By Bob Wilkin
John Carlson asked me that question. A few weeks later, I believed in the Lord Jesus Christ for everlasting life. That was no coincidence. His question led to my new birth.
Countless people over the centuries have come to faith in the same way. They lacked assurance and someone came along and asked them to consider something different from what they believed up to that point. The Holy Spirit then used that witness to guide the confused unbeliever who lacked assurance to ask God to show him if assurance is possible.
You may have heard how people learn how to spot counterfeit $100 bills. They must study the real thing very carefully. Once they know precisely what the real thing is, the counterfeits become easy to spot.
The same is true in terms of the promise of everlasting life. Once you understand and believe it, you can spot false gospels easily.
But what of the person who is believing a false gospel and who is unaware that it is a false gospel?
That is where people like John Carlson step in to help the confused person see the light.
Here is an odd suggestion. When you are sharing the promise of everlasting life with someone, you might ask something like, “Are you aware of the top five false gospels today?” I bet that will interest them. I know it would interest me. That is certainly not a common approach.
Here is my suggestion for the top five false gospels today:
- Turn or burn.
- Trust and obey.
- Follow Christ.
- Submit to Christ.
- Pray the sinner’s prayer.
You might then ask them if they know why those five are all false gospels.
Here is the key. You are seeking to get them to think about what a person must do to have everlasting life. If they begin to wonder if they might not know the answer, they become interested.
Here is a simple way to deal with those five false gospels: compare them to the real deal. Compare them to the true gospel as found in John 3:16 or Gal 2:16 or Eph 2:8-9.
The true gospel says that whoever believes in Jesus will never perish but has everlasting life that can never be lost.
The false gospel focuses on our deeds, good and bad. We need to turn from our bad deeds and commit to a lifetime of good deeds in order to pay the price for our salvation. False gospels do not focus on Christ. They do not focus on the fact that He paid it all and there is nothing left for us to pay. They do not focus on His promise of everlasting life that can never be lost.
Nearly all false gospels say that a person must persevere in faith and good works until death to gain what they call final salvation. But the true gospel says salvation is final the very moment we believe in Jesus for everlasting life.
Malls have anchor stores like Sears, Macy’s, JC Penney, and Nordstrom. I suggest the same thing for showing people the true gospel. Pick a verse or two that presents the promise of everlasting life to the believer. I suggest verses like John 3:16; 5:24; 11:25-27; Acts 16:30-31; Gal 2:16; or Eph 2:8-9.
Now don’t expect that the minute you mention your anchor verse(s) the person will see the light. It took me multiple one-hour appointments with a Cru staff member, Warren Wilke, before I was persuaded of the truth of his anchor verses, Eph 2:8-9.
But what you should expect is objections like “That’s too easy.” “If that were true, then bad people would go to heaven.” “If I believed that, then I’d go out and live like the devil.” “But what about James 2?” “Didn’t Jesus tell us to deny ourselves and follow Him?”
When you hear such objections, it is time to rejoice. The person is thinking. Now if they are closed and hardened of heart, you will soon discover that, and your joy will turn to sadness. But if these are genuine questions from someone who is open and who wants to be sure of his eternal destiny, then they are not far from the kingdom of God.
Is it possible that your view of the gospel is wrong?
If you do not know for sure that you have everlasting life that can never be lost, then the answer to that question is yes. In fact, it is not just possible your view is wrong. It is certain that it is wrong. That is because the Lord Jesus and His apostles taught that anyone who believes in Jesus is eternally secure with no strings attached.
Know and believe the true gospel. Then be available to share that message with hungry people who want to be sure of their eternal destinies. There are millions of people like that, and God is in the business of linking up people like John Carlson with people like me. Carry the living water with you every day so that when you encounter thirsty people you can be used by God to quench their thirst.
Bob Wilkin is Executive Director of Grace Evangelical Society. He and Sharon live in Highland Village, TX. He has racewalked ten marathons.