Provoking Thoughts

"Consider thy ways ..." - Hag 1:7

Volume 2 No. 1

Thursday, March 3, 1995


More About Repentance

A Better Covenant

Dear Preacher,

Worldly Christians?

Asking Questions

Odds and Ends

More About Repentance

Tozier, in one of his books dealt with a thought that centers on an assumption that people have. He said that many merely assume that they have experienced relationships, but the truth of the matter is that they never experienced a thing. People agree with Paul and the things he said that he had experienced. Then they assume that they too have had the same experiences just because they agree with Paul. We see this happen often concerning being filled with the Holy Spirit. There are many that assume they have been filled but most people that are around them know otherwise. It must be that many take things for granted without ever checking them out. A Scriptural check-up would help us to see the truth of what we have experienced.

Let's carry this thought over into the preaching on the doctrine of repentance. I think most of us agree that it is a Bible doctrine and that it is essential to salvation. (Luke 13:3-5) Now this is where I want to direct a thought to you about what we do often while preaching. After sounding the trumpet about the need to repent we go about to undo all that we've said a sinner must do to receive forgiveness. At invitation time the standard appeal to sinners goes something like this: "Come to Jesus just as you are - there is nothing you can do to be saved, it is all of God - salvation is of the Lord, not of works. Just come and trust Jesus as your Saviour." Oh? What happened to the repentance that was preached a few moments ago? Is it no longer necessary or required? Could be we assume we've preached repentance, but in reality our people receive another message altogether, believing there is nothing for them to do? Acts 20:21 is still in the Bible. I remember as a boy when the invitation was given, ever once in a while you'd see a pack of cigarettes, or some other item lying on the altar when a new convert went back to his seat. Reckon the message was getting through better, or have we confused the issue today? I might be wrong, but I thought repentance meant you stopped, quit a sin, or forsook the sin you repented of. Preachers used to say you hadn't repented if you continued in sin. Seems to me that we agree to a salvation experience that allows a person to continue in the very sins they were committing before they were saved. Could it be that a whole lot of our repenting is nothing more than Catholic confession? Wonder who is at fault?

Let me venture a little farther in this thought. I still maintain in many ways we assume we're getting the message across, but they're hearing it different from what we preached it. How about the daily walk of the believer? We preach separation from the world and that they are to be holy unto the Lord. We say they must put off the old man and put on the new man - after the likeness of Christ. I still believe, like many of you, that God's people ought to be holy and blameless. I'm not implying sinless perfection, which is the common accusation against anyone who preaches holiness, but it is a great goal to press toward, I believe. What level of Christianity do you think we should press for? After warning the people of the chastisement of God and impending judgment for sins they fail to deal with we go into this standard jargon about how impossible it is to live holy since you're in this flesh and have this Adamic nature. We shoot down any thoughts of ever living a holy, blameless life and in fact, accept it as normal to live in habitual sin. Now where did repentance go this time? Must be it's still in the confession stage, never reached the 2 Cor 7:10 stage of repentance not to be repented of.

I'm a little thick and slow to learn, but pray tell me if people repent of their sins, why are they still committing the same ones over and over again? Every revival the evangelist can hit the same sins - failure to read your Bible, not praying, not loving your brother, separation from the world, etc. And sure enough, people will come forward and repent for the same sins. Wonder if they received mercy each time? Could be this is why drunks never lay down their bottles and still claim they have mercy, and fornicators are still in their sin.

Do you believe we're impressing the minds of people that they must repent or they will perish? You be the judge. If I'm wrong, get a pen and paper and tell me what you think.

A Better Covenant

Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?

For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.

But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.

Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. - Gal 4.21-24

We acknowledge that circumcision was apparently what had the Galatians stumbling, but these verses are referring to the two covenants as a whole very plainly. The Old Covenant was the law of Moses given in Mount Sinai in the wilderness. The Galatians were being rebuked strongly by the Holy Ghost, through the Apostle Paul, for falling back to the law as the guide for their lives. Let us say right here, lest someone misunderstand and falsely accuse, that we do not believe that the law is of no effect under the New Covenant. We believe, rather, that the law of Christ requires much more of us than the law of Moses did, but it sets men free while the law of Moses "gendereth to bondage."

What About This "Wilderness Walk" For A Christian?

The wilderness walk was not a part of the law of Moses, but it happened under the law of Moses. While there are many lessons to be gleaned from Israel's walk through the wilderness, the main lesson to be learned is that over and over the Bible uses this "wilderness walk" as a warning to us today. It is NEVER referred to in any way as an example we should follow or as a way to explain or excuse our sin, our unbelief, and our unfaithfulness.

Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should NOT lust after evil things, as they also lusted. - 1 Cor 10.6

Our problem with the "wilderness walk" is the way it is being presented. It seems to be commonly taught and accepted in our ranks that the "wilderness" is a normal - if not necessary - part of the life of a Christian. Sure, we will have our times of discouragement and problems, but that is a far cry from the "wilderness" as the children of Israel practiced it. To use the "wilderness walk" as an explanation or excuse for the discouragement and defeat of modern Christians is not rightly dividing the Word of God. The main thing about the wilderness was their unbelief. God got angry over and over with them about this and was set to destroy them because of it. They were in the wilderness as a result of their unbelief and disobedience. It was only a short journey from Egypt to Canaan, yet they spent forty years in the wilderness as punishment. We are warned in the book of Hebrews: "lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief," and the example we are given NOT to follow is that "wilderness walk."

How can this then be incorporated into the walk of a New Testament Christian and be taught as normal, and even a necessary part of our journey? "Evil heart of unbelief?" "Departing from the living God?" How can that be reconciled with 1 John 5.4?

For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

or Romans 8.37 speaking of our trials and persecutions:

Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

or Romans 8.2-4 talking about the spirit-led walk:

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Do you not see that to teach the "wilderness walk" as a normal Christian experience "gendereth to bondage?" We should preach the Bible as it is and not try to conform it to the lifestyles of what we see in those who claim to be Christians today. In order to comfort those who are defeated and going through trials many have taken up this approach to the wilderness walk. Now it has evolved to the point that many give a testimony where they went to the bars and committed adultery and all sorts of vile sins AFTER they were saved, and their explanation is that they were simply in the wilderness. This is a distortion and a misrepresentation of what the Bible teaches on this subject. Such testimonies and teachings leave others with the impression that it is normal for a Christian to live a life of defeat and doubt, and even wallow in sin. If that is the Christian experience under the New Covenant, we have many problem Scriptures in the New Testament.

On the contrary, consider what effect the true teaching of the Bible would have on people. Instead of telling them that defeat and doubt are inevitable, tell them that faith is the victory that overcometh the world. Instead of giving them a way to explain and excuse their sin and unbelief, tell them that "sin shall NOT have dominion over you." Instead of telling them how hard it is to be a Christian, why not tell them to cast their burden upon the Saviour, for He careth for them? Instead of telling them that they are rotten sinners who can't please God, even with their very best efforts, tell them they are the temple of the living God and have the Holy Ghost on the inside to guide them into all truth. The children of Israel had none of these promises, but WE DO under the New Covenant, and therefore MORE IS REQUIRED OF US.

Dear Preacher,

Here Are Some Questions From

Your Listeners in the Pews

Dear Preacher,

I know that we shouldn't get confused in church listening to the preaching, but I must tell you that sometimes I do. It sure would help me if you could clear up some things I've heard you say lately.

First, I know we all have to battle the forces of evil in our minds, but I'm a little confused in that area. You say you have sinful thoughts - just like everyone else. I would like for you to explain in a little more detail what you mean by "sinful thoughts." Do you mean that you spend time acting out sinful acts in your mind? What I mean is, how far do you go in your mind with adulterous thoughts, or do you get control of yourself and stop those thoughts before they progress that far? Do you actually act out in your mind things even worse than adultery? When a preacher mentions from the pulpit that he has evil thoughts, it leaves us all wondering what it was he was thinking about and just how far he went with it. If we only knew, then we would know how far we "lay people" can go. You know the Bible says you are the example for the flock, so surely God doesn't expect any more out of us than He does out of you, and if you can't get the victory over evil thinking, then surely we don't have a chance for victory ourselves.

About those thoughts - you said that the devil puts them in your mind. Could you explain to us why Jesus said in Matthew 15:19 that they come from an evil heart? I was under the impression that the devil is the tempter, but that he cannot force us to sin. I thought that James 1 teaches that the devil uses the lusts of our flesh to draw us away from God and tempt us. I thought it was a lot like we do when we put bait on a hook to catch a fish or a trap to catch an animal. I didn't think he could put the bait in our mouth or force us into the trap. If he can control our mind at will, then it seems the armor of God isn't very effective and the mind of Christ isn't sufficient to resist him. I really need to know what to do. If there is no victory for me in this battle, I would rather settle back and quit trying so hard. If, no matter how hard I try, evil is present and will overcome me, then it seems of little use to try. I've heard over and over that I am not going to succeed in trying to be holy because the best I could do would smell like stinking rags to God. That sort takes away the incentive to try to please Him, if you know what I mean. My boss at work treats me better than that.

Can the devil make me carry on with evil thoughts and indulge myself in gross sin in my thoughts? I really need to know the answer to this one because it will make a big difference in how I deal with it. It would be a real relief to me to know that it really isn't my fault after all. God wouldn't be just to judge ME for those sins, would He?

You'll please forgive me, but it would be such a disappointment to me to find out that you and other preachers indulge yourselves in evil thoughts and imagine yourselves in bed with other women and such things. I thought men of God holy men that "walk with God" and live on a higher plane than the perverts downtown.

I'll be anxiously awaiting your reply.

One of your sheep

Worldly Christians?

Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, (2 Cor 6:17)

This is our verse for separation from unbelievers. This is what we preach, and rightly so, to mean that a Christian cannot yoke up and run with the world and ungodly people. They shouldn't go into business with them, be entertained by them, or fellowship with them at all. The Bible teaches all the way through that they will turn the hearts of our children away from God. "How can two walk together except they be agreed?" The answer is that they cannot. Someone has to compromise in order for the two to walk together, and it isn't the sinner who does the compromising.

The message in this verse also plainly tells us that God will not yoke up with unclean people either. God will not receive anyone as long as they are living in a sinful lifestyle. Coming out and being separate precedes any fellowship with God. God will not walk in darkness, and furthermore He says that any man who claims that He does is a liar.

Doesn't seem strange that so many now claim that God does in fact yoke up and walk with sinners? Those who claim that all men are vile sinners, whether saved or not, are teaching that God does indeed yoke up with sinners, they are just saved sinners. Those who defend and make excuses and allowances for people who live in wicked lifestyles are teaching that God does yoke up with sin. Those who claim that worldly, carnal people are saved are also saying that God will yoke up with wickedness and the world. That is bringing God down pretty far, wouldn't you say?

This is what God says about the matter:

. . . for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousnes? and what communion hath light with darkness? (2 Cor 6:14)

And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with and infidel? (2 Cor 6:15)

And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (2 Cor 6:16)

God makes it very clear that He will not yoke up with sin - neither with anyone who is yoked up with sin. God will not walk with sinners and He will not walk with those who walk with sinners. But many want to provide a median for God to be yoked up to all the enemies of righteousness. That median is the people who claim to be saved and continue in sin, worldliness, and carnality. They have God by one hand and the world by the other, and in so doing they presume to have God joined to the world and sin. It is very convenient for them to do, because so many preachers will make provision for them as being "worldly Christians," or "carnal Christians." Both of these ridiculous inventions are contradictions in terms and contrary to every Bible teaching on worldliness and carnality. But preachers are more than willing - yea, they are anxious to accept such nonsense as the explanation for the wickedness they see sitting in the pews of their churches. But they will find out one day that God never yoked up with one sinner until he repented and turned from sin unto God. Many are going to realize too late the awful error they have made by trying to bring down Almighty God from His High and Holy position to a God that yokes up and walks with those who love sin and the enemies of righteousness.


When we began this publication we asked for response from the readers and we do want to hear from people about some of the things we put in this paper. One of the issues that has been brought forth is the very right to ask questions about doctrines. We have been referred to Titus 3:9 where the Bible says "avoid foolish question." We don't consider the questions we put forth to be foolish, but striking at the very root of the problems we see in the church as a whole. Foolish questions have no potential to profit anyone, for there is usually no definite correct answer for such questions and if there were, no one would be helped or drawn closer to God if the answer were finally agreed upon. But in the case of questions which seek to determine the mind of God concerning salvation and sanctification, a right answer will help draw people to a life more pleasing to God and more free from sin and temptation. The Truth will set people free!

It has been suggested that it is dangerous to ask questions, and that we should not ask questions because it isn't pleasing to God. If that be so, then we are in quite a predicament, brethren, because it must be applied to everyone, not just those we happen to fellowship with. If we can't ask questions about what is being preached by independent Baptists, then we shouldn't question the doctrines of the Charismatics or any other group that claims to be Christian. But we see among our ranks that it is perfectly all right to question anyone's doctrines, except those that are commonly accepted among our ranks as independent Baptists. Something doesn't sound consistent there. A Christian should be in pursuit of the truth, not readily willing to blindly accept someone's teachings without question, no matter who they are or what camp they are in. Certainly, God doesn't require that of anyone and He isn't pleased with people who determine the doctrines that guide their lives in that manner. The Bible tells us to "study, to shew ourselves approved unto God." All study starts with a question in your mind and a desire to find the right answer. That is our purpose in asking questions. As we stated in our first issue, our desire is to provoke Christians, and especially preachers, to study and get what they believe from the Word of God instead of some Bible college or some other preacher somewhere.

Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. - Thes 5.21

Here we are plainly commanded in the Word of God to question what we are told. Cull out what doesn't measure up to the entire teaching of the Word of God and hold fast to that which does. Jesus used questions many times in dealing with people.

The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? - Luke 20:4

And he beheld them, and said, What is this then that is written, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner? - Luke 20:17

And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace. - Mark 3:4

And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? - Luke 7:42

These are just a few examples - we could give many more. The point is: it is not against God to question the doctrines and teachings of man. To question men's teachings is not to question the Word of God. By the way, Jesus didn't always tell them the answer to the questions He put forth, either.

Are we really that far down the road in the Baptist church that we have become so much like the Catholics? The Pope doesn't allow anyone to question his teachings either. What the church teaches under the direction of the Pope is final and no one has a right to question anything - you simply must accept it. Are we so insecure in what we believe that we must put up a defense like that? The person who is grounded securely in the Word and God and has truly taken his doctrines from the Bible is not afraid at all for someone to question him. He is ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh him of the hope that is in him. (1 Peter 3.15)

It is our opinion that most people, even among the independent Baptists, have not taken their doctrines from the Bible, but from other men. Most men will say that they believe what they believe because they read it in the Bible. That is simply not true - they have went to camp meetings, or fellowship meetings and they believe what the crowd believes with whom they fit in the best. And then they don't like anyone to rock their boat by asking questions and demanding proof of what they teach as the truth. It is much better to seek the truth and walk with God, but you will nearly always be "outside the camp."

We all grow by asking questions and finding the answers in the Word of God. We are not afraid to question the doctrines of independent Baptists any more than we are afraid to question the doctrines of the Catholics or the Charismatics or the Mormons. Our church has the word "Baptist" on the sign, too, but that is not the starting point to determine doctrine - the Word of God is. Every movement and denomination changes it's stand and teachings over time, and the doctrines that are always most affected are those dealing with sin in the life of a believer and the way of salvation. Questions dealing with the root causes and effects of these teachings are NOT foolish questions that are of no profit. Anyone with an honest heart who looks around at the condition of the church must admit that someone needs to ask some questions about how we got in the mess we are in. The Baptist popes don't like it, but God is always on the side of holiness, and that is where you will have to stand if you will be on God's side.

I wonder. . .

How much holier would our people be if preachers defended the doctrine of holiness with as much vigor as they do the doctrines of eternal security and the "sinful nature"?

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Midway Bible Baptist Church

Pastor: 540-943-3064
Church: 540-943-1678

Pastor Owen
OR Bro. Mike Miller


Midway Bible Baptist Church
P.O. Box 419
Fishersville, Virginia 22939

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