POINTS TO PONDER 3. PERSONAL SAVIOR?Listen to popular evangelists today and you will most likely hear a message something like "Receive Jesus into your heart as your personal savior and be saved." We've heard this phrase or something like it so often, that it seems odd if it’s not included in an evangelistic message. But is this really a Scriptural admonition and if so, where can we reference it in the Bible?
What does it mean when they invite people to "receive Jesus into their heart."? The answer commonly used by them is to quote Revelation 3:20 "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." If we examine this verse in context, we see that it is not an evangelistic verse at all, but rather it is an admonition of Jesus to believers, in order to call us to repentance and renew our personal fellowship with Him. The plea to receive Him, sounds more like an option for unbelievers to “please do something nice for the poor homeless Jesus” instead of a command to submit to His authority. In John 1, the Jews that Jesus came to, (His own) did not receive him as the prophesied messiah. Of the rest, John said; ":12 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: ". Again, in context, the receiving of Him is the opposite of rejecting Him. As the end of the verse shows, receiving Him entails "believing"; not the reception of his person into one’s heart. To receive Him is to believe and accept His authority, His will, and His word. Finally, Jesus promised that when He was resurrected and ascended to the Father, He would send the Holy Spirit in His stead. Who we receive at the point of our new birth is the person of the Holy Spirit, (John 16:7).
Next, the popular phrase to make Him your “personal savior", is not taught in the scriptures. In fact, just the opposite is found. To tell someone they must receive Him in order for Him to be their “personal savior” is the same as saying He is not your savior if you don’t receive Him. But He is. He is the savior of every person who ever lived. “…we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, specially of those that believe.” (1 Timothy 4:10). His death on the cross paid for everyone’s sins, thus He became everyone’s savior by His death. This is true whether a person believes it or not. However, being everyone’s savior does not mean that all people are saved. Salvation comes only when we believe and confess Him as our risen LORD. When He raised from the dead, He was proved to be LORD, triumphing over death. Having submitted by faith to the declaration of the Gospel, we now have personalized his death and resurrection, recognizing Him as savior and LORD. Romans 10:9 says,"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. :10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.". The phrase we should be using after preaching the Gospel is, “Jesus is your savior, but will you believe it and confess Him as LORD?”.
Can God use other terms and phrases not found in the Bible to save people? Yes, and He does so because He has entrusted the delivery of the message to us imperfect “earthen vessels”. However, that does not excuse us for not presenting what is taught in the inspired Word of God “not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:” (1 Corinthians 2:4). Ponder these next verses:
"Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever." (1 Peter 1:23).
"Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures." (James 1:18).
"And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." (2 Timothy 3:15).
"Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, … :2 By which also ye are saved, …how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; :4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:" (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth;…” (Romans 1:16).
Let’s preach the Gospel of Christ and then give the invitation to believe it in order to be saved.