I was raised and heavily steeped in the teachings of another major religious denomination. I was taught to pray to the saints and made much of Mother Mary. My spiritual journey spans over several years beginning ealry in life. My sophomore year in high school I began to read the Rex Hubbard New Testament Key Study Bible. I wanted to know God in a deeper sense, this was the year 1974.

On January 1st 1984, I trusted, believed, and prayed to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior at the church where I had been attending for eight months. God saved me, a sinner. To this day I still remember the details leading up to my salvation moment, what I call “my defining moment.” I clearly remember desiring to get right with God. I wanted to be sure God was going to let me into His heaven.

There was one thing missing,(;) I never had the assurance that I was going to get there. You see man’s promises always fall short. Only God’s promises are trustworthy. The religion I had been brought in, as I found out later, had many man-made additions and subtracts of God’s truth. So the teachings how we would get into heaven were faulty and with no guarantee. <st1:bcv_smarttag>Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” In other words, there are many people following all kinds of religious teaching and thought, who think their path will get them heaven only to discover it ended up in an eternal hell and it is too late to do anything about it.

 Thank God our church offered an invitation at the end of the service. When the pastor gave the invitation, I stepped out of the pew and walked down the aisle. I had seen many people who were making decisions do this every time we attended the service. I went down and told the minister that I wanted to join the church. So they paired my wife and I with a post-worship encourager.

 In the friendship room the encourager asked me if I believed that Jesus was God’s Son; did I believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins; and did I believe that Jesus rose from the dead making a way for me to get into heaven. I had always believed these facts; but for the first time, I was acknowledging them and making a cognitive decision publically about who and what Jesus is and what He was and did for me. I learned the value of leading a lost person who desires to be right with God in a sinner’s prayer and the importance of giving an evangelistic appeal.

 Later God called me to pursue professional ministerial training. Learning about God’s Word from scholarly men and how to interpret and apply God’s Word was better than going to Starbuck’s and getting your favorite beverage! From the Associate Divinity program at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS), I attended a university for two years. Then God led me to further my studies by completing a Masters Degree in the study of biblical languages and pastoral studies and still later then a Doctor of Ministry Degree at NOBTS. I learned how to read and interpret the biblical languages for which I am grateful to God. To this day I continue to study the languages.

 For over the last ten years, September 2001 to December 2011 I led and trained men and women how to share their faith. I worked with churches in the inner cities and urban centers sharing the gospel and distributing over 1.5 million gospel tracts. On some occasions we did street preaching on a corner in a high risk, high crime communities. I taught my teams of missionary evangelists how to explain the gospel and then how to encourage and guide a person toward trusting in Jesus as Lord and Savior. There are hundreds of stories that these urban missionaries could share of how people’s lives were changed. We saw many people who were sincere and others where we left the conversation, saying “I am not sure if that person really meant what they prayed.”

 I have to say there were some people we were not sure if they were truly saved until we saw them the next day or later in the week and they were helping us to translate or connect with friends and neighbors.  And then there were a few that we felt sure about and every once in while we heard that they their lives had not changed.” I have to say that we our hearts were heavy and sad for those in whose lives the gospel seed did not take hold for whatever reason.

 I have seen and met men who were into heavy use of cocaine, drugs and alcohol who got Jesus. There was a tremendous life changing moment that occurred in some people’s lives. Others have come to me telling me how they got saved “last night.” They said they were sick of the life they were living and called someone from the church and they prayed and gave their life to Jesus. Then a year later due to bad decisions, they were back on drugs and alcohol. All I say is that we do all we can to try to disciple people how to live for Christ, they have to make the right decisions. We know of pastors and pastoral staff who have not made the right decision and totally messed up their lives, their family, and marriage because of bad decisions.

Recently, I received a video through one of those Christian emails linking you to a website with articles on issues of today. One particular article had an imbedded video with a Skype conversation/interview with an up and coming pastor and another individual.

The conversation was about pastors who are leading people in a sinner’s prayer and doing it incorrectly. The conversation centered on people who thought they had been saved, but were not, because they had prayed a sinner’s prayer and those who were not saved but should be saved. I listened to the conversation three or four times, each time the video got the this point in the interview, I would say, “that is why you give an evangelistic appeal!”

If we think that everyone who prays the sinner’s prayer is going to live a perfect life and understand what they are doing, let me say, well they don’t. I am blessed to have been in church ministries where we saw people respond to the message every time it was preached. I saw people respond to the Holy Spirit’s leading and hundreds saved. I also saw a hand full of people who made decisions and you would have thought they were gloriously saved, but they fell back into severe and gross sin. And yes some were staff members or committed volunteers. Were they born again you might be thinking? They said they had trusted in Jesus.

One thing we must remember. Not even Jesus Christ when He had His ministry on earth for three years had one hundred percent commitment from His disciples. One of His twelve betrayed Him. Then there were the thousands who followed Jesus. We can estimate that probably 10,000 people followed Him. We find in the Bible that Jesus fed two different groups of people one was four-thousand and the other five-thousand in size. Plus the hundreds of hundreds that heard Jesus teach by the shore lines and in the valleys.

In John 6:6-71, after Jesus taught “you must eat My flesh and drink My blood” the Scripture says that “many did not follow Him anymore.” In the New Testament Greek language the word “many” means a very large number “of His disciples followed Him no more” (John 6:60). Then in 1 Corinthians 15:6, only 500 disciples or His followers where present to see Him ascend into heaven. Not even Jesus had 100 percent retention rate. If you use the figure of 10,000 followers, which I believe is less than the actual number, 500 is not ten percent but five percent of all the people who followed Jesus and heard Him teach.

 So what are God’s called preachers, evangelists, pastors, teachers called to do? Continue to proclaim a clear, theological, doctrinal and expositional message that points to Jesus as the only way to God. Then offer the hearers an opportunity to respond to God’s Word as the Holy Spirit draws people. I will continue to offer a sinner’s prayer, during an evangelistic appeal and leave the rest up to God’s Holy Spirit to draw people as He uses the witness as His instrument.

 Maybe you have read this article and you realize that you are no sure that you are going to heaven, or you have never placed your faith and trust in Jesus. If you are truly seeking God, then in just a moment you can be absolutely sure that God will forgive your sin, all the bad things you have done and let you into His heaven and paradise. I call this the A, B, C’s leading to salvation.

 A- First you must admit that you have sinned against God, Romans 3:23 say, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” That means we are not and can’t be as good as God is (His holiness or his glory). We have what is called a sin nature. All humans have this nature and the only way to change it is for believe in Jesus and receive Him by faith.

 B- Second you must believe that Jesus is God’s one and only Son. Jesus is the only way to God because God loves you and Jesus died for your sins on the cross.  John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Through Jesus resurrection He made the way for us to get into heaven. He opened the gates to heaven for those who believe and follow Him.  John 14:3 “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take to be with Me.” 

 C- Third, you must confess to God that you have sinned against Him and ask for His forgiveness. Romans 10:9-10 says, “If you shall confess with your mouth that Jesus as Lord, and believe with your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved. 10 – For with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”

 If you have read the A, B, C’s and it makes sense to you and you understand that you are sinner, and you believe that Jesus is the only way to have God’s forgiveness of sin and eternal. If you are ready to turn from your sin to turn to God completely, then you can say a simple prayer to God just like I did when I was 26 years old. Say it and mean it with all your heart.

 Say, Dear God, I believe that Jesus is Your Son, that He died on the Cross for my sins, that He was buried and rose again on the third day. God I have sinned against You, so please forgive me of my sin. Please come into my heart. I surrender my life totally to You. Help me to live for You and to tell others about Jesus. Thank You for saving me and giving me a new start in life. In Jesus Name, Amen.

 If you prayed this prayer and you meant it. Then the God who created all things, Jesus who died for you, and God’s Holy Spirit now live in you. If you truly meant what you just said, then go tell a Christian about your decision to follow Jesus. Get a Bible and begin reading in the Gospel of John, read one chapter everyday. Read all twenty-one chapters and when you finish then start in the Gospel of Matthew and read one chapter everyday for the rest of your life.

Find a church that preaches and teaches the Bible, that Jesus, God the Father and God the Holy Spirit are co-equal (one in nature and being). Join the Church by baptism and get involved in a Bible Study group. If you can’t find a church go to www.sbc.net and you can search for a Church by zip code. Pray ask God to help you find a good Bible proclaiming and teaching church. Or go to my website www.m28evangelism.com and get my contact information.

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