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August 10, 2010

If it is true that where sin abounded grace has much more abounded, well then, ’shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound yet further?’

First of all let me make a comment, to me a very important and vital comment. The true preaching of the gospel of salvation by grace alone always leads to the possibility of this charge being brought against it. There is no better test as to whether a man is really preaching the New Testament gospel of salvation than this, that some people might misunderstand it and misinterpret it to mean that it really amounts to this, that because you are saved by grace alone it does not matter at all what you do; you can go on sinning as much as you like because it will redound all the more to the glory of grace. That is a very good test of gospel preaching. If my preaching and presentation of the gospel of salvation does not expose it to that misunderstanding, then it is not the gospel. Let me show you what I mean.

If a man peaches justification by works, no one would ever raise this question. If a man’s preaching is, ‘If you want to be Christians, and if you want to go to heaven, you must stop committing sins, you must take up good works, and if you do so regularly and constantly, and do not fail to keep on at it, you will make yourselves Christians, you will reconcile yourselves to God, and you will go to heaven’. Obviously a man who preaches in that strain would never be liable to this misunderstanding. Nobody would say to such a man, ‘Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?’, because the man’s whole emphasis is just this, that if you go on sinning you are certain to be damned, and only if you stop sinning can you save yourselves. So that misunderstanding could never arise….

…. Nobody has ever brought this charge against the Church of Rome, but it was brought frequently against Martin Luther; indeed that was precisely what the Church of Rome said about the preaching of Martin Luther. They said, ‘This man who was a priest has changed the doctrine in order to justify his own marriage and his own lust’, and so on. ‘This man’, they said, ‘is antinomian; and that is heresy.’ That is the very charge they brought against him. It was also brought against George Whitefield two hundred years ago. It is the charge that formal dead Christianity- if there is such a thing -has always brought against this startling, staggering message, that God ‘justifies the ungodly’….

That is my comment; and it is a very important comment for preachers. I would say to all preachers: If your preaching of salvation has not been misunderstood in that way, then you had better examine your sermons again, and you had better make sure that you really are preaching the salvation that is offered in the New Testament to the ungodly, to the sinner, to those who are dead in trespasses in sins, to those who are the enemies of God. There is this kind of dangerous element about the true presentation of the doctrine of salvation.

Excerpt from Martyn Lloyd-Jones on the roll of Grace in the presentation of the Gospel.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans: The New Man, An Exposition of Chapter 6

Play it Again

July 24, 2008


- By Ray Comfort

Nathan’s heart went out to King David. The king had made some bad decisions. Even though he wasn’t actually aware of it, he had messed up, and God wanted to help him. David had had an affair, and then he tried to remedy the problem himself. What had happened was unfortunate, and the prophet saw his job as one who was there to help bring some sort of healing to the situation.

He began his message by gently explaining to the king the good news that there was something missing from his life. That missing piece was “real and lasting peace,” or as someone once put it, there was a “God-shaped vacuum” in his heart. It was the good news that God had a wonderful plan for the king’s life, and that He wanted him to experience that plan.

What the prophet was steering towards was a moment of “decision.” Would the king respond to this incredible offer that God had made him, or would he reject it?

To help the king, Nathan psychologically prepared him by telling him what he was going to do. He had said that in a few moments he would want him to respond by coming forward. The prophet had learned that this would help the king move closer to the decision he needed to make.

To help further, Nathan had David and the guards that stood around his throne, close their eyes. This would help to make sure that the king felt a little less self-conscious about his decision when he did come forward.

David, like King Saul, had a personal musician close by, so as Nathan continued to speak, he nodded to the musician to begin to play some appropriate music. Even though the song was very moving, there was no movement from David. Nathan nodded to the skilled performer to play the tune again and then again as he pleaded with David to respond.

To help him further, the prophet let him know that if he did come he had prearranged with one of the king’s guards to come forward with him–to stand alongside him in support.

Still the king didn’t make a move. Nathan gently reminded him that no one was watching him, and that every eye was closed. He again spoke of the incredible offer God had made to him.

Suddenly, it seemed that David was convinced about this new life that could be his, if he would just respond. He began to move slowly forward, and as he did, one of the closest guards gently took him by the arm and walked with him.

It was a very emotional moment. It was so touching that the rest of the guards couldn’t contain themselves. They burst into joyful applause. David smiled slightly at their gesture of support. The guards smiled. So did Nathan. There was great joy. This was what it was all about . . .

Not quite. God hadn’t instructed Nathan to talk to the king about a “God-shaped vacuum in his heart,” or to talk about real peace, or of improving his life. He was there to reprove a devious murderer who had despised God’s commandment and committed adultery with another man’s wife. As a married man, the king had burned in lust after another woman, and knowing that she herself was married, he had illicit sexual intercourse with her, caused her to become pregnant with his child, and then as if that wasn’t bad enough, he had her loving and faithful husband murdered, and married her himself. He had carefully covered his terrible sin, but as far as God was concerned, his wicked hands were dripping with innocent blood.

What an awful betrayal it would have been if the prophet had reduced the king’s horrible crimes against a holy God to insignificance, by talking to him about a new and better life that could be his.

But Nathan didn’t pervert the message. He told the king about a man who stole another man’s pet lamb and slaughtered it, and when David became indignant, he said, “You are that man!” Then he said, “Why have you despised the commandment of the Lord!” and when David cried, “I have sinned,” Nathan then gave him the good news of God’s mercy and grace.

There was no mention of a vacuum in the heart, no music to stir the emotions, no deceptive psychological manipulation, no closing of the eyes to make things easier. David was a devious law-breaker. He was a conniving criminal. He was a man who had deliberately violated the moral Law, but God was willing to show him mercy.

It was the king’s breach of God’s Law that shaped the prophet’s message, and it’s the sinner’s breach of that same Law that should shape our message. We too have the same commission–to “reprove and rebuke” those who have despised God. We are to preach the Word, be in season and out of season, and to “reprove, rebuke and exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2). In the sight of God every sinner is a devious criminal, but neither the Church nor the world will see that as being true without the Law to show sin as being “exceedingly sinful” (see Romans 7:7-13).

The sinner enthrones himself as a king, enrobed in the filthy garments of self-righteousness. He commits adultery in his lust-filled heart. His throat is an open sepulcher. His mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. There is no fear of God before his eyes. He lies, steals, blasphemes and hides murder in his heart–and in doing so he sins against a holy God and stores up His wrath. He has a desperately wicked heart, and a multitude of sins which he thinks his Creator doesn’t see. The Bible tells us that God is filled with indignation and wrath, and promises that He will bring tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that does evil (see Romans 2:5-9).

We have such a wicked heart, without the light of the Law we reduce sin to insignificance and trivialize the claims of the Divine Prosecution. The modern message is a betrayal of our commission, and a victory for the enemy. Like the Pharisees, contemporary preachers prefer their traditions to the truth of God’s Word. They cling to the security blanket of closed eyes, emotional music, psychological manipulation, misguidedly pleading with wicked criminals about the promise of a wonderful new life in Christ.

Such folly is perhaps the greatest deception of the last days. It is to do the work of the enemy, by planting tares alongside the wheat. An unbiblical Law-less gospel will almost certainly produce lawless converts–”workers of iniquity” who the Bible warns will be cast out of the gates of Heaven into the waiting jaws of Hell (see Matthew 7:21-24).

A forsaking of biblical evangelism has left our churches looking and acting just like the world. This has happened because our pulpits have reduced the glorious gospel of God’s grace to a 30-minute low budget infomercial, peddling the Word of God as a competing product for life enhancement.

If you have been trusted with a pulpit, or if you are someone who cares about the lost, please stop this insanity. Don’t think of the use of the Law as a “method,” or look for “results” as a legitimate criterion to measure its worth. Our churches are filled with misleading “results.” The impressive numbers are the product of unbiblical methods. The use of the Law brings the knowledge of sin… Jesus and Paul used it, (see Luke 10:17, Romans 2:20-24). Ask the question “Is this principle biblical?” and if it is, instigate it, and then leave the numbers game up to God.

Adapted from, The Way of the Master (Bridge Logos Publishers).

 

The Cross Should Be Raised

June 1, 2008

George MacLeod was a great preacher who, hundreds of years ago, faithfully obeyed the Great Commission. He exalted Jesus Christ in his preaching and wasn’t afraid to preach the blood of the cross. He said, “I simply argue that the cross should be raised at the center of the marketplace as well as on the steeple of the church. I am recovering the claim that Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles, but on a cross between two thieves; on the town’s garbage heap; at a crossroad, so cosmopolitan they had to write His title in Hebrew and Latin and Greek … at the kind of a place where cynics talk smut, and thieves curse, and soldiers gamble. Because that is where He died. And that is what He died for. And that is what He died about. That is where church-men ought to be and what church-men ought to be about.” There goes another minute. Gone forever. Go share your faith while you still have time.

April 14, 2008

The mature worshiper is easily edified.

This is the Gospel

February 14, 2008

The Jesus statue
The Jesus statue in Rio de Janeiro was struck by lightening. It was captured in this photo. It should be titled: This is the Gospel. Read Romans 3: 21-25

The Garden Experience

January 27, 2008

Have you had a Garden of Gethsemane experience? It was in a garden where Adam first said, “Not Your will, but mine be done,” and it was in a garden where Jesus fell to His knees and prayed, “Not my will, but Yours be done.” At the time, His disciples were asleep; so don’t be discouraged if those around you are asleep, when it comes to seeking the lost. Simply get on your knees and say, “Father, the thought of sharing the Gospel with the lost makes me sweat great drops of blood in fear. Yet not my will, but Yours be done.” Make it so real that the next time you are tempted to do you own thing, you’ll remember your agonizing Gethsemane experience-that you live for His will, not your you own. There goes another minute. Gone forever. Go share your faith while you still have time.

If the Vehicle Lacks Fuel

January 26, 2008

Ask yourself who you know who isn’t saved. Without the blood of the Savior, the Bible says those people you are thinking of will one day be cast into the Lake of Fire. How does that make you feel? Does it make you want to reach them with the Gospel? If we are lacking the fuels of compassion and gratitude for our own salvation, the task of sharing our faith will become a chore. It will be a burden. If our vehicle lacks fuel, we’ll have to push it rather than drive it. If we have to push the vehicle of evangelism, it will be a tiresome task, while driving it will be exhilarating. Without the gas of gratitude, our attitude won’t be an enthusiastic, “I delight to do Your will,” but a begrudging, “I have to do Your will.” There goes another minute. Gone forever. Go share your faith while you still have time.

Singing Songs in the Lifeboat

January 7, 2008

The Apostle Paul said, “For me to live means opportunities for Christ.” Is there a zeal to share our faith burning in our bones? It’s more than spending time in worship or in prayer. Jesus said to “Go and preach.” Prayer and worship are the basics of the Christian faith, but if we are not obediently sharing that faith, we are not fulfilling The Great Commission. Obedience is better than sacrifice. Without evangelistic zeal, we are like survivors of the Titanic, singing songs in the lifeboat while people are drowning. Singing songs is fine … but not while people are drowning. Let’s put service with worship. Let’s put legs to our prayers, and today seek to save those who will perish without the Savior. There goes another minute. Gone forever. Go share your faith while you still have time.

10 Reasons Not To Ask Jesus Into Your Heart

December 23, 2007

by Todd Friel

The music weeps, the preacher pleads, “Give your heart to Jesus. You have a God shaped hole in your heart and only Jesus can fill it.” Dozens, hundreds or thousands of people who want to get their spiritual life on track make their way to the altar. They ask Jesus into their heart.

Cut to three months later. Nobody has seen our new convert in church. The follow up committee calls him and encourages him to attend a Bible study, but to no avail. We label him a backslider and get ready for the next outreach event.

Our beloved child lies in her snuggly warm bed and says, “Yes, Daddy. I want to ask Jesus into my heart.” You lead her in “the prayer” and hope that it sticks. You spend the next ten years questioning if she really, really meant it. Puberty hits and the answer reveals itself. She backslides. We spend the next ten years praying that she will come to her senses.

Telling someone to ask Jesus into their hearts has a very typical result, backsliding. the Bible says that a person who is soundly saved puts his hand to the plow and does not look back because he is fit for service. In other words, a true convert cannot backslide. If a person backslides, he never slid forward in the first place. “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation.” (II Cor.5) No backsliding there.

Brace yourself for this one: with very few if any exceptions, anyone who asked Jesus into their hearts to be saved…is not. If you asked Jesus into your heart because you were told that is what you have to do to become a Christian, you were mis-informed.

If you have ever told someone to ask Jesus into their heart (like I have), you produced a false convert. Here is why.

1. It is not in the Bible. There is not a single verse that even hints we should say a prayer inviting Jesus into our hearts. Some use Rev. 3:20. To tell us that Jesus is standing at the door of our hearts begging to come in.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” There are two reasons that interpretation is wrong.

The context tells us that the door Jesus is knocking on is the door of the church, not the human heart. Jesus is not knocking to enter someone’s heart but to have fellowship with His church.

Even if the context didn’t tell us this, we would be forcing a meaning into the text (eisegesis). How do we know it is our heart he is knocking at? Why not our car door? How do we know he isn’t knocking on our foot? To suggest that he is knocking on the door of our heart is superimposing a meaning on the text that simply does not exist.

The Bible does not instruct us to ask Jesus into our heart. This alone should resolve the issue, nevertheless, here are nine more reasons.

2. Asking Jesus into your heart is a saying that makes no sense. What does it mean to ask Jesus into your heart? If I say the right incantation will He somehow enter my heart? Is it literal? Does He reside in the upper or lower ventricle? Is this a metaphysical experience? Is it figurative? If it is, what exactly does it mean? While I am certain that most adults cannot articulate its meaning, I am certain that no child can explain it. Pastor Dennis Rokser reminds us that little children think literally and can easily be confused (or frightened) at the prospect of asking Jesus into their heart.

3. In order to be saved, a man must repent (Acts 2:38). Asking Jesus into your heart leaves out the requirement of repentance.

4. In order to be saved, a man must trust in Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31). Asking Jesus into your heart leaves out the requirement of faith.

5. The person who wrongly believes they are saved will have a false sense of security. Millions of people who sincerely, but wrongly, asked Jesus into their hearts think they are saved but struggle to feel secure. They live in doubt and fear because they do not have the Holy Spirit giving them assurance of salvation.

6. The person who asks Jesus into his heart will likely end up inoculated, bitter and backslidden. Because he did not get saved by reciting a formulaic prayer, he will grow disillusioned with Jesus, the Bible, church and fellow believers. His latter end will be worse than the first.

7. It presents God as a beggar just hoping you will let Him into your busy life. This presentation of God robs Him of His sovereignty.

8. The cause of Christ is ridiculed. Visit an atheist web-site and read the pagans who scoff, “How dare those Christians tell us how to live when they get divorced more than we do? Who are they to say homosexuals shouldn’t adopt kids when tens of thousands of orphans don’t get adopted by Christians?” Born again believers adopt kids and don’t get divorced.
People who ask Jesus into their hearts do. Jesus gets mocked when false converts give Him a bad name.

9. The cause of evangelism is hindered. While it is certainly easier to get church members by telling them to ask Jesus into their hearts, try pleading with someone to make today the day of their salvation. Get ready for a painful response. “Why should I become a Christian when I have seen so called Christians act worse than a pagan?” People who ask Jesus into their hearts give pagans an excuse for not repenting.

10. Here is the scary one. People who ask Jesus into their hearts are not saved and they will perish on the Day of Judgment. How tragic that millions of people think they are right with God when they are not. How many people who will cry out, “Lord, Lord” on judgment day will be “Christians” who asked Jesus into their hearts?

So, what must one do to be saved? Repent and trust. (Heb.6:1) The Bible makes it clear that all men must repent and place their trust in Jesus Christ. Every man does have a “God shaped hole in their hearts,” but that hole is not contentment, fulfillment and peace. Every man’s heart problem is righteousness. Instead of preaching that Jesus fulfills, we must preach that God judges and Jesus satisfies God’s judgment…if a man will repent and place his trust in Him.

If you are reading this and you asked Jesus into your heart, chances are good you had a spiritual buzz for a while, but now you struggle to read your Bible, tithe, attend church and pray. Perhaps you were told you would have contentment, purpose and a better life if you just ask Jesus into your heart. I am sorry, that was a lie.

At War With the Law

December 21, 2007

Look at how Charles Spurgeon used God’s Law to make sinners see that they needed the Savior. “Soul! You will find it a hard thing to go at war with the Law. When the Law came in peace, Sinai was altogether on a smoke, and even Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake. What will you do when the Law comes in terror? When the trumpet of the archangel shall tear you from your grave. When the eyes of God shall burn their way into your guilty soul. When the great books shall be opened and all your sin and shame shall be punished. Can you stand against an angry Law in that day?” Compare that to today’s sermons where words are carefully chosen so that the sinner won’t be alarmed or feel any guilt. Yet, that’s what they must feel, or they will never come to the foot of the cross. There goes another minute. Gone forever. Go share your faith while you still have time.

How to botch an alter call

December 1, 2007

(A few keys for those who don’t want people saved in their altar calls)

  1. Present an unbalanced message. Only let them see the heart-warming part of God’s character. Preach God’s love but leave out His holiness and justice. That way they’ll think He’ll let them into heaven no matter what.
  2. Don’t mention repentance until they’re repeating a “sinner’s prayer.” Just get them to say, “I repent of all my sins” while they’re echoing you. They won’t know what they’re saying and they won’t count the cost.
  3. Above all else, be dignified. Don’t get heart to heart with the people. They would get something out of what you said.
  4. Skim over the gospel and push the prayer. Pretend the lost naturally understand what Christ has done for them.
  5. Preach Jesus as a life enhancer not a life rescuer. Tell them how Jesus can improve their life but don’t show them Jesus as the only One who can save them from Hell. People will think if they reject Him they’re only losing out on a spiritual high.
  6. Try to please the people instead of convert them. Tell them what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear.
  7. Compromise the message to speed up the process. The Christians who have heard it a hundred times before will be pleased with that. The quicker they get out the quicker they can get to the restaurant.
  8. Give them the impression that God is so good He won’t send anyone to hell. Don’t present the whole counsel of God or they might realize He is so good that He’ll see to it that justice is served and that all unrepentant sinners will be punished in the fire that is not quenched.
  9. Speak to sinners as though they were saints. They’ll think they’re God’s children instead of the enemies of God they’ve made themselves into because of their sin. You’ll give them false assurance and mislead them.
  10. Don’t mention sin or man’s guilt. Resist the urge to explain what Christ came to deliver us from. Don’t show them their need for the Savior. Otherwise it may all make sense.
  11. Don’t look to the Bible for the substance of your altar call. Only mimic other preachers with large congregations.
  12. Tell the lost not to feel bad about their sins. That way you will work against the Holy Spirit who’s convicting them
  13. Whatever you do, never mention Judgment Day. Your audience might take spiritual matters seriously.
  14. Tell them Jesus is the only way to heaven but don’t explain why. They may think it’s nothing more than fear tactics and leave offended instead of enlightened.
  15. Confuse the call. This is a great way to botch up an altar call. Don’t let people know you’re asking them to commit their life to Christ. Be vague and general in what you’re saying. Neglect to mention following Christ in your evangelistic altar calls and say things like, “If you don’t feel you’re as close to God as possible raise your hand,” “If you feel lonely come to the front for prayer,” “If you want more of God this is your time,” and, “If you have struggles and need the answer come down.” Just get them to raise a hand. That way no one will be able to count the cost and you’ll even get saints to respond to salvation altar calls, making the results look more successful.
  16. Only give them half the story. Tell them Jesus died to forgive everyone but overlook the fact that they must personally receive Him to partake of that forgiveness.
  17. Present the truth as though it isn’t. Be so funny when you share Christ that you belittle the seriousness of the matter.
  18. Preach forgiveness without repentance. That way no one will know how to be forgiven.
  19. Be unbiblical. Present repentance and faith as an offer instead of how God does as a command (Acts 17:30).
  20. Let them think next Sunday is the day of salvation. Don’t make them feel it’s urgent to respond today.
  21. Never warn of hell. Dangle heaven in front of their nose but rarely mention hell, certainly not as much as Jesus did.
  22. Only do altar calls inside the church. Never take the gospel where sinners congregate. The lost might get saved.
  23. Use churchy terms. Use words like, “saved,” “repent,” and “born again,” without any explanation. That way your hearers won’t comprehend what you’re saying. If they can’t understand it, it’s probable they won’t be changed by it.
  24. Give false assurance of salvation to unsaved Christians. Assure church folk that they are saved even if they bear no fruit. So that you don’t offend the unsaved pew warmers never quote 2 Corinthians 13:5: “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith.” You could lose some financial supporters and have to depend on God.
  25. Never mention the wrath of God. If you mention it, people might be awakened to flee to Jesus who “saves us from the wrath to come.” ( 1 Thess. 1:10)
  26. Study how the apostles preached and witnessed and do the opposite. Don’t explain Jesus’ suffering death on the cross. Otherwise they may think of running to Him for forgiveness. Don’t speak of His burial or resurrection or they might realize He is God. Refrain from commenting about the hundreds of eyewitnesses who saw Jesus after He rose from the dead. That way they can go on thinking He’s a fairy tale. Overlook talk of the messianic prophecies Jesus fulfilled or they might realize that the Bible is true. If they see it’s the truth they may see that following Christ is the logical decision. And whatever you do, avoid what the apostles did when it came time to call people to obey the gospel. Don’t tell them to trust Christ and live for Him. That is too accurate. If they know how to get saved your altar call will be a success.
  27. Put more emphasis on the “sinner’s prayer” then on repentance and faith. Satan will smile over your departure from Biblical instruction. We are never taught to use a ‘sinner’s prayer’ throughout the entire Bible. If you decide to use it and put more emphasis on the technique than on what we’re commanded to preach: faith and repentance you’ll certainly botch things up. A ‘sinner’s prayer’ doesn’t equal salvation, only faith in Christ and repentance toward God do.
  28. Let Christians think you’re the only one who can do it right. Always leave the impression that they should only invite friends to church and never actually witness themselves. It will keep you in business and the lost unsaved.
  29. Don’t let the lost know they are. Disregard subjects like Judgment Day, God’s holiness, man’s sinfulness and justice. That way the lost can continue to think they’re “good enough” to get into heaven.
  30. Rely upon psychological techniques to manipulate people into responding to the altar call. Don’t rely upon the Holy Spirit or they may actually get saved.
  31. Make sure you’re the main attraction. Remember the goal in botching up an altar call is for people to leave and say, “What a wonderful preacher,” instead of, “What a wonderful Savior.” Draw all possible attention to how great a speaker and person you are. Otherwise people might see Christ in your preaching and get saved.
  32. Don’t focus upon Jesus. Finally, the best way to botch up an altar call is not to preach the gospel. Just get people to lift up a hand and pray a prayer with you. Resist the urge to speak of the only One who could save them.

Sometimes the best way to get a point across is to put it in a different light. You now know a few ways to botch up an altar call. Please do not employ them. Do the opposite. You may already do some of them. Don’t let pride keep you from changing and doing things in a Biblical fashion. The bottom line is how true we are to Christ and His word. Effectively reaching the lost is our purpose. Let nothing hold you back from that agenda. May God bless you as you seek to win people to Christ in Bible clubs, churches, conferences, on the street witnessing encounters, at your school, and at your workplace.

Adapted from Becoming an Emissary for God by Allen Atzbi

The Original Greek

November 18, 2007


You may not be aware that the original Greek meaning of “The Great Commission.” If you study the words, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature,”(Mark 16:15) a whole new world of interesting thoughts opens up. According to the text, the Greek word for “go” is very fascinating. It is poreuomai, meaning, “go.” The word “all” also carries with it intriguing connotations. It is hapas, and actually means “all.” And if that doesn’t rivet you, look closely at the word “every.” It is pas, and literally means “every.” So when Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature,” to be true and faithful to the original text, what He was actually saying was, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” We are so fortunate to have access to such knowledge. There goes another minute. Gone forever. Go share your faith while you still have time.