After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.
“When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.
“When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.
- Luke 10:1-12
I usually do not write a “book report” on a book that I have not even received, but in a way, I am. Denise Wilson, who wrote The Seven Words You Never Want to Hear, was on a television show recently to advertise her book, but really to talk about Jesus, her walk with Jesus, and her change in evangelism style.
Oh, the seven words? “I never knew you. Depart from Me” (Matthew 7:23). Although most people flip the two sentences.
For the most part, Ms. Wilson discussed 1 John, which got me very interested. She talked about those tests of faith where John asks about your attitude toward sin and such. The point of her book is to focus on “knowing” that you are really saved.
And what struck me is that she had the same mindset that I have. I have ordered her book, and I hope the book has something about her background.
I grew up in the church, never being a bad kid. And if it had not been for an anointing of the Holy Spirit upon the teen-agers of the town, I might have simply gone through the motions of Christianity – an old habit that fits like a glove, when you feel like wearing a glove.
But that was not my destiny. The Holy Spirit convicted me of my sins, and I said the “salvation prayer” at least 500 times, with no result, over about 14 months. Then one night, I stared at the ceiling, unable to sleep, and I said “God, I give up.” Then I heard a Voice say, “That’s what I have been waiting for.” I instantly knew that Christ had come into my life, and I have never been the same.
Now, back to something that Denise Wilson said in the interview. She said that she used to rush people through to the point where you get to the salvation prayer when she talked to people about Jesus, but she does not do that anymore. She feels that too many people say that prayer and have no idea what the Gospel says about Jesus. They are accepting something that is life changing, but in words only – thus, no life change. Her fear was that people would look back on having said that prayer and never get to the tests of their faith in 1 John. They may have no faith at all, because they did not understand the teachings of Jesus. Indeed, they might not even know the teachings of Jesus.
I had read the Scriptures. I intellectually knew all that. I desired God in my life, but I still held back reservations. I wanted an escape clause. When you do street evangelism and you say the right words and the person responds with a willingness to say the “prayer,” have you really got a convert or were they susceptible to the sales pitch? Were you so focused on closing the deal that you did not “read the room?”
I have often written about those who go to church but are dead inside, having never really trusted in Jesus. A slick salesman for God might get a few true converts to Christ, but I can imagine that those true converts are few compared to the droves of walking dead. And as Denise Wilson said, they might never feel the need to truly accept Jesus, because they said the right words once…
In my old job, the president would tell the sales managers to not come home without a sale. When you are selling multi-million dollar pieces of equipment, that can be hard. But that is when you sell technical support or spare parts. A lot of my technical training proposals came from such sales calls. But if we equate evangelism to closing the deal, we sell God short, and we almost raise the “salvation prayer” to a level above God.
The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sins. Jesus saves us. I have no idea whether I will get any stars in my crown for having led anyone to Christ Jesus, but I would not feel good about leading someone into a false sense of security. After all, I am not the one who convicts or saves. As Mark Lowry and others have said, I am just a beggar telling another beggar where to find food.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.