The Roman Road Back to Rome (How Jack Hyles Changed Evangelism)

The Roman Road Back to Rome
Robert Wurtz II

Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. (Exodus 19:5 NKJV)

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:19–20 KJV)


In the middle part of the 20th century discerning preachers and writers sounded an alarm that evangelical Christianity was being assaulted by a combination of humanism and what we now know as decisionism. Humanism is an outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters. Decisionism in Christianity is the belief that a person is saved by coming forward, raising the hand, saying a prayer, believing a doctrine, making a lordship commitment, or some other external, human act, which is taken as the equivalent to, and proof of, the miracle of inward conversion. (Theopedia) Decisionism is sometimes referred to as Sandemanianism (Robert Sandeman (1718-1781)  Proponents of this doctrine suggest that justifying faith is a simple assent to the divine testimony concerning Jesus Christ, differing in no way in its character from belief in any ordinary testimony.

Paris Reidhead (1919-1992) pointed out that humanism had basically married decisionism to give us modern day Evangelicalism. A.W. Tozer (1897-1963), who some have called a prophet to his generation, made similar observations that people were making decisions for Christ based on logical deductions drawn from proof texts. This observation was made in the 1960s. Fast forward to 2015. We have untold numbers of people who claim the name of Christ and have very little understanding or interest in what Jesus talked about in Matthew 28:19-20 where He commanded us to teach all things whatsoever I have commanded you. Not a few verses from Romans; not enough passages and sad stories to secure a “decision;” but  all things whatsoever I have commanded you.

When God got ready to make a covenant agreement with the children of Israel He had the words of the law read to the Israelites no less than three times to insure they were prepared to agree to what God had said. Think about that. Nobody came into that covenant using the methods of what Bill Bright’s wife called a “crackerjack used car salesman.” That’s who Bright used to help train his soul-winners to give a “pitch.” Evangelists are not sales people. When they function and think like sales people they error. God does not want a quick “sign on the bottom line” before you change your mind. God deals with His people little by little just as plays out in the synoptic Gospels. By the end of three years everyone knew if they wanted to be a member of the kingdom of God or not. Jesus never treated anyone as if He had to hurry up and get them saved lest they drop dead unexpectedly. This false notion is one of the reasons why we have so many shallow decisions. Christians think they can make disciples microwave oven style. It doesn’t work and until we get back doing what Jesus told us to do we are going to have almost exclusively carnal, shallow, goats that believe they are sheep.  

God wants His “prospective people” to know what they are getting into. I say prospective because everyone should take time to know the agreement (covenant) before agreeing to it. God is not interested in people agreeing to a few verses, believing their sins are forgiven, and going about their way. God wants His will to be carried out in the lives of His people as His will is carried out in Heaven. Sadly, a man-centered “gospel” has been being preached for over 100 years. The Gospel is all about the happiness of man. Make man happy while he is alive and keep on making him happy in heaven. As Reidhead has so rightly said, this is an appeal to man’s selfishness and it is sin. 

The greatest of all miracles is the new birth, which comes through a supernatural experience. Yet how can people rightly value something they don’t understand? Moreover, how can people understand what they refuse to study? Thanks to a shift in evangelistic emphasis in the second half of the 1800s, multitudes of people grew more concerned with having their sins forgiven than with a true born-again experience. This trend accelerated in the tent revivals of the early 1900s, largely as a consequence of high-speed evangelistic techniques. This is a million miles from go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. 


The Roman Road That Leads Back to Rome



Take the so-called “Roman Road to Salvation” for example. The unsuspecting Christian will receive this teaching as if it was used by Peter and Paul to wins souls. After taking a college level evangelism class, and completing the Billy Graham evangelistic training, I was completely shocked to begin finding out how unbiblical such an approach is. In fact, with each passing day I see the error and destruction of it more clearly. 

America took shape as a nation in the fires of the First Great Awakening, which swept the colonies in the 1730s and ’40s, thanks to the preaching of men like Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield, and John Wesley (all theologians). Those helping to shape modern evangelism included Charles Finney (a lawyer), Dwight L. Moody (a shoe salesman), and Billy Sunday (a professional baseball player). Ignorance of the New Covenant especially came into vogue through Sunday, who loved to exclaim, “I don’t know any more about theology than a jack-rabbit does about ping-pong, but I’m on the way to glory.” This attitude came to a head in 1948, when east Texas pastor Jack Hyles devised the “Roman Road to Salvation.” Hyles simplified salvation by reducing the entire book of Romans to five verses, teaching generations to come how to “lead someone to faith in Christ through a simple system of proof texts.” 
It is sobering to say, but if obstetricians were as reckless with childbirth as many ministers have been with the new birth, we would likely see unprecedented infant mortality rates. People must be born of the Spirit; there is a right way to preach in order to see that reality take place. Spiritual stillbirth is the primary reason why many supposed believers in Christ have no appetite for the Word of God. They remain in a carnal, or unregenerate, state. To paraphrase Paul, spiritual things remain foolishness to them (see 1 Cor. 2:14). What is the solution? Two verses come to mind:

Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. (Exodus 19:5 NKJV)

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:19–20 KJV)
_______________________
footnotes

Jack Hyles, Let’s Go Soul Winning (Mufreesboro, TN: Sword of the Lord Foundation, 1962), 32. In Mr. Hyles’ own words, 
“By the way, you folks who don’t come on Wednesday
night don’t know this, but about twenty-two years ago, in
a little East Texas Church, I came up with a little plan of presenting the plan of salvation called ‘The Roman Road’ whereby you take Verses contained in Romans and show people how to be saved using Romans 3:10, and Romans 3:23, and Romans 5:12, and Romans 5:8, and on and on. I termed it, ‘The Roman Road,’ and from the ‘Roman Road’
I wrote the little book, ‘Let’s Go Soul Winning.’ Over one hundred and thirty-five thousand copies of that book have been printed. It has been translated into several foreign lan- guages: Portuguese, Spanish, Japanese, French, and others, and has literally gone around the world.” From Jack Hyles, 
“There Remaineth Yet Very Much Land to Be Possessed,” http://www.jackhyles.com/muchland.htm (accessed July 18, 2015). 

  

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