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M.G.

This is all true. If you went to a church that never preached the gospel, you'd have some issues.

BUT, there is a point to be made about biblical sexuality, and how it's more fulfilling than fornication, and how to honor Christ in the workplace, and how to live integrated lives as disciples of Christ.

Can't a church preach and teach all of the above?

And is there something fundamentally *dishonest* about cherry-picking sermon series and using that to denounce entire churches? Do you attend these churches *every* week? Do you know for a fact that they never preach the gospel?

Is it really heretical to preach discipleship in addition to salvation? Or do you believe that a church should have the precise same message every week, namely, a proclamation of the gospel?

Mike Ratliff

Well said Chris. This is a much needed message today. It is very puzzling to me why these guys insist on butchering the gospel. I suppose it is so they can maximize their conversions, but at what cost?

Mike Ratliff

Well said Chris. This is a much needed message today. It is very puzzling to me why these guys insist on butchering the gospel. I suppose it is so they can maximize their conversions, but at what cost?

Connie

I think what is happening is the pendulum keeps swinging back and forth and now what started out as a good idea to reach a lost world is now become so topic-driven that it's lost it's influence in making true converts.

I attend a seeker-sensitive church. Probably the grandfather of seeker-sensitive churches, Willow Creek. I began attending Willow in 1987, the cusp of exponential growth as many of those who were going to the "social club" churches and non-churched/unbelievers began attending at the behest of friends and family. In the early years we did hear the clear Gospel message. We were reminded of Romans 3:23 and 6:23 and were told that there was no other way to inherit eternal life than through the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the Cross. I not only became a committed Christian through this church I joined the evangelism team and went out to make disciples of all nations per the direction of the pastors and teachers at Willow. So to throw the baby out with the bathwater and say that ALL seeker-sensitive churches have missed the mark and have only made false converts is not only disingenuous, but unfair even if you disagree with the methodology.

However, in the past 5-8 years it has been my experience that these same churches are beginning to lose the vision and meaning of their ministries to stay "relevant" and worse are being caught up in the ideology of the culture and are abandoning the core doctrines we were taught regularly from the pulpit.

I don't need to be in a church that harkens back to that "old time religion" to be fully aware of my position as a sinner in need of salvation. I appreciate straight-forward exegetical teaching and love to learn the true meaning of the Scriptures as taught by scholarly people, but we also must teach the application of the Scriptures and that is where I truly appreciated the issue-related teaching we got at Willow. Sadly the pendulum is swinging where Scripture is now becoming more of a by-the-way after thought and the topic rules the day.

Can't we have both? I think so, and there are preachers who blend both because Scripture does speak to all matters of life.

Robert W.

Expository preaching does cover all issues such as fornication, discipleship, stewardship, etc....

Why is it rare to find a pastor who will preach from a book of the bible verse by verse every Lord's Day until he completes that book?

Sadly many pastors choose a theme and contextualize scripture to make their point. I have heard pastors jump all around the bible, even using many translations during a sermon to make their point.

The Christian religion is about Christ and His atonement on the cross for the sins of the world.

Failure to preach this fact every Lord's Day would be a 'dereliction of duty' on the part of the pastor.

All scripture, including the Old Testament, points to Christ and His atonement.

Again, expository preaching will cover all issues. Just Like Connie said, "scripture does speak to all matters of life."

Steve Newell

Every week I need to hear the Law and Gospel. I need to hear that I am a poor miserable sinner and I need to hear the Gospel of what Christ has done for me on the Cross. This will take various forms in how the pastor conveys this to me, but I need to hear both.

Jim from Old Truth

This is a great article and a great chart. Several months ago after Steven Furtick proclaimed on his blog the great number of souls that were saved in his church services in which he preached on sex, I decided to listen-in and hear how that was possible. I only got around to listening to two of them, but they did not contain the Gospel at all. Nothing about the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, etc. The messages were all about "staying in God's boundaries"; basically telling (even) unchurched people to have sex God's way. It was a talk on morals.

Now where as I think that makes it impossible for the large numbers that he's claiming to be saved, it's probably possible that someone could hear that and be saved through it. This could occur if they were to bring some prior knowledge of the law and Gospel into the church service. So in other words, perhaps he was able to give them a "missing piece" and the Holy Spirit then saved them through their greater knowledge of the truth. This assumes that they got the other critical pieces of truth from some prior outside source (not Furtick's sex talks).

So while I am convinced that their conversion stats are WAAAAY over inflated, what I just said is a possible way of explaining how someone might get saved through an error-filled biblically deficient message.

I'm interested in some feedback on my theory; tell me if you guys agree or disagree.

Kelly

Jim, I think you've got it. All Christians believe they need to hear the law, as in, the commandments of God and what we rightly owe him as believers. No one is saying, "Throw out the Law." The problem is when pastors mistakenly think that people are saved through messages that are entirely Law-focused and have no Gospel-- only a "relevant" message on how to make your life better by better obedience to the pastor's "biblically-based principles."

I hope that all churches who claim to be Christian preach the Gospel SOME of the time! That's not the issue, either. Sure, I can't be at these churches every Sunday to see if they ever make up for their crummy messages with pure Gospel. But if I'm not getting the true Gospel *every* Sunday, I've come to church for the wrong reason.

Pamskee

The glaring contradiction with the approach that many organizations use is that their stated purpose is "to get people saved", but the message they give is a misleading type of gospel. And if somehow, someone is truly converted, the self-help messages don't help ground them in the faith.

JohnD

Hey Chris,
My take on this is over at christianresearchnetwork.info. Let me know what you think.

Peace

Ike

Billy Graham stated once that if 5% of all the people who came forward at all his revivals were genuine conversions he'd be happy. Now that comes from a man of God who preached the true Gospel.
You have to understand something, so many of these preachers don't present the whole Gospel and then they say repeat this prayer after me? And then they pronounce these people saved? This goes on every day and it sends so many people to hell!

Joe Martino

Be careful my friend, and I mean this sincerely. You tread on dangerous ground when you propose to replace the Holy Spirit where now YOU can tell who has a genuine conversion and who does not based on how the message was presented to them. You walk closely to a line that carries with it great danger.

Jim from Old Truth

I have a question for Joe:

When the bible says that we should not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers, how do you counsel, let's say a young couple, to obey that biblical command?

Joe Martino

Jim,
That question has nothing to do with this post where someone is proposing that they can tell the validity of their conversion based on how the gospel was presented.

Ike

Joe, I think you misunderstand what I'm saying. NO preacher has the authority to say repeat this prayer after me and then tell that person he is now saved. Go listen to Joel Olsteen deliver his message of self esteem and never present the Gospel message, yet at the end of his "feel good" message he does this very thing. I'd like to tell him (Joel) Whom he should fear!

Jim from Old Truth

Joe:

Do you feel the same way about preachers who seem to be able to make definitive judgments about people's salvation, upon hearing their sermon and praying a prayer afterwards? They say things like "people don't get saved at those traditional churches, but X number of people got saved from our sermons/church". They feel there is something qualitative about their sermons, etc.

How does that fit in with your statement: "You tread on dangerous ground when you propose to replace the Holy Spirit where now YOU can tell who has a genuine conversion and who does not based on how the message was presented to them. You walk closely to a line that carries with it great danger."

It seems like those pastors who make those numeric claims are falling into the same danger that you are warning us of, or that you often warn me of from your various blog posts. What's up wit dat?

Joe Martino

I would agree with you Jim, they are indeed in the same danger. I cannot tell if a person is truly saved based on where they go to church. I understand the broad stroke here, but it makes me nervous. While I would never encourage someone to go to some of these churches that are on T.V. (I've watched once in a while and not heard a gospel message) I do believe that people there could be saved. So if a person told me they were a Christian (Let's say it was you) I would want to know more about how you understood that, I wouldn't really care where you heard the message. I'd want to know about you. To say someone isn't saved because they go to Chris Elrod's church and he did a series on Bringing Back Sexy is not only silly, it borders on heresy. We cannot tell what is going on or what has happened in a man's heart. We certainly cannot tell whether a man or a woman has had a genuine conversion based solely on who was preaching when they were converted.
If you want to talk about fruit and such, then fine, but saying, "well So and So when to LMNOP church and I know they preach the wrong gospel so they cannot be saved!" is just as dangerous as saying "Well, there was 150 hands raised that prayed after me last week, so they must be saved."
Both are dangerous, although your attempt to make them both same is not accurate.
Now Jim, I have purposely avoided you so I am curious if you could link me to a few post(s) that would back up your second to last statement beyond the comma?

Jim from Old Truth

Joe:

Chris' post has tremendous value as it emphasizes the need for a correct message to be preached. Nobody is going to be saved through a guy standing on a street corner chanting the word "refrigerator"; there are some key elements that need to be present in the message. I agree with you, for the reason that I stated earlier, that we can't say of an individual "you can't be saved after hearing that sermon"; the possibility exists that they brought in pre-existing knowledge of the law and gospel.

Where we are on safe ground here, is in warning readers that some churches preach a message that is so lacking, that they are prone towards mass producing false converts. I've seen multiple follow-up studies that demonstrate this statistically; people that loose interest in God after a X months or years. As for which people are the actual false converts however, I am in no better position to know than their pastor who erroneously and immediately claims and counts them.

A couple of years down the road, we can start making some determinations and guesses. And as the "unequally yoked" passage gives an example of, there are some good reasons to eventually try to understand whether someone is a legitimate believer or not. It helps us to know how to minister to them, is one reason.

As far as "avoiding me" is concerned, let me reach around and pull out some of the arrows in my back. I may not have the old truth cornered, but I can read people's blogs :-)

Ben

FALSE CONVERSIONS

One of the most prevalent and harmful problems in the modern day Christian religion today is false conversions. Some professed “Christian” gets a new convert to say the “Sinners Prayer”, and get baptized. Then they instruct them to “find a bible believing church and get involved”. They tell the new convert what they were told, that is, now they are “saved”, and their salvation is sealed for eternity. In most but not all cases, the call for repentance is missing. To repent means to have a change of heart and mind. Also to turn from evil or wrongdoing & seek good. You may wonder why so many false converts would bother to join the Christian religion. There is a certain inner need for righteousness that mankind seeks. In the cult religion of Christianity, that need is satisfied. By saying their “Sinners Prayer”, and attending church, the hypocrite can then continue in his or her sinful state of mind. Their “righteousness” is merely worn on their sleeve for all to see while their hearts remain full of bitterness and guile. A perfect biblical example of this is found in Acts Ch 8. I will summarize the event in short; feel free to examine the account in full by reading it entirely.
In the book of Acts in the Bible, there was a man named Simon who did perform magic and wonders in the sight of the people. Simon was a man who had been deceiving the people into thinking he was righteous and God was with him. To summarize, the city was visited by one of Jesus Christ’s disciples preaching the gospel of salvation through faith in Christ. Many believed, and were baptized. This man Simon was among those who believed.
Peter, having heard his desires from his mouth said to Simon, “You have no part nor lot in this faith because your heart is not right in the sight of God.” Please keep in mind that Simon had, in effect, just said “The Sinners Prayer”, and was baptized in the name of Jesus, (as was the custom of the early church to baptize in His name)Acts,8:13. So you see that Simon was just like most modern day Christians in that he said a prayer and followed the procedures set forth by man, and was perfectly willing to “attend church”. Peter goes on to say, “Repent, therefore of this evil of yours and beseech God that He may perhaps forgive you for the guile that is in your heart, ‘For I see that your heart is as bitter as gall and you are in the bonds of iniquity”. That statement and the ones from Peter preceding it really crush the modern day Christian excuses for their sin and the weak defense that claims you and I have “no right to judge...” Simon, like modern day Christians does not have “ears to hear”, for instead of repenting he says, “(pastor) Pray to God for me so that none of these things which you have spoken may come upon me”. That is another typical behavior pattern of church going Christians; they turn to the pastor for all the answers. Don’t blame the convert as the greater burden of accountability does rest upon the pastor and church leaders for accepting and encouraging all their false authority.
The best part in this passage of scripture is that having spoken the truth to Simon and falling on deaf ears, Peter and John move on, leaving the sinner in his sin just as the word says, “do not cast your pearls before swine...” They must have found it fruitless to go on fellowshipping with this man. This is exactly how we should be dealing with sinners IN churches today. “Those outside the church God judges, remove the wicked man from yourselves”.
Today’s Christian, in order to claim salvation by the “Sinner’s Prayer” will say that Peter was referring to a specific sin on Simon’s part, the desire to purchase the gift of the Holy Spirit. They will manipulate that passage to still give credence to the act of saying a prayer and being baptized as a way to eternal life. Peter is very clear that the prayer and baptism in themselves meant nothing! He tells Simon he needed to repent, not for a sin but because he never really did repent for his life of sin. Prayer and baptism without true repentance are fruitless in the Kingdom of God. To repent means to have a change of heart and mind. People in Christian churches today are the same as they ever were, with hearts full of guile, and bitter as gall. That is why you see so many professed Christians who behave and live nothing like the believers in the bible. Do not puzzle over this or wonder how this can be, for indeed they truly “have no part nor lot in this faith”, just like Simon. Jesus Christ Himself said, “Many will say to Me on judgment day, ‘Lord, Lord’, and I will say, ‘Flee from Me lawbreakers and doers of iniquity, I never knew you”. He was referring to these professed Christians. That’s right, so many of your hypocrite neighbors may be going to church but they aren’t going to heaven. Again and again we see why Christians make little or no sense to the world. They are constantly attempting to tell you about God’s kingdom and they don’t even live there!
The great commission, as Jesus’ instructions to His Disciples is called, told them to, “Make disciples of all the nations...” Look at the definition of a disciple. It does not mean to go around the world getting people to say, ‘‘the sinners’ prayer.” A disciple has to be a believer who wants to follow after the teachings of Jesus. Not someone converted to the Christian Religion or the Mormon or Catholic or Baptist Religion, to name just a few examples.
The third commandment tells us “Do not use the name of the Lord Thy God in vain”. People who go around claiming to belong to Jesus because of saying a single prayer are breaking that very commandment. Since there is no spiritual fruit in their life, nor any witness of the Holy Spirit dwelling in them, nor a hunger for the word of the Lord to be their daily bread, they are using the Lord’s name in vain to say they belong to Him. It is like being married and telling everyone this is my spouse, then committing adultery at the same time.
The people who followed Jesus and believed in Him after His resurrection never said a prayer to be saved. They simply believed with all their hearts and served the Lord. This is hard to imagine after years and years of false teachers leading folks in “The Sinners Prayer”, that magical collection of confessions and promises that allegedly seals your salvation for life. Here in truth is what you really get; A loss of the fear of the Lord, if in fact you ever had it, a complete lack of further repentance for your sins, a sort of distance from your God given conscience, always blaming the devil for the guilt you feel for sin. Lies like, “You’re under grace”, and “Covered by the blood”, abound in the modern day church. They use these truths in the Bible to excuse their sins, whereupon the sin, and distance from God multiplies.
One reason Christianity promotes the “Sinners Prayer”, is so that most of their followers find it easier to accept Baal-Jesus. Baal-Jesus is a false god, and idol created to draw in the multitudes while the real Jesus, whose name is Yeshua from long before the Christian religion began, stands at the door knocking. Baal-Jesus is very liberal when it comes to the sins of his followers, and has a chameleon personality. The true Christ, Yeshua called Jesus, has no tolerance for unconfessed sin and the hypocrisy of church leaders. Those are the two most prominent sins in modern day Christian churches today. Then, the congregation, or “followers” of these hypocrites naturally “follow’ along the same path.
The title, “Lord” has become a worn out moniker at best. Way back in time that title was given the proper reverence it was intended. During the middle ages for example, a knight would kneel before a king and swear his life to that king, calling him his Lord. Everything he possessed, all that he conquered, and the very breath he breathed was for the honor and glory of his king. Today’s Christian uses their Lord to make better lives for themselves, gain prestige in a community, or a nation for that matter, and let’s not forget, to build some very nice financial portfolios!
If you can say one prayer and be saved from then on, no matter what, then all of God’s directives and commands are negated. You would not have to pay heed to any of the warnings in the word of God. Because, as the Christians who promote the Sinners Prayer will tell you that now all your sins, past present, and future will be automatically forgiven. They insist you are at that point, saved, period. No matter what law of God’s you violate from that moment forth, you are still “saved”. What a bunch of rubbish and lies from the pit of Hell. No wonder more than half the world would wants in on it. But, if as the Bible says, you must spend a lifetime to, “work out your salvation with fear and trembling”, it thins down the ranks of so-called believers considerably. That is why the Lord said, ”Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it”. (Mattthew Ch 7, Vs. 14) In fact, the word of God is full of references to only a remnant finding eternal life, not the hosts of people who claim to be saved today. The sad truth is that Christian churches today teach the sinners prayer in order to feed the ravenous beast mammon that is the heart and soul of their religion. In order for the Christian Cult religion to survive it needs followers, and new converts are the key.
If the Sinners Prayer saves you then God’s word is at best misleading. If there were a prayer that could guarantee immediate and lifelong salvation, wouldn’t God have placed it in His word? Would it not be repeated over and again like so many other important laws, doctrines and necessary guidelines? Try asking a church going Christian where the bible leads us in a “Sinners prayer”. Then ask them why God doesn’t include it in His word. Then to really confuse them further, ask them why, if God doesn’t, do they preach it (salvation through the Sinners Prayer) so adamantly?
The modern day Christian church is chock full of false conversions, and they in turn mislead others. In fact, from experience I have found that most of these phonies are long time members and hold positions of pastor, elder and deacon! That’s right, they are in the churches, on Christian radio stations, and on your television, preaching, singing, teaching, and even sitting right next to you. The day is fast approaching and is, in fact, upon us to define True Christianity biblically, and encourage the true believers to separate from the Cult Religion of Christianity. If you know someone who claims to belong to Christ, calling themselves a Christian, ask them if they said “The Sinners Prayer”, if so, then use every caution in dealing with them. If you are one who said this empty collection of words, ask yourself, “Is Jesus Christ the Lord of my life”? To be honest with yourself may be your true salvation.

Leah

YOU must be Born again
I was raised in Church and believed from a small child. most people I knew did what we call the sinners Prayer.
It in itself is not wrong but it is not aguarentee that the person was saved.
My experience showed me the condition of my heart.

At age 30 I was a mess living in sin yet goint to church.
I professed Christ but lived like the devil.
I had no understanding in my heart because I had lived religion and not had TRUE RELATIONSHIP with GOD.

I read in Gods Word you MUST be BORN AGAIN!!!
I had believed and yet I knew that I needed to be BORN AGAIN!
Alone in a dark room after years of struggling and loving and then hating God I REPENTED of the condition of my life and cried out to God for mercy. Mind you I had been in great sin, sexual , drunkeness etc.

After many years my spouse who was suppose to have forgiven me did not.
I became bitter and the tormenters ,tormented me and I went through divorce and rejection.

After many years of seeking God .I found that Christ crucified is the Gospel. I have repented heavily of my years of sin and bitterness and for the first time I can go forward repenting when touched by Gods conviction and forgiving when others sin.
God many times has mercy on those like myself ,but a watered down gospel causes much confusion and pain and can cause worse.
I read Gods WORD, every day now and search for My Jesus and His truth in every Word.
I may not deserve Pauls kind of rewards but because I have repented I may atleast be the least in the Kingdom. But I deserve nothing and Gods Grace forgave me when I repented.
YES REPENTENCE!!!
The prayer can work IF we Repent and continue learniong to repent and forgive.
Thankyou
THE LEAST of GODS children!!!!

LEAH

PS
SO tell Me .
WHAT IS THE GOSPEL?
PREACH IT HEAR SO THAT THOSE READING MAY BE SAVED!!
Or least have a fighting chance!!!

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