Is getting saved like handgrenades and horseshoes, or must we hit the bullseye?

January 17, 2013
By dreiher2

I have been reflecting recently on several of John Niemela’s messages which emphasize that a person needs to believe in the EXPLICIT content of the promise of Jesus for everlasting life. Nothing else can be added to faith in the PERSON of Christ for the absolute promise of everlasting life. Another illustration John gave was that evangelism was not like handgrenades and horseshoes, in other words, that you could do a whole bunch of things and hope you get closer than others or hit the target by chance. It is not.  It is more like hitting a bullseye such as in archery. However, if you shoot a bow and arrow at a target one time, even if you have never done so before, you MIGHT hit the bullseye. Beginners’s luck? Accident? It is possible! However, wouldn’t it be a good idea to know what the bullseye is, and hit it every time?

Let me explain. Some people may believe in Jesus’ promise of everlasting life, but also think they they should…commit their life to Christ, believe in other doctrines in the Bible, make Jesus Lord of their life, commit to going to church, be baptized, commit to giving money to the church – and persevere in all of this, until the day they die – THEN they will be sure to get to the kingdom. In other words, buried somewhere in that pile is believing in Jesus for everlasting life, but a lot of other bases are covered “just in case.” After all, if you look at 20 different tracts, or listen to 20 evangelistic presentations, various muddled messages are usually presented, adding in one or more of the above “requirements.” These sound like good things which try to make faith “tangible.” But, in light of the plain teaching of Scripture, a message which adds even ONE element to faith in the person of Christ alone, CANNOT save. (1 John 5:1 “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.”) If a person thinks they cannot be saved by belief alone in Christ alone, FOR everlasting life, they do not believe the message of John 3:16. However, and this is the point of my article, a person may have, at an earlier date, ACCIDENTALLY become born again at the one moment of simple persuasion that faith in Christ alone is all that is required to receive everlasting life. They may in fact have subsequently gone far afield, but if at one point they actually did believe in Jesus, for everlasting life which cannot be lost, then they have everlasting life.

I must mention one caveat. Only God knows with 100% precision who is really born again and who is not. No matter how well-informed you are of the “Free Grace” position, it is possible for us to be misled by people to whom we witness. I can think of very few people that I could NOT conclusively tell if they were born again based on my conversations with them. But I would say that with 99% of the people I talk to, I can immediately tell if they are born again. All you have to do is get them to distinctly state, or otherwise communicate, that they believe in Jesus as the sole granter and guarantor of eternal life that cannot be lost, and NO other conditions are necessary. Period.

I need to add that we “Free Grace” people are NOT blindly giving false assurance or declaring someone born again. I usually say something like this when people give me the “right” answers. “Based upon verses like John 3:16, and what you told me about your believing in Jesus as the sole granter and guarantor of your everlasting life, you are born again.” I am just saying if they believe Jesus’ promise in many passages of Scripture, especially in the Gospel of John, they can be 100% sure. My point? We need to CLEARLY communicate that there are no other requirements to be added to that intellectual persuasion of the truth of Jesus’ promise. A person needs to believe in Jesus FOR everlasting life.

Unfortunately, a person might just be telling you what they think you want to hear. Nevertheless, it is important to affirm and reiterate with them that belief in Jesus alone for everlasting life REALLY is all a person needs. Whether they actually believe that or not is between them and the Lord.

So, it is feasible that a person could be told a lot of things they have to do in order to be born again, but accidentally believe ONLY in Jesus as the ONE condition for eternal life at one moment in time. But let us have a POINTED, articulate saving message, telling people that they do not need to do anything more than have one moment of being intellectually persuaded that Jesus is the granter and guarantor of everlasting life which can never be lost.

Praise God! – Don


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