Posts Tagged ‘Great Commission’

I have been increasingly concerned with this abomination: most evangelical pastors no longer regularly preach the “offensive” bloody salvation message of Christ’s Atonement on the Cross of Calvary. But we as church members are also to blame. Most church members have rarely if ever shared the gospel message of sin, judgment, Hell and salvation one on one with another individual.

I myself am guilty of seldom witnessing one on one “in the highways and byways.” At the very least, I could get into the habit of leaving tracts wherever I go – yet I  “just haven’t got around to it.” Lord, forgive me! I do praise the Lord that as a pastor and as a born again Christian, my father (God rest his soul) shared the gospel many times with individuals and prayed with them, as they repented of their sins and accepted Christ.

I was pleased to come across a pertinent blog by Chris Hohnholz, rebuking Christians for failing to be active witnesses. Click here for the original source of this blog. I have reposted the entire blog below; I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

Burning Man Reminds Us to Preach the Gospel

This week marks the pagan festival held in northern Nevada known as “Burning Man.” For those who may not be familiar with this local event, literally thousands of people from all around the country will descend upon the Black Rock Desert a couple hours north of Reno. They will camp out in RV’s and tents, they will bring assorted foods, music and the like. But this is no ordinary camp out. It is a festival in which every individual’s personal belief system is put on full display. Literally, from the most basic camp out to full on pagan worship, a small society of ultra post-modernity sets itself up for a full week of personal celebration and worship of whatever you choose. The event culminates in the burning of a wooden statue where everybody congregates and celebrates this most sacred event.

However, it is not the debauched, pagan style celebratory worship that drives me to write this article, well, not entirely anyway. As I said, the Burning Man festival is literally the hallmark event of post modernism. Virtually every lifestyle choice and belief system is represented at this gathering. And were you to ask those attending how they felt about the competing beliefs being in all in the same place, they would tell you how wonderful it is to have such a non-judgmental environment where everyone could live as they chose without fear of being told they were wrong. In other words, Burning Man is the utopia of post-modernism. And post-modernism IS the religion of the United States. Those who promote this religion would be overjoyed to see the Burning Man mentality exist in every corner of our society.

My motivation here is not to bemoan the leftist, elitist mindset that drives post-modernism. Rather it is to challenge every single Christian with this thought: how did Burning Man become the Mecca of American “religion” while the Church is viewed as its “anti-christ?” The answer is, I believe, is this, we have faltered in Christ’s command to go forth and preach the gospel to every creature. Remember when we first understood that we were vile wretches that were at war with God through our wicked works. How we realized that in His just punishment, God would rightly send us to Hell. Yet God, in His mercy, pulled us from the fire and punished His Son Jesus Christ at the cross in our place! His shed blood covered our sins and His resurrection paved the path to Heaven for us. Through repentance and faith alone, both merciful gifts from our gracious Father, we received the amazing salvation that promises us eternity with Him! And then Christ commanded us to take the story of that salvation and to preach it to everyone we came in contact with. And what a blessing it would be to share it! To lead the lost, blind and dying to the very salvation they didn’t even know they needed!

Somewhere along the way, we stopped obeying that command. Where we once would not have thought twice about sharing this glorious message with anyone, we reigned back, we slowed down and we gave in. We stopped preaching the hard truth that the law brings condemnation, that it reveals we are not good people and that we deserve Hell. We started saying “God has a wonderful plan for your life,” or we decided we would just allow people to “see Jesus in us.” In doing so, we have exchanged the amazing gospel of Christ, a gospel that should cost us everything to follow, for cheap grace and easy believism! We have become content that evangelism is a spiritual gift for only some and not a command for all. As a result, the culture has plunged head long into the morass of sin and debauchery, into false “religiosity” and personal fulfillment. All the while, we have stood by with the very words of life that can rescue these perishing masses, yet failed to heed the call of our Captain into action.

It is altogether possible that, as you are reading this, you have dismissed my conclusion. If so, consider this, statistics tell us that merely 1% to 2% of professing Christians go out of their way to deliberately share the gospel with someone. That is a very telling number, even if one were to believe the polls which report the high percentages of “Christians” in the United States. In truth, it is likely many of those polled are more cultural Christians than truly bathed in the blood of Christ, born again of the Spirit believers. So that 1% to 2% gets even smaller, which means that a very scant number of truly born again Christian are out there carrying the weight of the command that the entire church is responsible to obey. With these small numbers acting as the evangelistic force for the church, is it that hard to imagine why the church holds so little influence in our culture today?

Yet, there are Christians who would insist that they are very evangelistic. They would point the numbers of people they have invited to church regularly to hear the preaching of the gospel by their pastor. While it is good to bring unsaved friends and loved ones to church, we must understand, this is not evangelism. It is the abdicating of one’s personal responsibility to seek out the lost and share the life giving elixir that is the gospel. Local churches are the place where the saved come together in corporate worship. They are led by the pastor in prayer and praise. They are edified and equipped under his teaching so that they may go out and do spiritual warfare in the world. To leave our responsibility to be proclaimers of the gospel solely to the pastor changes the very nature of the church gathering from corporate worship and edification to seeker friendlyism which sacrifices the content of the word for entertainment to keep the unsaved coming.

But one may point to something that is overtly evangelistic, such as their involvement in the large christian outreaches that gather untold thousands of lost and unregenerate people in one place to hear the gospel. While it is wonderful to see the efforts of so many people to brig the gospel to the world, in many cases, it is simply a repeat of bringing someone to church. Rather than going out into the world preaching the gospel, Christians invite the lost into one place where they will hear preaching by a few, or maybe even just one preacher. The energy and effort put into this gathering is all about getting the people there to hear someone else preach the message. I’m not discounting the genuine desire, and even countless hours of prayer, that Christians pour into this. But in the end, we abdicate the responsibility to someone else. And in truth, many of these events become big seeker friendly attractions where big bands, light shows and celebrity Christians attempt to woo the unsaved to making a “decision for Christ.” But when we look at the statistics, most of those people who make professions of faith never get plugged into a local church. They run around with a “Christian-buzz” for a while, but before long, they prove themselves to be rocky ground with no depth, or a plant choked out by the weeds. In other words, a false convert. One who left us, because he or she never really was of us.

Or maybe those in the church really do desire to get out on the streets to interact with people. So they set up food drives, or head out to feed and clothe the homeless. They hope to show those who are in desperate situations that they are loved by the Church. A noble effort to be sure, but more often than not, it is devoid of the preaching of the gospel. Those they help may be aware of a physical, temporal love in the here and now, but they are rarely, if ever, told that they more desperately need peace with God through Jesus Christ, because their sinful deeds are causing them to be at war with Him.

That’s how post modernism and events like Burning Man are the hallmark of excellence in our society, because Christians have faltered in preaching that amazing grace that saved us from the depths of Hell. I say this because if we remembered that beautiful gospel daily, how could we not go running into the streets to preach it to everyone? How could we ever claim evangelism is not our “gift” when it is a command from our Savior? How could abdicate our responsibility to preach the entirety of the gospel and give a wishy-washy “God has a wonderful plan for your life” message? I can say we have faltered because the fruit of it is as apparent as the false worshippers running to the desert grounds of northern Nevada to worship as they please with no fear of ever being told they are wrong!

I am not saying that the efforts I described above should never, ever happen. If even one soul is saved because they were invited to church or an evangelistic out reach, praise God. If one person comes to Christ because he or she understood that the love of Christ compelled a Christian to reach out and help them, His name is glorified! What I am saying is that by and large, most Christians are either not engaging in the command to evangelize, or are trusting in efforts solely like these to abdicate their responsibility to do so. And because of this, more and more souls are being lost to the culture’s tolerant, post-modern ideas.

Christians, we need to wake up and realize our Captain is commanding us to action! We need to repent of our sin of failing to preach the gospel and seek His forgiveness. We must equip ourselves with the word of God and bend our knees in prayer. We must go out into the highways and byways preaching the truth that salvation is in Christ alone, through repentance and faith alone! We must do so at all costs, even if it means losing relationships, positions at work, or even one day, our freedom. For lives are lost everyday to the pits of Hell! Let us be about our Father’s business, let us preach the truth and let us point people not to a “Burning Man” made of wood, but to the God Man who was and is and is to come! Let us call them to Christ alone!

Click here to view many excellent comments following the above blog which I have reposted.

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(revised 07/13/14)

Note that throughout this blog, I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

Various evangelical Holiness denominations have been increasingly taking part in joint ventures – but for what purpose?

In 2011 an article appeared entitled “Holiness Leaders form Global Wesleyan Alliance”. Click here for the original text of the article.

The article describes the Global Wesleyan Alliance (GWA) as:

“a unique partnership to amplify the prophetic voice of Wesleyan-Arminian, holiness ministries and increase their effectiveness in spreading scriptural holiness throughout the world.”

Sounds good, right? Not so fast. What exactly do they mean by “the prophetic voice “? And what do they mean by “spreading scriptural holiness”?

Reading between the lines, I am disturbed by this summary of their purpose:

“This alliance will enable holiness denominations to achieve a historic level of cooperation and unity for evangelism, discipleship, church multiplication, compassion, and justice. Our passion is to pursue the Great Commission in the spirit of the Great Commandment — making Christ known through words and deeds and millions of lives filled with perfect love.”

Evangelism? Yes that’s great – but would this include friendship evangelism, seeker sensitive evangelism, or compassion evangelism? Or how about a favorite of Emergents – presence evangelism? And discipleship? Sounds good – but does this include learning the heretical disciplines of Spiritual Formation? Church multiplication, compassion, and justice – all Emergent teachings.

Note the definition of their hybrid Great Commission/Great Commandment goal: “making Christ known through words and deeds and millions of lives filled with perfect love.”

Here is THE Great Commission:

15) And he [Jesus] said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16) He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. (Mark 16:15-16, KJV)

I wonder how many of the pastors in the GWA’s denominations even mention damnation…

I’m trying to locate notes from a recent EFC-ER Yearly Meeting sermon by the  head of the EFC-ER (who is also head of the Evangelical Friends aka EFCI). He defined the Great Commission II as including compassion and justice, or something to that effect. Although the EFCI is not in the GWA, it is in the “network” of six denominations using Nazarene Publishing House’s  WordAction  curriculum.

The EFC-ER Region of the EFCI has this as their “Strategic Vision”:

“In joyful obedience to Jesus’ Great Commission–and in the spirit of His Great Commandment–our movement purposes to serve the church and the world in love, multiplying disciples and churches in the power of the Holy Spirit so that our children’s grandchildren and generations of the unreached will be compelled to join.”

Besides including Emergent wording, this is a watered down statement. Nowhere does it mention calling sinners to repentance, to accept Christ as their Saviour so they will not perish in a Lake of Fire for eternity (John 3:16).

Also note the wording “our children’s grandchildren and generations of the unreached…” This mirrors the Emergent position of denying a premillenial return of Christ. Here is a quote from Tony Campolo, which I included in another blog:

“[Dispensationalism] is a theology that – with its implicit threat of being left behind, of time running out – is used by Dispensational preachers to great evangelistic effect. It has been a very effective goad to conversion… To the contrary, the history of the world is infused with the presence of God, who is guiding the world toward becoming the kind of world God willed for it to be when it was created. Human history is going somewhere wonderful.”

I believe Emergent Campolo’s statement fits the real purpose of the GWA. And it also ties in very nicely with C. Peter Wagner’s Dominion Theology.

And click here for an expose in which we read that “the terminology and concept of missional… has spread throughout evangelicalism. Christians need to be warned that being “missional” has nothing to do with the fulfillment of the Great Commission. “

Now let’s compare the above GWA and EFCI statements side by side.

GWA statement:

“This alliance will enable holiness denominations to achieve a historic level of cooperation and unity for evangelism, discipleship, church multiplication, compassion, and justice. Our passion is to pursue the Great Commission in the spirit of the Great Commandment — making Christ known through words and deeds and millions of lives filled with perfect love.”

And the EFCI statement:

“In joyful obedience to Jesus’ Great Commission–and in the spirit of His Great Commandment–our movement purposes to serve the church and the world in love, multiplying disciples and churches in the power of the Holy Spirit so that our children’s grandchildren and generations of the unreached will be compelled to join.”

Note that both statements use the terms “Great Commission” and “Great Commandment.” In view of the similarities, it appears these two statements were drawn from the same source.

The source appears to be Emergent heretic Brian McLaren. This critique [broken link] provides a quote from Brian McLaren (on pages 7-8)[and the last time I heard, not stating your source was called plagiarism]:

“There is no true evangelism without embodied action,” that is, without such things as “recruiting a million Christians to protest the wasteful Industrial-Consumerist system which destroys the planet, human communities, and human culture, and to proclaim in its place a vision of the kingdom of God, and so show the love of Christ.” If this redefinition does not catch on, he says, “I have little hope for evangelism in the postmodern world.” “Unless disciples are following the Great Commandment, it is fruitless to engage in the Great Commission.”

Notice four phrases from McLaren’s quote, apparently incorporated into the GWA purpose statement: “million”, “love”,  “the Great Commandment”, and “the Great Commission.”

Googling on these two terms together – “Great Commission” and “Great Commandment” – also brings up this heretical Emergent article describing the connection.

Following is another red flag concerning the formation of the GWA. A recent meeting of the Wesleyan Leaders Summit (forerunner of the GWA) was hosted by the extremely Emergent leaders of the Church of the Nazarene denomination. Apparently the Wesleyan Leaders Summit has been meeting annually for awhile.  As of 12/09/11, the GWA is still under organization.  Following are the denominations which are at this point considering voluntary membership:

Church of Christ Holiness (USA)
Church of God (Anderson)(aka Church of God Ministries, Inc.)
Church of the Nazarene
Churches of Christ in Christian Union
Congregational Methodist Church
Evangelical Church
Evangelical Methodist Church
Free Methodist Church USA
International Fellowship of Bible Churches
Methodist Protestant Church
The Missionary Church
Pilgrim Holiness Church
The Salvation Army
The Wesleyan Church

Another item in the GWA announcement  jumped out at me:

“A major effort will be made to establish procedures for the mutual recognition of minister’s credentials among the Alliance’s covenant partner organizations.”

So whatever ministers are the most Emergent/heretical (whether in the incredibly Emergent Church of the Nazarene or one of the other denominations), their credentials will be accepted by the other member denominations? Scary.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Many of the prospective GWA member denominations have belonged to the Wesleyan Holiness Consortium  (WHC) since 2006. The WHC is an Emergent/NAR postmillenial consortium. Besides the “traditional” Holiness denominations from the GWA, it also includes Pentecostal denominations (Foursquare, the “Jesus-only” UPCI, etc.) favoring the NAR (New Apostolic Reformation).

My advice for those seeking a church home? Avoid these increasingly Emergent denominations at all costs. As a biblically sound alternative,  I recommend certain kinds of Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) churches. For an excellent list of IFB churches see this Ohio Baptist directory adapted from David Cloud’s directory of IFB churches. And here are the traits David Cloud looks for, in compiling his directory. I realize  Baptist churches are dispensational – which in ways is quite different from Wesleyan/Holiness theology. Yet, of all denominations and independent churches in America today, I believe these Independent Fundamentalist Baptist churches are closest in faith and practice to the Wesleyan-Holiness churches of approx. 1900-1950.


Another version of the GWA announcement:

One of the Holiness associations prior to the GWA: Christian Holiness Partnership: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_Holiness_Partnership. I don’t know whether this partnership was technically a predecessor.

A 2006 venture prior to the GWA: the Holiness Manifesto: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2006/marchweb-only/113-13.0.html This does seem morely closely associated with the planning meetings for the GWA. Check out the Nazarene signers (the Nazarene denomination is a major player  in the formation of the GWA):

Jesse Middendorf — Nazarene
Thomas Noble — Nazarene
Diane Leclerc — Nazarene
Craig Keen — Nazarene

Holiness Leaders Form New Global Wesleyan Alliance! – a blog favoring the GWA; notice also the comments following the blog

Global Wesleyan Alliance promotes collaboration between Wesleyan-Arminian denominations (12/18/12)

Dr. Tom Hermiz Elected President of Global Wesleyan Alliance (02/13/13)

Global Wesleyan Alliance has 3rd annual gathering (01/10/14)

many articles discussing the Global Wesleyan Alliance – read with discretion – most of the articles favor this heretical organization

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