As a young man, I was terribly confused about what I had to do to be saved. That started at age 6 when my parents enrolled me in a religious boys’ club. It continued until the start of my senior year in college.
I was confused by the boys’ club, the Methodist church I went to with my dad, the Serbian Orthodox church I went to occasionally with my mom, and the Lutheran, Baptist, and community churches I visited in college.
During four years on staff with Cru, I met hundreds of college students who were also confused about what they needed to do to be saved.
I’d like to share with you five surefire ways to confuse those whom you evangelize.
First, present a vague evangelistic appeal. This would include receiving Christ; inviting Christ into your life; praying the sinner’s prayer; receiving Him as Lord; receiving Him as Savior; and receiving Him as Lord and Savior. If people are confused about what they need to do and you give a vague condition, their confusion continues.
Second, present a vague consequence. Talk about having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ; having Christ as your Savior; having hope that you might make it to heaven when you die; starting on a path that leads to final salvation if you keep running the Christian race; and being saved for now. The person will not know that Jesus promises irrevocable salvation that can never be lost.
Third—and this is particularly effective—give people multiple vague conditions. I once heard a famous evangelist give nine different conditions for being saved, including receiving Christ as your Savior; receiving Him as your Lord and Savior; inviting Him into your life; giving your life to Christ; turning from your sins; and following Him. If one vague condition is confusing, multiple vague and sometimes conflicting conditions are even more confusing.
Fourth, overload your listener with dozens of verses, especially verses that deal with sanctification and not regeneration.
Fifth, another great way to confuse people is to explain incorrectly key words like faith, believing, and everlasting life. Wrongly explaining Bible verses also goes a long way toward confusing people.
If you follow those five simple steps, you will keep people guessing about whether they are saved or not.
However, once you know what you need to do to confuse people, you also know how to clearly evangelize people. Just do the opposite of the five steps to confusing people. Present clearly the one and only condition and the guaranteed consequence, faith in Christ for everlasting life that can never be lost. Have one anchor verse like John 3:16 and stick with it. If you feel the need to share more Scripture, keep it simple saint. And when you explain that passage (or a few passages), be accurate.
The Lord Jesus guarantees everlasting life that can never be lost to all who simply believe in Him for that life. There are no strings attached.