Thursday, August 21, 2014

How Much Does A Person Have to Know to Be Saved?

The other day I was drug once again in that age old "discussion" of how much gospel does a person need in order to become a Christian. Another way of saying this is how simple can the gospel be made so that people can still be converted. Or just how much does a person need to know or be told in order to "get saved?"

Quite frankly I have disliked this discussion for quite some time. I have always felt that both the Lord and the gospel end up with the short end of the stick on this one. 

Those who are shallow in bible understanding and those who think that the gospel must be so simplistic, strip the gospel of vital information. I have heard some gospel presentations that were barely above Amway invitations. 

Do you remember those old Amway ambushes? Your friend, or a "couple" invited you to "dinner" or "snacks" and wouldn't tell you anything more. Then when the evening began you discovered you were a "target" set up in an ambush to be suckered into Amway. Oh, did I say suckered, did I mean to say solicited?

Stop and think about it for a minute will you? First, why do some people think the gospel should be so stripped down and so simple? 

That's easy-peasy! They don't think the "target" will get it. They don't think the "lost soul" that they are "sharing" the gospel with will understand it.

But wait a minute, what does I Corinthians 2:14 say? "The natural person [the unsaved individual in his/her natural state] does not accept [receive- with the view of understanding] the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly [foolishness] to him, and he is not able to understand them [why?] because they are spiritually discerned. (I Corinthians 2:14, ESV)

Until the Holy Spirit sovereignly chooses to regenerate an individual they will not and cannot understand spiritual truths. They cannot understand the spiritual principle, the spiritual truth, the spiritual motivation and animation behind biblical truth. It is true that faith comes by hearing the Word of God, but faith does not come until the Holy Spirit has imparted the gift of faith as He imparts spiritual life. Regeneration by the Holy Spirit then faith and repentance comes as the lost soul understands and repents by faith.

So, I think sharing the gospel is somewhat similar to answering the question most parents fear the most, "where do babies come from?" The most intelligent response gives just enough information to satisfy the child who has asked the question. 

Avoid two extremes - avoid giving a university level dissertation on reproduction and avoid giving so little information that the questioner is confused, unsatisfied, or seeks information elsewhere.

Share enough biblical truth based on your "hearers" abilities,background, circumstances, intelligence level, and/or need. Give the full gospel - don't hold back.

The "success" of the gospel, the person's salvation that you are dealing with is NOT DEPENDENT UPON YOU! God will save those whom He has ordained to eternal life. It is not up to you to get anyone to "sign on the dotted line." Your job is to prayerfully, graciously, and humbly share the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ and then to water that freshly planted seed with fervent prayer. God will give the increase to those whom He chooses in His timing,

So, go into all the world, as ambassadors of Christ, being witnesses to His death, burial, and resurrection. Preach, teach, and share the entire gospel news with every creature. Bear precious seed and you will return rejoicing bringing your sheaths with you.

And by the way, don't give me that asinine rubbish about "Share the gospel - and use words if necessary." The very fact that we are to preach, proclaim, or share the gospel requires words! Think about these things and don't naively accept them because they first, sound good, and second, sound "christianese." 


WiseRosy said...

Personally if you have heard of Christmas, Easter, then you have heard of Christ. If you have heard of Christ and believe then you're a Christian.
Great to hear from you Gregg.

Larri said...

I don't really have a response for you, Gregg. Just wanted you to know I've read and re-read this post a couple of times, and even discussed it on twitter. You've got me truly pondering how to answer the title's question. Thanks!

lyn said...

I have to disagree with Yvonne's simplistic 'if you have heard of Christ and believe you are a Christian'. Verbal professions do not assure anyone of genuine salvation; the doctrines of grace have been all but excluded in most of today's preaching/teaching. Here is a brief quote from A.W. Pink, "“The terrible thing is that so many preachers today, under the pretence of magnifying the grace of God, have represented Christ as the Minister of sin; as One who has, through His atoning sacrifice, procured an indulgence for men to continue gratifying their fleshly and worldly lusts. Provided a man professes to believe in the virgin birth and vicarious death of Christ, and claims to be resting upon Him alone for salvation, he may pass for a real Christian almost anywhere today, even though his daily life may be no different from that of the moral worldling who makes no profession at all. The Devil is chloroforming thousands into hell by this very delusion.” —A. W. Pink (1886–1952) - from Pink's book entitled 'practical Christianity' -

Regeneration and repentance are key, essential doctrines that many are absolutely clueless on. Let us bear in mind, even the demons believe....and shudder. If stating you believe in Christ is the only thing that stands between you and the lake of fire, then multitudes who now live in willful sin, those who claim to be 'gay Christians', for example, would enter heaven based on some people's theology. However,the Bible is very clear - you must repent, or perish. You must be born again, or you will not see the kingdom of God.

Gregg Metcalf said...

Yvonne - In all humility and with no disrespect to you, your definition of a Christian is not correct. It is what most people think but it doesn't line up with God's Word. Remember the demons believe, they even do more than believe, they tremble. There is more than believing.

Larri - I appreciate that you don't have a response. Thanks for reading it and even discussing it. Hope you got my drift and you and yours do think through this, so many think they are saved and they are not.

Lyn - you are right on! I agree with you as you probably already know. Thanks for your insightful comment and the quoting of A. W. Pink.

lyn said...


You are right in stating that many think they are saved, and they aren't. They base their salvation on their verbal profession, they've been misled by others who tell them to repeat prayers, or make decisions. They trot the Roman road out there as if that were the proof of verbal confessions being all one needs for salvation. The Gospel of Christ is good news; sinners have no hope apart from trusting in the atoning work of the Son of God. As you so rightly state, we are not responsible for results. The ministerial work of God the Spirit in regeneration is a teaching seldom found in American churches; it's easier to get sinners to repeat prayers and make decisions, to walk aisles or fill out cards- then boast of the number of people who 'got saved' under the preaching of the man who doesn't have a right to take the holy word of God upon his lips, let alone profess to be called to preach.

May God bless your ministry as you stand firm on His truth.