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Soulwinning – Part 7

Some compromise in order to grow

Because of the difficulties of reaching the lost, too many churches are becoming “progressive.” They do so because they can attract more people. If you attract people to your church with the methods of the world, you can expect to get worldly people. Here are some areas of compromise used to draw people into churches;

All positive messages

They say we need to preach an all positive message so we don’t offend anyone. One of the leaders on the subject of keeping everything positive was Dr. Lee Roberson, the founder of Tennessee Temple. I do not want to take away from the greatness of this man, but he was one of the leaders in the all positive preaching movement. Here is what he had to say on the issue:

“I kept my mind and ministry settled — winning people to Christ, getting people to grow in grace,.. Stay out of controversy in the pulpit–stay out of it and stay on the main line. I think that helped me a lot. I tried to avoid personalities and stay on the main line: preaching the gospel, emphasis on winning people to Christ, emphasis on developing the spiritual life, dying to self, the fullness of the Spirit, the second coming–kept on the positive side, kept negatives away from the people.”

This may sound good on the surface, but it is not the scriptural pattern preachers are to follow. If you study God’s preachers in the Bible, you will find they most always started by being negative. The warning came first, then the positive solution.

If you want to see the long term result of the positive only message, just look at what has happened to Highland Park Baptist Church since Dr. Roberson’s death. It has gone totally new evangelical and progressive. It is but a shell of the great church it once was.

Attracting people with CCM

Music is an important part of our worship, but it is the foolishness of preaching that is the power of God unto salvation.

For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. (1 Corinthians 1:21)

There are three purposes for music in our worship. The most important is to glorify God and sing praises to Him. Music also encourages the hearts of the children of God. Thirdly, it prepares the hearts for the preaching of God’s Word.

Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) is designed to work on the emotions and fleshly instincts of the listener. It is also designed to glorify the performer. I said performer, and not singer, because it is a performance designed to lift up the performer.

The stated goal of many CCM artists is to break down the separation between various denominations. They don’t understand the differences are doctrinal, and these barriers should never be broken down. The problem is that many Baptist churches today are allowing the barriers of separation to be broken down.

Compromising on church ordinances

As Baptists, we believe there are two ordinances given by the Lord to each of His churches. They are baptism and the Lord’s Supper or Table. Neither one of them adds anything to our spirituality or to our salvation. There are completely symbolic.

Baptism is symbolic of our salvation. It pictures our identification with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. It tells the world that we now belong to Him. There was a time when no true Baptist would accept anything but Baptist baptism. The reason for this was that in addition to identifying us with our Lord, it also identifies us with the doctrine of that baptizing authority. Anything else was called alien baptism, and was rejected.

The Lord’s Supper is an ordinance that was given as a memorial of Christ’s broken body and shed blood. It is to be a time of self-examination. In Scripture, it is only partaken of in the context of, and under the authority of, a local church. There is no example of any outsider being asked to partake with that church. The fact that it requires self-examination implies that another purpose for this ordinance is for the purity of the church. Paul’s instruction to the church at Corinth seem to indicate that the church must have authority over those who partake, and no church has authority over anyone but its own members.

The meager results of our evangelistic efforts are cause by our compromise. We have compromised the message, the purpose, the meaning of words, and God’s principles. To solve the problems with our evangelism, we must go back to God’s word and find out where we have gone astray. As I often say, we need to get our theology from the Bible, and not from theology books and commentaries.

To be continued…

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Soulwinning – Part 6

A redefinition of repentance

In the 1980s, some changed the historic Baptist definition of repentance. Two of the leaders of this were Jack Hyles and Curtis Hutson. I suspect that it was to justify their idea that bigger is better. Remember, the first question you were likely to be asked at a preachers meeting was, how many did you have Sunday?

So? What did they actually say?

“The problem and confusion is not preaching repentance but attaching the wrong definition to the word. For instance, to say that repentance means to turn from sin, or to say that repentance is a change of mind that leads to a change of action, is to give a wrong definition to the word” (Curtis Hutson, Repentance: What Does the Bible Teach? Sword of the Lord, 1986, p. 16).

He doesn’t say exactly what his definition of repentance is, but he does say that the one that has been used since the beginning is a wrong definition. I think he was referring to the same thing as Jack Hyles in this next quote.

“What makes the wrath of God abide on a person? Believing not! So, from what must a person repent in order to be saved? He must repent of that which makes him lost. Since ‘believing not’ makes him lost, ‘believing’ makes him saved. The repentance there is a turning from the thing that keeps him from being saved to the thing that saves him. So, yes, there is a repentance from unbelief in order to believe. It is simply a change of direction. It means a turning around. You are going away from believing, and you decide to turn around and believe. You change your direction; you change your mind. With your will you believe and rely upon Christ to save you. In order to believe, you have to repent of unbelief. That which makes a man lost must be corrected.” (Dr. Jack Hyles, Enemies of Soulwinning, 1993).

Here Dr. Hyles plays word games to say that all there is to repentance is to stop your unbelief, and start believing. It is stunning that two Johnny Come Latelys, who just happen to be good salesmen, can change what has been accepted for centuries, just because they say so.

The following are some quotes from those who hold to the traditional definition of repentance. I am going to slightly disagree with them, but their definitions are much closer to the truth than that of Hutson and Hyles.

Before I give the quotes, let me tell you why I disagree a bit with these men. I searched out every usage of repent in any form in English. Then I searched every Greek or Hebrew word from which they were translated. I could not find one place where these words were used to tell a lost person to repent of his sins, or of his sin in general.

John R. Rice, 1940 – “To repent literally means to have a change of mind or spirit toward God and toward sin.

IT MEANS TO TURN FROM YOUR SINS, earnestly, with all your heart, and trust in Jesus Christ to save you. You can see, then, how the man who believes in Christ repents and the man who repents believes in Christ. The jailer repented when he turned from sin to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ” (What Must I Do to Be Saved? 1940).

Actually this definition is not too far from that of Hutson and Hyles. It almost seems to equate repentance and belief. He kind of combines the two, which laid the foundation for the definition of Hutson and Hyles.

Harold Sightler, 1963 – “Recognizing his guilt, there is a TURNING FROM SIN. There is a turning to God. The actual word ‘repentance’ means a turning completely around: a change of course; a change of mind. … To think of repentance that doesn’t cause the sinner to turn gladly from his sin is impossible. … I know that we have a shallow religious movement in our times that will allow men to profess faith in Christ and at the same time continue to live in the world. Such a shallow religious faith is not real. These are mere professors and have no part with God in salvation” (Chastening and Repentance, 1963).

I can agree with most of what Brother Sightler said. His actual definition is correct, but there is nothing in Scripture that says what we are turning from is our sin.

B.R. Lakin, 1964 – “Repentance toward God — that’s TURNING AWAY FROM ALL YOUR SIN and everything you know to be wrong, and

TURNING RIGHT ABOUT FACE, then trusting Jesus Christ as your complete Redeemer” (Prepare to Meet Thy God, 1964).

How can a lost sinner, before he is saved, turn away from all of his sin? He doesn’t even know what all of his sins are.

Lester Roloff, 1965 – “Repentance 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 essential if you go to heaven” (Repent or Perish, 1965).

I agree that those who have repented will forsake sin, but that does not make the repentance necessary for salvation equal to the forsaking of sin.

Oliver B. Green, 1969 – “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.” (Commentary of Acts of the Apostles, Acts 2:37-38, 1969).

Here again, I agree that all who have genuinely repented hate sin, and forsake sinful ways. Again, in my search of the Scriptures, I found nowhere that used the word repent in any form, in English, Greek, or Hebrew, to say that it was a turning from sin. While the result of true repentance will be a turning from, and a forsaking of, sin, it is not what the Scriptures tell us to repent of.

Now that I have thoroughly offended some of you by disagreeing with these great men of God, let me tell you what the Scriptures say we are to turn from (repent). There is a verse that tells us exactly what it is. Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, (Hebrews 6:1)

The writer has just chastised these Hebrew Christians for not being mature enough to teach others. In this verse he gives us foundation of the Christian message. It is repentance from dead works, and faith toward God.

Answer this question, In what does every religion except biblical Christianity trust for their salvation? Every one of them trusts in their own good works, at least to some degree. As long as one is trusting in something he or she has done for their salvation, including a prayer, they cannot be saved. They must turn from their dead works, and trust in the only work that can save, the work of Christ on the cross.

To be continued…

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Soulwinning – Part 5

How Did We Get Here

I believe there are some things that brought us to the point where our evangelism leads to empty professions of faith. In this article, I want to take a look at some of them.

A big is better attitude

I realize that all of us like to be looked up to. I also realize that those who pastor larger churches have more respect from men than those who pastor smaller churches. It ought not be this way. If you take a good look at early Christian history, one of the things that brought about the Catholic Church was larger churches dominating smaller churches.

There are several churches in America that are very large and have Bible Colleges that are training men for the ministry. It seems to me that the pastors of these churches think that because they are big, they have the responsibility of teaching the other churches how to do the same thing they have done.

It is interesting to see how many of the preachers coming from these schools try to emulate the pastor of these big churches. When God calls a man into the ministry, He calls him because that man has the characteristics He wants to use in His work. He didn’t call him to be a copy of the pastor or founder of the school he went to.

I know a pastor that graduated from one of these big schools who went to the pastor/founder of the school and asked what he expected of the students. He was told that he wanted to turn out a bunch of copies of himself. This is prideful and arrogant. When God wanted a Paul, He called Paul. When He wanted an Isaiah, He called Isaiah.

Sorry for the rabbit trail. Let me get back on track.

There are two problems with the attitude that big is better. The first is, big is not better, faithfulness is. God is more concerned how faithful a church is to His Word than He is how many members are in the church. Of course God wants His churches to grow, but not at the expense of biblical principles.

The church is also called a body in Scripture. In a body there is both healthy and unhealthy growth. It is healthy for a baby to grow into an adult. If the baby does not grow, something is seriously wrong. However, once the baby reaches adulthood, further growth is unhealthy. It leads to obesity and all kinds of physical disorders. Adults grow by multiplication of their kind and having children. This is why God ordained marriage and the family.

I believe the same is true of God’s churches. When a church is small, it should grow numerically, but when it reaches maturity it should grow by multiplication. There should be other churches born out of that church.

I live in the Bible Belt and it seems that it is impossible to be out of walking distance of a Baptist church. I can assure you that more churches are needed in our area. Many of the “Baptist” churches in our area are no longer standing for the truths of God’s word. New churches that will stand up for God are needed to take of the slack left by these churches.

Let me close this section by answering a question that should be obvious, How big is big enough?

The answer is, I don’t know, but there are some guidelines to follow. It has been found that a true shepherd can only properly shepherd about 200 sheep. To me, this is a general guideline to follow. To properly pastor people we need to really know them. We need to know their personalities, their interests, their sorrows, and their joys. In the very large churches, the pastors cannot properly pastor the people so he delegates his responsibilities to others. He becomes more of a corporate CEO than a pastor.

I can just hear some of you saying, “What about the church in Jerusalem? It had thousands of members.” This is true, but it also had the Apostles to direct it, and later in passages we find that it had divided into smaller churches.

To be continued…

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Soulwinning – Part 4

Churches aren’t growing

Many “soul-winning” churches are not growing. One pastor in Colorado said his church won 200 souls to Christ each year. This continued for about 10 years. At the beginning of the 10 years the church was running about 200 on Sunday morning. At the end of the 10 years, the church was running about 200. Don’t you think something is wrong with this picture?

A friend from a great “soulwinning” church told me that his church averaged winning 50 people to the Lord every week. When I asked him if his church was growing, I knew it wasn’t, he told me that it was only our obligation to win souls, not to get them into church. I can only assume he had never considered all the Great Commission has to say.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:19-20)

Notice that there are three parts to this commission. The first is to teach all nations. What are we to teach them? We are to teach them that there is a holy God to Whom they will answer, and when they understand this, we are to teach them the Gospel. I will expound further on this later in this book.

The second part is baptizing them. Baptism is only for those who show credible evidence of salvation. We are not to baptize everyone, we only baptize those who are saved. At baptism, the saved person becomes a member of the church under whose authority he was baptized. This means that the second part of the commission is getting the saved into a church where they can grow.

The third part of the commission is teaching the saved to observe, that means keep or put into practice, all things that our Lord has taught us.

When we carry out all three parts of the Commission, our churches will grow, both numerically and spiritually. The problem in many of our churches is, they are so busy “winning souls,” they forget to grow Christians. The purpose of the church is to bring Christians to maturity.

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; (Ephesians 4:11-14)

When a church takes this seriously, soul-winning becomes a natural part of the lives of its members. This will cause good, solid growth, and will cause the community around the church to know there is something different happening in that church.

This growth may not be as rapid as that of those who use modern evangelistic methods, but it will be solid. I speak from experience because I took a church from an average attendance of 28 to an average attendance of over 70 using the principles I will give you in this book. When the new pastor came in, the church did not lose one member. The new pastor thanked me for leaving him a doctrinally sound church.

To be continued…

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Soulwinning – Part 3

Saved People Are New Creatures

Continued …

The first passage that troubled us in our study of modern soulwinning was 2 Corinthians 5:17.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

This is talking about all saved people, those who are in Christ. You can’t be saved outside of Christ because He is the way, the truth, and the life.

Someone who is in Christ, is a new creature. It does not say he should be, he will be some day, it says he IS, present tense, a new creature. This means that it is not optional, it is automatic.

We become new creatures because our spiritual nature is made alive. It allows us to commune with the God of the universe. It really changes the person, and the change is visible to others.

There will still be a battle between the spirit and the flesh, but the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, which indwells all who are in Christ, will cause us to feel very uncomfortable when we violate God’s precepts. A true Christian who is living in violation of God’s precepts will be an unhappy person. The Holy Spirit will bring conviction and trials into his life until he repents.

This verse further says that old things, our worldly actions, interests, and sins, are passed away. Notice again, this is present tense. It is something that happens as soon as a person is saved. Because of the battle between the spirit and the flesh, and because it takes some time to learn God’s precepts, there will be a time of growth, but the true Christian will become more and more like Christ the longer he lives.

This time of growth will not end as long as we are on this earth. Like a child, there will be more growth in the early years, but the growth will always be there. If there is no spiritual growth, there is reason to question whether or not there is spiritual life.

Next we are told that all things become new. This means that our desires, our attitudes, our actions, etc. will change. We will no longer want to do the sinful things we used to do. We will want to please our Heavenly Father.

Over time, the places we go and the people we hang around will change. We will love going to church. We will hate going places where sin abounds. Our sweetest fellowship will be with other Christians. We will fill our minds with the Word of God.

Good works characterize Christians

The next verse that troubled us was Ephesians 2:10. Most Christians can quote, or are at least familiar with, Ephesians 2:8-9:

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

However, few can quote verse 10:

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

We know verses 8 and 9 so well because we like the fact that they tell us that we are saved by God’s grace, received by faith, without works. This is very important because far too many people think that works are necessary to obtain salvation. The problem is that we often push works so far away that we don’t see that, as Christians, we are to live according to good works. That is, we are to live according to the precepts of God as found in His Word.

We don’t obtain salvation because we do good works, we do good works because we have already obtained salvation. Those “Christians” who go around saying that they don’t have to follow the precepts found in God’s Word are probably not true Christians. At best, they are poorly taught Christians.

The Scriptures tell us that salvation changes a person. I know salvation changed me and my family. Today we see too many professing salvation with no desire for the things of God. They don’t read their Bibles to see what God expects of them. They don’t attend Church regularly. They aren’t concerned about the lost around them. If you read the Scriptures, you will see that it ought not be this way. Remember, 2 Corinthians 5:17, tells us that when we are in Christ, we are new creatures.

To be continued…

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Soulwinning – Part 2

Something is dreadfully wrong

I have written a book “Shipwreck Soulwinning” because I believe that our soulwinning is shipwrecked. Our efforts do not bring the same results we see in Scripture. I don’t think many would argue that everything is well in modern evangelism. The first problem is fewer and fewer are even pretending to get saved. The second is, most of those who make a profession of faith, show no real evidence of becoming a new creature in Christ.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

There is no shortage of evangelistic activity, it is the results that don’t measure up to the biblical standard. The product of our efforts gives little evidence of being truly changed by their “salvation experience.”

It is interesting that we talk about decisions for Christ, while the Bible never does. It talks about believing on the Lord Jesus Christ.

We recently had a big evangelistic event in Charlotte, NC. It was limited to independent Fundamental Baptists, and there was a lot of noise about the results. Although there were professions of faith, there was little effect seen in the area.

I will get in trouble for saying this, but the money would have been better spent in local church evangelism. When someone is reached for Christ through a local church, there is a connection between the convert and the church. This connection allows the church to follow up in a way that is natural. The kind of evangelistic campaign we saw in Charlotte does send the names of the people who “get saved” to a local church in the area where the person lives, but it is not the same as the church reaching them in the first place. I have been on the receiving end of this kind of names, and most of the time the “converts” had no idea what I was talking about when I visited them.

The zeal of those who are behind this kind of campaign is well intended, but it would be better to see this zeal in local churches reaching the communities where they are located. I believe this is the biblical way.

I fear that many of those “saved” with our modern evangelistic methods will hear the same thing Jesus said to those who professed to be His disciples in Matthew Chapter 7.

And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:23)

Most of the churches in the area where I live have one or two revivals a year. Their goal is to see people reached for Christ. This a praiseworthy goal, but the result is that nothing changes. The churches don’t grow, and the people are not revived. They now wait for the next “revival” with great enthusiasm, but the results will be the same as the last one.

How did I come to this study

More than 35 years ago my wife and I were discussing the effects of modern soul-winning. We saw a problem that concerned us greatly. There were things that didn’t fit with what the Scriptures said about those who were won to Christ. When people got saved in the New Testament, there was a major change in their lives. They were not perfect, but their lives were different from what they were before their salvation.

It was some years before I had the time to really look into the issue, but when I did, I learned some very important principles. When I applied these principles, it changed the results of the evangelism in our church.

If you are only looking to see more professions of faith, you need read no farther, you won’t find that here. If you are interested in seeing salvation experiences that truly change the lives of people, I believe you will find this book very helpful.

When you read of the revivals in the past, you will see people with true conviction of sin crying out to a holy God, begging for His forgiveness. You will see broken and contrite hearts and real tears of godly sorrow. Isn’t this what we should be looking for?

To be continued…

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Soulwinning – Part 1

I am starting a series of articles that deal with what I think is the greatest area of compromise in Bible Believing Baptist circles. It has to do with how we present the Gospel in our efforts to win the lost to Christ.

Looking back to the 1970s I see something that I believe is at the root of the problems in our churches today. At that time, success was counted in numbers. The most common, and probably the first question asked at a preacher’s meeting was, “How many did you have Sunday?”

I don’t know when it really started, but many Baptist churches were doing outlandish things to draw a crowd. Pastors and youth directors were doing things like swallowing live goldfish. Churches were announcing that they were going to have the biggest, fastest, most unusually [you fill in the blank] next Sunday. They were inviting people to come for the show rather than for the preaching of the Word of God.

The cry of the day was, “We must reach the lost, at any cost.” I took issue with this statement back then, and I take issue with it today. We must not reach the lost at the cost of God’s glory and His righteous precepts. There is no shortcut to growing a church the Bible way. Souls must be won to Christ, not to the pastor. They must not be seeking salvation from Hell, they must be seeking salvation from sin because they will face a holy God. Spurgeon put it this way:

“The unsaved sinner loves a salvation from Hell. The true Christian loves a salvation from sin. Everyone desires to be saved from the pit, but it is only a child of God who pants to be saved from every false way.”

I believe there are a few things that are necessary to bring someone to true salvation. I will cover these things in this series of posts. They are all found in Scripture, so I am confident that they are sound.

I am really bothered by the fact that we claim to believe the Bible, but when things are not going well, when we aren’t seeing as many souls as we think we should see, instead of seeking a Bible answer, we add a new program or method.

The things we add are based on human psychology. For example, we do things during our invitations to make people feel guilty if they don’t respond. For example, we have them raise their hands if they are not sure of their salvation. Once they do that, we make them feel uncomfortable if they don’t come forward.

I understand that after one of D.L Moody’s meetings an old man asked him, “Why don’t you let the Holy Spirit do the work?” I have the same question for most Baptist preachers today. We can get people to come forward at an invitation, and even coerce them into saying the “Sinners Prayer,” but only the Holy Spirit can bring true conviction of sin and work repentance in the heart, both of which are needed for a person to be truly saved.

I might point out that the “Sinners Prayer” is not found in the Bible, and I can’t find where anyone ever prayed a prayer to be saved. People are not saved when they pray, they are saved when they believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. Acts 16:31

These articles about bringing more people to true salvation. They are about how to get lasting change instead of empty professions from those who are supposedly saved.

It is my hope that all who read these posts will take seriously what is in them. It is also my hope that each one will examine their evangelism by the Word of God, and not by what we have been taught in Bible schools, or even by what I say in my posts. I am not the authority, the Bible is. I am just voicing how I see things. It is the reader’s responsibility to compare what I say with the Scriptures to see if it is accurate.

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The Forgotten Message of the Gospel

The most common message that is taken to the lost in our day is the message that God loves them. While it is true that God loves the world (John 1:16), and that this means He loves each and every person including the lost, this is not the message that needs to be communicated to the lost. The message that the lost need to hear is the message of God’s wrath against all ungodliness and unrighteousness.

The whole idea of love in its modern interpretation is that one who loves will never punish. Nothing could be farther from the truth. God loves all of His creation, and because of this love, He must separate all that would harm it. This includes Satan and his hordes and all those who would live contrary to His righteous laws.

Numbers 14:18 tells us, “The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.”

We forget that letting someone get away with doing wrong is unjust. If someone were to murder someone close to you and the judge was to let them go free you would call him an unjust judge. God is a holy, righteous, and just God. He cannot allow sin to go unpunished. This is not a sign of His lack of love, it is a sign of His perfect love.

Romans 1:18-19 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them

Most of the new Bible translations change “hold the truth” into “suppress the truth.” The Greek word translated “hold” means to have something in your possession. It does not mean to suppress. Those who hold on to something, those who have it in their possession, may very well suppress it, but this is not the meaning of the Greek word. The context doesn’t deal with suppressing anything, it deals with being without excuse (Verse 20) because they know the truth (Verse 21).

Everyone has (holds in his consciousness) that measure of truth which may be known by the natural man. Many refuse to profit from the light they have and love the darkness rather than the light. All who do not live up to the knowledge they possess, who do that which they know they should not do, hold the truth in unrighteousness.

Verse 32 supports this interpretation. It says, “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.”

They know the judgment they deserve and instead of turning to righteousness, the encourage others to live in unrighteousness. I suppose it makes them feel less guilty if everyone is doing it.

While on the subject of guilt, let me explain what it is. Guilt comes from the law that God has written in the hearts of all of us. It is that part of us that makes us know that some things are wrong. We don’t need anyone to tell us that it is wrong to kill someone just because we don’t like something they have done or because they have we want. We call this the conscience. The conscience is the policeman in our lives. It brings conviction when we do wrong.

John 8:9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

The sad thing is the conscience can be rendered useless:

1 Timothy 4:2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;

When we refuse to listen to God and deliberately go against His precepts He does something that makes it very difficult, if not impossible, for us to turn back from our sinful ways. Listen to the following verse:

Romans 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

A reprobate mind is a mind that is void of sound judgment. It is a mind that can no longer tell right from wrong. It is a mind that is seared with a hot iron.

It is important that we give the lost the right message before they reach this point. You and I cannot tell for sure when someone has reached this point so we need to try to reach even the most unrighteous among us. But you can be sure that those who have a seared conscience and a reprobate mind are pretty much unreachable.

We need to understand where we came from. We were once the children of wrath just like the lost in the world today. Here is what Paul had to say about this:

Ephesians 2:1-3 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

Notice in whose way we walked. It was the course of the world according to Satan, the prince of the power of the air. He is the spirit in those who are disobedient to God’s precepts. Notice also that it is in the past tense for those of us who are saved. A true Christian walks according to the precepts of God. He is not perfect, but when he stumbles, he is quick to confess his sin to his heavenly Father who cleanses him (1 John 1:9).

We are told in Ephesians 2:8-9 that we are saved by grace, through faith, without works. This does not mean that we are not to work. It simply means that we don’t work for our salvation. We are to work because we have been saved (Ephesians 2:10).

Let’s look at some other verses that deal with what we should be telling the lost.

John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

This verse contains two very important thoughts. The first is that those who believe on the Son have everlasting life. Believe on does not simply meant to believe He existed, or even to believe what He said. It means to put one’s trust in Him totally for salvation. Those who do so have, right now, everlasting life. That is a life that will never end.

You will note that it says “he that believeth not the Son,” it doesn’t say believeth not on the Son. This tells us that those who don’t believe what He says shall not see life. Of course, the main point I want us to see is that the wrath of God already abides on them. This also is present tense. The lost person needs to be taught this before the love of God will mean anything to him.

Ephesians 5:6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.

The context of this verse is dealing with our conduct and obedience to God. It tells us that those who disobey God will fall under the wrath of God. The lost don’t need to know that God loves them, they need to know that they are in danger of the condemnation that comes with God’s wrath.

Colossians 3:6 For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:

This verse, like the one before, tells us that those who disobey God will be subject to the wrath of God. This is the message the lost need to hear.

My whole purpose for writing this article is to point out that we are giving the wrong message to the lost. The message most are communicating to the lost is that although they are sinners, God has provided for the free forgiveness of sin because He loves us.

It is true that God loves everyone, including the lost. It is also true that forgiveness of sin is free from our point of view. However, it is not true that salvation places no obligations on the saved as the love-centered message implies. The depth of God’s love cannot be understood until the sinner understands the horror of his sin and the danger of his position.

The one thing that the “love” message fails to communicate is the need for repentance. Repentance essentially means to change one’s mind. Most who preach repentance say that we are to repent of our sins to be saved. Although there will be a change of mind concerning sin if one comes to Christ for salvation, the Bible never says that sin is what must be repented of. I have looked at every reference to repentance in any form in English, Greek, and Hebrew and I have not found any reference to repenting of sins for salvation.

There is a passage that tells us what one must repent of for salvation. It is found in Hebrews 6:

Hebrews 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,

Notice that we are told that part of the foundation is “repentance from dead works.” What are the dead works that we are to repent of? They are the works we try to do for our salvation. Every religion in the world except biblical Christianity teaches some kind of works for salvation.

Until the lost understand they will face God’s judgment there will be no real conviction of sin. Without the conviction of sin, there will be no seeking the solution to their dire predicament. When they understand their sin and God’s justified wrath, they will realize that they cannot be good enough to earn their own salvation. They will then turn to God for mercy. Then they are ready to hear about God’s love and to put their faith in Christ for salvation. They will then have a grateful heart that will work a change in their life.

The fact that we are putting the emphasis on God’s love instead of God’s wrath when we talk to the lost is resulting in many false professions of faith. This explains why it is so difficult to get new “converts” to be faithful to the precepts of God. They are like those in the parable of the sower which are represented by the stony ground.

Matthew 13:18-23 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

The stony ground is those who are only interested in the Gospel because they think it will solve all of their problems. This is why they receive the word with joy. They have no root in themselves. There is no possession of the new life in Christ. They are just looking for a Santa Clause god who will give them what they want. As soon as the trials come they are offended and turn their backs upon the things of God.

Some professing Christians don’t believe God will send the lost to eternal punishment in the Lake of Fire, but here is what the Scriptures say on the subject.

Revelation 20:11-15 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

The destiny of the lost is too important for us to risk leading them astray. We need to follow the example of the Scriptures and present the Gospel in a way that brings conviction of sin and works repentance in the hearts of those we speak to.

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The Wrath Of God And Salvation

Today there are a lot of people who say they are Christians who are not. As a matter of fact, there are many who may be truly saved, but who are not Christians. We are saved by faith, through faith, without works (Ephesians 2:8-9). It was not believers who were called Christians, it was disciples. Although we are saved without works, we become disciples by putting into practice the teachings of our Master, Jesus Christ. You can’t biblically call someone who is truly saved, but not following Christ’s principles a Christian.

The reason we are having so much trouble keeping church members, the reason we are having so much trouble reaching the lost, is that we put a totally wrong emphasis on our presentation of the Gospel. We are not sharing a false gospel, we are presenting the true Gospel in the wrong way. We are telling people to come to God because He loves them, which He does, but that is not how the Gospel is presented in the Scriptures. The Scriptures never use the love of God as an enticement to come to salvation. When I say this, people bring up John 3:16, however, if you read it in its context, it is not enticing people to come to salvation, it is explaining why God has a way of salvation for mankind.

Read the message preached by Peter on the day of Pentecost and the message preached by Paul at Mars Hill in Acts 17, read the other salvation messages in the Scriptures, and see what you find. Even when Jesus was talking to the woman at the well He did not use the love of God. They didn’t use the word, but they were all a warning concerning the wrath of God and God’s judgment.

People have to have enough fear of God to want to change something. Listen to what the Bible has to say:

Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds: (Romans 2:1-6)

This is a hard passage of Scripture, and I think we should preach on it more often. I think we should learn it well enough to be able to use it when we talk to the lost about their souls.

Before I continue with the main subject, I want to take a quick look at Romans 1:18.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; (Romans 1:18)

What this verse means is, God will pour out His wrath against ALL ungodliness and unrighteousness of men because they hold the truth in unrighteousness. Some of the modern translations translate this as those who suppress the truth. This is not what it is saying. It means they have the truth, they know what it is, yet they live in unrighteousness. The rest of this chapter describes those of whom Paul is speaking. Then look at verse 31:

Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. (Romans 1:32)

This is the context of our text. There is no excuse for disobeying God’s precepts because He has put them in the hearts of every man, woman, and child. We all know that certain things are wrong and certain things are right. The basic principles of God’s law, the Ten Commandments, are written in the hearts of all people.

No matter what culture you look at, certain things are known to be right or wrong. In some cultures you will find that some things may be perverted by that culture, but basically you find the same things considered right and wrong. A great example of this is the difference between most cultures and cannibalistic cultures. In most cultures is is wrong to have people for lunch, but in cannibalistic cultures it can be something that raises one’s stature.

In today’s world everyone wants to say there is no absolute truth, and everything is subjective. That, in itself, is an absolute statement. It proves that the idea that there are no absolutes is a lie.

We find absolute truth in the Word of God, and it can be depended upon throughout all eternity. Our text says we are without excuse because God has put His law in our hearts.

It is certain that God’s judgment will come. You may say that because you are saved you don’t have to worry about judgment. If you do, you are greatly mistaken. Have you ever heard of the Judgment Seat of Christ? Every saved person will stand before Christ in judgment for what he did after his salvation. His salvation will not be in question, but the reward that he receives will be.

I believe that persecution is coming for Christians in this nation. First of all, the Bible predicts it, and secondly, the signs of it coming are all around us. To you really think that someone who has so little desire to be in church that he stays home when it is raining is going to stand when the persecution does come? If a person can’t be in church on Sunday night or Wednesday night, do you really think they will stand for Christ when it really costs them something.

One of my specialties is Baptist history. What amazes me about Baptist history is what our ancestors were willing to suffer so they could keep their doctrine and testimony pure. Our Baptist ancestors fought for more than 1700 years so we could have the freedoms we enjoy today. We will not have them much longer if we don’t do something about it soon.

I have read the testimonies of people who were saved under the preaching of Shubal Stearns. Boy, something is really different to day. People used to break down in tears when the saw God as He is and themselves as they are. Shubal Stearns was so filled with the Holy Spirit that he could sometime simply look at a person and he would come under conviction. When is the last time you saw someone have that kind of spiritual power?

In verse 4 of our text is says:

Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? (Romans 2:4)

Notice that this verse says the goodness of God leads to repentance. We talk about the Love of God in trying to bring people to repentance. When we bring someone to repentance using the love of God, it causes laxness on the part of those who say they believe. They understand the hopeless condition they are in when we use the wrath of God to Christ it because it brings them to conviction of sin. It does not necessarily cause true repentance because you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.

One of my favorite passage in all of the Bible is Isaiah Chapter 6. Isaiah was a prophet of God for 5 chapters before we get to this point.

In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. (Isaiah 6:1)

Think about what this verse says. Isaiah saw the power behind the throne. He saw who was, and still is, the absolute ruler of the universe. God is not subject to anything we say, He is the absolute ruler with the final say on everything. We are subject to His opinion, not the other way around. We need to return God to this place in our hearts and minds.

In verse 3 of this passage it says the Seraphims call Him holy, holy, holy. Notice that He is the thrice holy God. When we see His holiness, it will impress upon us our unholiness. We will see ourselves as the sinners we are. It leads us to repentance, but it does not say that if really brings repentance.

Let’s take a moment to look at 2 Corinthians 7: 9-10:

Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after1 a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. (2 Corinthians 7:9-10)

Notice that there are two kinds of sorrow, godly sorrow, and the sorrow of the world. Godly sorrow works repentance not to be repented of, but the sorrow of the world works death. Once one has true repentance based upon godly sorrow, he will never change his mind (repent) and turn away from it. Godly sorrow is a true sorrow, not for being found out, but for have offended a holy God by our sin. The sorrow of the world is being sorry that you were caught, and trying to express regret to avoid punishment. Godly sorrow realizes that the punishment is well deserved and seeks God’s mercy.

My son-in-law did a study on the revival on the Lewis Isle. People were coming under conviction for their sin and crying out to God for mercy because they understood that they were under the wrath of God, just like what we saw in Romans 1:18. They saw how short that fell from the glory of God.

Today’s revival meetings are little more than pep rallies. They work up people’s emotions so they can get a lot of amens and other emotional outbursts. They are not bringing people under conviction for their sin and causing them to seek God’s mercy. There are no broken and contrite hearts and spirits.

I am working on starting a new ministry. I am calling it “Rock The Boat Ministries.” I want to rock the boat and disturber the status quo a bit. I want to shake up Baptists enough where they get back to what they used to be. Baptists used to be the conscience of this nation. Today we are salt that has lost its savor, and lights with smoked chimneys.

When this passage says that godly sorrow works repentance, it is telling us that if we have godly sorrow, repentance will come. It will cause a real change of mind, and as a result, a real change of life.

Those who say they got saved, got involved in church for years, and then turn their backs on God never had the kind of sorrow that works repentance not to be repented of. In other words, they never got saved in the first place. I am not talking about someone who may backslide for a while, I am talking about those who really turn their backs on God to the point of saying that it they really don’t believe any of it any more.

Sadly, our churches have many people who are religious but lost. They do all the right things and fool people, but it is not in their hearts. It is all for a show, hoping that if they look right they will be excused for their corrupt and sinful hearts.

Recently my wife talked to a women who is faithful in our church, and who daughter is married to a man in the military. She asked if he was saved, and after some stuttering, she said, well he went to a Catholic school and a couple of other things, but never said anything that would give you any reason to believe that he is saved. Another lady in our church told her grandson that his father, who had recently died, was now an angel. Another lady, whose cousin had recently died, and who just got saved a year or two ago, told my wife that the cousin was always saved. No one has always been saved. All of these things, and I could give a lot more, were said by people who are in almost every service in our church, and are, or have been very active in it. The things I have mentioned show that even in good churches, there are people who don’t pay enough attention to what is taught to know Bible doctrine.

Let’s get back to our text. In verse 5 it says:

But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; (Romans 2:5)

To understand this verse we must understand the holiness of God. We can’t understand why there will be a day of wrath because we don’t understand how horrible our sin is. We can’t until we see our sin in the light of God’s holiness. Our hardness and our impenitent hearts are laying up a treasure of wickedness that must be judged by a holy God.

When we grasp what this verse is talking about, we understand that God has a book in which He records our works. Every time we sin, it is written in this book and we build a treasure of sins that must be judged when that “day of wrath” comes. God’s judgment will be righteous.

Christians must not forget that they too will be judged by God. It will not be a judgment that determines our salvation, but it will determine our reward.

Those who find themselves at the Great White Throne Judgment will not have a second chance. They will be cast into the Lake of Fire where they will suffer in torment for all eternity. There will be no relief, and there will be no escape. Those who face this judgment are those who have not placed their full faith in the atoning work of Christ on the cross. Anyone who thinks that anything he does helps in his salvation will find himself at this judgment. If you are trusting in anything you do, anything a church does, any ritual, like baptism, or anything other than Christ and His work on the cross, you will stand before God at this judgment.

What I want you to get out of this is, if you are not fulling trusting in Christ, you add daily to the treasure of sin that God must judge. Remember, the penalty is eternity in the Lake of Fire. There will be different levels of reward for the saved in Heaven, and there will be different levels of punishment for the lost in the Lake of Fire. Even the least of these degrees of punishment will be beyond anything we can imagine.

The day of wrath is coming. The Bible says:

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: (Hebrews 9:27)

Those who think they can be good enough to get into Heaven are fools. Doing good things does not negate the bad things one does. A murderer is a murderer no matter how many good things he does afterward. He still deserves to be punished for his crime. Our text tell us that we will be given reward according to our deeds. We have all sinned, that is, we have all broken God’s law. His holiness and righteousness requires that all breaking of His law be punished. Either we take the punishment on ourselves and spend eternity in the Lake of Fire, or we accept the payment of Christ on the cross, and spend all eternity with Him in glory.

The secret to bringing people to Christ, no matter who they are or what they believe, is to get them into the Scriptures. By Scriptures I men the Holy Bible. It is these scriptures that God, the Holy Spirit, uses to bring conviction of sin and to a place of godly sorrow and true repentance.

Let me wind this down. It is true that God loves the world, and because of His love, He offers us salvation for free. There is but one condition. This condition is that you stop trusting in your own good works, which are dead and cannot save you, and put your full faith in the work Christ did on the cross.

Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, (Hebrews 6:1)

Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 20:21)

These two verses teach us that the way of salvation is to turn to God for mercy, turn away from our own efforts to save ourselves, and put our faith in Christ. There is no other way.

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)

This verse is talking about the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. No pope, no prophet, no church, nothing else has the power to save.

The whole purpose of this message is to remind us that it is understanding God’s holiness and our sinfulness that brings us to Christ. The wrath of God is the motivation used by the preachers in the Bible to bring the lost to repentance, not the love of God. We need to get back to doing things the Bible way if we want to see a change in our churches and our nation.

To the modern mind, love means there will be nothing that condemns or cause displeasure. It give the prospect license to live as he chooses and simply say I believe in Jesus, and still expect to go to Heaven. The wrath of God cause the prospect to turn to God for mercy, and when the Gospel is presented, to trust in Christ, and Christ alone for his salvation.