POPULAR GOSPEL SUBSTUTUTES
There exists today a collection of pity little aphorisms, which, though not always espousing salvation by works, are empty, meaningless, and incapable of imparting a saving knowledge of the person and work of Christ. By substituting these pithy little aphorisms for the authentic gospel, grave damage has been done to the cause of Christ.
Because it is impossible to anticipate every corruption of the gospel that fallen man may concoct, we offer, not as exhaustive, but by way of example, the following as false gospel substitutes:
"Invite Jesus into your heart,"
"Make a personal commitment to Christ,"
"Put Christ on the throne of your life,"
"Give your life to Christ,"
"Commit your life to Christ,"
"Give your heart to God,"
"Turn your life over to Jesus,"
We believe that there are at least six grave dangers set before the church in the use of these, and similar contemporary gospel substitutes and popular aphorisms:
1. Even when presented fully and accurately, the gospel is camouflaged by such nonsense, thereby hindering the effectiveness of the gospel message from illuminating the way of salvation to those who know not Christ.
2. Oftentimes, essential elements of the gospel message are excised entirely from the message of the evangelist in order to make room for the addition of more nonsensical aphorisms, thereby robbing such messages of any capacity for imparting a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
3. The gospel is often contradicted by works-oriented invitations such as requiring an unbeliever to "make a personal commitment to Jesus Christ," which is, in its essence, a requirement of a promise of future works in exchange for salvation. The gospel is not how we must "commit our life to Christ." The gospel is that Christ committed His life to us at Calvary. The requirement that the unbeliever "commit his life to Jesus" is NOT "basically the same thing in different words." It is 180 degrees opposite of the message of salvation. It is heresy, it is a false gospel, and it is high time that the true church of Jesus Christ stopped tolerating such false gospels as "just a different expression of the gospel."
4. By such silly aphorisms, the unregenerate are given a false assurance of salvation through a meaningless profession of faith, thereby discouraging further inquiry into the most important question in the universe: "What must I do to be saved?"
5. Those unregenerate who subsequently lapse from their confused "profession of faith" are more likely to become hardened to the gospel, having seen the emptiness and worthlessness of what they understood to be biblical true Christianity.
6. The true believer who is not firmly grounded in the clarity of the gospel is likely to redefine his understanding of the gospel message according to how he hears it repeatedly presented. Though this will not impact the salvation of a true believer, it will cripple him in his ability to meaningfully share the gospel. Multiplication cannot take place when a believer is crippled in his understanding of the gospel, or his ability to communicate it to others.