“It is finished.”
False Assumptions because of the Cross
Ever wonder how “people of the book” can get so far away from God? Ever struggle with church members that cling to the old rugged cross to proclaim their forgiveness for continuing in their rebellious ways? The greatest truth in all of Scripture is that because of Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross eternal life has been obtained for all who believe in Him as the Son of God (John 20:31; Hebrews 9:12). No one can do anything to add to the finished work of Christ’s sacrificial death (John 19:30).
Unfortunately with this great truth comes great distortion. Some who have claimed faith in Jesus do little to nothing to develop their spiritual lives. They grow lazy and fat in their souls. The idea of spiritual exercise is repugnant to them. They have become pew potatoes and have no desire to lift a single finger for the kingdom. When you dare ask these individuals about their spiritual life they claim their faith in Jesus as proof of God’s approval of them, sing a couple verses of “There’s Power in the Blood,” and go back to their worldly, spiritually apathetic lives.
Of course, today’s generation is not the first to misapply the message of God’s grace and love for the sake of worldly pleasure. The Apostle Paul constantly battled against those that misapplied his gospel of grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. In Romans, he builds his case against those that claim his teachings lead to lawlessness and increase in sin. In Galatians, he strongly defends justification by faith alone and then follows it up with the fruit of the Spirit for guidelines on how to live out faith.
Over the next four articles I will identify 4 false implications or misapplications of the death of Christ and offer a contrasting alternative that leads to the abundant life and the eternal impact God desires for followers of Christ. Conscious or not, those living by these false implications are in danger of trampling “underfoot the Son of God” and insulting the “Spirit of grace (Heb 10:28).”
Is it unbiblical to encourage someone to pray to “receive” or “accept” Christ as their Lord and Savior? Is it unbiblical to speak of inviting Christ into your heart or life? Dr. Steve Gaines (Pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in the Memphis suburb of Cordova, Tennessee, and a member of the committee that framed the Baptist Faith and Message 2000), speaking from John 1:12 and numerous other scriptural texts, provides a biblical perspective on these questions in this YouTube video entitled, “What the Bible Says about Accepting Jesus into Your Heart” –
Dr. Malcolm Yarnell (Professor of Systematic Theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Director of the Center for Theological Research, and Editor of the Southwestern Journal of Theology), provides a further discussion of these issues in this blog post about “Is It Biblical to Ask Jesus into Your Heart?” –
Both of these respected theologians and preachers find plenty of biblical evidence that praying to “receive” Christ is not only allowed in Scripture, but is commanded in Scripture. What does your Bible say?
Dr. Bonts is the Senior Pastor of Parkway Baptist Church in Auburn, Alabama. He has earned a BA in Theology from The Baptist College of Florida, and an MDiv and PhD from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Over the course of my fifteen years in ministry, Southern Baptists have written much in defense of various positions on the doctrine of salvation within the Southern Baptist Convention. Calvinist blogs sprung up en masse, defending the views many felt Southern Baptists had neglected for the better part of a century. Non-Calvinist blogs responded with a remonstrance of sorts to defend their view of our theological heritage. Others have even tried to advocate a “baptist” doctrine of salvation, which is odd, given that “baptist” has always been a moniker that described one’s doctrine of the church.
Those who enter the fray usually share a common denominator: a desire for scriptural faithfulness. The debate over God’s providence in salvation, however, often causes us to lose sight of the common understanding of evangelism and salvation that have held Southern Baptists together for over 150 years. By focusing so much upon what separates us, we have forgotten the beliefs that unite us and allow us to cooperate.
Southern Baptists’ Common Beliefs Regarding the Doctrine of Salvation
To be sure, Southern Baptists have a great deal more in common than what I have listed. These commonalities, however, should remind us that when it comes to the gospel of King Jesus and the command of the Great Commission, there is more to unite us than divide us. For the sake of cooperation and kingdom advance, we must move beyond the sometimes petty arguments about what was going on in the mind of God in eternity past as he planned to create humanity. Instead, we must move toward a cooperative effort to populate the community of God for eternity future through the preaching of the gospel. After all, the Southern Baptist Convention was founded, in part, for the sake of evangelistic cooperation. While there is certainly a time and place for the irenic discussion of the tertiary theological issues in Scripture, at the point where they begin to affect our willingness to cooperate (and from my observation point, they have), then we have quit following Jesus Christ as a convention. An inward focus always prevents an outward impact.
By Ron F. Hale.
He has served as Pastor, Church Planter, Strategist (NAMB), Director of Missions, Associate Executive Director of Evangelism and Church Planting for a State Convention, and now in the 4th quarter of ministry as Minister of Missions.
“You will not find a place where a superstitious sinner’s prayer is even mentioned. And you will not find an emphasis on accepting Jesus.”
Chuck Colson died recently. Nixon’s former hatchet man is now with Jesus! Out of crisis, Colson came to Christ many years ago.
A friend influenced Mr. Colson’s salvation experience by giving him a copy of Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis. The Holy Spirit began convicting and convincing Colson of his sin and need.
Colson finally said, “No, I knew the time had come for me: I could not sidestep the central question Lewis (or God) had placed squarely before me. Was I to accept without reservations Jesus Christ as Lord of my life? “ He went on to say, “And as something pressed that question home, less and less was I troubled by the curious phrase “accept Jesus Christ.” It had sounded at first both pious and mystical, language of the zealot, maybe black-magic stuff. But “to accept” means no more than “to believe.” Did I believe what Jesus said? If I did, if I took it on faith or reason or both, then I accepted.”
So early one Friday morning, in a secluded cottage along the coast of Maine, Charles W. Colson prayed a kind of “sinner’s prayer” to God, as he cried out, “Lord Jesus, I believe You. I accept You. Please come into my life. I commit it to You.”
The “Sinner’s Prayer” has been getting a lot of negative press over the last few years. People showing disapproval of the “Sinner’s Prayer” will also say something like, “The Bible never talks about asking Jesus into your heart.”
This article will deal with two questions: Can Jesus Christ come to live in our hearts as Believers? And, can a sinner call on Jesus to be saved? Hopefully, some confusion will be cleared up as we look at the Scriptures. I will not be addressing Dr. Platt’s assertion that the sinner’s prayer is superstitious. Hopefully, he can explain more about that in the days to come.
Beyond Calvinism and Arminianism: Toward a Baptist Soteriology
Part 4: The Anthropological Presuppositions
Editor’s Note: Today’s post is the fourth of a four-part series by Eric Hankins entitled “Beyond Calvinism and Arminianism: Toward a Baptist Soteriology.” This series attempts to frame Baptist soteriology in a different structure than the traditional “TULIP” comparisons with the doctrines of Calvinism or Arminianism.
The Scriptures clearly affirm that all people are sinners. Because of sin, humans are in a disastrous state, unable to alter the trajectory of their rebellion against God, unable to clear their debt of sin against Him, unable to work their way back to Him through their best efforts. This situation is one of their own creating and for which they are ultimately responsible.
About these realities, there is little debate in evangelical theology. What is at issue is what being a sinner means when it comes to responding to God’s offer of covenant relationship through the power of the gospel.
Both Calvinism and Arminianism affirm that the Fall resulted in “total depravity,” the complete incapacitation of humanity’s free response to God’s gracious offer of covenant relationship. In Calvinism, the only remedies for this state-of-affairs are the “doctrines of grace” in which the free response of individuals is not decisive. For Arminianism, total depravity, which is purely speculative, is corrected by prevenient grace, which is even more speculative, and makes total depravity ultimately meaningless because God never allows it to have any effect on any person.
Nothing in Scripture indicates that humans have been rendered “totally depraved” through Adam’s sin. Genesis 3 gives an extensive account of the consequences of Adam’s sin, but nowhere is there the idea that Adam or his progeny lost the ability to respond to God in faith, a condition which then required some sort of restoration by regeneration or prevenient grace. In fact, just the opposite appears to be the case. The story of God’s relationship with humankind is fraught with frustration, sadness, and wrath on God’s part, not because humans are incapable of a faith response, but because they are capable of it, yet reject God’s offer of covenant relationship anyway. To be sure, they are not capable of responding in faith without God’s special revelation of Himself through Christ and His Spirit’s drawing. Any morally responsible person, however, who encounters the gospel in the power of the Spirit (even though he has a will so damaged by sin that he is incapable of having a relationship with God without the gospel) is able to respond to that “well-meant offer.”