Editor’s note: Below is the text of a tract that was distributed a few years ago in Elk City, Oklahoma by the Bible Baptist Church. After the tract was distributed, the author of this article wrote two letters of reply to the church’s “Pastor,” David Worsham, but never received an answer. One who won’t defend what he preaches ought not to preach at all. The author’s letter follows the tract.
The Baptist Tract
IF YOU DIED RIGHT NOW DO YOU KNOW FOR SURE
THAT YOU WOULD GO TO HEAVEN?
All you have to know is 4 things:
God says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Romans 3:23. If you are honest you know that you have lied. That’s a sin. I’m a sinner. You’re a sinner. All mankind are sinners. How did you become a sinner? What is the price for your sin?
God says, “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. This is the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. God told them they could eat of any tree but the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They disobeyed God and ate from that tree. A sin was committed. That sin passed down to you and me. The price for sin, eternal death in Hell, also passed down to you and me.
God says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8. God loves you very much. He doesn’t want you to go to hell. In fact, he loves you so much that he sent his Son Jesus to die on the cross. When he died on the cross and shed his blood, it was to pay for your sin debt, death. They buried Jesus, but he arose from the dead. He conquered death, and he conquered sin. He offers you life “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” Romans 6:23. Eternal life is a gift. You can’t get baptized into Heaven; pay money to get into Heaven; in fact, you can’t do anything to get into heaven, except to be sorry for your sins and trust Jesus dying for you as your only way into heaven.
God says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:13.
HERE IS HOW YOU CALL UPON THE LORD:
Do you admit that you are a sinner? Do you believe Jesus is the Son of God? If you are truly sorry for your sins and will trust Jesus to take you to heaven when you die, just ask Him.
“Dear Jesus, please forgive me of my sins and come into my heart. (sic) trust you today, JESUS, to take me to HEAVEN when I die. Thank you for saving me. AMEN.”
A Scriptural Reply to the Above Error
Dear Mr. Worsham:
A little over a year ago, my parents received a tract you wrote, and on July 23rd of the same year I wrote you a letter discussing some of the things the tract mentioned. But I never got a response from you.
Last night, my wife and I returned home to find a copy of the very same tract—Bible Baptist Church Welcomes You—in our screen door. Since either you or a member of the Bible Baptist Church left the tract at our house, I’d like the opportunity to once again respond.
As I mentioned in the opening of my letter over a year ago, I do appreciate your evangelistic zeal. It’s refreshing in a time of moral and religious indifference.
However, your explanation of what to do to be saved is at odds with New Testament teaching. The crux of your tract, and thus the heart of the problem, is your treatment of Romans 10:13—calling on the name of the Lord. This verse is the last of four things you say we need to know to ensure our eternal destiny: “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
The problem begins with your next statement. You write, “HERE IS HOW TO CALL UPON THE LORD.” You then ask the reader several questions regarding his soul and his belief in Jesus. Next, you give an example prayer to pray, asking Jesus for forgiveness. Finally, you explain that when one prays to Jesus for forgiveness, he has been ‘born into the kingdom of God.”
Your explanation of Romans 10:13 and how to call upon the name of the Lord is incorrect.
First, you follow the quotation of Romans 10:13 by instructing the reader to “…CALL UPON THE LORD.” Yet, Romans 10:13 instructs sinners to call on the name of the Lord for salvation. This is far different from simply praying to Jesus. Calling on the Lord’s name refers to his authority—appealing to his authority (compare with Acts 4:7-12). According to Colossians 3:17, everything we do in religion is to be done by Christ’s authority. Receiving salvation is no different. We must submit to the Lord’s authority to be saved. this is what Romans 10:13 is teaching. But we must go elsewhere in the New Testament to learn how to call upon the name of the Lord.
Second, you instruct the reader to pray for salvation. this is not how God’s word teaches sinners to obtain salvation. Nowhere in the New Testament is a sinner told explicitly to pray for salvation, and there is no New Testament example of a sinner receiving pardon through prayer. It’s significant that prior to your model prayer for salvation, you quote scriptures to make various points, yet for the prayer itself there is no scriptural reference. This is the case because there is no scriptural support for telling people to be saved through prayer.
So, how does the New Testament teach that a sinner calls on the name of the Lord for salvation? Two examples from the book of Acts—the book of conversions—will explain how.
Romans 10:13 is a quote from Joel 2:32. Peter, in Acts chapter 2, also quotes Joel in explaining the miraculous events transpiring (vv. 16-21). He then preaches that the Jews crucified Christ, the Son of God. Some penitent Jews ask what they need to do in response to their murderous act (v. 37). Peter tells them to “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (v. 38). After telling them in verse 21 that whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved, Peter instructs these Jews to call on the Lord’s name by repenting and being baptized—not by praying for salvation.
Paul’s conversion also illustrates how to call on the Lord’s name. After being stricken blind and talking to Jesus, Paul goes to Damascus to await instructions (Acts 9:6-8). Jesus sends Ananias to Paul, and Ananias finds Paul praying (Acts 9:10-11). If prayer could save it surely would’ve saved Paul. But when Ananias comes to Paul and finds him praying, he instructs Paul to “arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). Paul believed in Jesus and prayed, yet his prayer did not save him. Instead, he was told to call on the name of the Lord and have his sins washed away by baptism.
I wrote to you a year ago, and have written to you again, because this is a serious matter. Although you’re undoubtedly sincere in your belief, nevertheless what you teach concerning how to call on the name of the Lord and receive forgiveness is wrong. Neither salvation nor entrance into the kingdom is accomplished through prayer, as you assert in your tract. Since you are teaching this doctrine publicly, you are under an even greater burden to examine it.
This letter is not written out of anger. Rather, it is written out of concern for the souls of those you teach both orally and through your tracts. I sincerely hope you will consider your teaching in light of what the New Testament says about calling on the name of the Lord.