of this, see “Barnes’ Notes, James-Jude,” p 236, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI] Heresy is not an obvious departure from sound doctrine. Predominately, heresy is something passed offhand accepted along with the truth. It is among you, from within the fellowship of believers, not from without. Privily speaks of the very “subtle” manner of introduction. Our enemy is an expert at bringing in his subtle departure from the truth completely unnoticed until he has control. [See Vine’s Dictionary, “Treatment of Heresy,” p 574, and “Privily,” p 887, Riverside Book and Bible House, Iowa Falls, IA]
If a person feels he is saved because he has “Asked Jesus to come into his heart and life and has trusted Him to do that (&c.),” yet at the time was not properly instructed in the necessity of trusting Christ as his Substitute and Saviour, then there is a problem. There can be no salvation apart from the clear instruction of what Christ has done for the sinner and his trust in Him to take the sinner’s place.
As we have presented the preceding message, we have seen the Spirit work to bring questions in the hearts of many individuals. Our purpose is not to create confusion; our purpose is most certainly to shake those things which can be shaken. [Heb 12:27] Here is what we suggest for those who feel shaken over the preceding message: 1.) they should put aside everything they have been taught, 2.) they should lay aside all confidences which they might receive from their good works, 3.) they should lay aside all assurance that others might try to give them, e.g. “If anyone is saved, you are.”
Then they should completely read the Book of John, and 1 John, at least once with a burning desire for the Lord to speak to them regardless of what they believe or want to believe. Furthermore, they should ask God to take away anything they might be depending on other than Christ. They should ask God to reveal their true conditions to themselves either by taking away all false assurance or by giving a firm passage for assurance. All of these suggestions are based upon 2 Corinthians 4:3-6 and Philippians 3:15 claiming the work and light of the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth about one’s salvation.
Through prayer and searching of the Word, many times we have seen God move, opening an individual’s understanding of the work of Christ for him, and the sinner fleeing to Christ as his Substitute and Saviour.
No doubt the NUMBER ONE lie among Bible-believing people today is: “You must ask Jesus into your heart to be saved and trust him to do that (come into your heart),” etc. But look at what this is saying! “You are saved because you asked Jesus into your heart.” There is no Scriptural support for this false plan of salvation which is devastating to the cause of Christ; it places the emphasis upon a prayer that is said and what the sinner can do rather than upon what Christ has done.
An objection might be: “I don’t see any difference.” Okay, then why not change the message to something that reflects the person’s placing his trust in the finished work of Christ’s substitutionary payment in the sinner’s place?
Then the objection might be, “But not everyone is able to understand that message.” If we accept this argument, we say we must reduce the gospel to the level of the natural man, removing from it the work of the Holy Spirit.
What has happened to the plain, simple and clear plan of salvation as preached by past saints of God? “…The simple act of relying upon Jesus as your Substitute and Saviour puts away your guilt and sin forever… (CHS)” It cannot be said any better.
It is not an act of praying, but it is an act of faith. There will be none in heaven because they prayed and turned their lives over to God or because they asked the Lord to save them, etc. We will be there only because of what Christ did for us and our simple faith in His work. A lost person’s growth into this faith, his “I didn’t understand back then, but I do now,” is no more possible than is evolution. The Scripture teaches a new creation, not an evolution of the old. The enemy, a master deceiver, knows and uses our weak points. [Gen 3:1; Jn 8:44]
We pray this little work has been a help for you. If God has used this to speak to your heart, let us encourage you to take the proper action in this most important of all matters. First, one must realize he is a sinner without hope. Second, he must recognize that he can do nothing at all to avoid the wages of that sin. Third, Christ paid it all through His atoning sacrifice, enduring what we should endure. Fourth, the sinner must rely upon Jesus as his Substitute for his sins and as his Saviour. Fifth, this simple act puts away all guilt of sin forever the moment one puts his complete trust in the Lord Jesus Christ to pay the penalty for his sins.
We have found that the deception dealt with herein is so well entrenched today that a one time confrontation against this false doctrine has very little effect upon it. It took a consistent confrontation over a period of many months before the Holy Spirit was able to start exposing this lie with His truth at our Baptist Church. When He started moving, we saw over 50% of our church members saved. His Word is a hammer, and the stronger the grip of false doctrine, the more it must be hammered at and chipped away a little at a time. The first time this rock is struck there may not even be a chip, but it will break if we do not grow weary.
See here for this entire study.