| ANXIOUS sinners in CONTROVERSY with God|
There is a term I hear used from time to time that I wish to dwell upon for a bit and that term is "Spurious Conversions." The word [i]spurious[/i] can mean fake or false, but the way in which I wish to look at it is defined as "[i]apparently[/i] but [u]not actually[/u] valid". It sounds like an abusive term, but I don't want it to be. I want to look seriously at the issue of folk making 'decisions' for Christ that are shallow and half-hearted at best.
C.G. Finney has many good things to say when it comes to answering our often asked question, "Why do so many people backslide?" The short answer is simple, "They never 'forward-slid'". What do you mean by that? Well, there are many prayers prayed and many folk making 'decisions' but there are few genuine conversions if we use 1 John and other like passages as our measure. Finney believed that folk that do not come to Christ with their whole heart have a reason. That reason is that they are in [i]controversy[/i] with God over some issue. Maybe one simple thing or maybe many larger things. The fact is the person refuses to submit to God as best as they know how. The Holy Spirit puts His finger on something and the person rebels against God. Others simply have no idea at all what they are even doing as they are trying to come to Christ.
I am coming to believe that one of the first things that is going to have to change if we are ever going to rightly present the Gospel of Jesus Christ again is that we are going to have to STOP being in such a big hurry all the time. What's the rush? Do you have somewhere to be or something? Where are you going? I'm not referring to the anxious sinner, I'm talking about the preacher or minister. Too often folk are pressed to make decisions and don't have even a clue what they are deciding. They get a 'partial' Gospel and are asked to respond to that 'partial Gospel'. If your going to preach the Gospel, for God's sake give it to them in whole and not in part. Would you take a half dose of chemo drugs and expect it to have an effect? Of course not. Then why do we hand out 1/8, 1/4, and 1/2 doses of the Gospel?
I was in a large meeting once on evangelism in which the statement was made, "don't dwell too much on the 'negative' stuff." I look back on that and wonder, "What negative stuff?" You mean the part about taking up your cross and denying yourself? You mean the part of dying to our Old Man? You mean the part about your life being bought with a price and that you will no longer be your own? What negative part? Away with it all! I took 'Evangelism Explosion" for college credit mind you and now I have to all but renounce the whole bit. Why? Because [i]my class[/i] seemed to focus so much on getting a person to say the 'sinners prayer.' What laziness? What refusal to go through the process of truly presenting the Gospel as best as possible? Again, what's the big hurry? What are they so afraid of? Afraid if they really present the Gospel something might happen?
I was at Jurassic Park Sunday and asked the folk if anyone wanted prayer. A man took me aside and said to me, "DEMONS ARE CHASING ME- PRAY FOR ME!" That didn't really rattle me because I have heard this type of thing before. Immediately I began to share the Gospel with him. "I have read the bible through a couple of times" he said. I took up then the issue of [u]total surrender[/u] to God. I reminded him that many folk come to Christ and yet refuse to deal with the controversy that God has with them. They refuse to submit themselves to God when He makes a demand on them. "I'm not a prophet" I said. "I can't see into your heart". "But every man or woman whom God is dealing with knows what the Lord desires of them if the truly understand the Gospel." I went on for about 20 minutes it seemed. And then came the honesty, "I'm just not ready to surrender to God all my life just yet." I then explained that it was essential to be submitted to God in order to be delivered from the demonic forces that keep pestering him. Can a man rebel against God and have power over sin and the devil at the same time? Can a man resist the Holy Ghost and the devil all at once? I trow not.
I reminded this man that tomorrow will be harder than today to surrender to God. I asked him to ponder these things as he was in quietness at bedtime. I laid it all on the line. Oh, I could have had him repeat after me. But, no doubt, he had done that many times. But had he dealt with the [i]controversy[/i] that God had with him?
Maybe you are reading this and God has been putting His finger on something in your life and you refuse to submit to Him. Let me tell you, you will never go anywhere with God until you are willing to submit to Him. What is it in your life? Maybe it is nothing at all. Maybe there is something. You try to pray and it pops up and you [i]know[/i] the Lord is dealing with you. You keep telling yourself it will be OK and you press it back down, but you never feel right and you don't have peace with God. The rich young ruler was such a man. God put His finger on the [u]controversy[/u] He had with that young man.
I am persuaded to believe that more spurious conversions exist in our world today for this one simple fact that when the Holy Spirit put His finger on the controversy(s), the person did not [u]respond rightly[/u]. They may have prayed a prayer or came forward or whatever; but they went away in rebellion against God and God did not honor anything that they did. What is worse is that someone heard the minister say, "Now if you prayed that prayer and meant it with all your heart, you are now Born Again..." God help us! This is the difference between modern evangelism and Finney's methods. Not that his ways are perfect, but if we could extrapolate some of these timeless truths from his works we had found many missing pieces we so desperately need in evangelism today.
Robert Wurtz II
| 2006/8/29 8:10||Profile|
| Re: ANXIOUS sinners in CONTROVERSY with God|
[b]DECISIONS FOR CHRIST?[/b]
I wish to take up this point again as to me it is fundamental to understanding [i]why[/i] folk do not bear fruit after making a 'decision' for Christ. Yet I ask, is that the objective? Is the objective to press a person to make a decision for Christ? Or is the objective to make disciples? Is the objective anything short of regeneration and our total submission to Jesus Christ? Is the objective anything short of unconditional surrender and a handing over of ourselves completely to God?
When an anxious sinner trembles before God it is not enough for them to 'desire' to be saved. They must be 'willing' to be saved and there is a great difference. In other words the person has to be 'converted'. Conversion is the process by which a person turns from serving themself to serving Christ as the result of responding rightly to the truth made effectual by the Holy Spirit. The process as we see repeated in the Book of Acts is that folk [i]believe[/i] and [u]turn[/u] to the Lord. The Greek word is Epistrepho and it means to turn or to return. Some examples include:
Repent ye therefore, and be [u]converted[/u], that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:19)
And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, and [u]turned[/u] to the Lord. (Acts 9:35)
And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and [u]turned[/u] unto the Lord. (Acts 11:21)
And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should [u]turn from these vanities unto the living God[/u], which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: (Acts 14:15)
Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are [u]turned[/u] to God: (Acts 15:19)
To open their eyes, and [u]to turn them[/u] from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. (Acts 26:18)
Perhaps we can gain additional insight into conversion by adding another few passages to the list:
But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent [u]and[/u] turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. (26:20)
For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be [u]converted[/u], and I should heal them. (28:27)
Acts 28:27 is perhaps the most telling. This is a people who [i]refuse[/i] to submit to the Holy Spirit as He brings the Truth to bear upon the heart and mind. The people don't want to be healed of their sinfulness. They don't want to understand. Why? Because if they listened they might understand and if they understood they might [u]change their mind[/u] and if they changed their mind they might [i]turn[/i] from themselves and [u]TO[/u] Christ. This is systematic sabotage of ones own salvation.
Yet, one has to have opportunity to hear the truth before they can resist that truth. They have to hear an accurate and full presentation of the Gospel before they can rightly understand. What good does it do to tell only enough Gospel to acquire a superficial agreement? Should not the person have a fair and reasonable idea of what they are actually agreeing to before they decide what they will do? Have we given them an accurate truncated version of the 'fine print' or are we as crooked salesmen who are just trying to seal a deal? Again, what's the big hurry? Spend time and teach the Gospel. Folk need to understand to a responable level what they are doing in coming to Christ.
Acts 26:20 says the people repented and then 'turned' to God. Repent is here metanoeo and means to change ones mind. they heard the message and opened their ears and eyes and understood. They dealt rightly with their understanding and changed their mind. They could have made excuses at this point, but they did not. They changed their mind and they turned to God.
Finney states along this line; [i]Conversion (turning to God) is (the same as) [u]yielding[/u] to the truth. Therefore, the more the truth can be brought to bear on the mind, other things being equal, so much the more probable is it that the individual will be converted. Unless the truth is brought to bear upon him, it is certain he will not be converted. If it be brought to bear, it is not absolutely certain that it will be effectual, but the probability is in proportion to the extent to which the truth is brought to bear.[/i] This is why unction is important as well as the [i]leading[/i] of the Holy Spirit. It does not have to be LOUD to be brought to bear. It does not have to be HARSH. It don't necessarily need to be AGRESSIVE, though at times it might be agressive and loud.
[i]The great design of dealing with an anxious sinner is to clear up all his difficulties and darkness, do away with all his errors, sap the foundation of his self-righteous hopes, and sweep away every vestige of comfort that he can find in himself. There is often much difficulty in all this, and much instruction is required. Sinners often cling with a death- grasp to their false dependencies. The last place to which a sinner ever betakes himself for relief is to Jesus Christ. Sinners had rather be saved in any other way in the world. They had rather make any sacrifice, go to any expense, or endure any suffering, than just throw themselves as guilty and lost rebels upon Christ alone for salvation. This is the very last way in which they are ever willing to be saved. It cuts up all their self-righteousness, and annihilates their pride and self-satisfaction so completely that they are exceedingly unwilling to adopt it. But it is as true in philosophy as it is in fact, that this is, after all, the only way in which a sinner could find relief.[/i] (C.G.F False Comfort To Sinners)
Robert Wurtz II
| 2006/8/30 8:30||Profile|
[b]REPEATING A PRAYER WHILE RESISTING THE HOLY GHOST[/b]
Scripture teaches us that God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. God is not 'slack' concerning His promises, but is long-suffering towards the lost. Steven places before us the primary sin of Israel in rejecting both the Prophets and the LORD, "[i]You do ALWAYS resist the Holy Ghost, as your fathers did, so do Ye.[/i]" the Holy Spirit strives with man to lead them to salvation. He has been working towards this end since before the foundation of the world. Long before we were born God anticipated our needs in full view of our decisions. The Holy Spirit began even then working to make provision for our salvation by setting before us some amount of light or revelation that we might respond to it and gain the more light.
God works on sinners to provide them with the requisite knowledge of their duty towards God in salvation. Yet, as our previous entry declares, they stop their ears and close their eyes. As Paris Reidhead stated, they have far more knowledge of God than he ever dreamed that they had. With their conscience as their constant companion they had been vexed from day to day had they not taken up measures with which to silence it. They shut themselves out of their own salvation and declare themselves to be the very greatest enemy of their own souls.
Charles G. Finney used to ask convicted sinners who were hesitating to turn to Christ, "Who would make the claim that God would be negligent on His part in the matter of salvation?" The truth is, folk get annoyed at the relentless pressing of the Holy Spirit upon them in troubling them and drawing them towards God. As Steven so rightly claimed, "They do always [u]resist[/u] the Holy Ghost." They try to quiet their conscience with a multitude of excuses, but they dare never suggest that God has not been diligent in leading them to repentance and faith. The FACT is, He has been on the job earnestly since before the beginning.
What a devilish thing? That man would concoct a means of leading a person to Christ apart from ceasing to resist the Holy Ghost? That just enough of the Gospel would be introduced unto them to immunize them to the real thing. Think on this for a moment. When a child gets an immunization shot he/she is receiving an inert form of the 'real' thing. This builds up immunity. So also, when folk get such a partial version of the scripture; just enough to make them believe they are saved, they go away delusioned and deceived. Imagine the Holy Spirit SHOUTING the controversy into their ears while the minister is saying "Repeat after me..." They are REPEATING and RESISTING at the same time!
I am finding more and more in personal one on one witnessing that folk are more honest than that usually. Folk will sooner walk away or simply tell you to your face, "I'm just not ready yet." I see men and women all the time who no doubt have prayed a many a prayer to get that meal or bed for the night. They have stood and recited a prayer for a sack lunch or a pair of socks and shoes. Many well meaning Christians take the Gospel in one hand and gift in the other and there is nothing wrong with that. The problem is that they lead the person to a Gospel that has no power to save or ANY real resemblace of the real thing. The person agrees with the minister- repeats a prayer and hears "Now brother you are saved!" God help us!
Sometimes I wonder if our times are not a lot like the days of Josiah. He rent his clothes when he heard the REAL Law. He set in motion radical steps to get back to the Book. I wonder how many of the elders grumbled at this 26 year old man as he swept through Israel like a one man wrecking crew rooting out wickedness. "We have been doing it 'this way' for decades, who do you think you are, Josiah?" The real question is, "Who do you think you are that you would tamper with the Gospel?"
I pray to God that these preachers have tampered with the Gospel out of sheer ignorance. Oh, my friend! I tremble to think what God will do with them if they have presumptiously changed the Gospel as others have changed the times and seasons. If this does not fit the category of one who "maketh a lie" I don't know what does? Oh what trembling and fear! Oh, how the earth itself will flee from Him! That the same generation that has so altered right and wrong until men could marry men would likewise take hold of the Gospel and suggest that a man can repent and resist the Holy Ghost at the same time.
Robert Wurtz II
| 2006/8/31 8:07||Profile|
[b]THE FIRST STEP TOWARDS 'PERSONAL REVIVAL'[/b]
The souls of men grow lean and the hearts grow hard as the Holy Spirit deals day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year for a believer to return to his/her commitment that Christ be the supreme authority in their life. Sin becomes the more attractive as believers resist the Holy Ghost. Self regains power in the life and soon the path to disaster is well laid out.
Personal revival I have found is generally the result of God starting the process. A message is preached and God moves on the heart or maybe even something all together different, like an unexplainable urgency for the times. The 'urgency' comes and suddenly the believer comes to themselves and sees where they are as opposed to where they are 'supposed' to be. This is God giving the revelation. This is Divine intervention.
What will it take to cause a generation of believers to leave off and resolve the controversies they have with God? How long will a people try to see revival when God has clearly stated that we are to leave our gift at the altar and go and right our wrongs? Can we regard iniquity in our hearts and the Lord hear our prayers for revival?
We need God to take hold of man's conscience once again and steer him towards genuine repentance. A repentance so great that the person renounces their lukewarm life and determines whole heartedly to the cleansing fire of the Holy Spirit. Being full of the Holy Ghost is the key to everything in our Christian lives. It is the 'antidote', it is the 'remedy', the 'balm' in Gilead and the 'eye salve.' It is the one guaranteed solution that strangely seems to be perpetually OFF THE TABLE.
Lord, can you send revival and not make me FULL of the Holy Ghost? Please let me keep back a part of myself for me. I don't want to surrender 100%. Let me have just a crumb of myself? I think of the saying, "Almost, but yet so far." ALMOST, thou persuadest me to be FULL of the Holy Ghost. ALMOST, thou persuadest me to submit 100% to God and clear up all controversies with Him. ALMOST, persuadest thou me to lay aside every weight and the sin that keeps besetting me. We need not to be ALMOST, but ALL TOGETHER full of the Holy Ghost living in total submission to Him.
As if God is not willing and ready to come? Shall we charge Him for being slack concerning His promise? If we have not it is because we ask not and if we receive not it is because we ask 'amiss'. When the Holy Ghost comes in to FILL us He is coming to clean house! He is coming to set the place in order; to sweep and garninsh it and fill it with His glory. Shall He come in whilst we hesitate at the door? Shall He come in as we halt between two opinions? We have to resolve to be totally obedient to Christ.
Many people will never be filled because they refuse to say, "Lord not my will but thine be done." they want to keep back a part of themselves. They supposed that when the LORD bought the Temple He had not purchased a few choice rooms. Who ever heard of such a thing? Many will never be filled because they refuse to deal with the controversy that the Holy Spirit wants dealt with. They will pray until eternity and God is waiting on THEIR move. The ball is in their court no matter how diligent they are to pray for revival in an attempt to stroke the ball back on to God's side. If you have a controversy with God and need revival, it is YOUR move; the LORD is waiting on you not the other way around. The LORD has done all He will do, He will not FORCE renewal and revival on anyone. He will not FORCE you and I to be FULL of the Holy Ghost. We have to be willing to do what it will take to see revival and [u]the first step is always 100% submission to Christ.[/u]
Robert Wurtz II
| 2006/9/1 23:22||Profile|
Robert, I had to write my encouragement. These posts are so good, so true, and go straight to the issue at hand. Your insight of the tampered gospel is quite accurate. It wouldn't be so grievous if this formularized decision-pressing gospel wasn't being preached in every denomination everywhere. It can be overwhelming!
The merchants who attempt to sell Christ to the lost (and I say merchants because 'accepting Jesus as your personal savior' has literally been reduced to repeating a prayer as the means of signing along the dotted line to close the deal) often remind me of used car salesmen - they tell you what you want to hear and [i]only[/i] what you want to hear, for fear that you'll walk off the car lot before they can close the deal. Jesus is portrayed as the dust pan of life. Just sweep your messed-up life onto Jesus (and Jesus [b]does[/b] fix messed-up lives and heal broken hearts, but this isn't the reason He came to earth), and people just end up adding Jesus to their bag of goodies in life. It's so sad, so depolorable, so tragic!
The person who has said a generic sinner's prayer and received a pat on the back with the ignorant mantra of "Jesus will never leave you nor forsake you", in my humble opinion, is now in an [b]extremely[/b] precarious situation. It would have been better to have never exposed him to the tampered gospel. A person like this becomes innoculated and "sermon-proof", sealed for the slaughter, while anticipating heaven. God have mercy on the commission-gluttonous salesmen (the sales perks are but another conversion 'notch' in their belt) who stoop to fatal measures to sell their tainted product. Ravenhill said something to the fact of giving the people a "shot" so they can have a painless voyage to hell.
Paul Frederick West
| 2006/9/2 0:29||Profile|