The Roman Road to Salvation (2022)

The Romans Road to Salvation (2022)

Robert Wurtz II

 

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 always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:19–20 KJV)

 

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3 ESVi)

 

 

Our first passage contains the directive that our Lord gave to the Disciples before he ascended to Heaven. He used the word teach twice; first, as the “who” (all nations) and second, as the “what” (all things that I have commanded you). Teach all nations to observe everything I commanded you and baptize them in water. The objective of the great commission is to replicate the Disciples’ experience of hearing and responding to the Master’s call and then receiving His teaching. The final product should be people who received Christ and His word and have demonstrated this to the world by water baptism. The pattern of response as it developed in the book of Acts was as follows:

Repent

Believe

Be Baptized in Water

Receive the Holy Spirit  

 

Getting through these four milestones (as it were) for Peter and Paul took time and many discussions. It wasn’t as simple as the high-speed evangelistic methods of today, but the result was that they turned the world upside down. If we delete one or more of these steps, we have compromised the Gospel and left the person’s experience incomplete. But if we follow the biblical pattern rather than the popular methods of today, we will find success, and God will bless our work. 

 

The Roman Road Method

 

Many Christians and ministers accept the “Roman Road to Salvation” as a legitimate method of leading a person to Christ. Most people don’t know that Jack Hyles (1925-2001) claimed to develop it in the 1940s when he was a young Christian. He recounts the story in his 1962 book entitled, “Let’s go Soul Winning.” (see footnotes)

 

Anything that speeds up the process of a person getting “saved” needs to be questioned. Salvation is a process in which a person is interacting with God. You can no more speed that up than speeding up baking a loaf of bread. Salvation cannot be achieved by a person ticking five boxes next to five scriptures from the book of Romans. Impatience and the quest for convenience have led to incomplete conversions and compromise.  

 

By the 1950s, discerning preachers such as Dr. A.W. Tozer and Paris Reidhead warned that humanism and decisionism were threatening Christianity. Here are some basic denitions:

 

Humanism is an outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to humans rather than divine or supernatural matters. 

 

Decisionism 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. 

 

Humanism and Decisionism

 

Paris Reidhead (1919-1992) pointed out that humanism merged with decisionism and gave us modern-day Evangelicalism. A.W. Tozer (1897-1963), who some have called a prophet to his generation, made similar observations. He lamented that people made decisions for Christ based on logical deductions drawn from proof texts. Tozer made this observation in the 1960s.

 

Fast forward to today. Untold people claim the name of Christ and have little understanding or interest in what Jesus talked about in Matthew 28:19-20, where He commanded us to teach all things that He taught us. Not a few verses from Romans, not enough passages and sad stories to secure a “decision,” but all of His doctrine, including the difficult sayings that sometimes challenge people and how they live and behave. 

 

When God made a covenant with the children of Israel, the leaders read the law to the Israelites at least three times. He ensured the people knew what they agreed to. Think about it. Nobody came into that Old Covenant using the methods of what popular Christian evangelist Bill Bright’s wife called a “crackerjack used car salesman.” A “crackerjack” is someone that is good at something. Instead of teaching all things that Christ commanded us, Bill Bright trained his soul-winners to give a “pitch.” 

 

Salvation and the Sales Pitch

 

Evangelists are not salespeople. When they function and think like salespeople, they are in error. God doesn’t want a quick “sign on the dotted line before you change your mind” approach. He deals with people little by little, as we read in the Gospels. He wants them to comply completely with His word.  By the end of Jesus’ three years of teaching and preaching, people knew if they wanted to be a member of the kingdom of God or not. His words tested them to make sure they meant it when they answered the call to follow Him and make Him Lord of their life. 

 

Notice that Jesus never treated anyone as if He had to “hurry up and get them saved.” The notion that we must secure a decision immediately (before the person suddenly dies unsaved) is one of the reasons why we have so many shallow conversions. We can’t make disciples microwave oven style. It doesn’t work, and until we get back to doing what Jesus told us to do, we end up carnal, shallow goats who believe they are sheep. This is one of the main reasons churches struggle with carnality and ungodliness. People have to be born again before they can consistently behave in a loving and Christ-like way (John 3:3).

 

Read the Fine Print 

 

God wants people to know what they are getting into. Search the scriptures, for, in them, you think you have eternal life (John 5:39). Everyone should know the important parts of the agreement (covenant) before agreeing to it. God is not interested in people consenting to a few verses, believing their sins are forgiven, and going about their way. God wants people who will strive to fulfill His will in their lives to the same degree it’s carried out in Heaven. Sadly, ministers have preached a man-centered “gospel” for decades that ignores God’s will but still promises the benefits. 

 

A man-centered Gospel makes the message about the happiness of humankind. Make people happy while alive and keep making them comfortable in Heaven. But, as Reidhead rightly said, this appeals to people’s selfishness and is a sin. 

 

Neglecting Genuine New Birth

 

The greatest of all miracles is the new birth. It is more powerful than a bodily resurrection because it’s a Spiritual resurrection. It is a supernatural experience, not a natural phenomenon. Yet how can people value something they don’t understand? Moreover, how can people know what they refuse to study? 

 

Due to a shift in evangelistic emphasis in the second half of the 1800s, multitudes of people grew more concerned with God forgiving their sins than with an authentic born-again experience. This trend accelerated in the tent revivals of the early 1900s, mainly because of high-speed evangelistic techniques. This methodology 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.” 

 

Before The Roman’s Road to Salvation

 

Take the commonly taught “Roman Road to Salvation,” for example. The unsuspecting Christian will receive this teaching as if Peter and Paul used it to win souls. They did not. They would ask us, “What do we think we are doing?” I see the error in methods that result in decisionism each day more clearly. Multitudes of people believe they are saved but never repented.  

 

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). Indeed, God used these men, and I’m not shaming them. However, you must understand that their methods laid the foundation for modern decisionism. 

 

Rationalizing Ignorance

 

Unfortunately, ministers such as Billy Sunday rationalized ignorance with comments like, “I don’t know any more about theology than a jack-rabbit does about ping-pong, but I’m on the way to glory.” As a result of this type of thinking, things came to a head in the 1940s, 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.” 

 

Sadly. if obstetricians were as reckless with childbirth as many ministers and evangelists 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 for that reality to occur. Spiritual stillbirth is the primary reason why many supposed believers in Christ have no appetite for the things of God. They remain in a carnal, unregenerate state. To them, spiritual things are foolish (see 1 Cor. 2:14). What is the solution? We must preach and teach all of the New Testament’s teachings, not just a few verses from Romans. We must give the Holy Spirit time to employ that word in bringing a person to godly sorrow and repentance. 

 

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 always, 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.’ Publishers printed over 135,000 copies of that book. They translated it into 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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