By Rhonda Stoppe, Crosswalk.com
A helpful resource that many Christians use to share their faith is called, The Romans Road to Salvation. This four-point path can help you explain why a person needs a Savior, but if you’re not careful it can easily be construed as a religious ritual focusing more on what a person can get from God, in exchange for the simple repetition of a prayer. Consider one warning: “I was lost on the Roman Road for years because I trusted a formula instead of trusting Jesus’ work on the cross. Anyone who’s responded to the coaxing and pressure to “go forward”, “raise your hand to get saved”, etc. needs to examine Scripture to be sure they are on the right road.” I’m not ready to throw out the Romans Road as a stepping off point when sharing the gospel, but I think it would be helpful to evaluate ways to incorporate other scriptures along with these verses from Romans to present the whole counsel of God in regards to salvation.
My husband was a youth pastor for eighteen years, and we also spoke together at youth camps, so we’ve seen our share of teens walking aisles to surrender to Christ. We’ve been blessed to see countless lives transformed by their genuine repentance. But, we’ve also observed those who “accepted Jesus” turn back to follow their own path. Whenever someone falls away it’s heartbreaking. In 2 Timothy 4:10, Paul lamented over those who turned back to the world. First John 2:19 offers this insight, “They went out from us, but they were not of us: for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us.”
It’s the Spirit’s work that brings people to genuine salvation. When He invites us to join Him, by sowing seeds of the gospel, it’s sometimes tempting to pressure a person to raise their hand or pray a prayer to “accept Jesus” before they're ready. When this happens the heartfelt prayer at the altar may not result in a true conversion––which is heartbreaking and confusing. It helps to understand that simply reciting a prayer is not what God requires. Rather, He’s looking for a heart that is broken and contrite over sin. It is this godly sorrow, inspired by the Spirit’s work, that produces true repentance leading to salvation (see 2 Corinthians 7:9-10).
The Apostle Paul warned: “Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babbling and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge (1Timothy 6:20). Because God calls us to spread the gospel of salvation we must prepare ourselves to effectively communicate what is truly the good news. (see Matthew 7:22-23).
One theologian observes:
“We have domesticated evangelism. We have reduced it to the unimaginative, repetitive level of the door-to-door selling of life insurance. We should be appalled at this."
The Romans Road to Salvation Meaning:
- All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
- The wages of sin is [eternal] death (Romans 6:23).
- The free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23b).
- Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead (Romans 10:9).
Let’s break down the Bible verses and meaning of the four points of Romans Road:
1. All Have Sinned - Romans 3:23
"for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" - Romans 3:23
"As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one." Romans 3:10-12
You must help people comprehend how true salvation involves being contrite over their sin. Unless a person is ready to repent and turn from their sinful ways, to walk in wholehearted obedience to Christ as their Lord and Master, they cannot be saved.
Ponder David’s contrition:
Have mercy on me O God, according to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only have I sinned and done this evil in Your sight –– …For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart–– These, O God, You will not despise. (Psalm 51:1-4, 16-17)
2. The Wages of Sin - Romans 6:23
"For the wages of sin is death" - Romans 6:23
To be truly redeemed, a person must realize their sin is an offense to our Holy God. They must understand, unless they turn to Jesus, they will be judged for their iniquities and suffer the consequence of eternal condemnation. When Jesus shared the gospel with Nicodemus He explained, “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the Name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). For too long the pendulum in the church has swung far away from preaching hellfire and brimstone. I get it. We don’t want to scare people into salvation, but it’s Christ’s love that compels us to warn them that their sin must be judged. And without Christ, they stand condemned and without hope. It’s been said that Jesus warned more about the consequence of hell than the blessings of heaven. Let us learn from His example.
3. God’s Free Gift - Romans 6:23
"but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 6:23
"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." - Romans 5:8
Be aware that many people who’ve used, or responded to, the Romans Road often miss the vital point of repentance and wholehearted devotion to Christ as their Master. Giving the impression that simply “accepting Jesus” will bring earthly blessings and heaven’s reward, at no personal sacrifice to the sinner, is a watered-down gospel that will “tickle the ears” of people who want to believe that Christianity is all about them and their happiness. Salvation is and always has been about God redeeming mankind for Himself, not the other way around.
While some believe God’s free gift costs them nothing, others mistakenly believe that practicing religious rituals is what God requires. Either extreme misses the way to receive God’s true gift of redemption. The Bible is clear that salvation comes through grace alone (Ephesians 2:4). But we can’t give people the impression that believing is all they have to do to be saved. We must follow Jesus’ example, during His earthly ministry, when people asked Him how to be saved. For example, when the rich young ruler asked Jesus how to be saved, He didn’t say, “Good, you believe. Awesome! Now go live your life and I’ll see you in heaven when you die.”
Rather, Jesus looked lovingly into the man’s heart and knew that his wealth was the sinful idol keeping him from following Christ. “Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross and follow Me. But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions (see: Mark 10:17-22). Notice, Jesus’ loving-kindness toward the man. Oh that God would grant us His heart to share the gospel with such gracious compassion. Realize, it’s not the man’s wealth that kept him from salvation. It was his refusal to turn from everything in his life that was more important to him than following and serving Christ.
Following Jesus’ example when you share Christ with one who's accomplished, wealthy or successful, don’t water down the gospel, but rather help them see how things in this life can keep them from following Christ. Jesus was not a weak teacher who glossed over His message to attract followers, and neither should we. He calls for wholehearted devotion. “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Mark 8:34-36).
4. Confess Jesus Is Lord - Romans 10:9
"If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." - Romans 10:9
"for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." Romans 10:13
You might be thinking, What’s all this talk about counting the cost and wholehearted devotion? It is a red flag if someone says, “I believe in Jesus, but I’m just doing my own thing right now.” Belief as mentioned in John 3:16-17 is describing one point and time action with a continuing life-changing result––not a mere mental assent to who Jesus is and what He accomplished on the cross. A person unwilling to obey The Lord is likely not born again. A true believer will confess with their mouth Jesus as Lord and believe that God has raised Jesus from the dead––and they will be saved.
Proclaim the Gospel
Sharing the gospel can be intimidating but by the power of the Spirit indwelling, you don’t shrink back. God wants you and I to boldly proclaim the good news. So arm yourself with the powerful gospel of peace and prayerfully ask Jesus to open doors for you to share the good news with those He is drawing to repentance and salvation.
“Preach the word; Be urgent in season and out. Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” (2 Timothy 4:2, 1 Peter 3:15).
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Contact Rhonda via her website to request the article How to Have a Relationship with Jesus. For more evangelism training with Rhonda Stoppe:
Rhonda Stoppe is the NO REGRETS WOMAN. With more than 30 years experience of helping women build no-regrets lives. I could have listened to Rhonda talk all night, is what women say about Rhonda’s enthusiastic, humorous, transparent teaching and zeal as an evangelist. She’s committed to fulfilling the Titus 2:4 commission by mentoring, teaching, and writing books that are inspiring, grounded in Scripture, and easy to read––like you're visiting with a friend over coffee.
Rhonda is the author of 6 books and appears on numerous radio programs, including Focus on the Family, Family Life Today and Dr. James Dobson’s FamilyTalk, & hosts The No Regrets Hour. Her new podcast, Old Ladies Know Stuff, just launched. She’s an evangelist and speaker at women’s events, College Women’s Chapel, Pastor’s Wives Conferences, MOPs and Homeschool Conventions. Sharing the gospel at her NoRegretsWoman Conference is her sweet spot. Rhonda is a regular contributor for Crosswalk and many other magazines. Rhonda ministers alongside her husband Steve, who for 20 years has pastored First Baptist Church of Patterson, California. They live out their own Real Life Romance writing books and speaking at their No Regrets Marriage Conferences, but their favorite ministry is their family. They have four grown children and ten grandchildren. To learn more about Rhonda’s speaking topics, watch her teaching, and book Rhonda for your next event, visit: NoRegretsWoman.com.