“I grant freely that it costs little to be a mere outward Christian. A man has only got to attend a place of worship twice on Sunday, and to be tolerably moral during the week, and he has gone as far as thousands around him ever go in religion. All this is cheap and easy work: it entails no self-denial or self-sacrifice. If this is saving Christianity, and will take us to heaven when we die, we must alter the description of the way of life, and write, “Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to heaven!”
J. C. Ryle
This goes right along with the post about Fake Christians. Be sure to follow the link to the different types of man-made “Jesus”.
Our primary mission field today is within the church. The latest survey reveals that 86% of Americans say they believe in Jesus. Yet, a much smaller percentage of people say they are born-again Christians. How can so many people be deceived or deluded? Many of them have been told by misguided pastors or evangelists that repeating a prayer, signing a card, being baptized, joining a church or coming forward in an alter call has made them a Christian. Others have been asked to “accept” a Jesus they don’t even know. It is no wonder the Apostle Paul exhorted his readers to “examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith” (2 Cor. 13:5). We are to test ourselves and encourage others to do the same. The test: have we believed the true Jesus as he is revealed in the Scriptures or a “Jesus” who has been created by the imagination of men?
– Mike Gendron
HT: Pilgrim at DEFCON
Churchgoing in the South is a social assumption, a point of civic and cultural pride, a starting point for conversations with complete strangers: “Where do you go to church?”
Not going often results in a stigma reflected in the billboard alongside Interstate 65 in Prattville: “Go to church or the devil will get you!”
People who don’t go to church may be a lot more familiar with Christianity than many church leaders believe, staying away from the pews because of bad experiences, not because they’ve never heard about Jesus, according to recent surveys by the Barna Group.
Although churches frequently say they try to attract people who are “lost,” most Americans not attending worship services — 61 percent — consider themselves Christians, Barna reports. About 39 percent say they are not Christian. About 18 percent of people not attending church identify themselves as born-again Christians who have made a personal commitment to Jesus that’s still important in their lives, according to Barna, which specializes in research about evangelical Christians.
Research shows that most unchurched people — more than four out of five — were formerly regular participants in church life, many of whom departed after an ugly incident that hurt them deeply, Barna reported.
The Rev. George Hollis, pastor of Cahaba Valley Church, said he has seen cases at other churches where members left in anger over improper relationships, fights between choir members and a conflict over who would be scout leader.
“It can be so many things,” Hollis said. “I bet it’s mostly not theology.”
This is the fruit of being in the “Bible Belt“, where theology is less important than hurt feelings and the unchurched still claim to be Christians!
2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! ESV
“Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?” (Galatians 4:16)
But Can One Truly Be A Fisherman, If He Never Goes Fishing And Catches Fish?
Now it came to pass that a group existed who called themselves fishermen. And lo, there were many fish in the waters all around. In fact, the whole area was surrounded by streams and lakes filled with fish. And the fish were hungry. Year after year these who called themselves fishermen met in meetings and talked about their call to fish, the abundance of fish, and how they might go about fishing.
Continually they searched for new and better definitions of fishing. They sponsored costly nationwide and worldwide congresses to discuss fishing and to promote fishing and hear about all the ways of fishing. These fishermen built large, beautiful buildings called “Fishing Headquarters.” The plea was that everyone should be a fisherman and every fisherman should fish.
One thing they didn’t do, however; they didn’t fish. They organized a board to send out fishermen to where there were many fish. The board was formed by those who had the great vision and courage to speak about fishing, to define fishing, and to promote the idea of fishing in far-away streams and lakes where many other fish of different colors lived.
Counseling Seekers by Jeff Noblit
The problem is there is little to no counseling done.
There is a numbers idolatry today.
No man can judge whether a person is saved or not.
An old method of joining the church was by “Experience.”
Only the Lord adds to the number of the church.
Acts 2:47 And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. ESV
Often people will say that the Acts church would baptize the new converts right away. That is true but the Acts church was in a different context.
Start of the Church
When new believers joined the church they were ostracized by their families and suffered intense persecution. Joining the church was not the light matter that it is in today’s churches in America.
I. Discerning Awakening, Conviction and Conversion
4 For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit,
5 and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come,
6 if they then fall away, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. ESV
Tasting is not swallowing.
3 “Listen! A sower went out to sow.
4 And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it.
5 Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil.
6 And when the sun rose it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away.
7 Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain.
8 And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” ESV
John 16:8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: ESV
Seeing self as corrupt not just their actions.
Rising of faith in the heart.
II. The Counseling Session
B. Holy Spirit
C. Knowledgeable Counselors – Knows the Word of God – Rom 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. ESV
D. Tools available – CD’s, Books, Faith cometh by hearing
Press upon them their lostness.
Look for the witness of the Spirit.
Rom 8:16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, … ESV
Counseling Seekers for Repentance 2/21/2009
by Daryl Wingerd
What if your grandmother were to develop flu-like symptoms about a month after receiving her flu shot? Would you say, “Grandma, you can’t have the flu. You just got your flu shot last month.”
What if her doctor also said, “She does have the classic flu symptoms, but she cannot have the flu because I gave her a flu shot”? And what if your grandmother herself refused to believe that she could have the flu because she had received the inoculation?
Your grandmother’s flu-like symptoms should influence your response to the situation far more than anyone’s assumptions about the effectiveness of the flu shot.
While only some people get the flu, every person has a much bigger problem. And it is no mere illness. Everyone is born spiritually dead (Psalm 51:5; Eph. 2:1-3). It is a willful, sinful deadness that offends God and demands His just punishment. And it too has evident symptoms.
Without a microscope you cannot see the virus that causes the flu. But you can notice its effects on the body—fever, chills, aching bones, etc. Only God can see the heart of the spiritually dead person (the one who has not been born again), but everyone can see what flows from it. As Jesus said:
For from within, out of the heart of man, proceed evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man. (Mark 7:21-23)
Now here is the question I want you to ponder: What if a person who says he has been born again still displays the symptoms of a dead, unchanged heart? In other words, he says he has “received Jesus,” “made a decision for Christ,” or “invited Jesus into his heart” yet shows no signs of having been cured. Would you just assume that he is saved because he says he has been “inoculated”? Can you rightly consider him to be “born again,” even though he consistently thinks, speaks, and acts just like the people who make no such claim?
Consider some of the following “symptoms”—patterns of thought and behavior that the Bible says do not characterize the true Christian:
- Denial or serious distortion of essential biblical truths (such as the deity of Christ, His bodily resurrection, justification by faith alone, etc; Gal. 1:8-9; 2 Pet. 3:16; 2 John 9).
- Lack of love for Christ. This is often seen in ongoing patterns of disobedience to Him (John 14:15; 1 John 2:3-4; see 1Cor. 16:22). True Christian obedience (as opposed to mere moral behavior) flows from heart—felt affection for Christ.
- Disinterest in God’s Word. The Bible is the revelation of God Himself (John 5:39). The person who has no interest in the Bible has no interest in God (see Ps. 138:2).
- Lack of love for other Christians (1 John 2:9-10; 3:10). For example: The person who abandons Christian fellowship altogether, or the one who remains formally “connected” through church membership but does not participate in regular, active fellowship with other believers, does not truly love them.
- Pride (Prov. 6:16-19; 8:13; Luke 18:10-14). This is commonly seen in eagerness to dwell on the sins of others, while being reluctant to confess personal sins and seek forgiveness.
- Unforgiveness (Matt. 6:14-15; 18:21-35).
- Fornication, adultery, or any other form of sexual immorality (Eph. 5:5; 1 Cor. 6:9-10).
- Covetousness—the pursuit of money, material things, or other forms of gratification in a way that reveals idolatry in the heart (1 Cor. 6:10; Eph. 5:5; Col. 3:5; 1 John 2:15-16).
- Habitual outbursts of anger (Gal. 5:19-21).
- Drunkenness or other forms of chemical addiction (Gal. 5:21).
Should we take comfort in the fact that some of our friends or family members have received their “gospel flu shot” and naively consider them safe and well, even though they consistently display classic symptoms of spiritual deadness—attitudes and actions the Bible repeatedly says are characteristic only of people who are unsaved and going to hell? Or should their symptoms cause deep concern and prompt us to become lovingly involved?
“For you know this with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” (Eph. 5:5)
“My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.” (James 5:19-20)
Copyright © 2005 Daryl Wingerd.
Permission granted for electronic reproduction in exact form.
All other uses require written permission
*To download this article in a handout form, click here.
When I have been asked why we have attended a church that I did not support totally, I have often said I felt like a missionary to our church. Usually that gets me a strange look and I have to explain. My reasoning is that there are just as many unsaved in the church than outside the church. Missionaries are often very willing to go out and share with those in a foreign country but it is much harder to share with those who think they are Christians but aren’t. I really have not found a good way to share the gospel with those who say they are Christians.
I was reading in Ezekiel just the other night when I found some very interesting verses that just really applies to the idea of being a missionary to the church. It amazes me how I can read verses for years but then suddenly read them and get so much more from them.
Ezekiel was sent to the Israelites (church) to be a prophet to them and bring them back to the Lord.
3 And he said unto me, Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that hath rebelled against me: they and their fathers have transgressed against me, even unto this very day.
4 For they are impudent children and stiffhearted. I do send thee unto them; and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God.
5 And they, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, (for they are a rebellious house,) yet shall know that there hath been a prophet among them. KJV
Ezekiel was told to not fear the words of the rebellious or to be bothered by their looks of scorn. No matter what – speak the words of the Lord.
6 And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions: be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house.
7 And thou shalt speak my words unto them, whether they will hear, or whether
they will forbear: for they are most rebellious. KJV
Ezekiel was not sent to a foreign people who spoke a foreign language. He was sent to familiar people that spoke his language. Then the Lord says an amazing thing! If I had sent you to a foreign people they would have believed, but the Israelites (church) would not listen.
5 For thou art not sent to a people of a strange speech and of an hard language, but to the house of Israel;
6 Not to many people of a strange speech and of an hard language, whose words thou canst not understand. Surely, had I sent thee to them, they would have hearkened unto thee.
7 But the house of Israel will not hearken unto thee; for they will not hearken unto me: for all the house of Israel are impudent and hardhearted. KJV
Then the Lord repeats again not to be afraid of them or their scorn.
Ezek 3:9 … fear them not, neither be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house. KJV
Ezekiel is told to take the Lord’s words into his heart and to fill his ears with the words of the Lord.
Ezek 3:10 Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, all my words that I shall speak unto thee receive in thine heart, and hear with thine ears. KJV
Tell the people whether they listen or not, the words of the Lord.
Ezek 3:11 And go, get thee to them of the captivity, unto the children of thy people, and speak unto them, and tell them, Thus saith the Lord God; whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear. KJV
Even the Lord says it is hard to witness to and convert the Isrealites (church).