Things Tradition Has Added to the Gospel

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by LP, Mar 10, 2002.

  1. LP

    LP
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    Some Inventions Of Man That Have Become "Essential" Parts Of the Modern Gospel

    The Term and Concept of "Personal Savior." - I find it very disturbing when something unnecessary is added to the Gospel. The use of the term "Personal Savior" isn't very harmful in itself, but it shows a kind of mind - set that is willing to "invent" terms, and then allow these terms to be preached as if they were actually found in the Bible.

    But why must we do this? Why must we add needless, almost meaningless things to the Gospel? It is because we've taken so much out that we have to replace it with "spiritual double talk." ...People solemnly speak of Christ as their personal Savior, as if they've got Him right there in their shirt pocket - and as if when He returns, He will not have two, but three titles written across His thigh: King of kings, Lord of lords, and PERSONAL SAVIOR! (See Rev. 19:16.) This is only one example of how a non-biblical term can be elevated to reverence by the Church, as if to say, "Well even if it isn't in the Bible - it should be!"

    The Alter Call. - Imagine if you can, Jesus having people bow their heads after hearing the Sermon on the Mount, and then very slowly and softly (while Bartholomew plays "How Great Thou Art" on the accordion) saying to the crowd, "While your heads are bowed and your eyes are closed, if you really want to be My disciple tonight, if you really want to show My Father and I that you truly mean to follow this sermon I have given, then I want you to slip your hand up slowly, so that I may see it. There now... yes... yes... I see that hand ... and that one ... and the one way back by the fig tree ... yes! Now, please, while Bart plays another chorus, I'd like you to start moving down through the center of the crowd ... yes, those who raised their hand. I want to know if you really mean business. I'd like to lead you in a prayer ...

    I realize that there are some who will see such an illustration as sacrilegious. And that's just the point. They think that making fun of the "altar call" is making fun of God. But it isn't. Traditions die hard, because they take so long to form. Once I received a very intense letter from the pastor of a church who had sponsored me in a city-wide concert in his area. He was upset that I had "let several hundred souls go ungathered" because I had not given an altar call. He said, "It seems you have no burden for souls." (Nothing could be further from the truth.) But because I had not given the recognized "official invitation," this pastor could see no value in my presentation of the Gospel. Or as Tony Salerno, (director of "The Agape Force"), once remarked, "If you don't give an altar call, they think you have committed the 'unpardonable sin!'"

    The Gradual Altering Of the "Alter Call"

    Believe it or not, the altar call was invented only about 150 years ago. It was first used by the American evangelist, Charles Finney, as a means of separating out those who wanted to talk further about the subject of salvation.

    Finney called the front pew "the anxious seat" (for those who were "anxious" about the state of their souls) or "the mourner's bench." Finney never "led them in a prayer," but he and a few others would spend a great deal of time praying with and giving specific instruction to each, one by one, until finally, everyone was sent home to pray and continue seeking God until "they had broken through and expressed hope in Christ," as Finney would say. .... This is what the early "altar call" was like. But gradually, it began to become a fixed part of every meeting, and like all other traditions, it began to lose its original spirit. The "coming forward" part started to be more important than the "sorrow, confession, repentance, and instruction" parts. Eventually, anyone who would "come down the aisle" was excitedly proclaimed "a new believer in Christ!" No matter how they felt, they still were told, "Your sins are forgiven, brother! Rejoice in Christ!" How many a miserable, defeated, and confused person has come away from a meeting like this? (Jer. 6:14)

    The Sinner's Prayer. - Can you also try and imagine this scene where Jesus is leading some new "disciples" in the "sinner's prayer"?

    "Wow! There are so many that came forward for salvation tonight!" (The multitude applauds.) "Now, it is very simple. You just repeat this little prayer after Me, and then you're a Christian! Now it doesn't really matter whether you fully understand the prayer . . . it works just the same. Now ready? Repeat after Me... 'Dear Jesus... Come into my heart...'" and so on ...

    As you can see, when we try to picture Jesus Himself using our modern methods of evangelism, it seems completely foolish. I think this is a very good test for any method. "Could I see Jesus doing this?" or "Could I see Jesus preaching or teaching this?" Since the Bible tells us, "Walk in the manner that He walked" (I John 2:6), we should always try to compare our actions and message to the Master's.

    I believe that a true "sinner's prayer" will gush out of anyone who is truly seeking God and is tired of being enslaved to sin. (Matt. 5:6) The very act of "leading someone in a prayer" is utterly ridiculous. You will find nothing even remotely like it in the Bible, or among the writings and biographies of those in Church history. It completely savors of crowd and peer pressure tactics, and (please forgive me) brainwashing techniques. I do not believe that Jesus wants to have His disciples "repeat after Me," I believe He wants them to follow after Him!

    Premature Birth - As with the altar call, the practice of having someone repeat a prayer with the minister probably originated from the best of intentions. And no doubt, there are those who have "followed through," continuing to pray and walk with God, entering into the path of righteousness through God's infinite grace. But also, like the altar call, the so-called "sinner's prayer" is one of those tools that make it alarmingly easy for someone to consider himself a Christian, when he has absolutely no understanding of what "counting the cost" (Luke 14:2 really means.

    The greatest reason I believe that God can be grieved with the current use of such tools as the "altar call" and "sinner's prayer" is because they can take away the conviction of the Holy Spirit prematurely, before the Spirit has time to work repentance leading to salvation. With an emotional splash that usually doesn't last more than a few weeks, we believe we're leading people into the Kingdom, when really we're leading many to hell - by interfering with what the Spirit of God is trying to do in a person's life. Do you hear? Do you understand that this constitutes "spiritual abortion"? Can't you see the eternal consequences of jumping the gun, trying to bring to birth a baby that isn't ready?

    We are so afraid that we'll see a "big one that got away," that we'd rather rush someone into a shallow decision, and get the personal gratification of seeing him "go down the aisle," than take the time to fully explain things to him, even if it takes long hours and nights of travailing prayer for his soul. We just don't "have the time" to do things God's way anymore.

    But God would rather see one true convert than an ocean full of "decisions." Oh, can't you see what a mess we're in? What we've done to the Gospel? And when those "converts" no longer want to fellowship with us, when they want to go back to their old friends and their old way of life, we have the nerve to call it "backsliding," when we stood in the very way of them ever "front-sliding" toward the cross! Oh, it breaks my heart to think of that awsome day when God will judge those who have "stumbled one of these little ones." (Mark 9:42)

    Other Man-Made Methods That Have Made the Modern Gospel Very Shallow, And Therefore Unbiblical

    Quick and Easy "1-2-3 Steps-To-Salvation" Booklets - Unless these or any other "gospel" booklets contain the same message that our Lord preached (and commanded His disciples to spread "to every kindred and nation"), then they are worse than "inadequate tools"....

    Booklets like these usually mention a "sort-of" repentance like, "you must turn from your sins, to Jesus." But they rarely explain what "turning" really means. This is also true of such other vital terms such as "Lord" - they usually refer to Jesus as "Lord," but again, they seldom define "lordship" - and people go their merry way, believing they have the full right to continue running their own lives as long as they call Jesus "Lord." (See Matt 7:21; Luke 6:46.)

    I believe we shall see in that great day, when God spreads out the lives of men in judgment, how many were truly converted by the efforts of these ministries, and how many were turned aside from the path of righteousness - being led to believe the pleasant half-truths contained in these shallow and false epistles that have been printed to the ends of the earth by people with "the best intentions, and the highest integrity." (Matt. 23:15)

    "The Follow-Up Program." - There is one last great mistake being committed in the name of evangelism. It is rightly called "follow-up." I say "rightly called" because it is following up the same miserable and incomplete gospel with a miserable, incomplete, and false replacement for what the Bible calls "discipleship."

    In my studies of the life of Jesus, it has amazed me that He never had "a follow-up program." It was usually His habit to let people "follow Him up." He never had to go door to door, looking for that fellow who He healed last week, wanting to share another parable or two. He always seemed to have the attitude of, "If they want life, then they'll have to come and follow Me."

    Can't you see what fools we are? We preach a man-made, plastic gospel. We get people to come forward to "the altar" by bringing psychological pressures that have nothing to do with God. We "lead them" in a prayer that they are not yet convinced they need to say. And then to top it all off, we give them "counseling," telling them it is a sin to doubt that they're really saved!

    Beloved family, the world around us is going to hell...because of the Church! We are to blame! We alone have the commission, the power, and the truth of God at our constant disposal to deliver sinner after sinner from eternal death. And even though some are willing to go...into the streets, the prisons, foreign lands, or even next door, they are taking a watered-down, distorted version of God's message which He has not promised to anoint. That is why we are failing. And unless we admit that we are failing, then I'm afraid there is no hope for us or the world around us. We have the choice between causing eternal tragedy for our whole generation, or bringing our beloved God a whole family full of "good and faithful servants."

    Quotes excerpted from an article by Keith Green.
     
  2. Monergist

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    Great post, LP.

    These are things that are eating the very heart out of the typical evangelical church today. :(
     
  3. Chet

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    Amen again LP. Loved the illustrations.
     
  4. tyndale1946

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    From TimothyW

    I can't reply to this as my church has never had these problems and I can't speak for other churches... Brother Glen [​IMG]
     
  5. just-want-peace

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    I believe that Jesus walked everywhere he went also! According to my understanding of your post, we are watering down the Gospel if we drive to church! Jesus never rode in a car to church; most likely ( :D ) He never preached on radio or TV either! Does that mean that these "things" are wrong? :confused:

    Seriously, I feel that you are trying to point out that there are many un-biblical practices going on today, but to repeat the old adage "don't throw out the baby with the bathwater!"

    Just because "Jesus didn't- - -" is not reason to refrain. As with the above two examples, there are lots of methods that Jesus didn't use, but does that ONE fact make them wrong?

    Can you show biblically that, given today's culture, He would not give an invitation that you decry as heresy? Can you honestly say that He would condemn a simple prayer that a sinner could understand that held the essentials of salvation? Are you biblically convinced that Jesus would never, maybe even disapprove of, follow up visits to assure that a new Christian is getting a good basic start on their Christian walk?

    Sure, any and all "of the above" can, and are, misused; but does that make the act itself wrong, or just the results of a fallen humanity that will always misuse things of God?

    Again, just because it was not"done by Jesus", or "in the bible", is not justification to denounce! If you can show a biblical principle that "---" violates, then you may have a case for condemnation. I'll be one of the first to agree with you IF you can show some VALID reasons from scripture to not do the things that you dis-approve!
     
  6. Bro. John Willis

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    I certainly appreciate hearing others take the same stand against additions to the Gospel. The practices that you listed are just the tip of the iceberg so to speak. For Baptists it is not enough to verbally assent to the preservation of the complete Word of God, we must seek to defend and perform its sacred principles and methods. Tha "additions" crowd are in the same league with Papists and Protestants. We Baptists on the other hand have been historically persecuted and destroyed for maintaining the pure Word of God with no additions and no subtractions. Our detractors, the Papists and Protestants, summarily would destroy anyone who disagrees with their actions as you have. Yet, there are some who take the name Baptist and want to be the same as their would-be murderers. This is how Baptists (so-called) deny or hate Baptists (true), it's because their Baptist hating friends do!
    I have as saying, or rather formula, that I teach all young preachers that come to me for counsel..it's "Bible Principles + Bible Methods = Bible Results". I'm sure that if anyone will seek out and follow this little saying, he won't be able to go wrong in ministry. Just follow it to it's logical conclusion and see if it's not true.
    This was a good start on this thread keep it up. There are a vast many more unscriptural additions that Baptist have to contend with and also answer to God for.
    Your brother
    John
     
  7. rlvaughn

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    LP, I would also add the "accept Christ," "ask Jesus to come into your heart," or "receive Jesus in your heart" mantras of the modern church.
     
  8. LP

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    Travelling techniques change, but you still travel--on your feet or in a plane.

    Comminication techniques change, but you still communicate--on a hill or over a radio.

    But the gospel does not change, people still must come the same way.

    The BIBLICAL FACT is that Jesus never did any of the evangelism techniques in the leading post.

    Neither did any of the Apostles in Acts.

    Yet, all of them DID do evangelism.

    Too many times, we do "evangelism," and the spirit and result is all so very different from the New Testament. We do traditions in the place of evangelism, not disimilar to the Catholic church's traditions. This whole area is another one wherein it is time to mature n our soteriology.

    Jesus had a very different evangelism "style" than we have today. He rarely gave the same message twice. He did not go about declaring the Four Spiritual Laws, as we do, and getting people to nod agreement to them.

    He knew what was in people. He listened intently to them, and while doing so, listened intently to His Father about them. Then, with a word for them, He met them where they were at, not where He thought they needed to be at. He spoke accordingly.

    Manifested, this meant Jesus spoke one message to the woman at the well--"Living Water," and that after lovingly uncovering her shame.

    He spoke another message to Zaccheus--in sum, "there is something much higher, and you ARE important to God."

    Another to Nicodemus--in sum, "your outward righteousness does not cut it; you must be born again from heaven."

    To the woman in adultery--"neither do I condemn you...go and sin no more."

    To Jews--"the kingdom of God is at hand."

    To the Rich Young Ruler--"sell everything you have, and come and follow Me."

    To the disciples--"leave everthing, and come and follow Me...even unto death."

    But our mesage today is only a remote visage of the original message proclaimed and held up by Christ. Today, we have people nodding agreement to a few points of doctrine, and then, as a song I wrote says,

    We slap 'em on the back
    We tell 'em their saved
    We give 'em assurance while they're enslaved
    And now their sittin' in our pews!
    OooH!


    We practice manipulation techniques, human preasure, and mind-centered conversions. We produce a very good number of converts without God.

    When Jesus and the Apostles did evengelism, they produced the entire seedbed of the Church of the Living God. Surely, if our techniques were so of God, we would see them in the hoards of Biblical instances where evangelism took place. Can you find them?

    Can you find anything remotely close to an alter call? A sinner's prayer? A canned four-point salvation message? Any other forms of easy believism and cheap grace?

    Why have we done this to ourselves?!

    Because we have replaced the Biblical soteriology with one of our tradition. We scoff at Catholic doctrine, while not realizing that we, at core, do the very same things.

    We do not like the hardness of the gospel message: "you have offended the law of God by which you will judged, flee the wrath to come, sell everything you have, hate your family, deny yourself, lose your life, take up your cross, follow the Lord Jesus on a pathway of suffering, if you lose your life you will keep it, if you keep it you will lose it, so you must die at the greatest personal cost.

    No, we prefer soft things. We do not like the above message. It is so HARD--who would THAT messge draw??? So, maybe the gospel is not really like that, after all, and maybe those hard things were even just for "the kingdom age." Yes, the gospel message must be like this: God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. But you are now seperated from love-dove God. Now, pray this. Now, you are saved and secure!

    We have replaced the BiBlical message with instant popcorn "conversion."

    Jesus said "Follow Me." That, in the shortest phrase possible, explains what it means to flee the wrath to come and enter the path of life--explains salvation.

    But there is no path of life in our gospel. That is OPTIONAL. So we have only a "prayer to life." Once the prayer is prayed, the REAL work is done. It is such a perversion.

    Paul said "[continually] beleive on THE LORD (not savior) Jesus Christ, and you will be saved." In its place, our gospel has divided the Person of Christ into offices (Lordship and Saviorhoodship), so we reply to "what must I do to be saved" with "accept Jesus as your personal Savior." We have replaced the message of Christ with a perversion.

    I said "personal savior" above. He has to be "personal" in our emphasis, because most everything else in our churches is personal. We have replaced Body life and the community of Christ's kingdom with individualism. We are more Social Darwinists--survival of the fittest--than members of one another under the law of love. Yet, how self-congratulated we are when we try to fight evolution with our Genesis interpretations.

    Ours is a humanistic, individualistic, man-centered, cheap, tradition-ridden gospel. If anything ever gets done by us using it, it is not because we hold the gospel right, but despite the fact that we do not hold it right.

    This all is a fruit, not the root. The root can be read in my other thread, Time to Mature in our Soteriology.

    Tozer said that if we were to have revival today, it would be one of the worst things that ever happened to the church. What was his solution: we must have another reformation before we have revival. It is my unshakable conviction that he was so very, very right.

    _________________________________________________

    P.S.

    Listen to this sermon:

    Ten Shekels and a Shirt by Paris Reidhead

    http://www.smithworks.org/realaudio/ten_shekels_and_a_shirt.ram

    Be patient as the sermon gets going...THEN HOLD ON!

    [ March 11, 2002, 12:02 AM: Message edited by: LP ]
     
  9. Ray Berrian

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    just-want-peace,

    Excellent post.

    Sometimes the church is it's own worst enemy.

    John 1:12 says, 'But as many as received Him {Christ} to those gave He the power to become sons of God.' I see not problem with asking sinners to receive Christ, so that He can bring spiritual life to the lost.

    This, I think becomes a problem to many, because it is an anethema for some church members to believe that the sinner can do anything leading to his or her salvation. So to pray a prayer like, "Jesus come into my heart and take away my sins" suggest a contribution to ones own salvation.

    Maybe we should tell sinners not to receive Christ; this will not add souls to Heaven's rolls. Maybe we should wait and see if by osmosis they will see in the Word of God, an alleged election by God autocratically to eternal life. But then it might not be that sinner's election. Where do we go from here?

    Respectfully,

    Ray
     
  10. PackerBacker

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    I did not notice LP condemning driving to church, using the radio, etc. The key issue seemed to be on how the gospel is being presented and if it is being distorted in the process. I think LP has some legit points on this topic.

    While I see where you were headed with your questions, it is your reasoning that troubles me a little. The reasoning you used is nothing new. Here is an example of that same type of reasoning. Is it wrong for us to baptize babies? The Bible does not say “Thou shall not baptize babies.” Just because Jesus didn’t baptize babies or it's not in the Bible does not make it wrong, does it? Just because the Bible does not say anything about praying to Mary doesn't make it wrong does it? The type of reasoning you use can be used for about anything, and is. Perhaps it would be better to use the clear truths and principles found in God's Word to base our beliefs and actions upon rather than base our actions off of what is not there.

    Rather than ask LP to show you where these things are spoken against, I'd be curious in seeing one example in scripture of a person being led in a sinners prayer for salvation, etc.

    [ March 10, 2002, 09:54 PM: Message edited by: PackerBacker ]
     
  11. PackerBacker

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    Can only speak for myself here, but I guess I’m one of those who have a problem with “the sinner doing anything leading to his salvation.” My faith is not a work. My faith is based in the work of what Christ did for me. Because I am a helpless sinner under God’s wrath I place my hope in the work in the Lamb of God that did the only work God will accept. While I’m not against a person verbally expressing their faith to God, I have a big problem with “asking Jesus into my heart to take away my sins.” Sounds nice and religious and might even sell good on a tee-shirt or bumper sticker, but where in the Bible does this kind of salvation prayer come from? Please don’t reply with Rev. 3:20 until the context is looked at and it is also noted the lack of the words heart, pray, and forgiveness of sins. Some like myself simply have a problem with telling sinners to do unbiblical nonsense, no matter how religious it might sound.

    How does a person “receive Christ?” What does this mean. That phrase alone means many different things to many different people. Some receive Christ by being baptized, some by eating His body and blood, some by asking Him to some how craw into their heart, others by cleaning up their life so he can come in, others by walking an aisle or repeating a prayer they were told to say, while some may understand it as faith alone in God’s grace alone. Which is it? That’s the problem with these little clichés. They can mean anything to anyone.

    I’m afraid telling people to receive Christ (what ever that means to them) is not filling “heavens rolls” even though it might be filling missionary prayer letters, visitation reports, and it puts notches on the “soul winners” gospel gun belt. Have a missionary up the way from me who have lead over 1000 people to receive Christ in the last 5 years. Problem is you won’t find 1000 people that have been baptized. You won’t find 1000 of these people who asked Jesus in their hearts meeting together as NT believers. You won’t find sanctification taking place in 1000 of these people either. On a good Sunday you may 30 people in this “church.” What’s up? Ask him and he will tell you that the people are just uncommitted and just can’t leave their sin like us Western folk. How sad! Even sadder is that people in the States jump up and down in excitement over all these people who so-called joined heavens rolls because they repeated a prayer after the missionary and “received Christ.”

    Why not preach the full message of salvation and then wait for repentance and faith instead of some osmosis in election knowledge”? Actually preaching the gospel and waiting for a type of “osmosis” is not a bad idea after all. Since I can’t save that person and they can’t save themselves, it only stands to reason that there must be an outside influence. Like the second half of John 1:12 you left out of your post. “…..who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” Seems like a little “osmosis” taking place there. How about what Jesus told Nicodemus? He said the second birth was spiritual and compared it to the wind. Did He tell Nicodemus or anyone else to ask Him into their hearts, receive Him by a prayer, or any other cute little clichés? No. He told them to believe that He alone was their only hope of escaping God’s wrath and receiving eternal life. Where do we go from here? Why not back to the Bible instead of our synthetic methods of filling heavens rolls.

    Wonder how many of those folks Jesus talked about in Matt 7:21-23 will be saying, “But Lord. I asked you into my heart on such and such day,” “But Lord I received you. Didn’t you see me go forward and repeat that prayer that guy told me to pray? What didn’t I do it right or was I not sincere enough?”
     
  12. Dr. Bob

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    LP has touched a nerve with many of us who see the evils of a small part of evangelical christianity and agree.

    Thankfully it is a dying-cult. God is working in His churches to stamp out that nonsense and return to biblical principles of disciple-making and solid theology instead of psychological manipulation, 1-2-3-pray-after-me, et al.

    And good discussion. Was pleased to see this topic!
     
  13. Joy

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    Good topic! Another plague that so called "fundamental" churches have gotten into is what I like to call The Gospel of Standards. That is where there are many man-made laws as well as a whole bunch of OT laws that must be kept in order for a person to be judged as truely saved. It is an outward conformity, and it is nothing more than works. It has done a great dis-service to modern Christianity. Just look at how the world lumps us in with other radicals who are murdereres like Mc Veigh, Atta, and the Taliban. In some instances, we have brought that on ourselves. :(
     
  14. aiki

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    While I agree with you, LP, on most of what you have said, I wonder if you believe that no one has been saved by an altar call or being shown the Four Spiritual Laws, etc. I hope this is not what you are implying because it does not reflect reality. I know of several genuinely saved people who became so by way of an altar call or discussion of the Four Spiritual Laws. As flawed as you may believe them to be, LP, there is living proof that God still uses these things to save some.
     
  15. PackerBacker

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    Do the Ends justify the Means?

    Not long ago a big named IFB evangelist rolled into a town not far from us for an evangelistic meeting. This was the one time a year when the people in this church got really excited about sharing the gospel. The hired gun had come to do it for them. Posters, newspaper adds, etc went out to invite the lost public to come hear the special speaker at Such and such Baptist Church. The invitations were powerful (emotional perhaps is the right word) and many decisions were made. Over 200 people walked an aisle and prayed a “sinners prayer to receive Christ.” Immediately after the meetings the church was on cloud nine because of the huge numbers of decisions. Family and friends passed on the big numbers to us in their excitement.

    Two months later I went to this church for a meeting. I was expecting it to be overflowing with all these “new believers” but did not find such. The highest number I was given of actual people who were added to this church or showed any spiritual interest after the meetings was THIRTEEN! Follow up had been done on most of these “decisions for Christ” and some I spoke to that did this were shocked by the answers they received from people. “Not interested, Hey it was a one time thing, Kind of got caught up in the moment, I don’t want anything to do with you people, etc. These were all people who prayed a “sinners prayer,” “asked Jesus into their hearts,” and were told they had done the right thing and were now saved. Thirteen out of over 200!

    When I questioned the leadership over this I was told, “but praise God for the ones who did really get saved.” I was thought of as being negative to focus on the 200 people “saved” and nowhere to be found instead of focusing on the 13. Yes praise God for the ones God saved in spite of the process BUT WHAT ABOUT THE 95% THAT GOT SOLD A FRAUD SALVATION. One guy told me, “Brother we just get them saved and God sorts them out later.” What a contradiction of terms. If they really were saved, why would God need to sort them out? Yeah, God sorts out the synthetic converts of our man made evangelism but when He does it will be too late. “Depart from me for I never knew you!” “But Lord, the personal worker told me if I really meant business when I said the prayer I was saved.” “But Lord the preacher told me if I came forward I’d be saved.”

    Yes praise God for people who really do come to true salvation in spite of our business methods, manipulated invitations, and initiation prayers into salvation.. I don’t think LP or I are saying no one is actually saved if an invitation or “sinners prayer” is used. It’s the misuse and unbiblical terminology and methodology that is being pointed out. What I can’t fathom is why some want to justify the dirty water does not need changing just because a baby is found in the water here and there. How about the many who are not being cleaned in that dirty water? It’s these people we forget about as we proudly flaunt the occasional babies God cleans in spite of the dirty water.
     
  16. LP

    LP
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    I said above,

     
  17. LP

    LP
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    :eek:

    Great phrase--and telling.
     
  18. Ray Berrian

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    PackerBacker,

    I liked a lot of your ideas offered in your post.

    In my own life I have assurance of my salvation, but I have always been discomforted when I read, Matthew 7:21-23, especially for those who might think they will be saved, but will not be included in the eternal Kingdom. You are right that a lot of mistakes have been made by using ‘catch phrases,' I do notice in these verse that Jesus will be saying to them, ‘ . . . I never knew you,' but in John 10:27 Jesus is saying to His own people, ‘I know them and they follow Me.'

    John 1:13 is not teaching some kind of Augustinian/Calvinistic absolute determinism. God is saying that salvation is all of God; He does the transforming work through the power of the Holy Spirit. He is saying, "Listen, becoming sons and daughters of God does not take place because of the action of a person {meaning a person cannot activate, if you will, the Holy Spirit to regenerate himself or herself}." By the same token, we are not saved because of some kind of human, royal, blood line, as if royalty had a special edge on becoming sons and daughters of the Living God. God does all the work! Obviously, the blood of humankind cannot atone for sinners, only the atonement of the spotless Son of God. We probably all agree that God does not regenerate every human being; this then would be universal salvation.

    Keeping in mind that only God can regenerate the soul, on what basis does He do the regenerating? A person who believes in unconditional election believes that God autocratically chooses some to eternal life, and by that choosing, actually elects the majority to the flames of a real Hell.

    Now we are back to verse 12 which tell us how one can be included in His Divine plan. ‘ . . . as many as receive Him, {Christ} to those He gives the power {dynamite} to become the sons of God.' God has given man the awesome responsibility of receiving His Son, in order to release that Power that only, God the Spirit, can wield, (if you will) and apply. If we agree that God demands belief in the Son in order to be saved, then we are on solid ground. If you think that someone does not have to believe in Jesus to be saved, then I do know, there are people who think like this.

    You made the statement that said, ‘Because I am a helpless sinner under God's wrath, I place my hope in the work of the Lamb of God that did the only work God will accept.' Your statement is fine with me, but I notice your aversion in using the word FAITH in place of your chosen word, hope. Trust me, you won't have to give up your view of sovereignty by using the word faith. Being more Biblical you might again consider that it is not hope that pleases God, but faith. The Lord speaking through Hebrews 11:6 says, ‘ . . . without FAITH it is impossible to please Him; for he who comes to God must {not hope} but rather, BELIEVE that He is, and that He is a Rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.' The reward, benefit or endowment is garnered only as one seeks Him. Apparently ‘ . . . those who diligently seek Him' are people. Here is the Triune God demanding that man seek God, and not God favoring and selecting certain human beings.

    My belief is that baptism, Communion/the holy sacrament, cleaning up the life, walking the isle, repeating a salvation prayer, in an of themselves, does not lead to salvation. Baptism alone does not save. The question is what is going on in the hearts and lives of those who walk the isle or saying a salvation prayer? (for example) Are they believing and trusting in Christ's finished work at the Cross? Have these people repented? {meaning are they determined to turn from all of their sins, including their favorite sin, to follow God throughout their lives}.

    FAITH in God's grace alone is the key to salvation and eternal life.

    The pastor with 1,000 said prayers or decisions within five years seems to have his own problems.

    People can believe there is a God and still be forever lost.

    In Hebrews 4:2 the writer of the book tells us where the ‘watershed' takes place. It is not that everyone needs to sit around and wonder if Almighty God has elected them to salvation. The writer with a ready pen tells us that he and the rest of the church believed unto everlasting life, but the problem was some who heard did not do something essential in verifying salvation. What was it? ‘ . . . but the Word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with FAITH in them that heard it.'

    In the Biblical account of Nicodemus interaction with Jesus [John 3:1-21] I notice that directly after Jesus said, ‘even so must the Son of man be lifted up,' He said ‘ . . . that anyone who BELIEVETH in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.' In verse 17 He might as well have said, "For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the non-elect; but that the non-elect and elect--through Him might be saved. From verses 18-21 the word BELIEVE in referenced three more times.

    You said, ‘Some {think they are saved} by asking Him to crawl into their hearts.' This sounds to me very sacrilegious if not blasphemous, but I am only one person. In my opinion, after pastoring for over twenty-five years, if you have not allowed Christ, as you phrased it, ‘to crawl into your heart', you might be among those spoken of in Matthew 7:21-23. My prayer for you is that you have BELIEVED and are numbered among the sheep of His fold mentioned in John 10:27-29.

    Respectfully, & I HOPE a brother in Christ,

    Ray
     
  19. LP

    LP
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    A personal note in this post:

    In my past, I was dismissed from an outreach ministry position in a 2000+ member Southern Baptist church. Main sticking point: because I would not yield to leadership preassures to myself practice in my evangelism all those non-Biblical traditions delineated in the leading post

    I made all the arguments I made above to the leadership, and more, and even more tactfully and more replete with Scripture; but tradition held sway over the Bible to these men in this regard. Really, it was all about MONEY: they needed figures to show "who got saved" (as evidenced by "that they prayed a salvation prayer" to justify a certain outreach ministry. But I was simply not going to be part to performing spiritual abortions. Through it all, I felt as if I were dealing with Scribes and Pharisees.

    Too, the outreach ministry was dealing with Hispanic, Haitian, and Muslim people. As a former missionary, I knew all too well that the approach one takes with these different peoples MUST be different. One must witness like Jesus, and not present some canned 1-2-3 "gospel" to them.

    For example, if you ask a Hispanic Catholic if they have "accepted Christ," they will OF COURSE say "yes." Because they have all taken communion! I am not mentioning so many other things I could say about using wisdom in evangelizing Hispanic catholics.

    Too, with Muslims, if you do these 1-2-3 booklets, you are only majorly reinforcing the stereotypes they have of Christians, and are making their conversion less probable. With them, you MUST first build bridges...over TIME. They must gestate, usually. But no, we want to cram down the seed and then yank out the fetus, then we wonder that it dies. Or we do clean sweep abortions--there was no fetus at all, we just thought so--"but it's still a new Christian, brother!" What a sham. I could go on and on about missiological evangelism.

    Interesting, others had "converts" that never came back--they were just like as PackerBacker is explaining above. But they had their numbers, "saved and secure"! What a sham. In contrast, NONE of those God used me to facilitate had that issue.

    Hence, in my experience, it is not at all a "small part of evangelical christianity" that is caught up in these traditions. Gosh, I wish I could see that it was, and I am looking. And I am in a medium-sized US city right now, and have been around in most of the major churches, and have been into other areas of the country besides.

    All this said, I am mightily encouraged by so many here who apparently are not of that "part of evangelical christianity," whether it be a small or large portion of the whole or not, who buys into the stuff mentioned in the leading post. Thanks! [​IMG]

    Believing that a true "sinners prayer" will gush from the hearts and mouths of those who have been adequately convicted of their sin and convinced of Christ in His fullness by the HS,

    LP

    [ March 11, 2002, 09:59 PM: Message edited by: LP ]
     
  20. PackerBacker

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    Ray,

    While I appreciated most of the way you responded there was one part that disturbed me a little. You said:

    Did you not see the word Faith two times before that word hope that I used interchangeably? In context I said:

    My faith is not a work. My faith is based in the work of what Christ did for me. Because I am a helpless sinner under God’s wrath I place my hope in the work in the Lamb of God that did the only work God will accept. While I’m not against a person verbally expressing their faith to God, I have a big problem with “asking Jesus into my heart to take away my sins.”

    You will note that there is no aversion to faith in my actual comments.

    You also said:

    Come on Ray. Do I thank you for your concern for me or for a slam. I need to ask Jesus to come into my heart so that I can be one of the sheep in the fold? Says who? While your opinion is free to give, I'll stick with placing my FAITH alone in the redemptive work of Christ for my wretched soul rather than tell God I did the right thing by asking Jesus into my heart. Your right about Jesus being asked into ones heart being sacrilegious. That's why I don't tell other sinners to do such a thing.

    I seriously believe that you and I understand salvation the same way. We both believe that salvation is a gift of God's grace? Man receives that salvation by faith in what Christ did in their place? Do we agree? Ok so then why the “ask Jesus in your heart stuff?” That's the issue. Unfortunately your post shows how bad the problem is. You talk about faith, which I believe, but end with telling me I might not be saved because of not agreeing to an unbiblical "ask Jesus in my heart thing." Why revert to this cliché when earlier in your post you were doing just fine when you used the words faith and believe? Stick to the biblical explaination of salvation you originally used.

    PackerBacker

    [ March 11, 2002, 11:44 PM: Message edited by: PackerBacker ]
     

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