Saturday, December 19, 2009

I haven't asked a lot out of life. I don't do yardwork, iron, or open Christmas presents on any day but Christmas. Thats it! I'm easy.
When I say I don't iron its really cause I never got good at it. I will iron a shirt front if I NEED to wear the shirt.
When I say I don't do yardwork, I will mow and occasionally weed-eat, but I'm not getting down on hands and knees to pull weeds or plant a begonia.
When I saw I don't open Christmas presents on any day but Christmas, I MEAN IT!
Until this year. Its hard to be forced out of your comfort zone when you've really been pretty free with your zone over the years.
I learned to like broccoli. I gave in to calvinism. I've learned to do a number of things I thought I'd never do. And its OK. But I want to hold on to a COUPLE of boundaries! Is that so wrong?
I thought I'd give up ironing and yardwork before I gave up the "Christmas Rule."

But, alas, my kids are going off to Christmas with "His" parents. We could just say, "Here, take these with you and open on Christmas." but, thats not amenable to mom and the the sisters. They want to "see" their gifts being opened!

So, today, Dec. 19, 2009, we are opening presents. Not ALL of them mind you, but a pretty hefty bunch of them.
Hey what matters most? My rule or the happiness of my family...
Wait...I'm thinking!....

Friday, December 11, 2009

You Can't Keep Christ Out of Christmas

Every time someone says Christmas they say Christ.
I have never heard anyone say, Happy X-Mas. I've heard Happy Holidays, I've heard Feliz Navidad, which doesn't actually mention Christ, but its given that's what it means. The Bible never says, "Thou shalt celebrate my birthday." I don't think He minds when our celebration is true and sincere. When our worship is pure, Christ is honored.
Do you expect the world to worship Christ? They can't, its not in them to do it. Saying nice things about Jesus is not true worship. Unless one owns Him as Savior and Lord, any acclaim of Christ is at best a polite sin. Do you expect the world to honor Christ just because you do and it's Christmastime? Why? Do they owe it to you? The Bible never says that! In fact, the Bible says we owe all men the love of God which He shared with us.
Its not the state's job to put up nativity scenes. It's not anybody's "job." If the church wants to do it as a witness for Christ thats great. But don't expect or insist that the world does it.
Its not the job of the employee at Wal-Mart to say Merry Christmas. If they want to they should be allowed. Or if they want to say Happy Kwanzaa, I say let them. That would possibly open up doors to witness to a Kwanzaa celebrator. Or someone may wish me a Happy Hannukah, or even, (gasp) a festive Ramadan.
Its the church's job to proclaim Christ. Not the department stores, not places like the Gap, Starbucks, Penny's, or Abercrombie and Fitch! In fact, that last store has been so offensive I would probably be offended if they DID wish me a flippant Merry Christmas.
There are many people trying to get merchants to honor Christmas. You have a right to do that. I think boycotting companies for any number of reasons is a great american past-time. Its just that I don't get it.
This world is no longer "Slouching toward Gomorrah," Its running down the road to hell as fast as it can. The whole "Keep Christ in Christmas" effort seems a waste of time and paints the church as a bunch of ornery red-necks. I KNOW YOU ARE NOT ORNERY! But what else is the world suppose to think.
Do I wish people would lighten up about the whole Merry Christmas thing? Yes, both sides. Atheists shouldn't be offended if people express their faith, neither should Jews or Muslims. But then, neither should Christians.
I wish merchants would post a sign on their door that says this:

DANGER, clerks may wish you a Merry Christmas, a Happy Holiday, or any of several wishes that you be of good cheer. We only want to give you the freedom to reply according to your own beliefs, or not reply at all. Its OK!

But till they do, Christians can set the stage for love and tolerance of other's beliefs.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Train Trip to Nowhere (Fort Worth)

Because others have interesting photo blogs, I thought I'd try.
I took a train trip from Austin to Fort Worth. I've done this several times. I enjoy the easy going pace, the occassional funny view, and the usually funny looking people. (God bless their hearts.)

I saw the Round Rock Express ball field just as I was leaving the Austin area.

I also saw pastoral scenes and flat lands.
And I saw dry gulches and creeks.
I saw grazing horses, and at one point the train scared a herd of cattle and all these cows started to stampede.
I saw a big wide river. NO IDEA which one it is!

But, its not all flat land in Texas. Here's some more hilly, rocky terrain. The one with white rock peeking thru the shrubberies was really an interesting ravine.

And I like the little house at the top of the hill in the second pic!

Then I arrived in ever moderninzing Fort Worth, Cowtown, The Metropolis on the Trinity... four and a half hours later.
That's only about one hour longer than it takes me to drive it.
I don't know why Marney doesn't like the train, she likes to sleep while I drive!
You can sleep good on a train.

There were a number of interesting folks on this journey. Every hour or so the speaker announced, "This is your Snack guy. YOur snack guy is about to go on break. I'll be open for 15 more minutes then I'll shut down for 15 minutes. So get your snacks and drinks real soon. Thank You...the Snack Guy."

I met some old ladies who had never ridden a train before, so I got to be the expert and answer their questions. Like why do we slow down sometimes, or why do we stop sometimes when there is no station, or what do they serve in the dining car, and where are the restrooms.
Its FUN being smart!
Smart is how you feel when you know something that ordinarily smart people don't know!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Thoughts on the Lord's Last Supper

1 Cor 11:23-34

1Co 11:23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which he was betrayed took bread; 24 And giving thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body, which is broken for you; this do in remem-brance of Me."

Notice the different ways Jesus is referred to in this passage.

First He is the Lord, then Jesus, then the sacrifice offering up his own body. In v 33 we are family of whom He is the firstborn.

He is also the priest offering up the sacrifice.

He is the host of the meal.

But that’s not all of the ways Jesus reveals himself to us.

He invited these men to be at this table as His friends.

He is a prophet telling them of things to come.

He is the Passover Lamb of God’s choosing.

He is also the one who was betrayed.

If we are to sit down with Jesus at His table tonight lets think for a minute who it is who invites us.

As Jesus he is the Son of Man, he was tempted in every way we are, yet without sin, so that He can take our place on the cross.

As Lord He is Divine, God Almighty, Ruler of the Universe, Captain of the Heavenly hosts, tormentor of demons, Judge, Deliverer, and Savior.

As the Priest, he makes sacrifices for us to God, and invites us to commemorate the sacrifice with him in the New Covenant Meal.

As the Sacrifice he offers his own body, blood, and life for us, not too mention bearing the wrath of God.

As the firstborn, he invites us to the table of our Father, welcoming the prodigal sons home with rejoicing. Not to slay the fatted calf because He offered Himself for our redemption.

As the Host of the meal we are His guests. He invites us to partake of Him because of His Body and Blood. He wants us to know Him and the fellowship of His suffering.

As the Friend of Sinners, He is able to help those who are weak, because while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.

He is the prophet of God, telling the disciples of His coming sacrifice but telling us of His coming return.

He is the Lamb that God that God chose for us. From among every man that was ever born, none has been perfect. No one could pay for another person’s sins because they had sins of their own to pay for. So God sent His own Lamb, His perfect Son, and he welcomes us to His table.

And lastly, He is the one who was betrayed. When Paul writes this he writes is as if it’s still going on. On the night while Jesus is being betrayed. Well we know, that Judas betrayed Jesus, and that when it was done Judas went and hung himself.

So is the betrayal still going on?

Look at vs 27-29 again. 1Co 11:27 So that whoever shall eat this bread and drink this cup of the Lord unworthily, he will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks unworthily eats and drinks condemnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. 30 For this cause many among you are weak and sickly, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.

A story shared by Chuck Colson: "Believers dare not come to the Lord's Table except with a repentant heart. "Whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner," as Paul puts it, "drinks judgment to himself." That should be a sobering warning, especially when the apostle adds that because of this offense many have fallen ill or died.

Pat Novak, pastor, discovered this when he was serving as a hospital chaplain intern near Boston. Pat was making his rounds one summer morning when he was called to visit a patient admitted with an undiagnosed ailment. John, a man in his sixties, had not responded to any treatment; medical tests showed nothing; psychological tests were inconclusive. Yet he was wasting away; he had not even been able to swallow for two weeks. The nurses tried everything. Finally they called the chaplain's office.

When Pat walked into the room, John was sitting limply in his bed, strung with IV tubes, staring listlessly at the wall. He was a tall, grandfatherly man, balding a little, but his sallow skin hung loosely on his face, neck, and arms where the weight had dropped from his frame. His eyes were hollow.

Pat was terrified; he had no idea what to do. But John seemed to brighten a bit as soon as he saw Pat's chaplain badge and invited him to sit down. As they talked, Pat sensed that God was urging him to do something specific: He knew he was to ask John if he wanted to take Communion. Chaplain interns were not encouraged to ask this type of thing in this public hospital, but Pat did.

At that John broke down. "I can't!" he cried. "I've sinned and can't be forgiven."

Pat paused a moment, knowing he was about to break policy again. Then he told John about 1 Corinthians 11 and Paul's admonition that whoever takes Communion in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself. And he asked John if he wanted to confess his sin. John nodded gratefully. To this day Pat can't remember the particular sin John confessed, nor would he say if he did, but he recalls that it did not strike him as particularly egregious. Yet it had been draining the life from this man. John wept as he confessed, and Pat laid hands on him, hugged him, and told John his sins were forgiven.

Then Pat got the second urging from the Holy Spirit: Ask him if he wants to take Communion. He did. Pat gave John a Bible and told him he would be back later. Already John was sitting up straighter, with a flicker of light in his eyes.

Pat visited a few more patients and then ate some lunch in the hospital cafeteria. When he left he wrapped an extra piece of bread in a napkin and borrowed a coffee cup from the cafeteria. He ran out to a shop a few blocks away and bought a container of grape juice. Then he returned to John's room with the elements and celebrated Communion with him, again reciting 1 Corinthians 11. John took the bread and chewed it slowly. It was the first time in weeks he had been able to take solid food in his mouth. He took the cup and swallowed. He had been set free.

Within three days John walked out of that hospital. The nurses were so amazed they called the newspaper, which later featured the story of John and Pat, appropriately, in its "LIFE" section."

Charles W. Colson, The Body,1992, Word Publishing, pp. 139-140.

Let’s don’t betray Jesus, Let’s partake of this table because He invited us. He’s Our Priest, the son of Man and Son of God, our friend and brother, our prophet, our host, and our Lamb.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Word of God in 2 Tim 3:16-17

A Baptist Distinctive: The Word of God


ill) Many years ago in a play in Moscow theater, Russian actor, Alexander Rostovzev, was supposed to read 2 verses from the Matthew 5, remove his gown, and cry out, "Give me my tuxedo and top hat!" But as he read the words, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted," he began to tremble. Instead of following the script, he kept reading, ignoring the coughs, and foot-stamping of his fellow actors. Finally, recalling a verse he had learned in his childhood he prayed, "Lord, remember me when You come intoYour kingdom!" Before the curtain was lowered, Alexander trusted in Jesus Christ.[1] That is the power of the gospel!

The Word of God has come under a lot of criticism in the last 150 years. It didn’t start then but it’s gotten worse. It’s not just other religions, it’s also the atheists, agnostics, communists and secular humanists. Then those “enlightened” attitudes trickle down to the church and so-called Christians start denying the truth and power of God.

Ill) A book, Reforming Fundamentalism, says 85% of the students in one of USA's largest evangelical seminaries said they do not believe in the inerrancy of Scripture. Then, a 1987 poll of 7400. ministers in the U.S.A in reveals that when asked if they believed the Scriptures are the inspired, inerrant Word of God in faith, history, and secular matters:

95% of Episcopalians said "No." 87% of Methodists said "No."
82% of Presbyterians said "No." 77% of American Lutherans said "No."
67% of American Baptists said "No." [2]
I don't know the percentage of Southern Baptists, but many of them deny the inerrancy of scripture, too.

1.What does that mean, inerrancy? Without error. Infallible, perfectly trustworthy. This isn’t a new issue. Back in 1963 (ancient church history to some folks) the Baptist Faith & Message said the Bible was the word of God without any mixture of error. That sounds like inerrancy!.The 2000 BF&M agrees. BUT, What does the BIBLE say?

2 Tim 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God,

Do we need to say more? All of Scripture! Not some of it!

Is given how? By the breath of God. That’s what inspired means. Does God make mistakes? I mean has He ever? No. He is a rock his work is perfect! (Deut 32:4) His word is perfect. The word he delivered to the writers of scripture was perfect. God didn’t speak to them in King James English, or in Lutheran German, or in Catholic Latin. The writers spoke three languages primarily: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. This is the language the scriptures were written in. And let me shock you a little bit. NO Following TRANSLATION IS PERFECT. No translation of anything is perfect.

Ill) If you translated the rules of baseball into some Polynesian language some words just wouldn’t translate. So you give it your best shot. Try translating “Lamb of God’ to people who have never heard of sheep. That’s why so many preachers study Hebrew & Greek to get at the purest meaning of the words. But, another problem. The New Testament was written 2000 years ago. Old Testament as much as 6000 years. I can only guess what their life was like and what their words meant then and today.

Now this unsettles some people. “Oh no! How can we trust it if no translation is perfect?” Well, just because English versions aren’t perfect doesn’t mean they don’t get very close, they do. Most words in the Bible translate fairly easily.

Then we have the benefit of many scholarly people who study it and give us their ideas. But most importantly, we have the Holy Spirit to guide us as we study the Bible. (Read 2Pe 1:19-21).

2. If the Bible is perfect then it must have Authority. I mean we believe that God wrote it and that gives it authority but if it is really tested and true then whether someone believes in God or not, the authority of scripture still stands.

Authority doesn’t mean everything in the Bible is true, the words are completely accurate, but not necessarily every statement in the story is true. Did you know there are LIES in the Bible?

Example; Genesis 3:4; Satan told Eve, "You will not surely die." Satan lied and Eve died.

BUT, Authority does mean that everything God spoke, directly or through a prophet, is true:

2 Tim 3:16 also says it ‘is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:’

Doctrine is the truths of God. Reproof tells us what we are doing wrong. Correction tells us how to do things right. And Instruction in Righteousness is God telling us how to do it right the next time.

There is a right and wrong. There is black and white. The scriptures can rebuke us and correct us and teach us.

Psa 25:8, Good and upright is the Lord therefore will He teach sinners in the way. The meek will he guide in judgment, the meek will He teach His ways.

Somebody once said, the reason many people don’t believe the Bible is not because it contradicts itself, but because it contradicts them! Or, to paraphrase a Seminary professor, rather than deconstruct the Bible, let the Bible deconstruct you!

The Bible, being the perfect word of God has the authority to tell us how to believe and how to behave. It will instruct us if we let it.

Ill) In the year A.D. 303, the Emperor Diocletian issued a decree to extinguish the spreading flames of Christianity. His primary objective was destroy all the bibles. When officials enforced the decree in North Africa, Felix the Bishop of Tibjuca, was ordered to hand over his Scriptures. Some judges were willing to accept scraps of parchment, but Felix refused to surrender one scrap of the Word of God to Caesar. He resisted compromise. He was finally shipped to Rome where he paid for his stubbornness with his life. On August 30, as the record puts it, "with pious obstinacy," he laid down his life rather than surrender his Bible. WHY? Because the Bible has more authority than the State. More than kings, presidents, or Emperors.[3]

3.Then 2 Tim 3:17 says: That the man of God may be perfect (or mature), thoroughly furnished unto all good works. There’s the Inerrancy, the Authority and then there is the Power of Scripture.

Remember last week when I said that the famous Evangelist Charles Finney, didn’t believe that Salvation was a miracle. Listen, it’s the greatest miracle of all! It takes Divine power to do that. Anybody can say, "Yes, I’d rather go to Heaven than Hell." Or, I’d rather be good than bad. That’s not salvation.

Salvation is the radical change I n a person’s spirit. They pass from spiritual death to life! Their spiritual eyes are opened and they begin –FOR THE FIRST TIME- to understand spiritual things.

Last week we read Rom 1:16; The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the POWER of God for salvation! Why does it take the power of God? Because, the natural man doesn’t understand the things of the Spirit.


1Co 2:14 But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Then, 1Ti 4:16 Take heed to thyself, and unto doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

And, Psa 119:97 Oh how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day. 98 Thy commandments make me wiser than mine enemies…

The Bible is not to be read one time and laid aside. Listen to these verses:

1Ti 4:13 give attendance to reading,exhortation, & to doctrine.

2Ti 1:13 Hold fast the form of sound words,

2Ti 2:2 the things thou hast heard … commit to faithful men

2Ti 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, …

2Ti 3:14 But continue in the things which thou hast learned …

15 that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures

2Ti 4:2 Preach the word; … reprove, rebuke, exhort

It’s not our job to save souls. We can’t, none of us have the power to save souls. Only the word of God can defeat the enemy! I’ve heard folks say, “back in 1953 brother Joe saved me.” Well unless he pulled you out of the river when you were drowning, he didn’t save you, Jesus did! And He did it with the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Spurgeon said, I believe God can save anyone anywhere at anytime, it just so happens he does it where the gospel is being preached!

Our job is to deliver the gospel. God’s word will do the rest! It will not return void or empty handed. That doesn’t mean it will always save the one you hope it will. But it will leave them without excuse in the Day of Judgment. They will always know they heard the gospel. They may complain someday they didn’t understand what was at stake. (But the Apostle addresses that in Rom 9:20…(read 20-24))**

I’m glad to say that Southern Baptists are known as those who stopped the growing theological liberalism in their ranks and turned it around back in 1980. But we must be vigilant not to water down the Bible. It IS our only hope of salvation.


**Rom 9:20 No, but, O man, who are you who replies against God? Shall the thing formed say to Him who formed it, Why have you made me this way? 21 Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel to honor and another to dishonor? 22 What if God, willing to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction; 23 and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy which He had before prepared to glory; 24 whom He also called, not only us, of Jews, but also of the nations? 25 As He also says in Hosea, "I will call those not My people, My people; and those not beloved, Beloved." 26 And it shall be, in the place where it was said to them. "You are not My people; there they shall be called sons of the living God."

[1] J.K. Johnston, Why Christians Sin, Discovery House, 1992, p. 121.

[2] The Gideon, January, 1994, pp. 12-13. Book by George Marsden; poll by sociologist Jeffery Hadden

[3] Christian Theology in Plain Language, p. 41.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Great American Unknown Evangelist[i]

When we talk of great American Evangelists, it often starts with Billy Graham and then tracks backwards to Dale Moody, Billy Sunday, and finally Charles Finney, the famous evangelist of the 2nd Great Awakening of the 1830’s and 1840’s. But there is one who is never mentioned, the forgotten Evangelist. He was already preaching when Finney started, in fact he was preaching before Finney was converted.

He was born in Connecticut in 1783 when the United States was 7 years old. He was the oldest son of a farmer, raised in church, and taught the Bible in his home. As a teenager he remembered working in the fields till sunset one day and as the sun went down he thought about the reality that one day the sun would set in his life and what would be his eternity. But he buried such thoughts until he was about 18 when he became convinced that he was a very “frivolous” individual. It was likely after a thanksgiving party and dance, and for the next few months he wrestled with his sinfulness. He tried to deal with it by questioning the Bible and the very existence of God. If he could convince himself that there was no God then he would be free, he thought, from the problems of his sinfulness. But finally, after 8 months, his heart changed. He began to see the grace of God as beautiful. And though he didn’t realize it at the time, Asahel Nettleton was born again.

In fact, that year, before the invention of an ‘altar call’ about 90 people had come to Christ in a revival in the Congregationalist church he attended. This wasn’t a revival “service,” there was no guest preacher, it was just that God showed up and souls were saved.

Asahel continued to work on the farm and study the Bible with his pastor, finally going to Yale. He wanted to be a missionary but he never made it to a foreign field.

First it was because he had to stay close to home and pay off his debts from his College years. Then it was because of his preaching. And lastly, because of Typhus fever.

He graduated in 1809, worked to pay off debts and served in a small church as a sort of interim pastor. People began to notice his effective preaching. He was ordained in 1811 and began waiting for a mission society to call. In 1812, already known as a good preacher, he was invited to preach in New York. On his way he stopped for a week in South Britain, Conn. and was asked to preach. God began to move mightily on the congregation. Remember, no altar calls or invitations like today, so after he sent them home there was no new members card in their hands, or a tract with the plan of salvation or a sinner’s prayer printed on it. All they had was the Bible and the Holy Spirit of God working on them. OH NO! What good could come from that?

Over the next few days many came to Christ. He went on to New York, and it happened again. He preached the word, sent people home, but the conviction of the Holy Spirit was so great that again many came to Christ. These were not big communities or big churches. If 80 folks were saved in a town of 800 that was quite an impact.

This was the beginning of 11 years of evangelistic preaching. But Asahel went into this with certain rules of his own. First, He went no-where he wasn’t invited by church or pastor to be. He didn’t compete with local pastors or try to hurt their ministry or churches. Second, he would not go or stay where he felt they depended on him for revival. He was not the focus, Jesus was. If they were depending on him he left. Third, he would not work to stir up excitement for the services he was preaching, salvation was not a matter of soulish excitement but of God’s conviction. And fourth, he didn’t preach for money.

Within 5 years he was ordained as an evangelist. And after 11 years of preaching 3 times on Sunday, 2 to 3 times in the week, and countless personal conversations and home visits there were some 30,000 people who had professed Christ as Savior. 30,000! Today with the population 20 times what it was in those days that would be like a minister having 600,000 conversions.

Why did he only preach 11 years? While visiting in a home of a boy who had Typhus fever, he too got the disease. He was a bachelor and a friend took him in to nurse him back to health. His friend and friend’s wife got sick and though he and the wife recovered his friend did not. He never forgot the sacrifice his friend had made.

During the next few years he was too weak to preach more than just a few times, and was often bed-ridden for weeks at a time. But he didn’t waste his time. He compiled a hymnal.

There were few hymnals around in those days but a popular one was a collection of hymns of Isaac Watts. Since it was popular he made his as a companion with some 600 hymns. Some companion! It had about 50 from Watts and Wesley, and several from another English Pastor, John Newton. It had many of the same songs we have in our hymnbook today: Newton’s Amazing Grace, God moves in mysterious ways His wonders to perform, Come ye sinners poor and needy, Hark the Herald Angels sing, and Come Thou Almighty King. And one song that he composed the music too, even though he wasn’t a trained musician; “Come Thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace.” If you look in our hymnals you’ll see the title of the music is Nettleton.

After several years of recovery he continued to preach but not at the rate he did before. It was occasional but he was invited to many well-known pulpits and God continued to bless his ministry with salvations. His later years however became known for his opposition to another famous evangelist.

In fact, what little fame Asahel received was largely due to opposing the preaching and the methods of Charles Finney, one of the most famous preachers of all time. Finney is famous for having had some 500,000 decisions for Christ. That’s half a million.

Some say of course he was more famous, he was more effective. But remember this: Most of Nettleton’s preaching was in rural settings but Finney worked mostly in cities. Finney had a longer preaching ministry than Asahel. And one more important fact was Asahel’s legacy. Those converted during his ministry were faithful in their walk with Christ for many years to come. Some estimate their continuance in the faith at over 90%. Finney was fortunate if 10% of his people continued in the faith. Even many of the ministers who worked with Finney left the ministry in a short period of time. But nobody talks about that much. Even Billy Graham’s people (BGEA) only hope for 25% retention of their converts.[ii] And half of that is based on their continued follow-up. If all they count is the sermon and the counseling immediately after, they figure about 12% in true conversions. 12%! More than Finney, but much less that Nettleton. In fact some have said that Billy Graham just continued the failed methods of Charles Finney. It’s true that his methods were similar; But Billy Graham’s theology is sound. Charles

Finney’s real problem was theology. When you preach a false Gospel you should be amazed if anyone gets saved. And that’s what Nettleton saw as the problem. No doubt Finney was a praying man, and Asahel praised Finney for his intentions and for his preaching Jesus; but there were still some big problems.

Finney denied that salvation was a miracle. He said you just have to overcome their stubborn will and get them to change their minds about Jesus. He denied that Jesus’ death on the cross was a substitution for us and that Christ's blood actually paid for our salvation. Finney taught you had to keep yourself saved. This is another GOSPEL!

That was Nettleton’s main problem with Finney, not the “anxious bench,” referring to Finney’s altar call method. Though it was a problem since it was designed to pressure sinners make a decision now! Finney would pray out loud for sinners by name trying to shame them into making a decision. He did this because salvation didn’t depend on God! It depended on Finney convincing people to accept his message.

Nettleton on the other hand, believed that salvation was all about grace. Without the miracle of new-birth, no one would ever see the kingdom of heaven. He believed that when a person was saved by God it could not be undone by man. Finney believed you can be saved today and go to hell tomorrow if you don’t continue with God.

What is the legacy of Nettleton today? I’m afraid that for most it’s forgotten. It seems only the legacy of Finney continues. Except… Billy Graham believed more like Nettleton. One of the greatest witnessing tools ever devised was started by D. James Kennedy, Evangelism explosion. It follows the legacy of Nettleton. Pastor John MacArthur’s ministry follows the legacy of Nettleton. The fastest growing post-modern church in America, Mars Hill in Seattle follows the legacy of Nettleton. Real evangelism still exists.

Real evangelism is not a battle for numbers but a battle for new-birth.

Real evangelism is not gross manipulation but a gospel message.

Real evangelism lasts, it doesn’t fade in a few months.

Real evangelism honors God, it doesn’t honor man.

I hope and pray that the legacy of Asahel Nettleton for real salvation and real holiness lives long and prospers.

[i] Brief Biographical sketch by Dr. Tom nettles, Southern Baptist Seminary.

Asahel Nettleton: the Forgotten Evangelist by Jim Erhard.

God Sent Revival, by John F Thornbury

Review of Life and labors of Asahel Nettleton by Jim Eliff.

Article, How Does Doctrine Affect Evangelism? The Divergent paths of Asahel Nettleton and Charles Finney, by Rick Nelson, Founder’s Journal, Issue 33, Summer 1998.


His three-prong approach of excellent sermons, altar counseling and intensive follow-up by counselors and churches provided penitents with numerous opportunities to hear the Gospel and repent, resulting in, according to Graham, a possible 25 percent success rate.1 Although this seems like an improvement over the 5 to 10 percent success rate common in the 1800s, it is roughly equivalent when one considers the Graham inquirer has numerous exposures to the Gospel and personal counseling, equivalent to an 1800s inquirer attending an after-meeting and a minister visiting him at home until God deigned to save him.
According to Kel Richards, National Coordinator for BGEA Australia, on the 1994 Christian Life and Witness Course video made for Australian BGEA counselors, only 2 percent of conversions take place during the sermon, 48 percent during counseling and 50 percent sometime during follow-up. When the previously cited 25 percent salvation rate is applied to these statistics, Graham’s formula for success looks even better. If only a sermon is provided, just one half of one percent of decisions will be effective. If a sermon plus altar counseling is provided, twelve and a half percent of decisions will be effective. If a sermon plus altar counseling plus follow-up is provided, twenty-five percent of decisions for Christ will be effective.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Clark's blog on theology, life, the world, and Java (the drink not the country): Happy with Obama?

Clark's blog on theology, life, the world, and Java (the drink not the country): Happy with Obama?

Happy with Obama?

Is everybody happy with their vote for Obama? Apparently not with his approval rating below 50%. Remember the election showed his approval was over 50%. In fact, when he got a "bump" after his joint session speech, (which will go down in History as the "You Lie" speech because Congressman Joe Wilson R-S.Car. shouted that at him during the speech) his bump only took him up to 49%!
WOW, that's a bump?
Look, He looks like a nice guy. He's already had a beer summit with a cop and a professor and he even invited the V.P. Who hardly ever gets to do anything. Can you picture Biden on the day he found out about this, asking his secretary if she/he was sure this was on his calendar because it hadn't been so blank since he was first elected to congress!
I propose he has a cigar summit with Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. Not Glenn Beck, he gets too discombobulated when he's excited. And not The Great One (you know...Mark Levin?) cause he's too abusive. We want the cigar summit to be a happy place!
But here's what prompted today's post. I actually talked (via FB) to a young Christian man whom I love dearly who is STILL happy Obama got elected.
I'm not sure but it could be the old, "At least he's getting something done!" attitude at play here.
Although, he might be a socialist! Hey! Its a free country and The Bible never says you shouldn't be a socialist. At least not in so many words. (See my previous post: Is the USA a Christian Nation?)
But whatever the reason he's STILL happy about it, you need to know that I still love him. And while I may gently try to show him the error of his ways, I believe God is STILL IN CHARGE! And I don't really care about His poll numbers if HE doesn't!

I don't, personally, like what Obama has done. Oh maybe a few things. I'm glad he kept GM afloat, but not HOW he did it. Did he ask Lee Iacoca his opinion? Just curious.
I don't like ObamaCare. If they want to make sure the 15 million or so people in the US get health care there must be a better way to do it than to ruin the system for EVERYBODY! I don't want anyone to die for lack of an appendectomy or chemotherapy. But thats the least important thing to this president.
I don't like blaming the banks COMPLETELY for the housing crisis. Congress needs to step up to the blame and fix all their meddlesome ways first.
I don't like The increase in BABY-KILLING (abortion for those of you in south-east Austin) that will come with ObamaCare.
I don't like Him breaking His promises (OK, like every other president has but he promised it wouldn't be "Business as usual". "You Lie!" to Quote Joe Wilson.)
I don't like him villyfying corporate executives for taking elaborate trips etc. on the public dole due to bail-out money, when he and his family DO THE SAME STINKING THING! And his trips and fancy living are even more on the public dole.
Obama needs to remember this is a temp job as Kevin Kline said in "Dave." And he's here to make things better for people, not worse. So far he is failing in that ideal - ACROSS THE BOARD.
Let me say before I close, I apologize to those under 50 for letting this man get elected and mortgage the future of the US in a veritable ponzi scheme of spend now and tax later when inflation is incredibly high.
But then it was George W. that started this ball rolling with his late term give-aways.
What should we expect?
Maybe this is all a sign of the apocalypse. Even so come Lord Jesus!

Looking Back to Louisville, Part 2

This is a post from Ed Stetzer not me. The link will take you to his blog on SBC goings-on, BetweenTheTimes.

Looking Back to Louisville, Part 2

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Friday, August 28, 2009

How Much of the Law Should Christians Keep?

Anti-Nomian: Ever heard that word? Maybe not. It means "against law." It's sometimes applied to those who think now that they are saved they can live like they want. That's not what You think is it? Hope not! Some folks, who also disagree with that, go so far as to say that we STILL keep the laws of Moses as Christians. Is that right? Well the 10 Commandments are pretty good. Yes, they are great! In fact all of God's word is great! It reveals a Great God to us doesn't it?
But why stop with the 10 Commandments?
Lets also avoid Pork, and hanging out with sinners, too! Oh wait, Jesus hung out with sinners didn't he? OK, then that's OK. Oh yeah, Peter was told to kill and eat pigs. In fact God told him "what I have called clean you better not call unclean." Could that have applied to actual pigs? Or was it just symbolic? Maybe pigs, shrimp and rattlesnake are OK after all. (I hear rattlesnake tastes like chicken. I heard that Aborigines eat moths, they taste mothy I understand.)

Consider Acts 15:5: "Some believers, belonging to the party of the Pharisees, rose up and said, "It is necessary to circumcise them and order them to keep the law of Moses." 6 The apostles and elders gathered together to consider this. 7 After much debate, Peter stood and said, "Brothers, you know in the early days God made a choice among you, that ... Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 And God, ...bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did us, 9 and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. 10 [So] why are you putting testing God by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will."
And Rom 3:21: But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law...
And Rom 3:31: Do we then overthrow the law by faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.
And Finally, Rom 6:14: For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. 15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!
The simple fact is that we are no longer "Under" the law. (I didn't make that up, God did.) We are not "Under" its penalties. We are not "Under" its absolute direction for our lives. We are not "Under" it's obligations. We are under Grace. We are to be Led by the Spirit so that we do not sin against God. Just because we are not "Under" the law doesn't mean that there is no sin. But the Law of Moses is not the final referee or judge of sin that it once was, the Holy Spirit is!
The law is still good because it tells us about God's holiness. But if you are going to live under the 10 Commandments then get ready to live under the law about travel on the Sabbath, the foods you eat, and wearing a shirt that doesn't blend two different materials, etc. etc.

We know from Moses' law there is one God for us to worship, we should honor our parents, and not steal or murder. But we aren't under the penalties of law. We are led by the Spirit to fulfill the law as God leads us. He doesn't lead us contrary to His absolute rules. But apparently, not all of God's rules were absolute. Else he wouldn't have shown Peter pigs and snakes and told him, "Arise Peter, Kill and Eat." No, fellow servants of Christ, we are absolutely NOT under the law. But the Holy Spirit will still lead us in the paths of righteousness.
So, I'm NOT an AntiNomian. I believe in the law of the love of Christ. St. Augustine once said "Love God and do as you please." This has of course been misunderstood and misapplied. If one truly loves Christ with a divinely given love then one will not sin against God. If one truly love JEsus, then one truly loves others.
God saved the gentiles without converting them to being Jews. No circumcision was required, no keeping of the feasts and fasts were required, and God sealed their salvation with His Holy Spirit. They didn't need to keep the law. No one except the Judaizers, with whom Paul had such great differences, told them to keep the law. In fact Paul told them, you guys who like to tell the Gentiles to be circumcised, I wish you would get a knife and cut the whole thing off. (Gal.5:12 'cut off' in KJV etc. means to amputate or emasculate ones self.)
You see even Abraham was saved without circumcision or the law of Moses. He came before all that. God saw his faith and accounted righteousness to him. That is the kind of salvation the church has now. They are not saved "Because" they are gentiles, or "Because" they are Jews. They are saved by grace through faith, and that's not of ourselves, it is the gift of God.
So do we have no guideline in scripture about what sin is? IS there no way to objectively recognize it? No, there is. The Law of Moses is such an example of sin. But in that it is the law for the Jews and the Nation of Israel it is not absolute. (That is not to say it is not true in it's context. It is without error in its purpose and meaning.)
But we have a New Covenant in the Blood of Christ. And we have a new compilation of scripture, to go along with the Old Testament, called the New Testament. It has plenty of directions concerning how we should live. The Gospels record the instructions of Christ. The letters record the teaching of the Apostles, which was based on the teaching of Christ, and can be found in the words of James, Peter, John, Paul, and others. Just after the Gal 5 verse I mentioned above we find words like this: Gal 5:13 For, brothers, you were called to liberty. Only do not use the liberty for an opening to the flesh, but by love serve one another. 14 For all the Law is fulfilled in one word, even in this, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." ...
Gal 5:16 I say, then, Walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh. And these are contrary to one another; ... 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
Gal 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are clearly revealed, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lustfulness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, fightings, jealousies, angers, rivalries, divisions, heresies, 21 envyings, murders, drunkennesses, revelings, and things like these; of which I tell you before, as I also said before, that they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 meekness, self-control; against such things there is no law. ...25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Therefore away with the anti-nomians who say that all things are allowable to us. That is not true. There are things we do which grieve the heart of God.
And away with the Pharisees and modern-day heretics who describe a law which is used by them to beat those who don't recognize their legalism into bondage.