Should Christians engaging in evangelism counsel the lost to ask Jesus Christ to come into their hearts, rather than employing Scriptural terms and Scriptural explanations for how the gospel is embraced, such as “repent,” “believe,” “come to Christ,” and so on? The following testimony, by a man who was a Bible-believing Baptist pastor and zealous evangelist, but was unconverted because he had been led to embrace and propogate the unscriptural terminology and methodology of calling on the lost to ask Christ into their hearts, should both be enlightening and a warning both to those who employ this methodology and to those who heard it at the time of their professed conversion to evaluate their conversion and their evangelistic practice by Scripture.
The Other Jesus:
The Gospel Perverted
Pastor Ovid Need, Jr.
“For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus…” 2 Corinthians 11:4. “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel… and would pervert the gospel of Christ,” Galatians 1:6. The warning from God is quite clear: false prophets abound who preach another Jesus, another gospel, a perverted gospel which is no gospel at all. [Mat 7:13, 14]
We greatly underestimate the enemy of our souls. We can fully expect him to have a false plan of salvation to present to Bible believers; it will be an exact duplicate of the real thing, yet miss the truth just enough to miss Biblical salvation. The enemy will not deny the blood atonement nor the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures, yet he will not place the blood atonement in its proper place. Of course, his plan would have to be so close to the truth that it would look exactly like the truth, thereby avoiding detection by even the ‘best scholars.’ [From this preacher’s experience, only those who have been caught in the deception are readily able to understand the perverted gospel’s devastating closeness to the truth, yet the lost condition of those in it.]
Though the perverted gospel claims the blood atonement, it avoids it ever so slightly just enough to miss eternal life. Can we expect anything less from the best deceiver ever created, the father of lies?
In these next few pages, we will attempt to look past the apparent perfect message, which makes the perversion so appealing, so that we might see its underlying perversion.
Many who read this will say, “You are splitting hairs.” Certainly! The father of lies is an expert at splitting hairs and misusing words. Did he not try to misuse the words of Scripture with the Lord Jesus? We can be assured that he will do no less to those today who believe God’s Word; what better place to misuse words than in the plan of salvation? [Mat 4:6] One of the primary responsibilities of a teacher of God’s Word is to “divide asunder the soul and spirit, and… the joints and marrow” with the word of God. [Heb 4:12]
This perverted plan probably has come into wide acceptance since the ’40’s. [Undoubtedly, it is deeply rooted in the “Christian” Mystics of old who longed for some kind of a mystical experience with God.] It is centered around various basic instructions:
“You must ask Jesus into your heart to be saved – You must ask Jesus to save you – If you will pray and turn your life over to God, you will be saved – You must pray and trust the Lord to take you to heaven – You must pray and trust the Lord to come into your heart to save you – Receive God (Christ) into your heart, life, etc.”
There are abundant variations on this idea, none of which emphasize – most avoid completely – the absolute necessity of trusting in the substitutionary death and payment of Christ for our sins. As we will see, all of Scripture points to this “Ask Jesus into your heart” plan of salvation as being the perverted plan of the other Jesus of Paul’s warning [Gal 1:6-9; 2 Cor 11:1-4, 13-15]. (Try to fit the idea of “Ask Jesus into your heart” into the law of the atoning sacrifice in the Old Testament. Were the people commanded to ask the bullock to come into their hearts or to turn their lives over to the bullock? [Lev 1:4] The only thing that will work according to the Old Testament sacrificial law is trust in the Sinless Sacrifice to pay the sin debt in the place of the repentant sinner. All of the Lord’s statements, e.g., John 3, must be viewed in the light of the Old Testament sacrificial law.) “Implicit in this justification is the substitutionary sacrifice for sin sincerely offered as noted in Ps 51:16-19. The righteousness of God’s heirs of salvation is the righteousness of the Messiah attributed to them by God through faith in the redemptive work of Messiah in which God declares them righteous only because of the grace provided through that redemptive work.” TWOT, Moody Press, pg. 755. This could not be any clearer. Any other emphasis is the devil’s lie.
The perverted gospel seemingly has all of the right words, feelings and works. [2 Cor 4:3-6] Its counterfeit is so perfect that only a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit can separate it from the truth. The true plan of salvation was best described by C.H. Spurgeon: “The gospel is that Jesus Christ suffered in the place of all sinners who trust Him as their Saviour; that He endured what they ought to have endured and made atonement to God for all the sins that they would ever commit; and if you thus trust Him, you are saved. The simple act of relying upon Jesus as your Substitute and Saviour puts away your guilt and sin forever.” He continues, “Pride must come down, self-righteousness must die, and the sinner must glorify the grace of God by knowing that he has no merit of his own, or he cannot be saved. … Say, ‘Lord, I deserve to die; I deserve to perish; I deserve to be destroyed. I will have no cavils with Thee about my sentence, for how can a worm dispute with the Almighty? Who am I that I should reply against my Maker?’
“When you have taken that position, rely upon the freeness of divine grace. Grasp, as with a death-clutch, this great fact and say, ‘Lord, Thou dost forgive sinners for Thine own name’s sake. Thou canst not find anything in us that is good, anything that can move Thee to pity! But, oh, by Thy mercy and Thy love, let men see what a gracious God thou art! For Thy great name’s sake have mercy upon us, and save us!’”
“You can plead that Jesus said, ‘Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out.’ [Jn 6:37].
“Let the wicked forsake his ways, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God for He will abundantly pardon.”
“I cast aside all my former confidences, and all my boastings, and come as the worst sinner must come, for I feel that, in some respects, I am the worst sinner who ever came to thee. I come as an utterly lost, undone, bankrupt sinner, and I look to the atoning sacrifice of Jesus for all I need.” [Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Vol. 53, Sermon “Rule of Grace,” pp 500-502, Pilgrim Publications, Pasadena TX]
Observe: First, we must realize we are sinners without hope. Second, we must recognize that we can do nothing at all to avoid the wages of our sin. Third, we must understand that Christ paid all the penalty for our sin 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 the guilt of sin forever. Anything less than this is not Biblical salvation. If these basic things are not made clear to the sinner before he makes a profession, then it is impossible for him to be saved. [Eph 1:12-14]
The sinner is saved because he has trusted in what Christ has already done; he has trusted in Christ to pay his debt for him, to pay what he should have paid: “To endure what he ought to have endured.” Then the Spirit of Christ comes to dwell in the heart of the believer. One is not saved because he asks the Spirit of Christ to come to dwell in him. If salvation were the result of the Spirit of Christ coming to dwell in a person, there would have been no need of the atoning sacrifice of Christ.
Notice the order in Ephesians 1:13, 14: “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance…” It matters not how much the sinner wept, the degree of conviction, his sincerity or the intensity of the emotional experience involved, if the substitutionary payment of Christ’s atoning work was not made understandably clear. How could he trust in something he didn’t know about?
We fail to recognize the tenacity of our soul’s enemy. Luke 9 records a man who brought his son to Jesus for help, and right at the feet of Christ, the devil made a final effort for the boy. (As he was yet coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him, v. 42.) The Enemy has not changed! Many with the world’s best intentions have been offered something else by the devil as a last ditch effort to keep them from trusting in the atoning sacrifice of Christ.
We have heard pastors preach “Trust Christ as your Saviour,” yet we see their congregations go out and spread the “gospel” as “You must ask Jesus into your heart to be saved.” Where is the salvation in this? The simplicity that is in Christ is “You must trust Christ to pay the penalty of your sin.” The other Jesus is: “You must trust Jesus to come into your heart.” Look at the two completely different things for which Christ is being trusted: one, you are trusting Him to pay the penalty for your sin; the other, you are trusting Him to come into your heart. There is a clear distinction between the two.
The argument arises, “Brother Need, you are arguing over semantics. All the best scholars agree that the two mean the same.” Being without Scriptural foundation, their argument is heretical because there is not one contextual Scripture which will support salvation as a result of trusting Christ to come into one’s heart. A text without a context is a pretext. [2 Pe 3:16]
Obviously, the dividing line between the two plans is only a hair’s width, maybe only a word or two. But let us be reminded that our enemy specializes in splitting hairs and misusing words. His specialty is making a verse say something that it does not actually say.
See here for this entire study.