Archive for December, 2012

The old hymns of the faith contain many wonderful theological truths. I have reposted an article by Christopher Lafortet. Laforet shows how any biblically sound hymn can be used as a Bible study of the doctrines it contains.

Below Laforet presents Bible studies of the following hymns:

“Holy, Holy, Holy”
“The Old Rugged Cross”
“Because He Lives”
“Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me”
“It is Well With My Soul”
“Softly and Tenderly”
“At the Cross”

Click here for the original source of this article. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

The Theology of Hymns

 Christopher Laforet

Started on 10/20/2001


No matter our stand in life, whether we are Christian or not, it is true to state that there has been some hymn that we have heard at some time.  A good example of such a hymn is “Amazing Grace” which is sung in churches, in meetings, and is used more than any other in films and TV shows whenever a scene calls for a religious song!  Many of us have favorite hymns, those that have a perfect combination of melody, harmony, and flowing words that combine to move our hearts.  Any self-respecting church has a hymnal or song-book with several hundred of these special songs all anxiously waiting their moment to be sung and played.

Yet, unbeknown to us, many of these hymns teach us the tenets of our faith and develop our theological understanding!  This is no accident for, during the past centuries when many people were illiterate and Bibles were hard to come by, there was no way to teach them how to read scripture.  Many of these songs were born to present the truth of the Gospel in a form that was easy to remember.  Take some words containing sound doctrine and mix them with a memorable tune and the result is something that can be readily learned and recalled by even the most illiterate person.  After all, is this not the way we teach children?  Secular tunes such as “Itsy-bitsy spider” are easily assimilated by young minds and soon are sung by the child as well as the parent.  Likewise, Christian songs such as “This little light of mine” and “Jesus loves the little children” become a very powerful witness within the life of a child!

The purpose of this study is to pick several strongly theological hymns and to chase down the underlying Scripture within them.  The men and women who penned these words were deeply devout Christians who were led to combine their active faiths with Scriptural truths to provide powerfully compelling hymns.  Sometimes they were inspired by specific passages of Scripture and other times they blended many aspects of Christianity into a cohesive whole.  Whether knowingly or unknowingly, they created true masterpieces of song which have endeared themselves to succeeding generations and which have taught the truths concerning God.

The following hymns were chosen to demonstrate the concept, that theology exists within their easy to memorize stanzas.  The fact that any one hymn is not in this list does not indicate anything other than there are not enough hours in a day to get them all!  If your favorite hymn is not in this list, there is nothing to prevent you from digging up the theology on your own.  Also, sometimes the song is magnificent, but the subjects are too varied to delve them all up and keep the study from bogging down.  A good example of this is “How Great Thou Art” which ranks in the pantheon of my personal favorites.  It is theologically sound and absolutely majestic and its words echo from all over the Bible.

It is the purpose of this study to teach you more about God and His grace.  It is my hope that you will take this concept as you grow in Christ, and apply it to other hymns.  Sometimes you will find that some are less rooted in theological truths than others.   All in all, it is a worthwhile endeavor.

Holy, Holy, Holy

Words composed in 1826 by Reginald Huber

Most common tune, NICAEA, composed in 1861 by John B. Dykes

This old favorite hymn forms one of the cornerstones of praise in any hymnal.  It has crossed most denominational lines and has become a great hymn within each of the denominations that encountered it.  It has truly majestic words cast into an equally majestic tune that conveys a sense of order and royalty.  Its wide acceptance speaks volumes to its solid theology.


Holy, holy, holy!  Lord God Almighty!


Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee;


Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!


God in three Persons, blessed Trinity.


Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore thee,


Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;


Cherubim and seraphim falling down before thee,


Who wert, and art, and evermore shalt be.


Holy, holy, holy! Tho the darkness hide thee,


Tho the eye of sinful man thy glory may not see;


Only thou art holy; there is none beside thee,


Perfect in pow’r, in love, and purity.


Holy, holy, holy!  Lord God Almighty!


All thy works shall praise thy name, in earth, and sky, and sea;


Holy, holy, holy; merciful and mighty!


God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!

The underpinnings of this marvelous hymn are found in Isaiah 6.  Let us read verses 1-8 and capture the vision of the calling of Isaiah, a priest in the Temple.  While Isaiah was in the Temple doing his customary duties, God transcended time and space in his sight and provided the aspiring prophet a glimpse into His majestic throne-room.

The flying seraphim uttered the words that form the foundation of each stanza (v 3).  “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty” stresses the absolute holiness of God.  Three is a number of perfection in Hebrew thought, similar to us using the epithet “perfect” to emphasize something’s condition.  God is thus three times holy, perfectly holy.

As imperfect, sinful man, Isaiah cried out, “Woe is me…for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”  (v 5)  Imperfect man would die when confronted with the awesome presence of God’s extreme holiness, but Isaiah did not die on the spot because God answered his plea of confession.  He provided atonement for Isaiah’s sinful state (v 6,7).  It is likely that it is this image of unholy Isaiah being purified so that he could see God that led to line #10 in the hymn.

As a priest, Isaiah would offer sacrifices and incense in the morning and in the evening.  The author of this hymn emphasized the morning in line #2 and thus also recalled Psalm 5:2,3.  It is this emphasis that places God first on our daily agenda and by doing so, we align everything else in its proper order.

The emphasis on the Trinity is a central doctrine of Christianity.  It is one of the most difficult concepts to explain or to fully comprehend, the fact that God is One but also is three distinct persons.  Deuteronomy 6:4 proclaims the oneness of our God.  In spite of this, in Genesis 1:26, God said (to Himself), “Let US make man in OUR image, in OUR likeness…” which proclaims His plurality.  The two concepts created a paradox for, without further evidence, there is no solution to it.   Until the advent of Christ, there are no easy ways to understand this concept.

John 1:1-4,14 leads us to understand some of this concept.  The Word was with God and was God and always was from the beginning.  The Word was the agent of creation for it was the Word who spoke the creation into being.  It was the Word who stated, “Let us make man in our image.”  This Word, who was God, became flesh and walked among us in the person of Jesus Christ.

1 John 1:1-4 parallels the account that we just read and brings together the concept of the Father and the Son.  They are One and yet they are also distinct characters within the oneness.

In John 14:5-14, Jesus Himself explains that the Father and He are indeed one.  In verses 10 and 11, He declared that He is in the Father and the Father is in Him.  Later in the same chapter, Jesus introduced the person of the Spirit.  Read John 14:15-21.  There is an interplay between the Holy Spirit and Jesus.  “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth…I will come to you…the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me.”  This interplay is no accident as we can detect from 2 Corinthians 3:17 and Ephesians 2:22.  Jesus even introduced the concept of the entire Trinity in Matthew 28:19 as He gave the farewell speech and the Great Commission.

The Trinity is a oneness and a three-ness.  The oneness is that God is One but is in three persons which co-exist and are co-eternal; the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Each is God and all are God!  The Catholic monk, Patrick, explained the concept of the Trinity to the Irish by holding up a cloverleaf.  Each of the three lobes are all separate and yet the leaf forms one entity attached to one stem.  Each member of the Trinity presents a separate aspect of God and yet they are all united as God.

In the hymn, lines #4 and #16 stress the doctrine of the Trinity.  The three-ness can also be seen reflected in the three holys for each member of the Godhead is in Himself, equally holy.  There is a sense of “Holy is the Father, holy is the Son, and Holy is the Spirit” expressed in the perfection of three-ness.

Merged into the vision of Isaiah is the throne-room vision of John in Revelation 4:1-11.  The whole of the second stanza is based upon this passage that forms a powerful image of the intensity of worship before God’s throne.  The saints (v 10) adore God and lay their crowns before Him in honor.  Cherubim and seraphim are the creatures who surround the throne of God, the same ones seen by Isaiah many centuries before.  They worship the Lord God day and night (v 6b-8).  They chant the words, “Holy, holy, holy” before God’s throne and extol Him mightily (v 8b).  Line #8 reflects the latter part of their chant, “who was, and is, and is to come.”

In line #11 there is a reference to God’s uniqueness.  There is only one God and He is all.  God demands that since there is no other God that He be accorded the position of true Godhood in every life.  The first commandment (Exodus 20:2,3; Deuteronomy 5:6,7) insists upon this fact.  There is none beside God Almighty.  In addition, the Son of God, Jesus, stands unique as being the only source of salvation.  See Acts 4:8-12.  He who indeed is perfect in power and love and purity (#12) is indeed the only way to be saved.

The final stanza reflects the glory that will be accorded to Christ before the final judgment.  All creation will proclaim Jesus as Lord and pay homage to Him as God.  This concept is presented in Philippians 2:9-11.  At the name of Jesus, all creation will bow and confess Him as Lord.  Indeed, all of His works will praise His name.

The Old Rugged Cross

Words and tune by George Bennard, 1913.

This is one of the most requested hymns of all time, a near and dear song of hope for many.  It was written by a Salvation Army officer and was based upon his wrestling with a major spiritual issue.


On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,


The emblem of suff’ring and shame;


And I love that old cross where the dearest and best


For a world of lost sinners was slain.



So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,


Till my trophies at last I lay down;


I will cling to the old rugged cross,


And exchange it some day for a crown.


Oh, that old rugged cross so despised by the world,


Has a wondrous attraction for me;


For the dear Lamb of God left his glory above,


To bear it to dark Calvary.


In the old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,


A wondrous beauty I see;


For ‘twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,


To pardon and sanctify me.


To the old rugged cross I will ever be true,


Its shame and reproach gladly bear;


Then he’ll call me some day to my home far away,


Where his glory forever I’ll share.

When Jesus was sentenced to die by Pilate (the Roman Procurator in Jerusalem) at the insistence of the Jews’ chanting, “Crucify Him!  Crucify Him!”, He was sent to be crucified outside the city of Jerusalem.  Mark 15:22 states it simply as, “they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means the Place of the Skull).”  The Latin word for skull is calavario from which we get the name of the place which we use the most, Calvary.

The hill far away (line #1) lies to the northwest of Jerusalem, a grotesque-looking lump of rock outcropping that really does look like a skull.  Upon that hill was erected many crosses over the years of Roman rule upon which many criminals and subversives shed their lives.  Yet, we are not interested in those crosses, only one very specific one.  It is the cross upon which one man named Jesus of Nazareth shed His blood to save all mankind.  It is that old, rough-hewn cross which captures our interest.

There is nothing in its appearance that attracts us to it.  Upon close examination it appears rough and splintered and, since it has been used, it is covered with rivulets of dried blood.  It seems no different from the other crosses that were erected upon that hill of death.  What makes it special is the Who who was nailed there and the Who whose blood now stains it.  That Who is the “dearest and best” (line #3), the “dear Lamb of God” (line #11).  The Lamb of God is none other than Jesus (see John 1:29-36) who came in the flesh to bear our sins (John 6:32,41; Philippians 2:6-8).

It was “for a world of lost sinners” that Jesus was sacrificed (line #4).  This was decreed and prophesied many centuries before it happened (see Isaiah 53:3-10).  Read Acts 2:22-24 and Romans 5:6-8 to gain an understanding that Jesus died for our sins.  His innocent blood, unjustly shed, redeems us from our sins (1 John 1:7; Rom 3:25a; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:19,20; Hebrews 9:14, 26-28).  The work on the cross was done by the shedding of the priceless drops of Christ’s blood that coursed down and stained its rough wood.  The crucifixion is the means of our salvation (Col 2:13-15), for it was indeed on that “old cross Jesus suffered and died to pardon and sanctify me.”  (Lines #15,16)  Read Galatians 3:13,14.

Yet, the epic of the crucifixion started way before.  It was the plan of God even from the time the first sin was committed.  The plan was that Jesus would come to earth and become a savior.  In Genesis 3:15, God laid out the plan of the virgin birth and the fact that the woman’s offspring would crush the power of sin to separate man from God.  Jesus is God and was with Him from the beginning (John 1:1-3).  As God, Jesus chose to leave the glory of heaven (line #11) to live in the tent of humanity (John 1:14).  Lines #11 and 12 reflect the truth of Phil 2:5-8.

The acceptance of salvation by the blood of Christ calls for commitment.  It is not a matter of accept and then forget.  The commitment to Christ is meant to be total and complete.  Read Gal 5:24, 5:13, Eph 5:1,2, Col 3:1-4.  This is the thrust of lines #17-20, the summing up of Phil 3:12-14.  The goal of Christians is to persevere until the end and then attain the resurrection in Christ (Phil 3:7-11).

Because He Lives

Words and Music by Gloria and William Gaither, 1971

Throughout the years, the Gaithers have produced many marvelous songs during their long and distinguished career in Christian music.  Through today, the Gaither specials remain a favorite bastion of Christian music on TV.  We will now analyze one of their compositions and note the solid truths underlying even modern hymnology.  Let us look at the words of this hymn of hope.


God sent his Son, they called him Jesus;


He came to love, heal, and forgive;


He lived and died to buy my pardon,


An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives.



Because he lives I can face tomorrow;


Because he lives all fear is gone;


Because I know he holds the future;


And life is worth the living just because he lives.


How sweet to hold a newborn baby,


And feel the pride, and joy he gives;


But greater still the calm assurance,


This child can face uncertain days because he lives.


And then one day I’ll cross the river;


I’ll fight life’s final war with pain;


And then as death gives way to vict’ry,


I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know he lives.

Liberal theologians attempt to deny the resurrection of Christ and then nonchalantly state that such a denial does not undermine the Word of God!  They attribute the resurrection to myth, imagination, and even falsehoods and they don’t bat an eyelid while they claim to be “Christians” in their next breath!  This is ludicrous at best.  Upon what truth can such a faith be based?

If the resurrection did not occur, then the Word of God would be merely a lie.  Can one be content trusting one’s future upon a lie?  If the resurrection did not occur, then God (at least if He is the God of Scripture) is none other than an author of lies.  Could one trust such a god if he claimed that our future was secure on one hand, and yet could lie about such an important lynchpin of faith!

The premise of this song is that such thoughts and beliefs are trash.  It is “because He lives that I can face tomorrow!”  (line #5)  The empty tomb is not a myth, it is not a collective hallucination, and it certainly is not a story made up by the disciples.  The New Testament stresses the risen Lord repeatedly (Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-8; John 20:1-18; Acts 1:3; see also Luke 24).

The denial of the resurrection of Christ is nothing new.  It started on the Sunday morning when Jesus’ body could not be found.  The Jewish officials bribed the Roman guards to state that they had fallen asleep and the body had been taken by His disciples (Matt 28:11-15).  The irony of this is that Roman soldiers knew better than to fall asleep at their posts for the price of such an act was death.  Anyway, such denials continued rampantly from that point onward.

The resurrection matters, regardless of what liberal theologians say.  For if there is no resurrection of Christ, then there could not be resurrection of the believer.  Without resurrection, there is no hope.  This is exactly the argument used by Paul in 1 Corinthians while dealing with the same denials that we still face today!  We will read the passage in a moment but as you read, take careful note of the importance of the resurrection, the hoards of eyewitnesses, and then the absolute waste of time Christianity would be if it were not true.  Now read 1 Cor 15:1-19 and then follow this with the affirmation of Christ’s real resurrection in verses 20-28.

In the hymn, line #4 is the pointer to the physical resurrection of Christ.  His grave, unlike any other in human history, is empty because He walked out of it having been brought back to life from death.  It is because of the simple truth that that empty grave proves God’s good faith towards us, we can sing lines 5-8 honestly.

Lines #9-12 bring the reality of the resurrection to our level.  One of the greatest feelings we can experience comes from holding an innocent, pure baby in our hands.  Yet, even that feeling pales when compared to the great truth that Jesus is a living Lord who can change that baby’s life tremendously.  Such “calm assurance” comes from the certainty of God’s unshakable Word.

Finally, lines 13-16 take the reality of the resurrection into each Christian’s life.  Reality is that we will face death once, but unlike those who are lost, we KNOW that Jesus will be waiting for us on the other side.  See Romans 6:4-11 and 1 Cor 15:35-36.  We are natural man and destined to die once to our physical natures.  Christians can rest assured that they will be restored imperishable to see Christ face-to-face (see 2 Cor 4:7-18 and Revelation 22:1-5).  This is the quiet and unshakable truth that the power of the resurrection holds for God’s people.

Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me

Words by Augustus Toplady, 1775-6

Music by Thomas Hastings, 1832

This old favorite has stood the test of time.  It is one of the most respected hymns of assurance.  The words reflect the soul’s appeal to God for shelter and support in spite of life’s storms and doubts.


Rock of Ages, cleft for me,


Let me hide myself in thee;


Let the water and the blood,


From thy wounded side which flowed,


Be of sin the double cure,


Save from wrath and make me pure.


Not the labors of my hands


Can fulfill thy Law’s demands;


Could my zeal no respite know,


Could my tears forever flow,


All for sin could not atone;


Thou must save, and thou alone.


While I draw this fleeting breath,


When mine eyes shall close in death,


When I rise to worlds unknown,


And behold thee on thy throne,


Rock of Ages, cleft for me,


Let me hide myself in thee.

The Rock of Ages, quite obviously, is God.  The call upon the Rock to cleft, to create a special safe haven, is seen in Psalms 94:20-23 (especially verse 22).  The image is that of God being a solid rock who will surround His people to protect them from attack.  Following this imagery, turn to Psalm 61:1-4 to see more of the same.  “Rock of Ages, cleft for me” begins as a cry for protection in line #1 and ends with an appeal for eternal security in line #17.

The rock imagery in itself is intriguing.  It has so many different facets that are worth mentioning.  Here are some thoughts:

1.       The rock of the confession that Jesus is God’s Messiah – Read Matthew 16:13-20.  The confession by Peter (Petros means literally, “the rock”) that Jesus is God’s Son is the rock upon which Christ’s church is built.  Not even the full fury of Satan and his minions will overcome it (v. 18).

2.       The bedrock of teaching that forms a solid foundation – Read Matt 7:24-27.  A wise man will choose to build upon a solid foundation of bedrock rather than sinking, shifting sand.  Thus, a man who hears the call of Christ, God’s only Son, and who puts His words into practice has built a solid structure upon a sure foundation.

3.       The rock of Christ’s judgment – Read Romans 9:30-33 and 1 Peter 2:4-8.  Righteousness comes from faith in the Son of God, not from man’s feeble attempts to behave in a holy fashion.  At the end of time, at God’s judgment seat, Christ will either protect the believer or crush the unrepentant sinner.

4.       The rock of God’s provision – As the Israelites faced dying of thirst in the wilderness of Zin (Sin), they called for respite.  God assured them with a powerful example of His gracious provision.  Read Exodus 17:1-7.  Moses was commanded to lead the people to a rock and then to strike it.  As such, the rock would be an unlikely source for life-sustaining water, yet God would provide water from the rock.  Needless to say, water flowed from the rock, a source of life to satisfy the needs of all the people.  This image was a prophesy of the coming Messiah, the rock who would be struck once to satisfy the needs of all mankind!

(For all of you who are Bible scholars among us, here is a quick quiz.  Why did God not allow the generation of Israelites that left Egypt to enter the Promised Land?  It is because they did not trust God’s oath that they would capture the land (Numbers 14).  This did not include Moses nor Caleb nor Joshua.  Now, why did God not allow Moses to enter into the Promised Land?  It was because Moses’ anger prevented God from teaching His people a powerful truth, that Christ would be struck only once for all time, and that He would offer His grace freely afterwards!  Read Numbers 20:1-13.  For a second time the people of Israel were at the brink of death by dehydration in the same Desert of Sin some 30 years later.  God commanded Moses to go to the same rock he had struck years before and to SPEAK to it and “it will pour out its water.”  Moses, in his anger towards the unfaithful people, disobeyed God and smacked the rock twice with his staff.  The rock did deliver its water but the tremendous object-lesson of the forthcoming Messiah was lost upon the Israelites.  Unfortunately, because of this, the lesson remains lost upon the Jews even until now!  See Hebrews 9:27,28 to determine this simple fact, that Christ was to be struck only once, for our sins and then never again.)

Lines #3 and 4 of the hymn refer to a moment at the end of the crucifixion.  Read John 19:31-37.  Jesus had died around 3PM that day.  To make certain that He was dead, a soldier took the point of his spear and pushed it into His side.  Verse 34 is a very critical part of the eyewitness account of Jesus’ death which is explained by medical science.  When the spear pierced Christ’s body, it poked though the pericardium and into the heart.  Apparently, when the heart stops beating for a period of time, the pooled blood therein separates into distinct components.  The red blood cells separate from the serum and white blood cells.  What the disciple John witnessed was this separated mixture exuding from the wound.  The clear component (“water”) and the red component (“blood”) poured from the pierced heart.

The innocent blood of Jesus which was unjustly shed evens the wrong of sin in our lives (lines #5 and 6).  Hence, it is by His blood that we are saved from our sins and rendered clean before God.  Read Hebrews 9:11-15 then follow this with the rest of the chapter (v 16-28).  Notice verse 27 and 28 in light of the previous discussion concerning the disobedience of Moses!  Now read Romans 5:6-11, Ephesians 1:7, Colossians 1:19-23, and 1 Peter 1:17-23.  Under no condition can we buy our own salvation, not with silver or gold, nor with the works of our hands (see Eph 2:4-9) which is the thrust of lines #7-12.

The final verse, lines #13-18, expresses the assurance of the saved soul even in light of the fleetingness of life.  The uncertainty of life in lines #13 and 14 reflects Job 14:1,2 and Psalm 103:15,16.  The certainty of the saved soul comes from trust in the blood of Christ which saves completely (see Heb 7:24,25).

It Is Well With My Soul

Words by Horatio G. Spafford, 1873
Music by Philip Bliss, 1876

This hymn ranks in my personal pantheon of all-time favorites.  Whenever I feel down or fearful of my present or my future, this hymn can always bring me back to earth.  Its bold assurances, born from a life that was not unacquainted with grief, serve to remind Christians everywhere who may be facing troubles or fears that it is indeed well with their souls.


When peace like a river attendeth my way,


When sorrows like sea billows roll;


Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,


It is well, it is well with my soul.


It is well, with my soul,


It is well, it is well with my soul.


Though Satan should buffet, tho’ trials should come,


Let this blest assurance control,


That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,


And hath shed His own blood for my soul.


My sin – oh, the bliss of this glorious tho’t –


My sin – not in part, but the whole,


Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more,


Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!


And, Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,


The clouds be rolled back as a scroll,


The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend,


“Even so” – it is well with my soul.

The point of this hymn is the tremendous assurance of one’s salvation after one has come to Christ.  No matter what happens in the life of a believer (line #3), regardless of good times (line #1) or bad (line #2), there is God’s solid promise that one’s soul is in safe hands for all eternity.  These words of hope did not spring from a glib-tongued man, but rather from someone who had lost several members of his family to a collision of boats at sea.  It is always easier to be confident in God when all things seem to be going our way than during the moments when we are mired in the depths of sorrow and of pain.

Regardless of trials and all the fury of Satan’s realm which may be aimed at a Christian’s life (line #7), the confidence should always be that God is in control of our most precious part: our soul (lines #8-10).  We can be assured of a soul’s perfect value because our precious Lord Jesus allowed Himself to be sacrificed for it!  Lines #11-14 bring the stark truth of its value forward, for all of our sins are nailed to the cross to never, ever, ever again hurt us!  See Galatians 3:13,14 for the scriptural basis underpinning the truth of these lines.  Through the blood of Christ, all penalty against us because of our sins has been cancelled.  Our sins have been nailed to the cross where they are now covered over with the blood of our Savior.  They have been rendered illegible and unrecognizable as sins!  Ephesians 2:13-18 reemphasizes this simple fact.  Jesus brokers the peace between God and sinful man as long as man accepts the blood shed for his redemption.  Christians are no longer isolated from God by the impassible gulf of sin.

It is indeed well with a Christian’s soul for it is guarded and protected by God Himself, and He is unchanging and unchangeable.  Read Matthew 10:28-31 where Jesus was addressing the problem of worry.  His response was that only God can destroy both soul and body and thus His disciples had nothing to fear.  This was a simple fact to Jesus, for He knew that His Father would protect their most vital asset, their souls.  See Philippians 4:7.

A person confronted by tragedy, disaster, and the working of evil need never fear nor despair for God will keep them safe.  See 1 John 5:18-20 and Romans 8:31-38.  What can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus?  Nothing!  Jude 24,25 states, “To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.”  God will preserve His people through everything.

Let us turn to a few passages which build upon this concept that God will protect His own.  Turn to Joshua 1:5 then follow it with Hebrews 13:5,6.  He has promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us who are His.  Psalm 27:10 brings forth His steadfastness.  When the tragedies of life seek to buffet us and to swamp us, we must trust in God and let Him exert His Lordship over the situations that arise (Ps 27:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).  It is incumbent upon Christians to realize that He will protect them (2 Thess 3:3; Ps 23:4; 1 Samuel 2:9).

The final stanza (lines #15-18) demonstrates the actual value of a saved soul.  A Christian’s salvation buys them eternal life with Christ, even though they may suffer hardships.  Read 1 Peter 1:3-7.  Realize that the return of the Lord is imminent and when it happens it will follow 1 Thess 4:13-18.  When Christ comes back as the mighty victor, all Christians will receive their resurrection bodies and enter into life eternal, the goal of their faith (1 Pe 1:9).

If you do not have this calm assurance about your protection, if you have not claimed the blood of Jesus as yours, if you do not KNOW that you are in Christ, then now is the time to consider turning your life over to Him.  We have studied all about His love.  We have learned about His desire for all of us to accept His sacrifice on Calvary’s tree for our own redemption.  What more would it take to convince you?

Softly and Tenderly

Words by: Will Thompson, 1880
Music by: Will Thompson, 1880

There is a whole genre of hymns used for invitation, at the stage of the service when hearts which have heart the truth of the gospel and which have been convicted by that truth can respond and publicly make a profession of faith.  There are so many excellent hymns to chose from such as “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus,” “Turn your Eyes upon Jesus,” “Out of my Bondage, Sorrow, and Night”, and the one made famous by Billy Graham crusades, “Just As I Am.”

Each of these hymns strss some aspect of the Invitation by Christ to “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)  Some take the point of view presented by that very verse, that God invites one to come to Him.  Others take the perpective found in a heart yearning for salvation.


Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,


Calling for you and for me;


See, on the portals he’s waiting and watching,


Watching for you and for me.


Come home, come home;


Ye who are weary come home;


Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,


Calling, O sinner, come home!


Why should we tarry when Jesus is pleading,


Pleading for you and for me?


Why should we linger and heed not his mercies,


Mercies for you and for me?


Time is now fleeting, the moments are passing,


Passing from you and from me;


Shadows are gathering, deathbeds are coming,


Coming for you and for me.


O for the wonderful love he has promised,


Promised for you and for me!


Though we have sinned, he has mercy and pardon,


Pardon for you and for me.

The most difficult moment in the life of a non-believer is that of hearing the Word of God, feeling convicted by the message, and then having to respond.  Satan never wishes to lose a soul to God and will do everything to prevent the person from acting upon it.  The convincing properties of

invitation hymns are there to carry forward the momentum of a heart that is half-decided to come to Christ and to walk forward to crucify their life of sin.

There is strong Biblical precedence of this fact in Jesus’ own words.  Let’s take a few moments to read the parable of the sower in Matthew 13:3-9.  His disciples then approached Him and asked Him to explain the meaning of the parable.  He did that in verses 18-23.  Notice very carefully the meaning of the seed on the path (versed 4 and 19).  Jesus told His disciples (and by extension, each of us) that Satan does everything in his power to prevent a person from making the first step. On the other hand, God’s goal is that every Christian should be like the seed planted on good soil that “produces a crop, yielding, sixty or thirty times what is sold.” (v 23).

Part of the framework of this particular invitation hymn comes from Jesus’ Parable of the Prodigal (Lost) Son.  Read 15:11-32.  Every descendant of Adam is represented by the lost son for we “all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way.”  (Isaiah 53:6a)  Everyone makes a conscious decision to serve themselves instead of God and thus become sinners.  The son in the parable left his father’s house and squandered his investment.  He turned all of his marvelous gifts into cheap and useless living.  Meanwhile, unknown to him, his father waited day by day, month by month, year by year, at the door of his house and relentlessly scanned the horizon for any sign of the return of his estranged, yet beloved, son.  It is this fact that forms the presumption underlying lines #3 and 4.  The father’s thought (which surely expressed itself verbally on occasion after frustrated occasion) is expressed in lines #5 and 6.

The son, the paradigm of a sinner separated from God and who has squandered his or her God-given resources, settles for a life of mediocrity.  He reasoned, just as we all reason as sinners, “why remain here feeding swine and dying of hunger when I can fare better in my father’s house, even if I am only a servant there?  After all, even my father’s servants live better than this!”  Lines #11 and 12 are indicative of this line of thought.  Little did the son know, nor do sinners realize, that the Father is keeping watch and waiting for them to appear silhouetted on the horizon.  Why don’t we, in our sinful state, hear Jesus pleading for us to come home?  If sinners were to come to this realization, would we consciously wait for one more second before rushing into His loving arms and accepting His gracious forgiveness?  (See lines #9 and 10)

Overcoming one’s fears and making the decision to return to the Father’s house, having the resolve to turn one’s footsteps homewards regardless of the consequences, is the first step of salvation.  The tremendous beauty of the salvation process is that while we are still journeying home, we are met halfway by our loving Father.  Only then do we realize that He has forgiven us and has been waiting anxiously for us to accept the forgiveness.  While the enemy has convinced us that things will never be the same at home, if we were to return we would discover that not only are they the same but they are even better than our expectations!  This is true because He has forgiven us completely through the blood of His precious Son who lovingly died on our behalf.  Our sins are extinguished by His love and we are restored as sons and daughters of God (lines #17-20 — see John 1:12,13)

The moment of decision will not last forever.  The enemy will do his best to squash the will to accept the gift of God, death looms as a great uncertainty, and we can never be sure that our mental capacity to make the decision will not be affected (lines #13-16 — see Hebrews 3:6-13).  The saddest word to the Father’s ears is “later.”  Later may never come and one may die unforgiven of one’s sins, outside the family of God!  Thus if you hear God’s call, do not allow yourself to be talked out of it.  Do not play chicken when your eternity is at stake!

At the Cross

Words by: Isaac Watts, 1707
Refrain and Music by: Ralph Hudson, 1885

Now we will apply some of what we have learned in this study.  We will examine a hymn and attempt to derive its theology.  Once we have developed a working model for such a skill,, it should become a part of our normal approach to everything that we consume.  We are commanded to be “as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”  (Matthew 10:16)  This means, in part, that we must be completely on our guard for false doctrine.  In 1 John 4:1-3 urges to “not believe every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they are from God.”  We must be completely aware of what we believe and why believe it!

Now let us take the time to dissect the following hymn:


Alas! And did my Savior bleed,


And did my Sovereign die?


Would he devote that sacred head


For sinners such as I?


At the cross, at the cross, where I first saw the light,


And the burden of my heart rolled away;


It was there by faith I received my sight,


And now I am happy all the day.


Was it for crimes that I have done,


He groaned upon the tree?


Amazing pity!  Grace unknown!


And love beyond degreee!


Well might the sun in darkness hide,


And shut its glories in,


When God, the mighty maker, died


For his own creature’s sin.


Thus might I hide my blushing face


While his dear cross appears;


Dissolve my heart in thankfulness,


And melt mine eyes to tears.


But drops of tears can ne’er repay


The debt of love I owe.


Here, Lord, I give myself away;


‘Tis all that I can do.

Closing Remarks

Hymnology is fascinating study.  One may approach hymns and study their history, the stories behind the hymns, the lives of the writers, and the theology of the words as we have been doing.  It is my hope that this study will help you to derive even greater enjoyment from singing hymns.  So many of them contain tremendous nuggets of truth.  One could do no better than to chase those nuggets into the Scriptures and learn “how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge”.  (Ephesians 3:18,19)   Doing this will make you more intimately aware of God’s tremendous promises, His amazing grace, His almighty nature, His overwhelming love, and His gracious plans.Hymns by themselves are not effective –  they require the power of God’s Holy Word to activate them and bring them to life.  They do, however, form a great tool to point our hearts and minds into the Bible to convict us, to teach us, to reassure us, and to remind us of the intense love and grace of our loving God.There are several excellent books that tell the stories behind the hymns.  Once such book is “Songs in the Night” by Henry Gariepy (Eerdmans, 1996).  A neat site online for discovering hymn lyrics and their respective tunes is http://www.hymnsite.com which, by no means, is the only such one.  It is worthwhile to have at least one good hymnal.  These can be purchased at large Christian book stores, or many times churches have old hymnals that are not used anymore that they may be willing to give to you if you request it!

Content from www.WeeklyBibleStudy.org, Copyright © 2001, Christopher Laforet. All rights reserved.


Sermons on Hymns

Amazing Grace
Pass Me Not
There is a Fountain
How Firm a Foundation
Rock of Ages

Read Full Post »

The shallowness of today’s church music – especially the downplaying of Christ’s Atonement on Calvary – concerns me greatly.

I have reposted a blog by Bill Muehlenberg, in which he addresses the lack of theology in today’s songs. Click here for the original source. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

Bill Muehlenberg’s commentary on issues of the day…

Hymns, Theology and Spirituality

One of the greatest sources of Christian theology and spirituality is the old hymns. In marked contrast to most of the worship choruses found in today’s church services, the old hymns were rich depositories of biblical spirituality, theological truth, and Christian belief.

There is nothing like going back to the old hymns for spiritual nourishment, especially in times of spiritual dryness, difficulty or pain. They stir the soul, sustain the spirit, and enrich the mind. They reflect so much theological depth – compared to what we find today – that is a real tragedy that we are neglecting these stirring anthems.

James Montgomery Boice once lamented, “One of the saddest features of contemporary worship is that the great hymns of the church are on the way out. They are not gone entirely, but they are going. And in their place have come trite jingles that have more in common with contemporary advertising ditties than the psalms. The problem here is not so much the style of the music, though trite words fit best with trite tunes and harmonies. Rather it is with the content of the songs. The old hymns expressed the theology of the church in profound and perceptive ways and with winsome memorable language. Today’s songs reflect only our shallow or non-existent theology and do almost nothing to elevate one’s thoughts about God.

“Worst of all are songs that merely repeat a trite idea, word or phrase over and over again. Songs like this are not worship, though they may give the church goer a religious feeling. They are mantras, which belong more in a gathering of New Agers than among the worshipping people of God.”

It is not just great theology which can be found in the old hymns, but very moving spiritual riches, aiding the Christian in his devotional life. Tozer was quite right when he wrote: “After the Bible the next most valuable book for the Christian is a good hymnal. Let any young Christian spend a year prayerfully meditating on the hymns of Watts and Wesley alone and he will become a fine theologian. Then let him read a balanced diet of the Puritans and the Christian mystics. [Although Tozer wrote many great things, I disagree strongly with Tozer’s recommendation of “Christian” mystics.] The results will be more wonderful than he could have dreamed.”

But enough from me. Let me just mention a few hymns (out of so many) and offer a few verses from them. Where does one begin? One thinks of course as such classics as How Great Thou Art, Rock of Ages and Amazing Grace. And we can never go past Luther’s c.1528 A Mighty Fortress Is Our God. Consider verses 1 and 3:

A mighty fortress is our God,
a bulwark never failing;
Our helper he, amid the flood
of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe
doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great,
and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

And though this world, with devils filled,
should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed
his truth to triumph through us:
the Prince of Darkness grim,
we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure,
for lo, his doom is sure,
one little word shall fell him.

Charles Wesley is always another great source. Consider the last verse of his Love Divine, All Loves Excelling from 1747:

Finish, then, Thy new creation;
Pure and spotless let us be.
Let us see Thy great salvation
Perfectly restored in Thee;
Changed from glory into glory,
Till in heaven we take our place,
Till we cast our crowns before Thee,
Lost in wonder, love, and praise.

Or the fourth verse of his And Can It Be That I Should Gain (1738):

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Isaac Watts of course wrote many great hymns as well. As an example, Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed written in the early 1700s. Here is the last verse:

But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe:
Here, Lord, I give my self away
’Tis all that I can do.

Katharina A. von Schlegel’s 1752 hymn, Be Still My Soul, begins this way:

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

And consider Be Thou My Vision. The fourth verse of this eight century hymn goes this way:

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

The third verse of Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing by Robert Robinson (1758) is also well worth sharing:

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

O Sacred Head Now Wounded, attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux, 1153, has this as its fifth verse:

My burden in Thy Passion, Lord, Thou hast borne for me,
For it was my transgression which brought this woe on Thee.
I cast me down before Thee, wrath were my rightful lot;
Have mercy, I implore Thee; Redeemer, spurn me not!

Also worth highlighting, verse six of Crown Him with Many Crowns by Matthew Bridges (1852):

Crown Him the Lord of love:
Behold His hands and side,
Rich wounds, yet visible above,
In beauty glorified;
No angel in the sky
Can fully bear that sight,
But downward bends His wondering eye
At mysteries so bright.

There is a Fountain Filled With Blood by William Cowper (1772) has this as its first verse:

There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.
Lose all their guilty stains, lose all their guilty stains;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.

One last example, but a somewhat newer one: The Love of God. The lyrics were penned in 1917 by Frederick M. Lehman, but it is based on an old Jewish poem from the eleventh century. The third and final verse is remarkable:

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

One could keep on like this forever; and we will in eternity – singing his praises, never tiring of worshipping him, and rejoicing in what he has done for us.

For more:

There are a number of very helpful sites to find hymns, get the lyrics, listen to the songs, learn about the composers and history, etc. Here are three of them:




And to round this off, listen to one great hymn, O Sacred Head Now Wounded: www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdIMYTwCQKY


Wikipedia list of hymnals


Read Full Post »

NOTE – The blog below is not my latest blog. To find more recent blogs, browse through the “Archives” section to the lower right.  ——>  ——>  ——>

(revised 01/02/13)

I have posted many blogs covering occultish Spiritual Formation (specifically contemplative spirituality) and heretical Emerging/ Emergent teachings.  A number of Wesleyan Holiness denominations are increasingly teaching these heresies.

And, these Wesleyan Holiness denominations are taking part in a number of joint projects. There may be additional joint projects, but we are tracking the following:

Global Wesleyan Alliance (GWA) ( note – these are prospective members – the Alliance is still in formation)
– UPDATE: press release describing 2012 meeting of GWA – 14 prospective members as of Dec. 2011, 18 as of Dec. 2012
National Association of Evangelicals (NAE)
National Council of Churches (NCC)
Wesleyan Holiness Consortium (WHC) (producers of the Holiness Manifesto; 16+ denominations; for the official list of Participating Denominations click here)
WordAction curriculum (WA)(6 denominations)
World Methodist Council (WMC)

I am working on adding stats for each member denomination.  Also, I am adding links to articles showing how contemplative and Emerging/Emergent heresies are entering each denomination (some more than others).

Note: it is not my intent to “attack” Wesleyan Holiness denominations. On the contrary, I love what Wesleyan Holiness denominations used to stand for. Specifically,  a biblically sound theology which placed priority on the message of Calvary (John 3:16) and personal holiness (Rom. 12:1-2). And the rejection all unbiblical heretical teachings. The Wesleyan Holiness denominations of yesteryear fought modernism tooth and nail. Unlike today’s Wesleyan Holiness denominations listed below, they would have condemned today’s heresies of Spiritual Formation/Contemplative Spirituality and Emerging/Emergent teachings.

I know what these Wesleyan Holiness denominations have lost. I am fighting (along with many others in counter-Emergent discernment ministries) to help these straying denominations hopefully return to a biblically sound theology, rejecting Contemplative Spirituality and Emerging/Emergent teachings.

If the denominations themselves reject correction (as is usually the case), we are encouraging members of these denominations to separate, to leave for biblically sound churches. I recommend Bro. David Cloud’s Independent Fundamentalist Baptist directory – particularly the “two-asterisk” and “three-asterisk”  churches – although these churches vary on some doctrines from fundamentalist Wesleyan Holiness churches of approx. 1890-1942.


nazarenelogo  Assemblies of God  – in NAE, WHC
2010 stats: 12,457 U.S. churches, 1,753,881 U.S. attenders
main Wikipedia article
Assemblies of God (AG) claims to oppose the NAR and other heretical movements, but recent AG activities show otherwise
Repost critiquing the heretical Alpha Course: “ALPHA: New Life or New Lifestyle?”, by Elizabeth McDonald (AG is a big promoter of the Alpha Course)

brethren in christ logo Brethren in Christ Church – in NAE, WHC
Wikipedia article

cma logo Christian & Missionary Alliance– in WHC
Wikipedia article x
Christian & Missionary Alliance Workers will soon be learning Ancient Spiritual Disciplines (12/02/09)
a list of blogs exposing Spiritual Formation in the C&MA

 cma logo Christian & Missionary Alliance – Canada – in WHC

Church of Christ Holiness USA – in GWA
Wikipedia article

churchofgodandersonlogo Church of God – Anderson (aka Church of God Ministries, Inc.) – in GWA, WHC
Wikipedia article

churchofgodclevelandlogoChurch of God – Cleveland – in WHC
Wikipedia article

nazarenelogoChurch of the Nazarene – – in GWA, NAE, WA, WHC, WMC
– Wikipedia article x
Reformed Nazarene website (provides many blogs and links exposing CotN involvement in heresies)

Churches of Christ in Christian Union – in GWA, NAE
Wikipedia article

Congregational Methodist Church – in GWA
Wikipedia article

the evangelical church logo The Evangelical Church of North America – in GWA, WHC

Evangelical Friends Church International – in NAE, WA
my critique of the EFCI and EFC-ER
I have many blogs on my blogsite exposing heresies of the Evangelical Friends (and Quakers in general). Click here for a partial list of my blogs on the Evangelical Friends.
Wikipedia article

 Evangelical Methodist Church – in GWA
Wikipedia article

Evangelical United Methodists – in WA

foursquare logo The Foursquare Church (International Church of the Foursquare Gospel) – – in NAE, WHC
Wikipedia article

nazarenelogoFree Methodist Church USA – in GWA, NAE, WA, WHC, WMC
Wikipedia article

nazarenelogo Grace Communion International – in NAE (joined 1997 as Worldwide Church of God), WHC
Wikipedia article

International Fellowship of Bible Churches – in GWA

ipchlogo International Pentecostal Holiness Church – in NAE, WHC
Wikipedia article

The Methodist Protestant Church – in GWA
Wikipedia article

The Missionary Church, Inc. – in GWA, NAE
Wikipedia article

Pilgrim Holiness Church – in GWA
Wikipedia article

nazarenelogo The Salvation Army – in GWA, NAE, WA, WHC
Wikipedia article
Lighthouse Trails exposes The Salvation Army’s involvement in Spiritual Formation
– “A Simple Way to Begin the Day with Prayer” (Richard Foster, The War Cry, October 1985)
– Cory Harrison, Emergent Salvationism? (blog by an Emergent Salvation Army member)

shield of faith logo4   Shield of Faith – in WHC

united methodist logoUnited Methodist Church – in NAE (observer status), NCC, WHC, WMC
Wikipedia article

*** United Pentecostal Church International (UPCI) – WARNING – Oneness Pentecostals; UPCI was in the WHC at one time, but as of 12/11/12 the UPCI is no longer listed as a member. Why was the UPCI allowed to become a member in the first place?
Wikipedia article

wesleyan church logo The Wesleyan Church – in GWA, NAE, WA, WHC, WMC
Wikipedia article

Read Full Post »

I have been searching for articles on the doctrine of the Atonement. I came across the following article, which lists a number of Bible scholars favoring “unlimited atonement.”

I am reposting the article here – not to start an argument with hyper-Calvinists (i.e. five point Calvinists, followers of “TULIP”) – but merely to provide leads to authors for Christians favoring unlimited atonement.

Note – I do not believe that because Christ died for all mankind, every person will go to Heaven. This would be Christian universalism. I do believe that salvation is made available to every person, so that whosoever believes on Him will receive eternal life (John 3:16).

Click here for the original source of the article. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

FOR WHOM DID CHRIST DIE? A Defense of Unlimited Atonement

Proponents And Defenders Of The Fact That Christ Died For All

 In establishing any doctrine, it is what God says that counts. “Let God be true, but every man a liar” (Rom. 3:4). Having already established from the Scriptures that upon Christ were laid the iniquities of all of us, it is of interest to consider what great and godly men of the past have said about this issue of the universal extent of the atonement.

Norman F. Douty, in his excellent book The Death of Christ, lists over 70 of the Church’s leading teachers, from the early centuries to the modern era, who stood firmly for the doctrine that Christ died on behalf of all men, not the elect only (pages 136-163). Here are some of the names on the list: Clement of Alexandria, Eusebius, Athanasius, Chrysostom, Augustine, Martin Luther, Hugh Latimer, Myles Coverdale, Thomas Cranmer, Philip Melanchton, Archbishop Ussher, Richard Baxter, John Newton, John Bunyan, Thomas Scott, Henry Alford, Philip Schaff, Alfred Edersheim, H.C.G. Moule, W.H. Griffith Thomas, and A.T. Robertson.

The following quotes are of interest:

“Although the blood of Christ be the ransom of the whole world, yet they are excluded from its benefit, who, being delighted with their captivity, are unwilling to be redeemed by it” (Prosper, who died 463 AD).

“For Christ only, and no man else, merited remission, justification, and eternal felicity, for as many as will believe the same; they that will not believe it, shall not have it, for it is no more but believe and have.  For Christ shed as much blood for Judas as He did for Peter; Peter believed it, and therefore he was saved; Judas would not believe and therefore he was condemned – the fault being in him only, and in nobody else” (Hugh Latimer, devoted bishop and martyr, 1485-1555). [Cited in James Morison, The Extent of the Atonement, p. 130.]

“Christ died for all, yet, notwithstanding, all do not embrace the benefit of His death…they despise the offered grace” (Benedict Aretius, 1505-1575).

“We may safely conclude that the Lamb of God offering himself a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, intended, by giving sufficient satisfaction to God’s justice, to make the nature of man, which he assumed, a fit subject for mercy, and to prepare a medicine for the sins of the whole world, which should be denied to none that intended to take the benefit of it” (Archbishop Usher, 1581-1656).   [Cited in James Morison, The Extent of the Atonement, p. 136.]

James Morison argues that the doctrine of a limited atonement was never taught in the early centuries of church history:

The doctrine of a propitiation for the elect alone is not yet above fourteen hundred years old. Such a doctrine was unheard of during the glorious first three centuries of the Christian era. Nay, it was not known for about two hundred years after that. This surely is a striking fact, and should make some men pause and ponder before they condemn. “I think,” says the illustrious Bishop Davenant, a divine most intimately versed in ecclesiastical history and the writings of the Fathers, “that it may be truly affirmed, that before the dispute between Augustine and Pelagius, there was no question concerning the death of Christ, whether it was to be extended to all mankind, or to be confined only to the elect. For the Fathers, when speaking of the death of Christ, describe it to us as undertaken and endured for the redemption of the human race; and not a word (that I know of) occurs among them of the exclusion of any person by the decree of God. They agree that it is actually beneficial to those only who believe, yet they everywhere confess that Christ died in behalf of all mankind. [He then quotes from Clemens Alexandrinus, Origen, Primasius, Athanasius and Prosper].

Bishop Davenport goes on to give some further details respecting the opinions of Augustine: “We assert, therefore, that Augustine never attempted to impugn that proposition of the Semi-pelagians, that Christ died for the whole human race . . . For neither did Augustine ever oppose as erroneous the proposition ‘that Christ died for the redemption of the whole human race;’ nor did he ever acknowledge or defend as his own, ‘that Christ died, not for all men, but for the pre-destinate alone.’”

Augustine died A.D. 429, and up to his time, at least, there is not the slightest evidence that any Christian ever dreamed of a propitiation for the elect alone. Even after him, the doctrine of a limited propitiation was but slowly propagated, and for long but partially received. [James Morison, The Extent of the Atonement, pages 114-117.]

More recent advocates of unlimited atonement are as follows: D.L.Moody, Albert Barnes, L.S.Chafer, John Walvoord, Robert Lightner, William Newell, R.C.H. Lenski, D.Edmond Hiebert, Robert Gromacki, E.Schuyler English, R.A. Torrey, Charles Ryrie and all the members of the Independent Fundamental Churches of America who have made unlimited atonement part and parcel of their doctrinal statement. Unlimited atonement seems also to be the position of the GARBC (Regular Baptists) because the Regular Baptist Press published the original edition of Robert Lightner’s book, The Death Christ Died, which presents a strong case for unlimited atonement and also David Nettleton’s book Chosen to Salvation. Nettleton refers to “the erroneous doctrine of limited atonement” and says that “limited atonement is not a necessary corollary of the sovereign election of God” (page 79).

Note: One of the men mentioned in the above paragraph was the noted commentator, Albert Barnes (1798-1870), was an American Presbyterian preacher and Bible expositor. In 1835 he was brought to trial by the Second Presbytery of Philadelphia for his belief in unlimited atonement, but was acquitted. The case continued to stir the denomination and was one of the causes of the split in the Presbyterian church in the United States in 1837. See The Wycliffe Biographical Dictionary of the Church, p.29. It’s interesting to read Barnes’ comments under such passages as John 3:16; John 1:29; Heb. 2:9; 1 Tim. 2:4-6; 1 John 2:2.

Those who are defenders of a Limited Atonement would include Berkhof, Crawford, Cunningham, Eldersveld, Haldane, Hodge, Lloyd-Jones, John Murray, Owen, Packer, Pink, Smeaton, Spurgeon, Stonehouse and Warfield (see Douty, page 163). To this list can be added John Gerstner, Gary Long, David N. Steele, Custis C. Thomas, W.E. Best, John MacArthur and many others. Though we strongly disagree with such men on this issue, we do not vilify them as Charles Spurgeon seemed to do with respect to those holding to unlimited atonement:

“There may be men with minds so distorted that they can conceive it possible that Christ should die for a man who afterwards is lost: I say, there may be such. I am sorry to say that there are still to be found such persons whose brains have been so addled in their childhood, that they cannot see that what they hold is both preposterous falsehood and a blasphemous libel….I feel quite shocked in only mentioning such an awful error, and were it not so current as it is, I should certainly pass it by with the contempt that it deserves” (cited by Norman Duty,  in The Death of Christ, p. 163).


Ron Rhodes, The Extent of the Atonement: Limited Atonement Versus Unlimited Atonement (presents the case for Unlimited Atonement)

Wikipedia article on Unlimited Atonement (makes points for and against)

Read Full Post »

Way of the Master (Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron) has a great approach to evangelism/witnessing. I think the crux of Comfort and Cameron’s approach is that they convince sinners of their sin before they offer Christ as their way out, their salvation from the eternal penalty for sin. To me this seems like a very biblical approach – vastly superior to starting out with “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.”

Oddly enough, many Christians nowadays (even many Independent Fundamentalist Baptists) are criticizing WOTM’s approach. They believe it is wrong to use the Law to bring people to Christ. Yet, Paul himself mentions this approach:

“Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” (Gal. 3:24, KJV)

Bob Snyder, a Facebook Friend, wrote this 12/07/12 regarding WOTM:

“Dave Mosher I agree with what you are saying. I actually have taught,”The Way of the Master Basic Class” at our Church. I plan on teaching it again to our, “Young Adults” group…  I knew there was something wrong with using, “Christianese” on people. I knew when I was a kid I had no idea what they meant when they would say what they were saying. For instance; “Have you asked Jesus into your heart?” “Is Jesus living in your heart?” “Do want Jesus to be your Saviour?” “Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus?” It meant nothing to me. When I finally understood I was a sinner by reading the Bible I got it. I couldn’t explain it though and had failed to understand repentance properly. Only after finding Wretchedradio and hearing them use the WOTM method did I understand it in a way I could explain it to others.

I came across this excellent blog by Defending Contending. This blog quotes a number of godly men who, like WOTM, used this “law” approach to evangelism. Click here for the original source of this blog. Note: I have also reposted a number of the comments following the blog. Also, I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

Is Ray Comfort’s Idea Original?

Posted on October 15, 2009 by

Ray Comfort A lot of Christians are opposed to presenting the law before the gospel, and say Ray Comfort’s method is unbiblical. They generally say that his series of questions isn’t found in the Bible, and they would be right. However, no one has said that they were in the Bible, and there are many ways to present the law and the gospel without using Comfort’s spiel.

I really have no interest in defending Ray Comfort or Kirk Cameron. On the other hand, if someone wants to disagree with their method, they have their work cut out for them. Ray Comfort should get a lot of credit for popularizing biblical witnessing, but he didn’t make up “law to the proud, grace to the humble” by himself. Here are a few quotes about the law and its proper use:

  • Charles Spurgeon said, “The law serves a most necessary purpose. They [unbelievers] will never accept grace until they tremble before a just and holy Law.”
  • Martin Luther said, “So it is with the work-righteous and the proud unbelievers. Because they do not know the law of God, which is directed against them, it is impossible for them to know their sin.”
  • Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “The trouble with people who are not seeking for a Savior, and for salvation, is that they do not understand the nature of sin. It is the peculiar function of the law to bring such an understanding to a man’s mind and conscience.”
  • John Bunyan said, “In my preaching of the Word, I took special notice of this one thing, namely, that the Lord did lead me to begin where His Word begins with sinners; that is, to condemn all flesh, and to open and allege that the curse of God, by the law doth belong to and lay hold on all men as they come into the world, because of sin.”
  • Paris Reidhead said, “I would declare a moratorium on public preaching of the “the plan of salvation” in America for one to two years. Then, I would call on everyone who has use of the airwaves and the pulpits to preach the holiness of God, the righteousness of God, and the law of God, until sinners would cry out, “What must we do to be saved?” Then, I would take them off in a corner and whisper the gospel to them… Such drastic action is needed because we have gospel-hardened a generation of sinners by telling them how to be saved before they have any understanding why they need to be saved.”
  • John MacArthur said, “Grace means nothing to a person who does not know he is sinful and that such sinfulness means he is separated from God and damned. It is therefore pointless to preach grace until the impossible demands of the law and the reality of guilt before God are preached.”
  • Charles Spurgeon said, “I do not believe that any man can preach the gospel who does not preach the law.”
  • John Wesley said, “Before I can preach love, mercy, and grace, I must preach sin, law and judgment.”
  • George Whitfield said, “That is the reason we have so many ‘mushroom’ converts, because their stony ground is not plowed up; they have not got a conviction of the law; they are stony-ground hearers.”
  • Martin Luther said, “Satan, the god of all dissension, stirreth up daily new sects, and last of all, which of all other 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.”
  • Paris Reidhead said, “When 100 years ago earnest scholars decreed that the law had no relationship to the preaching of the gospel, they deprived the Holy Spirit in the area where their influence prevailed of the only instrument with which He had ever armed Himself to prepare sinners for grace.”
  • John R.W. Stott said, “We cannot come to Christ to be justified until we have first been to Moses to be condemned. But once we have gone to Moses and acknowledged our sin, guilt and condemnation, we must not stay there.” [I do not recommend Stott – in spite of this great quote, various discernment ministries have provided documentation that Stott was New Evangelical clear up until his passing – DM]
  • Dr. J Gresham Machen said, “A new and more powerful proclamation of [the] law is perhaps the most pressing need of the hour; men would have little difficulty with the gospel if they had only learned the lesson of the law.”
  • D.L. Moody said, “I can always tell a man who is near the kingdom of God; his mouth is stopped. This, then, is why God gives us the law. To show us ourselves in our true colors.”

How is it that all these men came to believe the same thing about the law? Because that is what the Bible teaches.

If you’ve never taken the time to listen to “Hell’s Best Kept Secret” [by Ray Comfort], you definitely should do so.

[Some of the] 19 Responses to Is Ray Comfort’s Idea Original?

  1. Jeff H says:

    How can we appreciate the cross without understanding the magnitude of our offense against a perfectly Holy GOD?

    The Law serves as a mirror… to show us how evil we really are.

    The Law serves as a schoolmaster…

    Galatians 3:24,
    “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”

    – Jeff H

  2. Manfred says:

    Great post – excellent collection of solid quotes.

    Several years back, my wife returned from a prison ministry event with a cassette tape of “Hell’s Best Kept Secret” and said “EVERYONE NEEDS TO HEAR THIS!”

    She was – as usual – right.

  3. BrettR says:

    I haven’t heard any objections to this method. Are there any objections other than “it’s not in the Bible”?

    I would like to see some thoughtful objections.

  4. [omitted]

  5. [omitted]
  6. Jeff H says:

    You know, this post reminded me of one of Joel Osteen’s “””””sermons””””” where, at what seemed like the speed of light, Joel said that Jesus died for our mistakes…


    M I S T A K E S ?

    I remind my Sunday School students that a ‘mistake’ is when I spell Jeff with three f’s (ie Jefff).

    THAT is a mistake.

    THAT did not require the King of Kings and Lord of Lords… the One with Whom we have to do…
    to leave His throne of glory…
    to be born in a barn and sleep in an animal trough…
    to live as an itinerant, preaching a message hated by most…
    to be betrayed by a friend-so-called for money…
    to be denied and abandoned by His friends…
    to be spit on by His creation…
    to be mocked…
    to be beaten and whipped almost to death…
    to have His beard be plucked out…
    to die a horrific, agonizing death by being impaled on a cross…
    to be resurrected from the dead…
    … and to tell us to tell others what was required.

    I broke God’s perfect Laws… That is SIN !

    My sins… in the presence of a Holy God were as the stench of an open tomb, an abomination, a running sore!

    God was storing up wrath to pour out on me on the Day of Judgment.

    No ‘mistakes’ there!

    Would that He would only have struck me dead right there for my transgressions.

    Nope. Perfect Justice requires an infinite penalty for a crime against an infinitely Holy God.

    WOE TO ME! … except for the Grace of God.

    AT THAT POINT… when I understood my peril… I was then ready to hear the Good News.

    To those still in peril: remember, He is coming back for His own for us.

    But for you, He is not coming back as the Lamb… He is returning as the Lion of Judah, full of wrath… for YOU!

    Today is the day of salvation. Repent – turn from your sins and to God – and put your full trust, your FAITH in Jesus Christ that HE paid the penalty for YOUR sins… and God promises He will save you!


    Oh, and I agree with Manfred’s wife. I like most of Ray Comfort’s messages.

  7. Habakkuk says:

    I guess I was introduced to Livingwaters/Way of the Master around 2004. I am an Evangelism Explosion drop out and at one time was a trainer in the FAITH evangelism outline. I always felt uncomfortable and bound up by the FAITH outline. It sounded too memorized and really didn’t provide opportunity to have a heart level conversation with someone.

    I have found great freedom in using the law. It becomes a dialog. Keep probing with the law and you will finally touch a nerve that will speak out in self righteousness and self justification. Using the Ten Commandments in witnessing has also made me meditate more on God’s law and how the gospel interacts with it. The inky black background of the law and sin makes the diamond of grace and redemption sparkle all the more.

    I always have some of Ray’s tracts in my pocket to pass out. I am very appreciative of his ministry for opening my eyes to an effective method of sharing with the lost that was not mechanical.

    🙂 Hab

  8. I agree with Manfred’s wife, as well! LOL

    When we were in England, I was introduced to Ray Comfort through someone giving us several dvd’s. I had heard of him and we even had his book but I never really read it or watched the dvd’s until England. These have had an impact on our lives and ministry. I’m surprised anyone could say that it isn’t biblical.

    Rom 7:5 For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.

    Rom 7:6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

    Rom 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

    Rom 7:8 But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.

    Rom 7:9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.

    Rom 7:10 And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.

    Rom 7:11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.

    Rom 7:12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.

    Rom 7:13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.

    Rom 7:14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.

  9. Bill says:

    Hi BrettR,

    There are quite a few Christians who object to Way of the Master (even in my own church). I think the three big objections are:
    1. It’s mean to talk about sin
    2. We shouldn’t walk up to people and talk to them
    3. What if someone gets saved? They will need to be discipled.

    So I’ve heard plenty of objections, but none have been very thoughtful.

    If you want to see objections to Way of the Master approach your pastor with the idea of putting on a WOTM course in your church and invite people to come. Unless you go to a really great church, you’ll hear plenty of objections.


  10. i have a very deep appreciation of the way ray comfort and kirk cameron carry the gospel of JESUS CHRIST. they are truly dedicated to the cause of christ i believe. in addition they are a rare breed when it comes to witnessing to the lost, no punches pulled. they preach the cross, the precious blood of CHRIST AND THEY CERTAINLY PREACH ABOUT HELL. there are a lot of cowardly ministers in these last days, but thank GOD for those that tell it like it is. we must preach against homosexuality,abortion, feelgood religions and the many heresies that have permeated the modern day church.

  11. theoldadam says:

    I’m just not a fan of the ‘canned’ way that the law is presented.

    ‘Have you ever stolen a paperclip?’ ‘Have you ever told a lie?’ etc.

    The law is also every demand that our existence places upon us. And death and dying are the ultimate expressions of law and I believe are much more effective uses of the law in evagelization efforts.

    To me, there is no substitute for getting to know someone a little bit, and finding out where they are being had by the law (we all are, in some way).

  12. Jeff H says:


    I’m pretty familiar with Ray Comfort, Kirk, and Todd Friel (all the way back to ‘Talk the Walk’ radio in MN).

    The first distinction to be made is between open air preaching and one-on-one witnessing.

    In open air preaching, I think that making a clear presentation of the Law – right from the start – is appropriate. It quickly speaks to everyone conscience. It can also make some in the crowd very angry… it should.

    If, on the other hand, one is witnessing to a single person, Ray’s “Way of the Master” approach is to converse with the person first… beginning in the physical world, and then moving on to spiritual matters.

    I have done this many times myself… for example on an airplane. I have been able to present the Gospel message by first drawing myself into the 10 commandments… how wicked I was (and still am!). But, then God forgave me and gave me a new heart with new desires.

    I don’t view this method as gimicky at all… I think it is an appropriate way to prepare oneself for the witnessing encounter, by giving some structure to the process.

    I view this in the same vein as 1 Peter 3:15

    “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…”

    Ray dubs his process ‘The Way of the Master’ because Jesus’ encounters with others had a pattern… The Lord began with the physical world:

    When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”

    The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) John 4:7, 9

    Then Jesus moved to the spiritual issues (where the real problems festered).

    Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” John 4:10

    I think Ray addresses your concern of:

    To me, there is no substitute for getting to know someone a little bit…

    But at some point, we know enough and can present the Law to the proud… and Grace to the humble.

    – Jeff H

  13. I have/had been actively involved in the WOTM ministry down here for a little while now.

    I believe it is an excellent way to share the gospel.

    By by passing the intellect and hitting at the conscience, it is a great way to share with people from all faiths and manners of life.

    However, I have seen it used incorrectly. I have heard people sound very much like robots as they reel of the questions.

    There must be grace and no ‘sneek attacks’.

    A good blend of “being normal” and the WOTM method can, and does result in honest, open and Spirit led witnessing encounters.

    Get on it and don’t cast your pearls before swine!

  14. Rob says:

    I got saved through Ray’s ministry. I immediately felt a call as an evangelist, and having plodding along ever since. I think the best application of the WOTM stuff is that it is a simple stepping stone toward getting the gospel out. It’s a simple and biblical method that get’s people out of their comfort zone and out on the streets, and through time each person begins to get their own feel, their own style, and their own approach toward witnessing, with the biblical core of law to the proud and grace to the humble. Can it sound canned and rehearsed at the beginning? Sure. But that’s no reason to NOT share the gospel. Ultimately, God will be glorified and sinners will be saved.

  15. shane says:

    Our church is planning on doing local evangelism beginning in the new year. The Sunday school class that my wife and I are in is planning on doing the same thing.

    I brought some WOM tracts to our Sunday school teacher and a copy of the Hell’s best kept secret and True and false conversion sermons. We had a discussion this morning about what we wanted to do. They are wanting to order some materials on evangelism training.

    Our Sunday school teacher is seeing the problems with the way that modern evangelism is being performed. He made the coment that if we were a business we would be failing because what we are doing is not working. All of the gimmicks and what not are definitely not working.

    Hopefully they will like the WOM materials. If they do I might have to try and turn them on to Paul Washer, John Macarthur, ect…

    I am praying that whatever our church does they will adopt a Biblical aproach to evangelism. I don’t think I could get involved if they want me to do the Billy Graham method. I had some materials from his foundation from when I vollunteered to be a councellor at an event. I can’t go by that method anymore.

  16. WmMaurice says:

    I had an opportunity recently to spend some time with a homeless gentleman at a coffee shop. My heart went out to him as I watched him from my car for a while. When I went in, I simply offered to buy him a $3 breakfast.

    It was obvious he knew his eternal “fate” and was deeply humbled by what life had become for him… or was he.

    I started the morning by simply showing the love of Christ through buying him breakfast, and he knew I didn’t judge him.

    As we talked, he began to actually brag about his daily consumption of a quart of vodka. Further, he showed the depth of his pride and actual arrogance! What, a homeless man has arrogance? Yes.

    I knew at that point it was time to transition into the “Law” portion of the gospel and let the simple Biblical model do it’s work.

    In a short period of time, after surgical assertion of the law as represented by Paul all through the first 11 chapters of Romans, he broke… really broke, under the weight of HIS OWN sin and pride. The ground was broken and ready for the seed.

    You see, we have a responsibility to carry out the Biblical gospel no matter how offensive we may think it is, and let God give the increase.

    I knew he needed love in the form of compassion first, then he needed love in the form of confrontation after I had gained his attention and earned his trust.

    Whether the gospel is presented “Law” first or “Grace” is shown first, it’s all part of the gospel and IT’S ALL IN LOVE.

  17. Manfred says:


    What a testimony of God’s grace! Blessings on you for being obedient to love someone in word and deed (even though it was deed then word :-). The post-modern man-pleasers would NEVER have thought to move to the law, having seen the man’s arrogance. But that is the prescription of the Great Physician. Let no man boast in the work of the Holy Spirit in convicting or regenerating a man!

Read Full Post »

(revised 12/06/12)

Imagine if you could force all of the following Emerging/Emergent heretics to be your captive audience. Specifically, imagine coralling them into a church sanctuary, then locking them in (I realize some of these have passed away):  Rob Bell, Ken Blanchard, Bob Buford, Tony Campolo (click here and here), Shane Claiborne, David Crowder, Mark Driscoll, Peter Drucker, Richard Foster, Stanley Grenz, Bill Hybels, Dan Kimball, Tony Jones, Brennan Manning (click here and here), Brian McLaren, Erwin McManus, Donald Miller, Henri Nouwen, John Ortberg, Doug Pagitt, Eugene Peterson, John Piper, Andy Stanley, Ed Stetzer, Leonard Sweet, Frank Viola, Jim Wallis, Rick Warren, and Dallas Willard.

Next, announce to your captive Emerging/Emergent audience that you are going to have an evangelistic service. There will be a gospel music singspiration/marathon, interspersed with the reading of salvation-related passages from the King James Bible (1). Then, a salvation message calling sinners to repentance. And finally, an altar call, inviting sinners to repent of their sins and accept Christ as their Saviour. And this congregation-of-sinners will not be allowed to interrupt the service in any way – they will have to sit quietly and listen to the entire service.

Imagine how this captive Emerging/Emergent audience would be behaving by the end of the evangelistic service. Granted, there are some among these names who would perhaps accept the gist of the evangelistic service. But others would be going batty. Some would be inwardly cursing, some outwardly cursing. Some would be pulling their hair out, others would be grinding their teeth, or wringing their hands, or perhaps ripping their clothes. Some would be screaming out in misery, others would be crying “stop, stop”, yet others would be covering their ears.

Sounds like Hell, doesn’t it? Certainly it would feel like Hell, for these heretical Emerging/Emergents to be forced to sit through such an evangelistic service. How many of these Emerging/Emergents would submit to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, repent of their sins, and accept Christ as their Saviour? Probably none – this just goes to show how hardened their hearts are.

Seriously, I would challenge Emerging/Emergents (especially those listed at the beginning of this blog) to attend an evangelistic service, sit through the entire thing and listen attentively, take notes, record it, whatever. Perhaps God’s Holy Spirit will get through to you and convict your hardened hearts. Perhaps He will reach you with the Truth,  the gospel message of “The Blood and The Cross”, of Christ’s Atonement on the Cross to save those who repent of sins, believe and receive Him from eternal punishment (John 3:16).  This is what Christianity is all about!

Getting back to the nuts and bolts of an evangelistic service that would drive Emerging/Emergents batty: what would such a service look like? Here are some possible items that would be included in such an evangelistic service:


Are You Washed in the Blood” by Elisha A. Hoffman (click here and here)

Power in the Blood” by Lewis E. Jones

There is a Fountain Filled with Blood” by William Cowper (click here and here)

What Can Wash Away My Sin” by Robert Lowry (click here and here)


Jonathan Edwards, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

D.L. Moody, “Hell

D.L. Moody, “Repentance


“Are you ready to meet God?”: The plan of salvation presented by Pastor Max Solbrekken


(1) I favor the King James Bible (specifically its source documents, the Textus Receptus New Testament and Masoretic Text Old Testament). However, I am not necessarily referring to the Bible version debate in this blog. My point is, reading from the King James Bible will drive Emerging/Emergents batty. I don’t know of any Emerging/Emergents who like the King James Bible.

Read Full Post »

(revised 05/13/14)

I have been looking for resources on how to evangelize unsaved Emerging/Emergents. I came across an excellent presentation of the plan of salvation, by Pastor Max Solbrekken. Although his message does not specifically address Emerging/Emergents, the principles are the same.

Click here for the original source of this article. Note – there are various articles on Pastor Solbrekken’s website I don’t agree with doctrinally (specifically, regarding Pentecostalism – he is a continuationist, while I am a soft cessationist). However, I believe this plan of salvation is excellent.


by: Pastor Max Solbrekken, D.D.


The most important question I could ask you and the most important decision of your entire lifetime revolves around the spiritual welfare of your soul and its eternal destiny. 

There are preachers today who have soft-soaped the Gospel and watered down God’s word [sic] to please their listeners in order to keep their parishioners coming to church. 

They are afraid that if they preach the truth, as it is written, people will not like it and their offering plates will not bring in too much money. 

The Bible warns that this would be the case in the end time, of which we are now living. (2 Timothy 3:13) (2 Timothy 4:3-4). The Apostle Paul calls such preachers Food Preachers or Belly Preachers. (Romans 16:18) (Philippians 3:19) These men only preach to earn a living and not to win men and women to Jesus Christ.

I’m going to be absolutely honest with you and tell you the complete truth as found in God’s Word concerning your soul, death, judgment, heaven, hell and eternity and the gift of salvation. Then I will also show you how you can be saved and forgiven by the precious blood of Jesus Christ.


Your soul is eternal and will live on even after your body dies. (Genesis 2:7)


“It is appointed unto man once to die but after this the judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27)


“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7) “Be sure your sin will find you out.” (Numbers 32:23)


“The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” (Psalms 9:17) “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all the nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divided his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” (Matthew 25:31-34, 41, 46)


“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) “And we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6) “There is none righteous, no, no one.” (Romans 3:10)


Jesus said, “For I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance”, (Matthew 9:13) and “For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.” (Matthew 18:11)

“He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:16-17)


“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13) “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” (Isaiah 55:7) “Except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:5)


“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10)


“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) “Come now, and let us reason together saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Isaiah 1:18) “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6:37)


“He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” (John 1:11-12) “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)


Many are asking this question today. They are wanting to know how to “make things right with Almighty God.” They realize somewhere along the way, they have lost sight of God – they have lost contact with the Eternal One – the Great Creator, God, who loved the world so much that He sent His Son to die for lost humanity. Multitudes today are groping in darkness – looking for a ray of light to point them to the Heavenly way – but alas, they search in vain, they stumble and fall in the shadows of sin, worry, fear, anxiety, loneliness, heartbreak, sickness and confusion. Many people have tried to live a better life, turn over a new leaf, rehabilitate themselves, only to find that their strength in the time of testing and temptation has failed and they are back where they started. So now, not only are they defeated, but they are also bewildered, perplexed and tormented, not knowing which way to turn.

Dear Reader, perhaps you are one of these poor unfortunate souls. THEN LISTEN CAREFULLY, for I have good news for you. There is still balm in Gilead for your sin sick soul. There is still deliverance for the bound, victory for the defeated and peace for the troubled. There is still healing for the sick and salvation for the lost.


THERE IS STILL HOPE FOR YOU. There is life for you. There is still forgiveness and happiness for you. LOOK TO JESUS, the author and finisher of your faith, (Hebrews 12:3). LOOK TO JESUS, the mighty conqueror (Revelation 1:17-18). LOOK TO JESUS, the Saviour of the World (Luke 2:11). Don’t look at your sinful condition, LOOK TO JESUS; don’t look at your hopelessness, frustration and bewilderment, LOOK TO JESUS. Don’t look at your sickness, grief and loneliness, LOOK TO JESUS. Don’t look at your friends of other Christians who have failed, but LOOK TO JESUS who never fails.

The Bible says in Isaiah 45:22, “Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God and there is NONE else.”

There is only one way to be saved and that is through Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God.

Jesus said in (John 14:6), “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” Jesus said in (John 10:9), “I am the Door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be SAVED, and shall go in and out and find pasture.” THERE IS ONLY ONE WAY TO GO – that way is JESUS. There is only one door to God, and that door is Jesus. There is no other.

Mohammed, Buddha and the Roman Pope, a church organization – none of these will open the doors to the Kingdom of Heaven, but Jesus Christ, the one who came from heaven, who died on the Cross, rose again from the dead – He is able to forgive you, save you and bring you into the Kingdom of God. GLORY TO HIS NAME FOREVER.

The Apostle Peter said in (Acts 4:12) concerning Jesus Christ, “Neither is there Salvation in any other, for there is none other name under Heaven, given among men whereby we must be SAVED.” There you have it. the only name that can bring salvation, blessing and deliverance is the Mighty Name of Jesus. The Angel said unto Joseph (Matthew 1:21), “Ye shall call His Name Jesus, for He shall SAVE His people from their sins.” In (Romans 10:13) we read, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be SAVED.”

The Philippian jailer asked the same question many today are asking and he got an answer he was converted, his life was changed. He met the master, Jesus. You can do the same. There in the prison house he cried out (Acts 16:30), “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Paul answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be Saved.” He believed on Jesus Christ and was Saved. you can do the same.

But you ask – how can I believe? What must I do to believe in Jesus Christ? Where do I start? I am glad you asked these questions, because I have the answer for you from God’s word – Here is what you must do to be saved.

#1 – REPENT OF YOUR SINS – To be saved you must repent of your sins and see yourself as you really are – You must realize you are lost and undone, without hope. You must see God’s Holiness and realize that you have sinned against the Almighty. You must be sorry for your sins, you must hate your sins and be willing to forsake them (Matthew 4:17) your sins have condemned you (John 3:18) your sins have separated you from God (Isaiah 59:2). The Bible says (Romans 3:23), “For all have sinned and come short of the Glory of God.” Also in (Isaiah 53:6) the word of God says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

GOD HATES YOUR SINS – but God loves you. God wants to rescue you out of your sins. You must be willing to give yourself completely over to God and turn your back on all unrighteousness.

#2 – YOU MUST CONFESS YOU SINS TO GOD – (1 John 1:9) “If we confess our sins (to God), He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” You must tell God you are a sinner and that you cannot save yourself. You must confess to God that no one else can save you except Jesus Christ. You must ask God to have mercy on you (Luke 18:13) and to forgive you. Then you must confess to God that you believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that Jesus Christ died on the Cross of Calvary for your sins, that He rose again from the dead and that He is able to save you (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) (Hebrews 7:25).

#3 – YOU MUST ACCEPT JESUS CHRIST AS YOUR SAVIOUR – Tell God that you accept His pardon and that you now, through faith in God’s word accept Jesus Christ into your heart and life. (Ephesians 2:8-9) “For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Salvation is absolutely free – you cannot work for it – you cannot pay for it – It is free – you just receive it from God.

After you have prayed to God asking Him to forgive you – then you must believe He has heard your prayer and forgiven your sins. That is faith. You say that is hard to do. No – it isn’t. If you believe that God told the truth and the Bible is God’s word – God will do what He said He would do. If you have prayed the sinner’s prayer asking God to forgive you, (then he has forgiven you; His word tells you that and His word is the truth) and if you are forgiven, then you are saved. You must then continue to live in God’s way – you must live for God. Believe that you are saved, begin to praise and worship God and thank him for saving your soul.

But you have doubts and say, “I don’t feel any different.” You say you still feel the way you did before, you don’t feel like you are saved. Always remember, you are NOT SAVED by your feelings, you are saved by FAITH IN GOD’S WORD. If God said it – it is the truth, whether you feel like it or not. However, when you stand of God’s word and by faith accept the Salvation that God offers, you WILL FEEL DIFFERENT. 

You will believe before you feel – you will feel the cleansing, you will feel the forgiveness of God, you will feel the assurance when you believe God’s word and have confessed Jesus Christ as your Saviour (Romans 10:9-10). 

You will begin to feel peace, the peace that comes from knowing you are saved, that your sins have been forgiven and you will feel hope and optimism. 

The Word of God states (John 6:37), Jesus said, “Him that cometh unto Me, I will in no wise cast out.” You have come to Jesus by faith; He has not cast you out – Jesus has taken you in – you are SAVED. Praise God. 

Raise your hands to God (in complete obedience and surrender). Say “thank you, Jesus, for saving my soul.” Praise Him and Worship Him for what He has done for you. 

You are now saved, you have passed from death unto life (John 5:24). Your name has now been written in the “Lamb’s Book of Life.” (Revelation 20:15) The Angels are rejoicing in Heaven over this great victory over the devil. God has snatched your soul from Satan’s grasp and the angels are rejoicing over this. (Luke 15:7)

RISE from you knees full of peace (John 14:27). Now go and tell someone about Jesus Christ and his love. Tell people what God has done for you. (Romans 10:9-10) “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth, the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be SAVED. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto Salvation.”

Seek the Lord (James 4:8) and ask Him to fill you with the holy Ghost and Fire.

Ask God to give you power for service (Luke 3:16) (Acts 1:4) (Acts 1:8) (Acts 2:4) (Acts 2:38-39). Read your Bible every day and pray to the Lord Jesus Christ. 

As you go about your life, witness to people about Jesus Christ. Find a good church where the pastor and the congregation believe the whole Bible, where they believe in holiness of life and separation from the world. 

Find a church where they believe in prayer for the sick and where the pastor and congregation have a burden to see the lost saved and brought to Jesus Christ.

May the Lord bless you and give you peace. Write me a letter if you have accepted the lord Jesus Christ as a result of reading this message.

Solbrekken Evangelistic Association
Max Solbrekken
Box 5000
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T5P 4C1

Read Full Post »

Occasionally I come across articles stating that the Emerging/Emergent church movements are either dead or dying.  Unfortunately, this is not the case, as an excellent article from Lighthouse Trails explains.

I am reposting the Lighthouse Trails article below. (Thank you, Lighthouse Trails, for this excellent explanation.) Click here for the original source of this article.

John MacArthur Says Emerging Church in “Disarray and Decline” – Evidence Shows Differently

August 22nd, 2011 | Author:

In a July 2011 article titled ”Grow Up. Settle Down. Keep Reforming. Advice for the Young, Restless, Reformed” written by John MacArthur, he stated the following:

Five years later, the so-called Emergent Church is now in a state of serious disarray and decline. Some have suggested it’s totally dead. Virtually every offshoot of evangelicalism that consciously embraced postmodern values has either fizzled out or openly moved toward liberalism, universalism, and Socinianism. Scores of people who were active in the Emerging movement a decade ago seem to have abandoned Christianity altogether.

However, we contend that the emergent/emerging church is not in decline or dead by any means. In the following report, we are going to take a look at the main defining points made in Roger Oakland’s book, Faith Undone, on the emerging church. We will examine these points to see whether they are still in existence within the evangelical/Protestant church today.

One of the important things about Faith Undone is that it defines the emergent/emerging church in a broader scope than many critical books on the emerging church have done. One of the most important aspects of the emerging church is its embracing of contemplative mysticism. And yet three of the books we know of which are said to be great exposes on the emerging church do not even mention this aspect. That is like telling someone what the ingredients of a strawberry ice cream sundae are but omitting to tell them that it includes ice cream. Yes, mysticism is the driving force behind the emerging church. Ironically, John MacArthur’s article states that a huge number of young people are turning to Calvinism instead of the emerging church. But perhaps he does not realize that there is a huge portion of Calvinism that is now beginning to embrace contemplative mysticism. Some call it the New Calvinism, but we call it just another form of the emerging church. It isn’t a name that makes the emerging church emerging – it’s the “ingredients.” Let’s take a look at what these ingredients are and see whether they are in “disarray and decline.” Each of the 13 points below (each an element of emerging spirituality) is derived from Roger Oakland’s book, Faith Undone and is followed by our brief commentary as to whether that point is no longer valid:

1.  A New Kind of Christianity: Leaders of the emerging church say drastic changes must take place because the church can no longer be effective with old ways and an old church. We need a new kind of Christianity if we are going to make a difference in people’s lives and the world around us.  (Faith Undone, chapter 1)

Comment:Is this idea gone? Not by a long shot. Just take a look at Christian conference and book titles. They call out for change, awakening, reformation, a new way of doing things. This emerging church attitude that everything has to change is here to stay. (eg.

2. The Pioneers of the Emerging Church – Who were they and have they declined today?: Chapter 2 of Faith Undone identifies some of the key players in the birth of the emerging church: Bob Buford of Leadership Network, Mark Driscoll, Rick Warren, Peter Drucker, Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, Dan Kimball, Tony Jones, Chris Seay, Leith Anderson, Bill Hybels, Leonard Sweet, Erwin McManus, Youth Specialties, Zondervan, and Jossey Bass publishers. (Faith Undone, chapter 2)

 Comment:Are these names now in disarray and decline? Or as MacArthur put it “fizzled out or openly moved toward liberalism, universalism, and Socinianism”? Well, a few of the names above have certainly moved fast forward toward liberalism, universalism and Socinianism – McLaren, Pagitt, and Jones. But the rest of these names are still leading figures in the emerging church movement and are actively promoting contemplative spirituality (with the exception of Drucker who is dead), the “energy” that drives the emerging church.

3. A “New” Faith for the 21st Century: The Word of God is under attack. According to emerging church leaders, the Bible is not so much for truth and doctrine as it is for hopes, ideas, and participation. In other words, don’t use the Bible as a means of theology or absolute truth and standards by which to live; rather than the Bible molding the Christian’s life, let the Christian’s life mold the Bible. (Faith Undone, chapter 3)

Comment: The attack on the Word of God has not subsided at all. Leonard Sweet says that Christians spend too much time on “doctrine” and beliefs; Rick Warren says that Christians spend too much time thinking about Bible prophecy and Christ’s return; new Bible versions are completely distorting the Word of God; millions of Christians are racing to buy the latest Bible-mocking books such as The Shack. More and more Christian leaders are rejecting what the Bible says about homosexuality (a symptom of the emerging church) – this attack on the Word of God has not subsided in the least – on the contrary, it is gaining momentum. Phyllis Tickle (an author published by Baker Books) says that the Bible is a nice poetic book but it is certainly not some kind of authority in our lives. J.P. Moreland says Christians are too committed to the Bible. And, once again, we consider all of these names as emerging as they all promote contemplative mysticism and a kingdom of God on earth  now view.

4. Riding the Emerging Church Wave: How far is this new kind of church willing to go to reach its objective? Emerging church proponents say there is a new wave taking place, and we have to hop on. The wave is a Vintage Christianity, which in reality is an experience-based religion. Experiences must be implemented in order to attract both Christians and non-Christians alike; we must appeal to this postmodern generation with its hunger for experience, rituals, and mysticism. (Faith Undone, chapter 4)

Comment: It is almost needless to say that experience-based Christianity is alive and “well” in the church. No decline here.

5. Ancient-Future Worship: The emerging church embraces multi-sensory worship. While many are bewildered why their churches are darkening their sanctuaries, setting up prayer stations with candles, incense, and icons, the promoters of the emerging church movement say they know exactly what they are doing by practicing mysticism through music, rituals, and worship and offering stimulating images for a spiritual experience. Leaders of the emerging church say the ideas and beliefs of the early church fathers (100 AD to 600AD) are important and these teachings from the past will bring spiritual transformation and success to churches in the 21st century. (Faith Undone, chapter 5)

Comment:Interest in the “ancient” fathers or the desert fathers is on the rise. Even conservative Christian schools are emphasizing them. Lectio divina (from the desert fathers and other ancient mystics) is practiced widespread now. And ancient-future worship is too. The writings of the late Robert Webber, known mostly for his efforts to bring about ancient-future worship, are found in large numbers of Christian colleges and seminaries in their worship or music department courses.

6. When West Meets East: Contemplative spirituality (i.e., mysticism) is to the emerging church what the wind is to a sail boat. Without it, there is no momentum, and it is woven into the very fabric of the emerging church’s ambiance. In order to understand why this is so important, we must first understand the dynamics of contemplative spirituality. (Faith Undone, chapter 6)

Comment: Contemplative spirituality is promoted by the majority of Christian leaders and Christian publishers  today. We wish it were the case that it was in “disarray and decline,” but that simply is not the case. Faith Undone names the names of those you will find in Christian university classrooms and on the shelves of countless Christian pastors: Dallas Willard, Henri Nouwen, Richard Foster, Thomas Merton, Brennan Manning, Thomas Keating, and Julian of Norwich. “Christian” Yoga, also discussed in Faith Undone, has increased in popularity in church settings, as well.

7. Monks, Mystics, and the Ancient Wisdom: The emerging church is embracing contemplative spirituality and what is called the ancient wisdom. While appearing to be Christian because of the altered terminology, in actuality, it is occult based and New Age. (Faith Undone, chapter 7)

Comment:The new monks and the new mystics are those emerging figures who are part of the emerging church and who push this “vintage” mystical Christianity. There are too many to mention, but a few are Rob Bell, Tony Jones, Tony Campolo, Marcus Borg, J.P. Moreland, and Klaus Issler. Incidentally, in relation to MacArthur’s article, the Reformed movement that he talks about has its own new mystics and monks (e.g. Mark Driscoll and Tim Keller, etc.).

8.The Evangelization of Eucharistic Adoration: The Roman Catholic Church has a plan to establish the Kingdom of God here on Earth and win the world to the Roman Catholic Jesus—the Eucharistic Christ. It is believed the “triumph of the Eucharist” will be accomplished when the world (including the separated brethren) come under the rule and reign of Rome and the Eucharistic Jesus. The presence of “Christ” in the Eucharist is the second coming, Roman Catholic style. The emerging church is a bridge to Rome. (Faith Undone, chapter 8)

Comment:The infiltration that the Catholic church (and it’s Eucharistic evangelization) has made and is continuing to make  into the evangelical/Protestant church is astounding. This Road to Rome is one of the major earmarks of the emerging church. Thus, to say this effort is in disarray and decline is showing a great lack in discerning the times in which we live.

9. The Kingdom of God on Earth:The Bible says that Jesus Christ will establish His kingdom when He returns to Earth. But today a theology called Kingdom Now or Dominionism is permeating the walls of Christianity, and the emerging church movement is taking this heretical belief full speed into the next generation. With the idea that the church can establish the Kingdom of God before Christ returns and essentially turn our world into a Christian world, this belief system has literally changed the way countless Christians view the world and go about their Christian living. What most of them don’t realize is this Kingdom of God on Earth mindset is an all out effort by Satan to merge together the religions of the world and thus negate the gospel message. (Faith Undone, chapter 9)

Comment: As we have shown in recent articles (see one), the kingdom of God on earth/dominionist movement has not only not gone away – it is beginning to show up in denominations and groups that at one time denounced these unbiblical teachings.

10. The Undoing of Faith:The fruit of the emerging church includes: changes in views on sexuality (e.g., homosexuality acceptance), the desire by emerging leaders to stop identifying with Christianity, eradicating the gap between good and evil (the very goal of Satan’s religion, the New Age), and developing a new missiology which says keep your own religion, just add Jesus. This truly is the undoing of Christian faith. (Faith Undone, chapter 10)

Comment: Take a close look at the new missiology showing up in major Christian mission organizations, such as YWAM, and you will not be able to say that it is on the decline. And see how the “new sexuality,” which includes tantric sex, has found its way into evangelical circles. Gary Thomas, one of evangelical’s most popular authors, promotes a tantric sex advocate (he promotes contemplative prayer too in another of his books) in his widely read book, Sacred Marriage.

11. A Slaughterhouse Religion?:If someone said that emerging church leaders don’t like the Cross, many would cry out, “Yes, they do. I’ve heard them talk about Jesus and the Cross.” But while this may be true, there is an underlying theme building momentum in the emerging church that says, “Jesus going to the Cross was an example of sacrifice and service that we should follow. But the idea that God would send His Son to a violent death for the sins of mankind—well that is not who God is. He would never do that!” This mindset negates the very atonement on which biblical Christianity rests. (Faith Undone, chapter 11)

Comment: The saddest emerging church symptom of all is this sometimes subtle denouncement of the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made on the Cross by emerging writers, and it has rarely been addressed publicly by Christianity’s major leaders. Christian leaders are ignoring (or promoting) those who make this devastating proclamation. If they are ignoring it and remaining silent then they are part of the problem. One thing for sure, the attack against the message of the Cross has not diminished, and it never will until Christ returns to set things right.

12. A New Reformation?: The nature of the emerging church’s new reformation is anything but new, and when it comes to pass could bear violence and persecution on those who defend the Bible as the true and literal Word of God.  (Faith Undone, chapter 12)

Comment: Once you realize that the emerging church movement actually began in the Garden of Eden when Satan deceived Eve and thus brought about the fall of man because of sin, and once you realize that Satan hates Jesus Christ (and His sacrifice on the Cross) and hates His church, you will see that the assault against those who name the name of Christ will never be in decline until Christ returns. Rick Warren talks about a new reformation, one that will include all religions. But this new reformation that is coming about will not include biblical Christians.

13. End-Time Deception: The Bible says that in the last days Satan will deceive the whole world with doctrines of demons and seducing spirits. The question must be asked, is the emerging church spirituality part of this great falling away? And just what are the earmarks of a church that has become part of this end-time deception? (Faith Undone, chapter 13)

Comment: We are living in a time of great spiritual deception. It’s not just the world that is spiritually blind – vast numbers of proclaiming Christians, who are following leaders they shouldn’t be following, are completely unaware and uninterested in understanding the times in which we live and in wanting to recognize spiritual deception.

To John MacArthur, we beseech you to reconsider your public statement that the emerging church is in “disarray and decline.” This misleading statement will give many a false sense of security and will also keep many from being able to spot a dangerous spirituality that may be in their very midst. We urge all Christian leaders to do what the old saying suggests: “Speak the truth and shame the devil.” Or as the Bible says: “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3).  And do not forget Paul’s warning about spiritual deception: ”And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (2 Corinthians 11: 15-16).

A final note to our readers:

Those who have followed our commentaries, reports, and books on the emerging church over the last several years may recall one more key element of this movement – evasiveness. Emerging leaders, though getting bolder, have been careful to present their heresies in a most subtle manner. Names and terms are frequently changing (such as emergent, emerging, and so on), even though the belief is still the same. This is why we must insist that the emergent/emerging church is not dead. Some use the age-old method of using questions instead of declarative statements – hath God said . . . ? Often, you will hear statements like, “Would a loving God send people to Hell?, would a loving God send His own Son to die on a Cross?, did God really mean this or that?  While such non-committal questions cloak many a wolf in sheep’s clothing, the destructive force is evident to us at Lighthouse Trails as we receive so many letters, calls, and e-mails relating stories of young people who have been snatched away from the “faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” The spiritual battle is not over, and this is not the time to feel at ease and thereby lay down the “sword of the Spirit which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). Rather, let us be diligent and prayerful for our “adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

A few of our articles showing that emerging is on the incline in the evangelical church:Contemplative Spirituality Lands on Charles Stanley’s In Touch Magazine . . . Again

Mennonite Brethren Youth Hear Emerging Author Shane Claiborne

The New Look of Christian Missions

Students Fight for Homosexual Rights on Christian Campuses . . . And Emerging Church Leaders Must Share Blame

Book review: Love Wins by Rob Bell – Mocking Truth: Rob Bell’s False Hope, Worldly Heaven, and Earth-Based Hell

Will the Evangelical Church Help Usher in the “Age of Enlightenment” and the Coming False One?

Read Full Post »

(revised 01/29/14)

I came across an excellent list of “discernment questions” from “Stand Up for the Truth.” These are questions to ask a pastor when seeking a biblically sound church. (I hope to add additional questions to the list.)

Thank you for this great blog, Mike and Amy!

Click here for the original source of this blog.

Church shopping? 35 Key Questions to Ask the Church

Holy Hill steeple

I originally posted this late last year, but we’ve had some many requests from people who are looking for a new church home that I’m re-posting to bump it higher:

If you are looking for a new church, you need to ask some very important questions of church leadership before you become a member. Here are 35 to get you started:


1.   Is the Bible the 100% true, accurate Word of God inspired by the Holy Spirit?

2.   Is Jesus the Son of God and the only way to eternal life with God? Is there any way to God or eternal life other than through Jesus?

3.   What does the Bible say the world will look like when Jesus returns? Do we need to gain dominion of the earth before that happens?

4.   Can man, through his actions, change or alter biblical prophecy?


5.   What is the doctrinal statement of the church and may I have a copy?

6.   Does a person have any responsibilities to God upon accepting salvation?

7.   What books other than the bible have you used to develop sermons?

8.   What are your views on “Replacement Theology”?


9.   Is your Bible Teaching solely based on the Five Sola’s ?

10.  How important is popular culture in structuring your services?

11.  How do you train and equip your people to carry out the Great Commission?

12.  Does your worship service include people laughing or being slain in the spirit?

13.  Do you preach sermons that talk about exposing false teachers and false doctrines, or do you preach that Christians should never question anointed teachers?

14.  What curricula do your children and teen programs use?

15.  Are you a Willow Creek Association church?


16.   Who are some of your favorite authors? What books other than the bible have influenced your theology or teachings?

17.  To whom are church leaders accountable? Has your leadership ever been questioned by members? How was it addressed?

18.  What growth is more important to our church—growth in numbers or in depth of spiritual commitment of our members? (Only let them pick one, not both !!)

19.  What is the most crucial issue your church has faced and how was it resolved?

20.  How do you determine the spiritual growth of your members?


21.  What is meant by the word “Church,” and what is its purpose?

22.  What is the role of the church in social issues or politics?

23.  When do you believe that life begins?

24.  What are the church’s views on marriage and sexuality? Please share scriptures that confirm your beliefs.

25.  How does the church feel about/handle divorce among your members?

26.  What are your views on “contextualization” of the gospel? How important is being “relevant” to the community?

27.  Do you believe that Christians and Muslims pray to the same God; that Yahweh and Allah are the same?


28.  What are your thoughts and the church’s stances on:

29.  The Purpose Driven Church

30.  Spiritual Formation

31.  Contemplative Prayer and Biblical meditation

32.  Word of Faith

33.  The New Apostolic Reformation

34.  Social Justice Movement

35.  The Emergent Church

Related articles

9 Responses to “Church shopping? 35 Key Questions to Ask the Church”

  1. Dan #

    I think fruit would have to be looked at to determine what you are dealing with:

    You can have a bible preaching church filled with self righteousness and religion who are inwardly focused, entirely lacking in grace and mercy and love. The idol here is knowledge and they deny the Holy Spirits power.

    You can also have the opposite where you have a building full of non Christians who outwardly appear better than Christians and think pursuing good deeds is the path to salvation. These will stay away from the gospel of Jesus Christ but will use God’s word to provoke action from the members as well as guilt. The idol here is works.

    If you go to a church and all the area demographics are represented and they hold up the word of life and the sanctifying work of the holy spirit. Where the elders know God’s word and love it and try to walk in obedience to it, knowing it is through obedience that the truth of God’s word is opened to us. Where no one thinks himself very much but Christ Jesus and him crucified is their boast. A group whose aim is to die to self as demonstrated by their love for one another and are willing to be held accountable to that standard of selflessness represented by our Savior, who came not to do His own will but the One who sent Him. That group you would want to tie into and not let go. Their banner is Jesus Christ and their lives show it.

    August 3, 2012 at 10:47 AM Reply
  2. Dan, I just heard a very interesting teaching on Fruit and what it really is. The teacher said most of us think of fruit as good works…. Anyway if you are interested, here is the link: http://bit.ly/MDJo9b

    August 3, 2012 at 10:50 AM Reply
  3. mw4tkn #

    Some great questions. Moved to Texas 2 years ago and asked many questions, I think allot of Pastors are like woah who is this guy? Allot of the readers may not know why some of these questions are important.

    August 19, 2013 at 2:59 AM Reply
  4. Buffy #

    This has been the huge dilemma of my life of late. I have been to every church that might have had hope in the area (about 50,000 population). Truly, they are either into seeker sensitive stuff, emergent, mystical stuff, eastern meditation, Beth Moore, Richard Foster on and on it goes! I have left several churches who told me they were not into this or that, only to find out that they were!

    I was in a church which I liked and joined and after assurances from the pastor that they were not into Rick Warren and within a short time, they trotted out the old Purpose Driven Church book and started using “The lingo”. Then I found out that the adult Sunday School teacher got his daily devotions right from Warren’s daily devotions. That pastor got mad at me, so did that teacher.

    I was in another church that I felt okay with because I used to go to it when my children were growing up. I was shocked to hear the pastor try to teach the whole church how to do meditation via Richard Foster! Then the women were doing Beth Moore stuff and then moved on to Joyce Meyer. When I came to talk to the pastor with an armload of material on Foster, he got mad when I mentioned Rick Warren in a negative way. It was like that whole church was under a trance. When I tried to talk to the women about Moore and Meyer, their answer was to remove me from their email list! I have since run into some of them around town and some (not all) would not even speak to me when I was a matter of inches from them!

    I had gotten to a point of having a long list of “pastor questions” and I am sure this was a pain for the pastors I talked to. Many had not a clue why I had trouble with Rick Warren! When I asked them if they would read a book about him…nope! Now I am the lay person in this deal, why don’t they have the answers?

    Then I read stuff by people who sit in judgment because others don’t have a church. They use stuff like the old rag, ”If you find a perfect church, don’t join it, because you will ruin it”. First off, I do not expect, nor look for perfection, but being free of false teachers should not be too much to ask! Why am I the trouble maker when I want to hear Bible and not feel good platitudes? Why am I ruining things when I want to sing hymns filled with wonderful doctrine, instead of mindless praise songs that belong at church camp campfires at best? Some of these praise songs have refrains that are sung over and over and over until I just can’t stand it anymore and stop singing. Have any of you ever noticed that many of the modern praise songs take the focus off from what the Lord has done for us and puts it onto what WE are doing to praise Him and how long WE will praise him.

    Grouchy old woman? Maybe, but I just want to worship an awesome God in a way that glories Him, not man. I want to hear God’s Word in church, not man’s, I want to sing Hymns that glorify Him and what he has done to save us. Anything less is not really worshipping Him, in my opinion! I drive way out into the country now and have found a lovely small country church that seems to love the Lord, preach the Bible, sing hymns and welcome those who want the same. I am happy to be able to have that, but sad that I am surrounded by churches that I don’t feel safe to attend. I am sad that I have to drive that far to go to a safe church.

    August 19, 2013 at 9:31 AM Reply
    • Marsha R. #

      Buffy, remember what Jesus said…..His true disciples will be persecuted! Matthew 7:14 says “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” We are the few who find it. God’s Spirit is within all of us that are feeling the exact same way. We are fed up with these churches of today that are NOT being the churches as Jesus commanded. In fact, when we attend, we feel a part of something that is almost “evil” if you will and the Holy Spirit that dwells inside of us tells us that we cannot be a part of the heresy taking place! Maybe it would be alright if God could use us in a church where we could speak His Truth and changes would take place. However, the apostasy is so widespread that I’m beginning to believe that we, as true Christians, are being called OUT OF THE CHURCH. Perhaps soon, we will be creating underground churches? I believe that’s where it’s heading. I am, personally, worshipping God from my home and know of many other mature Christian believers that are doing the same. They believe that God has called them out of the church as well. It’s no coincidence that we are ALL feeling this way. I believe the Holy Spirit is doing a mighty work in us and God is paving the way for His will to be done. Right now, we just don’t know what that is at the moment. However, I believe the Lord Jesus is coming very SOON! Praise God. :)

      August 22, 2013 at 6:05 AM Reply
  5. Buffy , wow thanks for sharing!!

    Lately, I can relate…

    August 19, 2013 at 2:58 PM Reply
  6. SammiD #

    Right on Buffy!
    I will not andI have not attended church for years because every church in my area is like the ones you described! I am a Christian and I worship God in my home.
    What else can we do?

    August 20, 2013 at 5:56 AM Reply
  7. You have a great list, but as a Pastor, I can tell you that Pastors will give you the answer you want. These questions need to be reworded to get the “real” answer. I’ve given a rework of the first 4 questions.

    1. Is the Bible the 100% true, accurate Word of God inspired by the Holy Spirit? Change this to: “How do you hear from God?” If they say “The Bible and only the Bible,” you’ve got a winner. If they say “the Bible, circumstances, other people…” go ahead and end the interview.

    2. Is Jesus the Son of God and the only way to eternal life with God? Is there any way to God or eternal life other than through Jesus? Change this to: “What happens to people who have never heard the Gospel, are they saved?” While this is a tough question, it gives insight into the Pastor’s insistence that Jesus is the only way.

    3. What does the Bible say the world will look like when Jesus returns? Do we need to gain dominion of the earth before that happens? Change to: “What are some things the church can do to expand the Kingdom of God to usher Christ’s return?” If he gives any answer other than “nothing,” then move on.

    4. Can man, through his actions, change or alter biblical prophecy? Change to: “It seems like many things in the Middle East are a fulfillment of prophecy, or perhaps they are the result of some bad political decisions after WWII. Do you have some thoughts on this?” His answer will reveal whether or not he thinks there is a fulfillment of prophetic events.

    Bottom line: don’t give your answer then ask your question, because the Pastor will likely tell you what you want to hear. This may even be subconscious. Craft questions that force the Pastor to give an answer without knowing your position. Be careful not to respond too much to each question, or he will know your position by the end of the interview.

    I am a Pastor, and I love it when people dig into my theology. I want a good fit between me and my church members, and when they ask questions, I can begin to know whether this will work or not.

    August 20, 2013 at 7:29 AM Reply

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: