Evangelicals have used certain phrases in their “evangelistic” efforts to such an extent they believe one cannot proclaim the gospel without them. I grew up in a tradition that regularly employed such phrases and questions. I even used them myself until I discovered neither Jesus nor any apostolic preacher ever used them. My question is whether evangelicals should continue to use such verbiage if we can find no biblical precedent for it. The following are ten such common phrases and questions:

1. Do you know that God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life?

2. Do you want to go to heaven when you die?

3. Jesus died for you.

4. Open your heart and let Jesus come in.

5. Every head bowed and every eye closed.

6. Yes, I see that hand.

7. Come forward and accept Jesus.

8. Repeat this prayer after me.

9. God can’t do anything unless you let him.

10. Just one more verse and, if no one comes, we are going to close the invitation.


  1. September 6, 2013 at 11:26 pm

    But Randy – God loves His elect and a wonderful plan for each of us to die to self and be conformed to Christ!

  2. September 9, 2013 at 12:29 am

    My first responses, although there is more to say……:)

    #1, It’s true, but appeals first to OUR concept of emotional love and is ‘self’ centered. I might answer: “Great, I love me too and have a wonderful plan for my life!” God’s plan is not necessarily ours.

    #2. If I care at all about eternity, heaven would be great! But the gospel messages has as its center our problem of sin, and #2 it misses it.

    #3. If I’m a 5 Pt Calvinist I probably shouldn’t t use it. Also, Christ died specifically for our sins, not just ‘us’. It’s too broad.

    #4. We are unable to, in our fallen nature, to open our own hearts. Either that, or Lydia was a ‘special’ case.

    #5 &#6. Man’s machinations and nowhere found in all of the NT, designed to ‘get’ decisions, so no.

    #7. Another example not found in scripture. Also gives the impression that ‘accepting’ Jesus is something we can do on our own, essentially saving ourselves. So no.

    #8. Repeating prayers can’t save anyone. We can explain/show what constitutes a prayer of repentance and faith, but asking someone to repeat a specific prayer is too simplistic

    #9 Misrepresents God, so no

    #10. ‘Invitations’ not in the Bible. Ditto #7

    • September 9, 2013 at 2:02 pm

      The following are a few examples of the Apostolic preaching to which I am referring. We would do well to emulate them.

      “God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.” Acts 3:26

      “This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:11-12

      “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.” Acts 7: 51ff

      Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” Acts 8:22-23

      “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.” Acts 8:35

      ” And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” Acts 10:39ff

      “Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. Acts 13:38-39

      And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Acts 16: 31

      “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” Acts 17:31-31

      “. . .but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.” Acts 26:20

      Zechariah, in his prophesy about John provides us a succinct statement of God’s purpose in fulfilling his covenant promise. He said,

      Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days” (Luke 1:68-75).

    • September 9, 2013 at 2:03 pm

      Everything the average Evangelical now says in the proclamation of the gospel misses the point. If we make salvation about heaven and hell alone, we will inevitably misunderstand the nature and purpose of salvation. God did not send Jesus primarily to make us happy, but to make us holy. As much as I despise the “Battle Hymn of the Republic”, being the devout Confederate I am, there is a line that we should always remember, “as He died to make men holy, let us live to make them free.” If we do not wish to be saved that we might be conformed to Christ’s image and returned to the fellowship of the Holy God against whom we have committed high treason, we simply don’t want to be saved.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: