Greg Stier has an interesting little read (HT: Rob Martin, again) about what not to say when witnessing for Christ. I found his list and his reasoning to be funny, but I have to admit I’ve probably committed all three mistakes, at least in my thought process about my own salvation. (Hopefully not too recently.) Here’s his three things:
- “All you gotta do is say this prayer.”
- “You must turn from your sins first.”
- “Sure you’re saved by Christ BUT …”
The first acts as if the words are magical. Nope. The belief in Christ and decision to commit your life to Him is where salvation comes, not in any words you say. Perhaps, as Stier suggests, a prayer of thanks would be more appropriate. I was certainly tempted as a child/teen to think that if I just said the right words, God would be more happy with me, and more likely to make my decision “stick”.
The second phrase asks the impossible. If we really believe that the lost need Christ, then we are saying that they cannot do it on their own. This is tempting because we as Christians often forget it and act as if we have to get our own act together, rather than relying on the Spirit to work the transformation from the inside out.
Ah, this is the “big one” for many of us. We have our own personal add-ons we want to think are important for everyone. Sure, you are saved by Christ, but you also need to get the tattoos removed before it is real. Or you have to become a Republican (or a Democrat). Or you must endorse a certain theology. Or you can’t believe in evolution. All of these are wrong! Christ alone can save anyone. We should not be trying to add or subtract from this. No one but Christ can save, but also nothing added to Christ can make someone any more saved. As my friend Josh Wood has been discussing lately on his blog at PostCalvinist.com: debates about theology are fine, within the family, but we must remember that we are family. Membership in the family is not contingent upon our theology, it is dependent upon our adoption. We may disagree a lot, but we are still siblings.
What do you think, my brothers and sisters? Are there major mistakes we tend to make that Stier missed? Do you have a different take on things he lists? (My guess is that most of these are well-intentioned, but have different connotations than we intend.)