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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Evening, August 22, 2010

“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first…” (II Thessalonians 2:3).

The words “falling away” are a translation of one Greek word “apostasia.”  I am convinced that today’s apostasy started primarily with two men.  Johann Semler (1725-1791), in Germany, began to teach criticism of the Bible, which led to liberalism in the seminaries and colleges, causing preachers to lose confidence in the Scriptures.  The other man primarily responsible for today’s apostasy was C. G. Finney (1792-1875).  Finney attacked nearly every doctrine of the Reformation.  He taught that man can save himself by an act of his own will (worse than synergism – Finney taught pure Pelagianism).  He rejected man’s total depravity and salvation by grace alone.  He denied the substitutionary work of Christ for sinners on the Cross.  Finney taught doctrines similar to those of an early Roman Catholic named Pelagius (354-420) – that a man saves himself by a “decision” of his own will.  Many evangelists and pastors followed Finney’s Pelagianist “decisionism.”  Today “decisionism” is the core belief of most evangelicals and fundamentalists, even among those who reject the “invitation system,” though they don’t realize it yet.  Walter Chantry said,

Evangelicals know that all is not well in their churches…that the church has little power in evangelism…church leaders are uneasy and deeply dissatisfied with their present experience and the results of their efforts (Walter J. Chantry, Today’s Gospel: Authentic or Synthetic? Banner of Truth Trust, 2009 edition, page 1).

Leonard Ravenhill said,

God help the nations, ruined with man-made religion…and doomed with man-made doctrine! Was there ever such an evil hour? (Leonard Ravenhill, Why Revival Tarries, Bethany House Publishers, 2004 reprint, p. 156).

The main reason for the “ruin” and “doom” of our churches is that they are filled with unconverted members, including church kids, adults, and even those in leadership roles. And the reason that there are overwhelming masses of unconverted church members is because we have adopted various “decisionist” methods to get people “saved.” One of the most deadly of these methods is “Ask Christ to come into your heart.” The person who asks Christ to come into his heart, and depends on that prayer, will without question go to Hell at the time of his death. Not a single person who depends on that prayer will be in Heaven. Is that too strong? I don’t think so. It probably isn’t strong enough! A person who depends on “asking Jesus into his heart” will go to Hell! Why? Because that is not the way to be converted according to the Scriptures.

Nowhere does the Bible tell you to “ask Jesus to come into your heart.” Yet this false way of salvation is extremely well known today. Last Sunday evening I asked our congregation how many of them had heard of this. Nearly every hand went up – including the hands of first-time visitors, some of whom had never before attended a Christian church! It is so well known and popular that many people think it must be in the Bible somewhere! But it isn’t. Appeal is sometimes made to Ephesians 3:17. But that verse was given to “the saints which are at Ephesus” (Ephesians 1:1), not to unsaved people – so it has nothing to do with “asking” Jesus into the heart! Appeal is sometimes made to John 14:23, but (like Ephesians 3:17) this verse refers to the Holy Spirit, not to the man Christ Jesus. It refers to the “Spirit of God,” even “the Spirit of Christ” (Romans 8:9) – not to the man Christ Jesus, whom we are told, in fifteen verses in the New Testament, “was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19), “where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1). Fifteen times the New Testament tells us that the risen Christ is up in Heaven, at the right hand of God. The man Christ Jesus does not come down into a sinner’s heart when he prays that prayer. He remains up in Heaven at the right hand of God!

I. First, Revelation 3:20 says nothing about the “heart.”

The main verse that is used by the “salvation by asking Jesus in” preachers is Revelation 3:20. Please open your Bible and read it aloud.

“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).

As I said last Sunday, the word “heart” never appears in this verse. This verse speaks of the “Spirit of Christ” knocking on the door of your conscience. The main way He knocks is through hearing the preaching of the Law and the Gospel. This is illustrated by the testimony of a young person in our church who was hopefully converted not long ago. He said,

As the service started and Dr. Hymers began preaching I was intent on struggling against God, but as the sermon progressed I could feel my sins weighing down upon me. With each passing minute the pain and load of my sins became increasingly unbearable…I had always known that I was a sinner, and my very nature hated God, there was no question about it, but at [this] time I couldn’t escape it…I could not stand myself. Everything I was, everything I had become, seemed so horrible that I felt God was indeed righteous to send me to Hell…Suddenly I remembered the words of a previous sermon…The words, “Yield to Christ! Yield to Christ!” continued echoing in my mind. My will, however, was still unbroken; I was still determined against Christ. Jesus had bled and died for me but I would not stop resisting Him. This condemned me more than ever before. I just could not hold onto my sin any longer. I had to yield to Christ. In a moment I yielded to Christ and came to Him. In that moment I let go of all my hindering doubts and thoughts, and simply came to Jesus. I turned from my sin and myself…to the risen Saviour, by faith…To stop resisting Him was my problem. To come to Him was easy…By God’s grace alone was I convicted and convinced of sin, and by His Son were my sins blotted out of the books in Heaven. All glory to Him!...My hope is in Jesus…In Jesus my soul is sealed, and I must in all sincerity and desperation live for Him.

That is what Revelation 3:20 is talking about! The “Spirit of Christ” knocks and knocks at the door of conscience until the soul yields to Christ. Then it seems easy enough to receive the “Spirit of Christ” and be drawn to the man Christ Jesus. The will must be softened and broken down before the Holy Spirit draws a lost sinner to the Saviour.

II. Second, John 1:12 says nothing about the “heart.”

A second verse that is misused is John 1:12. Please turn there in your Bible and read it aloud,

“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name”
       (John 1:12).

The word translated “received” is the key word. The “salvation-by-prayer” preachers say “receive” means asking the man Christ Jesus into one’s heart. But that is not what the Greek word means at all! The Greek word means “to get hold of” (Strong #2983). It is not the Gnostic idea of receiving Him into one’s self. It means to “take” or “to get hold of” Christ. It cannot refer to receiving the man Christ Jesus into one’s heart, for John was writing about people living at that time, at the same time Christ was on the earth. It would be absurd to think of people living in the time of Christ receiving Him into their hearts! It could not, then, mean that today either. Receiving Christ means “to get hold of” Christ. We “get hold of” Christ when we are born again, as verse thirteen tells us. Read it aloud.

“Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13).

William MacDonald explained this in a simple way:

This verse tells us three ways by which the new birth does not take place, and the one way by which it does. First, the three ways by which we are not born again. Not of blood. This means that a person does not become a Christian through having Christian parents. Salvation is not passed down from parent to child through the blood stream. Nor of the will of the flesh. In other words, a person does not have the power in his own flesh to produce the new birth…Nor of the will of man. No other man can save a person. A preacher, for instance, may be very anxious to see a certain person born again, but he does not have the power to produce [it]. How, then, does this [new] birth take place? The answer is found in the words but of God. This means simply that the power to produce the new birth does not rest with anything or anyone else but God (William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995 edition, pp. 1467-1468; note on John 1:13).

That view, which is the Biblical view, is monergism – God is the author of the new birth and conversion, not man. Since God, not man, produces the new birth, man certainly cannot save himself by the act of praying for Christ to enter his heart! – or by any other prayer! None of the great Christians of history asked Jesus to come into their hearts – Luther did not, Bunyan did not, Whitefield did not, Wesley did not, Spurgeon did not. In fact, none of those famous converts prayed any prayer at all when they were converted! All of them were converted by faith in Christ alone – without prayer!

Spurgeon told of a minister who asked a group of people how a person can be saved,

An old man replied, “We shall be saved if we repent, and forsake our sins, and turn to God.” “Yes,” said a middle-aged [woman], “and with a true heart too.” “Ay,” [said] a third, “and with prayer”; and, added a fourth, “It must be the prayer of the heart”…Thus, each having contributed his mite…they all looked and listened for the preacher’s [approval]; but they had aroused his deepest pity: he had to begin at the beginning, and preach Christ to them. The [unconverted] mind always maps out for itself a way in which self can work and become great; but the Lord’s way is quite the reverse (C. H. Spurgeon, Around the Wicket Gate, Pilgrim Publications, 1992 reprint, p. 25).

Jesus has done all the work needed to save you. He died on the Cross in your place, to pay for your sins. He shed His precious Blood to wash your sin from God’s record books. He rose from the dead to give you life. Now He says to you,

“Come unto me” (Matthew 11:28).

“Come; for all things are now ready” (Luke 14:17).

As that young person said, in the testimony I read earlier, “To stop resisting [Christ] was my problem. To come to Him was easy.” “The words, ‘Yield to Christ! Yield to Christ!’ continued echoing in my mind. My will, however, was still unbroken; I was still determined against Christ. Jesus had bled and died for me but I would not stop resisting Him. This condemned me more than ever before. I just could not hold onto my sin any longer…In a moment I yielded to Christ and came to Him.” Stop depending on prayer! Depend on Jesus Christ Himself. Prayer cannot save you! Only Christ can save you!

Yield to Christ! Submit to Christ! Surrender to Christ! Give in to Christ! Come to Him. Bow before Him. He alone can save you. Don’t ask Him to do anything. If you “ask” you will almost certainly rest in the prayer! That will damn you! You must rest in Christ – not in any prayer! No! No! Yield to Him without asking! Come to Him without prayer!

“Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come…without money and without price” (Isaiah 55:1).

Oh, what a fountain of mercy is flowing
   Down from the crucified Saviour of men.
Precious the blood that He shed to redeem us,
   Grace and forgiveness for all of our sin.
(“Oh, What a Fountain!” by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).

You can read Dr. Hymers’ sermons each week on the Internet
at Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

You may email Dr. Hymers at, (Click Here) - or you may
write to him at P.O. Box 15308, Los Angeles, CA 90015. Or phone him at (818)352-0452

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Ephesians 2:1-9.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Oh, What a Fountain!” (by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).



by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first…” (II Thessalonians 2:3).

(Ephesians 3:17; 1:1; John 14:23; Romans 8:9;
Mark 16:19; Colossians 3:1)

I.   First, Revelation 3:20 says nothing about the “heart,” Revelation 3:20.

II.  Second, John 1:12 says nothing about the “heart,” John 1:12, 13;
Matthew 11:28; Luke 14:17; Isaiah 55:1.