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Posts Tagged ‘Easy Believism’

(revised 02/12/14)

There is a debate going on today among Independent Fundamentalist Baptists, regarding the nature of conversion. Followers of Jack Hyles for example believe that when accepting Christ (becoming born again), one must repent. But they define “repentance” not as repenting of sin, but as turning from unbelief to belief.

Sorry, folks, repentance from sin is essential. I came across the following Baptist blog detailing the need to repent from sin. Click here for the original source of this article. I am emphasizing certain points by bolding, and inserting comments in [brackets]. I am also adding some links and some images.

Bible Repentance

Here is a message on repentance in the life of a believer from a member of our church:

From Repentance to Revival

[and a sermon as follows]

The Baptist, Bible position on Repentance
by Pastor Matt McPhillips (Pastor from Port Huron, MI.)

I am going to attempt to write about the doctrine of repentance. About two years ago I became so troubled about my lack of study about the Gospel and my acceptance of four points and a prayer that I dove into studying it head first.  Not knowing completely what my conclusion would be, I saturated myself with books, articles, and sermons by men of the 1900’s, 1800’s, 1700’s, and 1600’s only to find an amazing thing.  The issue of what is repentance in reference to salvation is a modern issue.  I looked at the numerous confessions of faith only to realize they all defined it as a sorrow for and turning from sin. This would include the London Confession (1644), Armenian [Arminian] Confession (1834)[I assume this is the same as the Confession of the Free-Will Baptists (1834)], Philadelphia Association (1734), French Confession (1879), Swiss Confession (1848), New Hampshire [Baptist] Confession (1833) and many others. As much as it pained me, I even began to look at non-Baptist confessions only to find the same.  So, maybe it was that I would find men from the past that would define it as a change of mind from unbelief to belief or one’s dependence to another and I was amazed at what I found.  Notice that all of these men agreed as to the true nature of repentance [repenting of sin].

Oliver B. Green “True repentance is sorrow for sin committed against a holy God and not only sorrow for sin, but TURNING FROM SIN, FORSAKING SIN AND TURNING TO GOD. Sin nailed the Savior to the cross and certainly that fact alone is sufficient reason why ALL WHO HAVE GENUINELY REPENTED HATE SIN AND FORSAKE SINFUL WAYS” (Oliver B. Greene, Commentary of Acts of the Apostles, Acts 2:37-38, 1969).

Lester RoloffRepentance is a godly sorrow for sin. Repentance is a forsaking of sin. Real repentance is putting your trust in Jesus Christ so you will not live like that anymore. Repentance is permanent. It is a lifelong and an eternity-long experience. You will never love the devil again once you repent. You will never flirt with the devil as the habit of your life again once you get saved. You will never be happy living in sin; it will never satisfy; and the husks of the world will never fill your longing and hungering in your soul. Repentance is something a lot bigger than a lot of people think. It is absolutely essential if you go to heaven” (Lester Roloff, Repent or Perish, 1950s).

Charles Spurgeon“Just now some professedly Christian teachers are misleading many by saying that ‘repentance is only a change of mind.’ [Interestingly, this teaching was present back in the  Spurgeon’s day – it did not originate with Independent Fudamentalist Baptist Jack Hyles.] It is true that the original word does convey the idea of a change of mind; but the whole teaching of Scripture concerning the repentance which is not to be repented of is that it is a much more radical and complete change than is implied by our common phrase about changing one’s mind. The repentance that does not include sincere sorrow for sin is not the saving grace that is wrought by the Holy Spirit. God-given repentance makes men grieve in their inmost souls over the sin they have committed, and works in them a gracious hatred of evil in every shape and form. We cannot find a better definition of repentance than the one many of us learned at our mother’s knee: ‘Repentance is to leave the sin we loved before, and show that we in earnest grieve by doing so no more’” (Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “The Royal Saviour,” Metropolitan Tabernacle, London, England, Feb. 1, 1872).

George Whitefield“Repentance is the carnal and corrupt disposition of men being changed into a renewed and sanctified disposition. … It is the nature of such repentance to make a change, and the greatest change that can be made here in the soul. Thus you see what repentance implies in its own nature; it denotes an abhorrence of all evil”  (George Whitefield, “Repentance,” c. 1750).

D.L.Moody“If you ask people what it is they will tell you, it is feeling sorry.  If you ask a man if he repents, he will tell you oh yes; I generally feel sorry for my sins.  That is no repentance.  It is something more than a feeling sorry.  Repentance is turning right about and forsaking sin.  I wanted to speak on Sunday about that verse in Isaiah, which says, “Let the guilty forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts.” That is what it is.  If a man don’t turn from his sin he won’t be accepted of God, and if righteousness don’t produce a turning about – a turning from bad to good – it isn’t true righteousness.”

William Tyndale“Concerning this word repentance … the very sense and signification both of the Hebrew and also of the Greek word is, ‘to be converted and to turn to God with all the heart, to know his will, and to live according to his laws; and to be cured of our corrupt nature with the oil of his Spirit, and wine of obedience to his doctrine.” (William Tyndale, “To the Reader,” Tyndale New Testament, 1534).

Jonathan Edwards “So saving repentance and faith are implied in each other. They are both one and the same conversion of the soul from sin to God, through Christ; the act of the soul turning from sin to God through Christ, as it respects the thing from which the turning is, viz. sin, is called repentance; and as it respects the thing to which, and the mediation by which it turns, it is called faith” (Jonathan Edwards, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”, 1741).

Charles FinneyA turning from sin to holiness, or more strictly, from a state of consecration to self to a state of consecration to God, is and must be the turning, the change of mind, or the repentance that is required of all sinners. Nothing less can constitute a virtuous repentance, and nothing more can be required” (Charles Finney, “Repentance and Impenitence,” 1878).

Harry Ironside“Shallow preaching that does not grapple with the terrible fact of man’s sinfulness and guilt, calling on ‘all men everywhere to repent,’ results in shallow conversions; and so we have a myriad of glib-tongued professors today who give no evidence of regeneration whatever. Prating of salvation by grace, they manifest no grace in their lives. Loudly declaring they are justified by faith alone, they fail to remember that ‘faith without works is dead’; and that justification by works before men is not to be ignored as though it were in contradiction to justification by faith before God. … To repent is to change one’s attitude toward self, toward sin, toward God, toward Christ. … So to face these tremendous facts is to change one’s mind completely, so that the pleasure lover sees and confesses the folly of his empty life; the self-indulgent learns to hate the passions that express the corruption of his nature; the self-righteous sees himself a condemned sinner in the eyes of a holy God; the man who has been hiding from God seeks to find a hiding place in Him; the Christ-rejector realizes and owns his need of life and salvation”  (Harry Ironside, Except Ye Repent, 1937).

I thought to myself this can’t be, how could we have men today defining repentance different that they did throughout history and then I found a message preached by D.L. Moody in which he was honest as to the reason he did not preach repentance and the basis for today’s lack of it. “You will find my text tonight in the seventeenth chapter of Acts, part of the thirtieth verse: “And now commandeth all men everywhere to repent.” I have heard a number of complaints about the preaching here in the Tabernacle, that repentance has not been touched upon. The fact is that I have never had very great success in preaching upon repentance.  When I have preached it people haven’t repented. I’ve had far more success when I’ve preached Christ’s goodness.  But tonight I will preach about repentance, so you will have no more cause of complaint.  I believe in repentance just as much as I believe in the Word of God.”

Repentance does not work in our mega-this and mega-that mentality and if it works we do it and if not we don’t.  When our goal is momentum, results, and growth, we will neglect or diminish truth that might hinder our numerical growth. After all Jesus did say, “Preach momentum; be instant in season and out of season”.  Didn’t He?  John the Baptist went everywhere preaching momentum, decisions, and growth, right? So I went to the creator of easy believe/quick prayer methodology,  Charles Finney. Surely he would have diminished repentance in order to produce results.  Listen to what he said were signs of genuine repentance and false repentance:

Genuine Repentance

  • There is in your mind a conscious change of views and feeling in regard to sin.
  • The disposition to repeat sin is gone.
  • It worketh a reformation of conduct.
  • It changes our character and conduct.

False Repentance

  • It is not founded on such a change of opinion.
  • It is founded on selfishness.
  • It leaves the feelings unchanged.
  • It works death.
  • It produces only a partial reformation of conduct.
  • Its reformation is temporary.
  • It is a forced reformation.
  • It leads to self-righteousness.
  • It leads to a false security.
  • It hardens the heart.
  • It sears the conscience.

Now this  cannot be true, how did we get to this place in our churches?  Well, it starts with the dumbing down of our biblical study to be approved of God and our elevation of academic, liberal arts, and growth equals power mentality. We have Baptists following non-Baptists in modern day evangelism and methods. We have the ecumenical, fundamentalist movement diminishing doctrine, and we have liberal arts schools training preachers instead of local churches training them.  We have Christian newspaper editors establishing orthodoxy instead of Baptist preachers in Baptist pulpits.  Sadly today, psychological manipulation experts teach soulwinning, while Protestant revivalists are touted as our heroes. So I realized I have been deceived, misled, and ignorant of my Baptist doctrine and sold a bill of goods in order to protect a system of thought not found in history or the Bible.

I will leave you with these questions:

  1. Can you show me the examples of people getting saved and not changing in the Bible?
  2. Can you show repentance that did not amend the life of the person in the Bible?
  3. Can you find our modern day definition of repentance more than 100 years ago?
  4. Why would we ignore Matthew, Mark, and Luke and only  use John as our basis for the Gospel?
  5. When Jesus cast out the money changers, gave us Matthew 18, told us to turn them over to Satan (I Corinthians 5), commanded us to rebuke before all, to reprove and rebuke was he teaching us to protect momentum?

I do not have an axe to grind, but I am deeply troubled and burdened about our lack of revival and our man-made attempts to create it.

Note From Brother Ted Alexander: First let me say that I very much agree with this article.  I am bothered by the modern day preachers tampering with the doctrine of repentance and pulling out the word repentance from their message and even tampering with the old hymns. The revisions do not line the messages or songs up with the Bible or the historic Baptist position on repentance. Brother McPhillips pointed out that the modern fundamentalist, limp-wristed, numbers- driven definition of repentance is not found before the early part of the Laodacean church age/fundamentalist movement.  We wonder why ”Christian” people today live like the world and America is going to hell!  Could it be because Jesus was right in Matt. 7?  Has our generation been decieved [sic] into easy-prayer salvation that is not salvation at all?  When our desire becomes God alone, and we seek true conversions more than numbers and the approval of the brethren, we will begin to preach for God’s glory instead of a packed pew?  THINK!!!

FOR FURTHER READING

Easy Believism Fast Track to Hell

David Cloud’s articles (Google hits) criticizing the “easy believism” or “easy prayerism” heresy of Jack Hyles

Johnny the Baptist, Does Repent Really Mean Repent? – defends the need to repent of sin

The Repentance Blacklist – a long list of so-called heretics who say repentance of sin is necessary when accepting Christ. (Actually, this fellow has done us a favor by listing those who hold to the biblical position.)

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

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

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

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

Hell’s Best Kept Secret

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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