"Pastor, your sermon completely destroyed what I have believed for more than 25 years!" - commented a visitor who listened to this sermon.
"PASTORS WHO MISDIRECT SINNERS"
1. Please turn in your Bible to the book of Revelation, chapter three. Revelation chapter three. When you are come to Revelation 3.20, please stand for the reading of God’s Word: "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me."
2. This is a most troublesome verse of Scripture. Not because there is anything wrong with this, or any other, verse in God’s Word, but because it is an almost universally misunderstood and misapplied verse in God’s Word.
3. Before my sermon this morning, let me take you through this verse, a phrase at a time, to explain the verse to you and make sure you have opportunity to rightly understand what Jesus meant by these words.
1A. "BEHOLD, I STAND AT THE DOOR"
1B. The Speaker Is Easily Seen, By The Context In Which This Verse Is Set, To Be The Lord Jesus Christ, In All His Resurrected Glory.
1C. Described in Revelation chapter 1 as the One Who "loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood," as the One Who "hath made us kings and priests unto God," the One Who will someday come with clouds, the One Who is "Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending . . . which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty."
2C. John goes on in chapter 1 to describe the Lord Jesus Christ’s appearance: "And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw . . . one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. . . and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead."
3C. This is the risen and glorified Savior, the Son of the living God, the head of the Church, Who announces Himself to the Laodicean Church members, "Behold, I stand at the door!"
2B. But What Is The Door?
1C. Some commentators and preachers of old argued that the door is the door of repentance. Other commentators and preachers of late insist that the door is the door to a sinner’s heart. But none of those I whose works I have consulted have put forth any reasonable argument to support their contention that this door is either the door of repentance or the door to the heart. Charles Spurgeon rightly notes that since Revelation 3.20 is part of a letter Jesus dictated to a Church, the door here cannot be the door to an individual’s heart. I believe his statement is correct.
2C. The word "door" is found 173 times in the English Bible, and in none of the places the word is used is there the slightest hint that repentance or a person’s heart is in any way associated with the word. So, whatever kind of door Revelation 3.20 refers to, whatever it might symbolize or even literally be, there is no evidence that it is the door of repentance or the door to the heart.
3C. If you bother to read each and every verse in God’s Word where the word "door" is found you find some interesting associations. The first place the word is found in the Bible, and the first mention of anything in the Bible should always be seriously considered, is a statement made by the LORD when He rejected Cain’s inappropriate offering and then confronted him: "And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him." Genesis 4.7-8.
4C. In Genesis 6.16 we find the door of Noah’s ark referred to. This was the door the LORD shut when judgment fell. In Genesis 19 we find four references to Lot’s door, in his home in the city of Sodom. But it’s in Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy that the significance of a door seems to be most clearly shown. It was on the door’s frame that blood was to be applied for deliverance at Passover, when the LORD killed all the firstborn of Egypt. It was to the door of the Tabernacle that one came to worship God and offer sacrifices. It was on the door posts of homes that God’s Law was to be written. It was on a door post of his master’s house that a slave could voluntarily choose to serve for life, by boring a hole through the lobe of his ear. And it was at the door that a wicked damsel was to be delivered by her father for stoning.
5C. So, a door has significance in God’s Word, associated with both judgment and mercy. But I have found no evidence that a door signifies in any way a man’s heart. In our text the door seems to be the place of warning, the place where judgment is pronounced, and where mercy is offered. The Lord Jesus Christ describes Himself standing at the door of the Laodicean Church, warning them to repent, in verse 19, but also declaring His desire to bless, in verses 20 and 21.
2A. "BEHOLD, I STAND AT THE DOOR, AND KNOCK"
1B. The Head Of The Church Found Himself On The Outside Of That Church, Where He Is In The Case Of Many, Many Churches Today. He’s Outside And He Wants In.
2B. How Do We Know Jesus Wants Into The Laodicean Church? He Knocks. Throughout History Knocking On A Door Has Been Recognized As The Accepted And Routine Way Of Declaring Your Desire For Admittance.
3B. As Well, Knocking Shows Us That Jesus Will Not Force Himself Into A Church, Even Though The Church Is His, Bought By His Blood, And He Has Every Right To Preside Over Any Church. He Could Enter At Any Time By Majesty And Might, But Chooses Instead To Beckon Hearers.
3A. "IF ANY MAN HEAR MY VOICE, AND OPEN THE DOOR"
1B. We Learn From First Corinthians 3.16 That A Church Like Ours Is A Temple Of God. Paul Wrote These Words To The Corinthian Church: "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God?" These Words Apply As Readily To The Laodicean Church And To Calvary Road Baptist Church.
2B. As Well, In Revelation 1.6 We Are Informed That Jesus Christ, Our Great High Priest, "hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father." So, Each And Every Member Of A New Testament Church Is A Priest Of God, Just As Each And Every New Testament Church Is A Temple Of God.
3B. Let’s Make Sense Of This. The Laodicean Church Was A Temple Of God, According To Paul. But The Members Of The Laodicean Church Were Priests Of God In That Church, That Temple Without Walls. How Many Priests Does It Take To Open A Single Door Of A Temple, So That The Chief Priest And Head Of The Church May Enter In? Only One Priest Is Needed To Let Jesus In.
4B. That, My Friend, Is Why, Even Though His Comments Are Directed To The Entire Church, Jesus Makes His Appeal To Any Individual Who Will Hear His Voice And Open The Door. All He Insists On Is A Single Church Member Who Will But Hear His Voice And Open The Door.
4A. "I WILL COME IN TO HIM, AND SUP WITH HIM, AND HE WITH ME"
1B. Do You Understand That This Entire Statement That Jesus Made Is Figurative? That Jesus Is Not Communicating Literally Here? You See, Figures Of Speech Are Normal And Quite Legitimate Tools To Communicate Truth, And That’s What We Have Here In This Verse.
2B. One Always Seeks The Literal Sense Except When The Literal Sense Makes No Sense. Such Is The Case In This Verse. How So? Jesus Rose From The Dead, Bodily. He Then Ascended To His Father’s Right Hand, Where He Now Is, According To About A Dozen Verses In The Bible. So, Since His Body Is A Glorified Human Body, And Therefore Can Only Be In One Place At A Time, While Jesus Is In Heaven He Does Not Choose To Personally Come And Sup With Anyone.
3B. This Verse, You See, Is What’s Called An Allegory. An Allegory Can Be Defined As The Figurative Treatment Of One Subject Under The Guise Of Another. What We Have Here Is The Savior Promising Sweet Communion To Any Church Member Who Will, As A Priest Opens The Door To The Temple For The Chief Priest, Consciously Submit To The Lordship Of Christ Over His Church. The Verse Is As Simple As That.
1. What a merciful Lord is Jesus. As the Head of the Church He has every right to demand and to command obedience and worship and adoration from each of us.
2. The Church of the Laodiceans was given a stern warning for failing to honor and obey and worship Him. Judgment would fall if repentance is not forthcoming.
3. But coupled with the warning was the appeal. If one member, only one, will respond to the call of Jesus to let Him back into His Church, will open the door of the temple to His knock, He will come in and provide sweet communion with that obedient one.
4. If obstacles and persecution have to be overcome to open the door of God’s house to the Savior, that’s okay, too. A reward is promised to anyone who has to pay a price so that Jesus may have His rightful place.
5. So, what we have in this verse is not an appeal to a lost person to open the door of his heart so Jesus can come in. There are no such allusions to any door of the heart anywhere in the Bible.
6. This is a verse showing the great mercy of Jesus Christ to one of His Churches. So that if only one member will bow before Him, worship and adore Him, blessings will flow.
7. Brother Isenberger will now come and lead us in a song, after which I will bring my sermon, "Pastors Who Misdirect Sinners."
1. In 1980 or 1981, not too long after my call to my first pastorate, I received a red booklet in the mail. It was a booklet sent out by a pastor whose booklet argued against the unscriptural practice of urging sinners to ask Jesus into their hearts in order to get them saved.
2. At that time I had been converted some six or seven years, but had never heard of such nonsense as asking Jesus into your heart in order to be saved. So I read the pamphlet, agreed with it completely, but then threw it away because I thought the author was fighting a nonexistent problem. Little did I know how the practice of urging sinners to ask Jesus into their hearts would grow over the years and spread throughout fundamentalism.
3. In February of this year Gary Isenberger and I chatted about an obituary in the Los Angeles Times, the obituary of the man who greatly popularized the practice of asking Jesus into your heart, though it is a concept that is totally foreign to God’s Word as a way of being converted to Christ. The man’s name? Robert Boyd Munger, who was educated at U. C. Berkeley and Princeton, was a United Presbyterian Church pastor for many years, and who was the senior professor of evangelism and church strategy at Fuller Seminary. Doesn’t that pedigree inspire confidence?
4. Listen to the L. A. Times’ summary of Munger and his sermon:
Robert Boyd Munger, a Presbyterian minister and professor at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, who wrote the widely used sermon "My Heart, Christ’s Home" a half-century ago, has died at the age of 90.
Munger died Friday in Pasadena.
Written in 1954 when Munger was pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley (they’re wrong about the date), the classic sermon has been quoted and distributed by numerous clergy, including his friend, evangelist Billy Graham. About 10 million copies have been printed over the years.
Munger rooted his sermon, which struck a chord with many Christians, in biblical text, including Revelation 3:20, in which Christ says, "Behold I stand at the door and knock: If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come unto him, and will sup with him, and he with me."
In the sermon, the pastor relates: "One evening I invited Jesus Christ into my heart .... He came into the darkness of my heart and turned on the light. He built a fire on the hearth and banished the chill. He started music where there had been stillness and He filled the emptiness with His own loving, wonderful fellowship."
As host, Munger describes leading Christ through the figurative library, dining room, drawing room, workshop, rumpus room and locked secret closet of his heart. The guest helps the host sweep away all the clutter keeping him from being a good Christian--trashy literature, worldly goods and gluttonous fare, unsavory friendships and sleazy amusements, ineptness and old hatreds.
At the end of the sermon, the grateful host signs over the title of his heart/home to his guest for safekeeping and vows to remain with Christ "as houseboy and friend."
5. Interesting. There is nothing of the Gospel anywhere in this sermon. Neither is there anything about human depravity, the judgment of God, the blood of Christ, or anything else that’s essential to a correct concept of the Savior and His salvation. This is a works righteousness approach to salvation, with the "guest" merely helping the host sweep away all the clutter. How very demeaning to the Savior to describe His saving work as merely helping a man sweep away all the clutter. But it should surprise no one that so unscriptural a sermon would be predicated upon so unscriptural a notion as asking Jesus into your heart.
6. Listen to Munger’s own testimony about his sermon titled "My Heart, Christ’s Home" and the first time he preached it, taken from an article he wrote for Theology, News And Notes, March 1979:
The sermon "My Heart Christ’s Home" was first preached in the fall 1947 early in my pastorate at the First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley. It was an evening service. The congregation was composed largely of young people, students, and a sprinkling of stalwart older saints. I loved the informality, the warmth, the laughter, the spiritual vitality of those informal hours of fellowship. Within this responsive inner circle of the family of God I was able to share Christ more personally and fully than in the worship services of the morning. The evening sermon was not written out in manuscript form but simply outlined and preached extemporaneously from notes.
I remember the occasion distinctly. Shortly after beginning the sermon I was surprised to see Dr. Henrietta Mears of the Hollywood Presbyterian Church and her secretary, Miss Ethel Mae Baldwin, slip quietly into a back row. Henrietta was a dear friend of both my wife, Edith, and myself. She had influenced our lives for Christ profoundly as she had so many hundreds of other young men and women. In fact, our wedding reception had been in her home. Her unexpected visit, however, stirred a conflict of feelings. I was delighted to have her with us but dismayed that she was not the one doing the preaching. Why had she not come to the morning service when I was better prepared?
Her comment at the conclusion of the service put my mind at rest. "You must give that message at the Forest Home Briefing Conference this summer!" Teacher had given me a passing grade!
With this encouragement from Henrietta and a few others in attendance that evening, I ventured to share the outline of the sermon the following February with an Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship group near Chicago while participating in a series of chapel services at Wheaton College. Someone recorded the message on a wire recorder, the antecedent of the current tape recorder. A student transcribed a rough copy of the talk and mimeographed it to circulate among a few friends.
In due course a copy came into the hands of an editor of the Inter-Varsity Press. I received a letter asking permission - which I granted - to print the sermon for wider distribution. No contract was signed since neither of us anticipated that it would be widely read. Not until six years later was it edited for inclusion in a book of my sermons, What Jesus Said (Revell and Company, 1954).
I have been told that somewhere between eight and ten million copies of "My Heart Christ’s Home" have been distributed in over a dozen languages throughout the world.
7. Folks, this ludicrous nonsense of urging sinners to ask Jesus into their hearts makes me heartsick. While in Little Rock, Arkansas last week with Chuck Wilson and his wife, my family and I attended a Church in which a poor little six year old orphan boy was baptized. When asked by the pastor why he should be baptized the little boy said, "Because I asked Jesus into my heart." Everyone said "Amen" and I felt like crying.
8. Do you want to know why I felt like crying? Not just because that little boy is lost and thinks he is saved, but because what that pastor did to that little boy he has probably done to every other member of his Church. He has led them astray. He has misdirected sinners, as does every pastor who urges sinners to ask Jesus into their hearts.
9. Folks, all over this country of ours pastors are misdirecting sinners, leading them to false professions of faith, and giving them false hopes. And though the misinterpretation and misapplication of Revelation 3.20 isn’t the only way by which pastors misdirect sinners, it is one of the most frequent ways pastors misdirect sinners.
10. I hope my exposition of Revelation 3.20 has put to rest, once and for all, any tendency to cling to the notion that you got converted by asking Jesus into your heart. And I hope that by retracing the rise in popularity of this bogus plan of salvation you will be more amenable to the real Gospel of Jesus Christ.
11. In the few minutes that we have left to us this morning I want to review for you four interconnected ways in which pastors misdirect sinners, doing more to hinder the lost than to hasten their conversion:
1A. First, PASTORS MISDIRECT SINNERS WHEN THEY DO NOT PREACH THE LAW
1B. I Must Confess To You That I Am Continually Amazed By The Reluctance Of Preachers To Preach The Law To Their People. And By Law I Mean Those Truths Contained In The Word Of God That Show Men To Be Transgressors, That Show Man’s Fault Before God, That Shows Error And Defilement And Wrongness.
2B. You See, Folks, We Are Told In Matthew’s Gospel That Jesus Came To Save Men From Their Sins. But What Is Sin Apart From The Law? And How Are Men To Know They Are Sinners Without The Law? Romans 3.20 Declares "for by the law is the knowledge of sin." How, Then, Is Wicked And Depraved Man To Know That He Needs A Savior Unless And Until He Is Preached The Law?
3B. That Pastor, Then, Who Does Not Preach The Law, Who Refuses To Preach The Law, Who Would Teach The Law Rather Than Thunder The Law From The Mount Sinai Of His Pulpit, Misdirects Sinners.
4B. As Well, There Is Something The Law Does Better Than Any Preacher. In Galatians 3.24 Paul Said This About The Law: "Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ." Can Any Preacher Work On A Sinner Like The Holy Spirit Does When He’s Applying The Law To Convict Of Sin? I Don’t Think So.
5B. Nothing Is So Effective As The Law To Show Wrong, To Reveal Sin, To Predict Judgment, To Evoke Shame, To Prepare The Sinner For Grace As The Law. My Friend, If You Sat Under A Preacher Who Preached No Law To You, Then You Sat Under A Preacher Who Misdirected You. And If You Think You Got Converted Apart From Law Preaching Then You Are Sinner Who Got Saved Without The Knowledge Of Sin And Without Being Taught By God’s Schoolmaster Of Your Need To Come To Christ.
2A. Next, PASTORS MISDIRECT SINNERS WHEN THEY DO NOT PREACH CHRIST
By preach Christ I mean by preaching the Christ of the Bible. Let me give you but three examples that I am familiar with first hand.
1B. There Are So-Called Christians All Over Southern California Who Think Jesus Is Angry With Sinners. I Contend That People Who Believe Jesus Is Angry With Them Are Almost Certainly Not Converted. Why Not?
1C. First, because they have in mind a Christ who is not the Christ of the Bible if they think Christ is angry with sinners. My Jesus is not angry with sinners. He wasn’t angry with the woman at the well, who’d been married five times and was living with a man she wasn’t married to. And He wasn’t mad at the woman taken in the act of adultery, though her sin, like the woman at the well, was a terrible sin. But if you think Jesus is angry with you then you’re thinking about a different Jesus than the One Who saves sinners from their sins. Amen?
2C. Second, consider the Roman Catholic Church. Folks, the Church of Rome has effectively shunted sinners away from Jesus to the Virgin Mary for more than a thousand years by portraying Him as angry at sinners. What kind of fool thinks that sinners will come to a Christ they think is angry, when the track record of the Roman Catholic Church shows otherwise?
3C. Christ has not been properly preached to those who are confused on this issue.
2B. There Are Sinners All Over Southern California Who Think They Are Saved Because They Have Turned To God. And How Many Preachers Urge Sinners To "Turn To God?"
1C. If I read my Bible correctly, Jesus emphatically stated that "No man cometh unto the Father but by me." Why, then, is this very simple and obvious truth not rehearsed again and again and again to sinners? Because pastors either don’t know better or don’t care.
2C. I am convinced that a man who tells me he is a Christian because he turned from sin and came to God is very likely a man who is still dead in trespasses and sins. I say that because there is nothing more clear in the Bible than the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as the only Savior of sinful men’s sins.
3C. How could a man not know that salvation comes to those who come to Jesus, and that only wrath and judgment awaits those who try to come to God, unless that man is not born again? If you have been so mislead, my friend, it’s because the preacher was derelict in his duty to preach Christ.
3B. As Well, There Are So-Called Christians Everywhere Who Think They Got Converted By Asking Jesus Into Their Hearts
1C. How could this be, since it is nowhere taught in God’s Word? How could this be, since Jesus is more than ten times in the New Testament declared to be in heaven at the Father’s right hand? How could this be, since Jesus has a glorified human body?
2C. "But pastor, folks aren’t talking about literally asking Jesus into their hearts. It’s only a figure of speech." It’s not a figure of speech when they think Jesus is in their hearts instead of in heaven. It’s not a figure of speech when a little boy awaiting open heart surgery tells the surgeon that he will see Jesus in his heart when he does surgery on the boy. It’s not a figure of speech when those who give such a testimony don’t seem to be aware of the fact that Jesus rose from the dead bodily.
3C. And even in those cases in which people do recognize it’s a figure of speech, what do you do in the case of those who look upon asking Jesus into their hearts as an infusion of grace, which is a distinctly Roman Catholic perception of the saving work of Jesus Christ? Folks, when real conversion occurs the sinner doesn’t become good enough to go to heaven; he’s declared to be good enough to go to heaven!
4C. My whole point being that Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of the living God, the God-Man, the One Who rose from the dead in a glorified body, Who then ascended to heaven to sit at His Father’s right hand, Who doesn’t leave His heavenly throne to save sinners, isn’t properly preached these days. And when He isn’t properly preached the preacher misdirects sinners.
3A. Third, PASTORS MISDIRECT SINNERS WHEN THEY DO NOT GUIDE TO CHRIST
1B. I Speak Of Guiding Sinners To Christ, Not Persuading Them To Pray A Prayer. I Speak Of Guiding Sinners To Christ, Not Eliciting From Them A False Profession. I Speak Of Guiding Sinners To Christ, By Pulling Down Strongholds Of The Mind, Casting Down Imaginations, And Every Thing That Exalteth Itself Against The Knowledge Of God.
2B. It Is True That Jesus Said, During His Earthly Ministry, That He Had Come To Seek And To Save That Which Was Lost. But Having Come To Suffer And Bleed And Die, He Then Provided Clear Instructions To The Lost That Preachers Need To Be Careful To Communicate To Every Sinner.
3B. Jesus Said, "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden." He Did Not Say, "Pray a prayer." The Apostle John Wrote, "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." And Paul And Silas Told The Philippian Jailor, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." So, Why Is It That Preachers Don’t Stop Where The Savior Stopped, Don’t Stop Where John Stopped, Don’t Stop Where Paul Stopped? Why Do They Insist On Adding To What The Bible Says And Try To Get Sinners To Do Something To Get Saved, Like Saying, "Just repeat these words and mean them"?
4B. And If A Sinner Is Not Awakened Under Gospel Preaching, Why Are They Not Counseled To Do What Jesus Told The Lost To Do? When Was The Last Time You Heard A Preacher Show Sinners That Jesus Said They Were To "strive to enter in at the strait gate," Luke 13.24?
5B. I Say To You, On The Authority Of God’s Word, That Pastors Who Add To The Clear Instructions Of Jesus And The Apostles When Telling Sinners How To Get Saved, Or Who Misinterpret And Misapply Scripture Entirely (Such As Those Who Tell Sinners To Ask Jesus Into Their Hearts) And Who Do Not Direct The Lost To Strive To Enter In At The Strait Gate As Jesus Did, Are Pastors Who Misdirect Sinners.
4A. Finally, PASTORS MISDIRECT SINNERS WHEN THEY DO NOT SCRUTINIZE TESTIMONIES
1B. Folks, The Great Commission Of The Lord Jesus Christ Directs Us To Get Sinners Saved, To Then Baptize Those Converts, And To Then Train Them To Observe All Things Whatsoever Christ Has Commanded. But That Isn’t Being Done Today, By And Large.
2B. I Submit To You That Most Baptist Pastors Are As Guilty Of Baptizing The Unregenerate As Are Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodists And Episcopalians. So Concerned Are Pastors About Immediately Baptizing Supposed Converts That They Make Haste In Determining If Their Baptismal Candidates Really Are Converts To Christ. And In This Haste Many Lost Folks Are Baptized.
3B. Look, Anyone Can Say He’s A Christian. Anyone Can Claim That He Trusted Christ. And Since Sinners Are Depraved, With Hearts That Are Deceitful Above All Things And Desperately Wicked, A Bible Believer Ought To Be Surprised At The Thought Of A Sinner Not Misrepresenting Himself For Perceived Advantage.
4B. That’s Why Pastors Need To Take Advantage Of The Distinctive Differences Between The Righteous And The Wicked That Are Shown In The Bible, So That Discernment Might Be Made So As To Avoid Baptizing The Unconverted, Which Is Why There Are So Many Unsaved Church Members In Our Churches.
5B. Oh, How Terrible It Will Be On Judgment Day For Pastors To Discover That They’ve Been Deceived Into Thinking Sinners With Empty Professions Were Saved, Only For Those Lost So-Called Christians To Wake Up In Hell When They Die. If Only Preachers Had Believed The Bible. If Only They Had Dealt Wisely With The Lost Instead Of Foolishly. If Only They Had Taken Simple Steps To Verify The True State Of Men’s Souls Who Said They Trusted Christ.
1. My friends, I want our Church to grow faster than it does just as much as any of you do. Perhaps even more. But you are sadly mistaken if you think I am willing to knowingly misdirect a sinner into thinking he is converted when he is not, and having his blood on my hands. I am not so willing.
2. I will preach the Law to sinners. I will preach Christ to sinners. I will seek to guide sinners to Christ. And I will scrutinize the testimony of every single person who wants to get baptized and who wants to become a member.
3. Further, I will stand against those as best I can who mislead and who misdirect and who confuse and who misapply God’s Word. "But pastor, I received a poem by John R. Rice in the mail that spoke of asking Jesus into your heart. Aren’t you going a bit overboard on this issue?"
4. No. John R. Rice was a wonderful man of God, but he was a decisionist. Better than most of his day, he nevertheless was caught up in things he didn’t see very well from his perspective, and it influenced him. But Rice’s error about asking Jesus into your hearts is mitigated by his bedrock solid understanding of the person and work of Jesus Christ.
5. You see, though reference was made from time to time in days gone by to Jesus in a sinner’s heart, such references were made by men who were rock solid in their understanding of Who Jesus is, where Jesus is, what the saving work of Jesus is, and such things as that. So, when they wrote about Jesus in the heart it was with the full understanding that no attempt was being made to communicate literally, but figuratively, symbolically.
6. Such is not the case these days. Men’s current understanding of Christ’s person and work is so weak, so diluted, so marginal even among those who are orthodox, that it is folly to try and bring sinners to Christ by such means, since sinners are not at all firmly grounded in such matters.
7. I close with these words: If you think you got converted apart from the preaching of the Law, you are probably mistaken. If you think you got saved apart from full fleshed preaching on Christ risen, ascended, enthroned, saving sinners from a distance, you are probably mistaken. If you think you got saved apart from being guided to Christ, you are probably mistaken. And if you think you got saved apart from your conversion testimony being carefully scrutinized, you are probably mistaken.
8. I am willing to do my best to guide you to Christ if you are lost. I am willing to carefully and cautiously consider your testimony if you think you are converted. You’ve graciously allowed me to minister to your spiritual needs by preaching. Now let me minister to your spiritual needs one on one.