And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (Rom 5:3-6)

Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel. (Psalm 69:6)

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Critique of Evangelis via J C Ryle part III

Part 3

Our third installment of Evangelism via J C Ryle

(3) Faith is not properly explained. In some cases people are taught that mere feeling is faith. In others they are taught that if they believe that Christ died for sinners they have faith! At this rate the very devils are believers!

Just last night my eight year old daughter came to faith in Christ. I am trilled that the quiver of arrows God has entrusted me with is now complete in Christ. As she was sharing her decision with me I wanted to restrict my emotions for the very reason Dr. Ryle addresses above. I do not want her thinking that Christianity is an emotion state of being.

Ryle is spot on. Too often methods of sharing your faith are too simplistic. What we are saying her is that faith is often reduced to a feeling. It is also legalistically explained as blunt thoughtless confession as a magical mantra that qualifies as good enough to gain you an inheritance in Christ’s blood. This simply is not true. As Jesus said it is like the Pharisees making someone twice as much a child of hell. It give a false assurance. Better the Christian who doubts his/her salvation than the lost sinner who has false assurance. But better still is that complete Christian who strives for an authentic living of the faith.

Ryle mentions as James does that the devils believe, and they shudder. The demons believe with greater faith that Christ is the savior, that He is Lord. But He is not their love. The problem I often see in Christianity lite is the lumping of God in with all our other delights. We do not revere Him not have His in holy sanctified regard. We see Him as serving us, rather than our sinfulness atoned for by who He is. Great and costly value is attributed unto God by the truly redeemed. No one should be led to "pray a prayer" without this. This is what differentiates us from demons.

As I listened to my daughter last night I had her explain to me what she meant. We often talk of Savior, Lord, and Love being three concrete identifiable factors of being a truly converted sinner. I have written on these before in this blog. A search within its contents will find it. To be a Christian requites an acknowledgment of sin, the need of Christ as Lord, and we must love Him. We cannot love Jesus “and”. It is to be Jesus alone.

My great problem with sales stylized evangelistic programs is that too little is either spent on the conviction and repentance of sin and also the place of love for God that is at the heart of Christianity. They also often play to the emotional fear of burning in Hell. This is an aspect that should not be ignored, but what you save them with is what you save them to. Remember, my theology was skewed by thinking this was all there is. So last night I needed to apply a proper dialog and counsel for the salvation questions needed for my daughter. Mind you an eight year old girl is not going to have a theology degree. But what we can look for is the workings of the holy Spirit. The majority of evangelistic methods I have seen are mere sales pitches. Everybody basically desires a “get out of Hell free” card much like life caricatures a Monopoly game. We simply must not do this.

God can save someone in an instant. Often He puts the right person with the right other person and one of these methods does work. However, I can drive a nail with a rock, but a hammer is much better. One reason I base my conclusions upon is how few people remain in discipleship within a year later making such a decision. Many fall away just as Christ shared in the seed and the sewer example. Yes they receive the word, but being rootless they wither quickly.

So what should proper evangelism contain? Check the following entries as we continue to learn from Dr. Ryle.


Jonathan Edwards wrote a great book The Religious Affections. In it he debates and clarifies the need and purposes of emotions in worship and faith. Though it is a higher level read it is one of those books that every Christian ought to read and apply. If you have ever “not felt like a Christian” or had an emotional experience where a great commitment that now has gone by the wayside this book will give profitable insight. In short, it also condemns the fanatical means of “prosperity gospel”.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Critique of Evangelism via J C Ryle part II

One thing to note is when this was written. John Charles Ryle lived from 1816 to 1900. Our considered work was published in 1879. This was about the time that Charles Finney was transforming the way we did church. Finny was the one whom is credited with “The alter call”. Now I am no expert on Finney, but what I have learned is that he utilized showmanship and emotional theatrics to gain converts. Numbers are what mattered. Thus today we see many of the same devices employed for the appearance of the activity of God.

Let me go on record to say that I am not dismissing the alter call, just critiquing it. I believe that an alter call may have its place. But what is rather to be preferred is the puritan means of “Inquirery”. Inquirery was an extensive visit of the minister to the home of the parishioner. Here the minister would have scheduled time, often two hours or more, to inquire of the spiritual condition of the home and to allow the members of the home to ask direct pointed questions. It was not rushed. It also revealed the consummate nature of spiritual urgency. A minister was afforded the time to ask pointed and specific questions. Typical Sunday school answers would not suffice. Thus the result was often either the making of true disciples or clearly leaving the unconverted with an unquestionable understanding of how the scriptures applied to their condition. Thus my critique of Finney is that he closed the deal quickly and the seed of the word that was sewn was upon the rocky soil at best.

That being said, let us turn again to what Ryle teaches of evangelism.

The defects of the theological system I have in view appear to me to be these: (1) The work of the Holy Ghost in converting sinners is far too much narrowed and confined to one single way. Not all true converts are converted instantaneously, like Saul and the Philippian jailor.

I would agree. Many people it seems come to Christ in a gradual progression. In our church we have a woman who can not point to a single moment when she can say was definitive. She simply says that she knows the Truth that sets her free.

(2) Sinners are not sufficiently instructed about the holiness of God's law, the depth of their sinfulness, and the real guilt of sin. To be incessantly telling a sinner to "come to Christ" is of little use, unless you tell him why he needs to come, and show him fully his sins.

Here is my largest agreement with Ryle. When I “was led to Christ” as a young child it was a quick sale. I did not understand about holiness to any degree. I just wanted a “get out of Hell free card”. I then went about with a notion that I was saved, could not lose my salvations, and could freely sin. I had no idea of the real guilt of my sin, and thus no real understanding of the glory of Christ or the cross. I was nearly through seminary before making this discovery. It also wasn’t until years later that I even went to a greater depth in this understanding. I have missed out on so much worship and knowledge of God, sinned aggressively, all because of a liberal doctrine of sin and holiness. Too often I saw God loving me because I was lovable, after all He died for me right? I did not understand that He died for me based on whom He is , no on whom I am.

We must make this clear. We need to know our sin.

Let us look at it this way, by helping the sinner to see their sin it causes them to recognize the discrepancy between themselves and the holiness of God. Thus then they see the value of being saved. In America today we fail to see our depravity because “we are rich and have no need”. We give little regard to God because we find “fulfillment” in self esteem and its antecedents. If there were any area I would personally love to have developed within me it would be the understanding of my sin and His holiness. For too long I did not have this taught to me. Thus my years of “being a Christian” were characterized by creating theological dodges of responsibility or culpability with ever sermon I heard or dilemma that I came to. But when we have no recourse in the sight of His holiness we become like Isaiah crying “Woe is me”.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Critique of Evangelism via J C Ryle

Over the last several weeks I have been reading through J C Ryle’s book Holiness. I find it to be a great challenging book that stirs the soul. We need books like this for often we settle for comfortable platitudes. However, a disciple of the Lord need to be challenged and spurred on. The sanctification process that moulds us into the image of Christ is one of action, removing complacency. Thus God has given us J C Ryle.

Below I quote his criticisms and corrections for evangelism. These bear serious consideration. I have often found that current evangelism is much like a sales deal with a time share. The only difference is time share salesmen often take more time in presentation. Over the next few blog entries I hope to walk with you and the good Dr. Ryle in an analysis of evangelism as it should be. As it stands, please read and ponder the truths he shares.

The defects of the theological system I have in view appear to me to be these: (1) The work of the Holy Ghost in converting sinners is far too much narrowed and confined to one single way. Not all true converts are converted instantaneously, like Saul and the Philippian jailor. (2) Sinners are not sufficiently instructed about the holiness of God's law, the depth of their sinfulness, and the real guilt of sin. To be incessantly telling a sinner to "come to Christ" is of little use, unless you tell him why he needs to come, and show him fully his sins. (3) Faith is not properly explained. In some cases people are taught that mere feeling is faith. In others they are taught that if they believe that Christ died for sinners they have faith! At this rate the very devils are believers! (4) The possession of inward joy and assurance is made essential to believing. Yet assurance is certainly not of the essence of saving faith. There may be faith when there is no assurance. To insist on all believers at once "rejoicing," as soon as they believe, is most unsafe. Some, I am quite sure, will rejoice without believing, while others will believe who cannot at once rejoice. (5) Last, but not least, the sovereignty of God in saving sinners, and the absolute necessity of preventing grace, are far too much overlooked. Many talk as if conversions could be manufactured at man's pleasure, and as if there were no such text as this, "It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy." (Rom. ix. 16.)

On the other side, many graceless people are deluded into thinking they are "converted," because under the pressure or animal excitement and temporary feelings they arc led to profess themselves Christians. And all this time the thoughtless and ungodly look on with contempt, and rind fresh reasons for neglecting religion altogether. The antidotes to the state of things I deplore are plain and few. (1) Let "all the counsel of God be taught" in Scriptural proportion; and let not two or three precious doctrines of the Gospel be allowed to overshadow all other truths. (2) Let repentance be taught fully as well as faith, and not thrust completely into the background. Our Lord Jesus Christ and St. Paul always taught both. (3) Let the variety of the Holy Ghost's works be honestly stated and admitted; and while instantaneous conversion is pressed on men, let it not be taught as a necessity. (4) Let those who profess to have found immediate sensible peace be plainly warned to try themselves well, and to remember that feeling is not faith, and that "patient continuance in well-doing" is the great proof that faith is true. (John viii. 31.) (5) Let the great duty of "counting the cost" be constantly urged on all who are disposed to make a religious profession, and let them be honestly and fairly told that there is warfare as well as peace, a cross as well as a crown, in Christ's service.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Guest Blogger on Misanthrope.

Today I have the privileged of hearing from a guest blogger, my oldest son. he wrote the following article for school on Misanthrope. Enjoy

Should the truth be spoken no matter the consequences? Alceste (the main character in the play The Misanthrope by Moliere) thinks strongly so. He goes on to say that, through the truth “My intention is to attack openly and directly the entire human race.” But should this be so? In The Misanthrope Alceste believes that the entire whole of humanity has been corrupted with lies, and so, he takes upon himself to set an example of his thoughts pertaining to truth. In Alceste’s case, he has developed “a dreadful hate of [human kind]… some because they are wicked and mischievous… and others for indulging the wicked and for not hating them…” in this paper I shall discuss the ideas of Alceste, why they are right, and why they are wrong.

I) Alceste’s thoughts on truth.

In the beginning of Alceste’s journey of thought, he finds himself talking to a friend of his, named Philinte. Philinte and Alceste begin a debate regarding the worldly state of truth, as Alceste attacks the worldly state, Philinte defends it. They go on to say – [Philinte:] …would it be sensible—or seemly –to tell thousands of people just what one thinks of them? Dealing with a person one hates or dislikes, should one announce to him how matters really stand? [Alceste:] of course. – Alceste believes that to correct the human state of lies, that one must be absolutely truthful, yet it does not matter to him the state of which the truth is given, or received. In the play, Alceste makes a mess of things with his “truth”. He unintentionally insults a man of high rank, blatantly disrespects Marquises, and loses the love of a woman. Despite all of this he still holds to his belief, and is eventually so abhorred with humanity, that he leaves to find a place untouched by society in which he is to die.

II) The Truth to Alceste’s Truth

Although Alceste’s reasoning is not exactly sound, and is very much over dramatic, there is some visualization of fact in it. The state of mankind has been corrupted with lies and deceit. The manor of our thoughts and actions that disgust Alceste are a result of a sinful nature. Alceste states it as thus – “I’ll see by this trial whether or not men will have enough effrontery, enough wickedness, treachery and perverseness, to do me such an injustice before the whole world.” Alceste does not realize that by becoming angered, and somewhat rude, he is doing the exact thing he hates. It is true to see though that the world is in a corrupt position. Men are sinning and plotting against one another, murder and other capital crimes are committed, death and poverty is abundant. Alceste does see a world that is fallen into ruin, and for that we must be wary of ourselves.

III) The Flaws to Alceste’s Truth

Though Alceste sees the state of humanity, he does not no how to combat it. His plan is to combat lies with truth, but his truth is hurtful to others. Alceste is eventually hated by many people, and is sent to court for some of his “lectures on the truth”. Alceste is unable to fight against lies with truth because he is only fighting sin with a different type of sin. Although lies are never acceptable, neither is rudeness and disrespect. People can not be swayed from sin by sin, only the power of God can do so. Alceste’s lesson is never learned in The Misanthrope, but hopefully a real person would be revealed his logical flaw, and see the truth (pun unintended).

IV) Summary

Through this paper we have learned about the sinful state of man, and how not to defeat lies. We have read this debate of the truth, yet it seems to me that I have left some needed truth out of my text, such as, how to combat lies, and where hope for humanity can be found. As for the first of the two, the best words I can use are found in the Bible -- Rather speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, Eph 4:15 – the truth must be spoke in a kind yet firm way. This will show the best of both Alceste’s and Philinte’s arguments. As for the second point, it is found in the same verse, we are to grow to be like God, the only perfect person, and in him humanity can find hope.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Discussion Group of The White Horse Inn

Saturday November 6th we will be meeting for a White Horse Inn discussion group. Great coffee and fellowship, with challenging discourses in theology will be a banquet for the soul.

Already we expect Baptists, Presbyterians, and Lutherans!

We will meet at Holiday Shores Baptist Church. You can find them at