Some of what I am writing right now may be mere opinion or it may be God’s wisdom I have been praying for. I am not writing this with a critical spirit, but as a bit of a consultant. I am asking for all of us to examine ourselves. My research from both seeking God, asking for wisdom, praying and fasting, bible study, and studying what the Preachers of the Past did that literally turned the world upside down is not done.
The mess of modern evangelism will affect every church in America today. That is why I am writing this. No church is immune, because even if your church is preaching solid doctrine, your members are affected because they don’t live in a bubble. They go online and read people’s blogs (just not mine!). They get invited out to fellowships and bible studies and Christian rock musicals and Christian youth conferences and Ecumenical Good Friday Services.
Some churches today preach a flat-out wrong gospel. Some are cults in disguise. Others have to deal with communities inoculated to the real gospel because everyone in their neighborhood is a “saved false convert”. Meaning they were saved by some invention of man, and now they have little motivation to exchange a lie for the narrow truth. The modern messages appeal is in the you can have your cake and eat it too. Who would want to give up the pleasures of sin for a season if they knew God was offering Get out of hell free passes? Today’s evangelism has more in common with the old Catholic indulgences than anything biblical!
I merely believe I have started this journey and I’m no expert but in what I’ve found I think already I’m on to something that can have a positive impact on our circles, the churches of America, and our world. I don’t think we have to live with our head in the clouds nor in the sand, and I think that is where we like to be, either in denial that there is any problem with today’s Christianity, or having faith that defies common sense and accepting everyone into the kingdom.
I tell men I preach to that if I say I’m a RedSox fan and only have Yankees memorabilia, something is wrong. Yet we accept in our evangelism things that defy common sense in the real world. We know that if someone says “I DO” at the altar and move back in with their high school sweetheart after the honeymoon their words meant nothing, yet we accept in a spiritual sense people that do that to God all the time.
I have been searching to place my finger on what is wrong today with our evangelism. When you look at the fruit and the Bible stating in the end times there will be a great falling away i am not out of line with that statement. I’m trying to find WHERE and WHEN we went wrong yes, but more important, what we have to do to fix it. First, it has been a conviction of many strong men of God to state without apology that most of the church today is lost. A.W. Tozer stated many years ago that “Tens of thousands, perhaps millions, have come into some kind of religious experience by accepting Christ, and they have not been saved.” “The sinner’s prayer has sent more people to Hell than all the bars in America” said Leonard Ravenhill
How much more are lost today! The Southern Baptist Churches are a hodge -podge of compromise and worldliness but they have a missionary in their camp, Paul Washer, that has some good solid observations regarding false converts filling the churches. I don’t agree with his conclusion, i.e., Calvinism, but his observations are dead on. He said, “The 4 spiritual laws and sinner’s prayer is not the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that methodology and evangelism has done more to hurt this country than every heresy introduced by every cult combined. Millions of people in this country whose lives have never been changed believed themselves born again because we have so reduced the gospel of Jesus Christ that it means now nothing more than simple decision that will only take five minutes of your time.”
One of my favorite 20th century Preachers is revivalist Leonard Ravenhill. He definitely preached if you came to Christ, expect your sin problem to be dealt with. Here are some good quotes on salvation and the new birth, and just basic 101 Christianity that most churches can’t even grasp. “You know, we’re the most undisciplined generation the world has ever known…how many of you are disciplined? How many go to bed at the same time every night, get up every morning at the same time? How do you discipline your appetites, how do you discipline your tongue? We’re the most weak, effeminate Christianity the world has ever had—no wonder nobody wants it. It has no strength, it has no character…” he stated in his sermon Hell has No Exits. Another time he said, “If you’re going to be a true Christian, I’ll tell you one thing amongst others: it’ll be a lonely life. It’s a narrow way and it becomes narrower and narrower and narrower……All you have to do is get in a closer walk with God and you’ll find your enemies are in your own church.,,,,,,,,,,,If a Christian is not having tribulation in the world, there’s something wrong!…….Why in God’s name do you expect to be accepted everywhere? How is it the world couldn’t get on with the holiest man that ever lived, and it can get on with you and me? Are we compromising?” In another message he said, “The early Church was married to poverty, prisons and persecutions. Today, the church is married to prosperity, personality, and popularity.”
AW Pink said, “Many of the pulpiteers of the past fifty years acted as though the first and last object of their calling was the salvation of souls, everything being made to bend to that aim. In consequence, the feeding of the sheep, the maintaining of a Scriptural discipline in the church, and the inculcation of practical piety, was crowded out; and only too often all sorts of worldly devices and fleshly methods were employed under the plea that the end justified the means; and thus the churches were filled with unregenerate members. In reality, such men defeated their own aim. The hard heart must be ploughed and harrowed before it can be receptive to the gospel seed. Doctrinal instruction must be given on the character of God, the requirements of His Law, the nature and heinousness of sin, if a foundation is to be laid for true evangelism. It is useless to preach Christ unto souls until they see and feel their desperate need of Him.”
I never heard of Tim Conway, but I like what is quoted in his sermon, “Few people make it to heaven.”
He said, “The whole world is willing to say a little prayer. What does the sinner’s prayer sound like? … ‘Jesus, please come into my heart.’ You know one of the dangerous things about that prayer? You don’t find it anywhere in the word of God. Nowhere! That’s not how Jesus said Heaven is attained. … We’ve got a world full of people that are happy and ready to say ‘Jesus, I’m a sinner, please come into my heart,’ and then you go enjoy all the idols, all the sin, love the same garbage on TV that the rest of the world loves, dress like them, look like them, pursue all the things that the world wants—everybody wants to be able to say a little prayer as fire insurance to get out of Hell and then go live it up and have their sin!………….You’ve got a little bit of religion, but you, aside from that little religion, are just like the world. You’re just like the multitudes, you’re just like the crowd. Because the truth is, you play the same video games that the world plays, and you go to the same movies that the world goes to, you laugh at the same things the world laughs at, watch the same tv shows that the world watches. You love the fashions of the world, the idols of the world, the rock stars, the movie stars, the sports stars, they’re your idols as well. … You may have some conservative parents that don’t let you stay up as late…but you know in your heart you desire those same things, you want them. The truth is, you’re just like the crowd. Folks, the crowd is on the way to destruction.”
Walter Chantry in his book Today’s Gospel said, “The evangelical wing of the Protestant church is saturated with doctrine and practices which have no Biblical foundation. Many teachings and habits touching the Gospel are as much the products of human invention and tradition as were the indulgences of Tetzel. … In the central issue of the way of salvation, large segments of Protestantism are engrossed in neo-traditionalism. We have inherited a system of evangelistic preaching which is unbiblical. Nor is this tradition very ancient. Our message and manner of preaching the Gospel cannot be traced back to the Reformers and their creeds. They are much more recent innovations. Worse, they cannot be traced to the Scriptures. They have clearly arisen from superficial exegesis and a careless mixture of twentieth-century reason with God’s revelation….Products of modern evangelism are often sad examples of Christianity. They make a profession of faith, and then continue to live like the world. ‘Decisions for Christ’ mean very little. Only a small proportion of those who ‘make decisions’ evidence the grace of God in a transformed life.”
True salvation will give you a thirst for God’s word just like a newborn baby has a thirst for milk. One of my favorite old time Preachers is Charles Spurgeon. In his message on Psalm 119:9 he says, “The Bible must be your chart, and you must exercise great watchfulness that your way may be according to its directions. You must take heed to your daily life, as well as study your Bible, and you must study your Bible that you may take heed to your daily life.With the greatest care a man will go astray if his map misleads him; but with the most accurate map he will still lose his road if he does not take heed to it. The narrow way was never hit upon by chance, neither did any heedless man ever lead a holy life. We can sin without thought, we have only to neglect the great salvation and ruin our souls; but to obey the Lord and walk uprightly will need all our heart and soul and mind. Let the careless remember this.”
In today’s evangelism over 90% of those making professions never pan out. The bible promises that anyone truly saved that God will continue to do a work on them. I can say without a doubt that if God never saved me, there is no way I could have survived this path the past 10 years.
Today we hear of missionaries who write that 2,000 were “saved” this year, 52 were baptized, and 12 were added to the church. That is not the book of Acts results. We will have a major soul winning push and get 200 professions but you won’t see any of them ever again. Something is wrong.
There are many reports of men following up on major soul winning campaigns that find those making professions no different than before, and LESS interested in the gospel after words. This is true in the Billy Graham campaigns but just as true in our Independent Fundamental Circles. Those that are “saved yet still lost” are instantly inoculated to the real gospel and two-fold children of hell. All over on the street I deal with everyone and anyone who claim they are saved and are defensive and angry when pressed about it.
A saved person is broken over their sin and failures, yet constantly people in America profess they know God and in their works they deny him and get angry when confronted about that. We should be examining our methods against what brought true revival in the past, and seeing if our methods today have diverged from what our forefathers held. My conviction is that we have taken a turn in the last 100 years that is helping to usher in the apostasy and compromise the Bible prophesied about.
And no denomination or circle is immune. I find our circles are better, and we have men who do stand by the truth, but mixed in are those who believe in easy-prayer ism, or believe calling on the Lord when there is no repentance still makes you saved. The biggest source of bad evangelism in general is the “Bible Colleges” –they are the ones pumping up and promoting and pushing for decision after decision, and those that have one or two true converts feel they have to apologize.
There is a small remnant of folks amongst the churches that love God but the majority of those in attendance are tares amongst tares and have no clue. A preacher once said most of our time, money, and energy today is diverted into making goats act like sheep. From what I experienced, when you get saved, the Holy Ghost moves in and leads you to more truth, and naturally continues the work he began. He led me through step by step to where I am today, he showed me false doctrines, he sorted out the issues with new evangelism, and he used those years I was in them to mold me and show me the truth.
My conviction is there are a lot of false converts amongst the churches, regardless of denomination and it scares me to death that so many folks have a sense of godliness and deny the power thereof. I can’t imagine the day when men who grew up in church, knew in their head all about Jesus Christ, and called him Lord, Lord are told by the Lord Jesus Christ that “I never knew you”.
One problem I see today is the gospel has degenerated into a 5 minute shortcut. Yes we sometimes lean toward salvation is a prayer, yes we can give someone without true repentance false assurance — but bottom line we are giving out cures to those still healthy, at least in their mind. It is one thing to accept a flu shot just in case I could get the flu, it is quite another to see MRI results and see blood work to reveal you have terminal cancer and commit to 6 months of chemotherapy.
If we convince of the disease like the men of old, the sick won’t have to be begged and bribed to get born again. The truly sick will sort all that out, which cure is needed at the moment, where Romans 10:13 comes in vs. Romans 10:9-10 vs. Romans 6:23vs John 3:16 for example. God will use various means and ways to explain how the sick are to meet the great Physician– entering a door, drinking water, true bread from heaven, the gift of God, come unto me, look unto me, call unto me, etc. The cure is fine tuned for the individual for the moment he needs it. There is no one single method that is one size fits all. God must be drawing, convicting, and giving the increase. It is the same cure, but different examples in the Bible show that cure comes in various flavors and routes of administration that causes the light to turn on in that individual. Everyone gets saved the same way –faith and repentance —but no one is saved in exactly the same way!
Lost men of yesterday had strong bible backgrounds and a great foundation of the fear of God and who God is. Yet these same men didn’t seem to be ushered into the gates of Heaven as quickly as our methods are today. We may use the Bible, we may use verses that are true — but shallow evangelism and more reaching the emotions than the conscience and our quick moving of goats down the evangelism road is creating most with just a HEAD knowledge.
They think they are saved because they “believe” and they “did the minimal requirements we laid out for them”. They had an “emotional experience at one time” in accepting Christ — but did Christ accept them? Did he not say Except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish? And if repentance is only going from unbelief to belief, why does Revelation say unbelievers and whore mongers and murderer and all liars shall have their part in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone? Why separate categories if it is only unbelief that damns a person? Bottom line is the soul that sinneth it shall die.
False converts are satisfied to not hunger and thirst after righteousness, and they live in denial and without growth. But when tares look around they see other tares behaving the same way and think that is normal. This issue is in all the churches. I was saved before I ever went to a church after searching evidence for Jesus and the Bible, becoming convinced, and when challenged to make my own verdict, saw Jesus was clearly the Messiah and saw he had a right to rule.
After being convinced of that, John 1:12, “receive + believe = become” became real in my life and I was instantly changed and converted from that moment on. It was on my couch in March 2002 and I have had ups and downs but I haven’t looked back, and God took me out of Egypt. God saved me and it is God who is keeping me saved to this day, and God who will keep me saved. My tastes are different now, and he changed by direction, desires, and my destiny.
After salvation I only knew about the mega modern circles so that was where I began. God still used that to grow and develop me and it was not a waste. I have been in all kinds of churches — I spent 3 years in the mega-church movement, went on a medical mission trip to Honduras and later to Arizona to an Indian Reservation. I spent a week in Denver Colorado and was a guest at YWAM (Youth with a Mission), a discipleship program. I toured Denver Seminary for a couple days. I went to youth conferences, Kingdom Bound (where I camped out there and attended the full event), college groups weekly (Twentysomething at Eastern Hills Wesleyan Church and Vintage at The Chapel), attended Eastern Hills for 3 years, visiting the Tabernacle and the Chapel regularly as well, did an addictions course at Love Joy Gospel Tabernacle, attended many sessions of Christian counseling, and read a lot of books from Rick Warren, John Eldredge, John Ortburg, and many other new Evangelical Authors. I went through the Purpose Driven Life twice. I read the NIV daily for 3 years. I listened to CCM regularly and attended many many concerts in those circles. I read articles, did many chats “witnessing to folks”, wrote a lot of emails to people, and shared my faith before I ever knew it was something we were supposed to so. I did a “share Jesus without fear” small groups course where we were taught how to witness.
I say all that to say that in the 3 years in that “camp” I ate, drank, and slept New Evangelism. There was some good in it, but I knew something was wrong because what I would see and what I would read did not match up. I never fit in and while I didn’t feel I was this Super Saint, everyone treated me like this fanatic. I kept an attitude that I’d rather have the truth than stay right, and I would keep searching until I would get something settled to the point of it being a conviction I’d die for.
When they mostly said you witness by your life and life alone, I was witnessing at work, on college campuses a bit, and gave out Chick tracts (before I knew what Chick tracts were!) in Niagara Falls with a friend of mine, Mike Cooper, who died a year ago in an accidental fall. I left the circles for good when I found the KJV and embraced the Independent Baptist Churches with full steam ahead and didn’t look back.
Why I am stating all that is this — I am not being mean or a “Fruit inspector” but I am trying to say I have some experience to say this. The majority of those I was around in New Envangelicism I believe were lost. I say that because every place I would go God would put me around a small minority who were on fire for God and had a walk with God. There is a major difference fellow shipping with those with the light on.
Everyone else we would encounter did not appear to know God apart from a head knowledge about him. Men my age were on fire for the things of this world and God was their hobby and their hobbies were God. When I left those circles, I was expecting to find people in the “truth”, the KJV folks, to be what I was looking for. I was naive obviously, but to be honest there is not much difference from the majority of men my age I spent a lot of time around in New Evangelicalism and the majority of men in the KVJ circles.
Both groups attend church, but the world is clearly their first love for the majority. In those circles I left it was about going to movies and rock and roll and TV shows. In our circles it is more pro sports and hobbies. Talking about spending time outside looking up at the sky talking to God and singing praise songs is not something they would be interested in. Going out soulwinning is not a desire. If you mention you street preach, you will intimidate the average christian. Young men and women cared more about finding boyfriends and girlfriends than finding God. There is not much difference between the average New Evangelical, the average Ind. Baptist, and the average Catholic today.
Most seem to have merely a head profession, live oblivious to the fact that Hell is real, and that God is also a God of vengeance and wrath besides a God of love and mercy. Most are clueless that Judgement day is coming and the Rapture is coming and JESUS is COMING!!!!! We may say we love God but we deny Him by our lives, and we may say we love him with our lips but our hearts are far from him by our actions.
Where is the fear of God? Where is the hatred of sin? Where is the stand for Jesus? Where are the men who are as passionate about God as they are for their favorite team? Where are the men who talk about Jesus as openly and naturally as they talk about their favorite player?
What has happened to Christianity?
Like I said I believe it is the shortcutting of the Gospel that is responsible.
In the 1700’s and early 1800’s you had the great awakening. It began in the early or mid 1700’s with Jonathan Edwards and George Whitfield and John Wesley, and it’s fruit spread to the 1800’s. Then you had Dwight L. Moody (1837 to 1899) in the late 1800’s and R.A. Torry(1858-1928) in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.
Then you have in the mid 1900’s men like Jack Hyles and Bill Bright, then Billy Graham and now Rick Warren and Joel Olsteen. What I think we see is a movement from strong sowing and emphasizing repentance and the fear of God where men cried out, “What must I do to be saved?” to now having a plea for people to come and receive Christ.
Before men ran to the Savior, not we have to bribe and beg them to come.
Now in general we try to win them over with the positive attributes of God –his mercy, his joy and peace, Heaven — or by moving them emotionally. I think that emphasizes pushing the cure on someone unconvinced of the disease. In other cases, men are pushing a false cure, or worse, no cure, because there is no disease to report.
Originally we convinced of the disease and men naturally sought the cure. In the Dwight L. Moody and R.A. Torry stage, there was a bit of a shift toward the cure, but there was so much awareness of the disease of sin, as men had a respect for God’s word, that they could harvest those who were ripe for salvation. Today we are trying to reap a harvest but nothing has been planted the past 100 years except false Christs, shallow evangelism, and a God who loves you so much that hell seems unreasonable.
You take today’s average church member who comes in with nothing but knowledge of evolution, and the religious Christ that is just assumed today to be Jesus, and you take him through the doctrines that men of the great awakening would spend days and weeks preaching and sowing, and squish it down into a 5 minute attractive presentation, and no wonder that people accept it but there is little fruit and little evidence anything real is taking place.
We have made the gospel into a little formula that if you agree with the 4 or 5 points you are immediately ushered into the Kingdom, no questions asked. Just try Jesus! Satisfaction guaranteed or your money back! We need to slow down, take a step back, and stop and think about what we are doing! Let’s not look to the Bible college hyper soulwinning methodology that is watering the gospel down to the point it can not fan the flames of Hell.
Let’s go back to old fashioned Christianity and boldly proclaim a Real and Living and Returning Saviour to a world that needs to be convinced they have a disease. Jesus came for the sick and to call sinners to repentance. He said he would build his Church. We have to go, but go with the right message and go back to not what will produce decisions but what will raise the dead in their trespasses!
We need to get back to following the Bible and not a formula. Jesus said FOLLOW ME and I will make you fishers of men. That might not be something that you can pick up in reading Jack Hyles Easy Prayerism pamphlet, Let’s Go Soulwinning. It comes from faithfully witnessing and going and God will grow us as we go! Let’s return to the old paths before too many follow us on the new road of new evangelism. We claim to be against their doctrines, so let’s not embrace their evangelism!!!!