So What’s the Problem?

by Jim Elliff

A well-known Christian philosopher, Francis Schaeffer, was asked this question: If you had only one hour on a train to tell someone about Christ, what would you do? He answered: I would spend forty-five minutes showing him the problem, and fifteen minutes showing him the solution.

Do you have a problem? Perhaps it is not so easy for you to see. If you have good relationships, make good grades, have a family that loves you, and feel hope about the future, then you may not think there is anything to be fixed. But there is. Your problem is with God, and it is serious enough to cost you everything good for all of eternity.

You may not feel your problem right now. A man may be condemned as guilty and yet not feel guilty, just as a person might have cancer and not feel it or even know it. There is real or legal guilt and there is emotional guilt. But regardless how your emotions are experiencing your dilemma, God makes it clear that you have an insurmountable problem.

So what’s the problem?

The Bible uses several words and phrases to help us understand. First, it says you are dead—not sick, not desperately sick, not sick to the point of death, but DEAD! “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins….” (Eph. 2:1) So the old story that says salvation is like a Christian throwing a lifeline out to a floundering, drowning man is not the truth. It is worse than you thought. You’re not drowning, you’re face down on the ocean floor!

Second, the Bible says that you are BLIND. “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.” (2 Cor. 4:4) Just as a person in a cave cannot see his hand in front of him when there is no light, so you cannot see Christ without God shining his light on you (see vs. 6). In a world of sightless people, everyone imagines his own inward reality, but he cannot see the truth unless God gives him sight. He sees lies, but cannot see truth.

The Bible says that you are LOST. In Luke fifteen Jesus described lostness by telling the stories of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. There is nothing more hopeless than being lost. Like the man in a blinding blizzard, every turn seems right for the moment, but all is futile.

The Bible also says that you are CONDEMNED. This means that you are under the judgment of God for your disobedience against Him. “Whoever does not believe stands condemned already….” (Jn. 3: 18) God condemns every unbelieving person to hell, even if he or she is in the remotest part of the world. He is just in doing so, because unbelievers have sinned against whatever knowledge of God they have. (see Rom. 1)

What I am trying to say is that you do have a problem, and it is the type of problem that can only be solved with help from the outside. As a dead person you cannot make yourself alive; as a blind person you cannot give yourself sight; as a lost person you cannot find your way out; and as a condemned person, you cannot absolve yourself from your actual guilt. You have a problem and you really don’t have a solution unless it comes from somewhere else besides you.

Trying to overcome your problem on your own is a useless exercise. The famous preacher of the 1700s, George Whitefield, once said, “What! Get to heaven on your own strength? Why, you might as well try to climb to the moon on a rope of sand!” Like trying to jump six foot hurdles, you simply cannot accomplish what God requires.

How does God solve your problem? First, He sets His heart on you from eternity past. Think about that! What an exciting thing to know that God has forever loved people just like you. “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jer. 31:3)

Next, He sends His Son, Jesus Christ, to cover the cost of your sins by dying on the cross in your place. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8) In Christ’s death the full payment for all the sins of all who come to Him are fully met. In this way God’s justice is satisfied and you are fully pardoned. This is why Christ is called the Savior, or the Rescuer.

Finally, He pursues you by His Spirit, convicting you of your sinfulness, teaching you about the nature of salvation, and drawing you to Christ’s beauty and worthiness (see Jn. 16:9-11; Jn. 6:44; Jn. 6:45). Christ becomes irresistible to you. The Bible teaches that even the faith you exercise is a gift from Him. (see Eph. 2:8-9)

You have a problem and God has the solution—the only solution.

The people who have experienced this solution are called believers. They look away from themselves to Christ. They believe that God has loved them from eternity past. They believe that the payment of Christ on the cross for sins was for them. They find Christ irresistible, and following Him the greatest privilege of all. They have faith in Christ and what He has done for them. They trust Christ, looking outside of themselves to Him alone. They believe.

“Now to you who believe, this stone (Christ) is precious.” (1 Pet. 2:7)

Copyright © 2001 Jim Elliff. Christian Communicators Worldwide, Inc. Permission granted for not-for-sale reproduction in unedited form including author’s name, title, complete content, copyright and weblink. Other uses require written permission.
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Candy Coated, Romantic Gospel Appeals

“If the professed convert distinctly and deliberately declares that he knows the Lord’s will but does not mean to attend to it, you are not to pamper his presumption, but it is your duty to assure him that he is not saved. Do not suppose that the Gospel is magnified or God glorified by going to the worldlings and telling them that they may be saved at this moment by simply accepting Christ as their Savior, while they are wedded to their idols, and their hearts are still in love with sin. If I do so I tell them a lie, pervert the Gospel , insult Christ, and turn the grace of God into lasciviousness.”

Those kinds of words fall on deaf ears today.

They are not cool, contemporary, relatable, winsome, attractive. They sound too harsh, too judgmental, too defining, too narrow, and… too biblical. Compare the above with the following attempts in addressing a lost world.

Just tell an audience

that God is crazy about you; that He doesn’t want to punish you; that the dread Sovereign of the universe is a powerless lover down on one knee begging you to be His bride and has to wait to see if you choose to accept Him; that the whole universe is proposing to you; that He wants you to fall in love with Him; that His law is designed just to make this world a better place; and as you proclaim the gospel to insure the highest success from as many nonbelievers as possible, make sure you don’t speak about repentance from sin; justification by faith; the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ; submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ; don’t ever mention Scripture specifically, open up a Bible and actually read it, or use Bible sounding words; just carry a surfboard against the backdrop of beautiful scenery, walk along a beach and show that you’re a regular guy who can relate by talking about how fast the planet earth revolves around the sun, get all giggly that God created laughter, and make it as comfortable as possible for people to hear some things about the gospel; but don’t ever mention that you must come to the end of yourself–deny yourself; take up your cross and follow Him; don’t ever tell them that God is angry with them and His wrath abides on them; don’t mention Hell (to negative); don’t ever tell them that they have to hate their own lives, their father, mother, brother, sister, son and daughter and love Him more than all other loves or they cannot be His disciple; just reassure them that God loves them just the way they are and wants to give them a better life if they would cry out and say “I love You too.”

This is from Steve Camp’s post yesterday which I think fits well with the

I Asked Jesus Into My Heart … from yesterday.

Click below to read the rest of Steve Camp’s post.

SOME PURPOSE TO REMOVE THE OFFENSE OF THE CROSS…the ineffectualness of candy coated, romantic gospel appeals


I Asked Jesus Into My Heart …


Are you saved and going to Heaven because you “asked Jesus into your heart“?

How many times have you heard someone say the following sentence? Or, maybe even you have said? “I asked Jesus into my heart.” They may add that they did this as a child, maybe even during VBS (Vacation Bible School). They walked down the aisle at church or that they prayed a prayer. What exactly does that mean?

Did a little miniature Jesus actually move in? Is there really a microscopic Jesus that has “filled the God-shaped hole in their heart“? Which ventricle did he pick? Nevertheless, maybe you would contend that this is just figurative. That it symbolizes believing in Jesus.

There is no basis for statements like these in the Bible. Where can you find anything that even possibly resembles this? This verse is often used as a basis for these statements.

Rev 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. KJV

That is similar to “Jesus is standing at the door of your heart knocking. If you will open the door He will come in.” Doesn’t sound bad at first glance. Yet it is wrong. The full context of the verse is in relation to the church.

Rev 3:14-22

14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;

15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. KJV  

See this is referring to the door of the church not to a person’s heart. Hearts do not have doors!

If you have ever seen a picture of Jesus standing at the door, often the door is shown without a handle. This Jesus can’t get in unless you open the door. They have reduced the Powerful, Almighty Lord to handwringing and begging for anyone to let him in. This is not the Lord and Master of all creation – this is a different “Jesus.” As Paul Washer has been known to say, “Jesus would kick the door in if He wanted in“.

2 Cor 11:4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. KJV

What must you do to be saved?

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. KJV

John 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. KJV

Acts 16:30-31 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?   31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. KJV

If you asked Jesus to come into your heart you should reevaluate your salvation.  Are you encouraging others to “ask Jesus to come into their heart?”


Jesus doesn’t just want your heart – He wants all of you!



“I only am escaped alone to tell thee.” – Don Fortner

I only am escaped alone to tell thee.”
(Job 1:19)

There are many ways in which my own experience of God’s grace and his good providence compel me to adopt the language used by Job’s messenger as my own.

Looking back to the day of my birth, had not the Lord God preserved me from my mother’s womb, I would have surely perished. Many did in those days. But he who formed me in the belly loved me. Before I came forth from my mother’s womb, he sanctified me and ordained me as his messenger to you (Jeremiah 1:5). — “And I only am escaped alone to tell thee.”

My childhood, like yours, was filled with perils and dangers, in which multitudes dropped all around me. Many with whom I attended school are in hell today, others are in prison; and I would certainly have been in one or the other, had it not been for the fact that God spared me. He preserved me by his boundless, free grace and distinguishing mercy. — “And I only am escaped alone to tell thee.”

When, as a youth I lived at the edge of hell, playing with death, with my fists clinched, shaking them in my ever-gracious God’s face, courting his wrath every day, flirting with hell every night, the only reason I did not perish in the way I chose is the fact that I was “preserved for Jesus Christ” from eternity (Jude 1). Nothing else can satisfactorily explain why my actions did not result in my death. — “And I only am escaped alone to tell thee.”

Oh the wonders of God’s distinguishing love toward me as the highly favored object of his mercy, by which he hedged me about and kept me (Hosea 1:6), when I had no awareness of his love for me, when I was utterly unconscious of the fact that he was watching over me and performing all things for me (Psalm 57:2), preserving me unto the day that he would call me by his grace! Hawker asked with astonishment, “Who shall count the sum of distinguishing mercy, in preserving and upholding providences, during the whole of an unconverted state?”— “And I only am escaped alone to tell thee.”

Then, after he called me by his grace, giving me life and faith, salvation and forgiveness in Christ, how magnificently he has continued to uphold and preserve me from all evil, sparing my life in the midst of one sickness and then another! Why has he spared me? Why do I still reside in this tabernacle? I am convinced that there is no other reason but this: — “And I only am escaped alone to tell thee.”

All around me I see multitudes dying and dead in trespasses and sins, unawakened, unconcerned, unregenerated. I understand, (O Spirit of God remind me constantly!), that I have been spared, that I live to “declare the works of the Lord” (Psalm 118:17). — “And I only am escaped alone to tell thee.” God give me grace to proclaim with earnestness the glorious gospel of his dear Son. To tell all who can be reached by my voice, and pen, and influence of the wonders of redeeming love. — “Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul” (Psalms 66:16). — “And I only am escaped alone to tell thee.”

By Don Fortner in Grace Bulletin August 3, 2008

Web Page:
Grace Baptist Church of Danville
Donald S. Fortner, Pastor


Six Signs of a False Conversion – addition to the post

My husband has added a portion to his Six Signs of a False Conversion.

Sign #1 originally had the following:

The joy doesn’t last. This person may exhibit spectacular growth for a while, but over time the joy fades, and the person falls away. This is the person who hasn’t “counted the cost”, who hasn’t weighed all the issues.

Luke 14:26-30 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters — yes, even his own life — he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’” (NIV)      

But after some discussion and study the addition includes a portion about receiving the Gospel with joy instead of with a broken and contrite spirit. If a person is not broken over the sin in their life and concerned that they are condemned to Hell then the chances are great that they would be a false convert.  

Sign #1 – Immediate Joy That Doesn’t Last

Jesus says that a sign of a false convert is a person who is immediately filled with joy upon hearing the gospel message, but followed by a quick fading away. There are two problems inherit with immediate joy that doesn’t last. First, the joy is immediate. Second, the joy doesn’t last. Let’s examine these two things more closely.

First, the joy is immediate. There is no sorrow that precedes the joy. A person who has truly come to faith in Jesus Christ has faced the conviction of their sin. This conviction of sin shows in a person through a broken and contrite heart. Many people who hear the modern gospel message only hear about the joy of eternal life, and they accept it gladly. They have never heard and come to understand the need to repent of their sins. They don’t know the wrath of God that they have been saved from.

Psalm 51:17 “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (NIV)

Joel 2:12-13 “‘Even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.’ Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.” (NIV)

Second, the joy doesn’t last. This person may exhibit spectacular growth for a while, but over time the joy fades, and the person falls away. This is the person who hasn’t “counted the cost”, who hasn’t weighed all the issues.

Luke 14:26-30 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters — yes, even his own life — he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’” (NIV) 


Quote – Bible

Ezekiel 3:18-21

18 When I say to a wicked man, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. 19 But if you do warn the wicked man and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his evil ways, he will die for his sin; but you will have saved yourself.

20 “Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and does evil, and I put a stumbling block before him, he will die. Since you did not warn him, he will die for his sin. The righteous things he did will not be remembered, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. 21 But if you do warn the righteous man not to sin and he does not sin, he will surely live because he took warning, and you will have saved yourself.” NIV