Focus On Jerusalem


Presenting God’s Salvation
By Charles F. Strong

Presenting God’s Salvation
(Ministers & Soul-winners)


Salvation or the acquisition of eternal life is the starting point in the Christian life. To put it another way, there is no “Christian life” without first becoming a Christian, which is what happens when a person is saved. Unfortunately, God’s plan of salvation is either poorly presented or wrongly presented by many fundamental evangelicals of today, even those who are recognized as being at the pinnacle of their ministerial success.

I realize of course that many fundamental and evangelical ministers and soul-winners will strenuously object to this study/commentary. Some will summarily dismiss it as a heretical position before finishing the first few pages; some who do stick with it to its end will avoid any serious consideration of its contents because they have become “comfortable” in their thinking regarding the subject. Some will take this path because they are “set in their ways” and/or afraid of being convinced that they may be wrong about the issue or, worse yet, have led others astray.

Then there will be those who will assign this study/commentary to the realm of a Pharisaic endeavor of purist pride, or to someone who simply has too much time on his hands and who embodies a “holier than thou” attitude. All of which will be untrue.

This writer’s only desire is to be faithful to God’s Word. This writer also realizes that he is subject to error and misunderstanding when it comes to interpreting God’s Word. He welcomes any comments of correction or rebuttal anytime and from anyone. All he asks of any reader is to reserve judgment until the contents of this article are fairly and honestly considered along with their scriptural underpinnings.


Are you aware that a diligent verse-by-verse search of the Bible will indicate that nowhere is it found that anyone tells a lost person how to be saved by the following methods?

  1. Ask or invite Jesus to come into your heart.
  2. Pray the sinner’s prayer.
  3. Ask God to forgive you of your sins.
  4. Ask Jesus to be Lord of your life.
  5. Commit yourself to Jesus Christ.
  6. Repent of your sins and believe on Jesus Christ.
  7. Open the door to your heart.
  8. Confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus Christ.
  9. Believe and be baptized.
  10. Walk the aisle of a church.
  11. Tell God you are sorry for your sins.
  12. Ask God to be merciful to you, a sinner.
  13. Confess your sins to God.

All such methods commonly used by evangelical ministers are (1) either never found in God’s Word, or (2) are the result of a misunderstanding of a very few verses. Biblical truth clearly shows that salvation is solely linked with either the word believe or faith (both meaning the same) in approximately 150 scriptural passages throughout the New Testament. In these cases, which make up the vast preponderance of salvation scripture, no other “requirement” is mentioned. Never once does anyone ask a lost person to pray individually or together (“Pray after me”) some form of “programmed prayer” for the purpose of being saved.

A sampling of scriptures illustrating this point are: John 1:12; 3:15-18; 36; 5:24; 6:35, 40, 47; 7:38; 8:24; 11:25, 26; 20:31; Acts 10:43, 44; 13:39; 15:8, 9; 16:31; Romans 1:16; 3:22, 27, 28, 30; 4:3-5, 24; 5:1; 9:31-33; 10:4; 1 Corinthians 1:21; Galatians 2:16; 3:8, 22, 24; Ephesians 1:13; 2:8; 1 Timothy 1:16. In these scriptures and many more (approximately 150 passages), the Bible lists only one action a lost person may take for obtaining eternal life, the action of exercising belief or faith (both meaning the same thing) in Jesus Christ.

Belief or faith, as used in God’s Word regarding salvation adheres to the following:

  1. It is more than a mental consent to the existence of Jesus Christ. An exegetical study of all uses of these words, particularly within the original texts, clearly indicates that “to believe” or “to have faith in” means to “trust completely in,” “rely upon,” “rest upon,” or “to place one’s full confidence in.” What’s more, the exercise of trust or faith is a decision, not a prayer. It is a decision of the will within man. It is made in an instant of time; it is made with the heart (a genuinely honest decision)—in one’s inner being—the will. It is the only action one may take in order to be saved according to God’s Word.
  2. It is based on the Gospel message—the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ—and, in particular, an understanding of why Christ experienced death in man’s place on the cross (1 Corinthians 2:2; 15:3, 4).

There is a reason for the repetition of this within God’s Word. It is because God would have anyone who reads His Word to understand that salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone—and nothing else! In fact, in the only place in God’s Word where the direct question is asked, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? the Apostle Paul gives a concise and complete answer by saying, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. . .” (Acts 16:29-31). Again, this is the only place in the Bible where the question on how to be saved is clearly asked, and the answer, formulated in very specific words as directed by the Holy Spirit, is clearly, concisely and completely given.

What did Paul mean when he said, “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.”? For certain he wasn’t asking the jailer to say a prayer. He is simply saying that a decision must be made, a simple and willful act of faith—a genuine decision by the jailer to trust in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for his personal salvation, rather than trusting in any self-effort or anything or anyone else to be saved. It was to be an act based on the Gospel, the “good news” that Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary paid the penalty-price for his sins, that Christ went to the grave but rose again and was now his living Savior (1 Corinthians 2:2; 15:1-4).

The problem with the list above, which so many evangelicals use to bring someone to Christ, is that it makes salvation a plan of works. This is not to say that many have not been saved by praying such requests, but if they are saved, it is because of their exercise of faith (trust) placed solely in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice that saved them. Often this (actually) occurs prior to or after their “prayer for salvation.” It happens only when a person genuinely decides to trust only in Jesus and His work for his personal salvation and in nothing else.

But if a person is trusting in the fact that he prayed the “sinner’s prayer,” or some other parroted wordage, then he is not saved. If he only asked Christ to be “Lord of his life,” without understanding and trusting solely in the fact that Jesus alone paid for his sins, then he is not saved. If he only asked Christ to “come into his heart,” without understanding and trusting solely in the fact that Jesus alone paid for his sins, then he is not saved. Yet many, even after taking such an incorrect path to God, eventually come to the realization (by the continuing work of the Holy Spirit) of what Christ accomplished on the cross and then quietly but genuinely accept it by a decision of the will, trusting solely in Jesus and His sacrifice for their salvation. This is usually accomplished without any fanfare or recognition, in some cases after their “profession of faith” in some local church and, in some cases, after they are baptized.

But then what about Romans 10:13, For whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” Doesn’t this indicate that a person must pray (call) to God for salvation? No it doesn’t. It does in fact state a fact, but it represents a believer’s prayer. In context it is important to note that according to Romans 10:14, saving faith precedes the calling on the “name of the Lord.” The person who has “in fact” believed and been saved will “call upon Him” and will not be “put to shame” (see verses 11 & 12), which is the equivalent of confessing or recognizing Him as Lord. Certainly no Christian would believe that to “call upon the name of the Lord while maintaining a disbelief in His substitutionary work on Calvary” will save anyone.

The import of the verse, within context, is that anyone, both Jews and Gentiles, may be saved and when they are, they will “without shame” call on or recognize Him. This clarifies another often misused verse that is contained within the context of this passage, which is misused to prove that one must publicly proclaim Jesus in order to be saved (Romans 10:9). Verse 9 does say, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” But the next verse (10) clarifies the matter, establishing the fact that it is only when one believes that salvation occurs. The emphasis is that when a person truly believes in Christ, he will confess Christ, as covered in the following few verses (11-14) that have previously been discussed here. The point being is that once a person truly believes he will in fact confess (to God, not man), which is the equivalent of “calling upon the name of the Lord.”

Another verse used to support the concept of praying for one’s salvation is Acts 8:22 where Peter tells Simon to repent and pray for forgiveness. The problem here, for those who advocate the “sinner’s prayer,” is that Peter is speaking to a baptized believer and he is instructing him that he is to change his mind and pray for forgiveness for trying to buy the gift of conferring the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands. This verse does not support praying for one’s salvation.

Another verse often used to support praying for one’s salvation is Luke 18:13, wherein the publican (tax collector) asked God to be merciful, as he was a sinner. This was in contrast to the Pharisee who took great pride in his exercise of religion. Jesus declared the publican “justified” over (rather than) the Pharisee. But this verse has nothing to do with salvation. It was a parable issued under the Old Covenant, which was before the cross, and was a lesson concerning pride.

Then there is always the emphasis by many evangelicals on “repentance.” Often they say that repentance must precede faith. Usually when the words “repentance” or “repent” are used, the minister means a “sorrow for sins;” although, he usually never explains one way or another what repentance means. Even so, the meaning of “sorrow for one’s sins” is normally what is understood by the listener. When such is the case, and if a person believes that he must generate sorrow for his sin in order to be saved, this then borders on a “work” that he must perform, and he will not be saved. He may indeed feel sorrow once he realizes that he has sinned against God—this is one of the works of the Holy Spirit as seen in 2 Corinthians 7:10—but believing that he must express this sorrow to God in some form of prayer as part of the salvation process will keep him from solely trusting in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for his personal salvation.

The word, “repent” or “repentance,” only means a “change of mind or direction,” and it is indicative of the faith-based salvation decision (Acts 2:38; 17:30; 26:20; 2 Peter 3:9), because it is impossible to “repent” without placing one’s faith in Jesus Christ. To “repent” is to turn from one direction to another direction. When a person understands that no self-effort or works or organization can save him; but that Jesus Christ alone can save him because of His sacrifice on the cross, he then “by faith” (1) turns from self as (2) he turns to Christ. A person cannot turn solely to Jesus Christ without turning from self, and it is this “faith-turn” that is repentance. Both actions are two sides of the same coin. They are actually one and the same; the act of turning, which is an exercise of faith, is repentance. Again, it is the turning from self to Christ, a genuine decision of the person’s will that is repentance. As such, repentance as mentioned in the above scriptural passages is the equivalent to salvation, which is by faith alone in Christ alone.

And then there is always 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The verse is absolutely true, but it applies only to Christians. Yet it used by so many evangelicals to present the “plan of salvation” to the lost. The same is true of Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me”. Here Jesus is standing at the heart-doors of believers of a local church and stating that if any believer will open his heart-door Christ will come in and have communion with him.

To put it succinctly, salvation comes only by faith alone in Christ alone. And what is interesting, this same key to salvation is also the key to “living in Christ,” which is the equivalent to “walking in Christ,” which is the equivalent to “being filled with the Holy Spirit.” Again, for more detail regarding this aspect of Christian living, please read the commentary entitled “The Holy Spirit in the Church Age” and “The Principle of Faith” in the topical section of At the same web site, in its topical study section, other articles regarding salvation may be reviewed, e.g., “The Salvation Formula,” “The Defining Moment of the Salvation Experience,” and “Understanding God’s Salvation.”

Finally, it must be said that literally thousands of persons have been saved by the preaching and teaching of God’s Word even by men and women who have not accurately presented God’s plan of salvation as is described in this article. But they were saved upon their realization of the substitutionary work by Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary and their subsequent willful decision of reliance (trust) in Jesus and His sacrifice for their personal salvation, which decision may have been before, during or after some formalized process or prayer.

It is by faith alone that a person is saved. Salvation is a gift from God (John 3:16; 4:10; Acts 11:17; Romans 5:15-18; 6:23; 2 Corinthians 9:15; Ephesians 2:8, 9; 3:7; 2 Timothy 1:9) and salvation faith, which is a genuine and willful act to trust in and rely upon Jesus Christ and His sacrifice alone for one’s personal salvation, is the only way a person can say yes to God’s offer, the only way he can receive God’s gift of eternal life.

This article is written not to discourage or aggravate anyone. Hopefully it will spark one’s interest in and desire to be faithful to God’s Word. If there is any question or any ambiguity in anyone’s mind at this point as to what to say to a sinner regarding how to be saved, then go back to the one and only place in the Bible where God, through His Holy Spirit, reveals the answer during the only time within His Word where the question is asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved”—Acts 16:30, 31. Peter did not answer the question by saying to the jailor “confess your sins,” or “ask God for forgiveness,” or “ask Jesus to come into your heart,” or “ask Jesus to be your Lord” or “repeat after me,” or “confess with your mouth Jesus Christ,” or “repent and be baptized,” or “walk down an aisle,” or any other step or steps that present day evangelicals are accustomed to using in their attempts to bring others to Christ. No! Peter’s full response, by direction of the Holy Spirit, was, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” If there is anyplace in the Bible where God’s salvation plan is more fully presented, this writer cannot find it.

It is critical that when you bring someone to Christ, he must not be confused over who paid the price for his sins and what he must do about it. He must not be lead to believe that it is up to him to be sorry for his sins, to say a “programmed prayer,” or to do anything (work) other than to make the firm, willful and genuine decision to place his full trust (reliance) in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice alone for his personal salvation. Once he makes this decision, in an instant of time, he will be saved, he will possess eternal life, and he will be a child of God. Then, and only then, should he consider making his decision public to others by verbal profession of faith and believer’s baptism, both as acts of obedience to his Father and not as essential elements of the salvation process.


Nothing in this commentary should be construed to mean that any believer at anytime should not invite or encourage a lost person to accept Christ as Savior. This applies to individual one-on-one situations, as well as to mass church services or crusades. In fact this writer personally believes and strongly encourages that at every opportunity and particularly at the end of every Bible service message where there is the possibility of a lost person being present, God’s salvation should be clearly presented and an invitation be given to accept by faith alone Christ alone as one’s personal Savior. This writer has absolutely no problem when a minister encourages anyone who makes such a genuine willful decision to make it public by “walking the aisle” and professing it before the church as long as the person who has accepted Christ understands clearly that it was solely his faith-decision that activated God’s grace to save him and not any subsequent outward display or effort on his part.

One last thought regarding the salvation of very young children. Christ indeed said, “. . . unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven;” (Matthew 18:3, 4) and, later, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14) In both instances Jesus was attempting to illustrate to those around Him that it takes child-like faith (reliance) on Him for salvation. This does not preclude the fact that even a small child must at least understand that his salvation is wholly dependent upon what Jesus did on the cross, even though he may not understand all the theological ramifications of Jesus’ death. I dare say that even the most astute theologians never fully understand all of them. In any case there are countless situations where a child makes a decision, under the guiding hand of someone else, “to give his heart to Christ,” and is thereby declared saved. This writer maintains that this child’s salvation actually takes place when, prior or subsequent to this decision of “giving his heart to Christ,” he comes to the understanding of the substitutional meaning of Christ’s death, and on his own simply relies upon the death of Christ as his only hope of salvation.

Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 3:3)

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations . . . and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen. (Matthew 28:19, 20)

Share this page with your friends.

Articles Grace

Links Email Introduction

Subscribe Books Subscribe

Map Library Home

Study Webmaster