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I have come across some excellent articles by Bro. David Cloud critiquing the heretical New Evangelical movement (aka the Neo-Evangelical movement). So I was pleasantly surprised to find even more historical details in an article by Biblical Discernment Ministries (BDM).

Click here for the original text of this article, which I have reposted  below. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in brackets.

Neo-Evangelicalism

Characteristics and Positions

In general, a neo-evangelical would be defined as one who has taken a “lower view” of Scripture, has developed a more open, inclusivistic spirit toward liberalism, and has become ecumenical in evangelism efforts. The movement was one born of compromise, nurtured on pride of intellect, growing on appeasement of evil, and doomed by the judgment of God’s Word (Lightner, p. 109). In general, the neo-evangelicals “are radical — theologically, politically, and socially” (Pickering, p. 131). One of the chief spokesmen of neo-evangelicalism would be Billy Graham; chief neo-evangelical scholars would be Edward Carnell, Carl Henry, and Bernard Ramm; major neo-evangelical organizations would be the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), The World Evangelical Fellowship, the Lausanne Committee, Campus Crusade for Christ, and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship; and major neo-evangelical periodicals would be Christianity Today and Moody Monthly. Following are some of the characteristics and positions of the leading neo-evangelicals (see Overview below) (Where indicated, quotes and excerpts are taken from Biblical Separation: The Struggle for a Pure Church, by Ernest Pickering, pp. 131-138; Neoevangelicalism Today, by Robert P. Lightner, 208 pages; or from a Grace Seminary course syllabus on “Biblical Fundamentalism” by John C. Whitcomb, 1979, pp 1-2.):

Leading Characteristics of Neo-Evangelicals:

(1)  Espousal of, or toleration toward, questionable views of Scripture; e.g., most neo-evangelicals, to one degree or another, have scuttled the doctrine of total, complete inerrancy of the Bible (regardless of the lip-service given to it); there is evidence of the acceptance of a conceptual theory of inspiration, but the neo-evangelical hesitates to accept the total verbal inspiration of the Bible. The issue becomes: “Is the Bible inerrant in all its pronouncements [the conservative fundamental view], or is it merely an inerrant record of some inspired truth [the neo-evangelical view]?” A “popular view of the Bible now promoted” among neo-evangelicals is that “the Bible is inerrant when it is teaching us about God and His redemptive works (that is, when instructing in important doctrinal matters [revelational]), but it may contain errors in other areas about which it speaks [non-revelational matters]” (Lightner, pp. 80-81, 84; Pickering, pp. 132-133).

(2)  The sufficiency of Scripture is effectively denied as evidenced by neo-evangelical attempts to “Christianize” pagan ideas and systems founded upon unbelief (i.e., psychology/psychiatry, numerology, astrology, personality theory, etc.) In effect, the Bible is deemed NOT sufficient for all matters pertaining to life and godliness (cf. 2 Pe. 1:3,4). Emphasis has been shifted from the authority of Bible doctrine to the realm of human experience, thereby causing churches to move toward a seminar type of ministry rather than an authoritative and dogmatic preaching ministry.

(3)  The neo-evangelical’s weak view of the inerrancy of Scripture has inevitability led to the toleration of a wide diversity of theological viewpoints (Pickering, p. 131).

(4)  Expresses a dangerous subservience to science; the desire to gain intellectual acceptability has led to a friendly attitude toward science, almost to the point of placing scholarship and science in the seat of authority. This is evidenced in a friendliness toward, or acceptance of, evolutionary theories (e.g., progressive creation and/or theistic evolution), with particularly broad concessions to organic evolutionism and uniformitarianism at the expense of a consistent and normal interpretation of the first eleven chapters of Genesis. (Lightner, p. 76; Pickering, p. 132; Whitcomb, p. 1)

(5)  Emphasis upon the implications of the social gospel; neo-evangelicals view the gospel as being two-pronged in nature — individual and social, thereby neglecting New Testament priorities. As a result, rather than making the gospel applicable to the world, the gospel tends to get watered down to make it acceptable to the world. “The societal impact which [the neo-evangelical] proposes to make fosters the connotation of a ‘Christianization’ of society …” which frequently speaks of a “‘Christian culture,’ a ‘new society,’ and a ‘new social order,’ … [the neo-evangelical aligns] himself and his church with existing social reform movements.” (Pickering, p. 134; Whitcomb, p. 1; Lightner, pp. 67-68, 91-92)

(6)  Enthusiasm over cooperative evangelism, even to the extent of aligning with groups that have been traditionally subversive of Bible truth (e.g., Roman Catholicism). (Pickering, p. 134) Billy Graham, more than any other, has epitomized this inclusivistic approach to evangelism (as opposed to the Biblical separatistic approach). Official neo-evangelical evangelism projects following this approach would be “AD 2000 Evangelism” and “Discipleship 2000,” both claiming the goal of reaching all the lost with the Gospel of Jesus Christ by the year 2000.

(7)  Strong criticism of traditional fundamentalism, particularly criticism of its doctrinal emphasis, which is said to have caused neglect of the social application of Christianity to the world (Pickering, p. 135; Lightner, pp. 133-134); this criticism usually includes the call for preaching only a “positive message,” as often expressed by the statement, “God called me to win souls, not to criticize others.”

(8)  The ways of the world are readily accepted by the neo-evangelical; there is a tendency toward finding justifiable reasons condoning and using that which evolves from a carnality, sensuality, secularism, and worldliness (especially in regards to music, theatrics, emotionalistic and psychological manipulations, promotionalism, and general appearance).

(9)  Pleas for more political involvement and “Christian” Activism (Pickering, p. 135).

(10) Unbiblical views regarding God’s role for women (Pickering, p. 135).

(11) Based upon a generally weak view of Scripture, there has been a natural shift from objective Biblical doctrine to subjective experience — allowance for the possible validity of apostolic sign-gifts for our own day (prophecy, tongues, miracles of healing through special persons, etc.) (Whitcomb, p. 2).

(12) Shift away from dispensational premillennialism to some form of “historic premillennialism” (even postmillennialism views are becoming widespread), together with a minimizing of the importance of Biblical eschatology in general, not from doctrinal conviction, but for ecumenical opportunity (Whitcomb, p. 2; Lightner, p. 101).

(13) Emphasis upon the unity of the church in preference to its purity. “Neo-evangelicals either tone down or completely neglect ecclesiastical separation from apostasy and personal separation from the world until these are virtually denied.” (Pickering, p. 135; Lightner, p. 16) (See later in report for more specific comments on this neglect of the Biblical doctrine of separation.)

Further Descriptions of Neo-Evangelicalism:

William Ashbrook — “A movement born of compromise, nurtured on the pride of intellect, growing on the appeasement of evil, and doomed by the judgment of the Word of God.”

Charles Woodbridge — “A movement with a new mood (toleration of false teachers, ridicule of fundamentalists), with a new method (‘the end justifies the means’), a new theology (questioning the canon of the Bible, its inerrant authority, and the nature of its content), and a new ethic (repudiation of personal separation for interaction with the culture). … following the downward path of toleration of error, accommodation to error, cooperation with error, contamination by error, and capitulation to error.”

Ernest Pickering — “It lacks moral courage in the face of the great conflict with apostasy. It lacks doctrinal clarity in important areas of theology. It makes unwarranted concessions to the enemies of the cross of Christ.”

Francis Stiles — “Neo-evangelicalism is a religious philosophy. It attempts to reach and minister to man through his felt needs. It seeks to commend man for his achievements and realign his energies for good. It emphasizes unity at the expense of truth and reduces the Biblical requirements of purity and separation unto God until they are obscure. Man and his present circumstances, rather than God and His eternal precepts, are the core of its concern.


Position of Neo-Evangelicals with Regard to Separation
:

[Separation from modernism, neo-orthodoxy, and all other errant philosophies and doctrines.]

(1) Willingness to remain within old-line denominations, even those that are clearly apostate, under the guise of favorably influencing them with the gospel. The neo-evangelical hopes to emphasize points of agreement with the liberal and the neo-orthodox rather than points of disagreement, in order to “recapture” denominations. (Pickering, p. 136; Lightner, p. 57)

(2) Ecclesiastical separation is considered to be merely a matter of conscience rather than a command of Scripture; the neo-evangelical ignores Rom. 16:17,18. (Lightner, pp. 94, 152-153)

(3) Maintains broad ecumenical fellowship, even to the extent of being involved in the apostate National and World Council of Churches; evangelicals are even urged “to obtain all or part of their training at liberal universities and seminaries” in order to “give evangelism more clout.” The conservative is called upon to welcome the neo-orthodox as friends and brethren since “truth is welcomed wherever it is preached.” This ecumenism generally involves the elevation of “love” above doctrine. (Pickering, pp. 136-137; Whitcomb, p. 1; Lightner, p. 56)

(4) Participates in ecumenical missionary efforts, clearly placing a higher priority on “opportunity” than on “purity of testimony.” (The neo-evangelical also tends to justify questionable methods in missions or evangelism by pointing to successes, e.g., the popularity of the enterprise, numbers, “conversions,” etc.) Leaders in this effort would be Billy Graham, Wycliffe Bible Translators, and the Latin American Mission. (Pickering, pp. 137-138; Lightner, p. 155)

Contemporary Fundamentalism is defined by the doctrine and practice of Biblical separation. To a large degree the difference between Conservative Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism is a matter of separation. Contemporary Fundamentalism maintains stricter views of moral and ecclesiastical (or doctrinal) separation than Evangelicalism. While many spiritual leaders in conservative evangelical circles would practice separation from apostates and Roman Catholics, virtually none would practice separation from [professing] believers who persist in sinful doctrine or sinful practice. In many cases, while certain conservative evangelical leaders would oppose false doctrine by actively teaching against it, few would actively separate from [professing] believers who persist in false doctrine. History has vindicated the Fundamentalist view of separation; that is, no doctrinal position can be maintained over time apart from the practice of separation. (Source: Rocco Piserchia)

Part of the immediate problem is that many so-called evangelical churches and leaders spent much of the mid-twentieth century separating themselves from those who preached separation from unbelief. The neo-evangelicals had such a horror of separation that they had to separate from the separationists. Carl Henry was one of the leaders of the neo-evangelicals. He and others wanted to lead a movement that would distance itself from fundamentalism, and neo-evangelicalism was born. This in turn led quickly to Billy Graham’s acceptance of liberal churches as sponsors of his crusades in the 1950s, and in the 1960s to acceptance of Romanist churches as sponsors of the crusades. What the Bible teaches on theological and ecclesiastical separation was ignored; and compromise, though under different labels, became the modus operandi of the neo-evangelicals. It was called “cooperation” — and who is anti-social enough to oppose cooperation? It was called “engagement,” and who is isolationist enough to reject engagement? It was called “co-belligerence,” a metaphor borrowed from war in which two parties fighting a third party do not fight each other. But the idea of co-belligerence — let alone the notions of cooperation and theological alliance — is itself a betrayal of Christ; it is abandoning theological warfare for cultural warfare. Co-belligerence involves deciding that Christians will neither criticize Romanism nor evangelize Roman Catholics, nor criticize Arminianism nor evangelize Arminians, nor criticize Judaism nor evangelize Jews — because they are our allies in the Culture Wars against the secularists. But fighting Culture Wars is not the Great Commission; Scripture knows only Theology Wars, and in those Wars, all unbiblical thoughts and institutions are the enemies of Christ. Making a separate peace with any one of them, as co-belligerency requires, is treason to Christ.


Overview: The following overview of Neo-Evangelicalism is excerpted from Biblical Separation: The Struggle for a Pure Church, by Dr. Ernest D. Pickering (copyright 1979, Regular Baptist Press), pp. 127-130:

Some errors are openly evident to true believers. Others are far more difficult to discern. The old modernism was transparently erroneous. God’s people saw immediately that men who denied great truths taught in Scripture, such as the virgin birth of Christ and His substitutionary death, were obviously heretics. They were branded as such and duly rejected.

In more recent years, however, systems of thought have been espoused by men thought of as evangelical, teaching in evangelical schools, or ministering to multitudes in evangelism. These are more subtle in their compromises and are much more difficult for the average believer to detect. The more truth contained in a specific system of thought the more difficult it is to isolate the errors. So it has been with the system which has been named the “new evangelicalism.”

Someone has said that the new evangelicalism had its beginnings with a mood. Perhaps this is true, and it makes it the more pernicious because a mood is extremely difficult to describe. You may feel it, but you cannot verbally diagnose it.

After the great struggles between modernism and fundamentalism, a group of younger men arose who had been reared, for the most part, in the homes and churches of fundamentalism. They were intellectually bright and aspiring scholars, many of them trained in either completely secular or liberally oriented religious schools. They were embarrassed by what they viewed as the “backwoodsy” provincialism of fundamentalism. Somehow they wanted to make evangelical truth more “relevant” and acceptable to a larger segment of society. No doubt many of them were sincere in their desire to do so. This mood which characterized them, however, was to lead them into strange paths.

Among these young scholars a more open spirit developed toward liberalism. Not that they openly embraced it, for they did not. But they desired to have more interaction with liberal scholars and leaders, with the hope of learning from them and hopefully imparting some Biblical truth to them as well. It was also their fervent desire that evangelical scholarship have wider recognition. They noted that evangelicalism (fundamentalism) was viewed as unscholarly by society as a whole. Why could not evangelicals win recognition through the writing of books and by securing faculty appointments at prestigious institutions? Of course, to win such recognition before unbelieving scholars, who, for the most part, were bitter enemies of Biblical truth, it would be necessary to show that evangelicals were sufficiently broad-minded and flexible to be able to accept new ideas and work them into their system of thought. Two areas were particularly troublesome to humanistic, unregenerate scholars: the doctrine of Biblical infallibility and the doctrine of creationism. But rising young evangelical thinkers were prepared to make concessions in these areas. Some began to adopt compromising positions regarding creationism. They accepted certain evolutionary premises, using such terms as “theistic evolution” or “threshold creationism.” It was an attempt to incorporate at least parts of the theory of evolution into a Biblical framework.

As they moved along in their efforts, the doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture became more and more of a stumbling block. If the Bible were without error when speaking in areas of biology, cosmology, geology and the like, then evangelicals would have no latitude to formulate views that would accommodate to contemporary scientific theories. So, many evangelicals began to equivocate on the doctrine of infallibility.

There were also the pressures of ecumenicity. Ecumenism is a hot commodity these days. Everyone who is anyone is in favor of getting together. For one to be against all [professing] Christians working together is like being opposed to the most sacred things in human life. The ecumenical fever struck many evangelicals. They disdained the isolationism of fundamentalism and longed for wider fellowship and broader horizons. They felt that the evangelical viewpoint should be represented in ecumenical circles. Definite moves were made to see that it was.

With these attitudes prevailing, several historical incidents took place, which were important stepping-stones to the public, visible ascendancy of the new evangelicalism. One of the earliest was the organization of Fuller Theological Seminary (1947). Named after Charles Fuller, famous radio preacher, one of its main purposes, according to its first president, Harold Ockenga, was to train young men to go back into the old-line denominations and win a place for evangelicalism. Because millions of people were acquainted with Charles Fuller through the “Old-Fashioned Revival Hour,” and because he was a strong Bible believer and preacher, the public naturally assumed that the school which bore his name would also occupy his theological position. In this they were sadly misled. Fuller became one of the major fountainheads for the new evangelical philosophy, and it has drifted farther and farther from the position of the man whose name it bears.

In 1956, articles appeared in Christian Life magazine entitled “Is Evangelical Theology Changing?” The conclusion of most of those interviewed was that it was changing. Among those responding to the question were Vernon Grounds, Bernard Ramm, and Edward Carnell. They felt that fundamentalism was changing for the better by having a more open attitude toward the gift of tongues, by being less dispensational, and by evidencing a more accepting attitude toward science.

In 1956, the magazine Christianity Today was begun. It was intended as an evangelical counterpart to the prestigious liberal journal Christian Century. In early issues, two editorials appeared which showed the direction of the magazine. These were entitled “Beyond the Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy” and “Dare We Renew the Controversy?” The thought was expressed that too much time has been wasted on fighting the battles with modernism; evangelicals should now progress to more productive efforts. Another editorial, “The Perils of Independency,” supported the mediating view of the NAE [National Association of Evangelicals] as over against the views of independency (fundamental separatism) or church unionism (ecumenism). The editors of the periodical expressed the opinion that “the apostasy condemned by Independency is not as clearly discernible as it is assumed” (Editorial, “The Perils of Independency,” Christianity Today, Nov.12, 1956, pp. 20-23).

Interestingly, in the early days of Christianity Today‘s existence, the Conservative Baptist Fellowship submitted a display ad for the famous Casebooks written by Chester Tulga. These books exposed various forms of modernism and unbelief. The magazine refused to run the ad, explaining the reaction of their editorial committee thus:

“There was a strong feeling, however, that in view of our circulation among many different groups, and of our announced intention to win the liberal, we would be, by running this ad in an early issue, standing the risk of alienating the very persons whom we are trying to win” (Quoted by R.T. Ketcham, “Christianity Today–An Analysis,” Baptist Bulletin, XXII, March 1957, pp.8,9).

The ministry of evangelist Billy Graham also aided the rise of the new evangelicalism, since he was one of its chief spokesmen. His crusades, mixed in nature as they were, gave popular expression to the whole philosophy behind new evangelicalism.

Many of the new evangelicals were authors, some of them prolific. Books and articles began to appear from their pens. Edward Carnell, Carl Henry, Bernard Ramm and others produced works which had widespread influence and promoted aspects of the new evangelical position.

The National Association of Evangelicals became an organizational haven for leaders of this movement. The NAE made no official statements about it, but its own approach to the question of the apostasy made it a natural gathering place for the new evangelicals.

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Biblical Discernment Ministries – Revised 8/01

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Thanks to our discernment ministries friend Manny Silva for making us aware of Greg Gordon’s article, reposted on Manny’s blogsite.

Click here for the original site of the article.

95 THESES TO THE MODERN EVANGELICAL CHURCH
“revised”! by Greg Gordon [founder of sermonindex.net]

Saints, I have revised many of these and also all of them are of a size that will fit on tiwtter and facebook easily to re-post. Pray about sharing these with others and sharing each theses individually. I believe many need to hear these truths and they are shared in the humility of my weakness and lack in my own Christian Life. May God in His mercy come and revive North American Christianity for His glory alone. “May the Lamb of God receive the reward of His sufferings in our lives today!”

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Official website for the theses: http://95moderntheses.wordpress.com/

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1. The “church” at large has forgotten that the chief end of man is to glorify God. (Rom 16:27; 1Cor 6:20; Mt 6:9; 1Cor 10:31)

2. Christians ignore most of the methods, practices and principles found in the book of Acts. (Acts 2:42,44; Acts 2:46; Acts 2:38)

3. Many treat “church” like any other social club or sports event that they might attend. (Acts 2:46; Heb 10:25; Acts 1:14)

4. We’ve made Christianity about the individual rather than the community of believers. (Rom 12:5; 1Cor 12:12; 2Tim 4:16)

5. In most “churches” the priesthood of all believers isn’t acknowledged and the role of pastor is abused. (1Pt 2:9; 1Cor 12:12; Eph 4:11-13)

6. The “church” as a whole has lost the concept of their being grafted into the promises given to Israel. (Rom 11:15, 17-18, 20, 25)

7. There needs to be a recovery of teaching the whole counsel of God, especially in expository form. (Acts 20:27; 1Tim 4:6, 2Tim 2:15)

8. We take it too lightly that we have the blessing and honor of having God’s Scriptures in our possession. (Ps 119:16; Acts 13:44; Neh 8:9)

9. There has never been more access to the Word of God, yet so little reading of it. (1Tim 4:13; Neh 8:1-3; Ps 119:59)

10. Some read the Scriptures to attain knowledge, but do not practice what they read. (Jam 1:22; Mt 7:21; 3Jn 4)

11. Worship has become an idol in many “churches”. The music often resembles that of the world. (Amos 5:23; Phil 4:8; 1Jn 5:21)

12. The world is shaping the views of the “church” more than the “church” shaping the world. (Rom 12:2; Mt 5:13; 1Cor 1:22-23)

13. The “church” spends more money on dog food than on missions. (2Cor 9:6; Lk 21:2; Acts 4:34-35)

14. We take lightly the cost of discipleship laid out by Jesus Christ and do not deny our lives. (Lk 14:33; Lk 14:26-27; Mt 8:19-20)

15. There is a lack of true discipleship and making others to be obedient disciples. (Mt 28:20; 2Tim 2:2; 2Tim 2:14)

16. Many subscribe to the error that parts of life are to be spiritual while others are to be secular. (1Pt 4:2; Col 3:3; 1Jn 2:6)

17. Modern Christians often find Jesus’ command to sacrifice and serve abhorrent. (Phil 2:21; Jam 3:16; Rom 12:1-2)

18. Self disciplines in the Christian life such as fasting and praying are considered legalistic. (2Tim 2:21; 2Tim 1:8; Mt 6:17)

19. Little thought and contemplation is put towards the lostness of men, the seriousness of the Gospel. (Phil 3:8; Gal 2:20; Heb 10:34)

20. We are living with an epidemic of cheap grace with flippant confession and shallow consecration. (Lk 14:28-30; Lk 14:26; Jam 4:8)

21. Since the inception of the Church, the Gospel had the requirements of repentance and discipleship. (Acts 2:38; Lk 14:26; Jn 8:31)

22. Now forgiveness is offered without repentance, discipleship without obedience, salvation without sanctity. (Heb 10:29; 4:11; Lk 13:24)

23. Introspection, counting the cost, godly sorrow over sin, are all foreign to many in the “church”. (Acts 2:37; Ps 119:9; Heb 6:1-2)

24. The modern church loves itself more than its neighbor. (1Cor 3:3; Gal 5:13; Phil 2:3)

25. The church must repent of its idolization of personality, and of business principles. (2Cor 2:17; 1Cor 3:5; 1Cor 12:23)

26. Many elders and pastors of the “church” sadly are fleecing the flock to supply their own wants. (Jn 10:12-13; 1Pt 5:2-3; Rev 2:15)

27. The qualities most in demand in today’s pastorate are frequently foreign to the Scriptures. (1Tim 3:2-3; 1Tim 3:5; 1Tim 1:5-7)

28. The professionalization of the pastorate is a sin and needs to be repented of. (2Cor 11:13; Gal 3:1; Gal 2:6)

29. There must be repentance for the ambitious desire and idolization of the celebrity pastorate. (3Jn 9; Jer 17:5; 1Cor 12:22)

30. Pastors must trust the Spirit, not statistics. (2Sam 24:1; 1Cor 1:25; Rom 8:14)

31. Modern day prophets are being stoned by criticism and neglect. (2Tim 4:3-4; Gal 1:10; Jer 1:7-8)

32. God’s prophets are ill-treated and shunned by most “christians” considered too harsh or extreme. (Jer 6:10; Isa 6:9-10; Gal 4:16)

33. The prophets prophesy falsely, priests rule by their own power; and my people love to have it so. (Mt 24:4, 11-12; 1Cor 1:19, Jude 8 )

34. There are many false gospels being preached from pulpits in our day. (2Cor 11:4; Gal 1:8-9; Jude 16)

35. There is an epidemic of a “mock” salvation message. It is correct in doctrine, but false in reality. (2Cor 3:6; 1Jn 5:11-12; Rom 8:9)

36. A salvation that does not make men holy is trusted in by a deceived multitude. (Jude 4; Rom 8:1; Rom 6:17-18)

37. There is a needed perseverance in the truths of the Gospel without unbelief. (Eph 1:1; Heb 6:11-12; Heb 10:26-27)

38. A great need is to see “christians” become saints in actual experience. (1Jn 2:29; Col 3:5-8; Tit 3:8)

39. Many professors of religion are forbidding people to be a part of the holy body of Christ. (Mt 23:13; Ps 119:1-2; 2Pt 1:3-4)

40. Preaching has become all about the happiness of man and not the glory of God. (Jn 6:26; Rom 4:20; 1Pt 4:11)

41. Preachers give smooth words to entice men, yet very few give any words of correction or rebuke. (Jer 6:14; Pro 1:23; 1Tim 5:20)
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[Note: Theses #42 through #52 are found in this sermon by Carter Conlon- DM]

42. Run from gospels that focus on our success and prosperity in the name of Jesus Christ. (Jn 2:16; Acts 20:33; Jer 6:13)

43. Run from gospels that focus on self-improvement. (1Tim 6:5; Heb 12:14; Jam 4:14)

44. Run from churches where men, and not Christ, are glorified. (Col 1:18; Jude 25; Jn 16:14)

45. Run from churches where there is no Bible, no cross, no mention of the blood of Christ. (1Pt 1:18-19; Eph 3:13; Rev 1:5)

46. Run from churches where the worship leaves you cold, where there’s no sense of God’s presence. (1Cor 5:4; Ps 80:14-15; Jer 12:11)

47. Run from churches where you’re comfortable in your sin. (1Cor 14:25; Heb 10:30-31; Heb 4:13)

48. Run from churches that use the pulpit of God for a personal agenda. (Jude 10-11,19; 3Jn 9)

49. Run from those who preach division between races and cultures. (Jam 2:4, Gal 3:28, Rev 5:9)

50. Run from ungodly, spasmodic movements and endless empty prophesying. (Jer 5:13; 1Cor 14:33, 1Jn 2:16)

51. Run from preachers who tell mostly stories and jokes. (Eph 5:4; Tit 1:8; 2:12)

52. Run from those that are only after money, who use one gimmick after another to get your money. (2Pt 2:3; 2Cor 12:14; 1Cor 9:18)
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53. The phrase “accept Jesus as your personal Saviour” is not found in the Scriptures. (Rom 10:9-10; Col 1:13; Acts 26:20)

54. Evidence of true conversion does not seem important to modern day Christians. (1Jn 2:6; 1Jn 4:17; Mt 7:20)

55. Thousands of sinners think of God as having only one attribute: Love! But they continue in sin. (Rom 1:18; Acts 5:11; Ps 2:12)

56. “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life!” has hindered true evangelism. (Rom 3:19; Acts 26:18; Phil 3:18-21)

57. A Gospel of love and grace only, without the law of God being preached. This is a doctrine of Satan. (2Tim 4:3-4; Rom 2:4-5; 3:19)

58. There has clearly arisen a careless mixture of 20th century reasoning with God’s revelation. (Col 2:8; Rom 1:25; Gal 1:6)

59. Decisionism and the “sinner’s prayer” has been a major cause of false conversions in the “church”. (2Pt 2:1-2; Eph 2:4-5; 2Cor 5:17-18)

60. Many will be surprised to hear Jesus say, “I never knew you, depart from me.” (Mt 7:22-23; 1Cor 6:9-10; Gal 5:19-21)

61. Men have taken the place of the Holy Spirit in confirming men in their supposed salvation. (1Jn 2:3-5; 2Ths 1:8; Gal 6:12-15)

62. The doctrine of hell and eternal suffering is something little grasped by most professing “christians”. (Mt 13:42; Jam 5:1; Ps 9:17)

63. The judgment seat of Christ is perhaps one of the most neglected topics in the modern pulpit. (2Cor 5:10; Rom 14:10; 1Cor 3:13)

64. The second coming of Christ needs to be re-instated as the church’s general thrust and burden. (1Jn 3:2-3; Col 3:4-6; 1Ths 4:14-17)

65. The church has lost the fear of God and has over emphasized the love of God. (Heb 12:28-29; Lk 12:5; Heb 10:31)

66. The church has left evangelism to a few trained professionals. (Acts 8:1,4; Acts 4:29; Rom 10:14)

67. Repentance is considered a one-time act in modern evangelism rather than a way of life. (Rev 3:19; Heb 12:17; 2Pt 3:9)

68. The Lordship of Jesus Christ is something that is not taught in many pulpits. (Acts 2:36; 1Cor 12:3; Rom 6:18)

69. Many in “churches” are not open to correction, church discipline or rebuke. (1Cor 5:5; 1Cor 11:31-32; Heb 12:7-9)

70. Some preach salvation as a theory instead of persuading men to come to Christ. (Jn 5:40; Col 1:28; 2Cor 4:5)

71. There has been a loss of the fullness and majesty of the gospel. (1Tim 1:11; Jude 25; Rom 15:29)

72. There is little mention of sin or the depravity of man from “church” pulpits. (Jn 3:20; Gal 5:19-21; Eph 5:5)

73. Covetousness, consumerism, and coddling of the world’s goods does not appear wrong. (Jer 22:17; 1Jn 2:15-16; 1Tim 3:3)

74. Little is made of the resurrection of Jesus Christ in churches or in evangelism. (1Cor 15:14-15; Acts 4:10, 33)

75. The “church” has relied more on technology than God. (Zech 4:6; 1Cor 1:21; 2:4)

76. The prayer meeting is considered one of the least important meetings in the “church”. (1Tim 2:1; Acts 4:31; Phil 4:6)

77. Pastors have never prayed less than they do in the “church” today. (Jer 10:21; Phil 2:21; Eph 6:18-19)

78. Very few are waiting on God for His direction and purpose for His Church. (Eph 1:11; Ps 37:7; Isa 40:31)

79. The “church” has many organizers, but few agonizers. (Phil 3:18-19; Rom 9:1-3; Jer 9:1)

80. We need to have the gifts of the Spirit restored again to the “church”. (2Tim 4:2; 1Cor 14:39; 1Cor 12:31)

81. A serious, sober, self-controlled Christianity is very seldom found or preached. (2Pt 3:11; 1Pt 4:7; Jude 3)

82. The “church” at large has forgotten how to pray. (1Jn 3:22; Acts 6:4; 1Ths 5:17)

83. Many “churches” are more dependent on tradition than the leading of the Holy Spirit. (Mk 7:13; Acts 16:6; Acts 13:2)

84. Multitudes of professors preach and teach: that you cannot be freed from sin. (Rom 16:18; Rom 6:1-2; 2Pt 2:1)

85. The Apostles and Christ always preached the possibility to walk free from sin. (Tit 2:11-12; 1Pt 1:14-16; Rom 6:19)

86. Sinners are not saved to sin, but rather, saved to holiness and good works. (Rom 6:13; Eph 2:10; 2Pt 3:14)

87. Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner. (2Tim 2:19; 1Pt 4:17-18; 2Tim 3:12)

88. A baptism of holiness, a demonstration of godly living is the crying need of our day. (1Tim 6:3; 2Ths 3:6; 2Ths 2:13)

89. Many are confused about obedience, and good works that are readily mentioned in the Scriptures. (Tit 3:8; Jn 10:32; Rev 3:15)

90. Little emphasis is put on the plan of God to make us like Jesus Christ in “churches”. (1Pt 1:14-16; 1Jn 2:6; 1Pt 4:1)

91. Christ did not die on the cross to obtain a worldly “church” but for a “glorious Church.” (Eph 5:27; Tit 2:14; Col 4:12)

92. Christ does not come into an unregenerate and impure heart as many contemporary theologians say. (2Cor 5:17; Mt 5:8; Eze 18:31)

93. A holy Church is God’s blessing to the world; an unholy “church” is God’s judgment upon the world. (Mt 5:14,16; Eph 4:1; 1Ths 2:12)

94. If Christianity is to make any headway in the present time, it must be proved to be more than a theory. (2Ths 3:6-7; 1Ths 4:1,11-12)

95. Unbelief has gagged and bound us as risen Lazarus! We need release in this final hour! (Heb 3:12-14; 1Cor 3:21-23; Heb 11:6)

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In recent years we have heard much about Lordship salvation vs. “easy believism” (also called “easy prayerism”). This debate has been especially fierce among Independent Fundamentalist Baptists. For example, Bro. David Cloud has been accused (falsely) of extreme Lordship salvation, because he opposes Jack Hyles’ emphasis on easy believism/easy prayerism.

Bro. Cloud has written a number of articles on this subject. Click here for one of these articles, entitled “WHAT’S WRONG WITH MOST SOUL WINNING COURSES?”

I was pleasantly surprised today, when a Facebook Friend recommended the article reposted below. The article emphasizes many of the same points as Bro. Cloud’s article. Click here for the original site of the following repost.

Revival and Revivalism – A Review by Bobby Jamieson

 

‘How did we get here?’ is a question that is always relevant and often illuminating. Yet contemporary evangelicals don’t ask it as often as they should.

In his book Revival and Revivalism: The Making and Marring of American Evangelicalism, 1750-1858,1 Iain Murray tells a story that helps explain how evangelicals — Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, and more — got to where we are today.

FROM REVIVAL . . .

The book’s title tells the whole story in a nutshell. Over the one hundred and nine years Murray examines, from 1750 to 1858, American evangelicals’ understanding and experience of evangelism morphed from ‘revival’ to ‘revivalism.’

Background: The First Great Awakening

Not that what came before 1750 wasn’t important. From about 1735 to 1740, under the preaching of Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, and others, the American colonies experienced a massive spiritual enlivening which came to be known as the First Great Awakening. This phenomenon was driven by preaching that emphasized the biblical truths of the holiness of God, the gravity of sin, man’s enslavement to sin, and the need for the Holy Spirit to give new birth so that people might repent, believe, and be saved.

Though superficial responses to such preaching inevitably got mixed up with the true, contemporaries of these events regarded them as a genuine revival. They believed this spiritual movement had been caused by God’s sovereign choice to pour out his Spirit in a profound and unusual way, thus causing the ordinary, biblically appointed means of evangelism to bear extraordinary fruit.

Heirs of Edwards and Whitefield

Murray’s story, then, begins with the heirs of the First Great Awakening who ministered from New England to Virginia, men such as Samuel Davies and Alexander McWhorter (Chs. 1-4). These pastors held to the same theology that drove Edwards’ and Whitefield’s preaching, and they had been personally impacted by the events of 1735-1740. Throughout the second half of the eighteenth century, these men and the ministers who followed them periodically experienced the blessing of God on their ministries in ways that also merited the label ‘revival.’

Revival: Gift of God, not Guaranteed Result

Like their predecessors, these pastors knew that revivals were the sovereign work of God and could not be explained in any other way. Therefore, they preached the gospel, pleaded with sinners, and prayed for fruit like they had for years; and for reasons known only to God, he sometimes blessed these labours remarkably, and sometimes he didn’t. These revivals, in other words, were neither planned by men nor achieved by men. They did not involve any unusual or novel evangelistic techniques. They were understood, therefore, to be gifts of God.

. . . TO REVIVALISM

Then, beginning around 1800, revival began to break out on a greater scale across the young nation, from the northeast to the western states of Kentucky and Tennessee. And what’s truly remarkable is that this large-scale revival continued in one form or another for about thirty years, rightly earning it the title of the Second Great Awakening.

The Second Great Awakening

In the beginning, this revival was understood in the same terms as previous ones. Yet over time, theological and practical shifts began to occur that amounted to a revolution by the revival’s end. (For this part of the story, see chapters 5 through 12.)

For example, in 1800 in Cane Ridge, Kentucky the Presbyterians’ outdoor ‘communion seasons’ (which followed a traditional Scottish practice) became the flashpoint for what looked like a major movement of the Spirit. The meetings grew quickly. Ministers from other denominations, such as the Methodists, shared in the preaching. Large numbers of people who were unaffiliated with any church travelled great distances to come and hear. Many people responded to the preaching and singing, sometimes in disruptively dramatic ways.

Eventually, the leaders divided over how to respond to excessive displays of emotion in these meetings. Some — most of the Presbyterians — thought such displays should be permitted or rebuked depending on the case, while others — the Methodists — tended to treat all of them as proof of the work of God’s Spirit.

From this point, the Methodist leaders of this work in Kentucky took a strategy that was originally a response to revival — namely, protracted outdoor meetings — and made it a key component of their efforts to bring about revival. Further, these Methodists and some others, undergirded by a radically different doctrine of conversion, began to focus their efforts on inducing outward, immediate responses to the gospel.

Two Major Shifts

The story runs along similar lines elsewhere. By the 1820s and 1830s, two major shifts had occurred throughout American evangelicalism.

The first was a doctrinal shift regarding conversion. Up to 1800, evangelicals almost universally believed and preached that God must sovereignly give someone a new nature to enable him or her to repent and believe. By the 1830s, this was widely replaced by an understanding of conversion in which the decision to repent and believe lay entirely within an individual’s own power.

This led to (or, in some cases, followed) a shift in evangelistic practice. Many evangelicals adopted practices that sought to bring about an immediate decision. The ‘anxious bench,’ the altar call, singling people out personally in public prayer, warning hearers to respond immediately or else lose their chance to repent — all these practices and more grew out of the new belief that conversion was something within a person’s power to achieve, or even to effect in others.

The Result: Revivalism

The result of these two shifts was that church leaders began to regard revival as something that could be infallibly secured through the use of proper means — ‘proper’ being whatever would induce an immediate decision or external token of decision. This understanding was most vigorously promoted by Charles Finney, but by the end of the Second Great Awakening it had become a given among a strong majority of American evangelicals. Historian William McLoughlin even went so far as to say that by the mid-nineteenth century, this new system was the national religion of the United States (277).

Thus, revivalism was born. To be sure, revivalism grew up in the soil of genuine revival. But this new practice of revivalism radically differed from the previous understanding of revival it so quickly supplanted. A ‘revival’ became synonymous with a meeting designed to promote revival. Unlike previous generations, evangelicals after 1830 gained the ability, so to speak, to put a revival on the calendar months in advance.

The goal of such revivals was to secure as many immediate decisions for Christ as possible. As such, awareness of the possibility of false conversion seemed to simply vanish from the evangelical consciousness. Few asked whether their new measures just might create as many false converts as true disciples

SEVEN LESSONS FOR PASTORS

At the risk of stating the obvious, it doesn’t take too much effort to see how we got from the 1830s to the evangelistic practices that many of us take for granted today. That holds true whether we’re thinking of stadium-based crusades or churches which seek to recreate that atmosphere every Sunday.

Yet, as Murray rightly argues in the book’s final chapter, this type of revivalism and the theology that supports it represent a serious departure from both a biblical doctrine of conversion and a biblical practice of evangelism. Therefore, Revival and Revivalism should inspire us to reflect critically and carefully about our churches and our evangelistic practices.

Toward that end, here are seven lessons from the book that should be especially relevant for pastors.

1. Don’t Confuse an External Act with Inward Change.

First, don’t confuse an external act with inward change. Murray writes about the beginnings of the altar call, Nobody, at first, claimed to regard it as a means of conversion. But very soon, and inevitably, answering the call to the altar came to be confused with being converted. People heard preachers plead for them to come forward with the same urgency with which they pleaded for them to repent and believe (186; see also 366).

It’s possible to walk an aisle, pray a ‘sinner’s prayer,’ and do any number of other activities without being converted. And it’s possible to be converted without taking any of those particular outward steps (though of course conversion will always manifest itself in visible fruit).

Therefore, pastors should not speak about any external action as if it were identical with conversion. And they should be wary of evangelism techniques which seem to equate the two.

2. Beware of Producing False Converts.

Second, beware of producing false converts. Of course it’s inevitable that some people who initially profess faith will later prove unrepentant, but pastors can evangelize in a way that either minimizes or multiplies false converts. For instance, Murray cites Samuel Miller to the effect that the anxious seat (precursor to the altar call) promotes ‘the rapid multiplication of superficial, ignorant, untrained professors of religion’ — that is, false converts (366).

3. Be Cautious about Giving Immediate Assurance of Salvation.

Third, be cautious about giving immediate assurance of salvation. Perseverance, as the New Hampshire Confession says, is the grand mark of a true Christian (Heb. 3:6, 14). Faith makes itself known by its fruits — whether good or bad, true or false (Matt.7:15-27). Yet Murray points out that the new revivalistic methods were actually founded on the promise of immediate assurance:

But the anxious-seat evangelism wanted to do away with any doubts in those who made the public response. The whole strength of its appeal . . . lay in its suggestion that a response would ensure salvation. To have conceded that there was no sure connection between answering a public appeal and being converted would have been to undermine the whole system. (368)

In other words, the whole point of the new methods was that a response guaranteed salvation. And on that basis, preachers assured people of their salvation immediately and unreservedly simply for coming forward at the end of the service.

Assurance of salvation is possible for the youngest and weakest Christian, but it should always be grounded in the objective work of Christ and corroborated by the fruit of a transformed life.

So pastors, be cautious about giving immediate assurance of salvation. And be careful not to give it on the wrong basis.

4. Tether your Ministry to What God Requires in his Word.

Fourth, tether your ministry to what God requires in his Word. In some ways, the crucial turning point in Murray’s narrative comes when the early nineteenth-century Methodists came to regard certain novel, extra-biblical practices — long-duration outdoor camp meetings, techniques to secure immediate decisions, and so on — as the crucial keys to producing conversions (184).

Certainly, Christians are free to pursue evangelism in ways that are not directly exampled in Scripture. If Paul could rent the hall of Tyrannus (Acts 19:9), why shouldn’t modern evangelicals evangelize in stadiums? But the catch is that these new methods became mandates. They became magic bullets. And they became the givens without which people could not imagine anyone getting saved.

Instead, place your confidence in what God has required you to do — preach the Word. Trust that God has given you, in his Word, what you need to be a faithful pastor. Labour with the tools he’s given, and trust that he will cause your work to bear fruit.

5. Make Sure your Theology Drives your Practice, not Vice Versa.

Fifth, make sure your theology drives your practice, not vice versa. Murray writes about the spread of the altar call among Baptists, who in the early 19th century were almost unanimously reformed in their soteriology:

It had not captured anything like the majority of the churches in the 1830s but there can be no doubt that, with the Baptists also, it was the alleged success of the new evangelism which hastened both its adoption and the gradual doctrinal shift to justify it. (325-326)

In this case the practical tail wagged the theological dog. The logic of the new evangelism worked its way into their theological system and re-wrote the DNA. Without realizing it, huge numbers of Baptists adopted an evangelistic method that was not only at odds with their theological commitments, but eventually undid them.

6. Don’t Equate Outward Success with a Divine Endorsement.

Sixth, don’t equate outward success with a divine endorsement. During the conflicts Murray chronicles between the old guard and the new, the revivalists often played the trump card of outward success (282). As one contemporary pastor has famously put it, ‘Never criticize what God is blessing.’

The first problem with the argument from success is that ‘success’ is not always success. Murray writes,

What was indisputable was that making ‘conversion’ a matter of instant, public decision, with ascertainable numbers immediately announced in the religious press, produced a display of repeated ‘successes’ on a scale never before witnessed (283).

But how many of these ‘decisions’ represented genuine conversions? How many were baptized, joined churches, and began new lives? If the numbers back then match the numbers generated through similar methods today, the likely answer is, ‘Not many.’

The second problem with the argument from success is that, in one way or another, God is always blessing us in spite of ourselves. Every time God uses a pastor’s preaching to convert people, he’s blessing that man’s work in spite of that man’s sins and errors. So how can you be sure that God is blessing a ministry because of some new method rather than in spite of it?

Certainly we should expect God to bless preaching and practices that are in line with his Word. But we can’t reduce his workings to the mechanics of ‘most faithful’ = ‘most blessing.’ Nor can we work backwards from apparent success to discern what must be correct theology and practice.

7. Celebrate the Normal.

Murray writes of the earlier generation of ministers who regarded revival as a gift from God, ‘The men of the Old School, while believing in revival as fervently as they did . . . nevertheless knew no biblical reason to be cast down by the normal’ (385). These men knew that most of the time, ministry is slow and plodding work. They knew that some sow and others reap. They ‘believed that God would grant his blessing in the measure that was appropriate — whether in its heightened form . . . or in quieter ways’ (385).

So, finally, don’t be discouraged by slow-ripening fruit. Instead, rely on God to work through the regular means of grace. Celebrate the normal.

GOOD REASONS WHY IT’S ALREADY BECOMING A CLASSIC

As I hope this review has proved, there are many good reasons why Revival and Revivalism is already becoming a classic. It’s long, dense, and somewhat rambling, but it more than repays the time and effort it takes to get through it. I commend it to all present and aspiring church leaders, and to any Christian who likes to ask, ‘How did we get here?’



Note:

1. Revival and Revivalism
Iain H. Murray
480 pages, clothbound
£15.00, $33.00
ISBN 978 0 85151 660 8

Bobby Jamieson is assistant editor for 9Marks, author of the 9Marks Healthy Church Study Guides (Crossway, forthcoming 2012), MDiv student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, and a member of Third Avenue Baptist Church. This review article is taken from 9Marks Journal, March/April 2012.

 

By Bobby Jamieson

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(revised 04/06/17)

I remember growing up in the Evangelical Friends (EFCI) denomination. As late as the 1960s, we would often sing the song “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus”. One of the verses contains the phrase “though none go with me, still I will follow.” That is how I feel nowadays about the EFCI – that I am walking alone. (Actually I no longer belong to the denomination, but am trying to reach the denomination since so many of my relatives and friends still belong.)

I’m sure there are born again, biblically sound, spiritually mature Christians in the EFCI.  But for the most part, churches in the EFCI have not stayed close to their first love (especially in Northwest Yearly Meeting, where contemplative heretic Richard Foster first became popular). Specifically, I have heard of very few EFCI churches that preach and sing every Sunday about our blood-bought salvation, the bloody atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross of Calvary to save (rescue from eternal damnation in the Lake of Fire) those who sincerely repent of their sins. I hear very few passionate invitations to unsaved attenders/seekers/sinners to turn from their sinful ways and accept Christ as Saviour and Lord. And it has been decades since I’ve seen an EFCI tract rack with “hellfire and brimstone” tracts, or heard Evangelical Friends singing old-time gospel hymns such as “There is a Fountain Filled With Blood.”

Regarding the loss of emphasis on “the Blood and the Cross” – not just in the EFCI but in many evangelical denominations – I have reposted an excellent sermon on this below. Click here for the original source of the sermon. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

The Offense of the Cross
by Josef Urban

“And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offense of the cross ceased” (Galatians 5:11). Paul’s Gospel had teeth. It bit hard into the kingdom of darkness and ripped chunks from it wherever it came. He didn’t make his message smooth and soft in order to suit the fancies of the religious majority. His Gospel was a sharp word that exalted Christ, lifted the cross up high, proclaimed total commitment to Christ the King, and utterly stripped man of all self-reliance, shattering self-righteousness, tearing down false religion, and leaving men stripped bare before God in utter dependence on His free grace alone to save them.

And of course, with a Gospel like this, Paul suffered persecution wherever he went. Yet he didn’t dare water-down the potency of the truth of God. He didn’t compromise his message in order to make it more acceptable to the people. He didn’t pervert it to make it look pretty. He proclaimed, “This is the way, the only way! Walk ye in it!” and pronounced a thundering “Anathema!” on anybody that dared to tamper with the message and preach another gospel (Gal. 1:6-9).

Yet this is exactly what was happening in the church at Galatia. False teachers had come in and deceived the brethren by perverting the Gospel. They were preaching that in addition to believing in Christ, it’s necessary to be circumcised according to the Law of Moses. They were adding to the Gospel, changing the message to make it more acceptable. Paul said of them: “As many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ” (Galatians 6:12). False teachers and false brethren today are rarely found preaching circumcision as necessary for salvation. However, they are still doing the same thing to the Gospel, adding to it and taking away from it in order to make it less offensive and more acceptable to the religious folk who fill the churches, in order that they don’t have to suffer persecution for the sake of the message. They take away the “offense of the cross” and in doing so, take away the heart and substance of the Gospel.

Paul’s Gospel exalted the cross of Jesus Christ. Paul preached salvation solely through the finished work of the cross, and preached abroad that those who are to be saved by grace must identify themselves with this bloody cross. He preached that men need to believe in Christ, and that the result of believing is an identification with the cross. He gloried in the fact that he was “crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20). He preached that the sinful flesh needs to be crucified; that the carnal man has to be put to death. Any who refuse to thus nail themselves to the cross are unworthy of the great, glorious Gospel of Christ. Any who water down the Gospel and dilute the message to make it more acceptable to carnal men or to tailor to the religious status quo, refusing to suffer for the sake of the Gospel are enemies of the cross, serving their own bellies, minding earthly things, and will face destruction (Phi. 3:18-19). There is no compromise here. Those that don’t like the message are the enemies of the cross.

Paul’s Gospel was offensive, highly offensive. He boasted that his message contained “the offense of the cross” and would not dare to cause such offense to cease. To him, the fact that there was such an offense was proof that he was preaching the true Gospel. He knew that the true Gospel would stir up devils and provoke the wrath of wicked men, and thus at times cause offense. And he continued to preach this true Gospel to the very end, even though it was “foolishness to those who are perishing”, because he knew that it was the power of God to those who believed and embraced it, resulting in salvation (1 Cor. 1:21). In addition to demolishing Satanic strongholds and turning multitudes from darkness to light, from the power of Satan unto God, the result of preaching this was angry mobs, getting stoned, being whipped and scourged, getting thrown into prison, being hated everywhere he went, and ultimately being beheaded in Rome.

Why doesn’t our “gospel” today get us persecuted? Why does it sit so well with the religious masses? Why doesn’t it bite and cut and wound and hack and kill false religiosity? Because it’s not God’s Gospel! It’s not the sharp, two-edged sword that pierces hearts and slashes through false religious ideologies. It doesn’t wound the consciences of hardened sinners and cause them to cry out in godly sorrow, “What must I do to be saved?” It doesn’t tear away the false foundations and strip away their false hopes, and so it leaves us building on a faulty foundation that’s not going to stand when the floods of God’s just judgment come against it. There’s no digging deep in plowing up the hardened ground by preaching the offense of the cross and calling for deep repentance, so there’s not a solid foundation laid that will endure to life everlasting. The result is that multitudes are trusting in a false “gospel” that pampers the flesh and are blindly walking down the wide road that leads to destruction.

In taking away the offensiveness of preaching heart-repentance from sin and biblical justification by faith and the necessity of bowing to the Lordship of Christ, and in taking away the offensiveness of the message of the cross, we have destroyed the foundation of the Gospel. We need to get back to the offensive message of self-denial, crucifixion to the world and the flesh, of dying to sin, and of preaching salvation as the sovereign work of God’s free grace, given freely to men on the basis of faith in Christ alone apart from any merit or work of their own. Perhaps when we get back to preaching the unadulterated truth of the real Gospel, men and devils will come against us in opposition too. Perhaps when we get back to preaching the truth, we will find that there’s nothing new under the sun, and that the same Gospel has always had the same results, in the 1st century and in the 21st century.

The problem today is that the modern church has a severe lack of holy troublemakers. What I mean is that the great Spirit that brought about reformations in church history is largely void in today’s church, though it is sorely needed. The Spirit of Elijah is gone from our midst. Elijah was a holy man of God. He preached an offensive message, a message of repentance and God’s judgment against sin. He had power with God, and as the judgment of God against the sin of Israel, there was no rain at Elijah’s word for three and a half years. After that time, Elijah appeared to the wicked king, Ahab, and Ahab shouted out, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?” (1 Ki. 18:17). Elijah was a holy troublemaker to the sin, false religion and Baal worship of that day. But it wasn’t Elijah that caused the main trouble; it was the sin of Israel. Elijah responded to the wicked king: “I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim” (1 Ki. 18:18).

This often happens today. When a man of God rises up and starts preaching an offensive message of the cross, of dying to self, of God’s judgment against sin, of the true Gospel, he is often accused of being contentious, or factious, or as a troublemaker. Yet it is not the Gospel that is the trouble, even though many times people don’t like it. The real trouble is the sin in the church and false religiosity. The true problem is the worship of the Baal’s, of “another Jesus” that is so often preached today that resembles a nice, soft, fluffy teddy bear that is the sinner’s accessory for life-enhancement more than He resembles the ferocious, triumphant Lion of Judah that demands absolute worship and obedience who demands that all be reconciled to Him or else be ripped to shreds when His wrath is kindled but a little (Psa. 2:12). –Now, the wrath of the Lamb isn’t the only attribute of our blessed Lord, nor should that be all we preach. Jesus is a friend of repentant sinners, and full of mercy and love such as no finite mind can fathom, freely wiping away the sins of the most wretched on earth and bestowing on former rebels of the Kingdom the greatest riches of the Kingdom. However, the truth is that there is a great lack in the majority of the professing church nowadays of preaching the full counsel of God, and reasoning of sin, righteousness, and judgment to come, and thundering forth the terrors of the Living God that shall one day soon fall grievously on the head of the wicked.

This is what we need today, when there has been such a soft “gospel” preached for so long, when the multitudes of religious masses fill the churches, comfortable in their sin, living at ease in Zion in lukewarm pleasure-seeking religion, serving a “Jesus” that is not the Jesus of the Bible, but is rather the bi-product of their own worldly culture and carnal thinking. We need zealous men who burn with Holy Ghost fire that have not been tamed-down by the religious status-quo, who will turn over the tables of the money-changers in the house of God, who will by the might of the Spirit smash the idols of materialism and greed, who will tear down the altars of the golden calves they call, “Jehovah”, who will prophesy against the false prophets of “another Jesus” the true word of the Lord. We need those who love Jesus enough to take a stand against the Devil and be persecuted for preaching a sharp, convicting message, that even though it offends, it also gloriously contains real power to deliver from sin and save souls.

The Apostle Paul was a holy troublemaker too. When he came to a certain city, the people cried out, “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also” (Act. 17:6).When he stood on trial before the Governor, he was accused of being one who stirred up trouble everywhere he went. They said of him, “For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes” (Act. 24:5). Paul was accused of being a ringleader in a troublemaking sect, because he tore down the religious status quo wherever he went by preaching a pure message of Christ and Him crucified, and utterly despised every false way that seeks to counterfeit or pervert the Gospel of God. The religious masses of his day didn’t like, and the ones of our day don’t like it, either.

Yet this is what we need today. We need preachers with a reformation Spirit to demolish the false foundations of Christian thinking we have in our modern day, and to exalt the old fashioned Gospel of the cross. It is only the real Gospel, the one that often offends both men and devils, that is the truth which can save those who believe. Perverting it, diluting it, changing it, and adulterating it will only lead to deception and destruction. We need to see the restoration of the true Gospel in the church, the one that has teeth that bites chunks into the cotton-candy “gospel” of our time, the one that is sharper than any two-edged sword and pierces hearts, the one that is mighty through God to demolish the strongholds of Satan, the one that God uses as the chief instrument to ignite a fire in the hearts of men and to bestow the grace of saving faith in His precious elect.

I’m not saying that we should purposely try to be offensive. We should never purposely offend anyone simply for the sake of being offensive or trying to conjure up a rude awakening by the methods of the flesh. We should be filled and dripping with the love of Christ when we share the Gospel, evidencing the blessed fruit of the Spirit, led by the Spirit of Truth and speaking not as mere men, but as the oracles of God. We should actually go out of our way to ensure that the way we act and what we do doesn’t unnecessarily offend anyone so as not to put stumbling blocks in their way from accepting the Gospel. Paul said, “I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Cor. 9:22). No matter the amount of self-denial involved, Paul would go out of his way to make sure that the way he acted and what he did helped people to understand the Gospel, not push them further away from it. We must give honor to whom honor is due, and respect to all by all means as long as it doesn’t compromise the Gospel in any way. And while all this is certainly true, we have to check ourselves, because if the Gospel that we’re preaching isn’t offending anybody, it’s some heavy evidence that what we’re preaching isn’t the true, biblical Gospel of the cross. We must never, never, water down and adulterate the pure truths of the Word of God in order to make it more acceptable to the unregenerate!

Yet, today, there is a huge movement sweeping through the professing church that does this very thing. They take away expounding on the threats of God’s holy Law and warning of the judgment to come. They don’t mention the fury and wrath of God. They don’t preach the Biblical message of God’s holy hatred of sin. They don’t preach the blood of Christ and its utter necessity for making propitiation and appeasing offended Deity. They take away the preaching of repentance. They don’t preach the power of His resurrection and His grace that gives us victory over sin. They don’t expound on the necessity of the New Birth and of a definite conversion experience. Instead, they preach philosophy, psychology, and ear-tickling sermons that make rebels feel really good about themselves in their current state before God. They preach positive self-improvement, self-esteem, and self-help. And the masses just eat it up and want more!

Their strategy is to remove the “hard sayings” from the Word of God and to only preach what unregenerate sinners like to hear in order to grow their churches and increase their attendance and membership. They think, “Let’s not preach about the wrath of God against sin because it’ll offend somebody; instead let’s just preach how God loves everybody no matter who they are or how they live”. And by preaching a sugarcoated “gospel” their goal is to grow their meetings –and it works. It’s not a rare thing to find a huge mega church in every city in the US that uses these very methods of ear-tickling half-truth “gospels”. They call it, “seeker-sensitive”. But, as one preacher put it, “There’s only one seeker and that’s God!” There are none that seek after God, apart from a work of grace in their hearts after God has first sought them. We should labor to make our churches God-friendly. And we can only do this when we preach the whole truth!

What example did Jesus lay down for us to follow? Did He take out important truths from the Gospel, truths that people didn’t like to hear, in order to please men and make more disciples for Himself? –Certainly not! To the contrary, His preaching cut through all the false pretenses and impure motives of those who seemed to be seeking God, and He would expose the hearts of the people and proclaim the very truths that they didn’t like to hear!

In John 6, after multiplying bread and feeding a multitude, a great mass of people followed Him. But their motive wasn’t the love of the truth and the glory of God and to honor Jesus for His mighty miraculous power. Their motive was selfishness, because they were following Him because He fed them with bread. Jesus didn’t mince words –He cut straight through their impure motives and said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled” (Jo. 6:26). Jesus continued to preach and expound on the truth, revealing their false motives and proclaiming that He is the true bread which came down from Heaven. This offended them, and they began to murmer against Him (vv. 41-42).

Many were offended at His word. Did He know they would be offended? –Of course! The words He spoke were not even His own, they were the words of the Father Himself, the very words of God. Not one word was spoken outside of the direct order of God. It was God’s plan to preach to these people in such as a way as to turn them back from following Jesus because, again, they motive was not pure and acceptable before God. He would rather have a few wholehearted followers than a multitude of lukewarm self-centered hypocrites who appear to follow Jesus outwardly while inwardly their motive is to gratify their own selfish desires.

In this discourse Jesus continued to say what some of the most offensive things one could possibly say to a Jew: He made Himself out to be greater than Moses, their greatest prophet, and on top of this, made the shocking statement that one must eat His flesh and drink His blood to have eternal life. What an outrage this must have caused! These are people who won’t even touch shrimp or ham, let alone eat flesh and drink blood! They were certainly offended. And not only were the Jews in general offended, but many of those who were at that time His disciples, who were following Him, were offended as well:

“Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is a hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father” (Jo. 6:60-65).

And the result of this whole discourse brings us to the only “666” in the Bible outside of Revelation, that is, John 6:66, which says, “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.” That is, many of those who were following Him were offended at His word and left their outward form of following Him. But the truth is that they never were truly following Him with all their hearts. Though they had an outward profession of faith, they didn’t have the inward work of grace to make their profession a spiritual reality in their lives. Jesus spoke the sharp, two-edged cutting word of God that sliced through their false outward profession and cut down the religious pretense, leaving nothing but the motive of the hearts exposed. Though He knew this would cause them to turn away from their outward profession, He knew that it was the best thing to do for the sake of maintaining the purity of the church at that time.

Why did He do this? –Because He knew that all those who were given to Him by His Father would come to Him, hear from Him, accept His words, have their spiritual understanding opened, and believe in Him and be saved. Those who were His own precious, elect sheep, having light from above, would understand that He didn’t speak of physically eating His flesh and blood, but of spiritually partaking of the real substance of His Being in the most intimate way –of deriving their very life from His life, and living every day in the reality of His broken body and shed blood for their salvation.

So while the hypocrites and false followers are chased away by the preaching of hard truth, the genuine and true followers are edified by it and drawn closer to Him through it. Preaching the offense of the cross, the hard truth of the word of God has a way of leaving the true children of God in awe and edified in the inner man, since most of the “meat” of the Gospel that gives us the most strength is initially hard to digest for the natural man. In light of this, for the sake of the truth of the Gospel, we must never take away any truth from it for the sake of making it acceptable to the carnal masses. If the true Gospel scares people off and offends hypocrites, let them go! It’s better to have God with us through the preaching of the true Gospel and the people against us then it is to have the people for us and God against us!

Let’s follow the example of the Lord Jesus who spoke truth without regard to its consequences. Our job is to proclaim the Gospel, and God’s job is to ensure results. We do our part, and then God will do His. But we dare not try to take God’s job by seeking to conjure up results by tampering with the message! What a damnable thing! The cross is a scandal, an offense to the world! Let’s leave it at that!

Apparently, the true Gospel that Jesus came to herald was one that was so offensive that He pronounced a special blessing on all those who were able to receive it: “And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me” (Luke 7:23). It takes a special blessing not to be offended in Christ. This must mean that most people, if they hear and understand the true Gospel, and see and hear the true Jesus, will in some measure be offended or will be unable to believe and be saved. This is quite the contrast to the lukewarm “gospel” we hear so often today, that offends nobody, that is easily embraced by the sinful multitudes who love to hear these humanistic ideas about God preached and are never shaken from their complacency, never get alarmed over their sinful condition, never depart from their iniquity, and never embrace the cross of Christ in identification with His sufferings or bow the knee of submissive obedience to His Lordship –things which are essential characteristics of true faith and necessary evidence of the reality of the Gospel in one’s life.

This true, offensive Gospel, far from being accepted by the world, was a scandal to the world, and the world hated it!  It ended up getting our Lord nailed to a tree. This true Gospel, according to early historical records, ended up getting the Apostle Peter crucified as well (that is, crucified upside down). It ended up getting all the Apostles martyred, except for John, who was banished as a condemned criminal to the Isle of Patmos. This true Gospel will never be accepted by the world and its ungodly system or the prince of darkness who oversees it. It will always be a scandal, an offense, a sword between those who follow it and those who refuse to (see Mat. 10:34-36). Where is this Gospel today? Surely, wherever it is, persecution tends to follow it in some form or another, but thank God; genuine salvation does too! And so does revival!

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I hold to the Wesleyan Holiness position of conditional security, not unconditional security. That is, I believe a truly born again Christian can fall away from the Faith and not make it to Heaven.

However, I believe it is a misnomer that one “loses” his salvation (as one would lose a valuable possession like a piece of jewelry). When a born again Christian choses to turn his back  on Christ, God “lets him go” to condemnation to eternal punishment. God does not turn His back on people – people turn their backs on Him. But as long as they are on this earth, people can still return to salvation by turning back to Christ and accepting Him once again. Only God knows our hearts, who is truly saved and who is not.

Following is my repost of an article on this issue, originally found here. I hope to add additional comments as I have time, emphasizing certain points by bolding, and inserting comments in [brackets]:

Eternal Security & Apostasy:
Can a Child of God Fall from Grace and Be Lost?

Can a child of God fall from grace and be lost, or are we once saved, always saved? Eternal security, perseverance, and impossibility of apostasy - a study of Calvinism

One of the major points of Calvinism is “the eternal security of the believer” or the “perseverance of the saints.” It is also called “impossibility of apostasy,” or simply “once saved, always saved.” The doctrine teaches that it is impossible for a child of God to so sin as to fall from grace and be eternally lost. It is based on the belief that salvation is unconditional, so there is nothing a person can do to be saved; and once he is saved there is nothing he can do to be lost. What does the Bible teach about falling from grace?

Introduction:

Many people believe that, when a person becomes a child of God, afterward it is impossible for him to so sin as to fall from grace and be eternally lost.

This doctrine is one of the five major points of Calvinism. It is often called “the eternal security of the believer,” “perseverance of the saints,” “impossibility of apostasy,” or simply “once saved, always saved.” Several major denominations officially believe the doctrine, though some do not emphasize it and as a result the members may not be aware of it.

The Westminster Confession adopted by most Presbyterian churches, states:

“They whom God hath accepted in his Beloved, effectually called and sanctified by his Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace; but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved … Nevertheless they may, through the temptations of Satan … fall into grievous sins…” (Book of Confessions of the United Presbyterian Church, 1967 Ed., Sec. 6.086-6.088).

The Philadelphia Confession, adopted by many Baptist churches, is almost identical to the above.

Sam Morris, “Pastor” of the First Baptist Church, Stamford, Texas, expressed the doctrine in its most extreme form as follows:

“We take the position that a Christian’s sins do not damn his soul! The way a Christian lives, what he says, his character, his conduct, or his attitude toward other people have nothing whatever to do with the salvation of his soul … All the prayers a man may pray, all the Bibles he may read, all the churches he may belong to, all the services he may attend, all the sermons he may practice, all the debts he may pay, all the ordinances he may observe, all the laws he may keep, all the benevolent acts he may perform will not make his soul one whit safer; and all the sins he may commit from idolatry to murder will not make his soul in any more danger … The way a man lives has nothing whatever to do with the salvation of his soul.” (Morris, A Discussion Which Involves a Subject Pertinent to All Men, pp. 1,2; via Handbook of Religious Quotations, p. 24)

The purpose of this study is to examine what the Bible says about falling from grace.

It would be very comforting if this doctrine were true. However, if it is not true, then it would be a very dangerous doctrine because it would give people a false sense of security. People would not be on their guard against sin, and may not see any need to repent of sins, if they thought they would still be saved eternally despite their sins. If however they will be lost for sins they do not repent of, then such people are in grave danger. Surely it is important for us to know what the Bible teaches.

We can all agree that there is security for those who serve God faithfully. If we study God’s word diligently and honestly, if we strive to overcome sin in our lives, and if we diligently repent and ask forgiveness for our sins, then we definitely have assurance and security regarding our eternal destiny. The question, however, is whether it is possible for a child of God to cease being faithful, to become disobedient, fail to repent, and so be lost.


Part 1: Evidence that a Child of God
Can Sin and Be Lost


A. Passages Warning Christians about the Danger of Sin

The Bible teaches that there are conditions a person must meet in order to receive forgiveness and become a child of God. Likewise there are conditions one must meet to continue faithful after becoming a child of God. Many passages warn us to be careful to meet these conditions else we will not receive eternal life. In each case we will note first that the passage is addressed to children of God. Then we will note that we are warned to avoid sin or we will be lost.

John 15:1-6 – We must bear fruit or be cast off.

Disciples are described as branches “in Christ” (v2,5, etc.) who have been cleansed by His word (v3).

But if they don’t bear fruit and abide in Christ (v2,4-6), they will be taken away (v2), cast into the fire and burned (v6). (Abiding in Jesus and bearing fruit requires obedience – I John 3:6,24; John 15:10; Gal. 5:19ff; etc.)

Romans 8:12-17 – We must live according to the Spirit, not the flesh.

This is addressed to children of God (v16).

We are warned not to live according to the deeds of the flesh but be led by the Spirit. If we live according to the flesh, we will die (v13). This cannot be physical death since we all die physically regardless of how we live. This death is the opposite of the life we receive if we follow the Spirit.

To be heirs of Christ, we must be led of the Spirit (v14) and suffer with Christ (v17). It is conditional and depends on our life.

Galatians 6:7-9 – We must sow to the Spirit, not the flesh.

This is addressed to members of the church (1:2), sons of God by faith (3:26). [Cf. 4:6]

We will reap as we sow. If we sow to the spirit (i.e., if we produce the fruit of the Spirit – 5:22-25), we will reap eternal life (v8). If we sow to the flesh (do the works of the flesh – 5:19-21), we reap corruption (6:8), which is the opposite of eternal life. In this case, we cannot inherit the kingdom of God (5:21).

We reap eternal life if we don’t grow weary in doing good (v9). Note: “Be not deceived.” Yet “once saved, always saved” is a doctrine that deceives many into thinking they will still reap eternal life even if they sow to the flesh.

1 Corinthians 9:27 & 10:12 – We must control our bodies and avoid sinning like Israel did.

9:25-27 – Paul, who was an apostle and therefore a child of God, was striving to gain the imperishable crown (v25). He had to discipline his body and bring it into subjection lest he himself be disqualified (NKJV; “a castaway” – KJV; “rejected” – ASV). (KJV elsewhere translates this word “reprobate” – 2 Cor. 13:5; Rom. 1:28; 2 Tim. 3:8; Tit. 1:16).

10:1-12 – Israel is an example showing us the importance of avoiding sin. The people to whom this warning applies (“we,” “us”) include the church, sanctified saints (1:2; cf. 1:9), and the apostle Paul.

This is an example and admonition to us (v6,11). We should not lust after evil (v6), commit idolatry (v7), commit fornication (v8), etc. One who thinks he stands, must take heed lest he fall (v12). In context, this means he will not receive the crown Paul described (9:25-27). 6:9,10 show that people guilty of these sins won’t receive the kingdom of God.

Note that a person who believes in “once saved, always saved” thinks he cannot fall. This passage is addressed to just such people and shows that they are the ones in the very greatest danger that they will fall!

Hebrews 3:6,11-14; 4:9,11 – We must avoid rebelling like Israel.

This is addressed to “holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling” (v1).

Israel failed to enter God’s rest because they lacked faith and obedience. We too must guard lest we have an evil heart of unbelief, departing from God (v12), and become hardened through the deceitfulness of sin (v13).

To partake with Christ, we must hold fast our confidence (faith) firm to the end (3:6,14). If we do so depart, we will not enter the rest God has for us (4:9,11). Note that receiving the eternal reward is conditional on continued faithfulness.

Hebrews 10:26-31,39 – We must avoid willful sin.

This is speaking to those who know the truth (v26) and have been sanctified by the blood (v29). It is discussing the Lord’s judgment on “His people” (v30).

We are warned not to sin willfully (v26). As long as we go on sinning willfully (NASB – v26), there is no sacrifice for sin. (This is not discussing what will happen if such people repent and change but what our condition is as long as this conduct continues.)

Such people are trodding underfoot God’s Son (v29), doing despite to the Spirit of grace, counting the blood by which we were sanctified unholy (v29). Their only future is fierceness of fire (v27), sorer punishment than physical death under the law (v28f), vengeance from God (v30).

This is why we must not shrink back to perdition (v39).

2 Peter 1:8-11; 2:20-22 – We must grow in Christ instead of returning to the world.

1:8-11 – This is spoken to those who have obtained like precious faith (v1), escaped the corruption of the world (v4), and been purged from old sins (v9).

We must add to our lives the qualities listed (v5-7). If we do, we make our calling and election sure so we don’t stumble (v10), but we receive the abundant entrance to the everlasting kingdom (v11). Note there is security for the believer, but it is conditional on growing and adding these qualities.

2:20-22 – This is still talking to people who have escaped the pollution of the world (v20), knowing the way of righteousness (v21). [cf. v1,15]

We are warned not to become entangled again in the world (v20), turning from the holy command (v21). If we do, we are worse off than we were before we knew the truth (v20). We are like a dog returning to vomit or a sow returning to mire (v22). [cf., v1,3]

But if “once saved, always saved,” then this dog is much better off after returning to the vomit than he was before.

Romans 6:12-18 – We must not let sin reign in our bodies.

These were baptized into Christ (v3,4), set free from sin, and become servants of righteousness (v18).

They are warned not to let sin reign in their bodies nor present their members as instruments of sin (v12,13). The result of that would be death (v16). This must be spiritual again, since all die physically. The wages of sin, even for those here addressed, is death, in contrast to eternal life (v23).

Hebrews 6:4-8 – We must avoid falling away.

This is addressed to those once enlightened, who tasted the heavenly gift and the good word of God and were partakers of the Holy Spirit (v4,5).

We are warned not to fall away (v6). If they continue in this pattern of life (implied), they cannot be restored. They are crucifying Jesus afresh and putting Him to an open shame (v6). Their destiny is to be burned like a field of thorns (v8).

Revelation 3:5; Exodus 32:30-33 – We must avoid having our names removed from the Book of Life.

Those whose names are in the book of Life will enter the eternal city, but those not in it are cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 21:27; 20:12-15). But people whose names are in the book, may be removed because of sin (Ex. 32:30-33). Those guilty of sin CANNOT enter the city (Rev. 21:27). But those who overcome will not be blotted out of the book (Rev. 3:5). [Cf. Rev. 22:18,19]

Why would God continually warn of the danger of sin and being lost if it cannot happen? Do human parents warn their children to be careful how they flap their wings lest they fly too high and crash into the moon? God is not the author of confusion (I Cor. 14:33). Why waste time warning us about dangers that cannot happen anyway?

B. Bible Examples of Christians Who Sinned & Stood Condemned.

The Bible not only warns us to be on guard lest we fail to meet the conditions for remaining faithful, but it also mentions specific people who did fall. This is not just a theoretical possibility. It is a practical reality. In fact, it has happened to many people, and could happen to us if we are not diligent.

Genesis 3:1-6 – Adam and Eve

God said if they ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they would surely die (2:16,17).

3:4 – Satan said if Eve ate, she would not die. She ate and we know the result. This event is used in 2 Cor. 11:3 as an example to us of the danger of falling into sin.

Satan was the first one to teach the doctrine of “impossibility of apostasy.” God stated the consequence of sin, but Satan denied that the consequence would follow. Today God has stated the consequences of sin, and Satan uses preachers to deny the consequences. The doctrine of “once saved, always saved” was originated and first preached by Satan himself.

The nation of Israel

The Old Testament contains countless examples in which God’s people sinned and fell from God’s favor, both individually and collectively. (Lev. 26; Deut. 28-30; I Sam. 12:10; chaps. 10-16; 28:15,16; I Chron. 28:9; 2 Chron. 15:2; 24:20; Isa. 1:28; Jer. 2:19,32 cf. Psa. 9:17; Jer. 3:6-14; 8:4-13; 9:12-16; Hos. 9:10; cf. Acts 7:37-43; Rev. 21:8)

The fact these are in the Old Testament does not diminish the lesson for us. The New Testament expressly warns us that the same principle applies to us – I Cor. 10:1-12; Heb. chap. 3,4. With regard to the possibility of God’s people sinning and being lost, the Old and New Testaments teach the same.

Christians who lost their faith

Hebrews 3:12 warned of the danger of developing an evil heart of unbelief like Israel. Many New Testament examples show people to whom this very thing happened:

2 Timothy 2:16-18 – Hymenaeus & Philetus strayed and overthrew the faith of some. (Faith cannot be overthrown in those who do not first possess it.)

1 Timothy 1:18-20 – Timothy should hold the faith and not be like Hymenaeus and Alexander, who made shipwreck concerning the faith and committed blasphemy.

1 Timothy 5:8 – Anyone (including a child of God) who doesn’t care for his family has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

What happens to people who lose their faith? Faith is essential to salvation. Those who lose it are no better off than those who never had it.

Hebrews 11:6 – Without faith it is impossible to please God (the application in the context of this book is to those who had faith but turn from it – 3:12; 10:30).

Revelation 21:8 – Unbelievers will be in the lake of fire.

Acts 8:12-24 – Simon the Sorcerer

Simon believed and was baptized (v13). This is what Jesus said one must do to be saved (Mark 16:16). This is what the other Samaritans did (v12). Simon did “ALSO” the same things the others did. If they were saved, he was saved. If he was not saved, then none of the others were saved.

But Simon later sinned. His heart was not right (v21), he was guilty of wickedness (v22), and was in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity (v23). As a result, he would perish (v20) if he did not repent and pray (v22).

Galatians 5:1-4 – The Judaizers

These people were children of God (3:26; cf. 1:2-4; 4:6), who had been set free by Christ (5:1). They had to be in grace if they fell from it (5:4).

They sinned in that they desired to go back to the Old Testament yoke of bondage (5:1) and bound circumcision. As a result, Christ profited them nothing (v2), they were severed from Christ (v4), fallen from grace (v4). They were not obeying truth (v7).

These were children of God who were in God’s grace but then fell from that grace so that Christ profited them nothing and they were severed from Christ. Can one receive eternal life if he is severed from Christ (Eph. 1:3-7) and fallen from the grace that saves (Eph. 2:8)?

“Once saved, always saved” is a tempting doctrine because it is comforting.

It tells people what they would like to hear. We would all like to think that, even if we or our loved ones fall into sin, they will still receive eternal life.

But it is a false doctrine because it clearly contradicts Scriptures in nearly every book of the Bible.

It is also a dangerous doctrine because it leads people to think they are safe even if they don’t examine their lives, don’t study the Bible, and don’t repent of sin. Furthermore, it leads preachers to not warn sinners that they need to repent.

I have personally known people who told me of terrible sins they deliberately and knowingly committed, justifying themselves because they believed it would not affect their salvation. I have known teachers who justified those very people saying that they would not have lost their salvation even when committed those sins.

Suppose a child is about to cross a busy street. Shouldn’t the parent warn the child to look carefully for traffic before they cross the street? People who advocate “once saved, always saved” are like a parent who not only does not warn the child, but worse yet tells him there is nothing to worry about because he can’t get hit, and if he does get hit, he won’t die!

Why should the child be warned? Because there is a very real danger. And the situation is most dangerous if the child is not on guard. The worst thing anyone can do to the child is to tell him there is no danger. Yet that is exactly what preachers do when they teach “once saved, always saved.” And this has eternal consequences, because souls are at stake.

Nevertheless, if the child is careful, he can cross the street safely despite the danger. So the best favor anyone can do for the child is to warn him of the danger, so he can avoid it. That is exactly what we do when we preach the Bible passages that warn Christians to avoid sin. It is not that we believe Christians have no security, but we know people are only secure when they are aware of the dangers, so they can be on guard.


Part 2: Evidence Offered to Show that a Child of God Cannot So Sin as to Be Lost


Folks are sometimes confused by passages that are used to defend “once saved, always saved.” We need to understand the arguments and how to answer them. Some of these passages do offer hope and security to believers, but they are conditional passages, and these conditions are often overlooked. If we study the verses in light of what we have already learned we will see that, while they do give security to those who are faithful, they do not teach unconditional “once saved, always saved.”

John 10:28,29 – “They shall never perish … no one shall snatch them out of my hand”

This is a wonderful promise. But is it, as the preacher said, so unconditional that a person’s soul cannot be lost no matter how he lives?

The context gives conditions – v27,28.

Note the word “and” repeated. Receiving life and never perishing are tied to hearing Jesus and following him. These are conditions, exactly like we have been teaching.

As the Good Shepherd, Jesus protects His sheep so no one can destroy them, as long as the sheep hear Jesus and follow Him. But what if they cease to hear and follow, as we have learned elsewhere they can do?

“Pluck” refers to an outside force.

“Pluck” (KJV) or “snatch” (NKJV, ASV) means “to seize, carry off by force” (Thayer), like the thief might do (v10,12). Neither Satan nor any outside force can steal you from the Lord, as long as you meet the conditions.

But we must “resist the devil,” and then we have assurance he will flee from us (James 4:7). What happens if, through negligence or willful rebellion, we wander away from the protection of Jesus’ fold?

Sheep can stray from the shepherd’s protection.

Luke 15:3-7 – 100 sheep belonged to the shepherd (v4,6), but one became lost.

Acts 20:28-30 – Wolves may enter among the flock, speak perverse things, and draw away the disciples. They cannot compel us to follow them and be lost. We may still choose to follow the Lord’s voice. But false teachers can lure us, attract us, and tempt us.

I Peter 5:8,9 – Satan is a roaring lion seeking to devour us. If we do not withstand him, he can capture and destroy us. But we can withstand him if we have faith and vigilance. This is what Jesus promised in John 10. (John 17; 6:37-40; I Pet. 2:25).

If sheep cannot possibly stray, even of their own free will, then this would deny our free moral power to choose. We could not become lost even if we wanted to!

1 John 3:9 – One begotten of God “does not sin … he cannot sin”

We must take all the Bible says on any subject (Matt. 4:6,7; Acts 3:22,23).

We have already shown many passages showing that it is possible for a child of God to sin. Many more verses, even in 1 John and addressed to these same people, show this is true:

1 John 1:8,10 – If we say we don’t sin, we lie and truth is not in us. This is exactly the condition of some folks who argue for “once saved, always saved”!

1 John 2:1,2 – John wrote so we would avoid sin. Jesus is our propitiation if we do sin. If sin is impossible, why write, and why would we need propitiation?

1 John 2:15-17 – Love not the world. If we do, we don’t love the Father (cf. I Cor. 16:22). Why warn us, if it is impossible to be guilty?

1 John 5:21 – Guard yourself from idols. Why, if it is impossible to be guilty of sin?

2 Peter 2:14 – Some children of God (v1,15) “cannot cease from sin”! If I John 3:9 means children of God cannot possibly commit sin, then this passage means these children of God cannot possibly quit sinning!

Clearly 1 John 3:9 does not mean sin is impossible, else we have contradictions in the Bible. In fact, many people who believe “once saved, always saved,” will admit sin is possible (see quotes in introduction).

“Does not sin” refers to persisting in the practice of sin (see NASB).

A true child of God may occasionally commit acts of sin, but he must repent, confess, and be forgiven by Jesus’ blood (1:9; 2:2). He must not continue in the practice of sin. Why not?

“God’s seed abides” in the child of God.

The seed that begets us, so we become children of God, is the word of God:

1 Peter 1:23-25 – We are begotten again by the incorruptible seed which is the Word of God.

James 1:18 – We are begotten by the word of truth.

1 John 2:14,24 – The word of God, which we heard, abides in us. [Luke 8:11ff; I Cor. 4:15; I John 1:10; 2:5,7]

How does the this seed abide in us? Can it cease abiding in us?

1 John 1:10 – If we say we do not sin, His word is not in us. We may still know what it says, but we have rejected it.

John 5:38 – If we do not believe Jesus, God’s word does not abide in us.

Acts 2:41 – Those who gladly received the word were baptized. Receiving the word requires believing and obeying it. Otherwise we are rejecting it. (I Thess. 2:13)

To have the word abiding in us means to have a receptive attitude toward it, believing and obeying it, applying it in our lives. If this is our attitude, 1 John 3:9 says we will not continue in the practice of sin. Of course not, because to do so would be to reject the word so it no longer abides in us!

Note Psalms 119:11 – Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You! This is exactly what 1 John 3:9 says.

But can we cease believing the word, studying it, and striving to live by it? We have shown that we can. If we do, the seed no longer abides in us, so we practice sin.

“He cannot sin”

Does this mean it is humanly impossible under any circumstances to transgress?

“Can” (Gk DUNAMAI) means: “to be able, have power, whether by virtue of one’s own ability and resources, or of state of mind, or through favorable circumstances, or by permission of law and custom” (Thayer).

Examples elsewhere show it does not necessarily mean physical or human impossibility, but rather that law, state of mind, or circumstances do not allow it:

1 Corinthians 10:21 – You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons (it is not lawful).

Acts 4:20 – We cannot but speak the things we have seen and heard (law and state of mind do not permit it).

Mark 2:19 – Sons of the bridechamber cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them (circumstances make it such that no one would do it).

Hence 1 John 3:9 means that, when one has accepted God’s word into his heart and so becomes a child of God, his attitude and the principles of the word will not allow him to continue practicing sin. God’s word (the seed) has become the guiding principle of his heart, and it would be inconsistent with this to continue practicing sin.

For example, suppose an employer asks a Christian employee to tell a lie. The Christian replies, “I can’t do a thing like that.” Is it physically impossible? No, but it is completely contrary to his nature as a child of God. As long as his attitude toward God’s word is right, he will not do it.

The Body Sins, but the Spirit Does Not

We are told that we may physically do things that violate God’s word, but He does not hold our spirit accountable for what the body does.

Those who teach this doctrine are obligated to produce Scripture to prove it.

It is not enough to make the claim. They must give Scripture.

Is the spirit responsible for the good deeds of the body? If so, why not also for the bad deeds?

If they cite Rom. 7:25 & 8:1, note 7:23 and 8:6-17 which show the man is condemned for the sins of the body.

Many Scriptures show that God holds the spirit (inner man) accountable for the sins of the outer man.

1 Corinthians 6:9,10,13,15,18-20 – Fornicators will not inherit the kingdom of God. But this is a sin of the body. The body is a member of Christ, a temple of the Spirit, and belongs to God so it should be used for His glory (this shows the people addressed are children of God, bought with a price, etc.). [cf. 3:16,17]

Mark 7:20-23 – Evil (done by the body) proceeds from the heart and defiles a man. [Prov. 23:7; 4:23]

2 Corinthians 5:10 – We will be judged for deeds done in the body. Our spirits will be held accountable for what the body does.

Romans 6:12,16,23 – People who have been baptized into Christ (v3,4) and made free from sin (v18), must not let sin reign in their mortal bodies. If we do, we are servants of sin and must die (v16,23).

1 Corinthians 9:27 – Paul buffeted his body to bring it in subjection, let he be a castaway.

Romans 8:13 – We must put to death the deeds of the body in order to live. Otherwise, we will die.

[2 Cor. 7:1; Rom. 12:1,2; Gal. 5:19-24; Acts 8:20-22]

Passages that Say We Have Eternal Life

Numerous passages are cited which say we have eternal life: John 10:28; 17:3; 5:24; 3:36; 6:47; 3:16; I John 5:12,13. Some argue that, if we have it, and if it is eternal, then we cannot lose it. If we do, it wasn’t eternal.

We have eternal life now only as a promise or hope.

1 John 2:25 – This is the promise He has promised us, even life eternal.

James 1:12 – The crown of life which the Lord promised to those who love Him.

Titus 1:2; 3:7 – The hope of eternal life, which God promised.

We receive eternal life, in the sense of a present possession, only after earthly life is over and then only if we endure faithfully till life is over.

Luke 18:30 – We receive eternal life “in the world to come.”

Romans 2:5-7 – Eternal life will be given at the judgment IF we continue patiently in well doing. [This is the same time that the wicked will receive eternal punishment – Matt. 25:46. Does this happen in this life?]

Revelation 2:10 – Be faithful until death and receive the crown of life.

In this life, we “have” eternal life in the sense of a promise or a hope based on faith. But we actually enter eternal life at the judgment if and only if we continue living faithfully till life is over. This is a conditional promise. We will be lost if we fail to meet the conditions.

The proof texts, used to defend “present possession” of eternal life, themselves state conditions to be met.

John 5:24 – He who hears and believes. But we have shown that one can cease doing these.

John 6:47; 3:16,36 – He that believes. But one can cease believing.

1 John 5:13 – V11,12 speak of those who believe on the Son, and life is IN the Son. But we can cease believing and fail to abide in Him (John 15:1-8).

John 10:27,28 – Hear Jesus’ voice and follow Him.

John 17:3 – Know God. But one can forget God, turn from Him, and cease to know Him (I John 2:3-6; Jer. 3:21,22; Psa. 9:17; 106;12,21,24).

Note also that saving faith requires obedience, and to cease to obey is to cease to have a saving faith – James 2:14-26; Heb. 10:39; chap. 11; Gal. 5:6; etc.

The fact life is “eternal” does not prove we cannot lose it. “Eternal” describes the nature of the life. It has nothing to do with whether it can or cannot be lost.

Example: Suppose someone offers me a watch guaranteed to work for 50 years, but I must do some task in order to receive it. It is still a “50-year watch” regardless of whether or not I do the job and receive it.

These passages discuss the reward believers will receive as a result of their current state. But they are not discussing what would happen if they change their state.

The passages are not intended to discuss everything about what can happen to a child of God. They are written to help us appreciate the blessings we have, or to encourage people to become children of God. But God does not put all His will in a single verse or passage. We are expected to study other Scripture. When we do, we learn that we ultimately receive the reward only if faithful. It is misusing these verses to teach from them something they do not necessarily mean and which contradicts other passages.

Consider the consequences if we used this reasoning on passages that describe the lost. John 3:36 says unbelievers shall not see life. Shall we conclude this too cannot change (like people argue on the first part of the verse)? If a person is lost, does this prove he can never change and be saved? “Once lost, always lost”? [Cf. John 5:24; Heb. 6:4-8; 10:26ff]

If we can see how unsaved people can change their state and become saved, despite such verses as this, then in the same way we can understand how saved people can change their state and become lost.

This same approach works with most other arguments for “once saved always saved.” Consistently applied to passages about lost people, the same arguments would prove “once lost, always lost.”

Jesus’ Blood Sacrifice Is Sufficient.

Some folks say that Jesus’ death is all we need to be saved. If we argue that there are things we need to do to be saved, including living a faithful life, they say we are denying the power of Jesus’ death.

We agree Jesus’ blood has the power to cleanse all sin. But the question is whether it cleanses conditionally or unconditionally. We cannot earn salvation, but are there conditions we must meet to receive the forgiveness?

Jesus died for all people. If His death is all we need, and people need do nothing at all, then all would be saved.

1 Timothy 2:6 – Jesus gave His life a ransom for all.

Hebrews 2:9 – By the grace of God, Jesus tasted death for all men (the extent of this is shown in v15).

John 3:16 – God gave His Son for the world because of His love.

1 John 2:2 – Jesus is propitiation for the sins, not just of Christians, but for the whole world. [cf. I John 4:14]

Romans 5:18,19 – By Jesus’ act of righteousness (His death – v8,9), justification came to all men.

If Jesus’ death is “sufficient” and “all we need,” then why aren’t all men saved, since He died for all? But we know that not all will be saved (Matt. 7:13,14; etc.). So there must be something that distinguishes the saved from the unsaved. There are conditions we must meet.

God is no respecter of persons.

Romans 2:6-11 – God distinguishes the saved from the lost “without respect of persons” or partiality. If Jesus’ death was all there was to it, then He must save everybody or else be a respecter of person. Instead, there is a distinction on the basis of our conduct – whether we work evil or continue in doing good.

Acts 10:34,35 – God is no respecter of persons, but those who fear Him and work righteousness are accepted. True, we cannot earn salvation. But there is a way God distinguishes between those who will be saved by His son’s blood from those who will not – our faith and works.

When people claim that Jesus’ death is all there is to it and people do not need to do anything to be saved, they unknowingly make God a respecter of persons.

If Jesus’ blood saves by itself with no conditions to be met, then why is faith necessary?

In practice, everyone admits there are some conditions necessary to be saved by Jesus’ blood. Most people admit we must believe. Many agree we must repent and confess Christ. (See John 3:16; 8:24; 2 Pet. 3:9; Rom. 10:9,10; 6:3,4; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Mark. 16:16; etc.) But these are simply conditions we must meet to receive the benefit of Jesus’ death. To admit this is to admit Jesus’ death alone, without conditions people must meet, will not save.

But if we agree there are conditions people must meet to be saved, then why object when we point out from the Scriptures that these necessary conditions include baptism and a faithful life? These no more deny the power of Jesus’ death than do faith, repentance, etc.

If you can recognize faith, etc., as necessary to salvation without denying the importance of Jesus’ death, then in the same way we believe baptism and a faithful life are also necessary without denying the importance of Jesus’ death.

The Bible expressly shows that there are conditions children of God must meet to be cleansed by Jesus’ blood.

1 John 1:7-9 – Children of God do sin (v8,10). To be cleansed by Jesus’ blood, we must “walk in the light” and “confess our sins.” To deny this is to deny the clear teaching of Scripture.

Acts 8:22 – A child of God (v12,13) who sinned was clearly told that, to be cleansed of his sin, he must repent and pray. It is Jesus’ blood that forgives. But just as there are conditions we must meet to be cleansed and become a child of God, so there are conditions we must meet to be cleansed after we are children of God.

Please note that we have many articles about related subjects on our web site. These include articles about the importance of obedience, election and predestination, original sin and inherited depravity, salvation by faith only, etc. Please see the list of links below.

(C) Copyright 1998, David E. Pratte
Local churches and individuals may, within limits, distribute this Bible study guide for free, but not for sale.  Web sites may link to this page but not reproduce it. For details click here for our copyright guidelines.

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(revised 02/27/14)

There are so many evangelical Christians falling away into apostasy in these End Times – sometimes I feel overwhelmed and discouraged. But then I remind myself there are many biblically sound Christian movements today that should be a source of great encouragement for all discerning, biblically sound Christians.

Following are a few of my favorite movements. I will be adding to this list as I come across more. Dear reader, I realize my list may be controversial. The list reflects my personal doctrinal stances – your list may be different.

The movements are listed alphabetically here, not in order of importance.

Abstinence movement
“Why Wait?” resources

Christian classics – Most Christian publishers are putting out fewer and fewer biblically sound Christian books. Yet at the same time, the Internet is providing us with more and more free, public domain biblically sound books viewable online, as well as inexpensive eBooks. No longer is our reading limited to “hard copy” publications.

– Google online ebooks advanced search page

Christian publishers – There are still a number of small, biblically sound Christian publishers. Click here for my blog listing many of these.

Church bookstores – It seems very few Christian bookstores are biblically sound. Most sell whatever sells well, regardless of how heretical the books, CDs, etc. Check out David Cloud’s article on a good alternative – church bookstores.

Confessing Movement – Mainly consisting of concerned Christians in mainline/liberal denominations. As the denominations grow more ungodly regarding homosexual “rights”, etc., these Christians are pushing for their local churches to become independent from their denominations. Click here and here for my blogs about this movement.

Conservative Holiness movement
Wikipedia article

Conservative Mennonites
Wikipedia article
Conservative Mennonite Fellowship

Creation Science (specifically, the Young Earth movement)
– Wikipedia article on Creation Science  (showing bias against it)
– Wikipedia article on Young Earth Creationism (showing bias against it)

Discernment Ministries, also called Online Discernment Ministries (ODMs).  For links to my favorite ODMs, scroll down to the bottom of the right hand side of my blog page, to the section entitled Blogroll.

Frugal living (downward mobility) – This is a biblical principle. Jesus commanded:

19) Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20) But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal…” (Matt. 6:19-20, KJV)

Since our economy took a downward turn in Fall 2008, many Christians have been forced into frugality, learning how to live on less. Perhaps this economic difficulty is God’s way of driving us to our knees, to rid us of materialism and draw us closer to Him.

Mary Hunt’s Debt-Proof Living
DaveRamsey.com

Homeschooling (Christian) and private Christian schools
– Wikipedia article on Homeschooling (secular)
HomeschoolChristian.com

Hymn websites – Paul encouraged the New Testament Christians to:

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” (Col. 3:16,  KJV).

Pew hymnbooks have disappeared from many churches since the early 1970s (the advent of Contemporary Christian Music). Thank the Lord for hymn websites, listing hymn lyrics and hymn tunes.

Hymnal.net
HymnSite.com

Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) churches (I prefer IFB churches holding to the positions of David Cloud at Way of Life Literature)

King James Bible movement (including adherents of the Textus Receptus NT and Masoretic OT)
David Cloud’s position on the KJV-only movement
Dean Burgon Society

KJV Bible publishing ministries (Bearing Precious Seed)

Mission agencies – These agencies focus on evangelism (saving souls). They do not use a missional/Kingdom Now/social holiness approach, nor do they support the Insider Movement/ Contextualization.
list of KJV Baptist missions
Biblical Missiology (a consortium, not a missions agency)
i2 Ministries

“Persecuted Christian” groups
Persecution.org
Voice of the Martyrs

Post-Trib movement – I grew up being taught the Pre-Trib Rapture theory. I now prefer the Post-Trib view – although I love to fellowship with all premillenialists, whether Pre-Trib, Mid-Trib or Post-Trib.
Post-Trib.net

Pro-Life movement
Wikipedia article on the Pro-Life movement

“Repentance Salvation” movement (I am using the phrase “repentance salvation” for lack of a better term) – This movement fights Easy Believism aka Easy Prayerism. This movement is mostly Independent Fundamentalist Baptist. Proponents are  David Cloud (IFB) and Paul Washer (Southern Baptist), to name a few.

Repentance Salvation overlaps with a movement perjoratively called “Lordship Salvation”, which is more extreme. Note – David Cloud opposes Lordship Salvation. Opponents of  Repentance Salvation often confuse it with Lordship Salvation, attacking both as equally heretical.

– This “Repentance Blacklist” was posted by a website critical of Repentance Salvation; I actually recommend most (but not all) of the names on this “blacklist”
– Wikipedia article about Paul Washer
“Repentance and Lordship Salvation”, by David Cloud
“Repentance and Lordship Salvation Revisited”, by David Cloud

Separatist Fundamentalist associations (multi-denominational)
– Click here and here for my blogs about these.

Tract-publishing ministries (mostly KJV)
“Witnessing With Gospel Tracts”, by David Cloud

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(revised 04/12/14)

Although I prefer the Post-Trib Premillenial view, I greatly enjoyed the following article by Don Koenig, in which he defended Premillenialism (including the Pre-Trib view) against Postmillenialists and Preterists. I am especially disturbed by the Emergent/New Apostolic Reformation move towards Postmillenialism (aka “Dominion Theology”, “Kingdom Now Theology.”)

(As an aside, I am leaning towards the Post-Trib view, which like the Pre-Trib view falls under Premillenialism.)

I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

Christians will be caught unaware because they gave up premillennialism

Don Koenig
On February 10, 2011 · 33 Comments

One of the chief signs of the end times that premillennial futurists fluffed over in their eagerness to see the return of the Lord for His Church is the passages that make it clear that the Lord is coming at time when we think not (Luke 12:40).

We also know that in the last days there would be Christians mocking other Christians about their belief in the soon return of the Lord [I believe anyone mocking a premillenial return of Christ is mocking Bible prophecy].

2 Peter 3, Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4  And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

In hindsight, one of the reasons why the hope of a Rapture in the 20th century was premature was because during that period a great percentage of Evangelical Christians believed in premillennialism. They believed in a literal and future fulfillment of Bible prophecy. Therefore, the coming of Jesus really did not fit what Jesus said it would be like in the Church just before His return. Let me explain.

The doctrine of the Rapture and the Lord’s Second coming was one of the major focuses of the Bible believing Church in the last third of the 20th century. Yet, scripture implies that many Christians would not be expecting Jesus when He comes. So one of the signs that premillennial 20th century believers were presumptuous, and that Jesus would not return on our time-lines, was the general expectations that prevailed during that period among Christians. This irrational exuberance led to date setters and the fallout of that led to a general discrediting of all teaching dispensational Premillennial Theology.

Futurist Premillennial Theology probably reached its peak from 1970 to around the year 2000. In those days it was hard to find a Evangelical Bible believing church that did not believe in the soon coming of Jesus with the Rapture of the Church. [I have seen this change for myself in the Evangelical Friends, aka the EFCI, whose top administrative leaders preached about the imminent return of Christ. But no longer – they are becoming increasingly Emergent]. They also taught that the Rapture would be followed by judgment of evil on earth, followed by the establishment of the millennial kingdom where Jesus would rule and reign on earth with His Church for a thousand years, and then Satan once again would be loosed to deceive mankind into a final rebellion.

Because of the Lord’s delay and the presumptuous false hopes presented by some, there since has been a  falling away from premillennial theology. Many pastors now have post-millennial beliefs where the Church will have to Christianize the world before the Lord will actually physically return. Preterism is also gaining ground.   They teach that prophecy about Israel was all fulfilled in 70 AD and the prophetic promises to Israel are either annulled or are now only promises to the spiritual Church. With preterists, the Church is the kingdom promised on earth and the Church allegorically fulfills Bible prophecy. When all the saved come in, God will then judge all and eternity will began. There is no literal thousand year reign on earth in Preterism.

Today premillenial futurist Dispensational Theology is losing ground every day in Evangelical Christianity and you will seldom hear it taught from the pulpits anymore. It also will not be found in your Sunday school material. I think this falling away from premillennialim and the teaching of the imminent coming of Jesus is prophetic in itself. It had to be fulfilled, if we are indeed in the last days.

Jesus said He would come at a time when most think not. That would not have been true when people were still claiming His soon coming and also followed the date setters.  Few premillenial believers in the 1980′s thought that we would still be here in 2011. There are still some premillennial Christians that are hanging on to the hope of the Lord’s soon coming, but they are becoming a smaller and smaller minority within Christianity.

I suppose that those following the 2012 end of the world presumptions and heretics like Harold Camping will just make premillennial believers even more rare in the future. This will set the conditions in Christianity for what Peter said would happen in the last days.

Peter said Christians will be mocking other Christians saying, “where is the promise of His coming”, they will obviously insinuate that your belief of a soon coming Rapture and the return of Jesus is a false hope that is even harmful to the Church. Pastors will teach that we must put away all such foolishness and work to Christianize the world through social justice programs. All that are teaching Premillennial Theology with the physical return of Jesus will be marginalized and perhaps not even welcomed in their fellowships.

The trend in Christianity is already this way in the churches that have become unequally yoked with unbelievers that intend to set up an interfaith world of social justice. This trend away from premillennialism will only increase because of more failed date setting. Soon premillennial evangelicals will become open game for soft and hard dominionist media Evangelicals, and their mocking will spread into the general church populations.

That is when this “where is the promise of His coming” rant will be literally fulfilled. Some have claimed fulfillment in the past, but they were really grasping at straws. I do not believe it will be some subtitle innuendo. It will be a direct mocking confrontation against those that hold fast to Premillennial Theology and the soon return of the Lord. This is what I believe Peter is saying in his passage. We have not seen that fulfilled yet, but we see that things are rapidly trending in that direction. We now see the Seeker, Purpose Driven, Emergent and New Apostolic Reformation churches are becoming increasingly hostile toward Premillennial Theology. Get ready for more flame throwing against anyone that takes Bible prophecy literally.

But, blessed is the the person that holds fast to the promise of the Lord’s coming. That promise of His patience was held by only one of the seven church types that identify Christianity, and they are the only Church type that was promised to be kept out of the great trial that will come upon all those that dwell on the earth.

Rev 3:10  Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

Jesus said, “will there be faith on the earth when I come” (Lk 18:18), Jesus probably was not talking about faith to believe that salvation came through Him. The Church has to have salvation faith, or it is not the Church. Jesus was referring to faith that He would soon return and judge the earth. The answer to His question is that other than a small minority that kept the promise of His coming and His patience, there will not be that kind of faith on the earth when Jesus comes.

We need to keep the faith, the Lord is not slow in coming. He just is not willing that any should perish. Nevertheless, the signs of the times are evident, the Lord will not delay His coming much longer. We are not in darkness, that this day should overtake us as a thief (1 Th 5:4).

Lk 21:36  Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

Finally, one reason not usually talked about why Jesus must return very soon is The Singularity. We are only a few decades from when man will be able to extend his lifespan indefinitely. The doubling of knowledge every 18 months means that artificial intelligence will soon make it possible for collective man to solve any technical problem, but he still will not deal with the problem of his own sin. [This entire paragraph sounds a bit far fetched to me, other than the last phrase:  “he still will not deal with the problem of his own sin.”]

Unforeseen technology will get into the hands of evil people and they would destroy the world if it went on past the middle of this century. So Jesus must return and deal with evil before that happens. The mark of the Beast probably somehow ties in. Man will attempt to undo the confusion given to him at Babel. That is not acceptable while mankind is still in rebellion against God. So the end is soon for sure, but first the scoffers must come from even those that call themselves Christians.


 Don Koenig founded http://www.thepropheticyears.com website in 1999 after almost thirty years of independent study on the Bible and learning from many astute teachers within Christendom. Don created his website to write about Bible prophecy, biblical discernment and his Christian worldviews. Don wrote a free Revelation commentary ebook in 2004 named “The Revelation of Jesus Christ Through The Ages”. This World and Church and Bible Prophecy Blog was started in 2007. This Blog now has over 1000 articles written by Don and contains almost 10,000 comments mostly related to the post topic.

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(revised 07/03/12)

Don’t get me wrong – I love Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) churches – particularly those recommended by Bro. David Cloud. Specifically, I love their faithfulness to the King James Bible, their zeal for soulwinning, their adherence to traditional worship services only, altar calls, the old hymns of the Faith, and so on.

But being brought up in the Wesleyan Holiness tradition, there are certain teachings I am uncomfortable with among IFBs. I am addressing a few of these in this blog.

Below I am reposting an article from Andrew Strom. Strom is a controversial character in some circles, but I believe this article is right on. Click here for the original text of Strom’s article. I am emphasizing certain points by bolding, and inserting comments in [brackets].

THREE DOCTRINES from HELL

by Andrew Strom


Let us begin with an important question, “What are the worst and most damaging doctrines in the Western church today?”

I believe that the most damaging ones are the ones that actually steal people’s salvation and afterwards wrap them in a false cocoon of comfort and assurance.  Three major doctrines do this. [I would disagree that these are the three most damaging doctrines, but they are certainly a problem.]

There is nothing worse than giving false comfort to people who are in danger.  It is the worst crime imaginable and yet preachers do it every week across the Western world.

Imagine if a building was on fire, but instead of crying out and warning the people, you went and comforted them and assured them they were OK — even while the smoke curled up from beneath.  Wouldn’t it be your fault if those people believed you and were killed?

Such is the situation today, and God will hold to account those who lull the sheep falsely with soothing lies. I tell you – this is a matter of life and death. And God’s judgment is coming against all who prove to be such hirelings – “tickling the ears”.

The 3 DOCTRINES from HELL:

(1) “ASK JESUS into your HEART”.  [IFB David Cloud does an excellent job of critiquing Easy Believism – he prefers the term Easy Prayerism. On the second and third doctrines discussed in this article, Bro. Cloud tends to defend them.] We have spoken about this before, so I won’t spend too long on it here. The fact of the matter is that NOBODY in the Bible ever “asked Jesus in” or ‘gave their heart to the Lord’ to become a Christian. There is NOT ONE instance of this ever happening. There are no people in the Book of Acts repeating a “sinner’s prayer” to get saved.  Nothing like it.  This doctrine simply DOES NOT EXIST in the Bible.

So what did people do in Acts?  Well, every time they wanted to become a Christian, they deeply REPENTED, they were BAPTIZED IN WATER, and also BAPTIZED in the HOLY SPIRIT. [I’m not sure why Strom puts this emphasis on immediate water baptism. To me water baptism is simply a witness to the world, “the outward sign of an inward change.” I do realize that in certain countries – such as India – Christians put their lives on the line when they take the step of a public witness i.e. water baptism. Also, I’m not sure why Strom places emphasis on immediate baptism in the Holy Spirit. This usually is not the reality of most Christians’ lives; even in the book of Acts,  Christians prayed, grew in Christ and prepared themselves for forty days before the Day of Pentecost. Also, an immediate baptism in the Holy Spirit runs against the grain of my Wesleyan Holiness beliefs.] These three things were always done straight away [again I question this – “always”?] – and were regarded as ESSENTIAL – not just “optional extras”. We are short-changing the entire church today with a doctrine that simply CANNOT BE FOUND in Scripture.  Merely “ASKING JESUS IN” is totally unscriptural. It is time to go back to getting people saved the BIBLE WAY. (-See Acts 2:38, Acts 8:12-17, Acts 10:44-48, Acts 19:1-6, Acts 22:16, etc.  See also my in-depth article at- http://www.revivalschool.com ).

Please notice that what the church is doing here is replacing Truth with something CONVENIENT, COMFORTABLE and EASY. “Just come forward and say this little prayer,” we tell them. No mention of DEEP REPENTANCE at all. -And a total lack of any real TRANSFORMATION into a “NEW CREATURE”. This is no salvation at all. We are robbing people blind in the name of comfort and convenience. How typical of the West. We have invented a lukewarm “salvation experience” to go with our lukewarm church.

(2) “ONCE SAVED – ALWAYS SAVED”. Now, having got people falsely “saved”, we create another ear-tickling wonder to make sure that they sleep on contentedly in the pews. While emphasising ‘tithing’ and attending church (-in that order) the main thing now is to keep them warm and happy – convinced of their “eternal security”.

And so we lull them with a doctrine saying that if they once got “saved” (ie. prayed the ‘little prayer’) – even if it was 20 years ago, then it is “IMPOSSIBLE” for them to lose their salvation.  No holiness needed!  Of course, we have to rely on the fact that they do not read their Bibles lest they find out that such a doctrine is a complete fabrication.

Thus, we conveniently leave out of our preaching such Scriptures as this: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  MANY will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works IN YOUR NAME?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART from me, you EVIL-DOERS.'” (Mt 7:21-23). Hmmm. “Eternal security”, anyone?

And of course, we must also leave out parables such as “The Parable of the Talents” because it contains this verse: “And cast the WORTHLESS SERVANT into outer darkness, where there shall be WAILING and GNASHING OF TEETH” (Mt 25:30). Notice that both the above Scriptures are speaking of people who think they are ‘saved’ but who END UP IN HELL. -And Jesus says there will be “MANY” like this.

And then there are dozens of other Scriptures such as, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” and ‘Those who do such things shall NOT inherit the kingdom of God,’ and “Without holiness no man shall see the Lord,” etc, etc.  So many Scriptures have to be ignored if we are to preach this cheap “Once Saved – Always Saved” doctrine.

But notice again how well this teaching suits our comfortable, convenient Western mindset.  Ear-tickling by the truckload.  Candy- coated and syrupy-sweet.  Can’t it be said that this is making people “two-fold more a child of hell” than they already were?

(3) The CHEAP “No Cost” RAPTURE Theory.  [A caveat: although I hold to the Post-Trib view, I am not dogmatic regarding my eschatology. I feel comfortable fellowshipping with all premillenial Christians – whether they be Pre-Trib, Mid-Trib, or Post-Trib. Andrew Strom seems to take a stronger stand than I would against Pre-Tribbers and Mid-Tribbers.] Now this is a dangerous one to bring up! But I am concerned not so much with the TIMING of the Rapture here – but rather with the CHEAPNESS of it. Do I believe in a ‘Rapture’?  Yes, I do believe in a great “catching away” (as the Bible describes it).  But again, we have so degraded it in the West that it just becomes one more source of false comfort and cheap grace.  This time to escape without a scratch before any persecution or tribulation begins.  Once again – how CONVENIENT!

We are led to believe that our rich, fat-cat Western Christians with their false salvation and their “no need for holiness” doctrines will one day be flying in their jet airplanes and “Woosh!” – suddenly they will be gone. -‘Raptured’. Just in time to escape any bad stuff happening on the earth.

There are entire industries and multi-million-dollar ministries built on this whole thing — the “no cost” Rapture theory. How wonderfully it tickles Western ears! How we rush to buy the latest Best-seller!

But wait a minute. Wasn’t it Jesus (talking about the ‘time of the end’) who told his DISCIPLES, “This is but the BEGINNING of the birthpangs. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation, and put you to death; and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake”? (Mt 24:8-9 RSV). How is it then, that we are taught a ‘Rapture’ theory today in which we are “caught up” without any major tribulation or persecution? Jesus in the above passage clearly tells his DISCIPLES – His true followers – that they MUST expect great tribulation and persecution before the end.

It is very obvious from all the New Testament writings that Christians must go through persecution, sufferings and tribulations – and that this will get much worse in the end-times. There is never a hint that we should expect to be ‘Raptured’ without going through this.  But again, the Western doctrine preaches comfort, safety and convenience – a kind of “cheap way out”.

Why is this such a serious issue?  Well, a people who have been told again and again that God will “rescue” them before the real trouble starts – these are the most ILL-PREPARED people to face real persecution. The people who are most prepared are those who have looked the danger in the eye, and prepared their hearts to go through it. With our false comfort we are doing the worst job in the world of preparing our people for what is to come.

To SUMMARIZE

As you can see, what we have set up in the Western church is an entire system of FALSE ASSURANCE. First, we falsely assure people that they are “born again” when they are not. Then we falsely assure them that it is “IMPOSSIBLE” for them to lose their salvation – no matter what they do. Then we falsely assure them that they will escape all end-time tribulation and persecution with an ultra-convenient Rapture.

We have it all sewn up! It is a kind-of “cradle to the grave” system of false salvation –a whole set-up devoted to convincing Hell-bound people that they are going to Heaven by the “cheap and easy” route. Like the Fast Food outlets that we have invented in the West, it is all about ‘Instant Gratification’. It is the warm and comfortable way. No holiness needed. Just like going through a McDonalds drive-through. “Do you want fries with that ‘HAPPY MEAL’, sir?”

Every one of these lies is perfectly suited to our Western mindset.  That is why they have been so successful. But that does not stop them being LIES. -Nor does it stop them sending multitudes to Hell.

We in the West have become devotees of a kind-of “no pain” religion. Sadly, that religion no longer resembles true Christianity.  Let us REPENT of ALL such doctrines before it is too late, my friends.

To respond with feedback about this article, please write to prophetic@revivalschool.com.

God bless you all.

Kindest regards in Christ,

Andrew Strom

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