Every time you hear someone speak on God’s behalf, be a careful listener!  Weigh everything they say.  Be on guard because theological error can slip in by stealth.  This comes from 1 John 4:1 and is required every time you hear God’s Word proclaimed regardless of the context or situation.

Recently I had occasion to hear a man preach.  He was talking in the context of a person’s salvation when my “Theological Radar” registered an incoming threat.  The preacher said something so theologically wrong I looked around to see if anyone else caught it (No one did).  I wrote down what he said word for word.  He was talking about a person’s salvation when he said (Name changed)…

When Becky said “Yes,” THEN Jesus said, “I’ll die for her.”  Jesus took the deal… (Emphasis his)

This is theologically wrong on so many levels.  Here are a few things to consider in light of that statement…

John 6:37 “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will never cast out.”  Seems to me that the precipitating factor in salvation begins with God and that is what results in people believing unto salvation.  People do NOT offer a deal to God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit that they decide to accept!

Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9  not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  The only way a person is able to believe is when God awakens them by giving them life unto repentance and thus the ability to believe (Eph 2:1, 5).  The gift described as “this” and “it” means everything that results in salvation are gifts FROM GOD and THAT is why a person believes and is saved.  Repentance, faith, AND believing are gifts GOD gives to people and every single person who receives these gifts from God believes (John 6:37 above).  IF salvation at any point resided in man’s ability or work, then salvation would NOT be of grace and men would be able to boast.

“Jesus took the deal?”  The deal is not ours to make!  Sinners have nothing with which to bargain with God.  A condemned cannot tell the judge the terms of punishment.  A conquered foe does not set the terms of surrender… ever.  To say that “Jesus took the deal” implies that person was in control regarding salvation.  Yet as I read Scripture sinners surrender their life to Christ.  Jesus didn’t take the deal… He said, “These are the terms.  Accept them or die.”  This is found in Acts 17:30-31, “(God)  COMMANDS all people everywhere to repent, 31 because He has fixed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom He has appointed (Jesus)…”  That doesn’t sound like someone offering a deal to God hoping He’ll accept it.  Jesus doesn’t take deals… he commands!  Jesus has conquered sin… destroyed death… and sits in glory over all and therefore HE determines the conditions required for salvation.

I was bothered not only that the preacher said something so wrong, but that it seemed that no one realized or caught the preacher’s theological error!  It bothered me not only that no one caught what the preacher said, but then I couldn’t help but wonder what else he speaks from the pulpit that is sublte error.

I don’t care who it is… what the context… or anything else, keep your theology radar up all the time.  Be a 1 John 4:1 listener.