Arhive pe categorii: Arminianism

Rugaciunea Arminianului

Ati auzit o multime de predici Arminiene, indraznesc sa spun; dar nu ati auzit niciodata o rugaciune Arminiana – fiindca sfintii in rugaciune sunt ca unul singur in cuvant, fapta si gand.  Un Arminian pe genunchi s-ar ruga disperat, ca un Calvinist.  El nu se poate ruga despre vointa libera; nu mai este loc pentru ea.  Imaginati-va cum ar suna o astfel de rugaciune: „Doamne, iti multumesc ca nu sunt ca si acei sarmani Calvinisti increzuti.  Doamne, am fost nascut cu o vointa libera glorioasa; am fost nascut cu puterea prin care ma pot intoarce singur la Tine; am profitat de  harul meu.  Daca toata lumea ar face la fel cu harul lor asa cum am facut eu, toti ar putea fi mantuiti.  Doamne, stiu ca Tu nu ne influentezi sa vrem, daca noi nu vrem.  Tu dai har tuturor; unii nu profita de el, dar eu nu sunt asa.  Sunt multi care vor merge in iad si care au fost cumparati cu sangele lui Isus ca si mine; si ei au primit Duhul Sfant la fel ca mine; au avut o sansa la fel de mare si au fost binecuvantati la fel ca mine.  Nu harul tau ne-a facut diferiti; stiu ca a contat mult, dar eu am luat decizia; m-am folosit de ce mi s-a dat in vreme ce altii nu au facut asa – aceasta este diferenta dintre mine si ei.”

Aceea este o rugaciune a diavolului, fiindca nimeni altcineva nu s-ar ruga asa.  Ah!  Atunci cand predica si vorbesc in cuvinte bine cantarite, se poate sa fie doctrina gresita; dar cand ajung la rugaciune adevarul iese la iveala; nu se pot abtine.  Daca un om vorbeste in cuvinte bine cantarite, poate vorbi corect gramatical; dar cand vorbeste repede, vechile regionalisme ale zonei sale in care s-a nascut ies la iveala.

Te intreb din nou, ai intalnit vreodata un crestin care sa spuna: „Am venit la Cristos fara puterea Duhului?” Daca ai intalnit un astfel de om, poti sa-i spui fara ezitare: „Domnule draga, eu cred asta intru totul – si mai cred ca ati plecat de acolo tot fara puterea Duhului, si ca nu cunoasteti nimic despre asa ceva, si vad ca sunteti plin de fiere amara, si in lanturile faradelegii.” Aud oare vreun crestin zicand: „L-am cautat pe Isus inainte ca El sa ma caute pe mine; eu am venit la Duhul si nu Duhul la mine?” Nu, dragii mei; suntem obligati, fiecare dintre noi, sa ne punem mana pe inima si sa spunem –

 

„Harul m-a invatat a ma ruga

Si mi-a facut ochii sa planga

Harul m-a pastrat pana in asta zi

Si nu ma va lasa.”

 

Exista cineva aici – unul singur – barbat sau femeie, tanar sau batran care sa poata spune „Eu l-am cautat pe Dumnezeu inainte ca El sa ma caute pe mine?” Nu; chiar si voi, ce sunteti putin Arminieni, veti canta –

 

„Il iubesc pe Isus –

Ca-ntai El m-a iubit.”

 

Citat preluat din -Vointa libera o sclava de C.H.Spurgeon

http://www.abaptistvoice.com/Romana/articole/vointa%20libera.har.htm

ANOTHER GOSPEL by A. W. Pink

ANOTHER GOSPEL
by A. W. Pink

S
ATAN IS NOT AN INITIATOR but an imitator. God has an only begotten Son–the Lord Jesus, and so has Satan–„the son of Perdition” (2 Thess. 2:3). There is a Holy Trinity, and there is likewise a Trinity of Evil (Rev. 20: 10). Do we read of the „children of God,” so also we read of „the children of the wicked one” (Matt. 13:38). Does God work in the former both to will and to do of His good pleasure, then we are told that Satan is „the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2). Is there a „mystery of godliness” (1 Tim. 3:16), so also is there a „mystery of iniquity” (2 Thess. 2:7). Are we told that God by His angels „seals” His servants in their foreheads (Rev. 7:3), so also, we learn that Satan by his agents sets a mark in the foreheads of his devotees (Rev. 13:16). Are we told that „the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God” (1 Cor. 2:10), then Satan also provides his „deep things.” (See Greek of Rev. 2:24.) Did Christ perform miracles, so also can Satan (2 Thess. 2:9). Is Christ seated upon a throne, so is Satan (Rev. 2:13–Gr.). Has Christ a Church, then Satan has his „synagogue” (Rev. 2:9). Is Christ the Light of the world, then so is Satan himself „transformed into an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14). Did Christ appoint „apostles,” then Satan has his apostles, too (2 Cor. 11:13). And this leads us to consider „The Gospel of Satan.”
Satan is the arch-counterfeiter. The Devil is now busy at work in the same field in which the Lord sowed the good seed. He is seeking to prevent the growth of the wheat by another plant, the tares, which closely resembles the wheat in appearance. In a word, by a process of imitation he is aiming to neutralize the Work of Christ. Therefore, as Christ has a Gospel, Satan has a gospel too; the latter being a clever counterfeit of the former. So closely does the gospel of Satan resemble that which it parodies. Multitudes of the unsaved are deceived by it.
It is to this gospel of Satan the apostle refers when he says to the Galatians, „I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another, but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the Gospel of Christ:” (1:6, 7). This false gospel was being heralded even in the days of the apostle, and a most awful curse was called down upon those who preached it. The apostle continues, „But though we, or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” By the help of God we shall now endeavor to expound, or rather, expose, this false gospel.
The gospel of Satan is not a system of revolutionary principles, nor yet a program of anarchy. It does not promote strife and war, but aims at peace and unity. It seeks not to set the mother against her daughter nor the father against his son, but fosters the fraternal spirit whereby the human race is regarded as one great „brotherhood.” It does not seek to drag down the natural man, but to improve and uplift him. It advocates education and cultivation and appeals to „the best that is within us.” It aims to make this world such a comfortable and congenial habitat that Christ’s absence from it will not be felt and God will not be needed. It endeavors to occupy man so much with this world that he has no time or inclination to think of the world to come. It propagates the principles of self-sacrifice, charity and benevolence, and teaches us to live for the good of others, and to be kind to all. It appeals strongly to the carnal mind and is popular with the masses, because it ignores the solemn facts that by nature man is a fallen creature, alienated from the life of God, and dead in trespasses and sins, and that his only hope lies in being born again.
In contradistinction to the Gospel of Christ, the gospel of Satan teaches salvation by works. It inculcates justification before God on the ground of human merits. Its sacramental phrase is „Be good and do good”; but it fails to recognize that in the flesh there dwelleth no good thing. It announces salvation by character, which reverses the order of God’s Word–character by, as the fruit of, salvation. Its various ramifications and organizations are manifold. Temperance, Reform Movements, „Christian Socialist Leagues.” Ethical Culture Societies, „Peace Congresses” are all employed (perhaps unconsciously) in proclaiming this gospel of Satan–salvation by works. The pledge-card is substituted for Christ; social purity for individual regeneration, and politics and philosophy, for doctrine and godliness. The cultivation of the old man is considered more „practical” than the creation of a new man in Christ Jesus: whilst universal peace is looked for apart from the interposition and return of the Prince of Peace.
The apostles of Satan are not saloon-keepers and white-slave traffickers, but are for the most part ordained ministers. Thousands of those who occupy our modern pulpits are no longer engaged in presenting the fundamentals of the Christian Faith, but have turned aside from the Truth and have given heed unto fables. Instead of magnifying the enormity of sin and setting forth its eternal consequences, they minimize it by declaring that sin is merely ignorance or the absence of good. Instead of warning their hearers to „flee from the wrath to come” they make God a liar by declaring that He is too loving and merciful to send any of His own creatures to eternal torment. Instead of declaring that „without shedding of blood is no remission,” they merely hold up Christ as the great Exemplar and exhort their hearers to „follow in His steps.” Of them it must be said, „For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God” (Rom. 10.3). Their message may sound very plausible and their aim appear very praiseworthy, yet we read of them–„for such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves (imitating) into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore, it is no great thing (not to be wondered at) if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness, whose end shall be according to their works” (2 Cor. 11:13-15).
In addition to the fact that today hundreds of churches are without a leader who faithfully declares the whole counsel of God and presents His way of salvation, we also have to face the additional fact that the majority of people in these churches are very unlikely to learn the Truth for themselves. The family altar, where a portion of God’s Word was wont to be read daily is now, even in the homes of nominal Christians, largely a thing of the past. The Bible is not expounded in the pulpit and it is not read in the pew. The demands of this rushing age are so numerous, that the multitudes have little time and still less inclination to make preparation for the meeting with God. Hence the majority who are too indolent to search for themselves, are left at the mercy of those whom they pay to search for them; many of whom betray their trust by studying and expounding economic and social problems rather than the Oracles of God.
In Prov. 14:12 we read. „There is a way which seemeth right unto a man; but the end thereof are the ways of death.” This „way” which ends in „death” is the Devil’s Delusion–the gospel of Satan–a way of salvation by human attainment. It is a way which „seemeth right,” that is to say, it is presented in such plausible language that it appeals to the natural man: it is set forth in such a subtile and attractive manner, that it commends itself to the intelligence of its hearers. By virtue of the fact that it appropriates to itself religious terminology, sometimes appeals to the Bible for its support (whenever this suits its purpose), holds up before men lofty ideals, and is proclaimed by those who have graduated from our theological institutions, countless multitudes are decoyed and deceived by it.
The success of an illegitimate coiner depends largely upon how closely the counterfeit resembles the genuine article. Heresy is not so much the total denial of the truth as a perversion of it. That is why half a lie is always more dangerous than a complete repudiation. Hence, when the Father of Lies enters the pulpit it is not his custom to flatly deny the fundamental truths of Christianity, rather does he tacitly acknowledge them, and then proceed to give an erroneous interpretation and a false application. For example: he would not be so foolish as to boldly announce his disbelief in a personal God; he takes His existence for granted and then gives a false description of His character. He announces that God is the spiritual Father of all men, when the Scriptures plainly tell us that we are „the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:26), and that „as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God” (John 1:12). Further, he declares that God is far too merciful to ever send any member of the human race to Hell, when God Himself has said, „Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the Lake of Fire” (Rev. 20:15). Again; Satan would not be so foolish as to ignore the central figure of human history–the Lord Jesus Christ; on the contrary, his gospel acknowledges Him to be the best man that ever lived. Attention is drawn to His deeds of compassion and works of mercy, the beauty of His character and the sublimity of His teaching. His life is eulogized, but His vicarious Death is ignored; the all-important atoning work of the cross is never mentioned, whilst His triumphant and bodily resurrection from the grave is regarded as one of the credulities of a superstitious age. It is a bloodless gospel, and presents a crossless Christ. who is received not as God manifest in the flesh, but merely as the Ideal Man.
In 2 Cor. 4:3,4 we have a scripture which sheds much light upon our present theme. There we are told, „if our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world (Satan) hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God should shine unto them.” He blinds the minds of unbelievers through hiding the light of the Gospel of Christ, and he does this by substituting his own gospel. Appropriately is he designated „The Devil and Satan which deceiveth the whole world” (Rev. 12:9). In merely appealing to „the best that is within man,” and in simply exhorting him to „lead a nobler life” there is afforded a general platform upon which those of every shade of opinion can unite and proclaim this common message.
Again we quote Prov. 14: 12–„There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” It has been said with considerable truth that the way to Hell is paved with good intentions. There will be many in the Lake of Fire who commenced life with good intentions, honest resolutions and exalted ideals–those who were just in their dealings, fair in their transactions and charitable in all their ways; men who prided themselves in their integrity, but who sought to justify themselves before God by their own righteousness; men who were moral, merciful and magnanimous, but who never saw themselves as guilty, lost, hell-deserving sinners needing a Saviour. Such is the way which „seemeth right.” Such is the way that commends itself to the carnal mind and recommends itself to multitudes of deluded ones today. The Devil’s Delusion is that we can be saved by our own works, and justified before God by our own deeds; whereas, God tells us in His Word–„By grace are ye saved through faith . . . , not of works lest any man should boast.” And again. „Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us.”
A few years ago the writer became acquainted with one who was a lay preacher and an enthusiastic „Christian worker.” For over seven years this friend had been engaged in public preaching and religious activities, but from certain expressions and phrases he used, the writer doubted whether his friend was a „born again” man. When we began to question him, it was found that he was very imperfectly acquainted with the Scriptures and had only the vaguest conception of Christ’s Work for sinners. For a time we sought to present the way of salvation in a simple and impersonal manner and to encourage our friend to study the Word for himself, in the hope that if he were still unsaved God would be pleased to reveal the Saviour he needed. One night to our joy, the one who had been preaching the Gospel(?) for seven years, confessed that he had found Christ only the previous night. He acknowledged (to use his own words) that he had been presenting „the Christ ideal” but not the Christ of the Cross. The writer believes there are thousands like this preacher who, perhaps, have been brought up in Sunday School, taught about the birth, life, and teachings of Jesus Christ, who believe in the historicity of His person, who spasmodically endeavor to practice His precepts, and who think that that is all that is necessary for their salvation. Frequently, this class when they reach manhood go out into the world. encounter the attacks of atheists and infidels and are told that such a person as Jesus of Nazareth never lived. But the impressions of early days cannot be easily erased, and they remain steadfast in their declaration that they „believe in Jesus Christ.” Yet, when their faith is examined, only too often it is found that though they believe many things about Jesus Christ they do not really believe in Him. They believe with the head that such a person lived (and, because they believe this imagine that therefore they are saved), but they have never thrown down the weapons of their warfare against Him, yielded themselves to Him, nor truly believed with their heart in Him. The bare acceptance of an orthodox doctrine about the person of Christ without the heart being won by Him and the life devoted to Him, is another phase of that way „which seemeth right unto a man” but the end thereof are „the ways of death.” A mere intellectual assent to the reality of Christ’s person, and which goes no further, is another phase of the way which „seemeth right unto a man” but of which the end thereof „are the ways of death,” or, in other words, is another aspect of the gospel of Satan.
And now, where do you stand? Are you in the way which „seemeth right,” but which ends in death; or, are you in the Narrow Way which leadeth unto life? Have you truly forsaken the Broad Road which leadeth to death? Has the love of Christ created in your heart a hatred and horror of all that is displeasing to Him? Are you desirous that He „reign over” you? (Luke 19:14). Are you relying wholly on His righteousness and blood for your acceptance with God?
Those who are trusting to an outward form of godliness, such as baptism or „confirmation”; those who are religious because it is considered a mark of respectability; those who attend some Church or Chapel because it is the fashion to do so; and, those who unite with some Denomination because they suppose that such a step will enable them to become Christians, are in the way which „ends in death”–death spiritual and eternal. However pure our motives, however noble our intentions, however well-meaning our purposes, however sincere our endeavours, God will not accept us as His sons, until we accept His Son.
A yet more specious form of Satan’s gospel is to move preachers to present the atoning sacrifice of Christ and then tell their hearers that all God requires from them is to „believe” in His Son. Thereby thousands of impenitent souls are deluded into thinking they have been saved. But Christ said, „Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3). To „repent” is to hate sin, to sorrow over, to turn from it. It is the result of the Spirit’s making the heart contrite before God. None except a broken heart can savingly believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Again; thousands are deceived into supposing that they have „accepted Christ” as their „personal Saviour,” who have not first received Him as their LORD. The Son of God did not come here to save His people in their sin, but „from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). To be saved from sins, is to be saved from ignoring and despising the authority of God, it is to abandon the course of self-will and self-pleasing, it is to „forsake our way” (Isa. 55:7). It is to surrender to God’s authority, to yield to His dominion, to give ourselves over to be ruled by Him. The one who has never taken Christ’s „yoke” upon him, who is not truly and diligently seeking to please Him in all the details of his life, and yet supposes that he is „resting on the Finished Work of Christ’ is deluded by the Devil.
In the seventh chapter of Matthew there are two scriptures which give us approximate results of Christ’s Gospel and Satan’s counterfeit. First. in verses 13 and 14, „Enter ye in at the strait gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat. Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Second; in verses 22 and 23, „Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied (preached) in Thy name? and in Thy name have cast out demons, and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.” Yes, my reader, it is possible to work in the name of Christ, and even to preach in His name, and though the world knows us, and the Church knows us, yet to be unknown to the Lord! How necessary it is then to find out where we really are; to examine ourselves and see whether we be in the faith; to measure ourselves by the Word of God and see if we are being deceived by our subtle Enemy; to find out whether we are building our house upon the sand, or whether it is erected on the Rock which is Christ Jesus. May the Holy Spirit search our hearts, break our wills, slay our enmity against God; work in us a deep and true repentance, and direct our gaze to the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.

Decisional Regeneration by James E. Adams

Decisional Regeneration

by James E. Adams

Introduction:

What is Regeneration?

„Except a man be born again (1), he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Our Lord Jesus Christ taught that the new birth is so important that no one can see heaven without it. Mistakes concerning this doctrine have been very destructive to the Church of Christ. Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God. It is not a work of man. It is not something that man does but something that God does. The new birth is a change wrought in us, not an act performed by us. This is stated so beautifully by the Apostle John when in the first chapter of his Gospel he speaks of the children of God as those „which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (v. 13).

What is „Decisional Regeneration”?

The history of the Christian Church has seen many errors concerning the new birth. These teachings depart from Scripture by attributing to man the ability to regenerate himself. When these false concepts of man and the new birth are adopted, churches soon become corrupted with false practices. The Roman Catholic church, the Anglican church, the Lutheran church and many other churches have all been corrupted at different times and to different degrees with the teaching of Baptismal Regeneration. Because of this erroneous teaching on regeneration, these churches have embraced false practices.

In the nineteenth century few controversies were so heated as the one over Baptismal Regeneration. It is interesting to note that C. H. Spurgeon (1836-1892), the most prolific preacher of that century, had printed in 1864 more copies of his sermon denouncing Baptismal Regeneration than of any other sermon. Baptismal Regeneration teaches that the new birth is conveyed by the waters of baptism. The sacrament is performed by man and is in his control.

But the twentieth century Church has, in „Decisional Regeneration,” a more subtle falsehood to combat. „Decisional Regeneration” differs from Baptismal Regeneration only in the fact that it attaches the certainty of the new birth to a different act. This doctrine, just as Baptismal Regeneration, sees the new birth as the result of a mechanical process that can be performed by man. What is here called „Decisional Regeneration” has in its deceptive way permeated much of the Christian Church.

Our Purpose

The methods and theology of those that practice „Decisional Regeneration” need to be examined-not with a malicious spirit, but with a fervent desire that all of God’s people may be one in doctrine and practice for the glory of God. We love all that are in Christ. But we agree wholeheartedly with Charles Spurgeon that „the best way to promote union is to promote truth.

It will not do for us to be all united together by yielding to one another’s mistakes. We are to love each other in Christ; but we are not to be so united that we are not able to see each other’s faults, and especially not able to see our own. No, purge the house of God, and then shall grand and blessed times dawn on us,” (2). So then our purpose is not to question the sincerity of some Christians or to malign them, but to unite Christians in the truth as it is in our Lord. This alone is true Christian unity.

As we earnestly seek to bring unity to the Church of Christ let us turn from falsehood unto God’s truth. The practice of-„Decisional Regeneration” in the Church must be exposed in order to save men from the damning delusion that because they have „decided” or „signed a card,” they are going to heaven and are no longer under the wrath of God. The purity of the gospel is of extreme importance because it alone is the power of God unto salvation and the true basis of Christian unity.

Decisional Regeneration and Counseling

Some may still not understand exactly what is here meant by this term „Decisional Regeneration.” Perhaps some are unfamiliar with the counseling courses that are being taught by many organizations in this country and abroad, and with the numerous „Soul Winning Conferences” that are taking place. In these meetings counselors are instructed that successful counseling must conclude with an individual’s absolute assurance of salvation. Counselors are often instructed to assure an individual that his salvation is certain because he has prayed the prescribed prayer, and he has said „yes” to all the right questions.

We have an illustration of „Decisional Regeneration” when a popular present-day preacher prescribes a counseling procedure. He directs „Mr. Soul Winner” to ask an unconverted „Mr. Blank” a series of questions. If „Mr. Blank” says „yes” to all the questions, he is asked to pray a prescribed prayer and is then pronounced saved, (3). For the most part this counseling results in an individual being „regenerated” through a decision. This is essentially the same counseling method used in large evangelistic crusades across the world. These campaigns are like huge factories turning out as many as ten thousand „decisions” in a week.

Mr. Iain Murray, in his timely book The Forgotten Spurgeon, points out that this same type of counseling is used in youth work:

„For example, a booklet, which is much circulated in student evangelism at the present time, lays down ‘Three simple steps’ to becoming a Christian: first, personal acknowledgment of sin, and second, personal belief in Christ’s substitutionary work. These two are described as preliminary, but ‘the third so final that to take it will make me a Christian. . .I must come to Christ and claim my personal share in what He did for everybody.’ This all-decisive third step rests with me; Christ ‘waits patiently until I open the door. Then He will come in….’ Once I have done this I may immediately regard myself as a Christian. The advice follows: ‘Tell somebody today what you have done,’ „(4).

There are many variations of this type of counseling, but they all have in common a mechanical element such as the repeating of a prayer or signing of a card upon the performance of which the individual is assured of his salvation. Regeneration has thereby been reduced to a procedure which man performs. How differently did Jesus Christ deal with sinners. He did not have any instant salvation process. He did not speak to people with a stereotyped presentation. He dealt with every individual on a personal basis. Never in the New Testament do we find Christ dealing with any two persons in the same manner. It is enlightening to compare how differently He dealt with Nicodemus in John 3, and then with the woman at the well in John 4. Counseling needs to be personal.

There are a number of other problems with a mechanical counseling. Mr. Murray has pointed out the fact that on the basis of this counseling „a man may make a profession without ever having his confidence in his own ability shattered; he has been told absolutely nothing of his need of a change of nature which is not within his own power, and consequently, if he does not experience such a radical change, he is not dismayed. He was never told it was essential so he sees no reason to doubt whether he is a Christian.

Indeed, the teaching he has come under consistently militates against such doubts arising. It is frequently said that a man who has made a decision with little evidence of a change of life may be a ‘carnal’ Christian who needs instruction in holiness, or if the same individual should gradually lose his new-found interests, the fault is frequently attributed to lack of ‘follow-up,’ or prayer, or some other deficiency on the part of the Church. The possibility that these marks of worldliness and falling away are due to the absence of a saving experience at the outset is rarely considered; if this point were faced, then the whole system of appeals, decisions and counseling would collapse, because it would bring to the fore the fact that change of nature is not in man’s power, and that it takes much longer than a few hours or days to establish whether a professed response to the gospel is genuine. But instead of facing this, it is protested that to doubt whether a man who has ‘accepted Christ’ is a Christian is tantamount to doubting the Word of God, and that to abandon ‘appeals’ and their adjuncts is to give up evangelism altogether.” (5)

The counseling of „Decisional Regeneration” produces statistics that would encourage any Christian-until he follows up the so-called converts. In one heartbreaking experience forty „converts” of such counseling were contacted and only one person of these forty was found who appeared to be a Christian. One lady may have been reached, but what were the effects of the encounter on the other thirty-nine? Some of them may believe their eternal destinies were determined by their decisions, which is a fatal confidence if no change was wrought in their hearts and lives. The others may have concluded that they had experienced all that Christianity has to offer. Failing to feel or see any promised change in themselves, they have become convinced that Christianity is a fake and that those who hold it are either self-deluded fanatics or miserable hypocrites.

Robert Dabney, one of the great theologians of the nineteenth century, made some very penetrating observations concerning the disillusionment of people that have been counseled for a decision. Some of these individuals, he said:

„feel that a cruel trick has been played upon their inexperience by the ministers and friends of Christianity in thus thrusting them, in the hour of their confusion, into false positions, whose duties they do not and cannot perform, and into sacred professions which they have been compelled shamefully to repudiate. Their self respect is therefore galled to the quick, and pride is indignant at the humiliating exposure. No wonder that they look on religion and its advocates henceforward with suspicion and anger. Often their feelings do not stop here. They are conscious that they were thoroughly in earnest in their religious anxieties and resolves at the time, and that they felt strange and profound exercises. Yet bitter and mortifying experience has taught them that their new birth and experimental religion at least was a delusion. How natural to conclude that those of all others are delusions also? They say: ‘the only difference between myself and these earnest Christians is, that they have not yet detected the cheat as I have. They are now not a whit more convinced of their sincerity and of the reality of their exercises than I once was of mine. Yet I know there was no change in my soul; I do not believe that there is in theirs.’ Such is the fatal process of thought through which thousands have passed; until the country is sprinkled all over with infidels, who have been made such by their own experience of spurious religious excitements. They may keep their hostility to themselves in the main; because Christianity now ‘walks in her silver slippers’; but they are not the less steeled against all saving impressions of the truth.” (6)

Dabney penned these words a hundred years ago, long before the days of the „mass evangelism” and highly organized campaigns. If a hundred years ago the country was „sprinkled all over with infidels, who had been made such by their own experience of spurious religious excitements,” what must be the situation today? This is a serious question for every Christian. To have led men, even sincerely, into false hope will be an awful condemnation for a Christian when he stands before Almighty God.

Decisional Regeneration and Altar Calls

One may read thousands of pages of the history of the Christian Church without finding a single reference to the „old-fashioned altar call” before the last century. Most Christians are surprised to learn that history before the time of Charles G. Finney (1792-1875) knows nothing of this type of „invitation.” The practice of urging men and women to make a physical movement at the conclusion of a meeting was introduced by Mr. Finney in the second decade of the nineteenth century. Dr. Albert B. Dod, a professor of theology at Princeton Seminary at the time of Mr. Finney’s ministry, pointed out the newness of the practice and showed that this method was without historical precedent. In his review of Finney’s Lectures on Revival, Professor Dod stated that one will search the volumes of church history in vain for a single example of this practice before the 1820’s, (7). Instead, history tells us that whenever the gospel was preached men were invited to Christ-not to decide at the end of a sermon whether or not to perform some physical action.

The Apostle Paul, the great evangelist, never heard of an altar call, yet today some consider the altar call to be a necessary mark of an evangelical church. In fact, churches which do not practice it are often accused of having no concern for the lost. Neither Paul nor Peter ever climaxed his preaching with forcing upon his hearers the decision to walk or not to walk. It is not only with church history, then, but with Scriptural history as well that the altar call is in conflict.

One may ask, „How did preachers of the gospel for the previous eighteen hundred years invite men to Christ without the use of the altar call?” They did so in much the same way as did the apostles and the other witnesses of the early Church. Their messages were filled with invitations for all men everywhere to come to Christ.

Surely it will be admitted that the first sermon of the Christian Church was not climaxed by an altar call. Peter on the Day of Pentecost concluded his sermon with these words: „Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God has made that same Jesus, whom you have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Peter stopped. Then the divinely inspired record tells us: „Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said to Peter and to the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’ ” (Acts 2:36-37). This response was the result of the work of the Spirit of God, not of clever appeals or psychological pressure. That day the apostles witnessed the conversion of three thousand people.

C. H. Spurgeon invited men to come to Christ, not to an altar. Listen to him invite men to Jesus Christ:

„Before you leave this place breathe an earnest prayer to God, saying, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner. Lord, I need to be saved. Save me. I call upon Thy name….Lord, I am guilty, I deserve Thy wrath. Lord, I cannot save myself. Lord, I would have a new heart and a right spirit, but what can I do? Lord, I can do nothing, come and work in me to do of Thy good pleasure.

* Thou alone hast power, I know

* To save a wretch like me;

* To whom, or whither should I go

* If I should run from Thee?

But I now do from my very soul call upon Thy name. Trembling, yet believing, I cast myself wholly upon Thee, O Lord. I trust the blood and righteousness of Thy dear Son…. Lord, save me tonight, for Jesus’ sake.’ ”

„Go home alone trusting in Jesus. ‘I should like to go into the enquiry-room.’ I dare say you would, but we are not willing to pander to popular superstition. We fear that in those rooms men are warmed into a fictitious confidence. Very few of the supposed converts of enquiry-rooms turn out well. Go to your God at once, even where you now are. Cast yourself on Christ, at once, ere you stir an inch!” (8)

Invitations such as Spurgeon gave directing men to Christ and not to aisles are needed today. George Whitefield’s sermons were long invitations to men to come to Christ, not to an altar. The same may be said of the preaching of Jonathan Edwards, of the Reformers and of others in the past who were blessed with a harvest of many souls using Scriptural means of inviting men to Christ. Today the altar call has become the climax and culmination of the entire meeting. Many stanzas of a hymn are usually sung, during which time all kinds of appeals are made to the sinner to walk the aisle, and the clear impression is given to the sinner that his eternal destiny hangs on this movement of his feet.

„Just As I Am,” the precious hymn perhaps most frequently sung for the altar call, was written in 1836 by Charlotte Elliott:

* Just as I am, without one plea,

* But that Thy blood was shed for me,

* And that Thou bid’st me come to Thee,

* O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

The phrase, „O Lamb of God, I come, I come,” has been widely used to encourage people to „come” down the aisle. But it is significant that Miss Elliott wrote the hymn for the infirm and that it first appeared in a hymnal prepared especially for invalids, (9). To Miss Elliott, coming to Christ was not walking an aisle.

Although most who use the altar call realize that coming to Christ is not synonymous with coming to the altar, they do give the impression to sinners that the first step in coming to Christ is walking the aisle. I am purposefully being very careful not to misstate the case. I understand the sincerity of those who practice the altar call, it having been a part of every service from my earliest memory until college. In fact, I grew up in Christian circles unaware that evangelical Christianity existed without the altar call. In many services during this time my mind was centered on the glorious person of Christ and His suffering on the cross only to find the whole focus of the worship service suddenly changed at the conclusion from seeing the glories and sufferings of Christ to walking an aisle. Many others have spoken of the same experience -that the altar call and the clever appeals at the conclusion of meetings, the decision to walk or not to walk and the wondering how many will respond, have distracted them from seeking Christ and from worshipping God in spirit and truth.

Do you remember how the crowds physically followed our Lord Christ until He began to preach some unpopular truths? Then the crowds turned back (John 6:66). Why? Had they not come to Jesus with their feet? Yes, but this is not the coming to Him that is necessary for salvation. Christ said, „All that the Father gives me shall come to me; and him that comes to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). And again He said, „No man can come to me except the Father draw him” (John 6:44). In neither of these instances was Jesus speaking of the physical movement of the feet.

Men today need to be reminded that coming to Christ is not walking an aisle, but is casting oneself on Christ for life or death. May God cause the Church to return to the Scriptures for its methods of winning men to Christ. May sinners be charged not to come forward in a meeting but to come to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Decisional Regeneration and Preaching

The false teaching of „Decisional Regeneration” has polluted even the structure of the sermon. Jack Hyles, considered by many to be an authority on preaching, gives the following advice to his fellow-ministers:

„Many of us in our preaching will make such statements as, ‘Now, in conclusion’; ‘Finally, may I say’; ‘My last point is . . .’. These statements are sometimes dangerous. The sinner knows five minutes before you finish; hence he digs in and prepares himself for the invitation so that he does not respond. However, if your closing is abrupt and a lost person does not suspect that you are about finished, you have crept up on him and he will not have time to prepare himself for the invitation. Many people may be reached, using this method,” (10).

At the first reading of such a teaching one mignt believe, or at least hope, that he misread Mr. Hyles. The second, third and fourth readings, however, confirm that Mr. Hyles actually teaches that men may be converted to Christ as a result of some clever method a minister uses in his sermon, and that one’s eternal destiny may be determined by the impulse of an unguarded moment. This idea that a man’s salvation may depend upon his being „crept up on” and giving his unwilling consent is in direct conflict with what the Scriptures teach concerning the receiving of Jesus Christ. In reality the kind of Preaching that tries to creep up on sinners results for the most part in bringing people to religion, not to Christ. Can there be any more terrible result of a sermon than the bringing of people to something other than our Lord Jesus Christ?

True preaching is not a clever device of man, but a demonstration of the Spirit of God as the truth of God is proclaimed. I can never forget hearing Dr. David Martyn Lloyd-Jones illustrate what true preaching is with an account of George Whitefield preaching in the church of Jonathan Edwards:

„There was this genius Jonathan Edwards listening to Whitefield, who wasn’t in the same field, of course, from the standpoint of genius and ability and so on. But as he was listening to Whitefield, his face, says Whitefield, was shining. Edwards’ face was shining and tears were streaming down his face. Edwards was recognizing this authentic, authoritative note-this preaching. Whitefield was in the Spirit. Edwards was in the Spirit, and the two were blended together. The whole congregation and the preacher were one in the hand of God. That is preaching. May God enable us to practice it and experience it,”(11).

The preaching of which Dr. Lloyd-Jones is speaking of and which the New Testament speaks is far removed from the trickery used in much modern preaching. Biblical preaching declares that men are not born again by the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:13).

„Decisional Regeneration” does not bring men to Christ any more than does Baptismal Regeneration. It is true that some are converted under such preaching, but this is in spite of the false methods used, not because of them. The Bible is clear in its declaration that only by the Spirit of God can men be born again. True repentance and saving faith come as the result of the new birth and are never the cause of the great change. Repentance and faith are the acts of regenerated men, not of men dead in sins (Eph. 2:1, 5). However, God does not act for us; He does not believe for us; and He surely cannot repent for us-He has no sin for which to repent. We must personally, knowingly and willingly trust in Christ for salvation. Nor are we saying that preachers should not urge, yea, plead with men to repent and believe. Any preaching which merely rehearses the facts of the gospel without calling men to repentance and faith in Christ as a merciful and mighty Saviour of sinners is not biblical preaching.

The apostles taught that God saves His elect through the foolishness of preaching. All new methods devised by man can only fall far short of this ordained means of converting the sinner. The Church must forsake its carnal inventions and once again be guided by the teaching of Scripture if it is to expect God to bless its efforts and multiply its harvest. The Scriptural means of evangelizing is to „preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (I Cor. 1:23-24).

Decisional Regeneration and Theology

Whether it is openly recognized or not, there are always certain doctrinal presuppositions which underlie the methods used in evangelism. What kind of teaching, then, has allowed the Church to depart from historic Christianity and to take up these new devices?

The new birth according to our Lord Jesus Christ is sovereign work of the spirit of God in the heart of man (John 3:8). Yet in conflict with Christ’s teaching, one of the forefathers of this new evangelism states that „Religion is the work of man.” This is a shocking statement, especially since it is found on the very first page of Lectures on Revivals of Religion, the most influential of all of Charles G. Finney’s writings, (12). The great theological difference between modern evangelism and biblical evangelism hinges on this basic question whether true religion is the work of God or of man. At best, the doctrine of „Decisional Regeneration” attributes the new birth partly to man and partly to God.

J. H. Merle d’Aubigne (1794-1872) in his history of the Reformation in England states that:

„to believe in the power of man in the work of regeneration is the great heresy of Rome, and from that error has come the ruin of the Church. Conversion proceeds from the grace of God alone, and the system which ascribes it partly to man and partly to God is worse than Pelagianism,” (13).

One of the greatest American theologians, Charles Hodge (1797-1878), also points out the danger of this teaching:

„No more soul-destroying doctrine could well be devised than the doctrine that sinners can regenerate themselves, and repent and believe just when they please. . . As it is a truth both of Scripture and of experience that the unrenewed man can do nothing of himself to secure his salvation, it is essential that he should be brought to a practical conviction of that truth. When thus convicted, and not before, he seeks help from the only source whence it can be obtained.” (14)

In both the above statements stress is put upon man’s helplessness to be born anew, and the necessity for God to create life. It is especially in these two areas that the doctrine of „Decisional Regeneration” deviates from the biblical doctrine of regeneration. This brings us to the foundational issue of „Decisional Regeneration”: What is the spiritual condition of man?

Can a man be born again by answering „yes” to a certain group of questions? Can a man be born from „above” by walking to the front of a building? Can a man become a true Christian by responding to an invitation as a result of being „crept up on” unawares? Your answers to these questions will be determined by your view of man’s spiritual condition. What is man’s spiritual state?

The grand old Scottish theologian Thomas Boston (1676-1732) very vividly illustrated man’s spiritual condition by comparing the unconverted person to a man in a pit. He can only get out of the pit in one of two ways: he may through much toil and difficulty scale the sides of the pit to the top, which is the way of works; or, he may grab hold of the rope of grace let down by Christ and be pulled out of his misery. Yes, he may decide to pull himself up by the rope of the gospel, „but, alas! the unconverted man is dead in the pit, and cannot help himself either of these ways.”(15)

Man is spiritually dead in trespasses and sins and cannot please God (Eph. 2:1; Rom. 8:8). Our Saviour Himself portrayed man’s condition as one of utter helplessness: „No man can come to me except the Father who has sent me draw him”; „No man can come to me except it were given to him of my Father” (John 6:44, 65).

This state of death and bondage to sin cannot be changed by making a decision or by walking an aisle. A man cannot make himself a Christian. Only the Spirit of God can create a new man in Christ. God in His grace gives men new hearts. Only then can they willingly repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. God Himself has stated this truth by saying: „A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes…” (Ezek. 36:26, 27). Jesus Christ also clearly said, „For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom he wishes” (John 5:21).

The greatness of God’s power in saving sinners can only be seen against the background of man’s desperate condition. What a glorious doctrine is the new birth to the helpless sinner! May the Church return to biblical doctrine so that it may evangelize again to the glory of God.

How helpless guilty nature lies,

Unconscious of its load!

The heart, unchanged can never rise

To happiness and God.

The will perverse, the passions blind,

In paths of ruin stray;

Reason, debased, can never find

The safe, the narrow way.

Can aught, beneath a power divine,

The stubborn will subdue?

Tis Thine, almighty Saviour, Thine,

To form the heart anew.

O change these wretched hearts of ours,

And give them life divine!

Then shall our passions and our powers,

Almighty Lord, be Thine!

Isaac Watts

What Must we Do?

It is not a time to be silent; it is time to speak out. We have kept quiet too long, somehow feeling that if we opposed these unbiblical practices we might be hindering the good work of evangelism, believing that among the multitudes of „decisions” there are some genuine conversions. But with every passing week thousands are being counseled into a false hope! Men are directed to walk aisles when they should be pointed to Christ alone. The high calling of preaching has degenerated into a series of gimmicks and tricks. These false practices have resulted from the perversion of biblical doctrine. In the midst of this darkness let us pray that God may be pleased to revive His Church again. This revival can come only through Christ. Men must turn afresh to His directions for counseling, to His free invitations to sinners and to the preaching of His gospel. Only then will our labors bring glory to God; and if God grants, many sinners will be converted for His glory.

___________________________

Endnotes:

* (1) The word „again” is better rendered „from above.” It points to the ultimate source of the new birth, the Triune God.

* (2) C. H. Spurgeon, The New Perk Street Pulpit (London, 1964), Vol. 6, p. 171.

* (3) Jack Hyles, How To Boost Your Church Attendance (Grand Rapids, 1958), pp. 32-35.

* (4) Iain H. Murray, The Forgotten Spurgeon (London, 1966), p. 110. * (5) Ibid, p. 111.

* (6) Robert L. Dabney, Discussions: Evangelical and Theological (London, 1967), Vol. 2, p. 13.

* (7) Albert B. Dod, „The Origin of the Call for Decisions,” The Banner of Truth Magazine (London, Dec., 1963), Vol. 32, p. 9.

* (8) Murray, op. cit., pp. 107-109.

* (9) John Julian, A Dictionary of Hymnology (London, 1907) p. 609.

* (10) Hyles, op. cit., pp. 43-44.

* (11) Recorded in shorthand from a sermon, „The Responsibility of Evangelism,” preached at Grace Baptist Church, Carlisle, Pa., in June, 1969.

* (12) For the clearest statement of Finney’s theory of regeneration read his sermon, „Sinners Bound To Change their Own Hearts,” Sermons on Various Subjects (New York, 1835). For a detailed examination of Finney’s theology see „Review of Lectures on Systematic Theology,” The Biblical Repertory and Princeton Review (Philadelphia, 1847), Vol. 19, pp. 237-Z77; also Benjamin B. Warfield, „The Theology of Charles C. Finney,” Perfectionism (Philadelphia, 1967), pp. 166-215.

* (13) J. H. Merle d’Aubigne, The Reformation in England (London, 1962), Vol. 1, p. 98.

* (14) Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, 1970), Vol. 2, p. 277.

o (15) Thomas Boston, Human Nature in Its Fourfold State (London, 1964), p. 183.

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