Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Could Someone Be Saved When He Acknowledges He Believes Jesus Died for Him?

In now over three decades of regular evangelism, my outline of the gospel presents four points, the third of which is either worded, Jesus Paid the Penalty for Sin, or, Jesus Died for You.  Either way, I end that point by asking, Do you believe that Jesus died for you?  Almost everyone says, yes, to that question.  It occurs so often, that I would say everyone says, yes, to that question every time that I ask it.  The third point is not where the presentation of the gospel breaks down.  Many people without hesitation believe that Jesus died for them.

My question to you reader is, is someone saved who believes that Jesus died for him?  A lot of people believe that.  Do you think they're saved?  To be consistent, many should say, yes.  Almost none of the people, who say, Jesus died for me, at that point are saved.  If they are saved, they were already saved before I asked them that question.

Do you think anything is missing from what someone needs to believe, if he just believes that Jesus died for him?  What more needs to be believed?  More does need to be believed.

On the other hand, to be consistent, many churches should perhaps assume that someone is already saved because he does already believe that Jesus died for him.  This is more than what some churches expect someone to believe.  They ask the person to just reach out and accept the free gift of salvation or eternal life by praying for it.  That is less than believing that Jesus died for him.

When someone believes Jesus died for him, he is believing that Jesus is Savior.  Is that enough to be saved?  Someone will reach that point by the time I get to the third thing he needs to know in our presentation.  I never think that is enough.  Someone hasn't believed in Jesus Christ, when he merely believes that Jesus died for him.

When I present the gospel, I explain why the person needed Jesus to die for him.  I explain that I would die for him, but that wouldn't be good enough.  I'm a sinner.  At that point, I explain the Trinity, that Jesus is God, and that Jesus was sinless.  He could die a substitutionary death.  I most often also explain that Jesus shed His blood for him.  I explain what the blood of Jesus Christ did, does, and means to him.  I explain all of that, and when he believes that, I still don't believe that is a saved person.

What more does someone need to explain for someone to be saved?  Why isn't someone saved after that third point, when I ask, do you believe Jesus died for you?  He says, yes.  Everyone says, yes.  When I explain it, he saying, yes, to Jesus as God, Jesus as sinless, Jesus as having shed His blood, and Jesus shed blood as washing away sin?  When he says, yes, why wouldn't he be saved yet?  What's missing?


David Manohar said...

What's missing is Lordship. What's missing is repentance.
Most people from a Judeo-Christian background want a Savior,
but few want a Lord telling them what to do and how to live their lives.

Jeffrey P. said...

Romans 10:9 tells us what's missing: "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD, thou shalt be saved." The resurrection is part of the gospel- I Corinthians 15:3-4- and must be believed as well.

Tyler Robbins said...

What are the four points you use?

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks for the comments, which I will answer, but I want to see if someone else will comment, except for one comment.

When I start the presentation, I start by saying that Jesus ascended unto heaven after He was in the grave for three days and His resurrection from the dead. But before He ascended into heaven, in His resurrected body He told His followers to preach the gospel to everyone. What is the gospel? I ask. Very often on the third point, I also say that Jesus is God, even as seen in that He rose from the dead. He has power over death, which is a reason why He can save us. Thanks for the extra Jeffrey on Romans 10:9, and I will come back to that. Yes, usually someone I talk to has already heard by the third point that Jesus rose from the dead, after He died and was buried.

Andrew said...

I would go with Romans 10:9 as Jeffrey P. wisely pointed out. One has to confess, confession is a special kind of statement – if you shall confess the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

I think that is exactly right. One can only confess something they know to be true, otherwise it is not a confession. Especially in these two dictionary senses "To own, avow or acknowledge; publicly to declare a belief in and adherence to." Also, "To own, acknowledge or avow, as a fault, a charge, or something that is against one's interest, or reputation."

Greenfield in 1829 also gave this in his lexicon: "Ομολογία, ας, ἡ, a confession, profession, public declaration, 2 Co. 9. 13, 1 Ti. 6. 12, 13 ; meton. the thing professed, a covenant, in the sense of religion, He. 3. 1 ; 4. 14 ; 10. 23."

I might also bring up John 8:24, wherein it is said: "I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am, ye shall die in your sins."

This is another one of the direct claims of divinity of the Lord by himself in scripture. It's also made in Revelation 1:11 and elsewhere. Obviously for this to be true, those who do not believe Jesus that he said "I AM" shall surely die in their sins. In other words, for this to be true, to deny this rather than confessing it means one is not saved. Jehovah in the Hebrew Old Testament meant I AM, and consistently throughout the New Testament, which is just as much inspired this name is translated to the word "Lord," hence why it is consistent to represent the old Hebrew name as "Lᴏʀᴅ" in small capitals. This is also directly stated or we can say confessed equally in Philippians 2:10-11, as is eternal pre-existence in Colossians 1:15-17.

Now by common confession we are all born into this life as the children of wrath (Eph. 2:3) so then it is required in all of us that we should both be concluded under sin (Gal. 3:22) and count the cost (Luke 14:28-30) and turn away from idols, darkness to serve the living and true God (Act 26:18-20, 1 Thess. 1:9). That is to say, stop placing faith in them and to begin to place faith only in Christ, for salvation from the condemnation that has come into this world (Rom. 3:19, 4:15, John 3:19-20). And this is the first form of repentance (Acts 2:38), and the acceptance of the word (Acts 2:41) as opposed to the tasting and then rejection of it (Heb. 6:5-6). Following this we are come into the power of God rather than of this world and are preserved in Christ (1 Peter 1:5, Jude v. 1). By one's fruits they shall be known to any other brethren (Matth. 5:16, 7:20, James 2:14-26, 1 Cor. 4:1-4), (but by faith to God Rom. 4:2,5) for the truth is ultimately made manifest (1 John 2:19, 2 Tim. 3:9, Eccl. 12:14).

As Tyndale also once wrote (1525): "In the old testament are many promises, which are nothing else but the evangelion or gospell, to save those that believed them, from the vengeance of the law. And in the new testament is oft made mention of the law, to condemn them, which believe not the promises. Moreover the law and gospell may never be separate: for the gospell and promises serve but for troubled consciences which are brought to desperation and feel the pains of hell and death under the law, and are in captivity and bondage under the law. In all my deeds I must have the law before me to condemn mine unperfections. For all that I do (be I never so perfect) is yet damnable sin, when it is compared to the law, which requireth the ground and bottom of mine heart. I must therefore have always the law in my sight, that I may be meek in the spirit, and give God all the laud and praise, ascribing to him all righteousness, and to my self all unrighteousness and sin."

Bill Hardecker said...

In light of the New Testament letters of 1&2 Peter, 1,2,3 John, & Jude, you can guarantee that many who "believe" that Jesus died for their sins remain in sin. Their allegiance is to themselves and sin. And when we come across false brethren or mere professors, we ought to try every spirit, we ought to examine and judge and discern according to His word. It will help them, it will help the believer too, as he faithfully witnesses for the Lord. We ought to know and challenge apostasy.

akwatchman said...

I lived exactly what you are describing for over 20 years. Believed in Jesus, believed that He was the Son of God, that He died for me, that He died for my sins etc. I was faithful to church, read my Bible occasionally and evangelized once in a while. But I was still completely lost! What was missing? He was never my Lord (even though I used the word "Lord" frequently) It always seemed a little over the top to me when people spoke about Him as Lord, or talked about being born again and such. Those were the "really spiritual Christians." It would be kinda funny if it wasn't so heartbreaking. Almost everybody calling themselves a Christian is just like this, just like I used to be.

When you have an entire false concept of the gospel and of salvation and of yourself it can be very difficult for the light of the truth to break through that shell. There is no single person that would have been able to convince me that I wasn't saved. I was sure. The problem is that what I was sure about and was holding onto with all my might wasn't true salvation, it was really everything that I was doing, I was doing Christian stuff, ergo I was a Christian. The thing about repentance-less "Christianity" is that it is an exceedingly subtle form of works salvation. Your assurance comes from what you are doing. What you are holding onto isn't real, it's a mirage, it's a false gospel.

Praise God that the light of His Word finally broke through my delusion! That I finally understood repentance and faith and the interaction between those two essential parts of genuine salvation. You are not saved until He is the Lord Jesus Christ to YOU. And if He is anything less, then you have not sorrowed after a Godly sort and repented. And if you haven't repented, it proves that you haven't really believed.

In Christ,

Jed Smith

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks for all the comments. I don't disagree with any of them. All of them are true.

The four points we preach are:
1. We are all sinners (no one is good).
2. We deserve a penalty for sin, death: physical, spiritual, and eternal (we deserve Hell).
3. Jesus paid the penalty for sin, Jesus died for us.
4. We must believe in Jesus Christ.

We explain the response to Jesus dying for us is believing in Jesus Christ, not works, but what does it mean to believe in Jesus Christ. It means to repent, which means to stop rebelling against Him, to turn from your way to His way, to relinquish the control of your life to Him, the throne of your life to Him to follow Him as Lord, to believe that He is the Christ, the Messiah, the present and future King of all the earth. That is believing in Jesus Christ. It is not arbitrary, where you recognize He is King, but that He is King to you, reigning over your life now.

I use John 3:36, 18, 16, 5:24, Luke 13:3, 5, Luke 9:27-28, Romans 10:9,10,13, Luke 9:23-24, 1 Thessalonians 1:9, among others.

This is believing in Jesus Christ. Someone must believe He is Savior, but someone cannot remain in rebellion against Jesus Christ and be saved.

All of you intimated this and David and Jed both put it very well, I thought. Thanks for the participation. It will help people.

Tyler Robbins said...


Appreciate the article. One thing I find frustrating about teaching evangelism is that people often just want a script. They want to know what to say. But, real life isn't a script. A conversation can't be scripted. That's frustrating to people. They want to know how to naturally have a conversation about the Gospel, but you can't learn that in a classroom. You just have to speak to people.

Still, people do need a framework from which to springboard; a basic gospel structure to return to. Your four points are simple and clear.

Kent Brandenburg said...

I agree you've got to do more than a script. Someone should be able to have the raw material for the gospel, all the aspects, but there are strongholds that must be pulled down. Thanks.

Jon Gleason said...

Hi, Kent. You said this in your comment: "This is believing in Jesus Christ." It's a very good clarification. It reminds me that there's so much confusion about what "believing in Jesus Christ" means.

In John, pisteuo ("believe") is repeatedly followed by eis (translated "in") rather than en (also often translated "in"). But eis is often translated "into". The idea is that belief in Jesus is not merely just intellectual assent, it is as we might say today, "buying in."

You can't "buy in" to Jesus Christ without buying into what He says. If He said, "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish," and you don't believe that, you aren't believing in Him. If you don't >do< that, don't repent, you aren't believing that you need to do so to be saved, and if you aren't believing that, you aren't believing in Him.

I'd suggest, though, that it's not really your fourth point that is the determiner. It's the revealer. If someone really truly believes the first three points, the fourth point is obvious. The problem is that they never really believed that they needed Jesus to die for them, that He is who He is, and that He died for them. If they had believed that, they'd be believing in Him. It's because they are holding out on one of the first three (usually that they don't really think they needed Jesus to die for them) that they won't accept the fourth. Rejection of the fourth is the symptom that shows incomplete acceptance of the first three. They might have given mental assent but they haven't really believed.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks Jon. I agree.

akwatchman said...

Ran across this passage in Acts today that I wanted to add to this thread. It illustrates what we are discussing. Both Lord & Savior.

"Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ." Acts 2:36