Arminian Today

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Posts Tagged ‘Ray Comfort

The Conditional Texts

There are over 85 New Testament passages that speak of conditional security of the believer.  The Church has struggled with what to do with them.  There are basically three approaches.  First, we make them all be only speculative.  They are not real.  They are just there to hypothetically warn us.  The second approach is to say that they speak to those who are not true disciples of Jesus.  These are false converts and the Lord is giving these warning texts to warn false disciples.  The final approach is to hold that the apostasy texts speak of very real warnings to disciples.  Disciples are to remain faithful to Christ Jesus from the beginning to end.

I hold to the final view.  Most Arminians do.  If you heard a sound Arminian preach the warning texts, they would sound very much like Calvinists do who hold to perseverance of the saints but we would differ with the Calvinists over whether apostasy is true or not.  Calvinists such as John MacArthur hold that true saints will persevere to the end but he believes that false converts will be shown by leaving the faith (1 John 2:19).  This is a popular view and I admit that I have more in line with this view then with the view of radical “once saved, always saved” teachers such as Charles Stanley or Tony Evans.  Ray Comfort, whom I greatly love, holds to MacArthur’s view.

The problem I have with this view (of perseverance of the saints) is twofold for me.  First, most Calvinists (and some Arminians who hold to eternal security) preach hard on the assurance of our salvation (Romans 8:16; Galatians 4:4-6) but they don’t preach as hard on the necessity of perseverance.  I fear that some do this wanting to promote assurance while failing to preach the full council of God.  The Scriptures are balanced in showing us that we are saved by faith and kept by faith (1 Peter 1:5), that we are secure in Christ Jesus (John 10:27-29; Romans 8:38-39) but we must remain in Christ (1 John 2:24-25; Jude 21).  The balance view of Scripture is that God saves us and He keeps us (Jude 24) but He also warns us to continue in the faith (Romans 11:20-22; 1 Corinthians 15:1-2; Colossians 1:21-23; 2 Peter 1:10-11).

The second problem I have with the view above of MacArthur or Comfort is that it doesn’t truly promote assurance.  A person would wonder each time they sin whether they are not elect or not.  After all, as MacArthur preaches, the true elect will persevere and those who fail to persevere were never saved to begin with.  How can one have assurance then apart from preaching necessary perseverance?  Surely we should preach as Paul the Apostle did in Acts 14:22?  The promise of Jesus in John 8:51 is that if we keep His Word, we will never see death.  We will die naturally in this world (Romans 5:12) but we will never die for eternity if we keep His Word (John 3:16-17).

The truth is that the conditional texts do not scare me.  They do not make me feel less saved.  They do not make me believe that i am working to keep myself saved.  In fact, just the opposite happens to me.  I thank God for the conditional texts.  I am thankful that God cares enough about my soul to warn me to continue in the faith.  I am thankful that God’s Word warns against sin (Galatians 6:7-9) and His Word calls me to forsake my sins while trusting in Christ and His grace to help me overcome sin (Titus 2:11-12; 1 John 2:1-2; 3:4-10).  I am thankful for the work of the Lord Jesus in saving me from sins by His grace and through faith in His blood (Romans 3:23-24).  Yet I equally fear Him just as He said (Luke 12:4-5).  I humble myself before the Lord Jesus and confess that I not only need Him for my salvation but I need Him for holiness as well (Luke 14:11).  Jesus alone is my salvation and I will never cease to need Him (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).

My advice is this: preach both the security and assurance we have in Jesus and preach the warning texts as well.  Preach the balanced view of Scripture.  Charles Spurgeon had written over his Pastor’s College: “Holding fast I am held.”  That should be our motto as well.  Jesus is our salvation.  We are not saved by faith in an ism but through faith in the living Person of the Lord Jesus (Romans 10:9-10).  Our salvation is not based on what I do but upon His works (Titus 3:5-7).  I am not striving to enter the kingdom by my works but His work (John 6:29).  I hold fast to Him.  I cling to Him.  I love Him above all others (Luke 14:25-27) and I pray to remain steadfast in faith in Him (Colossians 2:6-10).  I pray that nothing captivates me like Jesus (1 John 2:15-17).

The Point of Atheism

I had a run-in while out witnessing with an atheist named Jason.  Jason argued that everything we see evolved from lesser things though he had no answer to where the first lesser thing came from.  He reasoned that evolution is true because it is based on science and, according to him, has been verified over and over again as true.  When I asked him for any observable evidence for evolution, he did just what evolutionists do, he started citing millions of years ago.  When I said that I cannot see what happened millions of years ago, he grew frustrated and said that I live too short to observe evidence.

In the end, I told Jason that his faith was in science that was not observable by the way.  I too trust in God who created all things (Hebrews 11:3).  My faith is in a loving and good God who created all things and He created me as well.  While I was not there, God was there and He gave us His Word to tell us how He created and how long He created in Genesis 1-2.

The reality is that the point of atheism is simple: Romans 1:18:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

Atheists simply hate God because they love their sins.  This is the point of atheism.

Jason admitted that he had no hope.  He even told me he was sad that when his life ended it would just end and he would cease to exist.  I told Jason that the Bible says that he will stand before God after he dies (Hebrews 9:27) and give an account for his life.  Of course he rejected this and said that he would just cease to exist.

The truth is that when I observe a sunset and Jason observes a sunset, we both look at it through the lenses of a prior worldview assumption.  He looks at a beautiful sunset and he sees nothing more than randomness taking place.  He believes that nothing caused this sunset and it just exists by chance.  I look at the same sunset and see the hand of Yahweh (Psalm 19:1-6).  Jason has no hope.  I have hope.  Jason has no faith (well he does in Darwinian evolutionary theories) and I have hope in God.  Jason lives a pointless life.  I live a life where I seeking to not only love God but to help others to love Him along the way.  Jason does good to others (at least he said he does) just because he is a human who evolved from a lower substance but I do good because I am created in the image of a good God (Genesis 1:26-27).

Atheism doesn’t produce hope.  It produces death.  I don’t doubt that religion can be equally as evil but I am not calling people to a religion.  I am calling people to repentance and the truth in Christ (John 14:6).  I don’t want religious people.  I want disciples of Jesus (Matthew 28:19-20).  I want people to love Christ and obey Him as Lord (Luke 6:46-49; John 14:15).  I want people to bear the fruit of the Spirit by the work of the Spirit among them (Galatians 5:22-23) which is where true goodness comes from.  I want people to obey God and His moral law by His grace (Titus 2:11-12).

What does atheism produce?  Does it produce hope in people?  Does atheism lead to great human compassion and acts of kindness?  Where are the atheist groups feeding the poor, serving the sick and dying, giving hope to those who are struggling with life?  Where are the atheist hospitals?  Where are the large segment of atheists going forth defending life, morality, and purity?

The point of atheism is this: to hate God and love sin.  That is the simple point.  The point of atheism is cruelty.  The point of atheism is death.  The point of atheism is immorality.  The point of atheism is lawlessness.

For more information, check out this video from Ray Comfort.  It is eye-opening.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

06/29/2014 at 10:23 AM

Common Sense Evangelism Tips

Here are a few common sense evangelism tips I have gleamed over the years.  I’m sure that we all who love Jesus and preach Him to the lost could add many more to this short list.

  1. Preach Christ above all other things. 1 Corinthians 2:1-5.
  2. Don’t get into vein arguments over points that do not matter (Bible translations, baptism issues, theological points not necessary for salvation).  2 Timothy 2:24-25.
  3. Use the Law to reveal the sinner’s sin (Romans 7:7) but don’t spend all your time on the Law without pointing sinners to the truth of justification by faith (Galatians 3:24).
  4. Keep breath mints nearby.  No one likes smelly breath especially when you are giving someone the eternal truth of God.
  5. Don’t focus on things that don’t matter in this life such as sports teams, politics, social ills.  Make the gospel the focus.  Let the gospel deal with the sinner’s sin.  That is what matters.
  6. Depend on the Holy Spirit and not your own wisdom (John 16:8-11).  The Bible promises us that the Spirit will empower us (Acts 1:8) to be effective witnesses for Christ.
  7. Trust God to bring forth the fruit of our evangelism (1 Corinthians 3:6-9).
  8. Pray!  1 Timothy 2:1-6.
  9. Fill your witnessing with Scripture.  Scripture brings conversion (Psalm 19:7 NKJV).  Scripture is the supernatural revelation of God that He uses to reveal His Son to the lost (John 20:31) and Isaiah 55:11 promises that God’s Word will bring forth the results He desires.  Furthermore, Scripture brings forth faith (Romans 10:17).  Scripture is the disciple’s only weapon (Ephesians 6:17).
  10. Don’t answer fools with their own foolishness (Proverbs 26:4).
  11. Recognize that people, by nature, do not want God (Romans 3:10-18).  People will naturally reject God and His reign over us.  We must preach the gospel to them despite their rebellion (Romans 1:16-17).
  12. When I take people through the Ten Commandments, I admit that I too have violated these laws.  Admit our sins.  Admit that we too need Christ both before our salvation and even now (John 15:1-11).  I have no trouble admitting to sinners that I still need Christ but I am walking in repentance (1 John 2:1-2).
  13. People often will try to change the subject when they either don’t have an answer for us or they are under conviction.  Don’t give in to this tactic.  Keep the focus on the gospel and on the sinner’s guilt before God.  Don’t let the person try to get you to explain the Trinity or why God didn’t heal their grandmother.  Focus on Christ and His glory.
  14. When dealing with the self-righteous, use the Law.  Ray Comfort calls this “grace to the humble, law to the proud.”  The law shuts people’s self-righteous mouths (Romans 3:19-20).
  15.  Lastly, no two people are the same.  We must depend on the Spirit to guide us when witnessing just as He did the disciples in the book of Acts (Acts 8:29).  I have had witnessing encounters with people that went great while others did not go great.  We must simply let God lead us and guide us.  He is faithful to do this for His passion is for souls (Matthew 28:19).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

05/15/2014 at 10:57 AM

Are There False Converts in Arminianism?

On a follow-up post from the previous post, I wanted to address the issue of false conversions.  I first heard of this term when I first became familiar with Ray Comfort.  Comfort preached hard about false converts and how so many people in the visible church were not truly saved.  He said that false conversions are the result of a faulty gospel message.  I looked around and I agreed.  So many people in the Church seemed to have been through a ritual whether prayer or baptism or church membership but their lives were marked with sin and lack of faith in God.  They showed no zeal for the Lord, no passion for God, no hunger in prayer or for God’s Word, and lived in rebellion against God.  They said they loved Jesus but they showed through their lives that they really hated God (Titus 1:16).

I do believe there are many in the Church, whether Arminians or Calvinists, who do not know Christ as Lord.  They believe they are saved.  They would confess that they are saved but their lives show that they are lost (1 John 2:3-6).  Their life of sin shows that they are still in rebellion against God (1 John 3:6-9).

The key difference I would have with Ray Comfort would be over apostasy.  Brother Ray would say that a true child of God is saved forever and if a person falls away from the faith, they were never saved to begin with.  His teaching is that true children of God will persevere in the faith.  Those who do not prove they were not regenerated by the Spirit (1 John 2:19).  He would point to people such as Judas as proof or the false disciples of John 6:60-71.  Another example could be Simon in Acts 8:18-24.

The Arminian reply is that while there are false converts, this does not negate the fact that there are warning passages given to believers.  The entire book of Hebrews would be a case in point.  Hebrews 2:1-4; 3:6-19; 4:1-20; 5:8-9; 6:4-20; 10:19-39; 11:13-16; 12:1-29 – all these warn believers.  One must stretch to prove that the writer is not writing to believers in Christ.  Of course there are many more than the book of Hebrews but my point is that we must do something with the warning passages.  I believe they are there to warn us of a real possibility of personal apostasy so that we might avoid this (1 Corinthians 10:1-12).  1 John 2:24-25 (NKJV) says:

24 Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life.

Eternal life is found in Christ Jesus.  None dispute this point.  I would argue that the gift of eternal life is given to us in Christ Jesus and only in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:23).  To be outside of Christ is to be lost (John 15:1-11).  Jesus is our salvation from beginning to end (1 Corinthians 15:1-2).  Our salvation and our security are found in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:38-39).

So the final verdict would be that yes there are certainly those among us Arminians who are not saved.  I don’t doubt that.  This is true of all Christendom.  Yet I would also preach that true Christians must be on guard and must remain focused on Christ alone for our salvation.  I would preach that our eyes must remain fixed on Christ alone to save us (Hebrews 12:1-2) and not our good works nor our own wisdom.  Christ is our life (Colossians 3:1-4).  Remain in Jesus by faith (1 Peter 1:5) and make your calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10-11).  Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Focus on the Gospel (Follow Up Post)

As a follow up post to my last post on evangelism and The Way of the Master, I wanted to emphasis what we should be preaching in our evangelism and that is the Lord Jesus Christ.  His gospel is what saves sinners (Romans 1:16-17).  None of us believes that evangelism methods save sinners.  The “sinner’s prayer” does not save sinners.  The Ten Commandments does not save sinners.  Using signs to make people mad at you does not save sinners.  Merely preaching to a crowd about sin does not save sinners.  It is the gospel that saves sinners.

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5:

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

He wrote later in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4:

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.

That is the gospel according to Paul the Apostle.  The focus is on the Lord Jesus.  The focus is upon the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.  The focus of Paul was not on the Law or upon questions nor even upon the utter sinfulness of humanity but upon the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  This is what saves us.  His gospel is what saves.  His work is what saves.  None of us are saved because of anything or anyone other than the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Peter 3:18).  He alone bore our sins and He alone makes intercession for us before God (Hebrews 7:25; 9:14, 27-28).

I pray that in our evangelism we make much about Jesus.  Don’t make much about the Law or about the sinfulness of the hearers.  Make much about Christ.  Make much about justification through faith (Galatians 2:15-16; 3:1-5).  Make much about how we receive forgiveness of our sins through faith in Christ Jesus alone (Acts 13:38-39).  Focus on the exaltation of the Lord Jesus to the right hand of God the Father.  Focus on how it is through the cross alone that we find forgiveness of our sins and not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Make much about how no church or group can save us but only faith in the Lord Jesus (Titus 3:5-7).  Emphasize that salvation is a work of God (John 1:12-13) and while we are called to repent of our sins (Luke 24:47; Acts 2:38), the Holy Spirit is the One who brings about true conviction and true repentance (John 16:8-11).

My point here: make Jesus Christ your focus in your evangelism and this glorifies God (John 16:12-15).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/09/2013 at 10:04 AM

Anything To Not Evangelize (And Justify Their Unwillingness)

It was a year ago at the 2012 Shepherd’s Conference that Jesse Johnson lectured on The Ways of the Master in which he critiqued Ray Comfort’s ministry and their focus on the use of the Law in evangelism.  Comfort places emphasis especially upon the use of the Ten Commandments in evangelism (Exodus 20:1-17).  In Comfort’s book, The Way of the Master, he shows not just how the Bible uses the Law to convict sinners (Romans 7:7; 1 Timothy 1:8-11) but he shows what great Christian leaders such as Martin Luther, Charles Spurgeon, or John Wesley have said about the use of the Law and even the Ten Commandments.

After Johnson’s talk, the blogging world was abuzz with those lining up against Comfort and The Way of the Master.  I found that it seemed those who wanted to avoid evangelizing seemed to favor Johnson’s talk and those who were already sharing their faith lined up with Comfort.  It seemed, as I was afraid of, that the lazy would be hungry for Johnson’s talk because they wanted to be able to point to Ray Comfort and say that he was not biblical in his approach.  While Johnson did not give any “method” for evangelizing, he did seek to debunk any methods for evangelism it seemed.  I know that it is personal judgement statement (and I don’t know Johnson at all) but his talk and his writings at his blog seemed to suggest that he just wanted to avoid evangelism and his talk seemed to give others a reason to as well.

It happened that Dr. John MacArthur joined in.  Dr. MacArthur and Ray Comfort exchanged letters over the issue and in the end, Dr. MacArthur stated that he would have changed some aspects of Jesse Johnson’s talk if he knew the content.  He stated,

For the record, we have no problem using the Ten Commandments as a mirror to show people their sin. We agree with Living Waters that the Decalogue is a summary of the moral content of God’s law. The law’s moral principles reflect the unchanging character of God, so they are eternal, universally applicable, and by definition unchanging. Given those facts, surely it is appropriate to use the Decalogue as Jesus and the apostle Paul often did – to confront sinners with their sin.

Furthermore, we’re grateful for the way you have trained and encouraged so many people to do hands-on evangelism. You deserve a lot of credit for stirring the consciences of countless young believers and motivating them to share the gospel boldly. In no way would we ever want to discourage that.

We continue to believe that it is critically important for people training in the Living Waters method to 1) strengthen the gospel content of their presentation so as to be equal to the law, 2) see the law as not simply Ten Commandments, but much more as Scripture reveals, 3) To place particular emphasis on passages such as John 8:24 where Jesus says they would die in their sins for refusal to acknowledge Him. This is the greatest sin that goes beyond the Ten Commandments in its condemnation extending to every sinner.

I am grateful for your eagerness to enrich the people you train in these ways.

Yours for the Master,

John MacArthur

That pretty much ended the blogging debate since Johnson had been speaking at MacArthur’s conference, he graciously backed down from the fight.

I have found over the years that people want to not share not their faith.  Certainly there are those who want to share their faith but do not know how to begin.  They need training.  Ray Comfort has been a great source for evangelism training as have many other brothers and sisters who have learned from Ray Comfort.  I first picked up Comfort’s book back in the early 1990’s after I was saved only because Leonard Ravenhill had endorsed the book.  My thought was that if Ravenhill endorsed a book, it must be good.  And it was.  It was eye-opening.  I had never heard what Comfort was teaching.  Shortly after my conversion to Christ, I was trained in the Evangelism Explosion method which focused on the question of, “If you were to die today, where would you spend eternity?”  It was created by Dr. D. James Kennedy.  EE, as it was known, was a popular method at that time in the evangelical church.  I was taught to go door-to-door with EE to ask questions focused on getting people to respond to Christ and His claims.  While I don’t feel EE was effective at dealing with sin, it was a good tool to get me motivated to evangelize.

Comforts book though opened my eyes to the need for true conviction.  I remember he quoted from Charles Finney, “If you have a convicted sinner, convert him; if you have a converted sinner, convict him.”  Finney’s point was that the Law should be preached to bring about guilt and conviction.  Finney said further in Comfort’s book, “Where grace has been preached, I preach Law; where Law has been preached, I preach grace.”  Comfort showed me that the Law of God was there to convict me and to show me my need for Christ (Galatians 3:24 NKJV).  Comfort also showed how Jesus and the Apostles used the Law.  I had never seen this and it was refreshing to my evangelism.  I begin to use the Law to show people they were guilty before God (Romans 3:19-20).

Since that time, I have been using the Law nearly all the time in my evangelism.  I do believe we need to be discerning and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us in evangelism.  As is stated often, “Law to the proud; grace to the humble.”  The Spirit of God can help us discern where people are.  I have met many proud people.  Yet I have met some who were broken over their sin and needed grace and not law.  We need to be led by the Spirit during those times.  Like Philip in Acts 8:26-40, we need to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us in evangelism while we must be ready to witness for Christ and be ready to answer those who question us (1 Peter 3:15-16).

Yet I still meet those who want to question all forms of evangelism.  If you bring up open air preaching, they want to know how many people have become Christians from it (as if numbers were the focus of evangelism instead of the glory of God).  If you bring up Ray Comfort, they want to attack the method and say that Comfort spends too much time on the Law and not enough on the doctrine of justification.  If you bring up this or that form of evangelism, they will question every aspect of.  Why?  I believe it is to appease their guilty for not sharing their own faith.  I know many “Bible scholars” who can attack Ray Comfort’s method up and down but do they share their faith?  Do they offer solutions other than theological points about evangelism?  Do they provide us insights from their personal evangelism to show what we need to be doing to spread the gospel of Christ?

I frankly believe we can learn much from evangelists such as Ray Comfort, Kirk Cameron, Tony Miano, and many others.  Our focus should not be upon numbers but upon seeking to be biblical in our approach.  We want to exalt Christ and to bring His salvation to the nations (Mark 16:15).  Our passion should be to see people justified through faith (Romans 5:1).  But our main focus should be on the glory and exaltation of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Our aim is to please Him in all that we do (2 Corinthians 5:9-10).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/09/2013 at 9:47 AM

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