Old Doxoblogy

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Free Offer Of The Gospel

Tell me if this strikes you as odd...

You walk into a typical Independent Baptist 'Arminian' Church and listen to the preacher as he goes off on every sin in the book (and the sin of not owning the 'right book'). He gives the congregation down the road for their sins, as well he should, and he names them all and leaves no doubt who he is talking about.
As he continues preaching he has the entire congregation condemned to hell and he almost seems glad about it. Then comes the long anticipated 'invitation' time...the time for relief, the time to cast all your cares upon Christ and trust in Him alone for your salvation.
There is a prolonged invitation, as he goes through his passionate pleas for the lost to come forward, and then he speaks the words (most of you who have ever been in an IFB Church will recognize them), "You can't get saved unless you're under conviction."

Yes, you heard him right! He clarifies what he means, "If you don't feel the Holy Spirit drawing you, then you can't be saved now."
Some may have heard these words or similar words to them this past Sunday. Some of you may wonder what a Calvinist would have against these words, after all, isn't that what Irresistible Grace is all about?

Well, since you asked I will answer, "No, it's not." Irresistible Grace is about how once the Holy Spirit begins to draw you He follows though until you actually come to faith in Christ. But that's for a different time.

The big problem I have with these words is that they are representative of hyper-calvinism. That's right. The Arminian preacher has been infected with, not five-point Calvinism, but hyper-calvinism. A hyper-calvinist believes that until someone shows evidence of regeneration in their lives that the Gospel should not be given to them. So in all practicality the 'Arminian' has become hyper-calvinist in this instance.

But what is the difference between that and how the Gospel should be presented? The Gospel should always be presented as a command. God does not ask you to come to Jesus, or to invite Jesus into your heart, He demands that you repent of your sins and trust in Christ. Never mind what you feel (would the unregenerate even know what the Holy Spirit feels like? It still gives me trouble sometimes...), never mind being scared of hell, never mind anything other than this Gospel command, "Repent and believe the Gospel." Paul tells the Athenians, "God...commands all men everywhere to repent." (Act 17:30) He places no prerequisite state of mind or emotion on them, he simply relays the command, "Repent."

Our job as preachers of the Gospel, ministers of the New Covenant, is to call sinners to repentance and faith. Who are we to tell them whether or not they can come? It is God that has commanded, it is but our job to relay the command. God has not sent us to tell anyone whether or not they can believe.

It is a sad day indeed when we tell sinners that unless they 'feel' the Holy Spirit that they cannot come to Christ. Yet we can be sure that when they do believe and repent that it is the Holy Spirit that drew them to faith and repentance.

Let's just spread the Gospel to every creature, let the Holy Spirit blow where He wills, and trust God for the salvation of souls.


ThirstyDavid said...

Odd, indeed. I had never thought of it that way before.

bluecollar said...

"Our job as preachers of the Gospel, ministers of the New Covenant, is to call sinners to repentance and faith... It is God that has commanded, it is but our job to relay the command."

Yes! Excellent!

D.J. Cimino said...

Jeremy, I have indeed heard that many times. IFB land is an interesting place to say the least! :)

Garry Weaver said...

Right on, Jeremy! You have found them guilty of the very thing they are so willing to condemn in others.

BugBlaster said...

No it doesn't strike me as odd, because I've been in the pews more than once when something like this happened.

It strikes me as wrong, however.

Jeremy Weaver said...

Wrong indeedy.

Bhedr said...

Hey Jeremy,

I agree in part, but as you might suspect...I must ever endeavor to be a thorn once again. Sorry.

Not really:-)

There is much literature that I have read that is considered Calvinist that would lead to look to other things other than a transfer of trust in Christ alone. You are talking more like a Lutheran here in my opinion.

"It is a fearful thing when one is smitten with a sense of the dreadfulness of God's wrath, when his heart(emotions?) is impressed with the conviction(Holy Spirit or no) that the great God is not reconciled to him, that he holds him guilty of these and those sins, and that he is angry enought with hime to condemn him for ever. It is dreadful to lie down and rise up, it is dreadful to eat and drink, and to walk about, in God's anger from day to day." Jonathon Edwards- Safety, Fulness, and Sweet Refreshment In Christ.

Do you think maybe this preacher got his ideas from him and the great Awakening? It set a pattern for our nation. Wasn't he Calvinist? Jonathan Edwards?

"It is therefor quite a wrong notion that some entertain, that the more they do, the more they shall depend on it. Whereas the reverse is true; the more they do, or the more thorough they are in seeking, the less they will be likely to rest in their doings, and the sooner will they see the vanity of all that they do." Jonathan Edwards- Pressing Into The Kingdom Of God.

Is this not an appeal beyond Repent of Sin and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ which should be instant?

My point is not to pit Calvinist against Arminians in this, but to show that some of these Ideas within our Fundamental Churches did indeed come from some Puritan based thinking and not Pauline in theology. Yes some came from Arminian thinking as well.

I do agree with you on the bottom line. It is not our Job to find out if one is in the position and mindset of the Rich Young Ruler(Some of Edwards thoughts may apply to him or ones like minded) or the blind beggar Bartimaeus(representing the ones who need to hear relief from bondage). Our only commission is to teach men to Repent of sin and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Anything beyond that comes from our own philosophies about matters. Stick to Scripture, not to Calvin or Arminius. Be Biblical. Now who says that all the time:-)

Bhedr said...

By the way here is an invitation to the sinner by Jonathan Edward from Pressing Into The Kingdom Of God once again:

"If other persons are soon enlightened and comforted, while you remain long in darkness, there is no other way but for you to wait. God will act arbitrarily in this matter, and you cannot help it. You must be even content to wait, in a way of laborious and earnest striving, till his time comes. If you refuse, you will but undo yourself; and when you shall hereafter find yourself undone, and see that your case is past remedy, how will you condemn yourself for foregoing a great probablility of salvation, only because you had not patience to hold out, and were not willing to be at the trouble of persevering labour!" Jonathan Edwards

Does this not go even beyond that of your Independent Fundamental preacher? John Piper ascribes to this as well, in fact his whole ministry is based on this foundation. He is Calvinist and well appreciated by many in your camp is he not. Is this not Arminian philosopy as well? The exhortations to endure are for believers, not to be given in invitation. It would seem that both Edwards and Piper violate the rule of Scripture you are addressing here. Tell me if I am wrong.

We all get into trouble when we go beyond Scripture and listen to men.

Paul said not to pit one against another in 1 Corinthians 4:6

Oh hey, I just saw thirsty David wink at me. I never realized till now that he did that.

Again all we can do is tell men to repent and believe. Anything beyond that is beyond God's commission and we have gone on ahead. Hey I was Independent Baptist(SBC now) at one time, but I realized after a while that receiving some of these other philosophies were no differant.

Jeremy Weaver said...

I'm not really sure where you're disagreeing with me, Brian.

I'm simply saying that when we tell someone cannot come to Christ until they feel a certain way, then we are practically hyper-calvinists.

Bhedr said...

So would you define Piper and Edwards as Hyper-Calvinists?

I know you didn't want me to ask you that question:-)

Jeremy Weaver said...

I must be missing something. Did they ever tell anyone that they couldn't come to Christ? That's what the post is about.

Context is everything Brian. Edwards in that last quote is addressing those who are under conviction, their darkness is the weight of their sins that bear down upon them. He clarifies what he means by 'wait' at the end of the quote by saying that this 'waiting' consists of 'persevering labour'.

In other words, he is emphasizing the need for them to come to repentance and to continue coming until 'light' is finally given. No where, I repeat, no where, does he, or Piper, tell anyone not to come to Christ if they don't feel the Holy Spirit, nad I challenge you to show me where they do.

Bhedr said...

I love you brother.