Salvation … the Roman Road or the Jerusalem Road?
By Bobby G. Richardson
Let’s begin by talking about the Roman Road Plan of Salvation, which is used by virtually all denominations (their ministers and lay workers) today. And, then we’ll compare that to the Jerusalem Road Plan of Salvation, which is very clearly established in the Bible, as first implemented, and consistently used, by the “original” New Testament leaders and “foot print followers” of our Lord Jesus Christ and documented in numerous places in the New Testament.
I would like to mention something which is very important to understanding the purpose of this study. I’d like to begin this by drawing a parallel between telling someone how to be saved (i.e., how to make it to Heaven), with that of someone wanting to go from Bogue Chitto, MS to Orlando, FL, with directions ofI-55 South. And being sincere with said directions, and while telling them to take I-55 South would not be a lie, it would be only part of the truth. Furthermore, if telling them to take I-55 South was the only thing told to them (and they didn’t receive additional truth, or directions, down I-55 somewhere by someone or by some means) they’d never make it to Orlando, FL because I-55 doesn’t go to Orlando, FL. And, that’s what concerns me about the multitudes who are being told by trained ministers or lay workers today, who have been indoctrinated (trained and taught) to parrot the Roman Road Plan of Salvation to others, about how to be “saved”, i.e. how to go to Heaven.
It’s disturbing that some ministers and lay people actually use the Roman Road Plan of Salvation to tell a lost person, who sincerely recites the words of one of the various versions of the Sinner’s Prayer, that they are ready to go to Heaven, right then and there … POOF … just like that! And, we’ll get more into that in a few minutes.
As we go through this study, we will use the Holy Bible as the rule and guide of faith and moral conduct, not just the publications, creeds, articles of faith, or by-laws of a religious organization/denomination, and base beliefs on the PREPONDERANCE of Scriptural evidence found written VERBATIM upon the pages of the King James Version on any subject.
While we are talking about the Roman Road, please keep in mind that the Book of Romans was addressed, and directed, to Christians in Rome (people already saved [so to speak] and who were already part of a church and/or associated with it, not to unsaved, rank sinners). Therefore, why anyone uses admonitions to Christians to establish a Plan of Salvation to rank sinners is really a strange approach for anyone to take. But, the targeted audience of the Book of Romans (Christians) is the first thing that must be considered, cleared up and understood. Now, with that in mind, here’s the Roman Road Plan of Salvation (and if you doubt or question this presentation, look it up in an encyclopedia or just go to a search engine on the Internet and type in “Roman Road Plan of Salvation”, and see for yourself).
Now, here’s how most people utilize the Roman Road Plan of Salvation: They will tell a person it is very easy to be saved (which is a true statement). Then, they will sort of walk them through the following steps:
They’ll tell the person to realize they are a sinner. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” (Romans 3:23) … true, and a good place to start.
Then, they’ll tell them to realize that a price must be paid for their sin. ” … and without shedding of blood is no remission.” (Hebrews 9:22) “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:” (Romans 5:12) … still, all true.
Next, they’ll tell them to realize that a price had to paid for their sin AND that the price has already been paid by Jesus Christ! “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) … again, all true stuff.
Then, they’ll tell the person to ask Jesus to come into their heart and save their soul, and to accept His sacrifice as the punishment for their sin. “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” (Romans 10:9) … the trip down I-55 South (so to speak) begins.
At this point, they’ll ask the person if they are willing to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior right then and there. If so, they’ll ask the person to recite the words of “The Sinner’s Prayer”. And, they’ll be saved at that very moment! POOF! Just like that!
Here’s one version of “The Sinner’s Prayer”:
“Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner. I know that without you I will spend eternity in Hell when I die. But, you said that you would save me if I would call upon You! Please cleanse me of all my sins Lord, and come into my heart. I thank you for saving me, help me now to live a life that’s pleasing to You! I pray this in Your Name, Amen.”
In addition, the person will probably be told that it’s not the “accuracy” of every word that they say that’s important, but rather the “sincerity of their heart” when they say it that really matters! After a person has “accepted Christ as their personal saviour”, prayed the sinner’s prayer and/or walked down the aisle, shook the preacher’s hand and made a public profession of faith, the Roman Road minister or lay worker (recruiter) will usually conclude by welcoming that person into the Family of God. And, depending upon the situation, either announce to the congregation, and ask for a motion and a second for them to be accepted into that particular Roman Road Church, or if not in a church setting, it will strongly be suggested that they allow the recruiter to help them with addition information and assistance in getting plugged in to a “Roman Road Church” close to them, whatever denomination the recruiter is affiliated with.
Some treat baptism like optional equipment on a car. You can take it or leave it. And, you can immerse or sprinkle, depending on the denomination. Did you see anything about the Roman Road Plan of Salvation which even touched on repentance, baptism or being endued with power from on high (born of the Spirit … the BIBLE WAY) in any of that?
Above, there are some key things missing in the Roman Road Plan of Salvation. Granted, the Roman Road Plan of Salvation’s “easy believeism” is popular, and more often than not is made up of faith without works, which is dead. Granted, multitudes are traveling down that Roman Road., but somebody needs to put up a bill board to commend them on their desire to serve the Lord, and to let them know that they need to go from the Roman Road to the Jerusalem Road because, while Roman Road is commendable, it, alone, won’t take you all the way to Heaven. There’s more to it than that.
Also, it should be clearly understood that people who are spiritually bound, as I once was, need a life transformation, not just a reformation. And, people who are bound need deliverance, not just a few words spoken to them in an attempt to pacify their guilty conscience and ease their troubled mind. And, as I’ve already stated, I am not against someone reciting the words to one of the various versions of The Sinner’s Prayer, and I’m not against someone “accepting the Lord as their personal Saviour”, and I’m not even against someone walking down front and making a public profession of faith. All of these rituals can be good “starting places” for anyone who needs delivering, who desires to turn their life around, and develop a right relationship with God. But, there’s a lot more to it than that. None of these rituals, alone, can transform, or deliver, a person who is “really” bound. Also, none of these rituals confirm that the person has actually fulfilled any of the very basic requirements of repentance and being “born again” of water AND of the Spirit, as unequivocally established by our Lord.
The Jerusalem Road Plan of Salvation was unequivocally stated by Peter, under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:38, “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
Remember, Peter had been given the “keys” of the Kingdom by Jesus prior to this. Now, to confirm the fact that Acts 2:38 (actually spoken to sinners, beginning at Jerusalem) is the Jerusalem Road Plan of Salvation, please consider the following presentation AND evaluation of the Jerusalem Road Plan of Salvation …
Step 1 – Repentance of sins
Jesus said in Luke 13:3 ” … except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” And He COMMANDED in Luke 24:47 that REPENTANCE AND REMISSION OF SINS should be preached in HIS NAME among ALL nations, BEGINNING at Jerusalem.
What is repentance? It is coming to God as you are, but NOT staying as you are. Repentance is changing your heart, you mind, your attitude, your thoughts AND your actions, OR doing an about face (or a 180 as some people call it). Turning away from the things that the Word of God and the Spirit of God admonishes us to abstain from. Once a person understands who Jesus “really” is, Repentance is the first step in a person’s approach to God. Unfortunately, many people are never told anything whatsoever about the importance of repentance or what it means to truly repent.
Step 2 – Water Baptism in the precious name of Jesus
The “name” alluded to in Matthew 28: 19, for the remission of sins, as per Acts 2:37-41; Acts 8:14-17; Acts 10:44-48; and Acts 19:1-6. Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:1-8 that unless a person is “born again” of water AND of the Spirit, they cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. And, He said in Mark 16: 16 “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Also, the Greek word that was translated into English as “baptize” is “baptizo” meaning: fully wet, immerse, submerge, plunge into, dip or bury. Water baptism also symbolizes the burial of Christ (a complete entombment not just sprinkling a little dirt on a dead corpse.)
Repentance and Baptism in the precious name of Jesus for the “remissions of sins” and receiving the “gift” of the Holy Ghost is what God inspired Peter to say in Acts 2:38, in response to those who asked him what they should do. Water can’t wash away sins, but invoking the name of Jesus in faith during baptism sure can, and does.
We are admonished in the Bible that whatsoever we do in word AND deed, to do all of it in the NAME of Jesus. And, that includes baptism, something that many people don’t even believe is important. However, our Lord, God Incarnate (God in the form of man) traveled about 60 miles either on foot or by animal to be baptized.
Jesus had no sins to repent of, but said it was to “fulfill all righteousness” … AND to set an example for you and me to follow. If it was THAT important to Him, it should certainly be important to you and 1. And, let me insert here that there is no contradiction in the Apostles’ carrying out Jesus’ Great Commission of Matthew 28: 19 by invoking the NAME of Jesus in baptism instead of invoking the titles of Father, Son and Holy Ghost. They came to the understanding as to who Jesus “really” is. However, that is a complete Bible Study in and of itself.
Step 3 – Receiving the Holy Spirit (the Bible way)
Many professing Christians are told they have been endued with power from on high the moment they believed and/or was baptized. But, did you know there are documented accounts in the Bible where people received the Holy Ghost BOTH BEFORE they were baptized AND AFTER they were baptized AND AFTER they believed? So, believing and baptism doesn’t mean a person has automatically been endued with that power from on high. However, I’m not aware of anyone in the New Testament Church being endued with power from on high prior to repentance. Simon the sorcerer believed and was baptized in Acts Chapter 8, but didn’t have a repentant heart because Peter rebuked him, because his heart was not right with God, when he offered money so he would be able to impart this power to others.
Jesus told Nicodemus in John Chapter 3:
3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is everyone that is born of the Spirit.
According to Jesus, there would be a “sound” heard when every one is born of the Spirit.
Many people are told they’ve been endued with this power from on high, and are told it is accepted by faith. But, that doesn’t harmonize with the PREPONDERANCE of Scriptural evidence found written VERBATIM on the pages of God’s Holy Word. You cannot “see” the wind. But, Jesus said, “thou hearest the sound thereof’. The “sound” of the wind is the evidence or witness of the wind’s presence. At any rate, Jesus used the wind and the “sound” as an analogy to describe EVERY ONE that is born of the Spirit.
While being born of water certainly can be seen, being born of the Spirit is not something that is visibly seen. But when a person is born of the Spirit, according to Jesus, Himself, there will be a “sound” heard as a witness or as evidence. The “voice” of the wind is the “sound” or the “sound” of the wind is its “voice”, the witness or evidence. Likewise, the “voice” of everyone born of the Spirit is the “sound” that Jesus spoke of or the “sound” Jesus spoke of is the “voice” of everyone born of the Spirit… the witness or evidence. All of these received the Holy Ghost spoke in tongues…
1. The 120 in the upper room in Acts 2:1-4, …. they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
2. The household of Cornelius in Acts 10:44-48, … While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.
3. The 12 disciples of John in Acts 19:1-6, … And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.
It is specifically mentioned in Acts 10:44-48, that that’s how the Jews, who came with Peter, knew that the Gentiles had received the Holy Ghost … “for they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.”
Greek word that was translated into English as “sound” is phone pronounced “fo-na'” (Strong’s #G5456) … which means:
1) a sound, a tone
* of inanimate things, as musical instruments
2) a voice
* of the sound of uttered words
* of a language, tongue
The following examples are where the Greek word that was translated into English as “sound” in John 3:8 “thou hearest the sound” (Strong’s #G5456) is used in other places:
* Act 7:31 – When Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold it, the voice 5456 of the Lord came unto him,
* Act 9:4 – And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice 5456 saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
* Act 9:7 – And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice 5456, but seeing no man.
* Act 10:13 – And there came a voice 5456 to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.
* Act 10:15 – And the voice 5456 spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.
* 1 Corinthians 14:7 – And even things without life giving sound 5456, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped?
* 1 Corinthians 14:8 – For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound 5456, who shall prepare himself to the battle?
* 1 Corinthians 14:10 – There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices 5456 in the world, and none of them is without signification.
At any rate, as God’s people, we are to be different … and NOT like the crowd. The crowd is wrong. We’re to be different. And, we’re different for a reason … and there’s a reason for the difference.
* 2 Corinthians 6:17 – Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,
* Deuteronomy 14:2 – for thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.
* 1 Peter 2:9 – But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew f011h the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
* Titus 2:11-14 – For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
This article “Salvation…The Roman Road Or The Jerusalem Road?” by Bobby G. Richardson was excerpted from Impact Ministry Evangelism.