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.
Misconception: “If you do not know the date you were saved, then you are not saved.”
The fall breeze blowing through the windows of the Michigan farmhouse was refreshing. The conversation was warm. Sitting across the room, the husband talked about the day he was saved when an exciting transformation took place. His wife, however, appeared uneasy. She was clear on the only means of salvation—trusting Christ alone to save you. So, why the difference?
The thought struck me, “Is she uncomfortable because she can’t tell me the exact date she met the Savior?”
So I volunteered, “Well, the exciting thing is that as long as you’re trusting Christ alone, you are saved regardless of when you crossed the line. You don’t have to know the exact date it happened.”
Her eyes brightened. “That’s my problem,” she said, “I understand the salvation message and know I’ve trusted Christ. But I just can’t tell you what day it happened. I was so afraid you were going to ask the exact date I was saved. For me, it was more gradual until one day I realized that I could tell people that I am saved.”
As a spiritually-searching teen, I too heard that mistaken emphasis on a date. Sadly, it came from an evangelist. With an authoritative voice, he warned, “If you do not know the day you were saved, you are not saved.” He didn’t mean you had to give the exact date, such as October 16th. He meant there had to be an actual day in your mind—one you could look back to and say “I vividly remember on that day I was saved.”
I felt torn. Should I go through the motions of coming to Christ again? That seemed foolish when I’d already done so. Yet if I’m not sure of the date, would I get in trouble with God because He demands something I can’t give? I felt confused, frustrated, scared.
How does that emphasis hinder us in evangelism? Two ways. Doubt about salvation takes away the freeness and joy of speaking about Christ. How can we speak of the ecstasy of heaven if there is any question we’ll be there ourselves? When I first trusted Christ, I wanted everyone to know heaven could be theirs. But I wondered, “Can I tell them how to be saved if I can’t give the exact date of my salvation?” I felt like my foot was on the brake and the gas pedal at the same time. I wanted to go forward but I couldn’t.
Second, it hinders our approach to certain people. What do we say to those who declare they are saved yet cannot give an exact date when they crossed the line?
Stay tuned! On Friday, I’ll take a closer look at what Scripture has to say.