False converts or “cheap grace” believers are going to hell. We certainly do not want to contribute to a false faith or delusion of salvation. A recent experience with a mom who chose life is the impetus for this article, as the issue arises continually! We have addressed this in past podcasts, but, it is of such significance, I think it is critical we continue to revisit this issue.
I am one of the writers for the Love Life blog. Recently, a mom who chose life gave birth. Her story was a compelling one, so I asked her if I could share her story. I had not spoken with her in months, since she had a mentor. I always back off once a mentor is in the picture.
The mom agreed to speak with me. We rehashed how I had met her and the very difficult circumstances that she had faced. She clearly recognized God’s hand in her life. She was even doing a Bible study with her mentor. She loved the mentor and all the help she was providing. YET, there were things she said that were red flags to me that she did not understand some basics of the Gospel.
As I explored further, it was clear she had a “works vs. faith” understanding of salvation, and was not at all assured she would go to heaven. She mentioned bouts of depression and deep concern and anxiety. She was still living with her boyfriend, and was not planning to marry as she was still not sure they had worked all issues out. This did not sound to me like someone who understood the meaning of “Jesus Is Lord.”
How to begin discussion
I always pray for the Holy Spirit to give me a door I can walk through into a Gospel discussion. It often arises as I ask questions and listen for the responses. In this case, she told me things were not right with her and God though she was working on it. That was my open door. I asked her where she thought she would go if she died today.
Ask questions and listen to answers
By asking why she felt she might or might not go to heaven, I was quickly convinced she did not understand the Gospel. She knew some catch phrases, but when I asked what they meant, she could not answer. As is often the case, she said she was mostly good and was sorry when she messed up. Basically, she had earned God’s favor. As the discussion evolved, it was clear she was not actually assured of that and it concerned her.
‘Never trust at face value when someone says they have submitted their life to Jesus, especially when what you see does not line up with a faithful life.‘
Go to the Law to show we are NOT good
Ray Comfort’s framework for sharing the Gospel is a great way to respond to scenarios like this. As I shared the commandments asking how she measured up, like most people she failed. She admitted she was NOT good by God’s standard; however, as many say at this point, she jumped ahead to God’s forgiveness. Since I knew that there were major areas of her life where she was continuing willfully in sin, I knew forgiveness was being used as a rationale to sin. That is a misunderstanding of the Gospel.
Really examine meaning of ‘Jesus is Lord’
I always go to Romans 10:9 and focus on the phrase “Jesus is Lord.” Most people I talk with cannot succinctly or accurately tell me what it means if Jesus is Lord of their life. As I go through some of the issues they raised earlier (where they know they are sinning but are still doing so), I try to help them see Jesus is NOT Lord if they are not obeying Him in significant, ongoing areas of their life.
In the case of the woman I was counseling, she agreed Jesus had not been Lord. I asked if she had ever desired that, or asked Him to be. She admitted she had NOT. Sometimes women tell me they have in the past, but recognize they had not ever submitted their life in reality to His Lordship.
At that point, I always ask if they would like to. Oftentimes, they say yes. Sometimes, they admit in all honesty they are not ready to give up whatever sin in which they are living, and say no. I urge them to pray for God to help them and to read specific applicable Bible passages.
If they say they would like to submit their lives to Jesus, I NEVER do “repeat-after-me” sorts of sinners’ prayers. I tell them to speak to Jesus themselves. No need to be fancy. Talk to Him as they would to their own dad or best friend. Open their heart, but include repentance and the desire to live now for Jesus as Lord of their lives. I tell them I will open us in prayer and then be silent to let them talk.
Oftentimes, as happened with this woman, they start slowly, but then begin to pour out how sorry they are as the enormity of their transgressions hit them. They often cry. They often then list who they WANT to be and how they cannot do it on their own and plead with Jesus to help them. If they do not mention wanting Jesus to be LORD, I will ask them if that is their desire. Since Romans 10:9 alerts us that we need to SAY that explicitly, I think it is an important part of their prayer. They usually then do say that important proclamation to God.
Never trust at face value when someone says they have submitted their life to Jesus, especially when what you see does not line up with a faithful life. Remember that nearly all the women I meet heading into the abortion center tell me they are believers as they explain why they have to kill their babies. We should be kind, but do not be afraid to challenge such a clear disconnect. It is also important to remember that sometimes people need to hear the clear presentation of the Gospel multiple times before the Spirit truly convicts them of truth.