Hardness & Hostility
A man who represented Accelerated Christian Education in our area once told me in the midst of an intense discussion about the plan of salvation presented in ACE’s material: “All the best scholars agree that the terms are the same—Ask Jesus into your heart and trust Christ as your substitute.” He went on to say that if what we were saying was correct then he was lost. That ended the conversation, for it was then obvious he was not defending God’s Word; rather, he was defending a false profession.
We confronted a missionary who worked with a printing ministry in the South over the false plan of salvation used in their materials. After a lengthy, heated discussion, he said that he had asked Jesus into his heart here in our church many years ago, and if that did not save him, then he was not saved.
We have found that those who become the most “hostile” over what we are saying are more often than not unsaved themselves. They are defending their own false profession of faith as surely as a man defends a city. Normally, their defense is not Scriptural, and if they admit that what is presented herein is true, they must admit that what they have is false. On the other hand, those who have trusted Christ rejoice over the message contained herein.
Not one time in Scripture is there even a hint that one can be saved by asking Jesus into his heart; it is a false plan of salvation being used by the devil to draw multitudes down the broad road to destruction.
The man from ACE said, “Boy, you sure are narrow!” when I would not consider any argument except Scripture. Yes! I am; furthermore, the Lord was very narrow, calling all others thieves and robbers. [Jn 10]
A Personal Testimony
The truth presented herein is largely overlooked in our day; therefore, I realize many who read this will not understand what we are trying to say. But, obviously, the risk is far too great to dismiss this lightly.
Though I am apprehensive about mentioning personal experience (the Spirit deals with individuals as individuals), I think it would be useful to mention that this little booklet is written from personal experience. This preacher was “deceived” by this other gospel for many years. Whereas there are “other gospels” which are just as dangerous as the one presented herein, this one appears to be the most prevalent today. Our prayer is that the Holy Spirit might see fit to use this little booklet to perform the same work in others which he did in this preacher’s life at 11:30 A.M., Oct. 29, 1977. Please do not attempt to compare experiences, for our only comparison must be with the Word of God. The Lord deals with unique individuals, and calls each to Himself in His unique way within the bounds of His Word.
When I got out of the Service in 1965, I worked construction during the day and took some evening Bible College courses. Our church had a large bus ministry, and the head of the bus ministry talked me into driving a bus, then into taking a bus route. The Lord allowed a successful bus route, so successful in fact, that when he left I was asked to take over the ministry. While I was there, the Lord dealt with my heart about salvation.
I had gone forward as a nine-year old child. I am certain I went through all the proper religious motions because I was baptized at that time. As I got older, I could remember nothing about it, and the message I kept hearing was, “If you can’t remember asking Jesus into your heart, then you aren’t saved.” I could not remember; therefore, one evening, in deep emotional distress, I went to one of my instructors saying, “I need to talk to you.” He took me into his office and I told him, “I’m not saved.”
“Ovid,” he said, “if anyone is saved, you are.”
I replied, “No, I’m not. Show me how to be saved.” He proceeded to show me that I needed to ask Jesus into my heart which I did.
The Lord moved us to another church where, once again, we were placed in charge of the “soul-winning” visitation and the bus ministry. With very few exceptions, each Sunday we had someone whom we had “led to the Lord” in their homes, walk down the aisle and publicly profess asking Jesus into their hearts.
After three years, we went on to the staff of another church and again were given charge of the soul-winning visitation program. Here my job included door-to-door “soulwinning,” as well as following up the new children from the buses. I spent six hours a day, five days a week, doing this. In my files I still have record of close to 1,000 names and addresses of those whom I led to pray, “Jesus, come into my heart, and save me.” The only reason I mention this is to point out that, in this particular area, I am not a novice. I have been there.
I noticed something different about the pastor at this new church. He used a soul-winning plan called “Circles and Steps” which he picked up from Tom Wallace. I saw the difference in this presentation as he pointed out the necessity of the substitutionary death of Christ before he said to the prospect, “If you are willing to trust Christ as your Saviour, take my hand.”
I felt this was a much better way of presenting the Gospel, so I changed the plan I used from “Ask Jesus into your heart to save you,” to “Take my hand to show you are trusting in Christ as your Substitute and Saviour.”
I had no problems with this until my pastor and I held a Christian workers’ conference in a little church in Missouri beside the Mississippi River. At the conference, I was teaching a class on soul-winning and was speaking about how so many people believed they were saved because they had walked down the aisles, shook the preacher’s hand and told him they believed that Christ died and rose again (Romans 10:9, 10). Then they would go on to be baptized, yet their sincerity didn’t save them. A lady on the back row raised her hand and said, “If that’s true, then I’m not saved.” Others raised their hands speaking their agreement with her.
I had to call in my pastor for help in leading them to trust in Christ. Everyone in attendance that afternoon was saved except the host church’s pastor, his wife, and a visiting pastors wife. 45 Christian workers from the area’s churches were saved.
As we made the 10-hour drive back home the following day, I was devastated, and wept most of the way. The question which kept burdening my heart was, “How could so many good, sincere people be so wrong?”
The next day, as we met with our ladies to send them out soul-winning, I told of what had happened in Missouri. As I did, I saw the lady who was in charge of our church’s nursery program began weeping. I gave an invitation, and she raised her hand. I sent her to my office to talk to her after dismissing the others. As I walked into the office, she said, “You got me, didn’t you?” Surprised over what happened, I led her to trust in Christ.
Later that day, as I drove back to the church following some hospital visits, the thought occurred to me: “Ovid, how do you know you are going to heaven?”
“Because I have asked Jesus into my heart,” was my reply, knowing that was not the right answer. I was then reminded that I had just led a lady to trust in Christ as her Substitute and Saviour who had my false hope.
I wrestled with the matter, arguing, “I wouldn’t be soul-winning every day if I wasn’t saved. . . . I wouldn’t be teaching the adult Bible Class. . . . I wouldn’t be scheduled to be ordained if I wasn’t saved.” (At this point I was the Associate Pastor, had been licensed by the church, was doing most of the baptisms and was going to be ordained in a few weeks.) “I wouldn’t be doing all of these Bible-based religious activities if I wasn’t saved.”
We had taken a $600-per-month cut in pay to come to this church. I was spending four hours each morning with the Lord, as well as fasting and spending one night a week in prayer. As I thought on these things, I understood that I was basing my salvation upon all of my good works. (“I wouldn’t be doing all these things if I wasn’t saved.”) Furthermore, I remembered that God was not and would not be impressed with my good deeds.
Still not wanting to give in, I fled to some standard excuses which I had confronted so many times in others: “Well, I didn’t understand about the substitutionary death back then, but I do now.” Then I remembered that we do not believe in evolution. The final argument to fall was, “What will people think?” The answer to this was the one I had used so many times with others: “Which is worse, hell or what people think?” [These were all answers that I had used to convince others of their lost conditions. My own arguments were coming back against my false hope.]
I put off a decision for another day, until Saturday morning. When I could avoid the issue no longer, I called the pastor at his office. He came into my office, and I told him I had to be saved. His response was that he knew; every time he had asked me how I knew I was saved, I had answered, “Because I prayed and ask the Lord to save me,” or, “Because I prayed and accepted Jesus Christ into my heart and life.” I saw myself that morning as one who was trying to climb into heaven by some means other than through what Christ had done for me.
This pastor was caught in the trap; I must say with Paul in Philippians 3, I now count it all lost. I had spent 12 years under this false plan of salvation; I taught it, practiced it and told people by the thousands that they would be saved if they would “pray and ask Jesus into their hearts,” when all the time I had nothing and probably gave them the same nothing.
I fled to Romans 10:13 and Revelation 3:20, but using them alone wrests them from their contexts. Romans 10:13 is based on Romans 5:8 and 10:9-14, Revelation 3:20 is to a specific church. Anything less than a clear presentation of the atoning work of Christ is not the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ; it is another Jesus, 2 Cor 11:3 & Gal 1:6. Anything less than trust in what He has done is not Biblical salvation. Every Bible scholar in the world can say differently, but that will not change God’s Word—“Yea, let God be true and every man a liar” [Rom 3:4]. It is not possible to be saved unless God’s plan is first clearly heard and understood.
Do not compare your experiences with this pastor’s or any other person’s.
Let Us Know
If God has used this to speak to your heart about salvation, please let us know so that we may both rejoice and be encouraged as we do what we can to advance the Kingdom of our God.
—By Ovid Need, Jr.
See here for this entire study.