Provoking Thoughts

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

Volume 2 No. 3

Thursday, September 28, 1995


Doctrines of Devils

Perserverance of the Saints

Missing the Boat

In Defense of Charles Finney

Is Salvation REALLY a Gift?

Let Us Go On!

Odds and Ends

Who are we?

Doctrines of Devils

If you were the Devil, and you wanted to deceive people with doctrines and teachings, how would you do it? Well, it depends on who it is you want to deceive. He roams about as a roaring lion - like a hunter stalking his prey. He accommodates each prey with whatever he needs to in order to bring them into his snare. Some people are easier targets for him than others, so he can use outlandish doctrines on them; doctrines like speaking in tongues, spiritual gifts, prosperity gospel, ecumenical teachings, etc. But Baptists are much too smart to be fooled by such far out teachings, so he has to pull out some more clever tricks for them.

Baptists hold to their doctrines dearly - in fact, so dearly that they interpret everything they read in the Bible by Baptist doctrine first. If they run across something that seems to cause a problem with eternal security or leaves no place for carnal, worldly Christians they "wrest" the Scripture to make it teach something that agrees with their already accepted doctrine. Here is where they open the door to the Devil to slip in his poison, because when we cease to accept the Bible at face value for what it says we are slipping our foot right into his snare. When we have a higher authority than the Word of God, we are not Bible Believers at all, even if that authority is our Baptist doctrine.

Let's look at an example of what we are talking about:

(1 John 1:7-10)

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

In their zeal to confirm that all of us are practicing, habitual sinners, even after salvation, most Baptists use this verse to disarm anyone who preaches against sin or calls others to account for their sins. They use this verse to prove that we shouldn't judge others, because we are all in the same boat. If they were reading the Bible without their preconceived ideas they could see clearly that these verses are referring to justification and not to sanctification. That makes quite a difference in the application of scripture. To accept the commonly taught idea that verse 8 is referring to sanctification, one has to be blind to what the verses preceding and following have to say. It is commonly accepted that "we have no sin" means that we are at no time without sin. We are told plainly in verse 7 that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from "all sin." We are told in verse 9 that He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from "all unrighteousness." Anyone who would do a word study would find that the real meaning here and in verse 10 is "if we say we have never sinned."

These are promises to the un-regenerated, as we are told at the beginning of this thought in verse 5: "This then is the message which we have heard of him. . ." This is the message of the Gospel to the lost; there is forgiveness and hope for them - if they confess their sinfulness to God and turn from it to serve Him. If they refuse to do so; maintaining they are not sinners and not guilty before God, they are deceiving themselves. Verse 6 separates those who live a sinful life while claiming to be saved, and calls them what they are - liars. He makes it plain that those who are saved do not walk in habitual sin, yet our modern theology takes these same verses and teaches just the opposite: that anyone who says he is clean from his sin is deceived and foolish. Therefore, we are all left in a state of hopelessness with no hope of ever being shed of our sin even though the verse is surrounded on both sides by two wonderful promises from God that He WILL CLEANSE us from ALL our sin and unrighteousness. Now either He cleanses us or He doesn't. If verse 8 is to be applied to Christians in sanctification then we have a blatant contradiction in the Word of God. Who's word should we take, God's, or these men's private interpretation?

Now many will preach that we are cleansed of our sins, but only in an imputed, positional way. That is, our sins are forgiven, even though we continue to practice sin in our lives. They reason that men have a sinful nature and it is impossible to ever live without sinning as long as we are in this flesh. But there is no such thing as being in Christ positionally and being sinful in your practice at the same time. That is yoking righteousness with unrighteousness and God says He doesn't yoke up with unrighteousness. Cleansed means cleansed! The sins and the sinful lifestyle are GONE! You are a new creature in Christ! Old things are passed away! All things are become new! You are not left to wallow in your sins, and if we have no better Gospel to preach than that we should shut our mouths and leave people alone!

The Devil has gotten by with a slick one here. There are other Scriptures that are being filtered through modern fundamentalist doctrine, too, but this is just one example. He has accomplished more through this method than he could through the Mormons or the Catholics or anyone else. He has dealt with those who have the real message of salvation and made them completely impotent, which is obvious in the churches today. He has deceived them into preaching a salvation that doesn't deliver men from their sin, or give them any hope at all of having any victory in this life. They are supposed to pray "the sinners prayer" and then believe for the rest of their life that God will take them to heaven no matter what they do. That is not the Gospel message that Jesus taught. That is not the kind of Gospel that turns a harlot, or a drunkard into a saint of God. That is why they are doctrines of devils, just as the Bible warns us will happen in the last days. If we would preach the Gospel message of salvation as the Bible teaches it and stop preaching as the Gospel what we see sitting in the pews and standing behind the pulpits, we might have some hope of seeing God move in this dark, dark hour. But God will not cooperate with us while we teach doctrines of devils.

Perseverance of the Saints

Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. (2 John 1:9)

Those who believe in the perseverance of the saints are accused of preaching works for salvation, but the way you put your words together when defining perseverance is what makes the difference here. The Bible doesn't require men to abide IN ORDER to be saved, rather, the Bible simply states the fact that all men who are saved DO CONTINUE in the Word. They abide in Christ. They don't turn back to perdition and forsake God to live in sin. (continued on page 3)

This is what our statement of faith says about the perseverance of the Saints:

We believe that such only are real believers as endure unto the end; that their perseverance attachment to Christ is the grand mark which distinguishes them from superficial professors; that a special Providence watches over their welfare; and that they are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.

This is a standard statement of faith which many Baptist churches use, including some of the BIG easy-believism churches. The question naturally comes to mind: If those churches really believe that a true Christian abides, then why do they preach and teach the opposite? Why is such a defense made for those who make a profession but never follow through and live for God? It seems one can get in real trouble these days by judging a person as unconverted when they don't continue in the Word. Salvation has been redefined and made into nothing more than a profession of faith by men, even though God identifies real salvation with certain marks. One of those marks is perseverance.

(1 John 2:24-25) Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. - And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.

(John 8:31) Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;

These verses make it plain who is really saved in the mind of God - those who CONTINUE. God is able to keep those He saves, and He does more than just keep them a home reserved in heaven. He keeps them on the strait and narrow WAY. Therefore, those who preach otherwise are teaching that God isn't able to keep someone after He saves them. They are able to overpower the Holy Spirit of God and do as they please.

Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. (2 John 1:9)

This verse is speaking of those who turn back to perdition and practice a life of continual, habitual sin after they have professed to trust Christ and be saved. The preceding verse tells us that if anyone comes teaching that a man doesn't have to abide in Christ, we should not let him in our house or even bid him Godspeed, else we are a partaker of his EVIL deeds! That is usually applied to the Russellites, and the Mormons, but it needs to be applied to a bunch of Independent Baptists! The mark that distinguishes a person as a false professor is that they will not continue. The parable of the sower bears out the same message.

By doing away with the Bible teaching of abiding in Christ and continuing in his Word, many churches have been filled with people who think they are saved and have no fear of God at all. Once they have made a profession of faith they are saved forever with no strings attached. It is common to hear preachers and others laugh about "enduring to the end." It is a joke now because salvation has been turned into nothing more than an act of religion like all the other religions of the world. We done all that was necessary when we prayed that "sinner's prayer" and from then on we have no responsibility before God. What are people like that teaching? That a man doesn't have to be faithful? That he doesn't have to continue? That God will accept someone like that? Here is a verse to ponder for those who make fun of "enduring to the end."

(Rom 11:22) Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

Mark it down friend; only those who continue in the Word; only the faithful; only those who abide in Christ are truly saved. God help those who are too simple-minded to figure out the difference in that and in preaching works for salvation.

Missing The Boat

(John 14:4) And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.

Do you ever get discouraged by the many people who sit in church year after year and never seem to get a real understanding of Salvation and what God expects of them? Most preachers do at times. It might encourage you to know that Jesus suffered the same kind of disappointment, even with his twelve disciples. He spent his life with them for 3 1/2 years teaching them patiently, and with much care about his coming Kingdom and the way to Heaven. Then at their last gathering before the crucifixion Thomas said to Jesus in John 14:5: "Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?" These were men that were specially picked by the Lord himself for the foundation of his Church. He had sent the multitudes away at times to instruct the twelve in detail about different things. Then coming down to the end of his earthly walk they say such a thing to him. It would seem that they hadn't understood a thing He had taught them in 3 1/2 years!

Those twelve disciples did just like so many people do today. They listened to the things Jesus taught them after filtering them through their own opinions and pre-conceived beliefs about whatever subject He was talking about. These disciples were looking for Jesus to set up an earthly kingdom where they would have authority over the enemies of God. They certainly didn't expect the end to come as it did. After Jesus was in the tomb the Pharisees went to Pilate and entreated him to put a watch on the tomb. The reason, they said, was that this "deceiver" while he was still alive had said that he would rise after the third day. THEY remembered his words and were afraid He WOULD rise while his own disciples failed to hear it and didn't believe He would rise anyway. How can that be, that people could sit at the feet of the perfect teacher, the Lord Jesus Christ, and be instructed with perfect wisdom and perfect words, and still fail to hear and understand the Gospel?

We have all seen the same thing in our churches. There are people who have been in the church for many, many years and still have not the knowledge of God. Oh, sure, they go through all the motions and live a life that may appear outwardly Christian, but they have no comforter in time of trouble. They show no hunger and thirst after righteousness and the Word of God. They have no motivation to do anything for God except maybe drag into church for the services. We are talking about people who have heard REAL preaching and been there when the Holy Ghost was working in hearts. We are talking about people who know all the language of a Christian and all the do's and don'ts about the Christian life, yet remain outside of Christ themselves. These people have been around the truth and instructed in righteousness, but remain in darkness. They are just like the disciples were after walking with Christ for 3 1/2 years. It isn't necessarily a reflection on the preacher they have been under that they are in such a condition.

The reason this can happen is simple. People WILL NOT LISTEN! And when they do listen, everything they hear is strained through what they already believe. If they hear something that doesn't agree with their pre-conceived ideas they turn off their ears to hearing it. They understand what they hear by what they WANT to hear, and therefore distort their understanding of the truth. Therefore, they remain in darkness, and many times think they are in the light. "Take heed how ye hear" is the message they need to hear and take to heart. Then they need to hear the same old story over and over again until it sinks deep into their heart.

When Thomas said those words to Jesus, he didn't receive a rebuke immediately for it. Jesus responded simply by reminding him again that He is the way, the truth, and the life, and the only way to Heaven. Philip then said, "Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us." That is when Jesus said, with his heart obviously heavy and broken, "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip?" After all the effort and work Jesus had put into teaching these men, and then at the end to find out they had no understanding!

We need to stress to the people to "take heed how ye hear!" We need to preach the same old story of Jesus and his love. Tell them over again to me, wonderful words of life. Maybe I missed something the first time. I want to hear them again, and again, and again. Tell them the story that never grows old. The Gospel never wears out or becomes dull to those who are partakers of it. They who know it best are hungering and thirsting to hear it, like the rest. Instead of getting old, it gets sweeter and sweeter to the Christian on his journey. Jesus just told them again all that He had been teaching them through those few years. That is the only way we have to help those who sit among us without understanding. Preach the Gospel to them again and again until it finally sinks in.

In Defense of Charles G. Finney

Recently an article appeared in a publication we receive. The article was supposed to be about revival, but the content was more of an attack on Finney than a debate about revivalism. To anyone who has read even a little of Finney's own writings it is very obvious that the writer of this article has never read Finney - or what he has read, he read after having his mind influenced by reading what the enemies of Finney had to say.

The writer of this article starts out with the purely Calvinistic idea that revivals only happen when and where God chooses and that men have absolutely nothing to do with it. That is as un-scriptural as it can be! It can be easily refuted with 2 Chronicles 7:14, which every preacher knows by heart: "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." (2 Chr 7:14) That verse does put all the responsibility for revival on men and not on God. God is not willing that ANY should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance. Of course, if you are Calvinistic in your doctrine, you wouldn't believe that either, and you would blame God for not sending revival, instead of putting the blame on sinful men who refuse to humble themselves and turn from their wickedness. How ridiculous to imagine that God would choose to send revival on a church that was doing nothing but sitting waiting on revival!

Finney's great crime - and it is well documented and a matter of record - is that he put the blame right where it belonged - squarely on the shoulders of the sinner. The reason Finney was despised in his day, and the reason many are determined to discredit him in our day, was the way he preached against sin and stood for HOLINESS. He was NOT the author of "quick conversions" as the writer of this article stated. Finney was 180 degrees the other way. There were many times he left the crowd weeping and begging for mercy without even giving an invitation of any kind. He was very concerned with the thoroughness of their conversion and one of his greatest fears was having a part in someone being deceived about their soul's salvation. As a matter of fact, those great heroes of revival named Spurgeon and Moody had much more to do with the "easy-believism" "quick-conversion" salvation that is so accepted in our day.

Another charge made against Finney in this article is that he called on converts "to stand in meetings and give public testimony that they had given their hearts to God." It is almost shocking that a man would do such a thing! But the Bible does say something about confessing with your mouth. I fail to see the wrong in someone giving a testimony in public about what God has done in their life.

He also says that the Sword of the Lord has given Finney's views a wide exposure. A sermon by Finney in the Sword of The Lord is about as un-likely as snow in July. Curtis Hudson said that Finney was a heretic. The easy-believism of the Sword of The Lord is about as far as you can get from the theology of Charles Finney.

The article ends by putting the blame for our lack of revival today completely on Charles Finney and a call to return to the Calvinistic theology of the First Great Awakening. That means we should not promote revival in any way, but simply sit back and wait to see where God will send it. But God is NOT GOING TO SEND REVIVAL until we do what He commands us to do in order to have revival. To put the blame for the state of things today on Charles Finney, and what he did 160 years ago is about as far-fetched as one can get, in our opinion.

The writer of this article has done what most people are doing in our day. Instead of going to the horse's mouth to find out what he is talking about, he went on what the enemies and critics have said. Rarely will anyone go to the man in question to ask him what he really believes; instead they listen to gossip and make their judgment entirely on that basis. If you would know the truth about Charles Finney, I dare you to get some of his books and read them. If you are a person with a hunger for God and His righteousness you will be blessed beyond measure by some of the things FInney has to say. You will be challenged to a close walk with God and to DO something for your Saviour. The Bible says in Heb 13:7: Remember them . . ., who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation. Charles Finney surely had his faults and shortcomings, but he finished the course right well - this critic hasn't finished yet. Finney had some fruits to show for his labor. What do those who criticize him now have to show?

Is Salvation Really A Gift?

(Eph 2:8) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Sure it is! But it has gotten rather confusing these days about what the gift really is. Salvation is a person, and that person is Jesus Christ. He is God's only begotten Son and God gave his Son to die on Calvary's cross to make a way for you and I to be saved. That is the gift of God!

One of the things about a gift is that when it is given, the giver relinquishes all rights of ownership and control over the gift. He must let the receiver of the gift do as he pleases with it and not say a word. He cannot take the gift back, either. Once it is given, it is forever. This fits with what God did when He gave his Son that we might be saved. While Jesus hung on the cross and men spit on him and beat him, God didn't try to stop them because He had given him as "the gift of God" to mankind. God could have sent legions of angels to save him, saying, "He is mine, and I will not let you do that to him." But God had given his Gift, and could not take it back because He is a righteous God. This is God's unspeakable gift of salvation - the Lord Jesus Christ.

God does no such thing when He saves a person from their sins. He doesn't relinquish his right to tell that person what to do or not to do. He doesn't set them free to do as they please, but rather to be submitted to his will completely. Many are teaching in our day that salvation and going to heaven are free gifts from God without any strings attached. They are there for the taking and all you have to do is claim them like a winning lottery ticket and they are yours. But God doesn't relinquish his ownership of YOU when you get saved. The gift giving when a person gets saved is on our part. God has already given his Gift, the giving now must come from us. We must give him our heart. We must give him our life. We must give him our will. We must die to ourselves and surrender to his Lordship. We must give ourselves a living sacrifice (gift) to God. Salvation is not something God gives us that He relinquishes all control and authority over. It is quite the contrary - at salvation we relinquish all control and authority over our life to God and become his servants. So then, salvation IS the gift of God, - when we surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Let Us GO ON!

(Heb 6:1) Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,

The verses preceding in the end of Chapter 5 make it clear that the Bible is talking about people who are lingering too long in the first things of salvation. They are told to GO ON! They are told to LEAVE the principles of the doctrine of Christ! That is a shocking statement, if taken out of context, but it would be very profitable for many, if they would only take heed.

God wants more out of us than just sitting around praising God because our sins are forgiven. That may sound like we are minimizing forgiveness of sins, but we are not. The Bible is clear here that we are to go on to other things. When a person first gets saved, it is natural for him to rejoice and be in wonder and amazement that God has forgiven his sins. That is well and good, and none of us should ever forget that, but there are other things to learn and other things to be done in the Christian life than sit around and rejoice about that. That is some of the milk of Christianity. That is one of the principles of the doctrine of Christ - forgiveness of sins.

Another of the principles (or first things) of the doctrine of Christ is that He is the door to Heaven. Everyone rejoices when we realize our name is written in heaven, but there is more to being a Christian than rejoicing because our names are written in heaven. Let's go on to other things and keep on rejoicing along the way because we have a home in Heaven.

There are some things we are commanded to add to our faith in 2 Peter 1:5-7. ". . .add to your faith virtue; . . knowledge; . . temperance; . . patience; . . godliness; . . brotherly kindness; . . charity." We are to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are not to stay in the same place. It is not pleasing to God that we stay in the baby stage of only rejoicing about what He has done for us.

Many seem to think that nothing is better or more important than rejoicing and praising God. If you can get the people to shout and rejoice you have really gained ground. But you are only gaining ground when you see them adding virtue to their faith. You are gaining ground when they start adding knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity. Why has Christianity turned into a pep-rally instead of a way of life? Why do preachers rail on the people for not rejoicing and praising God, but not worry too much about spiritual growth and maturity. It is surely because there is no goal to shoot at any more. That word "maturity" isn't in the Bible as such, it is called "perfection" there, and anyone knows that "nobody's perfect," right? So since nobody is perfect, and it is an impossible goal, God made a mistake by using that word in the Bible. Since you can't be perfect, even though the Bible uses that word to mean "mature," you might as well not try. And since you can't DO anything to be saved, and you can't DO anything to stay saved, nobody is DOING anything - but rejoicing in the principles of the doctrine of Christ. God said to GO ON UNTO PERFECTION! Get rid of your bottle and grow up unto maturity.

". . . a poor man is better than a liar." - Prov 19:22

Preaching is properly considered as the ability to utter with both clarity and poignancy the truth of God's Word for the purpose of evangelism, of comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable, of challenging to greater service, of inspiring to more holy living, and of stimulating believers to go to perfection, holiness, and maturity.


"The aim of the missionary is not to win the unbelieving, nor to be useful, but to do God's will. Missionaries do win the unbelieving, and they are useful, but that is not their aim; their aim is to do the will of their Lord." - Oswald Chambers

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Provoking Thoughts is a publication of Midway Bible Baptist Church, P.O. Box 419, Fishersville, VA 22939.

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Pastor Owen
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Midway Bible Baptist Church
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