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Archive for September, 2011

I came across this excellent “open letter” from Manny Silva to the Nazarene denomination, asking for an explanation of its accommodation of various heresies. Such heresies are being promulgated in virtually every evangelical denomination today – shocking!

I have copied the entire open letter verbatim. Click here for the original text of this open letter. Many of the statement have already been bolded by Manny. I have emphasized additional points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets]:

Open Letter #2 To The General Superintendents

Posted on April 11, 2011 by reformednazarene

This is my second open letter that I am writing to you, and my third letter overall.  I pray all is well with you.

I am writing this in a spirit of great concern and love for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.  I believe, with all humility, that I speak on behalf of a good number of Nazarenes as well.

The Church of the Nazarene manual states that your duties include:

317.1.1  “To provide supervision of the international Church of the Nazarene. The Board of General Superintendents shall provide appropriate attention to leadership, guidance, motivation…”

318. “The Board of General Superintendents shall be the authority for the interpretation of the law and doctrine of the Church of the Nazarene…”

Many are still seeking guidance and clear answers in these very troubling times within the church.  The influence of the emerging church movement is growing, and is causing an ever widening theological rift, as many Nazarenes see it as an apostate movement.  It has torn apart fellowship and brought chaos to many church families, including mine. It has resulted in the departure from the Nazarene denomination by many who have been watching a holiness church turn to teachings and traditions that years ago would have been unthinkable; teachings and practices that were rejected by the very people who started the Reformation.  We are reverting back to pre-Reformation behavior, and incorporating teachings and practices that were rejected by Martin Luther, and those who gave their very lives in defense of the true gospel.  We have lost more than 10,000 Nazarenes in the last four years in the U.S. and Canada.  Although I cannot tell you how much of that is due to emergent ideology or the embrace of Romanism and mysticism, I do have personal stories from dozens of people who have related to me that these movements have been the cause of their departure, or the cause of their current state of distress in their own church.

There are many things going on that are dividing our denomination and creating chaos among the believers, who are either unsure or afraid of the direction we are headed.  Many have become anxious because our leaders have not provided them with clear and unambiguous explanations of various concerns.  We believe that the main problem that is unfolding is a great separation between Bible believing Christians, and those who do not believe in the full authority and inerrancy of God’s word. If this continues, there will be many more permanently separating from the church, who will not abide with a continuing further erosion in trusting all of the Bible’s teachings.

I would like to submit just a few questions to you and ask for some absolute clarity as to what you as a governing board believe about the following issues, because unless we get complete clarity on where our leaders stand, the bleeding will continue anyway, and you will see more and more Nazarenes leaving.  Sure, some will leave no matter how you answer, but at least you will fulfill the mandate that the church manual has given to you, to be the authority for the interpretation of the law and doctrine of the Church of the Nazarene. Here are my questions:

  1. Celtic Spirituality class taught at Nazarene Theological Seminary
    For the life of me, I cannot understand why this course is being taught at a Christian seminary!If you have no information on this subject, I wrote a post.  Is this teaching appropriate and within the bounds of Christian orthodoxy?  If yes, please explain it, because this is occultism being taught here, and we are very concerned with this kind of teaching to those who are going to be our future pastors.  I have attached a syllabus from the class, and it is not just a study of the topic- it is for future pastors to fully participatein this pagan discipline.
  2. The teaching of Open Theism and Process Theology at our Christian colleges.
    Is it scripturally sound to teach that God does not know the future?  Is it within the bounds of orthodox Christianity and Nazarene doctrine to teach that God makes mistakes and learns from them?  Is this the new Nazarene teaching about the nature of God?
  3. Is the use of pagan prayer labyrinths, the placing of ashes to the forehead and other Roman Catholic rituals in Nazarene churches now acceptable and within the bounds of orthodox Christianity and Nazarene doctrine, in your opinion?
  4. Finally, what do each of you believe regarding the inerrancy of scripture? With all the troubles within the Nazarene denomination, I believe it can be traced to the lessening of the authority and infallibility of God’s word.  My question is simple and straight for each of you: do you believe that the Bible- all of it- is fully inspired by God, and IS actually God’s word? Furthermore, do you agree or disagree with those who are promoting the teaching that the first 11 chapters of Genesis are not necessarily true, and that much of the Bible is not necessarily true?  Do you believe Christians can actually reject the literal account of creation, and accept the idea that man evolved, including Adam and Eve?
    If so, what is the biblical justification to arrive at these conclusions, and how can we trust the Bible if parts of it are not true?  Does that not make God a liar?  This is the most important area I wish to get clarification on, and I pray that you will take the time to write a clear response, not just for me, but for many Nazarenes who are wondering about this.

That last question, by the way, is important for many reasons.  One was the astounding fact that a licensed minister in the New England District was told last year that he would probably not be approved for ordination.  For what reason, you may ask?  Was it for incompetence?  Did they tell him he just did not seem to have a genuine calling from God?  Did he have some kind of serious moral failure that discredited him?

No, it was none of that.  They simply told him that his view on the Bible- that it is the inspired and inerrant word of God- was not acceptable.  To his credit and courage, he has told the licensing board that he would not seek renewal of a District license, because of the lack of confidence within the denomination in the very word of God.  How shameful is it that this kind of thing can happen?  How many more young pastors will be rejected unless they fit into the mold that is being formed, a mold that apparently rejects scripture as fully divinely inspired.  Instead, pastors are being ordained if they believe in open theism, process theology, or that we came from apes.  Does that sound like the Christian world turned upside down to you?  And let me remind you of the pastors who have been faithful to God’s word, but have been summarily dismissed for preaching against the emergent church movement.

It is my prayer that you will provide clear answers to these questions and finally help many Nazarenes understand where our leadership stands on these issues. The church looks to you for guidance, yet those of us who see the scriptures as the only true authority for our faith and practice, must be Bereans and even hold you up to the standard of scripture.  It is not personal, it is only obedience to the Lord’s teachings that compels us to ask these questions.

May God bless you and I look forward to your response.

Sincerely in Christ,

Manny Silva

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(revised 02/17/14)

I have written various blogs about the denomination I grew up in – the Evangelical Friends Church International (EFCI). I have critiqued Spiritual Formation and postmodern (Emerging/Emergent) teachings, which have been spreading throughout the denomination for years now. Yet for the most part  denominational leaders have not responded. When they have responded, it seems they have no comprehension that the above-mentioned teachings are heretical. They have told me I do not understand Spiritual Formation and postmodern teachings. And they have told me I am “being divisive” to the denomination.

Why the negative reactions? These individuals in the EFCI claim to be born again, biblically sound Christians. They claim to know and understand the Truth of God’s Word. Yet when I call them out for believing and teaching heresies, I am the one that is reprimanded for (supposedly) spreading falsehoods about the denomination.

Eric Barger has faced similar negative responses from the Church of the Nazarene denomination, and expressed similar frustrations. Check out the following blog from Eric. Click here for the original text. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

June 16, 2009

Response to YouTube comments about Eric’s video clip “Emergent Church and the Church of the Nazarene” from “The Errors of the Emergent Church” DVD
 

After reading so many nasty comments on YouTube concerning my video clip exposing the Emergent heresy which is at work inside the Church of the Nazarene I decided to weigh in once more on the matter. Watch the video clip and then read my comments here below. Thanks!

-EB


Commentary from Eric Barger

It ALL Comes Down to the Word of God!

The more I deal with the defenders of Emergent thinking, the more amazed I become. In my DVDs and seminar teachings, I constantly cite Scripture and compare the quotes of Emergent leaders verbatim from their books and public statements. Emergent defenders merely bemoan that I got it wrong and then call me divisive without ever answering the charges I level. They simply generalize that I am way off base without responding to what I suggest the Bible states. The real problem is just what place the Bible occupies in one’s belief system. That is REALLY what the Emergent vs. Bible-Believer debate is all about.

The New Testament gives us ample warning that deception will swirl INSIDE the Church. The great “apostasy” Paul cautioned of (II Thess 2:3) is the exact condition he spoke to Timothy about in II Timothy 3 – “a form of godliness” but void of the power of the Gospel. Jesus warned us an astounding 14 times about false teachers inside the Church. Concerning this, Paul spoke prophetically to the Ephesian elders and said that after his departure heretics and their false teachings would arise from their very midst (Acts 20:28-31). Furthermore, Peter warned of false teachers who would invade the Church from within introducing “damnable heresies” (II Pet 2:1). If, by chance, we ARE in the very end days of the Church age, should we be shocked that false teaching will be prevalent in our midst, purported to actually be the truth? The only way to discern truth from error is to rely completely on the Bible and nothing else.

Wherever Emergent philosophy is being embraced or heralded (be it in The Church of the Nazarene, Baptist, Calvary Chapel, the Assemblies of God, or elsewhere), its unbiblical nature needs to be exposed. Contrary to those who oppose me, shining the biblical spotlight on error IS indeed the truthful and loving thing to do. Souls are still going to hell (even if folks such as Brian McLaren don’t believe it) and I for one am willing to endure the disdain of a few Emergent defenders if what we are saying should direct some other individuals toward the Cross.

So, if I am wrong about the things I have reported concerning the Brian McLaren event sponsored by Northwest Nazarene University in February, 2008, please give me exact quotes and instances. Most importantly, show me where I am wrong scripturally. Otherwise, I suggest that Emergent-leaning Nazarenes stop hiding behind slogans such as the oft-used “in our Wesleyan tradition” to defend what is indefensible when compared to the Bible. The fact is that, if the “great learned few” who regularly tout their education and numerous degrees simply had a higher view and reverence for the Bible alone (like John Wesley actually did), then Emergent proponents, such as McLaren, would never be given the time of day – let alone the pulpit at once-solid theological institutions. Sadly, many enamored with their PhD’s and accompanying peer-approval fit Paul’s description in II Timothy 3:7 of being “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” How tragic that, for the second time in 200 years, “evangelicals” have fallen for Satan’s redefinition of Christianity at the hands of educated heretics teaching in once biblically-trustworthy schools. According to the Word, there is an extremely high price to pay for aiming people in the wrong spiritual direction. If only for this reason, those with any spiritual conscience need to ponder the eternal perils of supporting false gospels. Isn’t it obvious that having NO formal theological education would serve a person better than one that led the recipient (and others he or she might affect) AWAY from God?

– Eric Barger (www.ericbarger.com)

For More on Nazarenes and Emergents Click Here

For More on Emergents Click Here

To read YouTube comments go to www.youtube.comand search for “Eric Barger.”

(C) copyright 2009, Eric Barger

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(revised 03/02/14)

There is a great deal of confusion today among Christians regarding “primary separation” and “secondary separation”. Contrary to popular belief, primary and secondary separation in the past were  practiced by more than just Independent Fundamentalist Baptists. I would say both primary and secondary separation were practiced by many evangelical denominations, during the years of approximately 1900-1942. That is, during the Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy. (This article describes in detail the Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy among Presbyterians. Similar conflicts were going on in many other denominations.)

Below I am providing excerpts from David C. Bennett’s excellent article about “primary separation” and “secondary separation”.  Click here for the original text of his article. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

THE FUNDAMENTALIST & BIBLICAL SEPARATION,
by David C. Bennett, D. Min.

Being a fundamentalist and a separatist has historically gone hand in hand. Nevertheless, for some younger preachers of today there is no doctrine of the Christian faith that has alienated so many than this doctrine of ecclesiastical separation. Why is this? As one young pastor said “My generation didn’t go through the Fundamentalist-modernist battle; the fight over the RSV; the Billy Graham issue, etc.”[1]

With that young pastor’s statement in mind we ought to consider firstly, what a Christian fundamentalist is? Professor David Beale wrote “Ideally, a Christian Fundamentalist is one who desires to reach out in love and compassion to people, he believes and defends the whole Bible as the absolute, inerrant and authoritative Word of God, and stands committed to the doctrine and practice of holiness. It is not even a mere literal exposition of the Bible. The essence of Fundamentalism goes much deeper than that. It is the unqualified acceptance of and obedience to the Scriptures.”[2]

The second thing to bear in mind is; what comprises Biblical separation for a fundamentalist? Dr. H. T. Spence says that Biblical separation contains “…two sides: the horizontal, which separates us by the grace of God from sin, error, and compromise; and the vertical, which separates us in the grace of God unto purity, unity, and Christ.”[3] If the separation from does not draw us in closer walk with the Lord it is not Biblical separation.

In the 1930 and 40’s the battles, of J. Frank Norris, Robert Ketcham and other “fighting” fundamentalists, were perhaps more evident for the clash was against those who openly proclaimed out and out unbelief and theological liberalism.

Then in the late 1940’s a theological name change was made when “NEW EVANGELICALISM” was coined. This name change “was born in 1948 at the convocation message delivered by Harold Ockenga in the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. In that message, which was referenced in the forward to Harold Lindsell’s book, The Battle for the Bible, published in 1976, he said the following. ‘Neo-evangelicalism (Neo used interchangeably with New)…While affirming the theological view of fundamentalism, this address repudiated its ecclesiology and its social theory. The ringing call for a repudiation of separatism and the summons to social involvement received a hearty response from many evangelicals…It differed from fundamentalism in its repudiation of separatism and its determination to engage itself in the theological dialogue of the day. It had a new emphasis upon the application of the gospel to the sociological, political and economic areas of life (Emphasis in the original).’”[4] Rather than separation, an alliance between liberals and new evangelicals would continue.

Again it must be stated that the fighting fundamentalists such as J. Frank Norris, Bob Ketcham, W. B. Riley and others knew only too well who the “opponent” was. The adversary held the leadership positions of many churches, denominational organizations and schools. These liberals were very obvious for in their teaching and preaching they openly denied almost, if not every, cardinal doctrine of the faith. Separation was not a choice but a necessity if one was going to be obedient to the Scriptures.

The term “separation” can admittedly come across harsh, uncaring, unloving etc. etc. For example Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines separation thusly as the act of, “severing or disconnecting; disjunction; as the separation of the soul from the body. 2. The state of being separate; disunion; disconection. 3. The operation of disuniting”. These definitions set forth by Webster certainly fits the Biblical act of separation.

Undoubtedly one must be careful that their attitude is right toward others and there is not an attitude of superiority but rather an attitude of humility. Of course the personification of humility is the Lord Jesus Christ whom the fundamentalist should be following ever so closely… 

Take a moment and think about it. The separatist position comes from the Bible, the Word of God itself! In the very first Book separation is seen through God’s division of “the light from the darkness” (Genesis 1:4).  [See also  1 John 1:5–7.]

On the second day God “divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament” Genesis 1: 7. Again division was necessary. On the third day “the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind” Genesis 1: 11…   

In Deuteronomy 22:9 God [speaks about the separation of seed]. Peter picks up the importance of the seed in 1 Peter 1:23. Mixing the seed will produce unacceptable fruit and mixing spiritual truth and error produces unacceptable or bad fruit as well.

Following the teaching against mixing diverse seed the Lord then said “Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together” Deuteronomy 22:10. God follows this Old Testament teaching in 2 Corinthians 6:14-17: “14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers… 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” The fundamentalist HAD to separate not only from the liberal BUT from the new evangelical as they continued to hold hands with the unbelievers and infidels.

As God spoke to the individual heart of such men as Bob Ketcham, J. Frank Norris and others “…each realized there were others of the same mind and heart as theirs. The root of their spiritual legacy was the preservation of the fundamentals of the Faith. Such a heart demanded a separation from the liberalism, modernism, and worldliness that had permanently polluted their places of worship and learning. A corporate organism was born; a movement arose across America during the latter part of the nineteenth century and flourished during the first four decades of the twentieth century.

In every Biblical movement there is always the inevitable tendency for a variety of factions to eventually emerge. There is the faction of the mixed multitude that attaches itself to the movement. There are also the individuals who personally leave the movement’s legacy. And then there are those who make shipwreck their Faith and thus begin to redesign the movement in accordance to their heart’s change. When this trinity of factions surfaces, and begins to erode the heart of the Fundamentalist movement, the term Fundamentalist changes in definition. The fundamentals no longer make the Fundamentalist, the organism becomes an organization, and the Fundamentalist becomes Fundamentalism. Thus the organization becomes more important than the fundamentals themselves. When such a transition is made, purity of practice is lessened in importance. The movement itself becomes a system of greater importance than its original heart. It affects everything: the personal life, the music, education, and the lifestyle in standards of dress and living. The reality of such a transition to take place in Fundamentalism destroys the heart of holiness, which is separation; and results in both the heart and the movement being redefined.

Is Fundamentalism coming to another hour of this concern in its history? Are we to see another change to rise within the camp? (Emphasis added)”[6]

There is a movement among some of today’s fundamentalists who are mixing the seed of fundamentalism and evangelicalism.  They (we will continue to call them fundamentalists) believe there is to be separation from the unbeliever and “new” evangelical of course, BUT, according to Central Seminary’s Kevin Bauder and some of his brethren, they believe the doctrine of ecclesiastical separation does not apply when it comes to the “conservative evangelical”[7]. This designation “conservative evangelical” encompasses a wide spectrum of organizations and preachers.

Surprisingly or not surprisingly a Google search led to a blog entitled “Is This A Conservative Evangelical Blog?”[8] In this blog the blogger says that “For most of my life, the words I have used most to describe my set of beliefs have been ‘Charismatic’ and ‘Evangelical’”. This man then seeks a definition for what he truly is and writes “The only other term I can come up with is “Conservative Evangelical”. He goes on to say that “as the bridges have been built (Emphasis added), and the neoliberal assaults have unfolded, I do think that bible-believing people from many different backgrounds have been finding that we have more in common with each other than we previously realized. The Internet and conferences such as Together For The Gospel, The Gospel Coalition, and New Word Alive have all been a major force for that discovery.”  So here we have a “charismatic evangelical”.

On the same blog a book written by this blogger has the recommendation of Southern Baptist Al Mohler, who Bauder considers a conservative evangelical. Bridges have and are being built and it is worth noting that what brings these “conservative evangelicals” together is; the GOSPEL! Just as the emphasis on missions, which is the taking of the gospel to others, brought the World Council of Churches into being so these organizations such as Together For The Gospel have been birthed under the banner of THE GOSPEL!

This is not a pick on Kevin Bauder paper but what he writes openly about, he must want people to read and therefore comments and judgments will be made. So therefore, to continue, Bauder says these “Conservative evangelicals are different from Fundamentalists, but they are not new evangelicals. New evangelicals were committed to a policy of re-infiltrating ecclesiastical organizations that had been captured by apostates. They wanted to live in peaceful coexistence with apostasy. They were willing to recognize certain apostates as fellow-Christians and to cooperate with them in the Lord’s work. These are attitudes that conservative evangelicals explicitly reject.”[9] IS THAT SO?!

Who are some of these that Dr. Bauder considers conservative evangelicals and not new evangelicals? “Conservative evangelicalism encompasses a diverse spectrum of Christian leaders. Representatives include John Piper, Mark Dever, John MacArthur [see this 1999 article], Charles Ryrie, Bruce Ware, Bryan Chapell, Wayne Grudem, D. A. Carson, Al Mohler, Tim Keller, John D. Hannah, Ed Welch, Ligon Duncan, Tom Nettles, C. J. Mahaney, Norman Geisler, and R. C. Sproul [see this 2003 article]. Conservative evangelical organizations include Together for the Gospel (T4G), the Gospel Coalition, the Master’s Seminary, the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors, the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals (at least in its better moments), and Ligonier Ministries. These individuals and organizations exhibit a remarkable range of differences, but they can be classed together because of their vigorous commitment to and defense of the gospel.”[10]

Al Mohler is one of Bauder’s conservative evangelicals and is a well known name among fundamentalists and evangelicals. Admittedly Al Mohler is a sought after speaker and is quoted by both religious and non-religious news outlets. However, remember, the key point of the new evangelical was “repudiation of separatism”. It would seem this is also the path of the “conservative evangelical” as well.

For example, Dr. Mohler wrote in his blog http://www.albertmohler.com/2010/04/23/this-man-was-no-moderate-the-legacy-of-cecil-sherman/ concerning Southern Baptist Cecil Sherman who died April 17th, 2010 at the age of 82.

[Bro. Bennett proceeds to provide various excerpts from Dr. Mohler’s blog, in which Dr. Mohler provides various examples of how liberal Cecil Sherman was. He cites examples of Dr. Sherman affirming evolution, denying an inerrant Bible, accomodating professors who deny the Virgin Birth.]

… By then [approximately 1981], Sherman was serving as Coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, a group of moderate Baptists who separated from the Southern Baptist Convention.” Here we have an out and out liberal working within a group that Al Mohler calls “moderate Baptists”!

It would seem the liberals are now the moderates and the moderates are the conservative evangelicals. Not once in this article did Dr. Mohler mention separating himself or the seminary of which he is president from the unbelief of Cecil Sherman!  Not once was it mentioned that separation was necessary for spiritual and Biblical purity!

[Bennett goes on to give examples of how Dr. Mohler has not practiced separation, instead compromising with liberals.]

… [Dr. Nettleton] is now deceased but what he wrote years ago is still so very applicable today. Dr. Nettleton wrote “Today we are choosing between two alternatives. A LIMITED MESSAGE OR A LIMITED FELLOWSHIP. If we preach all of the Bible truths, there are many places where we will never be invited. If we join hands with the crowds, there will be limiting of the message of the Bible. Bear this in mind–it is the Baptist who lays aside the most! It is the fundamental Baptist who makes the concessions! Think this through and you will find it to be true. We believe in believer’s baptism. We believe in separation. We preach eternal security. We believe in the imminent coming of Christ. We consider it an act of obedience to reprove unbelief in religious circles. The Sadduccee and the Pharisee are to be labeled. But according to a present philosophy we must lay these things aside for the sake of a larger sphere of service.”[13]

So it might seem that these fundamentalists, Bauder, Minnick and Doran, may desire a wider fellowship for at least the purpose of more speaking engagements even though it would in all probability limit their message. However, any preacher working out a separatist position whether ecclesiastical or personal should be motivated by the desire to “…do all to the glory of God” 1 Corinthians 10:31c. Our separatist position should be leading us to personal holiness for (1) God is holy and (2) He calls us to be holy, 1 Peter 1:15, 16 “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” …

As stated earlier Bible separation doesn’t mean one hates the new or conservative evangelical but it does mean to “withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us” (2 Thess. 3: 6).  There is another passage not often used in the discussion on separation but is, I believe, very appropriate for the day in which we find ourselves: Luke 9:46-50.

The passage here in Luke and also in Mark doesn’t give a lot of detail concerning this man of whom John speaks other than he was casting out devils. This man was not in the band of disciples to which John belonged, the fundamentalists. He was an outsider, conservative evangelical? Jesus simply said if this man is not against us he is for us. HOWEVER, Jesus did not go and invite the man to come and join them nor did Jesus go and join him. The Scriptures do not tell us everything concerning this incident but as one reads the Scriptures no more is said of this unnamed man. The Lord Jesus nor did His disciples cooperate in any campaign or share any speaking event with this unnamed man BUT they were separated from him for whatever reason!!

Because I would not ask any of the men Bauder mentioned earlier as conservative evangelicals, to speak in my pulpit nor would I accept their invitation to speak in theirs, doesn’t mean I am better than they, nor that I do not appreciate their public stand on many issues BUT it does mean there are important doctrinal areas which prohibit such a public relationship between them and me.

As a missionary I must ask “Is the difference today between the Southern Baptists and the independents so miniscule separation is no longer an issue?” After awhile, one wonders why these independents continue to be independent if there is not that much difference. Why would one stay independent when you could be part of the largest Protestant organization in the USA? Why not do what Jerry Falwell did and lead your church into the Southern Baptist Convention?

AS A MISSIONARY I wonder why any of the students from Central, BJU or Detroit would go as a missionary with an independent Baptist mission board and travel all over the USA begging support when they could go with the Southern Baptist International Board of Missions and be sent to the field almost immediately.  If a man can work with a Southern Baptist as so many independent mission board missionaries do why not become a Southern Baptist?

What do these men such as Bauder, Doran and Minnick have in common with Mohler and the other conservative evangelicals? Is it the Reformed theology? Or is it any Bible version other than the King James? Al Mohler uses the English Standard Version and even though Bauder touts the fact he uses the King James Bible for ministry he has written enough for all to know what he really thinks of it. As far as Minnick and Doran they are not lovers of the King James Bible or its Greek Text either.

Dr. Bauder says “Other fundamentalists do not necessarily draw the lines where I do…. [and] might very well choose to separate from me. That, too, is part of the judgment that they must make, and I must grant them liberty to make it. I am not the one to whom they will answer. For my part, the dictum is pretty simple. Let us separate where we must. Let us fellowship where we can. Let us love one another withal.”[16]

It is to be admitted that fundamentalists have in all probability never agreed on every issue or person with whom they should separate or cooperate. It was interesting to read that in 1959 John R. Rice “…and Bob Jones, Sr. held a series of one-day rallies in different parts of the country in an attempt to explain the separationist position to the wavering, and Jones urged that The Sword [of the Lord] be made ‘the official organ’ of separatist fundamentalism. Meanwhile, Rice made new, younger, friends. One was Jack Hyles, who in 1959 had become the pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana; another was Curtis Hutson, who eventually became Rice’s successor. A third was Jerry Falwell, pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia.

In 1971, Rice planned a ‘great world conference on evangelism’ that would bring together the various strands of fundamentalism. But Bob Jones, Sr. had died three years earlier, and his son and successor, Bob Jones, Jr., objected to the inclusion in the conference program of two Southern Baptists, W. A. Criswell and R. G. Lee, whom Jones considered ‘compromisers and traitors to the cause of Scriptural evangelism.’ (It did not help that shortly before Jones, Sr.’s death, Criswell had referred to him as ‘a senile old fool.’) Jones also opposed Rice’s insistence that there be no criticism of Billy Graham (and presumably, neo-evangelicalism) at the conference. Rice argued that his position on separation was the same as that held by Bob Jones, Sr. and that there was ‘nobody living in this world who was more intimately acquainted’ with the late evangelist. Not surprisingly, Jones, Jr. disagreed, and he and Rice engaged in an exchange of views about separation–Rice in The Sword of the Lord, Jones in a pamphlet, ‘Facts John R. Rice Will Not Face.’ To Rice the importance of soulwinning trumped what he considered minor disagreements among Christians about biblical separation. (Emphasis added)

The upshot was that Rice’s planned conference was postponed and then canceled. In November 1971, Bob Jones, Jr. and Bob Jones III were dropped from the cooperating board of The Sword [of the Lord] to be replaced by Jerry Falwell and Curtis Hutson. In 1976, Jones, Ian Paisley, and Wayne Van Gelderen organized their own “World Congress of Fundamentalists” in Edinburgh. Unlike the split with Billy Graham, however, Rice’s refusal to agree with separationist fundamentalists like Bob Jones, Jr. and Ian Paisley only enhanced the growth of The Sword. By the mid-1960s, the paper had more than recovered its losses after Rice’s criticism of Billy Graham; in 1974, circulation of The Sword of the Lord was over 300,000. Rice had been a major participant in shaping the two most important divisions of late twentieth-century fundamentalism, the split between fundamentalists and neo-evangelicals and then the creation of two fundamentalist factions: Rice’s more sentimental and irenic; Jones’s more academic, doctrinal, and confrontational.”[17]

Note “soulwinning” was John R. Rice’s emphasis as to whom he would fellowship just as the Gospel is Mohler’s. For Clarence Sexton’s Independent Baptist’s Friends International it is worded as “…an effort to promote…World Evangelism.”[18] Kevin Bauder and supposedly Dave Doran and Mark Minnick are much the same for they would fellowship with any who have a “vigorous commitment to and defense of the gospel.”[19]

Whether it is called soul-winning, preaching the gospel or world evangelism all three actually are covered under the term proclaimed as the Great Commission. History has shown that working together for the sake of the Great Commission leads to ecumenism and the eventual surrender of certain Biblical principles, of which one is surely to be Biblical separation.

John R. Mott in all probability would have been considered an evangelical in his day but his desire for world missions led to the eventual formation of the World Council of Churches.[20] …

Time marches on! Separatist men, schools, mission organizations and churches sadly all too often with the passing of years throw aside Biblical ecclesiastical separation for the high and lofty goal of reaching the lost with the gospel. However, the Bible is not fluid and the passages teaching separation continue the same. Consider John 15:19; John 17:14; Romans 12:2; Romans 16:17; 2 Corinthians 6:14–18; Galatians 6:14,16; Ephesians 5:11; 2 Timothy 2:22; Titus 2:11-12; James 1:27; James 4:4; 1 Peter 2:11-12; 1 Peter 4:1-4; 1 John 2:15-17; 1 John 5:19; Proverbs 4:2, Proverbs 4:14-15.

In closing we must remember the Bible path of separation, both personally and ecclesiastically, will be both narrow and much less travelled! NEVERTHELESS IT IS THE ONLY PATH of true obedience where sweet fellowship is found with the dear Saviour and His small flock!


[21] http://learningtogive.org/papers/paper115.html

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(revised 09/09/15)

I came across an article entitled “The Conservative Holiness Movement: A Fundamentalism File Research Report,” by Mark Sidwell. Click here for the entire original text of the article.

I found the following section especially interesting, since I admire many aspects of both the Conservative Holiness Movement and Fundamentalism. I have copied the entire section verbatim. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

The Conservative Holiness Movement and Fundamentalism
by Mark Sidwell

For many people, any kind of strongly conservative, traditional form of religion is “fundamentalist,” but such a definition ignores two important factors. First, this definition does not give sufficient weight to the historical context that spawned and shaped Protestant Fundamentalism in twentieth-century America. Second, it does not take into account how religious adherents view themselves—either as Fundamentalists who embrace the label or other religious conservatives who shun it.

In terms of both historical context and self-identification, the Conservative Holiness movement reveals some links with Fundamentalism. For example, the following description of H. Robb French’s preaching at the Interchurch Holiness Convention certainly displays similarities to the Fundamentalist position: “Brother French also was very conscious of the political tides and the dangers of communism and socialism. More than once, he pointed out the coming world church and exhorted his audiences to ‘come out from among them.’ He had little time for those who would sacrifice scriptural principle on the altar of compromise with the elements that would deny the substitutionary atonement of Christ, the virgin birth of Christ, and others of the great doctrines of the church.”[45] Yet a closer examination also reveals some significant differences.

Fundamentalist Leaven”?The Holiness movement predates Fundamentalism, and historians generally agree that Holiness teaching, at least of the Keswick variety, influenced Fundamentalism.[46] They debate, however, how much Fundamentalism influenced the Holiness movement or whether the two movements ever identified with each other.[47] Paul Bassett notes some such influence, although he characterizes it as “leaven” foreign to Wesleyan thought and theology. He argues that the Church of the Nazarene edged toward holding to biblical inerrancy only under the pressure of the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy and that Holiness theologians rescued the movement from such tendencies. [48] [This doesn’t speak very highly for the Church of the Nazarene – that is, that they did not hold to biblical inerrancy.]

Susie Stanley has examined this question in even greater depth, contending that the Wesleyan and Holiness churches were “innocent bystanders” in the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy.[49] This bears further research. In my opinion, even if the Conservative Holiness denominations were not actively involved in the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy, they would still be considered Fundamentalist if they held to the beliefs of The Fundamentals (a series of articles from 1910-1915.]  She identifies four areas in which she concludes that Holiness Christians differed from Fundamentalists: the inerrancy of the Bible, premillennialism, women as ministers, and “social holiness” (by which she means “social justice activities undertaken by Wesleyan Holiness adherents”).[50] She argues that the first two are characteristic of Fundamentalism but are shared by only a few within the Holiness movement. The last two are, in her view, points to which Holiness Christians hold but which Fundamentalists reject. Based on her study, Stanley questions the identification of the Holiness movement with Fundamentalism.

The case of the Conservative Holiness movement suggests either that the movement has been touched by Fundamentalist leaven or that the conclusions of Basset, Stanley, and others may require some revision. Conservative Holiness adherents, for instance, have been staunch supporters of the doctrine of inerrancy. The Articles of Religion of the Bible Missionary Church say, “We believe the Holy Scriptures inerrantly reveal the will of God concerning all things necessary to our salvation.”[51] A doctrinal statement from the Pilgrim Holiness Church of New York, the Wesleyan Holiness Association of Churches, and God’s Bible School refers to the Bible as “the inerrant, infallible Word of God.”[52] Edsel Trouten published in the Convention Herald, the voice of the Interchurch Holiness Convention, a multipart defense of inerrancy.[53] Clearly, inerrancy is an important doctrine to many in the Conservative Holiness movement.

Premillennialism is likewise important. The Church of God (Holiness) is explicitly premillennial in its Articles of Faith: “The second advent of our Savior, Jesus Christ, is premillennial and visible.”[54] The Bible Missionary Church (and Griffith ’s offshoot, the Wesleyan Holiness Association of Churches) as well as the Pilgrim Holiness Church of New York are not only premillennial but also explicitly pretribulational, a position generally associated with dispensationalist Fundamentalism.[55]

However, one must offer two qualifications. First, the link between Holiness groups and premillennialism is not necessarily a link to Fundamentalism. When Methodist minister John Lakin Brasher embraced the Holiness cause in the late nineteenth century, he accepted premillennialism along with the “second blessing” of entire sanctification.[56] Before Fundamentalism ever arose, then, some Holiness Christians identified with premillennialism.

Second, not all Conservative Holiness Christians are avowedly premillennial in their statements of faith. The Doctrinal Statement of Hobe Sound Bible College makes no explicit reference to the millennium.[57] The Bible Methodist Connection of Churches teaches the imminence of Christ’s return in its constitution (para. 23) as well as a separation between the resurrection of the righteous and the wicked (para. 24), but it says, “It is not to be understood that a dissenting understanding of the millennium shall be held to break or hinder either church fellowship or membership” (para. 25). [58] One should note in this connection a group tangentially related to the Conservative Holiness movement that reflects some of these concerns, the Fundamental Wesleyan Society (FWS) formed in 1979.[59] The FWS reckons itself a part of the Holiness movement in general, and some sources identify it as a part of the Conservative Holiness movement.[60] But the group does not count itself as a part of the Conservative Holiness movement today. The chief difference is that those aligned with the FWS believe that entire sanctification is not identified with the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which they say happens at regeneration.[61] In addition, many in the FWS are not as committed to the lifestyle issues that mark the Conservative Holiness movement. However, the FWS strongly asserts the doctrine of inerrancy, declaring in its Statement of Faith “that the Scriptures are inerrant, infallible, and correct even when they speak on points of history, science and philosophy.”[62] At the same time, the FWS expressly rejects premillennialism, asserting that postmillennialism is the more truly Wesleyan and biblical teaching.[63]

Separatism—Perhaps the chief distinctive of contemporary Fundamentalism has been its stress on “separation,” that the Christian should strive to free himself from worldliness, from false doctrine, and even from ecclesiastical connections to other Christians who willfully persist in sin.[64] The Conservative Holiness movement obviously owes its origin to concerns about growing worldliness. Furthermore, it is a “come-out” movement that has emerged from another come-out movement. Some in the movement acknowledged their debt to Fundamentalism. Edsel Trouten’s use of Baptist Fundamentalist Chester Tulga has been previously noted. Conservative Holiness ministers warn other believers against “compromising their convictions of separation.”[65]

Yet the context of these separatist comments is often different, sometimes subtly so, sometimes more obviously. Generally, Conservative Holiness Christians stress a separation based more on practice than on doctrine. Dale Hallaway writes, “We are currently faced with the necessity of ‘earnestly contending for the faith,’” but he means by this “that we stand firmly for old-fashioned principles which govern one’s conduct in all areas of life.”[66] One could perhaps view the original Holiness secessions of the late 1800s and early 1900s as doctrinal, since they involved a defense of the doctrine of entire sanctification against the hostility of denominational leaders. But the Conservative Holiness withdrawals centered more on behavioral questions, matters of dress and entertainment. Conservative Holiness leaders expressed doctrinal concerns, but they gave them second place generally to concern about eroding standards of holiness. In this emphasis, the Conservative Holiness movement differs from Fundamentalism, whose basis of separation revolved, theoretically, around more purely doctrinal concerns.

Making a Distinction—The most obvious evidence for or against viewing the Conservative Holiness movement as Fundamentalist is how those within the movement identify themselves. Even this approach yields only a qualified answer at best. A writer in the Fundamental Wesleyan Society says plainly, “We are fundamentalists,”[67] as the very name of the organization would indicate. Still, elsewhere he writes with qualification, “While we may feel that the rest of the holiness movement should have taken more seriously the contributions of fundamentalism, yet inherent in fundamentalism is a spirit of legalism and intolerance passed down from its Calvinistic roots. [Such comments are very common among New Evangelicals and their sympathizers.] Today the conservative holiness movement is not only contending for fundamental Christian doctrine, but it is also infected with the dogmatic spirit of fundamentalism.”[68] Even then, the FWS is only at the edge of the Conservative Holiness movement.

Tom McCasland, brought up in the Conservative Holiness movement, says that he was “taught to identify myself as a fundamentalist evangelical.” However, he has come to reject Fundamentalism, which he identifies with the conservative faction within the Southern Baptist Convention. He charges that Fundamentalism is hostile toward the use of reason, that it rejects historical tradition as a guideline, and that it reduces the Bible to “limp leather” and “a book of propositions.”[69] [Again, such comments are very similar to those made by New Evangelicals.]

Discounting McCasland’s critique of current application of the term, it is significant that some Conservative Holiness Christians at one time thought of themselves as “Fundamentalist.” The sticking point in such identification would likely be how far self-professed Fundamentalists and Conservative Holiness believers are willing to agree to disagree. The Fundamentalist movement has never had a particularly strong Methodist contingent,[70] and the since the 1950s the movement has been overwhelmingly Baptist in composition. [What this author fails to mention here, is the formation of the National Association of Evangelicals in 1948, as well as the rise of the Billy Graham ecumenical crusades in the 1950s. Fundamentalists split into two groups over these and similar issues. Namely, separatist Fundamentalists – primarily Baptists – and nonseparatist Fundamentalists.] The question would be how much Fundamentalists would be willing to overlook Wesleyan Holiness distinctives (notably falling from grace and entire sanctification) and how much Conservative Holiness adherents would be willing to cooperate with those who reject their distinctives.

[I believe it is critical to separate from New Evangelicals, including the National Association of Evangelicals, Billy Graham Evangelistic Crusades, etc. My big question is which denominations, if any, in the Conservative Holiness Movement separated from New Evangelicals?]

The history of the Evangelical Methodist Church illustrates the tensions inherent in a Fundamentalist-Holiness relationship. Founded in 1946 as a protest against growing liberalism in the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Methodist Church contained both Holiness and non-Holiness factions. Eventually, the tension grew too great, and in 1952 the denomination split over the issue of entire sanctification. [Was the issue of New Evangelicals not a factor also? This needs to be researched.] The non-Holiness segment, led by W. W. Breckbill, took the more ardently Fundamentalist position, aligning itself with the American Council of [Christian] Churches, a Fundamentalist alliance.[71] In this case, mutual opposition to liberalism was not sufficient to make up for deep differences over the doctrine of sanctification. Once the split took place, those opposed to entire sanctification found themselves more comfortable in the Fundamentalist camp. This story reproduces in miniature the general outline of Fundamentalist-Holiness interaction.

Conclusion

In his History of Fundamentalism in America, George Dollar uses the label “Orthodox Allies” to describe conservatives who were not in the Fundamentalist camp. His definition of the term is too narrow, excluding some self-professed Fundamentalists.[72] But the concept has value nonetheless, as in the present case. One cannot honestly equate Fundamentalism with the Conservative Holiness movement. To do so would sweep too much evidence under the rug. Nonetheless the two movements have similar concerns in addition to their differences. Both reject theological liberalism and both enunciate a strong separatist position. The Holiness view may place more stress on personal separation, and Fundamentalism may be known more for its ecclesiastical separation, but neither group would deny the other aspect. Their interaction, although limited, suggests they are orthodox allies. The closeness of their alliance will likely depend on the nature of the foe they face and their willingness to forego some of their distinctives for the sake of unity.

[Besides the author not mentioning New Evangelicalism, I have another issue. He barely mentions the historical basis of Fundamentalism: The Fundamentals, a series of articles published from 1910-1915. It would be very interesting to see 1) a list of the doctrines put forth in The Fundamentals articles. And 2) how many of these doctrines the Conservative Holiness Movement agreed with.]

[Another problem with this article is the ambiguous definition of “Fundamentalism.” Does Fundamentalist mean those on the Fundamentalist side of the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy? Or does Fundamentalist mean those who hold to The Fundamentals articles from 1910-1915? Or does Fundamentalist mean the separatist Independent Fundamentalist Baptists? Or does Fundamentalist mean nonseparatist Baptists? There are many meanings to the term Fundamentalism, as opposed to a more simple, clear cut meaning for the term “Conservative Holiness Movement.”]

ENDNOTES

[45] Leonard Sankey, “Our Fortieth Year,” May–June 1991, pp. 2–3.

[46] See George Marsden, Fundamentalism and American Culture: The Shaping of Twentieth-Century Evangelicalism, 1870–1925 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1980), pp. 72–101.

[47] For a brief discussion of this issue, see Mark Sidwell, “Methodism and Fundamentalism: A Survey,” Biblical Viewpoint 29, no. 2 (1995): 90–92.

[48] Paul Merritt Bassett, “The Fundamentalist Leavening of the Holiness Movement, 1914–1940, The Church of the Nazarene: A Case Study,” Wesleyan Theological Journal 13 (1978): 65–91.

[49] Susie Stanley, “Wesleyan/Holiness Churches: Innocent Bystanders in the Fundamentalist/Modernist Controversy,” in Re-forming the Center: American Protestantism, 1900 to the Present, ed. Douglas Jacobsen and William Vance Trollinger (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), pp. 172–93.

[50] Ibid., p. 190.

[51] J. Gordon Melton, ed., The Encyclopedia of American Religions: Religious Creeds (Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1988), p. 323. The wording comes originally from the Manual of the Church of the Nazarene. Commenting on the Nazarene version, Stanley notes (pp. 178–79) that inerrancy is applied only to things “necessary to our salvation,” not in matters of history and science, as most Fundamentalists affirm. However, Bassett notes (p. 74) that this phrase was added in 1928 by factions within the Church of the Nazarene sympathetic to Fundamentalism. There is every indication that Glenn Griffith and the others who founded the Bible Missionary Church understood this article, in the case of their church, as teaching full inerrancy.

[52] J. Gordon Melton, ed., The Encyclopedia of American Religions: Religious Creeds, vol. 2 (Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1994), p. 161.

[53] Edsel Trouten, “The Conservative Holiness Movement and the Inerrancy Issue,” appearing in six consecutive issues of the Convention Herald from March through September 1981. See also “International Council on Bible Inerrancy,” Convention Herald, February 1978, p. 2.

[54] Melton, Religious Creeds (1988), p. 288.

[55] Ibid., p. 324; Melton, Religious Creeds, vol. 2, p. 162.

[56] Brasher, The Sanctified South, p. 62.

[57] It says only that Christ “is coming again to receive the church as His bride” and that “There will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the unsaved and the unsaved”; the Doctrinal Statement is found at http://www.hsbc.edu/doc.html.

[58] “Constitution of the Bible Methodist Connection of Churches.”

[59] For information on the Fundamental Wesleyan Society, see http://members2.visualcities.com/fwp. The organization’s periodical, Arminian Magazine, is also found on-line at http://wesley.nnc.edu/arminian. Note in particular C. Marion Brown, “For Such a Time as This,” Arminian Magazine, Fall 1995, and Vic Reasoner, “What Is a Fundamental Wesleyan?” Arminian Magazine, part 1, Spring 1995; part 2, Fall 1995.

[60] The host on the Internet for Arminian Magazine, Northwest Nazarene University , identifies the periodical as “a publication from the conservative holiness movement.”

[61] Its teaching on entire sanctification is detailed in the following articles by Vic Reasoner from the Fall 1998 issue of Arminian Magazine: “Interpreting the Word Accurately,” Fall 1998, and “John Fletcher Revised.” Reasoner also set forth this view in his book The Hole in the Holiness Movement, which led to an exchange with the Interchurch Holiness Convention. See Edsel Trouten, “Holes in The Hole of the Holiness Movement,Convention Herald, Jan.–Feb. 1993, pp. 4–5, and Vic Reasoner, “Plugging the Holes,” Arminian Magazine, Fall 1993. In his rebuttal, Reasoner charges that the Conservative Holiness movement is not really “conservative” because its view of entire sanctification modifies the teaching of John Wesley.

[62] “Statement of Faith,” http://members2.visualcities.com/fwp/statement.html. See also Vic Reasoner, “Defining Biblical Inerrancy,” Arminian Magazine, Fall 1998.

[63] See particularly the articles in Fall 1984 issue of Arminian Magazine: C. Marion Brown, “Editorial”; Robert L. Brush, “Is the Second Advent of Our Lord Imminent?”; Vic Reasoner, “Are There Two Phases to Christ’s Second Advent?” (refuting pretribulationism); and Elmer Long, “The Design of the Gospel.” See also Vic Reasoner, “The Obituary of Dispensationalism: 1830–1988,” Arminian Magazine, Spring 1990.

[64] These concepts are summarized and discussed from the Fundamentalist viewpoint in Mark Sidwell, The Dividing Line: Understanding and Applying Biblical Separation (Greenville, S.C.: Bob Jones University Press, 1998).

[65] Bryan , “The Interchurch Holiness Convention: A History,” p. 9

[66] Dale L. Hallaway, “Will We Remain—A ‘Conservative’ Holiness Movement?” Convention Herald, March–April 1987, p. 6.

[67] Reasoner, “What Is a Fundamental Wesleyan?” part 2.

[68] Vic Reasoner, “The Spirit of Tolerance,” Arminian Magazine, Winter 1993.

[69] Tom McCasland, “Why I Am No Longer a Fundamentalist: A Confession,” http://www.baylor.edu/~Thomas_McCasland/fund.htm.

[70] See Sidwell, “Methodism and Fundamentalism: A Survey.”

[71] On the Evangelical Methodist Church , see J. H. Hamblen, A Look into Life: An Autobiography (Abliene, Tex.: J. H. Hamblen, 1969), pp. 117–37, for the viewpoint of the Holiness faction, and Randy Hilton, The History of the Evangelical Methodist Conference (Kingsport, Tenn.: Able Printers, 1994), for the viewpoint of the non-Holiness faction.

[72] George W. Dollar, A History of Fundamentalism in America (Greenville, S.C.: Bob Jones University Press, 1973), pp. 173-83. Dollar appears to limit Fundamentalism basically to those of a Baptist and dispensationalist viewpoint.

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You may have heard of a young Christian actor named Kirk Cameron. For years Kirk has been ministering and witnessing with evangelist Ray Comfort. Both have been very effective at sharing the total Truth of the gospel – including its “negative” aspects such as sin, death, God’s judgment, damnation, and eternal punishment in Hell for those who reject God’s offer of salvation through Jesus Christ.

In 1982, Ray Comfort first preached a wonderful sermon on proper, biblical methods of evangelism – which includes the Bible’s teachings about Hell. His sermon was entitled “Hell’s Best Kept Secret.” I am providing excerpts here. I am emphasizing certain points by bolding, and inserting comments in [brackets].

Click here for the entire original text of Ray Comfort’s sermon. Note: there is also an entire book by Ray Comfort, with the same title as this sermon. The sermon and the book are both excellent.

Click here for a link to download and listen to the entire sermon.

Hell’s Best Kept Secret

(a sermon by Ray Comfort, first preached in 1972)

In the late seventies, God very graciously opened an itinerant ministry to me. As I began to travel,  I… found to my horror that something like 80 to 90% of those making a decision for Christ were falling away from the faith. That is, modern evangelism with its methods is creating something like 80 to 90 of what we commonly call backsliders for every hundred decisions for Christ.

Let me make it more real for you. In 1991, in the first year of the decade of harvest, a major denomination in the U.S. was able to obtain 294,000 decisions for Christ. That is, in one year, this major denomination of 11,500 churches was able to obtain 294,000 decisions for Christ. Unfortunately, they could only find 14,000 in fellowship, which means they couldn’t account for 280,000 of their decisions, and this is normal, modern evangelical results, and something I discovered way back in the late seventies; it greatly concerned me. I began to study the book of Romans intently and, specifically, the gospel proclamation of men like Spurgeon, Wesley, Moody, Finney, Whitfield, Luther, and others that God used down through the ages, and I found they used a principle which is almost entirely neglected by modern evangelical methods. I began teaching that principle… Things were quiet for the first three years, until I received a call from Bill Gothard… I shared it with a thousand pastors [with Bill Gothard]. Then in 1992 he screened that video to 30,000 pastors. The same year David Wilkerson called from New York… Immediately, he flew me 3,000 miles from L.A. to New York to share the one-hour teaching with his church; he considered it to be that important…  I’d be happy if you’d listen just once to this teaching which is called “Hell’s Best Kept Secret.”

The Bible says in Psalm 19, verse 7, “The law of the Lord is perfect converting the soul.” What is it that the Bible says is perfect and actually converts the soul? Why scripture makes it very clear: “The law of the Lord is perfect converting the soul.” …

Can you see that telling you precisely what you’ve done wrong first actually makes the good news make sense. If I don’t clearly bring instruction and understanding that you’ve violated the law, then the good news will seem foolishness; it will seem offensive. But once you understand that you’ve broken the law, then that good news will become good news indeed.

Now in the same way, if I approach an impenitent sinner and say, “Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins,” it will be foolishness and offensive to him. Foolishness because it won’t make sense. The Bible says that: “The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness” (1 Cor. 1:18). And offensive because I’m insinuating he’s a sinner when he doesn’t think he is. As far as he’s concerned, there are a lot of people far worse than him. But if I take the time to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, it may make more sense. If I take the time to open up the divine law, the ten commandments, and show the sinner precisely what he’s done wrong, that he has offended God by violating His law, then when he becomes, as James says, “convinced of the law as a transgressor” (Jam. 2:9), the good news of the fine being paid for will not be foolishness, it will not be offensive, it will be “the power of God unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16). [Actually the good news will still be offensive if the sinner insists on rejecting the gospel message and remaining in his sins…]

Now, with those few thoughts in mind by way of introduction, let’s now look at Romans 3:19. We’ll look at some of the functions of God’s law for humanity. Romans 3:19: “Now we know that whatsoever things the law says, it says to them who are under the law that every mouth may be stopped and all the world may become guilty before God.” So one function of God’s law is to stop the mouth. To stop sinners justifying themselves and saying, “There’s plenty of people worse than me. I’m not a bad person. Really.” No, the law stops the mouth of justification and leaves the whole world, not just the Jews, but the whole world guilty before God.

Romans 3:20: “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” So God’s law tells us what sin is. 1 John 3:4 says, “Sin is transgression of the law.” Romans 7:7: “What shall we say then?” says Paul. “Is the law sin? God forbid! No, I had not known sin but by the law.” Paul says, “I didn’t know what sin was until the law told me.” In Galatians 3:24, “Wherefore, the law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.” God’s law acts as a schoolmaster to bring us to Jesus Christ that we might be justified through faith in His blood. The law doesn’t help us; it just leaves us helpless. It doesn’t justify us; it just leaves us guilty before the judgment bar of a holy God.

And the tragedy of modern evangelism is because around the turn of the century [around 1900] when it forsook the law in its capacity to convert the soul, to drive sinners to Christ, modern evangelism had to, therefore, find another reason for sinners to respond to the gospel. And the issue that modern evangelism chose to attract sinners was the issue of “life enhancement”. The gospel degenerated into “Jesus Christ will give you peace, joy, love, fulfillment, and lasting happiness.”…

Now listen to what the modern gospel says. It says, “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ. He’ll give you love, joy, peace, fulfillment, and lasting happiness.” In other words, “Jesus will improve your flight.” So the sinner responds, and in an experimental fashion, puts on the Savior to see if the claims are true. And what does he get? The promised temptation, tribulation, and persecution. The other passengers mock him. So what does he do? He takes off the Lord Jesus Christ, he’s offended for the Word’s sake (Mark 4:17), he’s disillusioned and somewhat embittered, and quite rightly so. He was promised peace, joy, love, fulfillment, and lasting happiness, and all he got were trials and humiliation. His bitterness is directed toward those who gave him the so-called “good news”. His latter end becomes worse than the first: another inoculated and bitter backslider.

Saints, instead of preaching that Jesus improves the flight, we should be warning the passengers they’re going have to jump out of the plane. That it’s “appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27). And when a sinner understands the horrific consequences of breaking God’s law, then he will flee to the Savior solely to escape the wrath that’s to come. And if we’re true and faithful witnesses, that’s what we’ll be preaching. That there is wrath to come; that God “commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). Why? “Because He has appointed a day, in which He will judge the world in righteousness” (vs. 31). You see, the issue isn’t one of happiness, but one of righteousness. It doesn’t matter how happy a sinner is, how much he’s enjoying “the pleasures of sin for a season” (Heb. 11:25). Without the righteousness of Christ, he’ll perish on the day of wrath. “Riches profit not on the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death” (Prov. 11:4). Peace and joy are legitimate fruits of salvation, but it’s not legitimate to use these fruits as a draw card for salvation. If we continue to do so, sinners will respond with an impure motive lacking repentance.

… as a believer, I have, as Paul says, “joy and peace in believing” (Rom. 15:13), because I know that the righteousness of Christ is going to deliver me from the wrath that’s to come.

Now if you and I have put on the Lord Jesus Christ for the right motive, to flee from the wrath that’s to come, when tribulation strikes, when the flight gets bumpy, we won’t get angry at God; we won’t lose our joy and peace. Why should we? We didn’t come to Jesus for a happy lifestyle: we came to flee from the wrath that’s to come. And if anything, tribulation drives the true believer closer to the Savior. And sadly we have literally multitudes of professing Christians who lose their joy and peace when the flight gets bumpy. Why? They’re the product of a man-centered gospel. They came lacking repentance, without which you can’t be saved.

I was in Australia recently ministering… I preached sin, law, righteousness, holiness, judgment, repentance, and hell, and I wasn’t exactly crushed by the amount of people wanting to “give their hearts to Jesus.” In fact, the air went very tense. After the meeting, they said, “There’s a young guy down in the back who wants to give his life to Christ.” I went down the back and found a teenage lad who could not pray the sinner’s prayer because he was weeping so profusely. Now, for me it was so refreshing, because for many years I suffered from the disease of “evangelical frustration”. I so wanted sinners to respond to the gospel I unwittingly preached a man-centered message. The essence of which was this: “You’ll never find true peace without Jesus Christ; you’ve a God-shaped vacuum in your heart that only God can fill.” I’d preach Christ crucified; I’d preach repentance. A sinner would respond to the alter; I’d open an eye and say, “Oh no. This guy wants to give his heart to Jesus and there’s an 80% chance he’s going to backslide. And I am tired of creating backsliders. So I’d better make sure this guy really means it. He’d better be sincere!” So I’d approach the poor guy in a Gestapo spirit. I’d walk up and say, “Vhat do you vant?” He’d say, “I’m here to become a Christian.” I’d say, “Do you mean it?” He’d say, “Yeah.” I’d say, “Do you REALLY MEAN IT!?” He’d say, “Yeah, I reckon.” “Okay, I’ll pray with you, but you’d better mean it from your heart.” He said, “Okay, okay.” “Now you repeat this prayer sincerely after me and mean it from your heart sincerely and really mean it from your heart sincerely and make sure you mean it. ‘Oh, God, I’m a sinner.’ ” He’d say, “Uh…oh, God, I’m a sinner.” And I’d think, “Man, why isn’t there a visible sign of contrition. There’s no outward evidence the guy is inwardly sorry for his sins.” Now, if I could have seen his motive, I would have seen he was 100% sincere. He really did mean his decision with all his heart. He sincerely wanted to give this Jesus thing a go to see if he could get a buzz out of it. He had tried sex, drugs, materialism, alcohol. “Why not give this Christian bit a go and see if it’s as good as all these Christians say it is: peace, joy, love, fulfillment, lasting happiness.” He wasn’t fleeing from the wrath that was to come, because I hadn’t told him there was wrath to come. There was this glaring omission from my message. He wasn’t broken in contrition, because the poor guy didn’t know what sin was. Remember Romans 7:7? Paul said, “I had not known sin but by the law.” How can a man repent if he doesn’t know what sin is? Any so-called “repentance” would be merely what I call “horizontal repentance”. He’s coming because he’s lied to men, he’s stolen from men. But when David sinned with Bathsheba and broke all ten of the ten commandments (when he coveted his neighbor’s wife, lived a lie, stole his neighbor’s wife, committed adultery, committed murder, dishonored his parents, and thus dishonored God), he didn’t say “I’ve sinned against man.” He said, “Against you, and you only, have I sinned, and done this evil in your sight” (Psa. 51:4). When Joseph was tempted sexually, he said, “How can I do this thing and sin against God?” (Gen. 39:9). The prodigal son said, “I’ve sinned against heaven” (Luke 15:21). Paul preached “repentance toward God” (Acts 20:21). And the Bible says, “Godly sorrow works repentance” (II Cor. 7:10). And when a man doesn’t understand that his sin is primarily vertical, he’ll merely come and exercise superficial, experimental, and horizontal repentance, and fall away when tribulation, temptation, and persecution come...

A.B. Earl was a famous evangelist of the last century who had 150,000 converts to substantiate his claims. Satan doesn’t want you to get a grip of this, so listen very closely.

A.B. Earl said, “I have found by long experience [that’s the true test] that the severest threatenings of the law of God have a prominent place in leading men to Christ. They must see themselves lost before they will cry for mercy; they’ll not escape danger until they see it.”

And sadly, what’s happened in the U.S. and the Western world as follows is that we have preached the cure without first convincing of the disease. We have preached a gospel of grace without first convincing men of the law, that they’re transgressors; and, consequently, almost everyone I try and witness to in southern California or around the Bible belt has been born-again six or seven times. You say, “You need to give your life to Jesus Christ.” “Uh, I did that when I was seven, eleven, seventeen, twenty-three, twenty-five, twenty-eight, thirty-two…” You know the guy’s not a Christian. He’s a fornicator. He’s a blasphemer, but he thinks he’s saved because he’s been “born-again”. What’s happening? He’s using the grace of our God for an occasion of the flesh. He doesn’t esteem the sacrifice [of Christ on the Cross]. For him it’s not a bad thing to trample the blood of Christ underfoot (Heb. 10:29). Why? Because he’s never been convinced of the disease that he might appreciate the cure.

Biblical evangelism is always, without exception, law to the proud and grace to the humble. Never will you see Jesus giving the gospel, the good news, the cross, the grace of our God, to a proud, arrogant, self-righteous person. No, no. With the law He breaks the hard heart and with the gospel He heals the broken heart. Why? Because He always did those things that please the Father. God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble (Jam. 4:6; I  Pet. 5:5). “Everyone who is proud of heart,” scripture says, “is an abomination to the Lord” (Prov. 16:5).

Jesus told us whom the gospel is for. He said, “The spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, the broken-hearted, the captives and the blind” (Luke 4:18). Now, they are spiritual statements. The poor in spirit (Matt. 5:3). The broken hearted are the contrite ones (Isa. 57:15). The captives are those of whom Satan has taken captive to do his will (II Tim. 2:26); and the blind are those of whom the god of this world has blinded lest the light of the gospel should shine on them (II Cor. 4:4). Only the sick need a physician (Mark 2:17), and only those who are convinced of the disease will appreciate and appropriate a cure.

So we’re going to now very briefly look at examples of law to the proud and grace to the humble…

In Luke 10:25 we see a certain lawyer stood up and tempted Jesus. This is not an attorney, but a professing expert on God’s law. He stood up and he said to Jesus, “How can I get everlasting life?” Now, what did Jesus do? He gave him law. Why? Because he was proud, arrogant, self-righteous. Here we have a professing expert on God’s law tempting the Son of God. And the spirit of his question was, “And what do you think we’ve got to do to get everlasting life?” So Jesus gave him law. He said, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?” He says, “Ah, you should love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength; love your neighbor as yourself.” And Jesus said, “This do and you shall live.” And then the Scripture says, “But He, willing to justify Himself, said to Jesus, ‘Who’s my neighbor?’ ” The Living Bible brings out more clearly the effect of the law on the man. It said, “The man wanted to justify his lack of love for some kinds of people; so he asked, ‘Which neighbors?’ ” See, he didn’t mind Jews, but he didn’t like Samaritans. So Jesus then told him the story of what we call the “good Samaritan” who was not “good” at all. In loving his neighbor as much as he loved himself, he merely obeyed the basic requirements of God’s law. And the effect of the essence of the law, the spirituality of the law (of what the law demands in truth), was that that man’s mouth was stopped. See, he didn’t love his neighbor to that degree. The law was given to stop every mouth and leave the whole world guilty before God.

Similarly, in Luke 18:18, the rich, young ruler came to Jesus. He said, “How can I get everlasting life?” I mean, how would most of us react if someone came up and said, “How can I get everlasting life?” We’d say, “Oh…quickly say this prayer before you change your mind.” But what did Jesus do with His potential convert? He pointed Him to the law. He gave him five horizontal commandments, commandments to do with his fellow men. And when he said, “Ah, I’ve kept those from my youth,” Jesus said, “One thing you lack.” And he used the essence of the first of the ten commandments: “I am the Lord your God…You shall have no other Gods before me” (Ex. 20:2–3). He showed this man that His god was His money, and “you cannot serve God and mammon” (Mt. 6:24). Law to the proud.

Then we see grace being given to the humble in the case of Nicodemus (John 3). Nicodemus was a leader of the Jews. He was a teacher in Israel. Therefore, he was thoroughly versed in God’s law. He was humble of heart, because he came to Jesus and acknowledged the Deity of the Son of God. A leader in Israel? “We know that you’ve come from God for no man can do these miracles that you do unless God is with Him.” So Jesus gave the sincere seeker of truth, who had a humble heart and a knowledge of sin by the law, the good news of the fine being paid for and “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son.” And it was not foolishness to Nicodemus but the “power of God to salvation.”

Similarly, in the case of Nathaniel (John 1:43–51). Nathaniel was an Israelite brought up under the law in deed, not just in word, in whom there was no guile; there was no deceit in his heart. Obviously the law was a schoolmaster to bring this godly Jew to Christ.

Similarly with the Jews on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). They were devout Jews, godly Jews, who, therefore, ate, drank, and slept God’s law. Matthew Henry, the Bible commentator, said the reason they were gathered together on the day of Pentecost was to celebrate the giving of God’s law on Mt. Sinai. So when Peter stood up to preach to these godly Jews, he didn’t preach wrath. No, the law works wrath; they knew that. He didn’t preach righteousness or judgment. No, no. He just told them the good news of the fine being paid for, and they were pricked in their hearts and cried, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (vs. 37). The law was a schoolmaster to bring them to Christ that they might be justified through faith in His blood. And the hymn-writer said, “By God’s word at last my sin I learned; then I trembled at the law I’d spurned, till my guilty soul imploring turned to Calvary.”

I Timothy 1:8, says, “But we know that the law is good if it used lawfully for the purpose for which it was designed.” God’s law is good if it’s used lawfully for the purpose for which it was designed. Well, what was the law “designed” for? The following verse tells us: “The law was not made for a righteous man but for sinners.” It even lists the sinners: homosexuals, fornicators. If you want to bring a homosexual to Christ, don’t get into an argument with him over his perversion; he’s ready for you with his boxing gloves on. No, no. Give him the ten commandments. The law was made for homosexuals. Show him that he is damned despite his perversion.

If you want to bring a Jew to Christ, lay the weight of the law upon him; let it prepare his heart for grace as happened on the day of Pentecost. If you want to bring a Moslem to Christ, give him the law of Moses; they accept Moses as a prophet. Well, give them the law of Moses and strip them of their self-righteousness and bring them to the foot of a blood-stained cross. I heard of a Moslem reading our book Hell’s Best Kept Secret, and God soundly saved him purely through reading the book. Why? Because the law of the Lord is perfect converting the soul.

Think of the woman caught in the act of adultery (John 8:1–11). Violation of the seventh commandment. The law called for her blood (Lev. 20:10). She found herself in between a rock and a hard place. She had no avenue but to fling herself at the feet of the Son of God for mercy; and that is the function of God’s law.

Paul spoke of being shut up under the law (Gal. 3:23). It condemns. You say, “You can’t condemn sinners.” Saints, they’re already condemned. John 3, verse 18: “He that believes not is condemned already.” All the law does is show him himself in his true state...

And when you and I take the time to draw back the curtains of the holy of holies and let the light of God’s law shine upon the sinner’s heart, all that happens, is that he sees himself in truth. “The commandment is a lamp and the law is light” (Prov. 6:23). That’s why Paul said, “By the law is the knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:20). That’s why he said, “By the commandment sin became exceedingly sinful” (Rom. 7:13). In other words, the law showed him sin in its true light.

Now, normally at this stage of this teaching I go through the ten commandments one by one, but what I’ll do is share with you how I witness personally because I think it would be more beneficial.

Now, I’m a strong believer in following in the footsteps of Jesus. Never, ever, would I approach someone and say, “Jesus loves you.” Totally unbiblical; there’s no precedent for that in Scripture. Neither would I go up to someone and say, “I’d like to talk to you about Jesus Christ.” Why? Because if I wanted to awaken you from a deep sleep, I wouldn’t use a flashlight in your eyes. That will offend you. I’d turn on the light dimmer very gently. First, the natural, then the spiritual. Why? Because “the natural man receives not the things of the spirit of God; neither can he know them. They are foolishness to him because they are spiritually understood” (1Cor. 2:14).

The precedent in Scripture is given in John 4 for personal witness. You can see Jesus’ example with the woman at the well. He started in the natural realm, swung to the spiritual, brought conviction using the seventh commandment, and then revealed Himself as the Messiah. So, when I meet someone, I’ll talk about the weather, I’ll talk about sport: let them feel a little bit of sanity. Get to know them; maybe joke here and there and then deliberately swing from the natural to the spiritual. Now, the way I do this is that I use gospel tracts. We have something like 24, 25 different tracts; we’re a ministry to the body of Christ. We’ve printed millions and millions of tracts and our tracts are unusual. If you get a hold of them, what you’ll have to do is have a stack on you because people chase you and ask for more…

[If a person is open to discussing the Ten Commandments] I say, “Ah, do you think you’ve kept the ten commandments?” He says, “Ah, yeah…pretty much.” I say, “Let’s go through them. Ever told a lie?” He says, “Ah, yeah…yeah, one or two.” I say, “What does that make you?” He says, “A sinner.” I say, “No, no. Specifically, what does it make you?” He says, “Well, man, I’m not a liar.” I say, “How many lies, then, do you have to tell to be a liar? Ten and a bell rings and ‘ppppbbbbtttt’ across your forehead? Isn’t it true if you tell one lie, it makes you a liar?” He says, “Yeah…I guess you’re right.” I say, “Have you ever stolen something?” He says, “No.” I say, “Come on; you’ve just admitted to me you’re a liar.” I say, “Ever stolen something, even if its small?” and he says, “Yeah.” I say, “What does that make you?” He says, “A thief.” I say, “Jesus said, ‘If you look at a woman and lust after her, you commit adultery with her in your heart’ (Mat. 5:28). Ever done that?” He says, “Yeah, plenty of times.” “Then from your own admission, you’re a lying, thieving, adulterer at heart, and you have to face God on judgment day; and we’ve only looked at three of the ten commandments. There’s another seven with their cannons pointed at you. Have you used God’s name in vain?” “Yeah…I’ve been trying to stop.” “You know what you’re doing? Instead of using a four-letter filth word beginning with ‘s’ to express disgust, you’re using God’s name in its place. That’s called blasphemy; and the Bible says, ‘Every idle word a man speaks he’ll give account thereof on the day of judgment’ (Mat. 12:36). ‘The Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain’ (Exo. 20:7). The Bible says if you hate someone, you are a murderer (I John 3:15).”

Now the wonderful thing about God’s law is that God has taken the time to write it upon our heart. Romans 2:15: “…which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness…” Now, conscience means “with knowledge.” Con is “with,” science is “knowledge.” Conscience. So when he lies, lusts, fornicates, blasphemes, commits adultery, he does it with knowledge that it’s wrong. God has given light [a conscience] to every man. The Holy Spirit convicts them of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8). Sin which is transgression of the law (I John 3:4); righteousness which is of the law (Rom. 10:5; Philip. 3:9); judgment which is by the law. His conscience accuses him—the work of the law written on his heart (Rom. 2:15)—and the law condemns him.

So I say, “So if God judges you by this standard on the day of judgment, are you going to be innocent or guilty?” He says, “Guilty.” I say, “Well, do you think you’ll go to heaven or hell?” And the usual answer is, “Heaven.” A product of the modern gospel. I say, “Why do you feel like that? Is it because you think God is good and he’ll overlook your sins?” He says, “Yeah, that’s it. He’ll overlook my sins.” “Yeah, well, try that in a court of law. You’ve committed rape, murder, drug pushing—very serious crimes. The judge says, ‘You’re guilty. All the evidence is here. Have you anything to say before I pass sentence?’ And you say, ‘Yes, Judge. I’d like to say I believe you’re a good man and you’ll overlook my crimes.’ The judge would probably say, ‘You’re right about one thing. I am a good man, and because of my goodness, I’m going to see that justice is done. Because of my goodness, I’m going to see that you’re punished.’ ” And the very thing sinners are hoping will save them on the day of judgment, the goodness of God, will be the very thing that will condemn them. Because if God is good, He must by nature punish murderers, rapists, thieves, liars, fornicators, and blasphemers. God is going to punish sin wherever it’s found.

So with this knowledge, he’s now able to understand. He now has light that his sin is primarily vertical: that he has “sinned against heaven” (Luke 15:21). That he has violated God’s law and that He has angered God and the wrath of God abides upon Him (John 3:36). He can now see that He is “weighed in the balance” of eternal justice and “found wanting” (Dan. 5:27). He now understands the need for a sacrifice. “Christ redeemed from the curse of the law being made a curse for us” (Gal. 3:13). “God commended His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). We broke the law; he paid the fine. It’s as simple as that. And if a man will repent, if a woman will repent and put their faith in Jesus, God will remit their sins so that on the day of judgment, when their court case comes up, God can say, “Your case is dismissed through lack of evidence.” “Christ redeemed from the curse of the law being made a curse for us.” And, therefore, exercise repentance towards God, faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21), put his hand to the plough and not look back because he’s fit for the kingdom (Luke 9:62). That word fit means “ready for use”. The soil of his heart has been turned that he might receive the engrafted word which is able to save his soul (Jam. 1:21).

Now, I haven’t got time to share these quotes with you, but they’re in our literature. I’m sure you’ll recognize these names. John Wycliffe, the Bible translator. He said, “The highest service to which a man may obtain on earth is to preach the law of God.” Why? Because it will drive sinners to faith in the Savior, to everlasting life. Martin Luther said, “The first duty of the gospel preacher is to declare God’s law and to show the nature of sin.” In fact, as we read these quotes, these men have so much conviction you can feel their teeth grit. They say things like, “If you do not use the law in gospel proclamation, you will fill the church with false converts.” Stony ground hearers who will receive the word with joy and gladness.

Listen to what Martin Luther said. He said, “Satan, the god of all dissension stirs up daily new sects. And last of all which of all others I should never have foreseen or once suspected, he has raised up a sect such as teach that men should not be terrified by the law, but gently exhorted by the preaching of the grace of Christ”… [this] perfectly sums up most of our evangelism.

John Wesley said to a friend, in writing to a young evangelist, “Preach 90 percent law and 10 percent grace.” And you say, “90 percent law and 10 percent grace? Pretty heavy. Couldn’t it be 50-50.” Think of it like this...Your knowledge [through the law] of the disease [sin] and its horrific consequence has made you desire the cure.

You see, before I was a Christian, I had as much desire for righteousness as a four-year-old boy has for the word “bath.” What’s the point? See, Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” How many non-Christians do you know who are hungering and thirsting after righteousness? The Bible says, “There is none who seek after God” (Rom. 3:11). It says they love the darkness, they hate the light; neither will they come to the light least there deeds be exposed (John 3:19–20). The only thing they drink in is iniquity like water (Job 15:16). But the night I was confronted with the spiritual nature of God’s law and understood that God requires truth in the inward parts (Ps. 51:6), that He saw my thought-life and considered lust to be the same as adultery, hatred the same as murder, I began to say, “I can see I’m condemned. What must I do to be made right?” I began to thirst for righteousness. The law put salt on my tongue. It was a schoolmaster to bring me to Christ.

Charles Spurgeon said, “They will never accept grace until they tremble before a just and holy law.” D.L. Moody, John Bunyan, John Newton, who wrote “Amazing Grace” (and if anyone had a grip on grace it was Newton), he said that “the correct understanding of the harmony between law and grace is to preserve oneself from being entangled by errors on the right hand and on the left.” And Charles Finney said, “Evermore the law must prepare the way for the gospel.” He said, “To overlook this in instructing souls is almost certain to result in false hope, the introduction of a false standard of Christian experience, and to fill the church with false converts.”…

You see, saints, the problem is that Lazarus is four days dead (John 11). We can run in the tomb, we can pull him out, we can prop him up, we can open his eyes, but “he stinketh” (vs. 39). He needs to hear the voice of the Son of God. And the sinner is four days dead in his sins. We can run up and say, “Say this prayer.” Still, he needs to hear the voice of the Son of God, or there is no life in him; and the thing that primes the sinner’s ear to hear the voice of the Son of God is the law. It’s a schoolmaster to bring him to Christ that he might be justified through faith (Gal. 3:24). Saints, the law works; it converts the soul (Ps. 19:7). It makes the person a new creature in Christ. That old things pass away; behold, all things are become new (2Cor. 5:17)…

Now, if you look around you, you’ll find there are plenty of passengers enjoying the flight. They’re enjoying the pleasures of sin for a season. Go up and say, “Excuse me. Did you hear the command from our Captain about salvation, ‘Put on the Lord Jesus Christ.’ ” He turns to you and says, “Oh, I really don’t think God means it. God is love. Besides, I’m quite happy as I am, thanks.” Don’t turn to him in sincere zeal without knowledge and say, “Please, put on the Lord Jesus Christ. He’ll give you love, joy, peace, fulfillment, and lasting happiness. You’ve got a God-shaped vacuum in your heart only God can fill. If you have a marriage problem, drug problem, alcohol problem, just give your heart to Jesus.” No. You’ll give him the wrong motive for his commitment. Instead say, “Oh, God, give me courage!” and tell him about the jump. Just say, “Hey, it’s appointed to man once to die. If you die in your sins, God will be forced to give you justice, and His judgment is going to be so thorough. Every idle word a man speaks he’ll give account thereof on the day of judgment; if you’ve lusted, you’ve committed adultery. If you’ve hated someone, you’ve committed murder. And Jesus warned that justice will be so thorough, the fist of eternal wrath will come upon you and [SMACK] grind you to powder. God bless.” Now saints, I’m not talking about hell-fire preaching. Hell-fire preaching will produce fear-filled converts. Using God’s law will produce tear-filled converts. This one comes because why? He wants to escape the fires of hell. But in his heart, he thinks God is harsh and unjust, because the law hasn’t been used to show him the exceeding sinful nature of sin. He doesn’t see hell as being his just desert, that he deserves hell. Therefore, he doesn’t understand mercy or grace; and, therefore, he lacks gratitude to God for His mercy. And gratitude is the prime motivation for evangelism. There’ll be no zeal in the heart of a false convert to evangelize. But this one comes knowing he has sinned against heaven. That God’s eye is in every place beholding the evil and the good and God has seen darkness, as though it were pure light. He’s seen his thought life. If God in His holiness on the day of wrath made manifest all the secret sins of his heart, all the deeds done in darkness, if he made manifest all the evidence of his guilt, God could pick him up as an unclean thing and cast him into hell and do that which is just. But instead of giving him justice, he’s given him mercy. He’s commended his love toward him in that while he’s yet a sinner Christ died for him. He falls on his knees before that blood-stained cross, and he says, “Oh, God, if You do that for me, I’ll do anything for You. I delight to do Your will, oh, my God. Your law is written upon my heart.” And like the man who knew he had to pass through the door and face the consequences of breaking the law of gravity and would never take his parachute off because his very life depended on it, so he who comes to the Savior, knowing he has to face a holy God on the day of wrath, would never forsake the righteousness of God in Christ because His very life depends on it...

And it’s as though God looked down upon me, as for many years I open-air preached, and as I fought off the enemy with the feather duster of modern evangelism, it’s as though God said, “What are you doing? My weapons are not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds (2Cor. 10:4). Here are ten great cannons.” And as I lined up the ten cannons of God’s law, no longer did sinners scoff and mock. No, their faces went pale; they lifted their hands and said, “I surrender all! All to Jesus I freely give!” …

And now saints, with every head raised and every eye open, and no music playing, let me challenge you as to the validity of your salvation. Modern evangelism says, “Never question your salvation.” The Bible says the exact opposite. It says, “Examine yourself and see if you’re in the faith” (II Cor. 13:5). Better now than on the day of judgment. The Bible says “make your calling and election sure” (II Pet. 1:10), and some of you know that something is radically wrong in your Christian walk. You lose your peace and joy when the flight gets bumpy. There is a lack of zeal to evangelize. You never fell on your face before Almighty God and said, “I’ve sinned against You, oh God! Have mercy upon me!” You’ve never fled to Jesus Christ and His blood for cleansing, in desperation crying out, “God be merciful to me a sinner!” And there’s a lack of gratitude; there’s not a burning zeal for the lost. You can’t say you’re on fire for God; in fact, you’re in danger of being one of the ones that are called “lukewarm” and will be spewed out of the mouth of Christ on the day of judgment (Rev. 3:16) when multitudes will cry out to Jesus, “Lord, Lord.” And he’ll say, “Depart form me you worker of iniquity—lawlessness: I never knew you” (Mat. 7:22–23). No regard to the divine law. The Bible says, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity”—lawlessness (2Tim. 2:19). So today you need to readjust the motive for your commitment. Friend, don’t let your pride stop you. I would like to pray for you: I’ll remain up here, you remain in your seat. And if you’d like to be included in this prayer, I’d like for you to slip up your hand, but remember this. If you say, “Well, I should put my hand up but what will people think?” that’s pride. You prefer the praises of men to the praises of God (John 12:43). Everyone who is proud of heart is an abomination to the Lord (Prov. 16:5). God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. So humble yourself before the mighty hand of God; He’ll exalt you in due time (1Pet. 5:5–6). Call it a recommittal; call it a committal. But whatever you call it, make your calling and election sure.

Amazingly, there is a group of Independent Fundamentalist Baptists who oppose Ray Comfort’s method of evangelism. (Comfort’s method is also espoused by David Cloud, Paul Washer and others.)  These opponents – which include Jack Hyles – label the method of Comfort, Cloud, Washer, etc. as   “Lordship salvation.” They oppose the statement of Comfort, etc. that a person needs to repent of his sins to accept Christ as Saviour.

I believe Hyles, etc. are the ones in errorregarding their method of evangelism.  Cloud and company describe the method of Hyles, etc. as “easy believeism” or “easy prayerism.”

I know, I know, it’s confusing. To summarize, there is a battle between “Lordship salvation” people and “easy believeism” people. Be cautious when reading Internet articles about Comfort, Cloud, Washer, etc. – many articles accuse them of the the “heresy” of Lordship salvation. On the contrary, I believe the “easy believeism” people are the heretical ones.

Click here for an excellent article by David Cloud critiquing “easy believeism /easy prayerism.”

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(revised 02/06/14)

Preaching about sin, Hell, etc. is commonly called “confrontational preaching.” The resistance to confrontational preaching is most obvious outside of the church setting. I recall going to a state fair years ago. Far in the distance I could see two individuals handing out flyers. As I got closer, I could see hundreds of the flyers littering the ground around them. They handed me what I then realized was a tract – and the tract was all about hell and God’s damnation of those who do not accept His offer of salvation through Jesus Christ. I’m sure many refused the tracts – and many others who did accept the tracts threw them on the ground after they realized the subject matter.

Why are the unsaved so offended by sermons about Hell? And, in the church setting, why is it that so few Emerging Church evangelicals preach about Hell? I believe it is because they don’t want to turn off unsaved “seekers” attending their churches. Yet, the unsaved need to hear the whole Truth of the gospel in order to be convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit and accept Christ. The whole Truth includes preaching about sin, Hell and God’s judgment (damnation to eternal torment in the Lake of Fire) for the unsaved (those who  reject Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour).

Check out the following YouTube Baptist sermons about Hell:

“The Depths of Hell” by Pastor Steven Anderson

The Horrors of Hell, Pt. 1″ by Pastor Steven Anderson

The Horrors of Hell, Pt. 2″ by Pastor Steven Anderson

The Horrors of Hell, Pt. 3″ by Pastor Steven Anderson

The Horrors of Hell, Pt. 4″ by Pastor Steven Anderson

The Horrors of Hell, Pt. 5″ by Pastor Steven Anderson

The Horrors of Hell, Pt. 6″ by Pastor Steven Anderson

See also the YouTube list of many additional sermons on Hell, on the right hand side of the YouTube pages for the above videos.

And of course there is Jonathan Edward’s classic sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” Click here for a transcript of his sermon.

Following is an excellent blog about Hell. I hope to add more articles and blogs about Hell as I locate them:

http://howtobesavedfromhell.wordpress.com/faqs-about-hell/

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