Wednesday, August 16, 2006

What happens when I die?

The Bible teaches that everyone has sinned. That truth is evident. The Bible also teaches that when we sin, we break God’s universal law and offend our Creator. In so doing we have defied His authority and declared ourselves lord of our world. We have, in essence, become God’s enemy.

Since God is perfect, He cannot be in the presence of sin; He cannot be tainted with it. He is, in a very real sense, allergic to sin.

He has created a place for sinners, where His presence is not. The Bible calls this place hell. It is an eternal lake of fire, a bottomless pit, and outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. The Bible further teaches that the soul of man is everlasting. Therefore, without intervention on God’s part our soul, at death, enters an eternal hell.

And yet, the Bible has been called “God’s love letter to man.” Although God is holy and cannot be in the presence of sin, He does love the sinner and desires to have a relationship with him/her. Therefore, in order to provide a way for such a relationship, while maintaining His essence (His Holiness), the triune God devised a plan in eternity past. In this plan the second person of the Godhead, the Son - Jesus Christ, at the appointed time would leave His heavenly dwelling and come to earth to be born of a virgin, to live a perfect life (as a man), and to pay man’s penalty for sin. Jesus did so. Born of the virgin Mary, Jesus lived 33 years without sinning. Then in six hours on the cross He paid the eternally penalty for all men. Only an infinite God could do so, only man could die for man’s sin. Thus, the God man Jesus Christ.

A story from history helps to illuminate this amazing work of Christ.

At the turn of the 19th Century in a small one-street town in Arizona there lived a Blacksmith: a loner, who was avoided. One holiday, the entire citizenship, except for one man, had a celebration. The Blacksmith stayed in his shop, at the opposite end of town. During the festivities a child strayed near the shop. A lady looked toward the child and shrilled in terror. A coyote was eyeing the young lad. Everyone knew that a coyote this close to town, at mid-day, meant rabies. The coyote sprang for the child yet was snatched in mid-air by the Blacksmith who immediately broke its neck; yet the damage had been done as the unsung hero drew back his bloodstained arm. The blacksmith died a slow, painful death.

He had taken the lad’s place, just as Jesus took ours.

One might ask, “If Jesus died for every man does every man go to heaven?” No. If you were dying of thirst and I purchased water and offered it to you, you would still have to accept my gift.

The Bible teaches that in order to accept the free gift of salvation one must trust his life totally into God’s hand. It is not enough just to believe that Jesus dies on the cross for one’s sins and arose from the dead. One must believe that truth to the extent that he/she trust his/her live into His hand.

Not long ago a prisoner and a jail deputy developed a relationship. Her love for him prompted her to trust her life into his hands. She resigned as a deputy, married the inmate, and within a year her entire life had changed because of her faith in him.

This former deputy showed up at the courthouse one day where her new husband was being transferred, she shot two of her former colleagues and freed her husband. Soon they were caught, but the story of George and Jennifer Hyatte is an example of how much we must trust a loving God with our life. His Word must become our guide. (While George was evil in his request of his bride our God could never be.)

So, “what happens when I die?”

It depends. The Bible teaches, the moment we breathe our last breath our spirit will immediately go to one of two places. Either an eternal hell or an eternal heaven.

If it is your desire to go to heaven, then trust your life into God’s hands. It is as simple as accepting His gift and trusting Him. It can be done, by saying “God I confess that I am a sinner, I believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins, I believe that He appeased your anger, removed my sin and took my place, I believe He arose from the dead. Jesus come into my life and be my Lord and Savior. In Jesus name, Amen.”

The prayer does not save you, but rather the trusting of your life to God. If you did trust God with your life, please, leave a comment. I will get in touch with you and share what to expect with the wonderful changes God has begun in your life as well as some material to help you in your new relationship with Christ.
BR

73 comments:

Jeffro said...

Brad,

Welcome back. I was wondering what your reason was for posting this again?

Was it the "great theological" description of the Bible? "God's love letter to man." By the way, who has said that. The only other person that I have ever read, that actually wrote it, was Tommy Tenney. The God Chaser guy. Surely, you don't really believe this do you? I thought the Bible was God's revelation of Himself for His glory. I didn't realize it was for me and about me. This statement is either gross deconstruction of Scripture or gross reconstruction. Either way, it ain't good.

Or maybe you posted this again to let us know that you believe all men have to choose God. So I ask. Did the little boy in your story have the opportunity to choose whether he wanted the quiet blacksmith to die for him?

Just a thought?

Blessings and Grace

posttinebraelux said...

Brother Brad,
I wonder, did you know what direction this would lead when you wrote it? Surely you did. I'm curious; if you don't have to say a prayer, then why do you encourage people to say one? Why not just ask them if their spirits have been quickened by the Holy Spirit in response to hearing/seeing the Gospel of Christ as evidenced by a deep love for God's Word, a deep love for God and Christ, a deep love for other Christians, and a deep hatred for sin (per II John)? I think we place much to great emphasis on 'point of time' experiences with respect to salvation. The 'point of time' that salvation took place is not nearly as important as whether it REALLY took place or not. To be honest, I don't remember when I was 'saved'; I do, however, abide in the knowledge that I am saved - as evidenced by the supernatural love I have for others - that cannot come from myself. I'm too selfish. You've opened another can of worms my friend. This should be good.....BTW, we're discussing 'meaningful' evangelism on Sunday evenings at my church. It's proven to be rather eye-opening.

Grace and peace,

PTL

tim rogers said...

Brother Brad,

I am still digesting your post. I have only glanced at the post and read the comments. Comment #2, I am not sure I read it right. I am going to re-read it, but from first glance it appears salvation is based on feelings of love.

I need to ask you a question on a personal level. Can you email me?

gtr3@adelphia.net

Thanks,
Tim

posttinebraelux said...

Tim,
Yes - please re-read the post; and if it appears that I said that salvation is based on 'feelings' of anything, then I have written a poor post. What I tried to say is what the Bible says about salvation - the way we know we're saved is by our love - and the way others know we're saved is by our love. Not a love of 'feelings', but a love of action. Remember the greatest two commandments? They had nothing to do whatsoever with feelings, but everything to do with how we act. So yes, in a way, salvation is about love - Christ's love for us - and His love being 'flowed out' through His body - the church. Hopefully that clarifies my intentions.

Grace and peace,

PTL

tim rogers said...

Posttinebraelux

Please, I am not trying to be judgmental. I am just asking if you know of a time in your life you began a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? According to your comment, you say; "To be honest, I don't remember when I was 'saved'; I do, however, abide in the knowledge that I am saved - as evidenced by the supernatural love I have for others - that cannot come from myself." Jesus explained to Nicodemus; "you must be born again". All I am asking is was there a time that you were born again? If you are depending on your "supernatural love for others" isn't that feelings?

Please, I am not trying to provoke or make you feel uncomfortable. I just am asking.

Blessings,
Tim

volfan007 said...

only five point calvinists would find reason to criticize this post.....geeeeesh.


volfan007

Christopher Redman said...

I think it very wise for commenters, Calvinist or other, to not critique Dr. Reynolds gospel presentation. Only pray the gospel will penetrate lost souls with the knowledge of the truth thus granting repentence, faith, adoption, justification, eternal life, and all the accompanying benefits.

Blessings to Dr. Reynolds. Welcome back.

CR

posttinebraelux said...

Tim,
I am not provoked at all. Again, the love I have for others is not a 'feeling'; it is the supernatural ability to put others before myself. Tell me, do you think it important to write a date down in your Bible in remembrance of when you said a prayer of salvation? If so, why? Did the prayer save you? And what if you said the prayer, then realized at some later point that it really wasn't 'the prayer'; that the first time you were just responding to emotional pressure, or peer pressure, or whatever. Do you scratch the first date out and write in the second date? My point is, the 'date' you were saved is not important. The fact that you have a relationship with Christ is what is important. I'm not interested at all in what date you said a prayer or 'received Christ' or walked down the isle. I'm VERY much interested in what Christ is doing through you right now. It is my understanding that I John was written to the church to give them assurance of their salvation - as evidenced by their love - love for God, His Word, and His church - and their hatred - hatred of their sin. Our assurance lies not in when we 'felt' like we were saved. Our assurance lies in our knowledge that the Spirit within us is not our own - it is a supernatural Spirit that gives us the ability to love like we couldn't have otherwise. Does that make sense at all or am I just rambling?

Grace and peace to you my brother,

PTL

posttinebraelux said...

Tim,
I almost forgot to answer your question. Yes, I do believe I am born again, but not because I can remember saying a prayer when I was 6 years old. Again, it's because of those things I've already mentioned. I LOVE God's Word, I LOVE brothers and sisters in Christ, and I despise my wicked, sinful, fallen nature. Do you think, brother, that someone is saved who has said the 'prayer of salvation', but has no desire to study God's Word? What about the one who has said the prayer, but still maintains a sinful lifestyle without conviction to change? Do you see what I mean?

Grace and peace brother,

PTL

tim rogers said...

Posttinebraelux,

I am trying to determine whether or not we are speaking about the same thing. Am I saying that you need to know of a time and a date that you remember saying a prayer in order to be saved? No! I am however saying that there needs to be a time that one remembers entering into a relationship with Jesus Christ. The Bible gives instruction in Romans 10:13 that "whosoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." There must be a time that one realizes they are in need of a Savior and that time must be followed by repentance. If there is no repentance, there is no salvation. If one never sees a need for a Savior why would one need to be saved?

While I do know it was on September 11, 1988 that the Holy Spirit of God moved on my life and convicted me of my sinfulless and need of Jesus as my Savior, I also know that it was not anything that I did to be saved. I was obedient to the Word of God to confess my sins to Him and ask His forgiveness. Was it my prayer? No, it was what God did for me as a result of my obedience to the truth of His Word. Was a prayer necessary? I say yes! It is the beginning of a relationship instigated by God, and reciprocated by me. You say, "Our assurance lies not in when we 'felt' like we were saved. Our assurance lies in our knowledge that the Spirit within us is not our own..." I would disagree. Our assurance lies in the truth of God's Word, not our "knowledge".

One other comment and then I will answer your last two questions. As you point to your understanding that you are saved it appears that you are dependent more on yourself than on God for your salvation. You say; "I do believe I am born again, but not because I can remember saying a prayer when I was 6 years old. Again, it's because of those things I've already mentioned. I LOVE God's Word, I LOVE brothers and sisters in Christ, and I despise my wicked, sinful, fallen nature." Please, I do not mean to question your salvation. What I point to is your dependence on things in your life instead of things God did for you.

Question #1-Yes, I would say they are probably saved because there is a difference in Justification and Sanctification. Justification is simply asking Jesus to save you. This is a promise from the Word of God. Romans 10:9 "if thou shall confess with thy mouth, and believe in thine heart." That statement is a both/and not an either/or. That is justification, a love for the Word of God comes in the walk of a Christian, that is Sanctification.

Question #2-The one that says the prayer but has no lifestyle of conviction of change I believe the Bible teaches has never been saved. Paul explains to the church at Colosse; If ye then be risen with Christ,seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.

I pray that I have not offended you.

Blessings,
Tim

sbc pastor said...

Brad,

This was an excellent post. I pray that God will use it to lead others to place their faith in the finished work of His Son and our Savior – the Lord Jesus Christ. God bless!!!

In Christ,
JLG

Anonymous said...

The Evidence of the New Birth

“You must be born again” (John 3:7).

The answer to Nicodemus question, “How can a man be born when he is old?” is: Only when he is willing to die to everything in his life, including his rights, his virtues, and his religion, and becomes willing to receive into himself a new life that he has never before experienced (3:4).

This new life exhibits itself in our conscious repentance and through our unconscious holiness.

“But as many as received Him …” (John 1:12). Is my knowledge of Jesus the result of my own internal spiritual perception, or is it only what I have learned through listening to others? Is there something in my life that unites me with the Lord Jesus as my personal Savior? My spiritual history must have as its underlying foundation a personal knowledge of Jesus Christ. To be born again means that I see Jesus.

“… unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Am I seeking only for the evidence of God's kingdom, or am I actually recognizing His absolute sovereign control? The new birth gives me a new power of vision by which I begin to discern God's control. His sovereignty was there all the time, but with God being true to His nature, I could not see it until I received His very nature myself.

“Whoever has been born of God does not sin …” (1 John 3:9). Am I seeking to stop sinning or have I actually stopped? To be born of God means that I have His supernatural power to stop sinning. The Bible never asks, “Should a Christian sin?” The Bible emphatically states that a Christian must not sin. The work of the new birth is being effective in us when we do not commit sin. It is not merely that we have the power not to sin, but that we have actually stopped sinning. Yet 1 John 3:9 does not mean that we cannot sin—it simply means that if we will obey the life of God in us, that we do not have to sin.

Cliff4JC said...

You know what...this discussion is so much more profitable and enjoyable than the last! :)

Dr. R, though I would emphasize repentance and turning ones life over to Christ more and the prayer less; I can live with it. :)

I think I might like better analogies as well; I'm pretty uncomfortable with using the phyco-wife busting her husband out of jail with a post-modern lost person! They are more likly to equate me with David Koresh than Billy Graham!

A funny note: I was helping plant a church outside of Charlotte some years ago. A member invited a co-worker who was wary of a "church" that met in a school building. He really thought we might be a cult or something. When he finally agreed to come, I met him and offered him our new members "packet." I handed him a package of Kool-aid. We laughed for days over that one! The joke put him at ease and he felt more comfortable after that.

Cliff4JC said...

Tim,

I'm enjoying your gracious exchange with PTL. Forgive me if I'm high jacking here, but I have a question.

I have always given my testimony that I was saved around 11 or 12. I can't remember the exact date, just the event in a camper outside my parent’s home in Denton where I grew up. Within weeks though, I was back to my sinfulness and persisted there until my Jr year of high school. In fear of Hell, I ran to an alter at church and started following the rules. Honestly though, I didn't want to follow them; I really wanted to live a life of sin and wished deeply I could. But, for fear of hell, I refrained from the "big sins" as best I could while living constantly in the "small" ones. As I look back, I honestly am not sure if I was truly born again at the 12 year old event. Sometimes I wonder if it wasn't during my college years when I truly began to repent of my sins because I wanted to live for God. I've struggled over the years on how to describe all this in a nice neat "Baptist" testimony. I know something significant happened at 12; but I wonder if there was enough of the gospel "in me" at that point to be sufficient for my salvation? What say ye about this?

Joy,
Cliff

tim rogers said...

Brother Cliff,

Good to hear from you. I pray things are going well in your ministry and God is using you immensly to share His truth.

To answer your question, it comes down to what you realize took place in your heart. For example; when you met your wife you may not remember the exact date and you may not remember exactly where you were, but you remember a time of asking her to marry you. Also, you know of a time that you truly committed yourself to her. For some it was at the altar in front of the preacher, for others it was years later because of their lack of understanding what exactly they were committing to in front of the preacher. However, unlike marriage, salvation in a one time committment. If in fact it was later that you truly surrendered to the truth of God's claim on your life, then Baptism should follow. (This is not Baptist doctrine, it is Bible doctrine)

Some may say that your fear of Hell is not a legitimate reason for salvation. I say it is. People get saved for all kinds of reasons. I know one woman that got saved because her dog died and it made her begin wondering what happens after death. I shared with her that dogs do not have souls like humans and asked her about her own salvation.

One other thing. Your testimony does not have to be "baptist". Your testimony is your testimony of what God did in your life, it not about being baptist, episcopalian, catholic, lutheran, or any other denomination. So do not worry about how it sounds, just make certain that it is Biblical. IOW, it is not some mystical trance-like recount of state you found yourself in. Our works are the result of salvation, it is not the reason we are saved. When I got saved I smoked. Did I want to stop smoking? Not at first. Did I eventually stop smoking, yes I did. God revealed to me that smoking came between Him and me. I would reach for a Marlboro before I got out of bed. God convicted me that something else had more control on my life than He did.

Cliff, I say all of this to point you back salvation. Salvation brings a desire to have fellowship with the Savior. Let us go back to the marriage for a moment. When you got married you did things that you really did not want to do. However, over the years you have developed a desire to do them because it keeps the fellowship sweet between you and your wife. I do things for Christ that at first I truly do not desire. However I have more desire to fellowship with my Savior than I do to fulfill the desires of my flesh. This is what we call Sanctification. After this comes Glorification and that is for another comment.

I truly pray I did not sound as if I were rambling. Also, according to your post time, I am certain it will be later today before I hear back from you. How do you guys stay up so late. My Youth Minister and his wife visited with us on Friday and it was after Midnight before they left. We enjoyed the fellowship, but I told my wife I was exhausted. I am getting olllllllllllld!

posttinebraelux said...

Tim,
Again, you cannot offend me - I am accountable to Christ, not you - and because of that, I do not take offense at all. It might be helpful, though, if you refrained from personalizing the insinuations. :) You keep pointing to the need for "a time that one remembers entering into a relationship with Jesus Christ." All I am saying is that I don't believe remembering 'a time' is important. You have accused me of being more dependent on myself than of God for my salvation. I see it as exactly the opposite. You say that a prayer is necessary for salvation; where do we find that passage in the Bible? If you're alluding to Rom. 10, I believe the 'confession' part is our lives - not just a 'verbal assent'. I see no place where Christ or Paul or anyone else demanded a 'prayer of salvation' in order to secure said salvation. It is a work of God whereby He reaches down and brings to life that which was dead. My words cannot express the glorious thought of such a miracle! It is my belief that on Sept. 11, 1988, by the time you recognized your need for Christ - you were already 'saved' - if you want to call it that. I prefer 'regenerated'. Do I beleve that we must recognize our need for a saviour? Absolutely - but that is in response to what God has already done - not what we do to get saved. Does it not seem to you like a 'work' if we tell people that they must do this or that if they want to be saved? True, the Bible does say that if we confess with our mouths and believe with our hearts, we will be saved, but I see that more as an evidence of what has already taken place. Finally, when I say that our assurance lies in the knowledge of what Christ has done for us and you say that our assurance lies in the Truth of God's Word, is that not a semantic difference? The 'truth of God's Word' is of no avail if we have no knowledge of it. Remember Paul's statement in I Cor. 2:12-14? "12: Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us by God.
13: And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who possess the Spirit.
14: The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned."
When we are regenerated, we are given the ability to understand (aka have knowledge of) that which we previously could not understand (aka have no knowledge of).
PS - I agree with Cliff - this interaction is both enjoyable and edifying. When I start typing about the amazing change that Christ has wrought in me, I find myself typing faster than my mind can process! I, like you Tim, feel like I'm rambling from time to time, but what glorious rambling!

Grace and peace,

PTL

posttinebraelux said...

Tim,
Also on the 'loving God's Word' question, I understand your implication (I think) - that, much like your desire to quit smoking, the love for God's word develops over time. Is that right? And I'd agree to a point. The fact that the Bible is, in some way more complex than any of us can understand, intrinsically part of Christ Himself, though ("and the logos became flesh"), would indicate to me that a lack of love for God's Word is actually a lack of love for 'The Word' - which would most certainly be reason to question whether or not true conversion had ever taken place. Know what I mean, dude? :)

PS - Brad, I echo Cliff's sentiments wholeheartedly - I would emphasize the relationship over the prayer, but your heart for evangelism is honorable.

Grace and peace brothers,

PTL

volfan007 said...

i would have to agree with tim on this one. a person should be able to remember the time when he was born again. now, you may not remember the exact day or time, but you should be able to remember the experience. i believe that paul and peter could tell you.

i was born again at the age of 19. i dont remember if it was march or april, but it was in 1981. it was nite, and i had been partying for a long time. in my drunkeness....i repented of my sins and put my faith in Jesus. the Lord changed me that very moment. i was never so sober in all my life. and, i had life. i went from darkness to light...from deadness to life...that nite. all praise to God.

so, while you may not remember the exact time nor day...nor even the year....you should be able to remember the experience....of being born again.

volfan007

ps. i would agree as well that the evidence of your being saved is that of a changed life...where you love the Lord and you want to live for Him.

posttinebraelux said...

Volfan,
Maybe Tim and I are talking around what you just pointed out - although you contradicted yourself a bit. First you said you should remember the 'time', then you said you should remember the 'experience' and that remembering the 'time' wasn't as important - is that right? I wholeheartedly agree that there must be a recognition of a 'changed' life - I would call it a regenerated spirit - and you phrased it as remembering the experience. I think that's pretty much semantics. Again, though, as you've eloquently put it, the hour, the day, or the year is not as important as the 'knowledge' of the changed life - i.e. the experience. Would you agree Tim? Obviously Paul and Peter could probably point to specific dates, but their conversion experiences were a bit atypical as compared to what is experienced today, no? The point is that a life regenerated is the 'proof in the pudding', not the remembrance of when we 'made a committment for Christ'. Yes?

Grace and peace,

PTL

peter lumpkins said...

Dr. Reynolds,

Welcome back to the "real world" which, of course, for bloggers is the blogosphere.

Thank you for the very clear Gospel presentation. I, for one, think we need more clarity such as you have done. Sometimes we get lost in the finer points of Inspired Instruction.

I have taught hundreds of people over the past few years a course on how to share their faith. One thing I find myself emphasizing is that, if one can employ the simpliest of Scriptures--John 3.16, for example--it is virtually impossible to mess up.

The wonderful Holy Spirit, frankly, will not let you mess up, from my perspective. After all, He is the one who pinches the heart about sin, the one Who plants the Gospel message in a person and the One through Whose power persuades them to take the path to an Old Rugged Pole.

Hope you have a great day. With that, I am...

Peter

volfan007 said...

post,

i was saying that one should be able to remember the experience of when they came to Christ. you may not remember the exact time and day or even the year...but, you ought to be able to remember the experience of putting your faith in Jesus....and that it happened at a certain point and time in your life. that's being born again. now, the evidence that someone is truly born again is not a prayer or a baptism, but a changed life.

i hope that clears it up.


volfan007

Christopher Redman said...

I heard John Piper state that he doesn't remember his exact conversion. His parents tell him he was 6 and it was in a hotel in Miami.

This was stated during his first sermon on the book of Romans.

peter lumpkins said...

Volfan & Others,

At the age of 24, I recall stepping out after the last verse of a invitational hymn and walking the aisle hoping our Lord would receive me. I count that cold day in FEB, 1977, the day I came to Christ.

My sister informed me I was saved as a little boy and even baptized. If I was saved, I did not know it. Nor surely did I ever recall being baptized. Thus, I do not know what happened to me as a little boy.

I do, however, recall what happened to me as a young 24 year old man. Literally, an "old passing away" and an "everything new" moment took place. That is why I count my conversion as an adult and not a little boy.

Grace today. With that, I am...

Peter

Cliff4JC said...

Tim,

I’m taking today off instead of tomorrow because we are holding a marriage conference this weekend. Hence, I was up late after visiting with friends last night….and yes…I slept in! BTW…I’m not so sure that you are older than I…so watch your mouth! LOL

This is such a great conversation. It is so profitable to work out our salvation; is it not? What a mystery it all is! How can a Holy God, being just, forgive sins? Then, if I may add to Anselm, how does he bring it all about in our lives!

Peter brings up a great side point that I think we are all dancing around a bit. I think we all would agree that we have over emphasised the pray a prayer magical conversionism in our evengelical circles. So many tiems I’ve had a teen or adult tell me they have never trusted Christ and never repented of their sins and then do so only to have their parents say; ‘oh no, he was “saved” a long time ago when he was a boy. Somehow in our discipling we have not clearly communicated what Brad and all of you are saying either explicetly or implicitly: a prayer does not obligate God to let you into heaven. True repentance that leads to regeneration does. Personally, I think that can happen differently for different people. There are essential elements; I don’t think a “sinners prayer” is one of those. I think most people do express their repentance and commitment through prayer and this is probably the best way to articulated it to a person wanting to repent. Does that make sense?

Tim: yes, I was married at a single point before the preacher (well, in my case preachers! Come to think of it, one of them was the long time pastor at Central UMC in Ashboro; Chris Thore. Did you know him?) but my marriage requires an ongoing commitment to my wife every day if it is to remain healthy. (Wow…so many ways to poke holes in this analogy of marriage. So many dangers here huh? I’m not advocating works based salvation or that you can loose it!). At the same time, I think we need to be careful how we express ourselves here. We don’t need to give people the false impression that just praying a prayer gets you saved. There is so much mystery to it! I think we are entirely biblical in asking people to check themselves based on the condition of their lives & heart. Last spring we were going through the parable of the fruit producing tree etc. Jesus clearly says, good trees don’t produce bad fruit. I told my students; if you don’t have good fruit; you MAY not have salvation. You must check your own life and compare it with scripture to see. I have decided to quit proclaim that someone is or is not saved. That is matter between them, God and His word. Just because I saw them pray a prayer…I’m not going to risk giving them a false sense of security. Our assurance comes from our transfomed lives. If our lives are not different; we should ask some tough questions about our salvation!

For adults who are converted; I think this is easier because we can see the obvious changes. For a 6 year old, how much sin are they into? I’ve never heard a six year old give testimony to how they got saved and kicked their crack habit! LOL It’s more subtle of a change at that point for them and more difficult for a parent. Believe me…I know! I am baptising my 7 & 8 year old daughters soon based upon their recent professions of faith. I’m excited about this…but oh man! It really is scary too!

Joy,
Cliff

brad reynolds said...

Gentlemen,

Pardon my absence...the first few days of a semester are very busy!

Today, while eating lunch with some colleagues I was informed that I had over 17 comments on this post. This was surprising because of the content. I will be posting this article about once a month for obvious purposes. The gospel message is the communicable expression of God’s love of and toward man.

Jeffro, the reason I posted this, was not for the edification of the saints but for the salvation of the lost. Therefore, I will politely bow out of this discussion. It is important to discuss the intricacies of the mystery of salvation, but I must admit my ignorance and awe of much of the mystery. I do not want this discussion to find its way to the Calvinist debate…that will be another time.

I know in my life I accepted the free offer of salvation from God and I expressed that acceptance in words (that's the only way I knew how to express my decision). I am not convinced that salvation can take place without communication (prayer) between a sinner and his Creator. Thus, the purpose of my post and my methodology.

For any who disagree with my methodology, I would certainly appreciate your prayers. While I have literally seen hundreds of souls come to salvation from numerous different cultures, I am certain I can improve on my methodology.

Let me thank all of you for your Christ-like spirit in this discussion and may this discussion find fruit in our lives as we share the gospel with someone today.
BR

Cliff4JC said...

One thing I liked about the debate: While it was obviously there under the surface, we didn't really degenerate into the Calvinist Non-Calvinist debate! If it had; I would have bowed out. I agree with someone who said it's wonderful to think through the glorious mysteries of God's grace. For clarification sake: When I mentioned the mystery of it all...I am not implying that we don't know much or can't know much. I in no way mean to undermine the sufficiency of God's message of salvation in Scripture. I'm speaking more about the mystery of why and how God saves us. It really should boggle our human minds and leave us in Awe of him. Our part in Scripture is clearly spelled out and I affirm that.

So, Dr. Brad: Your blog comes up as a topic around the lunch table huh? Ok everybody...lets start a pole! Who told Dr. B that about this post discussion? I bet it is was my old Theology professor, Dr. Akin himself! Hi Dr. A!

Joy,
Cliff

Cliff4JC said...

Dr. Reynolds,

One more thing: Watch for a former student of mine named Melissa Blankenburg. She should be starting her journey in counseling this semester.

Joy,
Cliff

tim rogers said...

PTL and Cliff,

Sorry for my absence. Sunday is a coming and its a coming fast. I do not have time to respond at present but I promise to respond to your questions. Meanwhile, I do agree with Brother Brad; "I am not convinced that salvation can take place without communication (prayer) between a sinner and his Creator."

I just cannot find in the Scripture where anyone got up one day and became a follower of Jesus without somehow accepting the invitation.

Cliff, the marriage analogy is not too far-fetched. We do have to be careful how far we move with it, but Paul relates to marriage as Christ's relationship with the church.

I have got to finish my study for Sunday.

Blessings,
Tim

volfan007 said...

once again, i have to say amen to tim. he hits it right on the head.

volfan007

Ben the Baptist Cat said...

Brad,

Man, I have to find something intelligent to read, but obviously not here.
Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah,
Boring!
Nothing worth saying?
Stop blogging!
Shut her down!

Cliff4JC said...

Tim,

Shame on you brother if you do not finish your preparation because you are talking to a lousey youth pastor on a blog! LOL

Let me clarify here:

Brad says "I am not convinced that salvation can take place without communication (prayer) between a sinner and his Creator." I agree with him %100! Without communication between creator and creator; I would think regeneration has not taken place.

I stated that: "I think most people do express their repentance and commitment through prayer and this is probably the best way to articulated it to a person wanting to repent."

My point is, the communication doesn't have to be a formulated "sinners prayer." Not that communication doesn't take place.

Thinking out loud about conversions from scripture:

Lydia: "and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. 15 And when she and her household had been baptized, she urged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and stay."

A prayer in not explicit; conversion obviously is. I would say communication with the creator is explicit and a prayer of that effect is at least implicit.

Ethiopian Eunuch:

36 As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch *said, "Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?"
37 And Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." 38 And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.

The Eunuch's "prayer of confession" was his blurting out; no doubt in jubulant excitment, that he believed! The next step was baptism.

Just some thoughts. Remember, I'm not disagreeing with you.

On the anaology of marrige: Yeah...what you said! I was just trying to make sure someone wouldn't high jack what I was saying and twist it into a works based statement. It is very biblical to compare our relationship to Christ to that of marriage. I even talk about that connection in every wedding I preform. "The intamate bond of Marriage is a wonderful fortaste of what we will share with Christ someday as his Bride..." etc.

Ok; following Dr. Reynolds previously posted rules let me ask a question: Am I giving the impression that I am being somewhat antagonistic to anyone in this forum. If so; I apologize in advance! I fear maybe that I have high jacked Dr. Brad's post into something other than what he intended and have caused some frustration. If that is the case; it was not my intention. I am open to advice and correction here.

Hoping you all have a great day!

Joy,
Cliff

Cliff4JC said...

Oh my...I must remember to proof read before posting! Sorry.

brad reynolds said...

Cliff

I can't apeak for others but I am not offended at all. I think the discussion is beneficial but for this post I will watch from the sidelines:)
BR

deusvult2 said...

Dr. Reynolds, I really enjoyed getting to know you a little today and I look forward to your class on youth ministry. I really admire your blog, I've read it before. We all have selfish reasons to blog, I'm guilty of that, but I'm glad you posted about salvation in the hopes that some lost soul may read it and be changed forever. God bless and thanks for praying for your students everyday. p.s- go redskins!

Stephen Nobles

tim rogers said...

Brothers,

Sorry to take so long to respond. I am in a meeting with a state convention committee today and wanted to get these responses before that starts.

PTL,
Define for me "knowledge". If by knowledge you mean; there is knowledge of a moment of time you specifically remember beginning a relationship with Jesus Christ. Yes, I agree.

However, if you knowledge you mean; knowing him based on religious activity in your life is the proof of a relationship with Jesus Christ. No, I disagree.

Also, about semantics. Our differences may be semantics. I wonder, has there been an "experience of regeneration" that brought this knowledge on? Or is the knowledge of your salvation based on what you see now in your life--the supernatural love?

Chris Redmond,
If that is what John Piper said, my question would be; whom did he consult about his call to preach? I understand a call to preach is preceeded by an invitation to be a child of the King.

Cliff,
A prayer, I believe the Scripture teaches, is the most appropiate way to articulate true repentance. Remember Hezekiah when he asked God for more years? God responded to his prayer. Is this prayer made up of magical phrases that has to be repeated? No!

Also, I baptized my 9 year-old daughter this past year. Her changed life, after she prayed a prayer repenting of her sins and reciprocating her love to Jesus with an invitation to take control of her life, was seen in conviction in her life of whining and lying. She literally asked God to forgive her a couple of days after salvation because she stumbled back into whining and told a lie. Brother, I say that is evidence of a life changed.

You point to Lydia and the Ethiopian Eunuch as textual proof of no need for prayer. I realize this is an argument from silence, but I believe the silence is deafening. For Lydia, between the end of V.14 and the beginning of V.15 something took place for Paul to count her worthy of baptism. I suggest to you (I sound like a Methodist) it was a prayer of repentance. As for the Ethiopian Eunuch, I do not know if I agree that his excited outburst recorded in Scripture is his prayer. I believe this to be his public profession. Again the argument from silence. The Scripture does indicate that things took place in this exchange that is not recorded. I again suggest to you that a prayer of repentance took place in this silent period.

Also Cliff, I do not read any antagonistic statements in your responses, or those of PTL. For antagonistic statements read Ben the Baptist Cat.

I do hope PTL did not loose interest because of my delayed response to his questions. Maybe he is preparing sermons for Sunday also.

Blessings,
Tim

posttinebraelux said...

Ben the Baptist Cat,
If you don't like the blog - don't read it. There is no reason to spew forth your disinterest in such a nasty way, though. It's un-Christlike and un-edifying.

Tim,
By 'knowledge' I mean the same thing (I think) that the Bible means. Prov. 1:7 says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge." The 'knowledge' I'm speaking of is the knowledge that my spirit has been regenerated; i.e. the knowledge that God has, "put my laws on his heart, and written them on his mind" (Heb. 10:16). It has nothing to do with 'religious activity'. There has been a radical change and - whether someone remembers the 'point in time' or not, the change is SO radical that they must be able to recognize it. I cannot believe that someone must be able to point to a time that they said a prayer in order to believe that they are saved. I just do not find that born out in Scripture. Is there a specific point in time that someone is regenerated? Yes, I believe there is. Do I believe that there are Christians walking around who do not know they're Christians? No, I do not. In that sense, I guess one could make a case for a 'point in time' remembrance. The 'knowledge', or assurance, of our salvation, however, rests not on remembering when we were saved, but rather in the 'knowledge' of our relationship with Christ. I do not point to a date when I said a prayer - I point to this morning when Christ and I communed in prayer. I point to yesterday when I loathed my angry, selfish nature. I point to my gratitude to God for all that I have and all that I am. In John 8, Jesus said, "you shall KNOW the TRUTH" - I interpret that to mean, you shall KNOW CHRIST - as evidenced by another passage in John 17, "This is eternal life, that they KNOW You - the only True God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent." The 'knowing' (or knowledge) is not a knowing of when we said a prayer - it is an intimate knowledge of a deep, abiding relationship - "my sheep follow me for they KNOW my voice" (John 10). The knowledge is of a relationship - not a point in time. Am I rambling again? :) If so, I could ramble for hours about this glorious thought!

Grace and peace,

PTL

posttinebraelux said...

Tim,
I believe that to argue that there was not prayer (Lydia and the eunuch) is less an argument from silence than to argue that there was a prayer. I'm not sure why Brad is adamant about this not 'devolving' into a discussion regarding God's sovereignty in salvation (is it ever 'devolving' to discuss God's sovereignty?), but I'm not sure how we can discuss this topic without at least brushing the surface of said sovereignty. At any rate, when we make a 'prayer' a requirement for salvation, it (1) adds a requirement that is not Biblically supported, and (2) makes salvation the result of a work that we did. Maybe that's why I cringe when people encourage others to 'say a prayer' in order to be saved (no offense Brother Brad). Would I be opposed to a 'prayer of response'? Of course not. I might even word it something similar to what Brad has penned: "Dear God, thank you for forgiving me my sins and thank you for what You have done in my heart - You have taken my heart of stone and given me a heart of flesh. Thank you for crucifying Your Son and raising Him from the dead so that His righteousness could become my own. Please empower me to boldly proclaim your Gospel and to live out your love to others. In Christ's name, AMEN." Sola-deo-gloria!!
BTW - no sermons to prepare here. I'm not a preacher. Just a student.

Grace and peace brother Tim,

PTL

volfan007 said...

romans 10:9-10....that if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved. for with the heart man believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

romans 10:13...for whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.


volfan007

posttinebraelux said...

Volfan,
Beautiful scriptures brother, although I think Rom. 10:13 is better translated, "for everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."

Grace and peace,

PTL

Mopheos said...

If I might interject a thought or eight on this thread...: >)

I would suggest that prayer as such is not really the issue here - prayer from a believing heart is as natural as gratitude over the amazing grace God freely bestows in salvation.

What IS an issue here is the practice of leading people in a sinner's prayer. If the gospel has been clearly portrayed, and the call to repentance and faith (and baptism :-)) has been clearly given (a la Acts 2, etc.), then the passages that Volfan quoted become the internal cry of the believing heart. This is exactly what Paul means in Romans 8:15-16.

Men in whose hearts the Holy Spirit is working, who have had the content and object of repentance and faith clearly revealed to them through witnessing, reading, etc., do not need someone else to lead them in a prayer of repentance and faith - and if they do, then perhaps they need to have the gospel explained to them again, so that they understand what needs to transpire between THEM and GOD. If I have to tell someone what to say to God, they have not yet understood the gospel as it is laid out in Scripture.

What's more, I have no authority to assure anyone - after I have told them what to pray - that they are a Christian and that they will go to heaven - that is simply a prerogative that is not given me by heaven. It is, sadly and all too commonly, the majority report in evangelical practice today. If and when we have to put words into the mouths of people who have supposedly been regenerated by the God of heaven, chances are very good that saving faith may not yet be present, and more explanation is called for. At least, that's my story, and I'm stickin' to it...

Grace,

Timotheos

Cliff4JC said...

Tim,

I was just thinking out loud about those scriptures and not citing them as proofs. I've thought more about the Eunuch though overnight. I think his confession would be sufficient there for salvation if they represented (& I think they did) a repentant heart etc. Prayer would no doubt follow. I think his recorded confession is completely in accord with Romans 10. Correct me if I'm wrong.
Awesome about your daughter! I'm seeing the same things in my girls. We are not in disagreement on this; at least not much (I think!) LOL We both would denounce the elevation of a "magical formula" void of true repentance etc. We depend not upon the "prayer" but on the condition of the "heart." Expression of the repentance (Prayer/communication with God) is essential.

You know: I think everyone is bringing up great points here as we emphasis different aspects. Put us all together and we might balance each other out a little! LOL

Off to the marriage conference!


BTW: did you know my Methodist friend Chris Thore? Poor guy; hope to get him out of the shower into the tub soon! :)

In fairness; I think BSC's post was a misguided attempt at sarcasm and humor. But then again; I'm always wanting to see the good in everyone...even Ben.

Joy,
Cliff

tim rogers said...

PTL,

After reading your most recent post, I agree we are speaking semantics to a certain extent. However, (You can tell there is a however) I do not see the prayer as part of salvation, I see it as a vehicle to move me toward salvation. For instance, If you were to go to New York City (New York City?!)how would you get there? While standing in Central Park you would say, I am in New York City. You would not say to me, I know I am in New York city and I have no idea how I got here. You would tell me that your position in New York City came as a result of your getting on a plane and landing at the airport, then taking a car to Central Park. Would your position in New York City be as a result of you or your purchase of a ticket? I know this is probably weak, but I am trying to say your position in Christ is a result of God, the prayer was the vehicle you used to get to your position. Does this do away with God's Sovereignty? I would say it does not. God is still the one who does the choosing.

Cliff,
I know that I may have met Chris Thore, but I do not know him personally. Also, is that Ben the Baptist Cat, Ben Cole. I did not know that. I can see his weird sense of humorous sarcasm coming through if is is.

brad reynolds said...

I think I see in all comments some points of agreement.

1. No one should ever say it is a prayer or incantation which saves individuals.

2. The "sinners prayer" is not the only way sinners can express their faith in Christ.

3. The acceptance of God's gift of salvation involves some communication between the sinner and the Savior.

Perhaps the consideration of the medium used in presenting the gospel as well as the relationship of the presenter and the presentee may open the door against reactions to sinners prayers.

I remain unconvinced that an individual can be saved without communicating with His Savior concerning the basic concepts involved in salvation:
1. an acknowledgement that he is a sinner.
2. a belief in Jesus life, death and resurection.
3. a belief in substitutionary atonement.
4. an acknowledgement of Christ's Lordship in his life now.
Call that communication what you will...I call it prayer. If salvation is the beginning of a relationship then the relationship must have a beginning.

I think Timotheos' advice is, in most instances, the best. Allow the sinner to express his own communication to God as he desires. I usually do that...however, there have been times when I have used a sinners prayer to sum up the gospel and to guide an individual when there are language or cognitive barriers...and yes the individuals were truly saved as evidenced by their life...some of whom lost their jobs and families because of the culture.

I am even less convinced that a "sinners prayer" is somehow inherently wrong (although I don't think anyone is saying that). Now, for my moderationist friends who are discussing this subject please give the "sinners prayer" the same consideration you give alcohol. In other words, since it is not condemned in Scripture, don't condemn its use:)
To rephrase what I was told concerning alcohol: "I am fine with condemning the abuses (of the prayer) but not its uses."

We know the "sinners prayer" has been used by God in bringing souls into the kingdom but we also know it is not a magical formula whereby souls are saved.

Still desiring to sit on the sidelines but chose to come in for a play:)

BTW - I'm ok with Ben the Baptist Cat's comments, not because they are edifying at all, but because the more he comments the better. In the last two post he has had similar comments and I'm fine in giving him more rope:) - For as PTL makes clear, no amount of supposed humor can ever excuse such statements on a post presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ.

BR

posttinebraelux said...

Tim,
Maybe that's where you and I 'part ways' as it were. I think any prayer that God hears HAS to come AFTER salvation and I think you're saying that the prayer comes before salvation. Is that right? There are two basic reasons that I believe any prayer uttered would have to be in response to God's work of regeneration. First, I really, really believe that we are really, really dead (spiritually) before salvation. To use your analogy, not only would we not want to go to New York City, we wouldn't be able to if we did want to - but we wouldn't want to. Second, whether He can or not, the Bible is pretty clear that God does not hear the prayers of the wicked (Jn 9:31, Prov. 15:29, 1 Pet. 3:12). Now, you might say that the lost are not really 'wicked', so those passages wouldn't apply to the lost - only to those who 'choose to be wicked'. BTW - that's just my take - maybe there's a better explanation for why God doesn't hear the prayers of the wicked unless it's the prayer of salvation. Again, I really, really believe that the lost are wicked - and that God doesn't hear their prayer - not that they would pray for salvation in the first place because they would NEVER have a desire to be saved - they're spiritually dead. See Brad - there's just no way around delving into this topic and not getting around to God's sovereignty. :) At any rate - and I know I'm rambling again - maybe that's where you and I would aagree to disagree Tim. I think any prayer - whether it be a prayer of profession, prayer of repentance, prayer of thanksgiving, etc. MUST come after salvation. Is that where you see the divergence as well?

Grace and peace,

PTL

sbc pastor said...

Ben the Baptist Cat,

I may have missed something. Are you Ben Cole? If not, who? God bless!!!

In Christ,
JLG

Mopheos said...

Heh heh heh...you moderationists are all alike, one-track-minded and all that...:-), always lookin for a way to bring up that alcohol thing, he he.

Of course I jest, and I couldn't resist. Seems a sweet turn to see the moderator turn a prayer blog back onto alcohol :-).

Anyway, I wouldn't call the so called sinner's prayer inherently wrong - everyone who comes to Christ prays the sinner's prayer - God be merciful to me, a sinner!

But it is the sinner praying to His Judge and Rescuer for mercy, not someone else forming the words (or intents) for him.

And I hate to be thought a nit-picker, but the prayer is, in one sense, a mere by-product of the really critical point here - the eyes (as it were) lifting to the cross and believing...the heart understanding the glorious meaning of it all, and joyously embracing the crucified and raised One. It is Jesus Who saves, to the praise of His glorious grace...

Timotheos

Mopheos said...

Oops - my bad! I meant to say abstentionist instead of moderationist when referring to the blog moderator...I didn't mean to slander you, Brad...probably gave all the Abs out there a heart attack, thinkin' you had defected to the dark side...:-).

brad reynolds said...

Timotheus
Agreed.

However, if a poet expresses the words I want to say to my wife better than I do...I am not opposed to using his words to express my thoughts.

BR

Dull Iron said...

Greetings Gentlemen. Although I read many blogs, this is actually my first posting to another blog, so please be patient. I tried to think of a clever nick name. Don't laugh at it.

I must say as someone with extensive experience in evangelism as well as the training of others (no more details as I don't want this to be about me), this is a very poor, yet typical, outward call to the sinner. I think I am missing much of the "rabbit trail" comments that followed the post as I am not in tune with BR (the blog author, right?) and other folks here. Therefore, if my inexperience causes my comments to be off base, please forgive me.

I felt compelled to share for a couple of reasons. If I may just note them somewhat and not in any specific order...only as I recall them as I read the post:

God's Word is not and can not be a love letter to the sinner. Tell that to Pharaoh's army all the way up through any of the Pharisee's in Jesus' time. From my readings, I am of the opinion that one of the first comments said exactly what God's word is...His revelation of Himself to us...for His glory. We tend to make things about us all the time, so this is an easy and traditional belief to fall into.

"God loves the sinner but hates the sin" is not a biblical statement and I have found this is usually only something we say so that we don't offend the sinner (usually homosexuals) when we witness. The unregenerate is at enmity with God gentlemen. That clears it up for me. When we sin (any kind of sin), the bible says we are storing up wrath for ourselves on the day of judgment. The sinner has broken God's law. The fact is that the homosexual is damned...despite his perversion.

Does God desire a relationship with every single person that has ever existed? Well, if so, we must admit that He has failed...right? Most do not have a relationship with Him. Am I being to simplistic here? Help me? It seems to me that if His desire is not met, then He is heartbroken and very frustrated as He reigns on the throne. I don't see it and my conscience won't let me believe that.

Physical (verbal or otherwise) communication can not be a requirement for salvation. Gets too close to "works based" for one thing. Also, handicapped folks with full mental capacity would be in dire straits and it would have nothing to do with their sin. Left to ourselves, we are nothing. On my best day, I am filthy rags. In the flesh, it is impossible to please God. Any of these ring a bell? Why is it so hard to make it all about Him? We demand a percentage!!!...and I submit that whether we convince ourselves of 99 % or humbly only require 1 %, God is robbed of His glory.

We are not thirsty and refuse to take the water...we are dead and unable to take the water. Again, I have no seminary training...none...I am just an avid and studious reader...but am I messing this up? This seems clear to me from scripture.

Forgive me, but the other analogies are not biblical either. I know they are just stories, but we need to show the sinner he is a sinner before we discuss grace. This is the problem with modern evangelism...we shove grace down the sinners throats. I am sounding awfully judgmental here and I know that is how my comments are probably being read. I'm truly sorry. Please relax and read on. The sinner hears that anecdote and is only "lured" to the savior by what he might gain from Him...not because he sees his need for a savior. The little boy didn't "deserve" to be bitten and die of rabies and neither did the man. However, a sinner deserves his punishment and so much more. He will not run to the Savior if he doesn't see the "coyote"...if you will.

If I may be so bold, it has been my experience that this type of gospel presentation will produce false converts. If we tell folks anything about Jesus having a "wonderful plan for their lives"...or "come to Jesus and He'll give you love, joy, peace, and happiness"...they will come to Him because they have tried everything else and they are "unhappy", so they will give this "Jesus thing" a try and see how it goes. What do they get gentlemen? What happens when one becomes a true follower of Jesus? The bible promises temptation, tribulation, and persecution. What does the bible say about the one who receives the word with "joy and gladness"? Read the parable of the sower and find out.

There is more to say, but I suddenly feel led to stop. I only hope I could compel you to think about what you tell sinners when you evangelize. Look at how Jesus evangelized. There are several explicit examples in scripture. In each case, the sinner made it very easy by coming up to Jesus and saying "What must I do to be saved?" My goodness, many modern day folks in that situation would say "Oh man, quick, say this prayer before you change your mind!" Look at what Jesus did...John 4, Mark 10, Mat 18...and every other time. See if you can figure it out. If not, then read Psalm 19:7 and you will know what has escaped modern evangelism the last 125 years or so.

Please read this with a humble heart. It may not sound like it, as I am passionate about evangelism, but I tried to write it with a humble heart.

Remember, we sin because we are sinners. We are not sinners because we sin.

Thanks for reading my comments. I can only imagine them getting shorter.

Dull Iron

tim rogers said...

PTL,

I could agree with that. I do not believe God hears the prayer of the wicked. But, (See, no however)Cornelius in Acts 10 was an unsaved Gentile. He was religious in his actions because he prayed, fasted, and tithed. However he had not received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, which comes with salvation. He prayed and God even showed up in a vision to let him know that his prayers were heard. According to your definition, I see Cornelius as wicked because he was not saved prior to Peter's coming to share Christ with him.

I can agree to disagree, just something more to delve into.

Blessings,
Tim

Blessings,
Tim

sbc pastor said...

All,

In regard to Brad's previous post, "The Bloggers Who Cried Wolf," here are two articles that I believe may be relevant to that issue:

http://nathanfinn.blogspot.com/2006/08/map-that-leads-nowhere.html#comments

http://sbcpastor.blogspot.com/2006/08/conversation-with-wade-burleson-about.html

Thanks and God bless!!!

In Christ,
JLG

brad reynolds said...

Dull Iron and ALL

The main problem I see with many criticisms of gospel presentations is that the criticisms are not biblical. I think the biblical model is to rejoice that Christ is being preached.

My goal in posting this was not a discussion of reformed theology but a presentation of the gospel to the sinner. And while I think the discussion for the most part has been edifying I would much rather have had 1 comment from a sinner saved.

I have done my best to present the gospel...I certainly would appreciate prayers for improvement, however, as I have made clear this presentation, God has used in hundreds of professions of faith which have been evidenced in changed lives in much more difficult circumstances than most Americans find themselves in by a profession.

The analogy of the coyote was not the gospel wrapped up in an analogy but the analogy of a substitute. The analogy of the woman trusting her husband was an analogy of trust. Perhaps critiquing every aspect of a persons presentation of the gospel might not be as beneficial as Paul rejoicing that Christ is preached.

I am not trying to sound harsh...but the gospel was clear: 1) All have sinned 2) Sin seperates from a holy God angered at our sin 3) God reveals His love for man in His Word 4) Jesus as God in human flesh and the perfect sacrifice appeased God's anger at man by taking our place 5) Man is saved by a life-changing faith in the work of Christ. And thus I do not apologize but rejoice that the good news has gone forth that whosoever will recieve it in faith will be saved:)

Could I have developed each point far more intricatley bringing in the context of Jewish Sacrifice and Yom Kippur and High Priests using phrases like "vicarious penal-substitution" - Yes. and could I have explained God's revelation via analogical rather than univocal or equivocal language and so on and so forth - Yes. but I was not writing a book nor was I writing to theologians. For the purposes, I felt the presentation fit well.

I will be posting this again in the future...but let's refrain from making this a discussion about reformed theology in the future. And while I never said I did not want this to "devolve" into a discussion about God's Sovreignty as PTL accused, I do believe their is a time and place for the finer points of TULIP to be discussed but it is not in a gospel presentation.

Please know I think it has been good and edifying for all and I appreciate your spirit in this, Dull Iron, but I would prefer this discussion to take place in a different post in the future.

I am very open to recieving feedback and constructive criticism concerning my gospel presentation via e-mail.

Sadly, I failed to share the gospel personally today with any soul...but tomorrow by God's grace I shall be obediant.
May we all share with others the glorious majesty of the gospel which, for me, exemplifies Paul's words "Oh the depth and the riches of both the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgements and His ways past finding out...For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things to whom be glory for ever!"
Amen
BR

posttinebraelux said...

Brother Brad,
If you lived out the love of Christ - you shared the Gospel. Remember, Christ said that 'they' (the lost I assume) would know 'us' (the saved I assume) by our love for one another. We cannot disregard the 'spoken' part of the Gospel - but neither can we say that we have not shared the Gospel when we pour ourselves into those around us. The Gospel presentation by one who has not demonstrated love and care for that soul being preached to rings hollow and false. The Gospel only rings true when our lives reflect our words. When we look at Christ, what was His modus operandi for 'getting people's attention'? Often He met their 'physical' needs as a means of showing them His love - and the result was an 'audience' with them. Of course I personally think that something else happened before they were attentive (they were quickened by the Holy Spirit), but - as you've asked - that's for another post. The point is, in Mat. 25, the 'sheep' are not those who went out and told others about Christ, the 'sheep' are those who went out and displayed Christ before others. The fed and clothed and visited and gave drank and, in effect, gave themselves. So, dear brother, I'm sure you shared the Gospel today because I'm sure that you shared Christ's love with those around you.

Grace and peace to all,

PTL

Mopheos said...

Good Morning Brad,

I had an idea after reading your summary here, and remembering what you initially intended when you posted this blog entry.

What would you think of posting (or starting) a blog entry in which those who responded could give a brief (ha ha), non-technical, non-theological-jargon-ish, undressed-up account of how God brought them to faith in Christ?

I am always re-amazed, edified and humbled to hear of the grace of God in others, and I am refitted with fresh gratitude over the reminder of His grace in my own life.

Of course, you would moderate what posts make it through the grid filter of theological-axe-grinding, etc. Just a thought...

Grace and peace,

Timotheos

tim rogers said...

Timotheous,

You have read my mind. I have a blog for my congregation. It is found at;

http://www.ybcvoice.blogspot.com
(you will have to copy and paste)

While I used it for my congregation, please feel free to post on it. I believe it will be great for our members to be encouraged.

Blessings,
Tim

brad reynolds said...

Timotheos

Excellent idea. I shall use it and I may copy Tim's:)

PTL

I can honestly say I've never seen anyone saved without "hearing" the gospel first. Paul's example in Acts is a good model as he entered into the synogogues first and then the town meeting halls and at times even house to house to speak the good news as he lived it.

While you are right the world should see the love of Christ in us...we must also speak it for "how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?"

May we all live the redeemed life that the world may see our good-works and glorify our Father in heaven and may we tell them of the hope that is in us today:)
BR

posttinebraelux said...

Brad,
Maybe you overlooked the part of my post where I said, 'while we cannot disregard the spoken part of the Gospel'? Of course no one can be saved without hearing the Gospel, hence the rhetorical question posed by Paul (Rom. 10:14). Notice, however, in response to his own rhetorical question, 'how can they be saved unless they hear', he praises the 'feet' of those who preach the Gospel of peace - not the mouths. I think that is important in the sense that a 'spoken' gospel without the 'living' part of the gospel is a distorted gospel - and a 'living' part of the gospel without the 'spoken' part of the gospel is a distorted gospel. Again, Christ said that they (the lost) would know us (the saved) by our love - not by our words. If people see Christ in us - they, by definition, see the gospel - that's what draws them to want Christ. We must not be 'silent Christians' - but neither should we elevate the 'spoken' part of the Gospel above the 'living' part of the Gospel. To do either is unbalanced. How will they know us by our fruit - if we have no fruit? If I go around preaching the Gospel, but not living Christ - the Gospel has not been preached. The reason Paul was so effective is that his life 'backed up' his words.

Grace and peace,

PTL

posttinebraelux said...

Brad,
PS - I can honestly say that I have seen people saved because of the love demonstrated by Christians. God draws people to Himself because Christ is lifted up in Christians' lives. That too is the Gospel my brother.

Grace and peace,

PTL

posttinebraelux said...

Brad,
Speaking of lifting up, I would appreciate being lifted up in prayer today. I'm travelling with my dad to a town called Wichita Falls (about 2 hours from my town) to celebrate my uncle and aunt's 40th wedding anniversary - and, much like the wedding feast in Cana - I'm sure there will be plenty of 'celebrating' going on. Pray that Christ through me might touch someone there. PS - a prayer that I don't have to provide mouth to mouth to one of my uncles or aunts would also be appreciated; it's supposed to be about 108 there this afternoon and heat doesn't mix well with age and alcohol. :)

Grace and peace,

PTL

Dull Iron said...

BR - Thanks you for your comments. They are fair enough. However, I don't really undertand what you mean that my critiques are not biblical? Please read the passages I laid out as the basis of each critque is taken straight from scripture. I know you said you would receive criticism via email, but that would rob the others here of potential sharpening wouldn't it? After all, that should be our goal. In my view, if one person here learns that it is not biblical to go up to a sinner and say, "God has a wonderful plan for your life. He will bring you love, joy, peace, and happiness if you will just say this prayer sincerely and mean it with all your heart and as long as you really are sincere and really mean it deep down and you are truly sincere...", I think this will all be worth it. Agreed? Scripture says that people think they are good. They don't see themselves as going to hell. They can always think of somebody worse than them. Paul said I would not have known sin but by the law. Folks don't really know what sin is. After all, what's wrong with a little lie now and then? How about a little lust occasionally, it won't hurt anyone else? They don't see themselves as the thief, liar, adulterer, and murderer that they are...unless the law shows them, as Paul said. The law is the "tutor", or schoolmaster, to bring them to Christ. I certainly didn't mean to stray off topic. I didn't intend to, nor do I think I did, mention anything about reformed theology or TULIP. The presentation you stated is what caught my eye. My hope was to help with a biblical presentation of the gospel and I would invite you to read the passages and see what Jesus did when confronted with an evangelistic opportunity? He gave them the law...everytime...woman at the well, rich young ruler, Jewish lawyer, etc...It is not biblical to shove grace down the throat of a proud, arrogant person. They are not ready for grace. As Paul mentions in Romans and I paraphrase, their lips are still justifying their sin. Biblical evangelism is always law to the proud and grace to the humble. Always. Understanding and learning to share the gospel the way that Jesus did changed me dramatically. FAITH, Four Spirtual Laws, Roman Road, Sharing Jesus Without Fear, and any other method that doesn't use the law as the basis will certainly get you decisions if that is the goal. My goal is to be used by God to bring about repentance. If I could ask you to consider some of these issues when you post your "outward call" again, that would be awesome. Nothing wrong with tweeking your presentation : ) We can all rest in John 6 when Jesus says "...all that the Father gives me will come to me..." At the end of the day, we can't mess it up. Amen!

See, I told you my comments would get shorter. Please know that I won't comment any further on this subject unless I am asked a specific question. Thanks for reading.

Dull Iron

brad reynolds said...

PTL

Is it the gospel if a lost person's good deeds are the same as mine...are they also preaching the gosple of Christ if they demonstrate outwardly the same loving actions I demonstrate? Are there any outward actions I can do that a lost person can't do?

Concerning those you've seen saved by watching the lives of Christians...how did they know of the name of Jesus or of his substitutional death if no one told them? - could they have been saved if they had seen non-Christians (mormons) acting in the same good way as the Christians?

I have not preached the gospel if I have not PREACHED the gospel.

While our lifestyle is essential in giving validity to our words...our words must come forth for the gospel to be preached.



Dull Iron
I have no problem whatsoever sharing the law before grace...I do it many times, and part of the purpose of the law is to demonstrate the sinfulness of man - thus the bottom line is not necessarily a lesson in Leviticus but a realization that man is sinful...to my stark amazement I had a lady in Lynchberg, Va claim she had never sinned...never told a lie...never had a bad thought...never coveted...never thought evil of others...always returned evil with good and so on - I smiled, told her she had just been untruthful to me and she knew it and told her I would like to explain further - sadly she closed the door.

Amazingly, James says when you have broken the law in one part you are guilty of breaking the whole law - in other words the liar is as guilty before God as the murderer/rapists. WOW.

Yes man must recognize his sinfulness in order to recognize amazing grace - I could certainly spend more time on each issue and will consider it in the future, however, a blog post is different from other mediums. I will certainly seek to honor Christ more in the future and yet find an amazing peace in the Holy Spirits ability to take the foolishness of my preaching and draw souls to Himself.

Again, thank you for your spirit and the insights you bring to this discussion...which I have been brought into:)

Praise be unto God today...pray for Suzie, I had a great visit with her. Pray God will continue to draw her to Himself.

BR

posttinebraelux said...

Brad,
Again - you're missing the point. I believe I've already answered your question in several different ways - of course they can't believe unless they've heard (do I sound redundant?). That's not what I'm saying. I'm saying that we cannot elevate the 'spoken' part of the gospel above the 'living' part of the gospel - else it is a perverted gospel. Remember the part of my post where I alluded to Paul's praise of the 'feet' of those who preach the good news?
With regard to the actions of non-saved vs. saved - I believe there MUST be a difference between the actions of a Christian and the actions of a non-Christian. Are you saying that you do not? If non-Christians can display the same 'quality' of love as Christians, does that not make Christ's observation that they will know us by our love a moot observation? If there is no difference, then why would He make that statement? There MUST be a qualitative (if not quantitative) difference between the actions of Christians and non-Christians wrought by God taking my 'heart of stone' (which I assume all 'lost' people have before regeneration) and giving me a 'heart of flesh' (which I assume all Christians have after regeneration. Should that not bring about a qualitative difference in our seemingly 'similar' behaviours?

Grace and peace,

PTL

volfan007 said...

after reading the comments about this blog post, i can only be affirmed that five pointers are way off the deep end. my goodness, to debate a simple, clear, scriptural presentation of the gospel is really unbelievable. may the Lord deliver us from such nonsense.

thanks again, brad, for being a voice of reason in a very confused world...even amongst the christian crowd.

volfan007

volfan

Jim said...

Volfan,

You've taken to errors in logic again, saying that five-pointers are off the "deep end" (personal attack, generalization).

A better argument would be: 1)stating comments with which you disagree, 2)providing legitimate reasons why you disagree, then 3)concluding by saying, "Therefore, the arguments cited above are unbiblical/illogical."

Hasty generalizations are not necessary for a helpful and enlightening discussion of the issues.

I am a "five-pointer," yet I have not offered one criticism about the presentation (not b/c I don't disagree with anything in it, but b/c I didn't feel it was the time for criticisms).

I'm sure if I presented the gospel, others would be able to find better/more accurate ways of saying something.

For God's Glory,

Jim

brad reynolds said...

PTL

My question was: is their any outward action a Christian can do that a non-Christian cannot do?

Yes our love for each other (love amongst Christians) is an outward testimony of the churches unity and difference but I maintain many have been decieved by the same "so-called" love and unity with the JW's.
BR

posttinebraelux said...

Volfan,
I'm curious to whom you are in reference when referring to 'five pointers'? I just re-read the entire blog and found no where where someone referred to themselves as a 'five pointer'. In addition, do you not think calling fellow Christians (whoever these five pointers may be)'off the deep end' and 'confused' a bit inciteful? Maybe a re-reading of Brad's blog rules is in order, no?

Grace and peace,

PTL

posttinebraelux said...

Brad,
In answer to your question, I'd have to say 'yes' based on my understanding of what our 'presentation' of the gospel entails. Faith is almost ALWAYS spoken of in conjunction with action - and that action is, in conjuction with our explanation 'of the hope that is in us' (I Pet. 3:15) what is to point a lost world to their need of Christ. If there is no qualitative difference between our actions and the actions of non-Christians, how is it that they will be know us by our love for one another - which love is by necessity demonstrated in action? Remember Christ's 'sheep and goat' parable in Mat. 25? The 'true' sheep are not those who shared the gospel with the most people (in fact they're not even those who shared the gospel with one person) - they're the ones who 'lived' the gospel - they fed and clothed and gave drink and visited and helped. In other words, if people are drawn to Christ - they are drawn by 'His body' doing His work - but not without the 'spoken' part of the gospel inextricably woven into that action. BTW, you probably know that the reason I believe people are deceived are because their understandings are darkened and their spirits have not been regenerated by God - not because they don't understand the difference between JW's and Christians.

Grace and peace brother,

PTL

brad reynolds said...

PTL
I understand a Christian's works should be accompanied by the sharing of the gospel with his mouth.

My question was: is there any outward action that a Christian can do which a non-Christian cannot do?

You said yes.

Now would you tell me what outward action a Christian can do which a non-Christian cannot do?

Thanks
BR

posttinebraelux said...

Brad,
EVERY action a Christian does is qualitatively different than those performed by non-Christians. They MUST be as they are done (at least in part) in response to a radically changed character/spirit. Are the actions always 'obviously' different to an observer? Obviously not, but there MUST be a difference as these actions are what Christ said would be the discriminating factor for someone being able to tell whether or not we are Christians. If we are, according to Christ, known by our love (i.e. our outward actions motivated by an inward changed character), then mustn't there be a difference between ours and theirs (the lost)? If not, Christ's words are errant, no?

Grace and peace,

PTL

Cliff4JC said...

Back from the marriage retreat. It was great BTW! Praise the lord.

Pray for Brett: he is a man I had the opportunity to share the gospel with today. I believe he may be close. I hope to see him again tomorrow.

I love the idea of having all of us share our journey to faith. That would be edifying! Especially from some of you that I don't like! It might remind me to try to like you more! LOL

Brad, what if we got together to find a way to present the gospel on a blog that might get more "lost people" traffic? This blog only has us overly critical nit picking pastoral types. Then; the purpose of your post won't be high jacked by 5 pointers like me! Maybe; we could combine the testimonials with the presentation? Just a thought.

To all: Please don't let this become an us against them Tulip vs Non-Tulip argument. Really, none of that is necessary! If each of us laid out our own post on how a lost person who comes to the blog might get saved...it would look quite different each time. I'd do it different than Dr. B; you would do it different than I. This isn't a Tulip issue. My fellow Calvinist friends all present the gospel according to their own preferences and personalities. My non-Calvinist friends do the same. Bottom line though is: you better include the elements that Dr. B listed in his post from 5:40pm. (Best post I've ever read from you Dr. B!) The points of agreement are huge! The points where we disagree are mostly small. Honestly, the gospel goes forth despite us gentlemen! Much of what we are arguing amounts to "how many angels can we get on the head of a pin?" I don't care if I was saved before during or after my prayer! Bottom line is...I'M SAVED!!! Praise God!

Dr. Brad: your willingness to give people enough rope to hang themselves with is quite Darwinian of you! (thin the herd and all that! LOL). But honestly; I could do without the biting sarcasm of some and the over assuming and generalizations of others. People; if we took time to get to know one another a little better; maybe we could stop being so mean to each other! (LOL...now I sound like a feminist!)

Tim: NEW YORK CITY??????????


Brad and PLT: the whole exchange about abstentionists and moderationists...yeah...that made me laugh. Hard.

Joy,
Cliff

posttinebraelux said...

Cliff,
Thanks for the encouragement to all. I, too, believe that the issues discussed are worth discussing (else I'd not be here), but are not worth Christians being mean and spiteful to each other. I long for the time that my fellow parishoners accept me for my wacky beliefs and don't accuse me of being 'leftward theologically', 'confused', 'off the deep end' and whatever other rude monikers someone may come up with. Is it not possible to be gentle in our defense - while at the same time being firm about what we believe in? I think it is! I'm not so sure that I'd go so far as to say that what we're discussing is not of import (the angels on the head of a pin thing), but I certainly agree with you that our differences pale in comparison to our agreed beliefs (virgin birth, substitutionary atonement, diety of Christ, tri-une God, omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, return of Christ, hell, heaven, - I could go on and on).

Grace and peace brother Cliff,

PTL

Cliff4JC said...

PTL Said: "but I certainly agree with you that our differences pale in comparison to our agreed beliefs (virgin birth, substitutionary atonement, diety of Christ, tri-une God, omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, return of Christ, hell, heaven, - I could go on and on)."

My point exactly!

When we get past our own preconcieved ideas about who people are; we just might find there is a like minded brother on the other side! Maybe then, some of us (me included) could start treating each other as such and stop with the unchristian like rhetoric that characterizes so many of us on the blogs.

Joy,
Cliff

brad reynolds said...

PTL

Yes, we are known by our Love to each other...it is the love that a local church has on caring for each other which should be attractive to the world - hense I John.

However, having said that...I must state I certainly cannot tell if a bagboy is saved simply by his manners in carrying out groceries for ladies. If you can...I would certainly be interested in how:)
BR