Christ we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. 29 To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily. (Colossians 1:28-29)
The goal of this article is to warn about the oversimplification of the gospel. In a rush to get as many people saved as possible, it is easy to just say, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved. Pray this prayer after me and you will receive eternal life.” Many people may pray the prayer and have no idea who Jesus is and what they are saved from.
When my goal was to get people to pray the prayer, I realized I could get anyone from a small group of children to over 50 men to pray the prayer by asking them in about eight sentences. Almost 100% would pray the prayer. I was thrilled. The surprise came when I got feedback about what they thought they had done.
Many people looked at it as though they had got a measles or chicken pox shot, and they were set for life. They had no idea what chicken pox or measles were, but they knew they could now have a happy life and never think about measles or chicken pox again. If I started to bring up going to church or turning from sin, then they became angry. They thought they were all done. They had done what I wanted; they prayed the prayer. Now God owed them eternal life.
What were the eight sentences that they heard?
I have some bad news. You have blue disease. Blue disease is very bad and causes death. I have some good news. A doctor gave us the cure to blue disease. The cure is really easy. Just bow your head and the doctor will magically give you the cure for blue disease. Once you have been cured of blue disease, you will never die.
I am not trying to make light of the gospel or set a benchmark that you have to spend a minimum number of hours with a person before inviting them to repent and turn to Jesus. My goal is to prevent the lie that praying a prayer is all we need to know and all God wants. Praying to Jesus is an act of turning to God and marks a person’s understanding that they need to turn to God.
Turning to Jesus is the beginning of a relationship, not the end. The relationship starts on earth and continues into eternity. The foundation for the relationship is everything God has said in the Bible. Every book of the Bible helps you understand God more and will bring you into deeper relationship with Him.