In the last post, I began to distinguish the “plan of salvation” from the gospel itself. I focused on one part –– the content of the gospel and our response to the gospel are not identical.In this post, I want to address a similar but different problem. I’ve read a lot of tracts and heard a lot of evangelistic messages. And I’m seeing a troublesome pattern. Ask yourself a question.
In a typical “plan of salvation” presentation, what is a person supposed to believe?
Settling for Right Doctrine
In my experience, most evangelistic presentations overwhelmingly focus on believing certain key doctrines. Of course, I’m sure this is not the intention of most people. I’ve heard countless times that “head knowledge” doesn’t save anyone; however, that is not what is most clearly conveyed in a typical tract.
In my experience, I find that the message of the “plan of salvation” is this: If you want to be saved, you must believe:
- You are a sinner.
- You deserve God’s punishment.
- Jesus is God.
- Jesus can save you.
- If you “believe in Jesus” and/or repent of sin, you will get eternal life.
The problem is that even demons sincerely believe these truths. Beyond head knowledge, they believe these truths in their hearts. That’s why they shudder (cf. James 2:19).
The real problem is that they don’t love Christ.
Even demons proclaim the “plan of salvation”
1. The demons know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.
“And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ”
“And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.”
“And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, ‘You are the Son of God.’ And he strictly ordered them not to make him known.”
Matt 4:3, 6 (cf. Luke 4:3)
“If/since you are the Son of God . . . ”
2. Demons know their sin leads to torment and destruction.
“And behold, they cried out, ‘What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?’”
“And crying out with a loud voice, he said, ‘What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.’”
“And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, ‘What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.’ But Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be silent, and come out of him!’”
3. Demons know that Christ is the way of salvation.
“And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, 34 ‘Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.’”
“As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour.”
Saved by (a profession of) faith?
Even the demons make a profession of faith (of sorts).
How would you respond if the average person professed these truths? Most of us would celebrate. One might say, “All we have is a person’s profession of faith. No one knows the heart.” I completely agree, but that doesn’t mean we are completely helpless here.
What can we do? I’ll talk about that more in the next post.