Note: This is the first of several evangelism misconceptions in our series “Correcting our Misconceptions about Evangelism” adapted from Larry Moyer’s book 21 Things God Never Said. See also: “Evangelism Misconception: You Gotta Know the Date (Part 1)” and “Evangelism Misconception: You Gotta Know the Date (Part 2).”
Misconception: “If you do not know the date you were saved, then you are not saved.”
Why is the fact, not the date, important? For one, Who saved us results in our security, not when. We are saved because we are His regardless of when we became His. We must put the emphasis the same place God does. Christ affirmed, “He who believes in Me has everlasting life” (John 6:47).
Second, as you give your testimony, when you were saved is of little help. No one can come to Christ when you did. That moment passed. They must come to Christ the way you did—as a sinner trusting Christ. If you know the date, feel free to mention it. What helps most is relating how you were saved—by grace through faith.
A third reason explains why the fact, not the date, is important. Many, when they see Christ, will discover they only thought they knew the exact day. The eternal transaction took place a week or even months later when they really understood the gospel.
I confess to possibly being one of those. I came to understand the gospel through my own Bible study while growing up on my dad’s dairy farm in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I plowed the fields, cultivated the corn, hoed the garden. Perspiration rolled off my face. I hardly noticed. My thoughts were on what I was learning—eternal life is free.
When the truth dawned, I dropped to my knees by my bed one night there on the farm and trusted Christ. When I attended Philadelphia Biblical University and learned more about God’s grace and eternal security, I was ecstatic. I grasped the unconditional love of God like never before. I wonder at times, did I really trust Christ that night on the dairy farm? Or was I saved during my first year of Bible college? I look forward to finding out!
A fourth reason is as critical as any. We often confuse others, especially children, by emphasis on a fact, not a date. Children understand better as they mature. They then question whether they understood the gospel when they thought they came to Christ. They are relieved to know that if they are trusting Christ alone they are saved. The moment salvation occurred is not the issue.
A sensitive first-year Bible college student came up to me with tears running down her cheeks. She shared, “You have just relieved me of a tremendous burden. It’s now completely gone.” She explained that her parents told her she came to Christ as a small child. She told her parents that she wasn’t sure that she had really understood it back then.
They kept saying, “All we remember is that you prayed and we’re sure that’s when you came to Christ.”
They may have been sure but she wasn’t. Understanding the issue is fact not date she said, “I now know I’m saved and I know why.” Her frustration could have been avoided. The distorted and unbiblical emphasis on date was regrettable.
If you know the date you were saved, the Savior is exalted. If you don’t know the exact day, but know you are trusting Christ alone, the Savior is exalted. Understanding who saved us and how we were saved is what matters. Recalling the exact date of our salvation does not.
If one trusts Christ alone to save him, he is saved. He doesn’t have to know the exact date. It is the Who and the how of our salvation that matters, not the date.