Archive for the ‘Evangelism’ Category

You Can Not Be Saved by Just Saying a Prayer

July 3, 2008

1 Kings 3:5-13 (KJV) 5 In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee.

6 And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day.

7 And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.

8 And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude.

9 Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?

10 And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing.

11 And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment;

12 Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.

13 And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days.

Luke 18:13-14 (KJV) 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Romans 10:10-11 (KJV) 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

Acts 16:30-31 (KJV) 30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

Acts 8:36-37 (KJV) 36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

2 Timothy 1:12 (KJV) For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

When Solomon became King of Israel after the death of his father David, he prayed to God at a special time in which God invited Solomon to ask whatever he desired and He would grant it.  Solomon was a pretty clever guy, and figured that if he asked God for wisdom to rule the nation, God would be pleased and give him unspeakable riches to go along with his wisdom.  And sure enough, God responded to Solomon’s prayer for wisdom by giving him both wisdom and riches.  Pretty good plan, eh?

Is this really what happened?  OF COURSE NOT!  God cannot be fooled that way.  God knew the heart of Solomon, that his true desire was for wisdom to rule the nation.  God added riches, but NOT FOR SOLOMON’S BENEFIT, BUT FOR THE SAKE OF HIS OWN GLORY AND NAME. 

So what does this prove?  Well, it proves that the heart is the essential factor in communicating with God.  The words of a prayer are incidental, but when they do not reveal the true feelings of the heart, they constitute a lie.  

So what’s all this got to do with anything?  Well, it’s like this – a person can pray for salvation all they want to, but to no effect unless the prayer comes from a heart of true faith.  This is what the Apostle Paul means when he  says “for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation”, and “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved”.

Some well-meaning pastors and evangelists have taken these verses and applied them to what is commonly refered to as “the sinner’s prayer”.  Luke 18 is thrown in for good measure, where it speaks of the publican, who prayed a certain prayer and “went down to his house justified”.  But was it the actual saying of a prayer that “justified” that man?  When we examine the text more closely (see text above), we see that the publican “smote on his breast”.  Why did he do this?  Because his heart was troubled within him.  His sin had separated him from God, and being made sensible of this separation, and longing to have the assurance of God’s forgiveness, his mouth cries out what his heart feels – “God be merciful to me a sinner”.  And this truly is the prayer of a repentant sinner before the Righteous Judge.

Now some might say, “what if he felt this conviction in his heart, but yet refused to pray”.  My answer is this:  then he is not truly convicted, for he is not yet convinced of his doom, esle he would cry out.  But have I just contradicted myself, seeing that I have said that the prayer is incidental but yet the man would cry out if truly convicted?  No, I have not contradicted myself, but I have merely clarified the issue.  You see, the order of events matter.  One must have received the regenerating Spirit within his bosom before he can cry out to God in true converting contrition and repentance.  Consider the pattern clearly established in Romans chapter 10, in particular verses 10 – 11 (posted above).  What does it say?  Let’s break it down:

1.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; [the role of the heart]

2.  and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation [the role of the mouth]

3.  For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. [the reason why this takes place – the heart of faith activates the mouth of confession] 

But what about people that are incapable of saying words?  Are they barred from God’s salvation because they cannot pray with words?  Of course not.  Ah, but you say, “they are the exception”.  No my friend, they are not the exception, but in fact, they are the rule.  It is only the heart of belief that saves, or else Paul would have exhorted the Phillipian jailor to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ AND CONFESS HIM” or “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ AND SAY THIS PRAYER AFTER ME” or “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ AND WALK THE AILSE” and so on.  One can add any number of additions to JUST BELIEVING, which is exactly what Paul told the jailor to do – “BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved”.  FAITH ALONE IS THE ESSENTIAL MEANS OF ACCESS TO GOD’S SALVATION!  

Some preachers are afraid to let God be God.  Apparently, they do not trust God’s ability to save those that believe.  There must be more to it, they think.  There must be some way, some method, some activity, that we can “seal the deal” and make it sure.  Let’s have them say a prayer, or raise a hand, or walk an ailse, or kneel on an altar, or sign a committment card, or any other innumerable devices which might be used to add to God’s work, which in their minds is simply not sufficient.

Now don’t get me wrong.  We should expect a confession of salvation in some form or another from those that HAVE BEEN saved.  When a person expresses that they have trusted Christ, and express a desire to obey their Lord in baptism, they ARE confessing unto salvation.  They are not confessing to GET SAVED, but they are confessing that they ARE SAVED.  This is a crucial difference and if we miss this understanding we miss the biblical Gospel.  

We must be willing to stand aside and let God do the work of salvation, let God implant the faith, and let God bring forth the fruit of repentance.  We may preach the word, plant the seed, water the ground, but God gives the increase.  But we are often too impatient to wait on God.  Although conversion can be instant, assurance can take months, even years, to come about.  Our testimony must come around to “I know whom I have believed”, not “I know what I prayed”.

Dear friends, don’t be fooled by the shallow promises of smooth preachers.  Jesus said “ye must be born again”.  The Ethiopian Eunuch asked Phillip to baptize him.   The eunuch said, “what hinders me to be baptized?”; to which Phillip replied, “You may, IF YOU BELIEVE WITH ALL YOUR HEART”.  The eunuch’s reply?  “I prayed the sinner’s prayer”?  NO!  His reply was:  “I BELIEVE THAT JESUS IS THE SON OF GOD”!!!  You see, the eunuch had had a born-again experience.  He once was lost, but now was found, was blind, now he sees! 

Only God can give you assurance of salvation.  If you can say with Paul, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto him against that day”, then Christian, rejoice in your salvation!  Faith is the only way. 

 

+++see a related post here:  http://reformedevangelist.com/?p=154  “21 flaws of the “Alter Call” by Pastor David Wooten — I will post the entire article in a new post.

The Radical Effects of the Cross on the Conscience of the True Believer

May 19, 2008

When a man sees the cross of Christ with the eyes of faith, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, that man is radically changed.  He can no longer take sin lightly.  Conversely, a casual attitude toward sin is evidence of a shallow vision of the cross.  The regenerating power of the Holy Spirit does not just change the man – it radically changes the man.  God’s hatred of sin is impressed upon the believer’s conscience.  Though that believer struggles with sin, and often falls into it, nevertheless he hates the sin that so easily besets him, and he loves holiness, though it is hard for him to reach the holy state he desires.  The wicked conversation (life style) of the people of this world vex his righteous soul, as it did Lot’s soul. 

Dear reader, if you lack a desire for holiness, and the struggle against sin is absent from your heart, and you experience no vexation living in this sinful world’s agenda, then I would encourage you to see the cross if you can.  See the wrath of God poured out on His only begotten Son.  See the Son of God perishing at the hands of foolish, wicked men, while God Almighty pours out His judgment on the innocent Jesus.  See Him hanging there where you belong.  Are you not yet changed?  How can you not be changed?  Why will you die in your sins?  Turn to Christ and be saved, all ye that are weary and oppressed. 

“I saw One hanging on a tree”

John Newton, 1779

I saw One hanging on a tree,
In agony and blood,
Who fixed His languid eyes on me,
As near His cross I stood.

O, can it be, upon a tree,
The Savior died for me?
My soul is thrilled, my heart is filled,
To think He died for me!

Sure, never to my latest breath,
Can I forget that look;
It seemed to charge me with His death,
Though not a word He spoke.

My conscience felt and owned the guilt,
And plunged me in despair,
I saw my sins His blood had spilt,
And helped to nail Him there.

Scripture proofs:

Titus 2:14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

1 John 3:3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

Hebrews 9:14  How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Acts 26:20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.

1 Thess 1:9 For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;

1 Cor 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

Gal 6:14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

2 Peter 2:7-8 And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds)

Hebrews 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset [us], and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

2 Cor 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.

Gal 6:15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.

The Gospel is Relevant to Sinners

May 9, 2008

There is no sweeter and more relevant message than “Christ died for our sins” (1Cor15:1) to sinners that have been made aware of their condemnation under God’s Law.  Unfortunately, too many preachers today think just the opposite is true – that relevancy is all about pursuing the fashions and fads of this world’s ungodly expressions. 

Whether it’s ungodly music, or ungodly clothing, or ungodly dancing, or ungodly chaos, or ungodly rioting, the men and women that constitute the emerging church leadership have openly sponsored these activities as the proposed means of “reaching” the un-churched.

Here is an example of an emerging church that is so determined to validate their humanly conceived methods that they are literally stuck on stupid:  http://hamptonroads.com/2008/05/concerts-resume-after-fight-church-club.

In contrast to this utter nonsense, God has published two masterpieces of relevancy:  The Law, and The Gospel. 

The Law of God reveals to us that we have offended a Holy God by disregarding His divinely instituted Law, and we stand condemned by it, awaiting the justice reserved for sinners.  By His Law we have been exposed as God-haters, idolaters, blasphemers, Sabbath breakers, haters of parental authority, haters of humanity, adulterers, thieves, liars, and coveters.  This message is relevant to every human being.  

But the Gospel reveals to us that we have a hope – that we may obtain the righteousness of God, which is by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  We have great joy in knowing that Christ perfectly obeyed and satisfied God’s Law, and through an unspeakable act of mercy, we may be forgiven of our sins through the blood of Christ and be saved through faith in that blood.  O what mercy, o what peace, o what relevance in the heart of the condemned!  Forgiveness!  Alas, my sins are washed away!  O how sweet to trust in Jesus!  O for a thousand tongues to sing my great redeemer’s praise!  The glories of my God and King!  The triumphs of His grace!  Surely there is no message that is more relevant to every human being on earth!

God’s eternal truth is already relevant.  The only thing we have to do to “make” it relevant is to preach and teach it.  When are we going to stop thinking that we can improve on God’s work?

Friend, if you are reading this and have never truly trusted Christ and been converted, I ask you right now to stop trying to convert God to your culture, and if you have heard His Voice, follow the call of your Shepherd into His fold. 

Don’t try to conform God into the image you have of Him, but rather, the Bible commands you to “be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2)

 

What Must I Do To Be Saved?

April 24, 2008

“What must I do to be saved?”  So many who have been awakened to their need of salvation are asking this question.  Looking at the stats for this blog, I’ve noticed that the most viewed post is the one entitled “How Does God Save People?”, https://sovereigngod.wordpress.com/2007/08/21/how-does-god-save-people/, so I wanted to make this new post to make sure it’s clear for those that may have questions about it.  

In Acts 16, we read of the jailor in Philippi that has come trembling to Paul and Silas, being convinced of God’s impending judgment upon him.  The jailor had witnessed the testimony of the apostles, had heard of Christ, and had experienced the terrible earthquake that had broken the prison doors down and gave freedom to his prisoners.

With this gripping fear of God’s wrath fixed in his heart, he knelt down and cried out to Paul and Silas:  “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

And their answer?

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved”.

Dear reader, if you are not sure, and you want to know if you are saved from the wrath to come, I simply ask you this – has God worked repentance in your heart?  Have you been convinced that your sins have separated you from God?  Have you been made willing to turn from all your sins, and confess them to Christ?  Have you faith in your heart to trust Christ alone for the sacrifice and righteousness that God requires as payment for your sins? 

If this is the condition of your heart, then turn at once and forever to the Lord Jesus Christ in faith, believing with all your heart on Him as your Lord and Savior.  God saves people that are of a contrite heart.  Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me, and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish” (John 10:27-28a).  In another place he said “all that the Father giveth me shall come to me, and him that cometh to me I shall in no wise cast out” (John 6:37).

But if your heart has not been moved to true repentance and faith, then pray that God would make your offense of His Law and His hatred of your sin real to you.  Pray that He will give you a new heart whereby you may be converted.  Believe that He is able, but do not trust in your own abilities.  God will save you from your sins, but He will not save you in your sins.  You must be willing to repent, so pray that you might be made willing. 

“Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power…” (Psalm 110:3a)

If you know that you have received Christ as your Lord and Savior, then rejoice in “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” (Philippians 1:6).  Your confidence in Christ and assurance of salvation will grow stronger over time as you continue to walk in the Lord’s revealed will, enduring the trials of your faith, being strengthened by the Holy Spirit Who dwells in you.  

Soli Deo Gloria

Does God Love Us Just The Way We Are?

April 2, 2008

This is one of the frequent sayings of contemporary evangelists.  But is it true?  Does God really love us just the way we are?  If so, then why does the Bible say:

“And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:”  (Act 17:30)

Why repent, if God loves us just the way we are?  And this:

 The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.  (Psalms 11:5)

And what about this:

Romans 2:8-9 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, 9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;

And again, this:

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. (Revelation 21:8 )

Which God do you serve?  The figment god of the modern gospel that is indifferent towards sin, or the Holy God that loves righteousness and hates rebellion?

If you’re reading this and have not cast your hopes for salvation upon Christ, I invite you to turn in repentance from the sins that have offended the God of Heaven, and turn to the true and Living God, seeking forgiveness and renewal at the merciful feet of Jesus, whose blood was shed for the salvation of his people.