What Do You Do When You Ask Jesus Into Your Heart But He Doesn’t Stick Around?

I have heard this story before. A young boy or girl attends VBS and at the end of the week, they raised their hand and said the prayer. Or maybe, when they were older they came forward at the altar call at church or at the local evangelist crusade. No matter the venue, they were told to “ask Jesus into their heart,” and assured that once He came in, life would get better. They were assured they were a Christian now, and were told to never question it, no matter what. The initial spiritual high carried them for a time. They read their Bibles, went to church, talked about how great it was to be a Christian. But in time, the buzz wore off. The feeling just wasn’t there anymore. Other things, people or events just seemed more interesting. Or they began to be ostracized by their peers, so the compromises began. Before long, life was like it was before, or maybe worse because they began to look for other things to fill the void. But no matter how bad it might be, they were still a Christian…weren’t they?

When it comes to the modern day evangelism of “asking Jesus into your heart” there is a very big problem in that it rarely, if ever, addresses the issue that a person is a wretched, vile sinner. A spiritual criminal deserving of God’s righteous judgment. It avoids examining the life of the person under God’s law. It fails to show that when we lie, steal, lust, hate, blaspheme God, or any other sin, we are committing crimes against our Lord. It fails to reveal that on the day that we stand before God, every sin, every thought, word and deed is called into account. And because God is a good and just Judge, He will condemn us to Hell for eternity. It does not explain that the punishment is infinite because we have sinned against an infinite God.

When the church tells a person to, “just ask Jesus into your heart” there is very little weighing of the issue. Very little understanding of the severity of their sins. Consequently, many people will experimentally ask Jesus to become part of their lives without ever turning away from the sinful life they have lead. In other words, because they didn’t understand how wicked they were, they never obeyed the command to repent. They simply saw Jesus as a way to make their life better, or as some sort of “fire insurance.” There was no genuine commitment or surrender of their lives. If that happens, that person is not genuinely born again. And if they are not born again, they are still slaves to their sinful nature.

Often times, churches today will ask people to repeat a prayer, sign a card and get them baptized. Once that is done, they absolutely assure them they are saved and tell them to never doubt it. And if they see that person returning back to worldly pursuits, they claim they are backslidden, a person who is a Christian, but is actively sinning.

Such an evangelistic program, while certainly adding numbers to church roles, actually does more damage than good. The problem is twofold. First, the Bible tells us to examine ourselves to see if we are truly in the faith. Both the books of James and 1 John help us examine our walk to see if we are actually producing fruit that is consistent with a born again Christian. That doesn’t mean that once a Christian gets saved he is suddenly perfect, but what is the course of his life. If a person can look at their life and see that it is, bit by bit, growing in a God honoring direction, then they can see true spiritual fruit that is consistent with being born again. But if they look like the rest of the world day to day, if there is no brokenness, no desire for true repentance, then it would become prudent to ask if they were ever actually born again.

The second problem with the modern day gospel presentation is that it ignores the truth of false converts. In the parable of the soils, Jesus taught of two groups of people who spring up as apparent converts upon hearing the gospel. However, in due time, they fall away either because of the cares of the world or from persecution. The falling away demonstrates that they never were in the faith to begin with. So when the church baptizes someone and assures them they are saved without ever looking at the fruit of their walk, it can actually add numbers of false converts to the list.

So what does all this mean for you the reader? Well, the first question would be to ask yourself if you are truly saved. Examine your walk in the light of the Bible. Do you truly love the Lord? Do you desire to obey His commandments above all else? Do you hate your sin because you love Lord and don’t wish to sin against Him? Or do you care more about the things of this world? Is the only time you feel bad about sin is when you have to suffer the consequences?

If it is the former, I would encourage you to dig into the gospels again. Learn what it is that Christ did for you because He loves you. Gain assurance by preaching the gospel to yourself daily. But if it is the latter, then you need to repent of your sins and trust in Christ now. You need to get saved for the first time. What happened before may have only been an experimental attempt, but one where, like so many others, you never truly repented and trusted in the Savior. If that is so, then examine your life, understand that your sins are an offense to God deserving of judgment. Yet know that His Son died to pay the price that you deserved. Turn away from those sins and trust in the Savior today.

(Note: this article is also published on my personal blog at fernleycrossguy.wordpress.com)

Like a lamb to the slaughter? The final moments of Joseph Smith.

The following article from the Mormonism Research Ministry was written by Bill McKeever:

“The events leading to the death of Mormon founder Joseph Smith are much like the events surrounding his life—full of contradiction. To hear Mormons tell the story, Smith did no wrong; for others, he did no right. Like most stories, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.”

Continue reading here.

A Call to Greater Maturity: Study for Your Open-Airs (from onthebox.us)

The following blog article was originally published by Tony Miano of Living Waters. I found it to be a very edifying, and highly convicting, article. I pray that those of you engaged in evangelism will take this matter to heart:

“For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel” (Ezra 7:10).

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

One of the greatest joys and privileges in my life is to fellowship and serve with, disciple, encourage, and learn from other biblical open-air preachers. I care a great deal for this relatively small subculture within the Body of Christ. They are my spiritual fathers, brothers, and sons. They are my comrades in arms. They are my patrol car partners. I know that many in this family would do anything for me; and I would do anything for them. I love these folks.

I want to do something for them, now. I want to call them to a greater level of maturity.”

Read the the remainder of the article here.

Roman Catholic cardinal claims Adam and Eve were a mythology.

Below is the article from The Australian:


AUSTRALIA’S Cardinal George Pell has described the biblical story of Adam and Eve as a sophisticated myth used to explain evil and suffering rather than a scientific truth.

Cardinal Pell last night appeared on the ABC’s Q&A program, where he was debating British evolutionary biologist and atheist Richard Dawkins.

Cardinal Pell said humans “probably” evolved from Neanderthals but it was impossible to say exactly when there was a first human. “But we have to say if there are humans, there must have been a first one,” he said.

According to Genesis, God created Adam and Eve as the first man and woman.

Asked by journalist Tony Jones if he believed in the existence of an actual Garden of Eden with an Adam and Eve, Cardinal Pell said it was not a matter of science but rather a beautiful mythological account.

“It’s a very sophisticated mythology to try to explain the evil and the suffering in the world,” he said.

“It’s certainly not a scientific truth. And it’s a religious story told for religious purposes.”

Cardinal Pell argued that the “great atheist movements” of Hitler and Stalin were the personification of social Darwinism.

“It’s the struggle for survival, the strong take what they can, and the weak give what they must and there’s nothing to restrain them.” he said. “And we’ve seen that in the two great atheist movements of the last century.”

Professor Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, rejected the notion as “ridiculous”.

He said Stalin was an atheist and Hitler was not, and they each perpetrated their acts for different reasons.

Towards the end of the debate, the head of the Catholic Church in Australia appeared to lament his struggle to promote Christ.

“My life would be much easier if I didn’t have to go into bat for . . . Christian principles,” he said.

Cardinal Pell then mused that he sometimes wondered if he should regret his life’s work, before asserting: “No, no.”

Sola Scriptura (72)

bible page . . . so much the more also Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant. The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently.Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.

-Hebrews 7:22-27

Sermon of the Week: “The Flood” by Voddie Baucham

We’ve seen Veggie Tales versions of the great flood, talking about the love of God on Noah and his family, everyone having a fun time with the animals and the water. The Scripture is very clear – the flood came upon the Earth (the whole planet) because the Lord (Creator, Judge, and sustainer of ALL things) judged mankind for his sin.

Far from being a nice, fun story for children, the tale of Noah’s ark is a sober reminder of the consequences of sin – no less so than Sodom and Gomorrah. What awaits all whose name is not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life is foreshadowed by the fire that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah and the flood that destroyed all life on the surface of the Earth, save eight persons and animals on the ark.

But for those who are loved and saved by the grace of God, we have this promise which cannot be broken: “There is, therefore, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1) Do not sweep away the lesson of God’s wrath on sinners (not their sin – their persons) because it is so difficult for our human souls to accept. Do not lose heart because God is righteous and His judgment is sure – as are His promises to His chosen ones. Rejoice if your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life and worship God because of His mercy on the redeemed and for His judgment on the wicked, as do the angels in Heaven.

Listen here to The Flood.

Christians Are We Ready?

Maybe I am overstating the obvious here, but the Christian church has lost a lot of ground with regards to homosexuality. I’m not talking about on the legislative or protest front, I’m talking about in our preaching and teaching of the gospel. We are losing and the culture is looking at us as old, fuddy-duddies who simply haven’t got a clue.

In truth, I have to admit, when it came to discussing homosexuality, this was an area I just stayed out of. I simply believed I was going to get steam rolled if I ever tried to talk about it, so it just didn’t seem worth it. And it’s not like there isn’t evidence to support this. How many videos have we seen of Christians being escorted by police away from homosexual events or neighborhoods. The animosity from the homosexual community toward Christians is pretty well documented. So honestly, I felt justified in staying away from the matter.

But I realize now that I have done a disservice to the gospel. In fact, I would wager that I have sinned by unilaterally deciding to never deal with the issue. I say this because I never bothered to dig into scripture and learn how to defend what God teaches on this matter. I never learned how to explain how homosexuality was still wrong while eating shrimp was fine. I never learned how to preach the gospel compassionately and lovingly to a person who was struggling to understand how their attractions could be an affront to the God who created him. I simply just didn’t want to do it.

Now, all one has to do is peruse social media and blogging sites to see the prevailing attitude among our culture. Young people have no clue what the Bible says about homosexuality. And what little they think they know is grossly wrenched out of context. But the sad truth is that many Christians know less about this issue, biblically speaking, than those whose voices are being the agent of change in our culture. We simply don’t know how to defend the faith, and we look like fools when we try. So the culture throws the out of context verses at us, along with emotionally charged rhetoric, and we either respond with half thought answers, or we fold under the pressure. The result is that immorality grows unabated and the church loses more influence everyday.

So how do we address this? Well, it certainly isn’t going to be through protests, legislation and lawsuits. Just watch the evening news to see how well that battle is going. What’s worse, because there is no gospel centeredness in such efforts, all we appear to be are hate mongering jerks who want everyone to do things our way.

I believe that we as a church must first start by educating ourselves in the scriptures. And this means doing a lot of hermeneutical homework. We have to understand the passages of scripture, and their contexts, with regard to homosexuality. We also have to understand the passages the world loves to use to point out the so called hypocrisy in what we obey (such as the prohibitions to the Jews to wearing blended fabrics or eating shellfish). We have to understand for ourselves the differences between moral and civil laws and know what it is Christ really said about marriage. If we don’t take the time to do this individually, we will be ill prepared for any conversation that comes up. Incidentally, a good resource on this, which has prompted me to reconsider my involvement, is Dr. James White’s response to Matthew Vines (a young homosexual who spoke at a church regarding homosexuality not being sinful). Dr. White spent five hours on his webcast dissecting Mr. Vines’ speech and addressing the very issues we see being brought up today. He has made this response available as a download. You can find it on the main page at www.aomin.org. Please consider downloading and listening to this resource.

Once we have spent the time learning what the Bible really says, we need to start taking this out into the world to share. And I don’t mean go on some holy crusade to lash out at people on websites or get into arguments with people at protest rallies. I simply mean that as we talk with people, as we share the gospel, be prepared to answer this matter biblically. When the subject comes up with friends, relatives and co-workers (trust me, it will), give loving and compassionate answers straight from God’s word. Also, let us discuss this matter within our own homes. Face it, our husbands, wives and children are being exposed to this everyday. All you have to do is turn on the evening news and it’s right there. We have to raise them up in the scriptures so that they too will have a firm foundation to stand on.

Finally, let us be about our Father’s business of preaching the gospel at every single opportunity we have. Let us do so with great love and compassion, knowing that we too are sinners, but have been saved by the grace of Christ alone. While it is very easy to look at the agenda of the homosexual lobby and become angry, let us never forget that those lobbies contain hundreds and thousands of lost souls desperately in need of the gospel.

We have lost so much ground because, as a church, we have not invested the time to learn the right answers. We have lashed out angrily, we have given weak answers that toppled with a mere shove, or we have cowered into our philosophical corners and let the issue march right by. Yet, we serve a great and powerful God! His gospel is the power of salvation to all mankind! Let us not retreat in fear, let us not strike out in anger, but let us proclaim the truth to all mankind in love so that sinners might be saved. In doing, we might just change the attitude of our culture because people will be getting saved and led by the Spirit. Let us engage the culture and let us stand on God’s word alone.

The Papacy is The Antichrist!

The London Baptist Confession of 1689 and the Westminster Confession both identify the office of Pope, within the Roman Catholic Church, as antichrist. Many modern evangelicals have lost sight of the reason for The Reformation and think Vatican II brought Rome closer to Protestant soteriology. This is a sadly mistaken conclusion, as Rome has never refuted The Council Of Trent, which proclaims damnation on all who hold to salvation by grace alone by faith alone in Christ alone. To this day, Rome proclaims an infused grace from their false Christ that empowers the Catholic to work his spiritual birth by his own efforts.

Below is a snapshot of the Preface to a 50 page booklet by J.A. Wylie wherein he documents the biblical case that proves the perspective in the two confessions noted above. The complete booklet can be found here. May the blood-bought saints of the living God stand firm on His Word, for the glory of the Lord Jesus.

Would You Please Watch This and Consider Sharing It?

In recent weeks, I have been making efforts to effectively use social media to share the gospel with people online. While my efforts are meager, I pray that God would bless them and perhaps lead even one person to salvation through them. To that end, would you please take the time to watch the video below and share it with someone you know? I pray that this simple message would cause people to stop and think about where they stand with God. Thank you.

The attack on fathers.

PX001126 Stupid. Lazy. Uninvolved. Ignorant. Timid. Detached. Neurotic. Weak. Powerless. Unreliable. Ineffectual. Irresponsible.

What do all these words have in common? They are all descriptions of how men and fathers are depicted in today’s Western culture.

Television is a great example of the problem. Whether it’s Archie Bunker from All in the Family, Al Bundy from Married With Children, George Castanza from Seinfeld, Peter Griffin from Family Guy, or Homer Simpson from The Simpsons men are often portrayed as fools and inferior to not only their wives, but to their own children as well. And this isn’t even considering the latest onslaught of one-parent homes (homes absent of any father), and those normalizing homosexuality. These trends have been increasing every year and it seems to show no sign of stopping.

The problem is especially pervasive in shows geared toward children as Hollywood and the current culture is hell-bent on turning the hearts of the children away from their parents–especially their fathers.

If you still need convincing, turn on Nickelodeon or The Disney Channel and watch how men are depicted. It won’t take long for you to see what I mean. Even the commercials feed into this distortion of manhood. In so many cases all authority figures are depicted as incompetent including teachers and police officers, but none are so marginalized as fathers.

Mothers are depicted as much more capable of navigating through life than their incompetent spouses, but even they take a back seat when it comes to the kids themselves. Watch these same channels and observe how the kids are depicted. They’re the ones in control, who are running the show, making all of the important decisions, saving the world, and doing it all with zero or minimal input from their parents–especially that detached lump on the couch they call dad.

William Leith recently wrote an eye-opening piece in England’s Daily Mail in which he asked Why Do All My Son’s Books Tell Him All Men Are Useless? I highly encourage you to read the article; here are some excerpts:

“A recent academic study confirmed that men – particularly fathers – are under-represented in almost all children’s books. And when they do appear, like the fathers in Gorilla and Zoo, they are often withdrawn, or obsessed with themselves, or just utterly ineffectual.”

Leith continues:

“Why had this never bothered me? Because it’s all around us, everywhere we look. For years, men in our stories – not just for children, but adults, too – have been losing their authority. Not just years – decades. It’s crept up on us and now it’s everywhere. Remember when movie stars were strong and decisive? That was a long time ago now: John Wayne, Gary Cooper, Errol Flynn. Then came a new, softer type – Cary Grant and James Stewart were strong, yes, but against a background of self-doubt. And then came Jack Lemmon, Dustin Hoffman, Woody Allen, Bill Murray, Kevin Spacey – neurotic, bumbling, deeply flawed anti-heroes.”

Now I’ll readily admit that there are many, many men today who refuse to grow up (they’re known as Rejuveniles), but the situation begs the question: Is our culture’s entertainment merely reflecting the problem of the modern American male, or are these men actually the product of their culture’s entertainment?

_________________________________________________________________________________

For an absolutely wonderful story in which the father is refreshingly portrayed positively, I cannot recommend enough the book A Basket of Flowers; it’s one of my favorites.

See also:

How to make your husband a false convert and cause your kids to reject the Christian faith

Working moms

False Teachers

Several years ago, my wife took up the job of organizing the library of the church we were members of. She found some material that looked questionable and asked me to help her figure out which authors should be put in the closet on the “heresy shelf”.

I spent several weeks reading books and researching popular authors and developed a “cheat sheet” of false teachers and a sample of the heresy they taught. Below is a screen shot, the file (6 pages) can be downloaded here.

While I hope this is useful, please note that it is not up to date – some of the newer false teachers this site has brought to light are not included. But the people on this list are behind most of the folks now popular that we should be aware of.

Be on your guard, for the deceiver prowls around like a lion looking for his next meal. A little leaven leavens the whole lump – so do not buy the lie that you should “chew up the meat and spit out the bones.” Test everything – hold to that which is good. When you determine a man (or a woman) to be a false teacher, from such, turn away.

Thabiti Anyabwile on the altar call.

The following article, What About Altar Calls?, is from Thabiti Anyabwile:

I’m sometimes asked by people why we don’t do “altar calls” at our services. Like the people who ask the question, the churches in my personal background pretty much all practiced “altar calls” at the conclusion of a sermon or service. I’ve seen them done in very poor fashion, and I’ve seen some pastors be really clear about the gospel, repentance, faith, and the fact that “coming forward” does not save. I date my own conversion to the preaching of Exodus 32, which concluded with an altar call.

So, why don’t we practice “altar calls”? I don’t think the pastor who practices an “invitation” at the end of a sermon is in sin, but he may not be acting wisely either. This list of reasons, compiled by Pastor Ryan Kelly of Desert Springs Church, is a pretty good summation of some of my thinking (HT: Z).

1. The altar call is simply and completely absent from the pages of the N.T.

2. The altar call is historically absent until the 19th century, and its use at that time (via Charles Finney) was directly based upon bad theology and a man-centered, manipulative methodology.

3. The altar call very easily confuses the physical act of “coming forward” with the spiritual act of “coming to Christ.” These two can happen simultaneously, but too often people believe that coming to Christ is going forward (and vice-versa).

4. The altar call can easily deceive people about the reality of their spiritual state and the biblical basis for assurance. The Bible never offers us assurance on the ground that we “went forward.”

5. The altar call partially replaces baptism as the means of public profession of faith.

6. The altar call can mislead us to think that salvation (or any official response to God’s Word) happens primarily on Sundays, only at the end of the service, and only “up front.”

7. The altar call can confuse people regarding “sacred” things and “sacred” places, as the name “altar call” suggests.

8. The altar call is not sensitive to our cautious and relational age where most people come to faith over a period of time and often with the interaction of a good friend.

9. The altar call is often seen as “the most important part of the service”, and this de-emphasizes the truly more important parts of corporate worship which God has prescribed (preaching, prayer, fellowship, singing).

10. God is glorified to powerfully bless the things He has prescribed (preaching, prayer, fellowship, singing), not the things we have invented. We should always be leery of adding to God’s prescriptions for His corporate worship.

Numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 10 of Ryan’s list are the most compelling reasons in my opinion. These would seem very serious objections for anyone who takes seriously the idea that our Christian lives and gatherings should conform to what the NT commands, models, and prohibits. Perhaps I would add an 11th: The “altar call” teaches the congregation to evaluate the “success” or “effectiveness” of the ministry on outward, visible actions and results.

Further, the need to be pastorally careful and sensitive with the souls of men needing to repent and believe couldn’t be more urgent. So, anything that obscures the reality of God the Holy Spirit’s work in conversion and the necessity of repentance and faith must be regarded–at best–a practice with potential to undermine the very work we’re giving our lives to.

Do people “respond” to the word of God at our services? They do. And we give them a number of ways they may follow up on what they’ve heard, from talking to an elder or Christian friend after the service, to scheduling an appointment during the week, to letting us know they would like us to visit with them, and so on. One thing I appreciate about our approach is that it allows us to meet, listen, question, encourage, teach and pray in a much more thorough way. By God’s grace we’re seeing people converted and profess their faith in baptism as the Spirit opens their hearts. We’re not perfect by any means. But I do hope we’re being faithful to the scripture’s commands, examples, and restrictions.

What do you think about Kelly’s list? Are you “for” or “against” and why? Would you add anything to or challenge anything on the list?

A video on the LDS by the BBC.

This was a well done piece on Mormonism by the BBC.

Although the impetus for the documentary was presidential candidate Mitt Romney, this video uses his potential presidency as a springboard to delve into Mormonism’s seedy underbelly (unfortunately they never mention such morsels as Mormonism’s racism and blasphemous doctrines like Blood Atonement, paying for your own sins in Hell, and their god having physical relations with Mary to conceive Jesus . . . just to name a few).

Sermon of the Week: “Marriage” by Voddie Baucham.

Regarding the highly visible tragic failure and death of Joe Paterno, having been disqualified by his actions and those of his subordinates, Baucham asks if Paterno would have been disqualified if he had been an adulterer or abusive husband or derelict father.  No profession in our culture disqualifies a man for his failure as a husband or father – except that of the church elder.

The man of God, called to serve His church as an undershepherd, is held to a higher standard than any other man. Further – the elders of a church must also be exemplary in these roles to be qualified! Not perfect – such a false human standard cannot relate with compassion with sinful people.

We learn from Ephesians 5 that family is important because of its portrayal of Christ and His people. To live a life worthy of the gospel, we must be faithful husbands and fathers before we can be faithful preachers and pastors.

You must listen to whole thing – it’s only 40 minutes. The message really takes off around 16 minutes in. Some humor with a hammer wrapped in love.  Voddie gives a glorious word picture of the covenant of marriage, and the provision for how we do this. MP3 download here.