Watch this blog for posts on books, thoughts on reading, etc. We'll also cover issues of interest for those who do Biblical evangelism.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
A Proposal for the Free Grace Camp
I do think it's important to lay out point by point the main issues when it comes to the Free Grace camp's position(s) on the nature of saving faith. I'm grateful for all of the feedback on the Hodges thread because I've learned how marked the differences are between men like Charles Ryrie and Zane Hodges (and his false prophet, Bob Wilkin). I'm glad to see that men like Lou Martenac recognize Hodges' gospel as a "Crossless" gospel. However, Lou, I think that the position that the majority of the Free Grace camp holds is simply the doctrine of Free Grace drawn to its logical conclusion. I'm sure you disagree with me, but I hope to prove this statement over the weeks ahead.
So, the proposal is this: over the next five or six weeks (at least), I am going to post a series of posts here which will address the teachings of the Free Grace camp point by point. This will give all of us one issue to respond to at a time. If y'all want to debate what I write (and I hope you do) go for it. All I ask is that if you choose to respond to the posts, please limit your discussion to the points discussed in the original post. For example, if it's about the true definition of repentance, please limit your responses to that issue. If you want to say something about the definition of faith, please wait until the post on faith comes up before going there. This will help keep things focused.
I hope you will join us for this important discussion. The Free Grace\Lordship debate was not resolved in the 1980's and I'm not foolish enough to think that this will resolve it now. But we're talking about the Gospel and in this day of doctrinal error the Gospel needs to be clarified, as evidenced by some of the responses to the Hodges post.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Zane Hodges' Passing
Just last week I gave a message at Holy Epidemic in Melbourne, Australia called "Combating Easy Believism on the Streets." In that message I pointed out the fruit of Hodges' backwards theology as we have observed it on the streets of Dallas\Fort Worth, the home of Dallas Theological Seminary. I've seen seminary students and graduates argue the fine points of the Greek term for repentance while they are drunk. I've seen pastors walking out of comedy clubs, laughing at the same filth that the world laughs at, and then argue with us about what constitutes the Gospel. I've seen a free grace, KJV-only open-air preacher justify his adultery as a professing Christian because of this kind of theology. And this kind of thing just goes on and on.
This different gospel that Hodges (and others) proclaim reduces the glorious Gospel of Christ into nothing more than a general assurance that Jesus made a legitimate offer of eternal life and anyone who considers the offer legitimate is saved. Repentance was reduced in Hodges' theology to nothing more than "fellowship with the Father", eliminating the concept of turning from sin (and to the shock of other Free Gracers, he denied that it even meant "changing the mind about Christ"). The concept of the Lordship of Christ was thought to be limited to His deity rather than any claim of mastery, missing the obvious point that Christ's deity in no way lessens the duty of man towards Him but only increases it.
Hodges' theology affected me in Bible college when I took a theology course taught by a professor who was greatly influenced by this kind of thinking. This influence showed up in my own doctrinal statement where I wrote (as a false convert Baptist pastor) "Saving faith is intellectual assent to the facts of the Gospel". As if saving faith can be reduced to a number of bullet points that we merely say "uh huh" to.
In the days ahead, we're sure to read tributes to Hodges' scholarship. I read a blog this morning which praised his scholarship while admitting to disagreeing with his views on salvation. Maybe it's just me, but if his so-called "scholarship" led to errors in his soteriology, then isn't his scholarship flawed? He might have been able to defend his errant views well, but that does not make the man a great scholar. It only makes him a skilled manipulator of the text. There have been many of those kind of self-appointed scholars throughout history and history has not been kind to them.
I never met Hodges, never took one of his classes or heard him speak. But I was once a fruit of his theology. On this Thanksgiving Day, I have much to be thankful for. The Lord Jesus Christ, in His magnificent grace, rescued me from that false gospel and brought me to true salvation. He gave me the gifts of repentance and faith and in grace drew me unto Himself. I thank God that He rescued me from the blindness I was in and brought me to salvation.
Hodges is dead, but his soteriology is not. It probably will never totally die out. Free Grace proponents have made it very clear that they will be tenacious in their efforts to spread their theology within churches, seminaries, and even children's ministries. With Hodges' passing, I am reminded today how vital our work in Biblical evangelism is. How we must commit to being even more tenacious. How one day, we too will leave a legacy. Will it be a legacy of distorting the truth or boldly proclaiming it? Only time will tell.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
According to the conference manual, "The purpose of Holy Epidemic is to promote street evangelism and equip Christians for the task...Our desire is that what we are doing on the streets would spread through the rest of Australia (and the world) like an epidemic...I pray that God would use our feeble efforts to preach His blessed gospel to impact the country of Australia with a deep conviction of their sinfulness (John 16:7-9). That people would turn to our Saviour Jesus Christ in sincere repentance, and submit themselves to His Lordship. I pray that we would see a genuine awakening in Australia and the rest of the world."
Amen. A worthy prayer for a nation steeped in unbelief. Please pray with me that the Lord would use the conference to do these things, for His glory.
Session 1: Operation Mobilization: Principles for Establishing a Church Based Evangelism Team (Pastor Lionel Letcher)
Session 2: Taming the Lion: Managing Fear Biblically (Jon Speed)
Session 3: Open-Air Basic Training--A Beginner's Guide (Jon Speed)
Session 4: Operation Mobilization II: The Local Church & The Local Mission (Pastor Lionel Letcher)
Session 5: Combating Easy Believism (Jon Speed)
Session 6: Obedience (Pastor Lionel Letcher)
Session 7: The Neglected Weapon of our Warfare (Jon Speed)
Session 8: Question & Answer Session (Pastor Lionel Letcher & Jon Speed)
Please pray that in each session our Lord would be magnified and that we would decrease. Pray for clear explanation of His Word.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Revival Conference in Greenrock, Scotland LIVE Webcast Here
This conference will be from November 25-27 and you can watch the conference LIVE here on Informed Evangelist. Featured speakers include:
Keith Daniel, Carter Conlon, Al Whittinghill, Denny Kenaston, Don Courville, Gareth Evans, Colin Peckham, David Guzik and others.
We'll post more information on the schedule as it becomes available.
Friday, November 7, 2008
James White on this Historic Election
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
The Sovereignty of God
Who is really in control? Who sets up rulers and takes them down? Who receives glory for His mighty purposes? Only the Sovereign God of this universe. Anyone else who wraps themselves in the banner of "change" is only a pretender.
"The Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and earth beneath" (Joshua 2:11)
"And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD, and said, O LORD God of Israel, which dwelleth between the cherubim, Thou art the God, even Thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; Thou hast made heaven and earth." (2 Kings 19:15)
"Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is Thine; Thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and Thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honour come of Thee, and Thou reignest over all: and in Thine hand is power and might; and in Thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all." (1 Chronicles 29:11-12)
"O LORD God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? And rulest not Thou over all kingdoms of the heathen? And in Thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand Thee?" (2 Chronicles 20:6)
"Behold, He taketh away, who can hinder Him? Who will say unto Him, what doest Thou?" (Job 9:12)
"The kingdom is the LORD's: and He is the governor among the nations. All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before Him: and none can keep alive his own soul." (Psalms 22:28-29)
"The earth is the LORD's and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. Who is this King of Glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory." (Psalms 24:1, 10)
"He ruleth by His power forever; His eyes behold the nations: let not the rebellious exalt themselves." (Psalms 66:7)
"O let the nations be glad and sing for joy: for Thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations of the earth." (Psalms 67:4)
"Promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: He putteth down one, and setteth up another." (Psalms 75:6)
"God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; He judgeth among the gods. Arise, O God, judge the earth: for Thou shalt inherit all nations." (Psalms 82:1, 8)
"The LORD reigneth, He is clothed with majesty; the LORD is clothed with strength , wherewith He hath girded Himself : the world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved. Thy throne is established of old; Thou art from everlasting." (Psalms 93:1-2)
"Blessed be the name of God forever and ever: for wisdom and might are His: and He changeth the times and the seasons: He removeth kings, and setteth up kings." (Daniel 2:20-21)
"Which in His times He shall shew, Who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto, Whom no man hath seen, nor can see; to Whom be honour and power everlasting." (1 Timothy 6:15)
"Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created." (Revelation 4:11)
"And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth." (Revelation 19:6)
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Voting for Jesus?
Someone piped up and challenged us all to vote for Jesus. Write Him in. Take a stand for your convictions and vote for Jesus!
To the well meaning MB member who suggested we vote for Jesus, I'd love to, but...
He's not running.
I don't think He would if He could.
He doesn't care what the populace of this ungodly nation thinks about who should run it. Their "vote" has no bearing. He's not into popularity contests (which is what our elections have turned into). He already has His candidate hand-picked and all of the rest of them until He returns.
My Bible says something about the fact that He is Sovereign King of kings and Lord of lords. He will exercise that manifest right sometime in the future (possibly the very near future).
What matters here is not my "power to choose" and the presumptuous attitude that when I throw a switch in a voting booth, I am changing the course of history. (After all, it's all about me.) What matters is whether or not I bring the most glory to God with this opportunity to serve Him in the vote.
In order to do that, I will not choose rat poison instead of arsenic. That doesn't glorify God; it does not represent His standards. I will vote for the candidate that actually knows the Lord and has a desire to bring Him glory as well.
You say he won't win? It doesn't matter. What matters is this, "Is God glorified with my vote?" I'm voting Baldwin. He is just a sinful man, but he has an honest desire to bring Him glory. Everyone else is only promising to line my pockets with more money.
Monday, October 6, 2008
Interview with a Homosexual False Convert
Why should we evangelicals be surprised that homosexuals easily claim Christianity as their own? Our seeker sensitive and Emergent churches have so watered down the Gospel that anyone who names the Name of Christ is embraced as a Christian. The Lord Jesus does not do the same thing (Matthew 7:21-23). As a result, the homosexual community wraps itself in the banner of Christ, freely printing His Name on their t-shirts, banners and promotional stickers. They have embraced the typically evangelical view of Jesus, but have they embraced the true Jesus, or another one? The Scripture is clear that they must be embracing a "Jesus" of their own making and thus violating the second commandment.
Behold, the fruit of the modern Gospel.
Please pray for Scottie. He has an everlasting soul.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Alan Ross Memorial Gay Pride Parade (Dallas, TX)
It turns out that gay pride parades are excellent venues for evangelism. We passed out hundreds of tracts from One Million Tracts. We also had several very good conversations with parade goers, most of whom were homosexuals. The Gospel message can be proclaimed in an uncompromising fashion when it's done in a gracious manner. The listener may take offense at the message, but if they find reason to take offense at our demeanor I think we have failed to rightly communicate the Gospel.
And we got some email feedback. Here is an email from Annie who got one of the tracts at the parade, followed by my response...
"Why do you feel the need to infiltrate a pride parade, an event where people are supposed to be able to come together and not feel condemned? What did you do, infiltrate some gay group in Dallas under false pretenses. LEAVE US ALONE!!! We do not need you in our parade or in our neighborhood if all you can do is tell us we're sinners. WE HEAR THAT TO THE POINT IT MAKES US NUMB TO IT, SO GIVE IT UP ALREADY!!!! OUR SALVATION IS NOT YOUR BURDEN SO PLEASE, JUST GO AWAY AND DON'T COME BACK NEXT YEAR!!!! You have been reported to the Dallas Tavern Guild. "
And here's my response...
Thank you for contacting us via the "You Got Our Tract" website. We value your feedback on our tracts and outreach methods.
We came to the parade for the same reason we go to any large event; to share the Christian message of salvation. We did not "target" the parade because the gay community is any more in need of salvation than any other. We pass out tracts at all kinds of parades, concerts, festivals, events and college campuses. We also pass out tracts and witness in bar districts like Lower Greenville in Dallas, Sundance Square and the Stockyards in Fort Worth. The only reason we go to any event is because there are people there and our commission is to go out into all the world and preach the Gospel to everyone (Mark 16:15).
We did not "infiltrate some gay group under false pretenses" (I'm not sure how standing on a public sidewalk passing out tracts to those we pass by is "infiltrating" a public event). We simply did what we do week in and week out; come to a public place where First Ammendment rights are guaranteed and pass out Gospel tracts.
The gay community generally understands and expects freedom of speech. We have no desire to infringe on the right of the gay community to spread their message. In return, all we ask is the same freedom to spread ours. If that is "wrong" in your eyes, then I'd have to ask you, "Based on what? What moral standard makes it 'wrong' to come to a public place and exercise our freedom of speech?"
Thanks again for taking the time to contact us with your concerns.
Monday, September 8, 2008
Our Pursuit of Short Term Missions by Byron Porter
It's a blessing for me to be able to share this essay with you from a dear friend of mine, Byron Porter. Byron practices what he preaches; he went to the Dominican Republic this summer to share the Gospel there and faithfully shares the Gospel here in the DFW area. Thanks, Byron, for allowing me to post this here. --Jon Speed
Our Pursuit of Short Term Missions
by Byron Porter
In short term missions, we honor Jesus and glorify God by reaching out to the lost. These are people who think they are basically good, not personally responsible, and not held accountable for sin. God is not pleased with the death of the wicked and delights in their salvation. God is glorified (and rightly so) when a hardened sinner is regenerated and heralds the mercy obtained through the gospel of Jesus Christ. How beautiful it is to see sinners converted and how beautiful are the feet of those who share the gospel of God's divine mercy and love toward us, who do not deserve it.
When I was in junior high school, a prayer was said stating that if we (the speakers and hearers) were there at Jesus' time, we would not have crucified Him. The problem with that statement, even though seemingly heartfelt and well intentioned, is that it contradicts with what the Bible says; the entire world is guilty. If we fail to recognize our fallen condition, we elevate ourselves in self-righteousness. We are the ones who put Christ on the cross with our personal sin. We are responsible. How unfortunate to think otherwise, but this is precisely what our world has bought into. However, Christ still came to die for us and we are lost without this perfect display of His love.
A wonderful statement was made in a book that I just finished reading called "The Love of God". The book says, "The tone of God's invitation is not a tone of anger—it is a tone of tenderness. In his invitation is kindness, a desire for friendship and a longing to erase the enmity which now exists between the Lawgiver in heaven and His yet impenitent and unreconciled creatures." God is good, and ready to forgive and abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon Him (Psalm 86:5). He is compassionate and gracious; slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth (Psalm 145:8). God does not love us for what we are, but He loves us in spite of what we are. As a result of this process of being humbled we can be born again. This is the message of short term missions.
So now we are tasked to deliver what Mark 16:20 describes as the “sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation” and we have three helpful yet necessary things to consider. The first to keep in mind is that God gives those He has soundly saved a passion for the lost, at least in the smallest degree. Consider this quote by Charles Spurgeon, "Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you are not saved yourself. Be sure of that." But, as we are freed from sin's control we yearn to share the gospel, yet we know that no one can come to Christ unless God draws them to Himself. Short term missions can aid you here, in being aware and avoiding spiritual complacency which hinders our growth.
This leads us to the second consideration in short term missions, which is our outlook on the world. We must have a biblical worldview to be able to see and respond through Christian eyes. It is not necessary to be a biblical scholar to give the gospel, but there is so much in this world to influence and distort our perception of truth. Before my conversion, I was familiar with the Word of God and full of theological knowledge, but my heart was blinded by willful unbelief. I was a theologically informed false convert. God has given us the truth about our origin, condition and future in His Word. That truth only becomes obvious when He removes our spiritual blindness.
A third thing to have on hand is a working knowledge of the gospel, at least on a foundational level. We must give the bad news about man's sinful condition (his transgression of God's law) before the good news of the gospel can make sense. Short term missions allow us to show folks they can be freed from the enslavement of sin. Let's point to Jesus, as Luke 1:79 says, that He is, "…to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace." Jesus sends us out as heralds of the gospel or “light bearers” as the Bible puts it. We are called forth simply to plant the seed.
Listen to what A. W. Tozer says: "Christian theology teaches the doctrine of prevenient grace, which briefly stated means that before a man can seek God, God must first have sought the man. Before a sinful man can think a right thought of God there must have been a work of enlightenment done within him. We pursue God because and only because He has first put an urge within us that spurs us to the pursuit. The impulse to pursue God originates with God, but the outworking of that impulse is our following hard after Him." And God uses us in short term missions to pursue and save those who are lost.
Going on a short term mission is to have a desire to share the hunger and thirst for God with the lost. In pouring out your lives into the lives of others, God pours out His spirit to fill you, enabling you to do more of the same. This is another facet of spiritual growth in action. Let's not focus on man and his felt needs, but primarily on God and His glory. Do you have that desire (remember Spurgeon’s quote)?
Short term mission trips are a chance to glorify Him and to show how God has been patient with you in commanding repentance and faith in Christ. It is all to make His name great among the nations. Though this is not contingent upon us, we participate in reaping great benefits. It is a sure thing that someone will be saved, even if you see no immediate results, because we know that people from every tribe, tongue and nation will come to Him through Jesus' atonement. In the end, short term mission trips are not primarily for the love of men, but for adoration of God and that His Son receives the full reward for His suffering which He so rightly deserves.
Paul Washer of HeartCry Missionary Society said, "In the mission field, everyone is a potential brother or sister in Christ. God saved us for son-ship and we worship Him out of gratitude." I encourage you to go on missions; knowing that it will cost us all something individually. We are called either to go into the well or hold the rope for those who do. What is it costing you? Are you praying, giving or going? What is your pursuit?
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
If God is All Powerful, Why Doesn't He Stop Sickness and Death?
Here is the answer. Like it or lump it. But it is the truth.
Monday, August 18, 2008
The Biggest Bookstore with the Smallest Marketing
Check out this incredible bookstore, with 12 buildings! One of the buildings is an old manure tank. Maybe I need to buy the farm.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Todd Bentley, Marital Problems and Evangelical Hypocrisy
Considering some of my recent blogs regarding Bentley's heresy, some might suspect that I would jump all over Bentley like flies on the proverbial manure. After all, how could a man who claims the power to raise the dead, usher in international revival, put gold fillings in people's cavities, and impart revival blessings to others have irreconcilable differences with the woman he promised (before God) to love and cherish "till death do us part"? One is reminded of the line, "Physician, heal thyself." Indeed.
Bentley is an easy target at this point. There aren't many other evangelists who have been featured on Nightline or interviewed by Geraldo recently. His ludicrous claims, thoroughly undocumented "healings" and aversion to preaching anything resembling the Gospel sets him up for the tirades of bloggers like myself.
Those thoughts notwithstanding, I think we conservative evangelicals do ourselves a disservice if we don't point out some of our own hypocrisy. Yes, Bentley deserves just about all of the flaming that can be dished out on blogs. However, when it comes to his decision to begin divorce proceedings (in Canada, filing for separation is the first step towards divorce, something which ought to be done in the United States since the trial period before the divorce might actually reconcile some marriages) against his wife, keep in mind that if you believe that this disqualifies him from ministry, "what's good for the goose is good for the gander."
For example, if you think that this incident ought to oust Bentley, I wonder what you think about other prominent Christian leaders and celebrities who have done the same thing? Charles Stanley's marriage problems and subsequent divorce did not oust him from his prominent pastorate in Atlanta. This, in spite of the fact that Stanley, before he himself was divorced, took a hard line against divorce. Amazing how things change when the shoe is on the other foot, isn't it?
I wonder if you were a Sandi Patti fan back in the 1980's? Patti was a favorite amongst conservative Christians during that time for her Christ-centered music. If you were a Christian teenager at that time, you probably had her music foisted on you from a well meaning but severely misguided grandparent, in an effort to wean you off of that "devil music" such as Petra or Stryper. But what happened when she divorced? Did her fan base disappear? Perhaps for a time, but she is now back in evangelicalism's good graces.
Amy Grant's slightly more recent divorce has not diminished her popularity for many professing Christians. And Michael English was quickly reinstated in Christian pop culture just a couple of years after his admitted infidelity with another Christian musician named Marabeth Jordan of First Call.
Know this: if past performance is any indicator, those who follow Bentley will welcome him back with open arms. It's not surprising considering the dramatic rise in divorce statistics WITHIN the evangelical community.
The question is, as it always is, "What does the Bible say?" We know that God hates divorce (Mal. 2:16). Jesus said that the only just cause for divorce is adultery (Matt. 5:32). Having said that, it's a sin like any other. It can be forgiven through the work of Christ (1 Cor. 15:3). Does it disqualify from all ministry? 1 Timothy 3:4-5 indicate that an elder must "control his own household." A Christian musician is definitely not the same thing as an elder, but what category does Bentley fall under? This is something that the governing body of Fresh Fire Ministries will have to consider seriously.
Can we hope that they will take this seriously? Probably not. They have already shown their blatant disregard for truth by promoting Bentley. At the very least, they have put Bentley's plans on hold for the time being. Chances are, this is a temporary stop gap procedure to stop the PR bleeding.
In the meantime, this is a good time for us to ask ourselves, "How highly do we professing Christians view marriage?" Is it possible that for all of our posturing in the "culture wars", all of our campaigning against homosexual marriage, we are nothing but rank hypocrites? Satan does not need the homosexual agenda to destroy marriage. We're doing a pretty good job of it on our own.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Bilney, a quiet scholar at
Bilney wanted to share his experience with others, but this was Reformation truth, and the Reformation had not yet reached
But as Bilney listened to young Latimer rail against the Reformation, he prayed this unusual prayer: ‘O God, I am but ‘little Bilney’ and shall never do any great thing for Thee. But give me the soul of that man, Hugh Latimer, and what wonders he shall do in Thy most holy name.’
One day Bilney pulled Latimer aside. Using his own conversion verse—1 Timothy 1:15—he led the great Latimer to simple faith in Christ, and the English Reformation was born.”
–Morgan, Robert J. Nelson’s Complete Book of Stories, Illustrations, and Quotes
Oh, that we had more “little Bilneys”, who think more of what others can do for the sake of the Gospel than what they think of themselves. How often do we look to build up self, pour into our own lives, and not seek after others with the expectation that they will do more! How many of us will seek to humble ourselves in prayer, asking GOD to save the souls of others so that THEY will do something for God. How often do we pray instead “Use me” to do thus and such.May we all be “Little Bilneys” and have that very estimation of ourselves.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Vacations, Reading, the Civil War & Memorization
Last week we went on vacation to
I had a chance to do a little booking while we were in town.
During the trip I caught up on some reading as well. I've been reading through J. William Jones' "Christ in the Camp", the fascinating story of the revival which took place in the Confederate Army (specifically, the Army of Northern VA) during the Civil War. I dabble a little bit in Civil War history, but as a born and bred Yankee, I was taught that the South was pretty much evil in their cause. Certainly, slavery WAS a horrible evil in America. As an antiquarian bookseller, I've had some pretty scarce abolitonist material, including Frederick Douglass' autobiography and a book signed by the guy who bankrolled John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry. A guy named "Joshua Speed" was Abraham Lincoln's best friend and I've always been an admirer of Lincoln, and not just because I share Joshua's last name.
However, it's pretty clear that men like Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee were devout Christians and not the garden variety false converts that we have in evangelical American Christianity today. They not only supported, but encouraged the revival and spiritual growth of their men. They were good friends of the chaplains, supporters of the colporters (evangelists) who came through the camps, and both had deep walks with the Lord. Jackson's walk with Christ is most impressive. Some of his men thought him crazy because of his constant attitude of prayer. One of his main concerns was the evangelization of his men.
He fought on the wrong side regarding the slavery issue, but seeing what's become of our federal government one can't help but wonder if the South had the right idea about the issue of states rights. Considering the financial prosperity of the South these days compared to the relatively depressed North (e.g. Detroit, New York State) it's easy to see how less governmental interference has brought a more stable economy here. The War may have been a judgment of God on our nation for ALL of the evils of our nation's birth (slavery, the extermination of the Native Americans, etc.); we lost more men in the Civil War than in all of our other wars COMBINED. More than 625,000. But this does not diminish the wisdom of stronger state's rights that the South fought for.
I also read a great little book on the importance of Scripture memorization by N.A. Woychuk. This is a discipline that I have neglected. I've memorized Scriptures over the past few years, but not purposefully. I have a good memory and can memorize single verses that I use without being very systematic about it. But the Lord has given me this memory for a reason and I need to develop it even further. So, I've begun memorizing chapters as well as verses on evangelism from the School of Biblical Evangelism. I'm using a software program to help which has been fun and very, very helpful. You can check it out here.
Well, those are my thoughts for today. Time to get back to work. Thanks for reading.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
This is funny stuff.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Informed Evangelist Store is Now Open!
We're pleased to announce that we have developed an Amazon storefront for The Informed Evangelist. We've featured some books which have been influential and helpful in sharpening our minds when it comes to Biblical evangelism.
The storefront gives us a percentage on each book that you purchase while shopping from that site, so we obviously hope that you will visit often and check out what titles we've added there for your perusal. We know that our readers are an astute bunch, so we have tried to include the best in books on evangelism, theology, church history and book collecting. We'll be adding more titles as we either become aware of them or we remember to put them there.
Please check out the store here.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Todd Bentley, Spiritual Blindness & The Tenth Commandment
At any rate, this week, as the Lord would have it, we were in 1 Kings 20-22; 2 Chronicles 17-20. This text covers part of the life of Ahab (Northern Kingdom) and Jehoshaphat (Southern Kingdom). But the main characters aren't really the kings; they are the prophets, true and false, that the Lord raised up in this passage to Sovereignly guide the fate of these kings and kingdoms.
What I found to be interesting is the fact that in spite of his 400 false prophets guaranteeing victory against the Arameans in what would be his third battle campaign against them, Ahab hears from one true prophet named Micaiah. Micaiah makes it crystal clear that Ahab (and Jehoshaphat) will be defeated and that Ahab will die. Now this takes guts by itself. But on top of that, Micaiah tells Ahab that he had a look behind the scenes prophetically and that the LORD Himself sent out a deceiving spirit to the false prophets so that Ahab would be lured into battle and be defeated. This is not problematic since the book of Job teaches us that Satan himself is on a short leash and is controlled by God to accomplish His purposes, even with those who are His people (such as blameless Job). So how much more can He use the forces of evil to accomplish His purposes in the lives of those who are His enemies?
This act of God via deceiving spirits is not the only time in Scripture that this happens. Zechariah 13:2 records another instance. It says here that an "unclean spirit" is connected with false prophets. Some Bible scholars connect this incident in 1 Kings 22 with the deceiving spirit with Romans 1:22, 24, 26 where it states that God "gave them over" to reprobate minds.
Now I find this incredibly interesting. Especially in the light of our recent visit to the Todd Bentley "revival" when it came to Denton a few weeks ago. As we tried to speak to people there about the Gospel there was a tangible blindness evident. Over the last four years I have spoken with many about the Gospel, both admittedly unsaved and professing Christians, but I have never seen blindness on anyone like I did that night. At the time, I could not understand it. They were both blind and deaf to the Word of God. Whether you agree with this assessment or not, I know what I (and the others on our ministry team) saw that night.
In these passages of Scripture, I think we have a way to understand this blindness. Many (not all) may be following Bentley because the Lord has given them over to their own selfish desires for health and wealth. He has allowed demonic forces to blind professing believers to the truth. Whether they are or are not true Christians is not for me to say. We are all supposed to "examine ourselves" (2 Cor. 13:5). Since Todd Bentley is of the "spirit of Antichrist" it's not really surprising that in a similar manner his "lying wonders" work together with the "strong delusion" sent by God Himself (2 Thess. 2:9-12) for the purpose of giving his followers what they claim they really want; a spectacular, charismatic (in personality) leader who promises them health and wealth.
On Sunday our church was blessed to have Justin Peters do part of his "A Call to Discernment" seminar. This seminar exposes the Word of Faith movement for their unbiblical teachings. Justin also wrote his doctoral thesis on Benny Hinn's ministry. He is uniquely qualified to teach this seminar. Not only has he studied the movement thoroughly, but he has cerebral palsy and followed the Word of Faith movement for a couple of years as he sought to be healed.
After Justin finished his seminar on Sunday night, I had a chance to speak with him for just a few moments about this theory regarding Todd Bentley. I asked him if he thought this might be the case; that the Lord has sent a strong delusion amongst the Word of Faith followers and that He has "given them over" to reprobate minds. He agreed and added that he thought that this teaching and its spread is a judgment from God on our nation.
This was an aspect I had not thought about, but just some consideration shows it to have some merit. Considering the fact that the judgment by God on Ahab via his false prophets was not simply a judgment on Ahab alone, but on the entire nation of Israel (Northern Kingdom), there is some Biblical weight to this. Our nation has pursued pleasure from its inception, claiming we have the "inalienable right" to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This founding document of the Declaration of Independence, as one recent book has it in its title, is practically "American Scripture".
Now, I don't think the founding fathers had Todd Bentley or the Word of Faith movement in mind when they signed this document. Many of them were godly men. But it is not debatable that the United States is driven by covetousness and consumerism to a degree that no other nation of the world is. Our economy is absolutely driven on violating the Tenth Commandment. Anyone who denies it has never been overseas. To the degree that they are driven by consumerism is due mainly to America's influence.
Don't get me wrong. I don't think that Thomas Jefferson had the right to be greedy in mind when he penned the Declaration. However, as time has passed, that is exactly how we have applied it, especially since the end of World War Two. Interestingly enough, that is when the Word of Faith movement began to be popularized. Meanwhile, evangelical Christianity moved away from the true Gospel and embraced the "Modern Gospel" which states that Jesus will fix all of your problems and give you happiness in spades. The stage was effectively set to make the Gospel completely man-centered. As Americans flocked after it in droves as well as the pursuit of their own personal wealth, is it possible that the Lord sent out a deceiving spirit to give us what we claim we wanted? Is it possible that He has given us over to our reprobate minds, sending a strong delusion on American Christianity, as a judgment on this nation? The case seems pretty strong that He has done exactly that.
If we want true revival and not this smoke in mirrors show that Bentley is doing in Lakeland, we must repent of our covetousness. Turn from our materialism and turn towards the One who did not have a place to lay His head. Turn from the Super Bowl commercials and turn towards the One who said that it's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God. Turn from the malls and big-box stores (and churches) and turn to the One who said that if anyone wants to come after Him, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Him.
Oh Lord, have mercy on us. In Your wrath, remember mercy.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Your Best Life Now?
Joel Osteen's "Best Life Now" exposed.
(I don't have time to write for this blog this week because of ministry responsibilities; I'll try to come back with an actual blog post next week.)
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Todd Bentley video
Sunday, July 6, 2008
And the False Teacher of the Year Award Goes to…
Todd Bentley! Yes folks, it’s awfully hard these days to narrow it down to just one heretic when there are so many to choose from in American churchianity. What, with the plethora of apostates in the Word of Faith, seeker-sensitive, emergent church and easy believism proponents abounding, it is increasingly difficult to decide who “takes the cake” for the coveted ‘Informed Evangelist” false prophet award, but Bentley wins it going away.
Bentley brought his traveling freak show to the University of North Texas’ (Denton) Coliseum on Thursday night for “one night only” (praise God for small mercies). A team from The Lost Cause Ministries went out primarily to share the Gospel with those who are deluded by Bentley’s brand of false teaching. This was no easy task. Even though we were two hours early, the die-hard Word of Faith followers could not stop long enough for even a five minute interview because (they said with panicked expressions), “I need to get inside and get a seat. I might miss something!” Their demeanor was very similar to that of hardcore crack cocaine addicts who “joneses” without their quick fix. Fortunately admission was free and we got inside and passed out several hundred Gospel tracts and did some one-to-ones with a few Bentley fans.
Several of our team had to leave for another pre-scheduled venue, but a few of us stayed. Because of fortuitous circumstances, we ended up seated about four rows from the front, on the ground level. We were able to catch some of the service on video tape and audio recorded the entirety of Bentley’s “sermon”. What follows is a review of his message with some observations of things we personally witnessed at this event.
Bentley’s message ran a total of 75 minutes. A friend asked me before he spoke, “What do you think he will preach about?” I said, “I think Todd will preach about Todd.” Apparently I was moving in the prophetic because that is exactly what he did. Imagine, and I had never even been to
After an hour and a half of being pummeled by worship leaders whose style resembled something like a cross between a squirrel on methamphetamines and whirling dervishes (intended, no doubt, to “let the anointing come” or simply to induce mass hysteria or brain washing), the local heretics (aka “gatekeepers”) welcomed Bentley to Denton\DFW. Chief heretic presiding was Chuck Pierce, of the Glory of Zion Outreach Center in
Keith Miller of Stand Firm World Ministries, who has preached in
The house keeping attended to, and Miller’s physical spine restored, Bentley began his diatribe (it cannot be called “preaching” or a “sermon” by any definition of the word). As already stated, Bentley pontificated about himself and the experiences at
Bentley reviewed the history of his own ministry going back to 1999, when he claims he was transported to Heaven and saw tens of thousands of “healing angels.” He came to understand that he is going to be the agent for the release of at least one hundred “healing revivals” at the same time, across the globe. This special anointing was to be released just prior to the return of Christ. He had the impression that he “has to score the touchdown” (his vision had to do with a Super Bowl-like scenario in a football stadium) and that it’s basically all up to him. Lo and behold, now is the time for the outpouring as evidenced by what is happening at
Bentley states that the unique thing about his healing revival is that it will be sustainable and transferable. In other words, anyone can get it. And those who get it are encouraged and expected to take the “fire” back to their own churches where they can have the same kind of revival (circus?) in their own church. Bentley is democratizing healing ministry. Apparently it will no longer be necessary to go back again and again to the specialist healers like Bentley, Benny Hinn and others. Now, if you can shake your head and yell “fire”, “bam” or “pow”, you “got it.” Imagine the confusion that will exist in so many churches.
At this point, Bentley made a big show of opening his Bible to John 5. He said something to the effect, “I better have you open your Bibles. I wouldn’t want anyone to say that Bentley came to
This attitude is not surprising considering the fact that in a crowd of 10,000 our team saw less than ten Bibles in the arena. There were probably more than that, but it would be generous to say that 10% of the attendees had a Bible with them. One of our team members asked someone in the parking lot why they didn’t have their Bible with them. She said that the last time she came to one of these Word of Faith events that her family had their Bibles stolen. Bentley brags that he does not preach against specific sins, but apparently it wouldn’t hurt his own people if he preached against thievery.
After his deeply flawed exegesis of John 5, Bentley reverted to his chest thumping. He claims to have the names and contact information of 50,000 people healed in
Bentley claims that there have been thirty resurrections from the dead since April 3rd because of his revival. He covers his own posterior by saying that if at least five of them are real then God is really doing something. He does the same thing with his “healings”, telling the gullible that sometimes it can take as much as a week or two before they “receive” their healing. He also says that people sometimes “lose their healing”. What? I don’t recall the Lord Jesus giving His followers disclaimers when He healed them. Folks, face it. This stuff is not real. It’s the fruit of lousy theology combined with the power of suggestion to a crowd that is desperate for healing and an experience.
After some more self aggrandizement regarding the coming “media revival” where he will be featured on Nightline and other news shows, he rehearsed the history of the
At this point Bentley stated that he does not preach against specific sin. He alluded to Romans 3:10 and Romans 3:23 and said, “Sin is sin and only the blood of Jesus can cleanse it.” These few sentences out of 75 minutes of preaching comprise the only content than can be remotely called a presentation of the Gospel. More on this later.
At this point, Bentley conducted a free will offering which was collected for Keith Miller’s ministry. He used it as an invitation to “plant revival seeds” and reap “one hundredfold”. His disclaimer of “you cannot purchase the anointing” seemed disingenuous considering the emphasis made upon personal blessing if one faithfully gave financially to the ministry. Just because Bentley gave that little disclaimer in no way frees him from the responsibility he bears when he led them to believe that their “harvest of miracles” was directly related to their giving. A charlatan is a charlatan even if he’s raising money for another charlatan.
What’s wrong with Bentley and his message should be obvious to anyone with just a modicum of discernment. Since one cannot use the words “discernment” and “
1. His ridiculous interpretation of Scripture.
Since Bentley didn’t actually use much Scripture, this is an easy place to start. He went to John 5 and read some of the account regarding the pool of
A couple of issues with what little interpretation he actually did: 1) the story about the “angel” does not appear in many manuscripts of John 5. 2) Even if you allow for the story, most Biblical scholars understand that this story has to do with a tradition that is not endorsed by Scripture, simply reported on. In other words, it would be better to say, “It was said that an angel stirred up the pool.” 3) “
This text is NOT proof that Todd Bentley is an anointed messenger of God. It is proof that Jesus Christ is God. Bentley abuses the text to subtly take the eyes of professing believers off of Christ and onto himself. Bentley is guilty of the “spirit of antichrist” (1 Jn. 4:1-3). He is taking Jesus out of the text and adding himself.
2. His Emphasis on Angelic Visions:
Bentley, in an unprecedented way, credits “healing angels” with the revivals he claims. He claims angelic visits, angelic revelations, etc. Apparently Galatians 1:8 is lost on him. Apparently he is not concerned by others who have been deceived by angelic visions, including the Mormon false prophet, Joseph Smith and the Muslim false prophet, Mohammed. Apparently he does not understand the truth of 2 Corinthians 11:14-15 that messengers of Satan disguise themselves as “angels of light.” The cold, hard fact that his claims do not match Scripture do not concern him since the Word of Faith movement allows for additional revelation besides the Bible.
3. His “Proof” of the Veracity of His Experiences:
Bentley stated flatly that the proof of the reality of his experiences is, “the global outpouring happening at
The real proof of Bentley is completely lacking. He is a false teacher. Considering the fact that there are “lying wonders”, even if Bentley’s healings are real the content of his message reveal him as a fraud (2 Thess. 2:9).
During the “healings” in
4. His Refusal to Preach the Gospel:
This is an important issue. Some who have used Way of the Master make a big deal about the fact that a partner ministry of Bentley’s called “Citytakers” trains the people who do street evangelism in Lakeland using some (not all) of Ray Comfort’s material. They miss the facts that: 1) Bentley does not “preach against specific sins”, which is contrary to the principle of using the Law in evangelism, 2) their questionnaires and materials do not teach the concept of false conversion, 3) their questionnaires use modern Gospel techniques to “get decisions”, and 4) their material places a heavier than normal emphasis on baptism, similar to Church of Christ false teachings.
Bentley did NOT preach the Gospel in
There is much, much more that can be said about this dangerous heresy arising out of
What is even worse, is the fact that these folks are deluded by a man who is spreading a false Gospel. They are experiencing something at these events and think that they now know Christ. They have been inoculated by Satan himself against the true Gospel. They will not hear it because they think they already have it, when all they have is a cheap counterfeit. Eventually, these folks will burn out on the hype and will not be found in any church. Meanwhile, the preachers like Bentley and those who support him will continue to make money off of this lie. They will be faithful to their heresy as long as their bank accounts are full. On the day of judgment they will hear those horrible words from our Lord Himself, “Depart from Me, I never knew you, you workers of iniquity” (Matt. 7:23).
Monday, June 30, 2008
Guilt and Evangelism
My first and main observation is that the conscience of the Christian is keenly aware of his need to share the Gospel with the lost. The best proof of this is the physical reactions of guilt that Christians have when they hear a message that has to do with evangelism. Whenever a speaker or preacher talks about evangelism, I like to look around the room and observe the reactions of the listeners to the message. Almost without exception, the listeners react in much the same way that lost sinners react when they are taken through the Ten Commandments. They hang their heads, their brows are knit in concern, sometimes there are tears, sometimes there is anger, and almost always there are looks of resolve on their faces. They must be thinking, "I will do better. I WILL witness to my ____________ (fill in the blank: neighbor, co-worker, spouse, friend, etc.) this week." Chances are, these resolutions are left undone because the same cycle is repeated the next time someone speaks on evangelism.
As someone who does evangelism on a regular basis, I experience the "fall-out" of this guilt on a personal level. Recently, a friend of mine from my church who has come out with me to do evangelism in the past confided that he had been avoiding me because every time he sees me he feels guilty because he has not been evangelizing. I must confess that at first, I didn't understand this. I'm not a mean guy. I don't try to use guilt to motivate people to evangelize in my church. In fact, I think I've been careful NOT to use guilt as a motivator. However, the fact that I do evangelize somehow works on the conscience of my friend. He knows that my life is pretty well lived for the sake of the Gospel; I do full time evangelism ministry. Somehow the fact that he has not been as consistent evangelizing rebukes him every time he sees me. I'm not sure whether to view this as good or bad.
As I began to think about my friend, I have to wonder if there are others who feel the same way. I suspect that there are others. In a way, this is sad because I'm not just a one-dimensional person. Have I given the impression that I am one-dimensional? After all, I read, sell used books on the internet, teach adult Sunday School, have a great family, like to fish, etc.
In the end, I think that this is a matter of the conscience. Not because I have used guilt to motivate or inspire. It is a matter of the conscience because of the fact that the Law, perfectly summed up, is that we should love the Lord our God with all of our hearts, souls, minds and strength and then love our neighbors as ourselves. Romans 2:14-15 says that this Law is written on our hearts and our consciences bear witness of its truth. The command to evangelize has been given throughout the Gospels. When believers refuse to obey this command, they break the first command. They don't love God; the proof is they don't obey. And they don't love their neighbors enough to share the Gospel with them. And their conscience bears witness that they are guilty.
So, I have come to understand that it's not me, it's them. I will continue to be gracious and continue to do what I know I am supposed to do as an unprofitable servant. They, in turn, will continue to feel guilt until they repent and start sharing the Gospel. They don't need to do it in conjunction with my ministry or on the streets. If they start sharing it with their friends, families, neighbors and co-workers, their consciences will be assuaged and they will have confidence before God and men. May the Lord raise up laborers for the harvest.
Monday, June 23, 2008
Evangecamp #1: Niagara Falls Video
This is a photo video from TLC Ministries' first Evangecamp in Niagara Falls. This was a phenomenal outreach to the Buffalo\Niagara Region. Several professed faith in Christ and were referred to solid local churches. The campers were encouraged and gained additional tools to share the Gospel. Go to www.lostcauseministries.com to learn more.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
The 500 Video
We're working together with Transplant Ministries to organize The Five Hundred Outreach in Atlanta, GA on October 18th. We're helping with the mobilization aspects of the outreach. Please keep us in prayer this summer as we nail down details and plan this important outreach. 500 street evangelists in one city; Atlanta will never be the same.
Saturday, June 7, 2008
Colorado Bill Potentially Bans the Circulation of the Bible
This all sounds very inclusive and nice, but as always, there is a slightly hidden agenda here. Consider what the bill actually says, not just the spin that the pundits put on it:
"SECTION 8. 24-34-701. Publishing of discriminative matter forbidden.
No person, being the owner, lessee, proprietor, manager, superintendent, agent, or employee of any place of public accommodation... shall publish, issue, circulate, send, distribute, give away, or display in any way, manner, or shape or by any means or method, except as provided in this section, any communication, paper, poster, folder, manuscript, book, pamphlet, writing, print, letter, notice, or advertisement of any kind, nature, or description THAT is intended or calculated to discriminate or actually discriminates against... SEXUAL ORIENTATION, marital status... in the matter of furnishing or neglecting or refusing to furnish to them or any one of them any lodging, housing, schooling, or tuition or any accommodation, right [marriage], privilege [adoption], advantage, or convenience... on account of... SEXUAL ORIENTATION, marital status... [which] is unwelcome or objectionable or not acceptable, desired, or solicited."
In other words, if you own or work in a place of "public accommodation" in the State of Colorado (Kolorado?) and you either publish or distribute a copy of the Bible (which contains verses which call homosexuality a sin), you will be punishable by law. The same could be said for any book or tract which suggests that homosexuality is a sin. If the socialist State of Kolorado is going to be consistent, this means that the sale of Bibles in all book stores (Christian or secular) will be banned.
I guess no one who has supported this bill, including the Governor of the State, has enough sense to realize that this law is patently unconstitutional. Unless Kolorado secedes from the Union and becomes their own country, they have no right to make a law which infringes on the practice of religion. In one fell swoop the lawmakers in Kolorado have managed to do what no one has EVER done in the history of this nation: ban the Bible.
Now, as a bookseller, I know what I would do if I lived in Kolorado. I would get a small open shop and sell Bibles. I would find every book I could get on homosexuality, how it is NOT hereditary (which is [gasp] what science actually shows), how it is a sin, and I would print out Romans 1 on a poster (so I'm displaying the truth, in the words of the bill) and DARE the Kolorado KGB to come and do something about it. There is no way that this law can stand up under the scrutiny of serious legal challenges. It's so silly it's laughable.
Why? Consider what our nation's Constitution; the First Amendment, actually says:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
Hmmm. Interesting. "Prohibiting the free exercise thereof." What is a law prohibiting the distribution and display of the Bible but a law which "prohibits the free exercise" of Christianity?
As an evangelist, I can't help but wonder what this sort of thing means for those of us who use our Freedom of Speech to spread the Gospel in this nation. I live in Texas; granted, it's the false convert capital of the world, but at least there's a pretension towards Christianity and it's not likely that our state will ever follow Kolorado's example. However, it's far more likely that our nation's lawmakers will ignore the Constitution and do whatever seems right in their own eyes and we'll have this kind of stuff imposed on us from the stuffed shirts in D.C.
I'll borrow a cliche from the printing world: the only ones who have the Freedom of Speech are those who use it. If you're not using it as a Christian, you may as well live in Communist China, Soviet Russia, or Saudi Arabia. You have imposed on yourself a law which we don't actually have (yet) by your silence. If we as believers do not use our Freedom of Speech, we will lose it. Wake up!
This is a call to professing believers who are content to let their "little light shine" by being nice to people to stop playing silly games and start sharing the Gospel while it is still legal. If you take the Gospel out of the public forum by your silence and your rationalizing that it's not "effective" or "relevant" or it's "offensive", then make no mistake, you are guilty by association when our freedoms are taken away to spread the Gospel in public forums. What will you do when they take that freedom away? Will magic "courage dust" fall out of the sky and give you what you need then to stand up for Christ? How can you expect it at that time when you don't do it now?
Listen, ministry in 90% of the world and in most of Church History is not nice and neat and does not fit into tidy little boxes that look pretty. It is not polite. It is gritty, dirty business. It is blood, sweat and tears. True Christianity knows no other kind of ministry. We claim spiritual lineage to the Apostles and Prophets but don't want to live their lives. We'll gladly believe their doctrine so long as we don't have to follow their examples. Where does this nonsense come from?
It's time that men be men and leave the girly stuff to women. Rob Bell would have me be "relational" in my witnessing. Here's a newsflash Rob: I'm a guy. I'm not interested in exploring my feminine side. I know it's been fun for you, but that's your issue. Guys aren't "relational". They are men. We kill things and conquer. We're aggressive, not passive. If you want to be relational, put your skirt on and invite your neighbors over for tea and crumpets. While the churches have bought into that lie, men stay in the background (if they attend at all). I'm not interested in limp-wristed evangelism which makes me wear lipstick and high heels. The Apostles were men's men. They were dirty, sweaty, bloody, stinky men. They told the religious leaders where the bear did his business in the buckwheat and they faced threats boldly. They weren't a bunch of timid school-girls.
That is the kind of presence the church needs to have. We need to stand up and DARE them to silence us. If you've missed it, that's exactly what the pagans have been doing in this country for the last 40 years. In the meantime, the church has been taught by its "experts" that we need to be relational and we're within one generation of becoming post-Christian as a nation. The pagans smell blood. And we sleep while they come in through the window. God help us all.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
The original question was:
After reading your testimony on the Lost Cause Ministries website, I have had a question for you for quite some time. How or what made you decide that you weren’t really saved after all? Do you think it’s natural for Christians to question that about themselves? I find myself doing that from time to time.
The response I gave follows:
Yes, it is natural to question one’s own salvation. We all feel unworthy of the grace we’ve been given and if we understand (and are sensitive to) the true nature of sin and how prone we all are to it, even as spiritually growing believers, we sometimes wonder where we really are spiritually.
One difference between someone who is a soundly saved believer and one who is not is that the one who is not finds ways to justify his sin and is comfortable with it. The biggest difference is where you place your trust: your works or in Christ alone.
I was brought up in “easy-believism” churches. In other words, if you “pray the sinner’s prayer”, they taught that you are absolutely saved, no matter what, as long as you really meant it at that moment. Even if you prayed the prayer sincerely at the age of five and then went on to become a reprobate atheist for the rest of your life, then you were saved at five and just “backslid.” I do believe in backsliding, but this kind of thing I’m describing is nothing but presumption on the grace of God, making it something that it is not. Titus 2:12 teaches that someone who has experienced the true grace of God denies ungodliness (among other things).
In that religious system, I was never told about repentance (they viewed repentance as a “work”) and certainly never did repent. I got immersed into the Christian youth culture and started doing all of the things that evangelical teenagers do: go to Christian concerts, youth group, hang out with Christian friends. I became a leader in the youth group (mainly because of personality and things that I did) and the leaders all said that I should go to Bible college. So I went there, became a leader again and everyone there said that I should go into ministry. At the age of 20 I went into my first ministry, as an assistant pastor in a black church. And on and on it went, getting “promoted” to the position of pastor in a small church, doing well there and then being promoted to the position of pastor in a larger church.
Then I would justify myself by saying that I must be right with God, look at all of the things I DO. I preached three times a week, visited the sick, prayed, studied the Bible many hours per week, “discipled” people, and on and on. Someone who is saved wouldn’t do those things, would they? But the truth is, yes, unsaved people study the Bible (liberal theologians), pray (every religion of the world prays), do charitable deeds (Catholics), preached (Muslim imams preach), and mentor people (Big Brothers, Big Sister programs do that too). In the end, I wasn’t trusting in Christ alone; I was trusting in my deeds. I had a cultural Christianity, but no reality with Christ. In the end, I had to do what Scripture says and repent not only of my sins (Acts 3:19) but also of my dead works (Heb. 6:1). I needed to be justified by faith in Christ alone and stop trying to justify myself.
Later, I saw that I never really placed faith in Christ alone. My faith was creedal; very theological (I was Reformed) but characterized by what the easy believism folks call “an intellectual assent to the facts of the Gospel” (their definition of saving faith). I was raised in a fundamentalism that taught if you can say “uh huh” to several basic facts, then praise God, you’re saved. Most of their evangelism was taking people through several facts and getting them to say they believed them. This kind of faith is demonic (Jas. 2:19). True faith is absolute trust, complete abandonment, to someone who is trustworthy. Combined with repentance and justification by faith in Christ alone, this is a magnificent Gospel. The other is nothing more than a half-breed Gospel which cannot save.
Sadly, most of this errant theology on salvation came from seminaries which strongly influenced the Baptist churches in the northeast: Dallas Theological Seminary and
Richard Baxter wrote in his book “The Reformed Pastor” that it was possible to save others as a preacher and yet be lost yourself in the end. George Whitefield taught that the bane of the Christian ministry in his day was an unconverted ministry. I was one of those men; it is a fact which still causes grief when I think seriously about it. I preached a false gospel and baptized many people who responded to that gospel. I don’t ever want to lose sight of that fact, just as John Newton never lost sight of his own past as a slave trader. He didn’t let his past lead to self condemnation; he let it remind him daily of God’s amazing grace. I don’t think there is anything worse than a false convert preacher who spreads a false Gospel; a slave trader seems gentle in comparison. The fact that the Lord Jesus Christ saved me demonstrates that He is willing to save the worst of hypocrites. His grace truly is amazing. His love is astounding. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.Here are some important messages on false conversion. These are all on our website: http://www.lostcauseministries.com/audios.html.
1. Paul Washer’s message, “Examine Yourself”.
2.Keith Daniel’s “The Spiritual Birth”
3.Ray Comfort’s “True & False Conversions”
Soli Deo Gloria, 4.
4.John MacArthur’s “Hard to Believe.”