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Enemies of Soul
by Dr. Jack Hyles
This book was scanned and digitized by Brother Tom Black
The subtle enemies that affect the soul-winning
efforts of the local church have too long gone unnoticed as well as
unchallenged. Dr. Jack Hyles, Pastor of the church with the "World's Largest
Sunday School" and the worlds foremost soul-winning ministries, contests
these enemies, one by one.
These enemies must be exposed for what they are: a
definite attempt, by Satan, to stop fundamental, soul-winning churches from
doing the work God has ordained them to do.
These insights given by Dr. Hyles may seem
controversial, but in reality they are logical as well as Biblical.
Enemies of Soul Winning will reveal adversaries
you may have thought were your friends!
About the Author
Jack Hyles began preaching at the age of 19 and has
pastored for 45 years. These pastorates include churches that varied
in membership from 44 to over 100,000. All of these pastorates, other than
the present one, where in the state of Texas: First, the Marris Chapel
Baptist Church of Bogata, Texas; then the Grange Hall Baptist Church in
Marshall, Texas; from there to the Southside Baptist Church of Henderson,
Texas; and then to the Miller Road Baptist Church of Garland, Texas. He
pastored the Miller Road Baptist Church for approximately 7 years and saw
this church, under the Lord, grow from a membership of 44 to over 4,000. It
was from the Miller Road Baptist Church that he was called to his present
pastorate at the First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana.
Dr. Hyles has been Pastor of the First Baptist Church
since August, 1959. This church has a membership of over 100,000 and has
averaged over 23,000 conversions and 8,000 baptisms per year for the past 6
years. For many years the church has been acclaimed to have the "World's
Largest Sunday School." During Dr. Hyles' ministry the First Baptist Church
has increased in property evaluation to over $50,000,000.
Besides his position as Pastor, Dr. Hyles is
Founder-Chancellor of Hyles-Anderson Schools, which enrolled approximately
4,000 students last year. The schools are operated by the First Baptist
Church and are housed in separate facilities away from the church property.
Dr. Hyles has served as President of the Baptist Bible College in Denver,
Dr. Hyles is the author of 41 books and pamphlets,
exceeding over 12 million copies in sales. Many of his sermons are also
available on tape.
Dr. Hyles' experience covers numerous evangelistic
campaigns, Bible conferences, etc. He has preached in virtually every state
of the Union and in many foreign countries. His annual Pastors' School
attracts thousands of preachers from every state and many foreign countries.
An Enemy of Soul
Exactly what do we mean when we say, "Lordship
Salvation"? We are talking about the false doctrine that says that in order
for a person to be saved, he must make Jesus the Lord of his life. If that
doctrine were true, then no one could be saved, because as long as we are
limited by these fleshly bodies, we will be unable to make Jesus totally the
Lord of our lives. This can happen only when we are like Him. I John 3:2,
"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what
we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him;
for we shall see him as he is."
The Apostle Paul, perhaps the greatest Christian who
ever lived, spoke of the battle he had. He said in Romans 7:18, "For I
know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing...."
Inverse 19, he said, "For the good that I would I do not: but the evil
which I would not want, that I do." In verse 23, he talks about the
warfare between the flesh and the spirit, and in verse 24, he calls himself
a "wretched man."
Of course, every believer should have a sincere desire
and make a sincere effort to make Jesus Lord of his life, but in the flesh,
that is impossible, and we will not be satisfied until we awake in His
likeness. Psalm 17.15, "As for me, I will behold thy face in
righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness."
1. There is only one Gospel. Galatians
1:6-9, "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into
the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be
some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though
we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that
which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so
say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye
have received, let him be accursed."
The word "another" in verse 6, and the word "another"
in verse 7 are not the same words. The first means "another of a different
kind"; the second in verse 7 means "another of the same kind." For example,
suppose you say to someone at the table, "Pass another cookie to me." You
could mean another one of the same kind you have been eating, or you could
mean another kind of cookie that is at the table. What the Apostle is saying
here is that some people were preaching another gospel; that is, another
kind. Then he reminds us that that kind is not another of the same kind.
Basically there are only two kinds of salvation: (1) Man does it; or (2) God
does it. Someone has rightly said that the two kinds of salvation are
wrapped up in two small words: do and done. Anything that we would do to
save ourselves, anything that another person would do to save us, or
anything that another group of people would do to save us is a false
salvation. The true salvation is that it has already been done! Jesus has
done it all, if we by faith appropriate what He did.
2. If there is anything that we can do to save
ourselves or to help save ourselves, or if there is anything that another
person or group of others can do to help save us, salvation is not of grace.
We know, however, that salvation is of grace!
Ephesians 2:8, 9, "For by grace are ye saved
through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of
works, lest any man should boast." If it is of grace, works can have
nothing to do with it, and if there is one tiny bit of works, it is not of
grace! Romans 11:6, "And if by grace, then is it no more of works:
otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more
grace: otherwise work is no more work." If we must make Jesus
Lord of our lives in order to be saved, then salvation is not all of grace,
and what is not all of grace is heresy!
3. David was saved when Jesus was not Lord of his
life. All of us know the tragic story of David and his sins. Was David
saved? Yes, he was. Was Jesus Lord of his life? Of course not. Look at Psalm
51:12a. David said, "Restore unto me the joy of my salvation." He
did not say, "Restore unto me Thy salvation." He was saved, but he was
away from God. Jesus was not Lord of his life. If Lordship salvation were
true, then David lost his salvation when he ceased to make Jesus Lord of his
4. Jesus was not Lord of Lot's life. II Peter 2:7,
8, 'And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the
wicked. (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing,
vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)"
Was Lot saved? Verse 7 says he was "just," which means he was justified in
the sight of God, even though he was living in wicked sin. In verse 8 he is
called a "righteous man," which means that he was righteous in the sight of
God, having had the righteousness of Jesus Christ imputed to him. Romans
10:1 -3, "Brethren, my heart 's desire
and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them
record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For
they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish
their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the
righteousness of God."
Romans 4:5, "But to him that worketh not, but
believeth on him that just ifi eth the ungodly, his faith is counted for
righteousness." Was Lot saved? Yes, he was. Was Jesus Lord of his life?
No, He wasn't.
Look at the awful thing Lot had done. In the first
place, he had chosen to go to the well-watered plains toward Sodom.
In the second place, he had not only gone to Sodom,
but Sodom had come to him. Two angels had come to visit Lot in Sodom. When
the homosexual men heard of this, they came to Lot's house asking for him to
give them those men so they could commit their sin with them.
Now look at Genesis 19:7, 8, "And said, I pray you,
brethren, do not so wickedly. Behold now, I have two daughters which have
not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to
them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore
came they under the shadow of my roof" Lot called these wicked perverts
"brethren" in verse 7. Then in verse 8, he offered his two daughters to
these men if they would leave the angels alone. What a wicked thing! Later
on when Lot fled Sodom with his two daughters, both of them became pregnant
by him. Each gave birth to a son, and each son fathered a heathen race
- the Moabites and the Ammonites. Was Lot saved? Yes,
he was. God says that he was. Was Jesus Lord of his life? No, He wasn't. If
Lordship salvation were true, Lot could not have been saved, because Jesus
was far from being Lord of his life at this time.
5. Noah was saved, but Jesus was not Lord of his
Genesis 6:8, "But Noah found grace in the eyes of
the Lord." Genesis 9:20-24, "And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he
planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was
uncovered within his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness
of his father, and told his two brethren without. And Shem and Japheth took
a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and
covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and
they saw not their father's nakedness. And Noah awoke from his wine, and
knew what his younger son had done unto him."
Was Noah saved? Yes, Genesis 6:8 says he "found
grace in the eyes of the Lord," and we know that salvation is by grace.
Was Jesus Lord of his life? In Genesis 9:2 1, we find he got drunk and that
he was naked inside his tent. In verse 22 his son saw his nakedness.
Obviously from verse 24, his younger son had
done something to him. Perhaps this was a homosexual
act committed with his own father while his father was drunk. To say the
least, Noah was anything but a Christian who had allowed Jesus to be Lord of
his life. Was he saved? Yes, he was. Was Jesus Lord of his life? No, He was
6. The Corinthian church members were saved, but
Jesus was not Lord of their lives. I Corinthians 3:1-4, "And I,
brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal,
even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat:
for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For
ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and
divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of
Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?" Notice in verse
1 that they were "carnal," which means "fleshly." Notice in verse 1 that
they were "babes." Notice in verse 2 that they were so immature in their
Christian life that they could not take spiritual meat, but had to have
spiritual milk. In verse 3 it again says they were carnal. It also mentions
that there were envyings and strife and divisions, and they walked as men,
not as Christians ought to walk. Was Jesus Lord of their lives? No, He was
not. Were they saved? Yes, they were. Look at the last two words in verse 1-
"in Christ." II Corinthians 5: 17a says, "Therefore if any man be in
Christ, he is a new creature." Were they saved? Yes, they were. Was
Jesus Lord of their lives? No, He wasn't.
7. Babes in Christ are saved, but Jesus is not Lord
of their lives. I Peter 2:1, 2, "Wherefore laying aside all malice,
and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As
newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow
thereby." If one must make Jesus Lord of his life in order to be saved,
he would have to be a mature Christian then, but the Bible says there is
such a thing as a "babe in Christ," which means that such a person is saved,
but he has a lot of growing to do.
8. The fact that the Christian must grow in grace
means that a person can be saved without Jesus being Lord of his life.
II Peter 3:18, "But grow in grace, and in the
knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and
for ever. Amen." The word "grow" here means that the Christian has not
yet "arrived." He is not yet mature. The words "in grace" mean that he is
saved. Is such a person saved? Yes, he is. Is Jesus Lord of his life. No, He
9. A person can be righteous in the sight of God
and be saved without making Jesus Lord of his life. Romans 4:5, "But
to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly,
his faith is counted for righteousness." Here is a person who does not
work for God. All he does is believe. The Bible says his faith is counted
for righteousness. Is he saved? Yes. Is Jesus Lord of his life? Absolutely
not. Jesus commands us to work, to win souls and to serve God, but here is a
man who does not do those things; yet he is righteous. He is saved, but
Jesus is not Lord of his life.
10. A person can be saved and not have his body
yielded totally to Christ. Romans 12:1, 2
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye
present your bodies a living sacnfice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is
your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye
transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that
good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." Were the people to whom
he was speaking saved? Yes, they were. Notice the word "brethren" in verse
1. Was Jesus Lord of their life? No, He was not. The Apostle Paul was
beseeching them to present their bodies a living sacrifice, to be holy, and
not be conformed to the world, but be transformed in order that they might
do the perfect will of God. Were they saved? Yes, they were. Was Jesus Lord
of their lives? No, He was not.
A person can be saved and even call Jesus "Lord"
without the Saviour actually being the Lord of his life. Luke 6:20, 46,
'And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor
:for your's is the kingdom of God. And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do
not the things which I say?" This entire passage was written to the
disciples by Jesus. Were they saved?
Yes, they were. Verse 20 plainly calls them His
disciples. Now what did He say to His disciples? Among other things, in
verse 46 He said they were calling Him "Lord," but doing not the things
which He said. In other words, they were like the Lordship salvation crowd
today. Since none of us can totally do everything He says until we awake in
His likeness, it is foolish for us to say that Jesus is Lord of our lives.
Were these people saved? Yes, they were. They were called "disciples" in
20. Was Jesus Lord of their lives? No, He was not,
because verse 46 tells us that they did not the things which He said.
Yes, Jesus is Lord. He is Lord of the universe, and,
of course, we believe that He is Lord. However, to believe that in order to
be saved one must make Him the Lord of his life is just another form of
salvation by works.
May God help me day by day to give Him more control of
my life and yield more and more to Him so that He can become day by day more
and more the Lord of my actions, my will and my life; but, I must realize
that I am hampered by this body of clay, and that there is a battle being
raged. I must yield myself to Him constantly, making Him more and more the
Lord of my life, but I am looking forward to the day when I shall be like
Him, and He, in fact, will be the Lord of my life.
An Enemy of Soul
I have no problem with the word "dispensation."
It is a Bible word, but I do have a problem with dispensationalism which
says that salvation comes in different ways in different dispensations. For
example, the Scofield Reference Bible, page 1115, in subpoint (2) of
footnote 1 on grace, notice the words, "As a dispensation, grace begins with
the death and resurrection of Christ (Rom. 3. 24-26; 4. 24, 25)." The note
continues as follows, "The point of testing is no longer legal obedience as
the condition of salvation, but acceptance or rejection of Christ...."
Now it is certainly true that salvation in this age is
by acceptance or rejection of Christ, but Mr. Scofield is wrong when he says
that before the death and resurrection of Christ the condition of salvation
was legal obedience! This is what I call "hyper-dispensationalism." There
are those who likewise erroneously believe that salvation will be other than
grace through faith during the millennium. This is also heresy! Salvation
has always been and will always be by grace through faith in Christ. From
the first sin in the garden of Eden until the last person who is saved in
the millennium, every person who goes to Heaven will go there by grace.
I take even stronger issue with the hyper-dispensationalism
which says that the letters to the seven churches in Asia Minor in
Revelation 2 and 3 represent seven ages of church history. For example, Mr.
Scofield says that the message to the church in Ephesus is the church at the
end of the apostolic age. Where is that in the Bible? Then he says that the
letter to the church in Smyrna represents the "Period of the great
persecutions to A.D. 316." Where is that in the Bible?
Then he says that the letter to the church in Pergamos
represents "The church under imperial favour, settled in the world, A.D. 316
to the end." Where is that in the Bible? Then he says that the letter to the
church at Thyatira represents "A.D. 500-1500: the triumph of Balaamism and
Nicolaitanism; a believing remnant (vs. 24-28)." Where is that in the Bible?
Then he says that the letter to the church in Sardis
represents "The period of the Reformations; a believing remnant (vs. 4, 5)."
Where is that in the Bible? Then he says that the letter to the church in
Philadelphia represents "The true church in the professing church." Where is
that in the Bible? Then he says that the letter to the church in Laodicea
represents the final state of apostasy. Where is that in the Bible? This
kind of heresy is no where to be found in the Word of God, and the danger of
it is that these hyper-dispensationalists enjoy teaching that since this is
the day of apostasy, God does not do any great works anymore and that this
is the day where we just hold out faithful to the end. According to them, no
great churches can be built, and no great revivals can be had.
What a sad commentary! What a pitiful look at the
Scripture! There is absolutely nothing that says we cannot have revival
today. We can have revival anytime God's people will pay the price!
These seven letters to the seven churches are exactly
that. There were churches named, "the church at Ephesus," "the church at
Smyrna," the church at Pergamos," "the church at Thyatira," "the church at
Sardis," "the church at Philadelphia" and "the church at Laodicea." These
churches had problems like all churches do. The Holy Spirit inspired the
Apostle John to write letters to these churches to help the churches get
straightened out. Would somebody please show me in the Bible where these
letters represent the seven ages of church history?
There Is a False
Concerning the Last
The first time the term "the last days" is mentioned
in the Bible is in Isaiah 2:2, 'And it shall come to pass in the last
days, that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top
of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations
shall flow unto it." Here we have something that is predicted to happen
in the last days.
Now we come concerning the last days to Joel 2:28,
29, 'And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit
upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old
men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the
servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit."
Please note what will happen in the last days. It is
talking about the power of the Holy Spirit coming upon people. Please notice
Acts 2:14-1 8, "But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his
voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judea, and all ye that dwell at
Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are
not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But
this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass
in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh:
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall
see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on
my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall
It is Pentecost; 3000 people are about to be saved.
Peter stands up to speak. He explains that what is happening there on
Pentecost is a fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel 2:28, 29, which he
quotes. Notice also in verse 17 that he calls these the last days.
Now I'm not saying that there are no signs that must
precede the second coming of Jesus Christ to the earth. I'm fully aware of
the tribulation plagues, of the end time war, of Russia and her allies
attacking Israel and the Western Confederacy defending Israel, and of the
Eastern Confederacy coming from the land of the sun rising to join Russia,
etc. Though I do believe that the rapture is an imminent event that could
take place anytime, I nevertheless do not discount that there are some signs
that could point to the soonness of the tribulation period and the second
coming of Christ at the end of that period. However, the term "the last
days" describes the days from the resurrection of Christ even until this day
and until the consummation of the age.
Now turn to II Timothy 3:1-8, "This know also, that
in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their
own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents,
unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false
accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors,
heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a
form of godliness, but denying the power thereof from such turn away. For of
this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women
laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able
to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood
Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate
concerning the faith."
Notice there in II Timothy 3:1 the term, "the last
days." Likewise notice the condition of the last days, bearing in mind that
the last days started at the resurrection of Christ, as we learned a while
ago in Acts 2:16, 17. We find such things characterizing this age as people
being lovers of themselves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers,
disobedient to parents, etc. It goes on to say, "without natural
affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, "etc. Then it mentions
"having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof" Now these
are not things unique to the days in which we live. People have always been
lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters. People have always been
trucebreakers, false accusers, high minded, disobedient to parents, lovers
of pleasure. People have always had a form of godliness.
However, we should notice here that whatever these
last days are, in II Timothy 3:5 Paul tells Timothy, "from such turn
away." He was saying, "Timothy, you turn away from these people,"
showing that these were already the last days. Notice the words in verse 6,
"for of this sort are they...." Notice the word "are." That
word is in the present tense. These people were there then. These people
then were covetous, unthankful, unholy, false accusers and disobedient to
parents. They were alive then, for the apostle said, "are they."
Notice also in II Timothy 2:6 it says, "and lead
captive silly women laden with sins...." Notice the present tense. They
were doing it then.
Now look down to verse 8. Notice the words, "so do
these also..." In other words, as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses,
there were people at that very time who did the same thing. Paul is saying
to Timothy, "In these last days, these people will do these things, and this
is the way you are supposed to respond to them."
Now turn to Hebrews 1:1, 2, "God, who at sundry
times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the
prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath
appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds." Notice
that Paul (probably the writer of Hebrews), used the present tense, "hath
in these last days," so in Hebrews 1:1 the last days were already there.
Now turn to I Peter 1:19, 20, "But with the
precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who
verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest
in these last times for you." Notice especially in verse 20 the words,
"in these last times." Once again, Peter is saying what Paul had said
- that these were the last days.
Now notice II Peter 3:3-5, "Knowing this first,
that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own
lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers
fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the
creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God
the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the
water." In verse 3 he mentions the last days. In verse 5 he says,
"for this they willingly are ignorant of...." Notice the present
tense - they "are ignorant of." In other
words, these "last days" were in existence at the time that this was
Now notice I John 2:18, "Little children, it is the
last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now
are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time."
Notice the words in the first part of verse 18, "it is the last time."
The word "is" indicates present tense. John said the same thing that
Peter and Paul said.
Again you find in the last part of verse 18, "it is
the last time." How much more plain could it be? Paul, John and Peter
all attested to the fact that the last days were in existence at the time
they were living.
Now turn to Jude 18, 19, "How that they told you
there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own
ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not
In Jude 18 the term "last time" is
mentioned. In verse 19, it says "these be"-notice present tense.
"They who separate themselves"-notice present tense. There Jude joined
Paul, Peter and John in attesting to the fact that the
last days were days during which they were living.
God's people can do
for Him now!
Daniel 11:20-23, "Then shall stand up in his estate a
raiser of taxes in the glory of the kingdom: but within few days he shall be
destroyed, neither in anger, nor in battle. And in his estate shall stand up
a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom: but he
shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries. And with the
arms of a flood shall they be overflown from before him, and shall be
broken; yea, also the prince of the covenant. And after the league made with
him he shall work deceitfully: for he shall come up, and shall become strong
with a small people."
Daniel 11:32, 33, 'And such as do wickedly against
the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know
their God shall be strong, and do exploits. And they that understand among
the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by
flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days."
In verse 20-23, it is obvious that God is talking
about the end time. He talks about the antichrist and his work; he talks
about the league that will be made with Israel. All Bible teachers who hold
the premillennial position would agree that these verses deal with the end
time. Now, notice the last half of verse 32, "but the people that do know
their God shall be strong, and do exploits." Then look again at verse
33, 'And they that understand among the people shall instruct many...."
It sounds to me like exploits will still be done in the end time.
The truth is, one of the greatest revivals (as far as evangelism is
concerned) that the world has ever seen will take place during the
tribulation period, and certainly God's grace is not limited to this
It is a wicked thing for dusty Bible teachers with
their dusty theology to compartmentalize the Bible concerning salvation and
soul winning. It doesn't bother me for someone to talk about dispensations,
and it doesn't bother me for people to divide the Bible, as long as they do
not divide it up concerning the plan of salvation, concerning the power of
God, and concerning soul winning! People can be saved today like they were
in the book of Acts! God's people can have revival just like they always
I was preaching in the deep South. On Tuesday night I
made a statement that startled myself. I made the statement that if somebody
would pay the price in this generation, a church could still have 3000
people saved on one Sunday. I could not believe I said it. Flying back to
Chicago the next morning, the Lord seemed to impress that upon me. In fact,
I could almost hear Him speak and ask me if I believed what I had said the
night before. I was somewhat stunned that I had said it. Somewhat to my own
surprise, I went to my people that Wednesday night and told them that we
were going to have 3000 people saved on the third Sunday of March of that
year. (That date was about two months away.)
The First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, began to
work and pray as I've never seen a church work and pray. We were asking God
to give us 3000 people saved on, as it were, another Pentecost. On that
special Sunday, 5195 people walked the aisles of the First Baptist Church of
Hammond receiving Christ as Saviour! The next year we had a second Pentecost
Sunday, and over 3300 people were saved! Then the next year we had another
Pentecost Sunday, and over 4900 people were saved, as Dr. Curtis Hutson was
our guest speaker.
I'm not a great preacher. I don't profess to be a
great Christian. I just profess to serve a great God Who is the same
yesterday, today and forever, and Who will give revival when God's people
pay the price!
I believe that II Chronicles 7:14 is still valid, and
while the ultra-dispensationalists are saying it cannot happen today, there
are men of God all over America who are seeing it happen! More people are
being baptized today than in the history of the United States of America.
More great soul-winning churches are being built than have ever been built.
Let the dusty theologians say it can't be done, but
give me a generation of young preachers on fire for God who believe the Word
of God, believe the promises of God and claim the blessings of God, and we
will prove by the grace of God that it can be done today! I am not fighting
dispensationalism; I am attacking vigorously the heresy and false teaching
that says it can't be done today. Whatever God could do, God can do!
Whatever God can do, God will do, if His people meet His conditions!
An Enemy of Soul
Of course, the word "formal" comes from the word
"form," which means "an outline." From this we can believe that formal
worship then would be an outline of worship - going
through the form.
II Timothy 3:5, "Having a form of godliness, but
denying the power thereof from such turn away.
The first mention of worship in the Bible is in
Genesis 22:5, "And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the
ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you."
This is the story of Abraham offering Isaac on Mount
Moriah. Notice the words, "I and the lad will go yonder and worship."
This is a far cry from what we call worship. The worship that Abraham was
going to do was to go to a mountain, build an altar, take a knife, kill his
son and offer him for a sacrifice.
The next mention of worship in the Bible is in
Genesis 24:26, 48, 52, "And the man bowed down his head, and worshipped the
LORD. And I bowed my head, and worshipped the LORD, and blessed the LORD God
of my master Abraham, which had led me in the right way to take my master's
brother's daughter unto his son. And it came to pass, that, when
Abraham 's servant heard their words, he worshipped the LORD, bowing himself
to the earth." Abraham had sent his servant back to the old country to
choose a bride for his son Isaac. At each step in the accomplishing of this
task, the servant worshipped.
Neither of these two instances had anything to do with
a public worship service.
Worship in the Bible
Was an Individual Act
There is not one single mention of a worship service
in the New Testament. There is not one single command or even an implication
to the church to have a public worship service. Worship was a private
In Genesis 22:5, Abraham and
Isaac went to Mount Moriah to worship. This was an individual act. In
Genesis 24:26, 48, 52, Abraham's servant worshipped in an individual
In Exodus 34:8, Moses worshipped individually upon the
receipt of the second tables of the law. "And Moses made haste, and bowed
his head toward the earth, and worshipped."
In Judges 7:15, in the midst of his battle against the
Midianites, Gideon worshipped individually. "And it was so, when Gideon
heard the telling of the dream, and the interpretation thereof, that he
worshipped, and returned into the host of Israel, and said, Arise; for the
LORD hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian."
In I Samuel 1:19, when Hannah was told that she would
bear a son, she worshipped individually. "And they rose up in the morning
early, and worshipped before the LORD, and returned, and came to
their house to Ramah: and Elkanah knew Hannah his wife; and the LORD
In I Samuel 1:28, Hannah brought Samuel to Eli, and
Samuel worshipped individually. "Therefore also I have lent him to the
LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD. And he worshipped
the LORD there."
In I Samuel 15:3 1, Saul worshipped individually.
"So Samuel turned again after Saul; and Saul worshipped the LORD."
In II Samuel 12:20, David arose after the death of his
illegitimate child borne by Bath-sheba, and after having repented, he
worshipped individually. "Then David arose from the earth, and washed,
and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of
the LORD, and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when he
required, they set bread before him, and he did eat."
In II Samuel 15:32, David came to the top of the
mount, and he worshipped individually. "And it came to pass, that when
David was come to the top of the mount, where he worshipped God, behold,
Hushai the Archite came to meet him with his coat rent, and earth upon his
In Job 1:20, Job worshipped individually upon hearing
of the death of his children. "Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and
shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped."
In Matthew 8:2, a leper came to Jesus and sought
cleansing. When he came to the Saviour, he worshipped Him saying. "And,
behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt,
thou canst make me clean." He worshipped individually.
In Matthew 9:18, a certain ruler came to Jesus
interceding for his daughter, and he worshipped individually. "While he
spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and
worshipped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy
hand upon her, and she shall live."
In Matthew 15:25, a woman seeking healing for her
daughter worshipped individually. "Then came she and worshipped him,
saying, Lord, help me."
In John 9:38, a blind man was healed by Jesus, and he
worshipped individually. "And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped
In Acts 16:14, Lydia by the riverside worshipped
individually. "And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller ofpurple, of the
city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord
opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul."
In Acts 18:7, Justus worshipped individually. "And
he departed thence, and entered into a certain man's house, named .Justus,
one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue."
In Hebrews 11:21, Jacob, at the time of his death,
leaned upon the top of his staff and worshipped individually. "By faith
Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped,
leaning upon the top of his staff"
Worship in the New Testament
The word "worship" is mentioned 35 times in the New
Testament. Not one time does it deal with a public worship service.
In Matthew 2:2, the wise men came to worship Jesus.
This was not a public service. "Saying, Where is he that is born King of
the Jews ?for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship
In Matthew 2:8, Herod enquired of the wise men so he
could come and worship Jesus. Had this been done, it would not have been a
public service, but an individual matter. "And he sent them to Bethlehem,
and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have
found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also."
In Matthew 4:9 and Luke 4:7, Satan promised to give
Jesus the kingdoms of this world if He would fall down and worship him.
"And saith unto him, All these things will l give thee, if thou wilt fall
down and worship me." "If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be
In Matthew 15:9 and Mark 7:7, we have the mention of
vain worship. "But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the
commandments of men." "Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for
doctrines the commandments of men."
In John 4:20, 22-24, we have Jesus rebuking formal
worship as He talked to the woman at Sychar's well and explained to her that
they who would worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. He was
telling her that she worshipped one place and the Jews worshipped another
place, but that worship was an individual matter and could be done anywhere.
The woman at the well said, "Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and
ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship."
Jesus answered her, "Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we
worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when
the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for
the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that
worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."
In John 12:20, the Greeks came to worship at a feast.
This was done by bringing offerings. "And there were certain Greeks among
them that came up to worship at the feast."
In Acts 7:42, 43, we have the word "worship" mentioned
concerning the golden calf in the wilderness. "Then God turned,
and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book
of the prophets, 0 ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts
and sacnfices by the space of forty years in the wilderness? Yea, ye took up
the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye
made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon."
In Acts 17:23, Paul mentions on Mars' hill that the
Greeks were worshipping an unknown god. "For as I passed by, and beheld
your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.
Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.
In Acts 18:13, worship contrary to the law was rebuked
by some. "Saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to
In Acts 24:11, the word "worship" is connected with
Jewish worship. "Because that thou mayest understand, that there are yet
but twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem for to worship."
In Acts 24:14, the worship was done by believing the
Bible. "But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call
heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which were
written in the law and in the prophets."
In Philippians 3:3, we have individual worship.
"For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice
in Christ .Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh."
In Hebrews 1:6, we find the mention of angels
worshipping. "And again, when he bringeth in the first begotten into the
world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him."
In Revelation 3:9, we have worship at the synagogue of
Satan. "Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say
they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and
worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee."
In Revelation 4:10, 11, we have worship pertaining to
the judgment seat; that is, worship that will be done in the air after the
rapture. "The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the
throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns
before the throne, saying. Thou art worthy, 0 Lord, to receive glory and
honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure
they are and were created."
In Revelation 9:20, we have worship of idolatry in the
tribulation period. "And the rest of the men which were not killed by
these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should
not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and
of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk."
In Revelation 13:8, 12, 15, we have the worship of the
Antichrist during the tribulation period. "And all that dwell upon the
earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of
the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. And he exerciseth all the
power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which
dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And
he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the
beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the
image of the beast should be killed."
The consequence of those who worship the Antichrist is
stated in Revelation 14:7, 9-11, "Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and
give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him
that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. And
the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship
the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his
hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured
out without mixture.... And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever
and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast
and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name."
In Revelation 15:4, we have the tribulation
worship. "Who shall not fear thee, 0 Lord, and glonfy thy name?for thou
only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy
judgments are made manifest."
In Revelation 19:10, John worshipped an angel and was
rebuked for doing so. "And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said
unto me, See thou do it not: lam thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that
have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the
spirit of prophecy."
In Revelation 22:8, 9, we have the same rebuke given
to John again for bowing down and worshipping before an angel. "And I
John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, Ifell
down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things.
Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and
of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this
book: worship God."
We have just covered every time the word "worship" is
mentioned in the New Testament. It mentions not one public service where
they worshipped, not one formal worship, not anything like the average
formal church does on Sunday morning-no anthems, no "Gloria Patri," no
"Sevenfold Amen," no liturgy, no high-church public service.
The Church Assembled
Other Than Worship
Though worship was a private matter and not a public
matter, we nevertheless are commanded to assemble ourselves together as
God's people. Hebrews 10:25, "Not forsaking the
assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of
some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day
According to the New Testament, the public meetings
were for strength for God's people, for fellowship, for the taking of the
Lord's Supper, for praying, for studying the Bible, for praise, etc. The
soul winning was to be done publicly and from house to house. The
worshipping was to be done alone, and the church assembled for the
When formal worship is substituted for the real
purpose of the assembly, Christians do not get strengthened, encouraged,
exhorted or motivated to do the main task of the church, and that is to
carry out the Great Commission, which is soul winning. To that end, formal
worship becomes an enemy of soul winning!
An Enemy of Soul
Over and over again the question is asked me, "Is
repentance necessary for salvation?" Of course, this is of utmost
importance. Anything that deals with the way a person can escape the fires
of eternal Hell and go to Heaven to live forever is of vital importance. In
this chapter, we will address this most important question.
1. First, we need to find what makes one lost. Please
notice John 3:18, "He that believeth on him is not condemned: but
he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in
the name of the only begotten Son of God." It is very plain in this
verse what makes a person lost. Notice the words, "he that believeth not
is condemned already." A person who does not believe is condemned, so
not believing is what makes a person lost.
Bear in mind, the word "believing" is the Greek word
which means "to rely upon." When one believes on Christ, he simply relies on
Him to save him and take him to Heaven when he dies. It is very plain here
that what condemns a person is believing not. Then notice it says,
"because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
Once again, we are told what makes a person lost -
because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. It
is as simple as that.
Now look at John 3:36, "He that believeth on the
Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see
life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." Again, we are trying to
decide and determine what makes one lost. It is very plain here. Notice the
word believeth, "and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life,
but the wrath of God abideth on him." What keeps a person from seeing
life? Believing not! What makes the wrath of God abide on a person?
Believing not! So, from what must a person repent in order to be saved? He
must repent of that which makes him lost. Since "believing not" makes him
lost, "believing" makes him saved. The repentance there is a turning from
the thing that keeps him from being saved to the thing that saves him. So,
yes, there is a repentance from unbelief in order to believe. It is simply a
change of direction. It means a turning around. You are going away from
believing, and you decide to turn around and believe. You change your
direction; you change your mind. With your will you believe and rely upon
Christ to save you. In order to believe, you have to repent of unbelief.
That which makes a man lost must be corrected.
Now turn to John 5:40, "And ye will not come to me,
that ye might have life." Oh, how simple this is, and yet how plain! Why
does a person not have life, according to this verse? Because he will not
come to Christ. So, if a person is going away from Christ, he must turn
around and come to Christ, which is a change of direction or a change of
mind. This is repentance - repenting of the thing that
keeps one from being saved, repenting from "going away" to "coming to."
Notice Isaiah 53:6, "All we like sheep have gone
astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on
him the iniquity of us all." Especially notice the words, "we have
turned every one to his own way." That's what not being saved is
- turning to our own way. Now if we turn to God's way,
which is putting our faith and trust in Jesus, we turn around from going our
own way to going His way, from unbelief to belief. This is Bible repentance.
Bear in mind, it is the faith that saves. The turning around is necessary in
order to put our faith in Christ. One must repent from that thing that keeps
him from being saved in order to be saved.
If a person were saved by good works, then he would
have to repent of bad works, or of not doing good works, in order to be
saved. If a person were saved by quitting his sinning, then he would have to
repent of his sinning in order to be saved. A person is saved by believing,
so he repents of his unbelief or turns from his unbelief in order to be
Let us look at the verses that teach us we are saved
John 3:15, "That whosoever believeth in him should
not perish, but have eternal life."
John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he
gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not
perish, but have everlasting life."
John 3.18, "He that believeth on him is not
condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath
not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
John 3:36, "He that believeth on the Son hath
everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but
the wrath of God abideth on him."
Acts 16:31, "And they said, Believe on the Lord
Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house."
There are those who say we have to repent of our sins
in order to be saved. No, we have to repent only of the thing that makes us
unsaved, and that is unbelief. If a person needs to turn from his sins in
order to be saved, what sins does he turn from? Does he turn from pride?
Does he turn from selfishness? Does he turn from covetousness? The truth is,
nobody can turn from all of his sins until he is raptured and he receives a
body like the body of the Saviour. I John 3:2, "Beloved, now are we the
sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that,
when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is."
According to Psalm 19:12, we do not even know all of our sins. David
said, "Cleanse thou me from secret faults." What he is talking about
here is being cleansed from faults he doesn't even know he has. A person,
when he is first saved, does not know all the things that he is doing that
are wrong, and if a person has to repent of all of his sins, where is growth
in grace? Where is being a babe in Christ? Where does the carnal Christian
fit in here?
Now don't misunderstand me. I am certainly for
separation and for living a godly life, but the cleansing of our lives is
not done by us any more than salvation is done by us. Salvation is simply
repenting of unbelief, and believing, and letting Christ save us. We yield
to Him to save us; He does! Immediately the Holy Spirit comes in to live.
The Holy Spirit begins His work of cleansing in our lives. He is the one Who
cleanses, just as he is the one Who saves. He is the one Who points our sins
out to us after we are saved just as He is the one Who saves us when we are
This chapter is being dictated in San Antonio, Texas.
I am sitting in a Holiday Inn. Tomorrow morning early I will catch a plane
for Chicago. Let's suppose I get on that plane, and I am trusting the pilot
to take me to Chicago. I do not know how to operate the plane, nor do I know
the route to Chicago by air. There is nothing I can do to get myself to
Chicago by that plane. I trust the pilot to get me there. So, we get up in
the air thousands of feet high, and let's suppose I get a knife and cut up
the seat in front of me. Now, where am I going? I'm still going to Chicago.
Why? I repented of "not trusting the plane to take me" to "trusting the
plane to take me."
The stewardess comes and says, "Mr. Hyles, what are
you doing back here?" I say, "I'm just cutting up a little bit!"
Then suppose I reach up and cut off a lock of her
hair. Now where am I going? I'm going to Chicago. You see, how I behave on
the flight does not determine my destination.
So, the stewardess goes to the pilot and says, "Mr.
Hyles, back in seat 14A is causing some disturbance. Look at my hair. Go
back and look at the seat." The pilot leaves the plane in the hands of the
co-pilot and comes back to seat 14A and says, "Mr. Hyles, what are you doing
back here?" He looks at the seat I've cut up, he sees the lock of hair that
I've cut off the stewardess, and I reach out and cut off his tie. Now where
am I going? I'm going to Chicago. That was all determined when I got
on the airplane. Now the truth is, I will not enjoy Chicago as much as I
would have enjoyed it, nor will I go to the part of Chicago I'd planned to,
but I'm still going to Chicago.
When we put our faith and trust in Christ, and repent
of unbelief, and believe, God's Holy Spirit comes in to live and begins to
straighten us out. He points out our sins, and as we yield to Him, He
cleanses us from our sins. If we misbehave on the journey, we are still
going to Heaven, because we go to Heaven by trusting Christ to take us
there. The Holy Spirit Who came in to live begins to point out things that
we should and should not do. If we do not obey Him, if we misbehave on the
journey, we will still go to Heaven; we simply will not enjoy it as much as
we would have had we behaved, just as I would not enjoy Chicago as much as I
would have had I behaved.
I know a young man who recently got married. He got an
apartment several months before he got married and lived there alone until
the wedding took place. What a mess that apartment was! His pants were hung
on the bedpost, his shoes were left on the floor beside the bed, and the bed
was never made. Then one day he got married. Now how did he get married? He
got married by turning from being single to being married. He repented of
not being married and got married. When he took his new bride to the
apartment, she was aghast, but immediately she began to straighten things
up. She put his shoes in the closet, took his shirt off the chair, removed
his clothes off the bedpost, and made a lovely little apartment out of the
mess that he had made. Now he was not married because he cleaned up his
apartment; he was married because he
repented of that thing that kept him from being
married. He repeated the vows and accepted her as his wife. It was then that
she came in; it was then that his apartment began to get clean!
Practically every false doctrine comes from getting
things out of order. God's divine order is salvation, then change; not
change and then salvation! If one has to be changed to be saved, that's
salvation by works. It is also salvation by the flesh. The truth is, one is
cleansed from the sins of the flesh just as he is saved; by yielding to the
Holy Spirit and letting Him do His work.
2. You can repent of something other than sin.
Matthew 7:3, "Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was
condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver
to the chief priests and elders." Notice that Judas repented. Now what
does it mean? It means he repented about keeping the money. He had sold our
Saviour for thirty pieces of silver; he changed his mind and took the silver
back. A change of mind and change of direction took place, but it had
nothing to do with salvation. He had made a bad deal; he regretted he had
made that bad deal, and he tried to correct it.
Everybody who lives in sin eventually repents, but
they do not repent of unbelief. They change their mind about sin. No one
lives in sin without realizing later that it did not bring the joy,
happiness, peace and contentment that it claimed to bring. I talk to people
every week who are tired of their sins, unhappy in their sinful life or
living a miserable, wretched life because of the results of sin. What have
they done? They have changed their mind about sin, and in some cases, they
even quit their sin - at least that sin which was most
predominant in their lives. You can repent of sin without repenting of
unbelief. Such was the case with Judas. No doubt he repented that he had
done wrong. He certainly repented of the bad deal he had made. He turned
around, changed his mind and brought the money back, but he did not repent
of that thing from which he must repent in order to be saved, and that is
3. God repents. Notice Genesis 6:6, "And it
repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at
his heart." Bear in mind, the word "repent" means "change of mind." God
made man and wished He hadn't. He was grieved because of what man had done,
and He repented that He had made man. This does not mean that God repented
from sin, because God could not sin; He simply changed His mind, which He
does often. Basically, that is what answered prayer is much of the time.
Now notice I Samuel 15:35, "And Samuel came no more
to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for
Saul: and the Lord repented that he had made Saul king over Israel."
God had made Saul king over Israel. The truth is that God did not want
to do so, but Israel clamored for a king. Saul was chosen to be that king,
but it then did not turn out as it should have. So, in this verse it simply
says that God repented that He had made Saul king. He changed His mind.
What I'm saying is, there is repentance other than
repentance from sin. A lady can change her mind about the kind of perfume
she wears. A man can change his mind about the kind of food he eats or the
kind of clothes he wears. He can change his direction concerning his
manners. You can repent from discourtesy to courtesy. You can repent from
stubbornness to leniency. You can repent from impatience to patience, but
those things don't save. Repenting from the thing that makes you lost is the
thing that makes you saved, and that is, repenting of your unbelief.
Now notice Exodus 32:9-14, "And the LORD said unto
Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: Now
therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I
may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation. And Moses besought
the LORD his God, and said, LORD, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy
people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great
power, and with a mighty hand? Wherefore should the Egyptians speak,
and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains,
and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath,
and repent of this evil against thy people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and
Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst
unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this
land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and thy shall inherit
it for ever. And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto
Let me paraphrase the story. God said to Moses, "I'm
sick and tired of the people and their rebellion. Get out of the way so I
can consume them." Moses came to God and said, "Lord, don't do that. You're
the One Who brought the people out of the land of Egypt, and if You consume
them, the heathen people are going to criticize You. Not only that! You
promised Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that you would multiply their seed and
that You would give them the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession."
Moses pleaded his case before God, reminding God what God had promised. Then
verse 14 simply says, "The LORD repented of the evil which he thought to
do unto his people." The word "evil" here means something that would
cause them pain; it's not talking about sin. God decided not to hurt them
after all. He decided not to consume them after all. He changed His mind,
but He did not change His mind concerning a sin, because God cannot sin.
Now turn to Jonah 3:9, 10, "Who can tell if God
will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish
not? And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God
repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he
did it not."
God was going to punish Nineveh. Jonah had preached in
Nineveh and had warned the people that destruction was coming. The people
believed God, turned from their unbelief to belief, and God changed His mind
about punishing the people. In verse 10 the Bible says, "And God repented
of the evil that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not."
Again, God simply changed His mind and changed His
direction. He was going to punish; they believed; He decided not to punish.
He changed from the direction of punishing to the direction of not
punishing. This is repentance, but not repentance from sin, because God
Look at Amos 7:3, "The Lord repented for this: It
shall not be, saith the Lord."
Amos 7:6, "The Lord repented for this: This also
shall not be, saith the Lord God."
So, repentance does not always deal with salvation and
sin; it is simply a change of direction or a change of mind.
4. Now we consider repentance and salvation. Look at
Acts 3:19, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be
blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of
Peter is preaching here. He tells the people to repent
and be converted. Now we have to go back to what saves. John 3:14-16, 18,
36, "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the
Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish,
but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only
begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have
everlasting life. He that believeth on him is not condemned; but he that
believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name
of the only begotten Son of God. He that believeth on the Son hath
everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but
the wrath of God abideth on him." Acts 16:31, "And they said, Believe on the
Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house."
So these people had to repent from not believing and
believe in order that they might be converted. They had to change
directions, change their minds.
Let me say again that I do not believe for a second
that Christian people should live like the Devil. No preacher preaches
separation more than I do. I simply believe that that separation is a work
of the Holy Spirit just like regeneration is a work of the Holy Spirit, and
it starts after one has repented from that which makes him lost, and that is
unbelief. When this is done, he believes, he is saved. Then the Holy Spirit
comes in and begins to tell the Christian what sins from which he should
repent. The man changed his mind about unbelief. The Holy Spirit directed
him there. Now the Holy Spirit comes in to live and begins to change his
mind about other things.
Now look at 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."
Peter is saying, "Change your mind and be baptized."
Now, about what did they change their minds? This is answered in verse 41.
Look at what they did in response. They gladly received His Word, and then
they were baptized. So what was this repentance? It was repentance from not
receiving His Word to receiving His Word. That's all Peter was saying. He
was saying, "Change your mind about receiving the Word," which states that
you must believe and repent from unbelief in order to be saved.
Now turn to Acts 17:30, "And the times of this
ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent."
Notice God commandeth all men every where to repent. Repent from what?
Repent from the thing that keeps them lost, and that's unbelief. What
corrects this? Look at Acts 17:34, "Howbeit certain men clave unto him,
and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman
named Dammaris, and others with them." Notice it said, "certain men
believed." So, when he said, "repent," he was saying "repent from unbelief
and believe," because just as in Acts 2:38 and 41 a command was given to
repent, and the believing was the obedience to that command. They changed
their mind about belief. They decided to believe instead of not believe.
Now look at Mark l:15, "And saying, The time is
fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the
Jesus Himself is saying repent, and notice immediately
He says, "repent, and believe." What He was saying is, "Quit unbelieving,
and believe. Quit not believing, and believe." Again, I'm not saying a
Christian should live like the Devil, but I am saying that changing your
life does not save you. That's salvation by works. Faith is what saves you.
You turn from unbelief to belief; from no faith to faith, and then
repentance from sins begins, because He Who convicted you from the sin of
unbelief to believing now lives in you. How easy it is now for Him to
convict you day by day of other things from which you can repent and about
which you can change your mind.
5. Repentance from sin is directed to God's
Revelation 2:5, "Remember therefore from whence
thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come
unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except
Here is a case of a church that was a good church. It
was a church that worked. It worked hard. It hated sin. It was doctrinally
sound. Revelation 2:2, "I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy
patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast
tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them
liars." It was a patient church. It was a church that believed in the
name of Jesus and did not faint in their standing for that. Revelation
2:3, "And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast
laboured, and hast not fainted." However, it was a church that had left
its first love. It does not say that that church lost its first love, but
they left their first love. When you lose something, you don't know where it
is. When you leave something, you know where to find it. It does not say
that this church did not love any more. The truth
is they did love. Love is what made them faithful,
what made them work, what made them have patience, what made them hate sin,
what made them stand for the name of Jesus, what made them hate false
doctrine. This was a church of people who loved God, but they had left their
first love - that first sweet love -
maybe more shallow than the love they had then.
It does not say that they loved Him less. The truth is
they probably loved Him more, but God is saying, "I want both. I want the
deep, mature love that you have now and the sweet expressive love that you
used to have.
The only sin this church had committed was the sin of
leaving their first love -that "Amen!" love, that "Hallelujah!" love, that
"Glory to God!" love, that sweet, expressive love. Nevertheless, they
sinned, and God told them to repent. Repent from what? Repent from drinking?
No. Repent from adultery? No. This is not the subject here. It's repenting
from not loving Christ with the first love.
This same type repentance was commanded to the church
in Pergamos. Revelation 2:16, "Repent; or else I will come unto thee
quickly, and willfight against them with the sword of my mouth." The
same thing was said to the church at Thyatira in Revelation 2:21, 22,
"And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.
Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her
into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds." The church
in Sardis was told likewise to repent in Revelation 3:3, "Remember
therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If
therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou
shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee." The church at Laodicea
received the same command in Revelation 3:19, "As many as I love, I
rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent."
So you can see that God tells individuals to repent;
He also tells groups to repent. He tells nations to repent. Time and time
again He called Israel to repentance.
Now let us review, as follows:
1. God says to the unsaved, "Repent of your
It's very interesting that in I John the word
"repentance" is never mentioned, and yet the purpose of I John was to give
people the assurance of salvation. I John 5:13, "These things have I
written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may
know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the
Son of God." Of course, repentance is certainly implied throughout the
entire book, because the book tells us that what saves is believing on
Christ (or relying on Him) to save, which, of course, implies that that
person must repent of what makes him lost, which is unbelief.
2. God says to the saved people, "Repent of sin."
This is done by the Holy Spirit as He comes in to live to remind us to
take the clothes off the bedpost, the shirt off the chair, put the shoes
into the closet, etc.
3. If a person must repent of his sins to be saved,
of what sins must he repent? Can he repent of all of them? Isn't that
sinless perfection or holiness? Isn't that salvation by works? Of
what sin must one repent? He must repent of the sin that makes him lost,
and that's the sin of unbelief.
4. If turning from sins would get you saved, then
turning back to sins would get you lost. In Acts 16:30 the very simple
question is asked, "What must I do to be saved?" This is the
one time in the Bible where this question is asked. Now the answer
to this question must be what saves a person. Acts 16:31, "And they
said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy
house." There's the answer-belief. There is nothing about repentance
here, except, yes, there is something about repentance, because you can't
believe without repenting from unbelief.
5. If a person has to clean up his own life before
he gets saved, we are back to Arminianism or salvation by works.
6. We cannot do what the Holy Spirit can do. The
Spirit first convicts us of our sin of unbelief to
bring us to Christ. Once He brings us to Christ, He comes in us to live.
Romans 8:9, "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that
the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have
not the Spint of Christ, he is none of his." I Corinthians 6:19, 20, "What?
know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you,
which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a
price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are
Then when the Holy Spirit is in us, He begins to
convict us of things in our lives that should be changed. Then the Christian
life becomes a constant repenting until we wake in the likeness of Christ.
An Enemy of Soul
In order to live as a child of God, I must have a
perfect Bible. Matthew 4:41, "But he answered and
said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word
that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." Notice the words, "every
If I have my prayers answered, I must have a perfect
Bible. John 15:7, "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall
ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." That means that
somewhere in the world, there has to be a perfect Bible.
God has told us that His words are pure. Psalm
12:6, "The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in afurnace of
earth, punfied seven times."
God has told us that these pure words would be
preserved forever. Psalm 12:7, "Thou shalt keep them, 0 LORD, thou
shalt preserve them for this generation forever." Since today is
a part of forever, somewhere in the world there must be pure words of God.
Hence, it does not satisfy me for someone to say that only in the original
do we have the pure words of God. Since there are no original manuscripts
today, or for that matter, there are no manuscripts even near the original
manuscripts as far as time is concerned, then what these people are saying
is that we do not have anywhere today any book that contains the pure words
of God. Yet, I am commanded to preach the Word.
II Timothy 4:2, "Preach the word; be instant in
season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and
Now since the words of God are pure, and since all of
the so-called Bibles do not have the same words, only one can be the real
Bible that contains the very words of God, the pure words of God, and the
preserved words of God. The purpose of this chapter is not to enter into a
discussion about the Textus Receptus or Westcott-Hort; it is simply to say
that if God commanded me to preach His Word, He would have to give me His
Word to preach, and certainly His Word is pure, because the words of God are
pure according to the aforementioned Scriptures and will be preserved
forever. This preacher believes that those preserved words are in the Bible
that I hold in my right hand at this very moment-the King James Bible!
I have more respect for the person who says that one
of the false Bibles contains the very words of God than for a person who
says only the original contains the very words of God. At least he believes,
though wrongly, that we still have the words of God which are pure. For
many, many reasons I believe that the King James Bible has been preserved in
the English language word-for-word. I have to believe that. I must have the
words of God, if I live, if I preach and if I get my prayers answered.
1. There are some things that are incorruptible.
The word "incorruptible" means "perfect," "cannot change," "cannot be
improved." If you change something, it must go to perfection or from
perfection, so if something can be changed, it must have been imperfect and
been made perfect, or it must have been perfect and made imperfect. Let us
notice some things that are incorruptible.
(1) God. Romans 1:23, "And changed the glory
of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible
man, and to birds, and foutfooted beasts, and creeping things." This
means God is perfect. He cannot be improved; He cannot change. He cannot be
taken from imperfection to perfection or from perfection to imperfection.
(2) Our future crown. I Corinthians 9:25,
"And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now
they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible." Once
the crown is received, it cannot be improved; it cannot change. It will be
(3) Our glorified bodies. I Corinthians
15:52, "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the
trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we
shall be changed." I John 3:2 "Beloved, now are we the
sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that,
when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is."
Notice that our glorified body will be like His, and it will be
incorruptible. His glorified body is incorruptible. You cannot improve it;
you cannot change it. Then, my glorified body will be incorruptible. It
cannot be improved; it cannot be changed.
(4) Our inheritance. I Peter 1:4, "To an
inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved
in heaven for you." Our inheritance will be perfect. It cannot be
improved; it cannot be changed.
(5) The Word of God. I Peter 1:23,
"Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the
word of God, which liveth and abideth forever." Psalm 126:6, "He that goeth
forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with
rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." Luke 8:11, "Now the parable is
this: The seed is the word of God." You will notice the seed from which
we are born again is incorruptible. It is the Word of God, which liveth and
abideth forever. Consequently, you cannot improve it; you cannot change it.
If you do, you must go from imperfection or to imperfection. Notice in
I Peter 1:23 it is called "incorruptible." Just as
God is incorruptible, just as our crown is incorruptible, just as our
glorified body will be incorruptible, just as Jesus' body is incorruptible,
just as our inheritance is incorruptible; likewise, the Word of God is
Notice in Psalm 126:6, it is "precious seed." This
implies that there is some seed which is not precious. Luke 8:11 teaches us
that this seed is the Word of God. It is perfect; it cannot be changed; it
cannot be improved.
2. The words of God are the genes of regeneration.
Titus 3:5, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but
according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and
renewing of the Holy Ghost." Actually the word "regeneration" means "to
be re-gened." Just as the genes of my parents brought my old nature into
existence, even so the genes of God brought my new nature into existence.
Your old nature is sinful because there was sin in the genes, but the genes
of the Word of God are incorruptible, meaning that which is born of God;
that is, the new nature, cannot sin.
Now if the very words of God must be pure, and if in
fact the King James Bible contains the preserved words of God, then any
other words are not the words of God. This means that the Revised Version is
not precious seed because it is not incorruptible. This means that the
Good News for Modern Man is not precious seed, because it is not
incorruptible. This means that the Living Bible
is not precious seed because it is not incorruptible. This means that the
Reader's Digest Bible is not precious seed, because it is not
incorruptible. This means that the New King James Bible
is not precious seed because it is not incorruptible. This means that
the New Scofield Bible is not precious seed, because it is not
incorruptible. This means that the New
International Version (NIV) is not precious seed, and it is not
incorruptible. This means that the American Standard Version is not
precious seed because it is not incorruptible. If the versions do not agree,
then all of them cannot be the very words of God that have been preserved
3. The genes of the new birth must be
incorruptible. I Peter 1:23, "Being born again, not of corruptible
seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for
ever." These words were penned in the first century, but it says that
the incorruptible seed "liveth and abideth for ever." Since today is a part
of "for ever," we must have the incorruptible seed in order to be re-gened,
or regenerated, or born again.
4. Suppose corruptible seed is used. Can a person
then be born again from it? You answer that question. According to I
Peter 1:23 we read, "Being born again, not of corruptible seed...."
Then, if corruptible seed is used, one cannot be born again. I have a
conviction as deep as my soul that every English-speaking person who has
ever been born again was born of incorruptible seed; that is, the King James
Bible. Does that mean that if someone goes soul winning and takes a false
Bible that the person who receives Christ is not saved? I believe with all
of my soul that the incorruptible seed must have been used somewhere in that
person's life. If all a person has ever read is the Revised Standard
Version, he cannot be born again, because corruptible seed is used, and I
Peter 1:23 is very plain to tell us that a person cannot be born again of
corruptible seed, but of incorruptible seed, and it explains that that
incorruptible seed is the Word of God, and it explains that it liveth and
This is also borne out in Psalm 19:7, "The law of
the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure,
making wise the simple." Notice the words, "the law of the LORD is
perfect, converting the soul." It is the law of the Lord that
converts. It is the Word of God that regenerates. The Word is the seed, and
the seed must be incorruptible.
7. The perfect Word of God
must be used if a person grows in grace. 1 Peter 2:2, "As newborn
babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby."
Notice that it is the "sincere" Word of God by which we grow in grace. So,
to grow in grace, we must have the sincere (pure) Word of God.
This same thing is taught in Deuteronomy 4:10, 36,
"Specially the day that thou stoodest before the LORD thy God in Horeb, when
the Lord said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them
hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall
live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children. Out of heaven
he made thee to hear his voice, that he might instruct thee: and upon earth
he shewed thee his great fire; and thou heardest his words out of the midst
of the fire."
Notice the words of God are what teach us, and from
the words of God we are to be instructed. If they are in fact words of God,
they must be pure, because a pure God could not give impure words, and an
incorruptible God could not give corruptible words.
8. These words of God are perfect. There are
several things in the Bible that are called perfect.
(1) His work is perfect. Deuteronomy 32:4,
"He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment:
a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he."
(2) His way is perfect. Psalm 18:30, "As for
God, his way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to
all those that trust in him."
(3) The Heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew
5:48, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in
heaven is perfect."
(4) The glorified body will be perfect. I
Corinthians 13:10, "But when that which is perfect is come, then that
which is in part shall be done away.
(5) The law of the Lord is
perfect. Psalm 19:7, "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the
soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple." So we
must have an incorruptible, perfect Word of God. To say that this could be
found only in the original manuscripts is to say we have no words of God
today that are perfect, which means we have no perfect Book to preach, we
have no perfect Book to read, we have no perfect Book by which to grow, and
we have no perfect Seed by which we can be born again or re-gened or
9. There are several ways that the words of
God are made into impure words by translators and theologians (selfstyled).
(1) They add to the Word of God. Proverbs
30:5, 6, "Every word of God is pure; he is a shield unto them that put their
trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be
found a liar." Notice several things in these verses. First, every word
of God is pure. Psalm 119:140, "Thy word is very pure: therefore thy
servant loveth it." Psalm 12:6, "The words of the LORD are pure words: as
silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times." Psalm 19:8, "The
statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the
LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes." Second, in Proverbs 30:6, we are
told not to add to these words. Third, in verse 6 the Bible
says that He reproves those who do add to His words.
Then in verse 6 also, the Bible says that those who do
add to His words are liars.
Now notice Deuteronomy 4:2a, "Ye shall not add unto
the word which I command you...." We are commanded not to add to His
(2) They take away from the
words of God.
Deuteronomy 4:2, "Ye shall not add unto the word
which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may
keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you."
God plainly commands that we not diminish His Word.
Now notice Revelation 22:19, "And if any man shall
take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take
away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from
the things which are written in this book" A stern rebuke and warning is
given to anyone who takes away from the words of God. This means that God's
judgment will rest upon those who try to give us a condensed Bible.
(3) They will try to change the Word of God.
Jeremiah 26:2, "Thus saith the Lord; Stand in the court of the LORD'S house,
and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the LORD'S
house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a
word." Here we have a command not to diminish one word. It is not
talking here necessarily about taking words away but changing a word or
diminishing a word. Let the translators of the many versions take heed and
In conclusion, one may ask, "What does this have to do
with soul winning?" Beloved, it has everything to do with soul winning. If
the words of God are the incorruptible seed, and if seed must be
incorruptible, if someone is born again, then the soul winner must have a
perfect Bible. Thank God, we do!
Not Soul Winners
An Enemy of Soul
Nehemiah 3:1-5, "Then Eliashib the high priest rose
up with his brethren the priests, and they builded the sheep gate; they
sanctified it, and set up the doors of it; even unto the tower of Meah they
sanctified it, unto the tower of Hananeel. And next unto him builded the men
of Jericho. And next to them builded Zaccur the son of Imri. But the fish
gate did the sons of Hassenaah build, who also laid the beams thereof, and
set up the doors thereof, the locks thereof, and the bars thereof And next
unto them repaired Meremoth the son of Urijah, the son of Koz. And next unto
them repaired Meshullam the son of Berechiah, the son of Meshezabeel. And
next unto them repaired Zadok the son of Baana. And next unto them the
Tekoites repaired; but their nobles put not their necks to the work of their
My ministry has spanned two generations. I have
preached in the great churches of both generations. I have preached in the
great fundamental colleges and Bible institutes of both generations. I have
watched the deterioration of churches and colleges and Bible institutes. I
have wondered what caused it. I have studied the cause, and in this chapter
I present at least one thing that has aided the deterioration of our
churches and schools.
When I became Pastor of the First Baptist Church in
Hammond over 33 years ago, I inherited an unusual situation for an
old-fashioned, hellfire-and-brimstone preacher such as I. I inherited a
church with 22 committees. It seemed to take five people seven days to put
flowers on the communion table, and it seemed to take seven people seven
days to plan the music for Sunday.
I inherited a church where my predecessor preached in
formal attire with striped pants and a scissor-tail coat. The church would
not allow the piano to be played on Sunday morning. They allowed only a pipe
organ for accompaniment. They would not allow a congregational song leader
on Sunday morning. Sunday morning was the formal worship service. Sunday
night was an informal service, attended by a handful.
When I went to the First Baptist Church as Pastor, my
Associate Pastor, now Evangelist Jim Lyons, went with me. Shortly after we
arrived, Brother Lyons went to his office on Sunday morning to find a
picture taken from his wall. This picture was one of his wife and children.
A note was placed beside the picture from one of the trustees saying that he
could not hang a picture on his wall without permission from the Board of
In the church there was a constitution committee.
Every adult Sunday school class was required to have a constitution. Each
constitution was submitted to the constitution committee for approval.
Shortly after I arrived we had a missions conference.
Dr. John R. Rice and Dr. Walter Wilson were scheduled to preach. The
missions committee came to me and said, "You can't have the missions
conference without permission from the missions committee." (They soon found
out that they were wrong on this!)
At the first service of the missions conference we
took an offering, whereupon I was advised by the finance committee that I
could not take an offering without permission form the finance committee.
(They soon found out that I could take an offering without permission from
the finance committee!)
It wasn't long until we had a deacons' meeting,
whereupon the deacon chairman asked, "Pastor, do you have any speaking
engagements that you want us to approve? The deacons must vote to approve
where you speak." (They soon found out that this would not work either!)
Soon the deacon chairman said, "We would like to have
a list of all the organizations where you serve as a board member so we can
approve them." (Of course, I would not submit to this either.)
There are many other things that would simply enlarge
upon the situation that I inherited which are unnecessary to be mentioned.
What I'm saying is that this church, at that time a member of the American
Baptist Convention, had become what so many other churches are now becoming.
Now this wasn't the way the church was first organized. Nobody starts a new
church with this kind of super-organization and unnecessary baggage. What
caused this deterioration? What is causing a similar deterioration in many
of our churches today? Such deterioration has brought formal worship
services, a paralyzed pulpit, weak pastoral leadership, an over abundance of
unnecessary committees and a de-emphasis on soul winning.
When a church is started, it is an exciting time.
Especially is this true of an independent, fundamental Baptist church. These
churches are started on street corners, in vacant lots, in storefront
buildings, in basements, in tents and in many other places. When a church is
started, there is a fervor of soul winning; people are getting saved. No one
ever thinks about a music committee, educational committee, a missions
committee, a flower committee or a finance committee! They are simply
interested in getting people saved and down the aisle and building an
old-fashioned, New Testament Baptist church. Notice the step-by-step
deterioration of a convert in a young church.
1. The period of spiritual infancy. During this time
there is usually a period of adjustment while learning the songs, some
Bible, and the Christian vocabulary and manner of life.
2. The period of enthusiastic work at the church. The
people become excited about the work. Though awkward, they attempt to win
souls; they are zealous. This period continues for some time.
3. The period when the work becomes a ritual. After a
while, some get adjusted to the work. They keep on teaching a class but are
not too excited about it. They keep on working on the buses but have lost
much of their enthusiasm. However, during this time, they become known in
the church. They come to a place of great respect. Perhaps at one time they
had the biggest bus route or fastest-growing Sunday school class. This made
them highly visible in the church. Everybody knows them, and they are
becoming, to an extent, church leaders.
4. The period of becoming noblemen. Now one is a
deacon, a trustee, church clerk or church treasurer. He can be called a
"nobleman" in the church. Perhaps he is Sunday school superintendent or
treasurer. Then he becomes so busy in the organization and business of the
church and in his place of leadership that his Sunday school class is
neglected. His bus route is low on his list of priorities, and his soul
winning has diminished. After a while, he quits his soul winning, resigns
his bus route, and makes only a token effort in his Sunday school class. He
has too much to do as a deacon or a trustee or as a church officer, until
finally he resigns his Sunday school class.
While he does this, there is another group of people
who have not been saved for long. They are building the church while he is
running the church. The new, zealous Christians are
doing the work, so we have a cast system that has
developed. The older, seasoned Christian has traded the building of the
church for the running of the church. The younger, less-experienced
Christian is building the church. This will eventually lead to its
destruction. One group builds the church and another group runs the church;
the commoner does the work while "their nobles put not their necks to the
work of their Lord."
Every deacon ought to be a soul winner. Everyone who
sings a special ought to be a soul winner. Every church officer should be a
soul winner. The same people who lead in the church should build the church.
There are hundreds of churches in America who have a group of nobles whom
the people respect and follow while a bunch of commoners are doing the work!
After a while, the church is controlled by the non-builders, and those who
are building the church have no part in the running of the church. The
builders become second-class citizens. No bus worker or soul winner is a
second-class citizen! There should be no division between the work of the
church. Every person should be a soul winner. No one has a right to lead the
church who is not taking part in building the church, winning folks to
Christ, building bus routes and building Sunday school classes.
Sometimes the nobles even get involved in some other
project outside the church -perhaps some interdenominational organization
which is a parasite off the New Testament churches. The greatest child
evangelism in the world should be in the local church. The greatest youth
for Christ program should be in the local church. All across this nation
there are men who once built the church who have become nobles and stopped
doing what they once did in soul winning, Sunday school building, passing
out tracts, street preaching, etc. They have become nobles who run the
church while another group builds the church.
The same thing happens in colleges. While in college,
the student is a soul winner. He brings folks down the aisles, he passes out
tracts, he witnesses on the street corner. He may even preach on the
streets. Perhaps he builds a bus route. When he graduates, he has impressed
the administration, and he is hired on the faculty. Far too many times, he
thinks he no longer has to be a soul winner. He has graduated from the
production end. He is now on the faculty. He is now a nobleman. Certainly
you wouldn't expect a nobleman to do the work of soul winning! So, the
result in many colleges, seminaries and Bible institutes is that the
students do the work and the noblemen teach the classes. This, of course,
will lead to the spiritual destruction of a college. When the students obey
the Great Commission, and the administration and faculty do not, the wrong
people are doing the teaching!
This same thing happens in our day schools. Many of
our Christian high schools, junior high schools and elementary schools
literally ignore the local church. Every teacher in every Christian school
in America should be actively involved in the local church, and more than
that, each one of them should be involved in the production part of the
local church. 'Tis sad but true, many Christian school teachers feel they
are doing their job for God in the school and that their work for God ends
there. Nothing is farther from the truth! The church is many times more
important than the school, and no one is qualified or deserving to teach in
a Christian school unless he is doing the work of producing, soul winning,
church building in the local church.
Once again, we have arrived at the place where we do
not think the nobles have to put their necks to the work of the Lord. The
faculty is supposed to win souls just like the students. The administration
is supposed to win souls just like the faculty and students. The staff is
supposed to win souls just like the laymen. The deacons are supposed to win
souls just like the custodian. The Ph.D. is supposed to win souls just like
the illiterate. The old folks are supposed to win souls just like the young
people. Nobody has a right to be a nobleman in a church unless he is
participating in the carrying out and obeying of the Great Commission. Now
how can we avoid this dreadful situation of the nobles who put not their
necks to the work of the Lord?
1. The noble should keep working. This should be kept
before the church constantly. I preached this sermon vigorously at First
Baptist Church of Hammond, and the statements that have been made in this
chapter have been made many times from my pulpit. No one has a right to be a
deacon at First Baptist Church who is not helping to build the church and
win souls to Christ. No one has a right to teach at Hyles-Anderson College
who is not active in the soul-winning program. No one has a right to teach
or be on the administration of our Christian schools unless he is winning
folks to Christ, building bus routes, passing out tracts, witnessing on the
street corner. Let the most zealous people in the church be the noblemen.
Let the greatest soul winners in the church be the noblemen. Let the bus
captains be the noblemen. The simple truth is, in the sight of God, these
who are obeying the Great Commission are the noblemen!
Some nobleman is reading this chapter. You know who
you are. There was a day when you were active in production. There was a day
when you built a great Sunday school class. There was a day when you went
soul winning. There was a day when you built a bus route. There was a day
when you were bringing folks down the aisle receiving Christ as Saviour,
but, you have become a big shot, affluent and "high brow." You have no right
to remain a nobleman unless you remain in the ministry of obeying the Great
Our churches are filled with committee members who
feel that is their job as a member of the church. We are incumbered by
unnecessary, superfluous committees such as flower committees, Christian
education committees, pulpit committees, music committees, youth committees,
library committees, literature committees, etc. who do nothing to obey the
Great Commission and are using these committees as shields behind which to
hide, deceiving others and trying to deceive themselves into believing they
can totally disobey and disregard
the Great Commission! Because they put petunias on the
communion table once a week; or because they belong to the missions
committee, the finance committee, the budget committee, the roof committee,
the ceiling committee, the wall committee, the floor committee, the picture
committee, the painting committee, the mashed potatoes committee, the
"bother the preacher" committee, the "run the pulpit" committee or the
"pester the pastor" committee, they think they are immune from obeying the
God pity these churches that are organized for
everything but soul winning. Why not organize a tract committee, a
jail-preaching committee, a street-preaching committee, bus committee,
soul-winning committee, rescue mission committee, and obey the Great
Commission instead of having a group of professors in some college who have
never built a church, never had an altar call, never seen a mourner's bench,
never preached a tent revival, never felt the breath of the Holy Ghost upon
their lives but sit in their halls of ivy behind the shields of their desks
training our young people and killing our churches as they fill our pulpits
with their own clones!
2. Make the builders the most famous. This is why we
at Hyles-Anderson College have no inter-collegiate athletics. The most
popular person on the campus of our college is not the fellow who puts the
ball through the hoop the most times. The most popular person on the campus
of Hyles-Anderson College is not the fellow who makes the touchdown runs.
The most popular fellow in Hyles-Anderson College is the one who has the
biggest bus route, the one who wins the most people to Christ.
Let us make the soul winners the famous people in the
church. Instead of boasting about "Mr. Big Bucks" because he gives a big
offering, brag on the fellow who has the biggest bus route. So many of our
Christian colleges have gotten to the place where we recruit athletes and
give athletic scholarships and music scholarships, speech scholarships.
Brother, why don't we give soul-winning scholarships and bus route
scholarships and magnify those who do what God says to do!
3. Do not put the church or the school in the hands of
the non-working nobles or intellectuals. Do you know what's happening to our
schools? The churches are building schools that are not like the church! Our
people go to church on Sunday and hear one kind of music and then go to
school on Monday and hear another kind of music. Praise God, at
Hyles-Anderson College, if we have a piano concert, we don't have a great
deal of classical music. Let the high-brow schools do that. Let the
old-fashioned, independent, fundamental schools use "Blessed Assurance," "At
Calvary," "There's a New Name Written Down in Glory," "There is a Fountain
Filled with Blood" and "Amazing Grace" at their piano recitals! Our churches
are dying because noblemen have taken over the churches. Our schools are
being destroyed because noblemen are taking over the schools. Church music
is deteriorating because noblemen have taken over the church music and the
training of our church musicians in our Christian colleges!
One of my deacons, who is a multi-millionaire, came to
me one day and said, "Pastor, I'm resigning from the deacon board. I think
you are the greatest preacher alive, but I do not agree with you on
business. If I stay on the board, I'll get upset with you and leave the
church. I don't want to do that. I want to come to this church. I want to
hear you preach. I want to see people saved. I'm resigning the deacon board
because I do not agree with you on business, and I do not want to cause you
trouble." What he was saying was that he was afraid if he stayed on the
deacon board he would become a nobleman and not keep on obeying the Great
Commission. Praise God for a man like that!
All across America our churches are stocking deacon
boards with the wealthy people and the businessmen, and the big shots are
running the church while the soul winners are being run by the big shots.
Now I'm not opposed to wealthy men being on the deacon board, but I think
the deacon board and the
leadership of the church should be representative of
the entire church. On our deacon board at First Baptist Church of Hammond we
have professional men, we have businessmen, we have Ph.D.'s, but we also
have men who are illiterate and can't write their names. We have deaf men on
our deacon board because we have deaf men in our church. We have a blind man
on our deacon board because we have blind men in our church. We have poor
men on our deacon board because we have poor people in our church. We have
businessmen on our deacon board because we have businessmen in our church,
but because a man has money or formal training does not give him any more
votes or influence than the fellow who can't write his own name.
When I came to the First Baptist Church of Hammond,
one of the wealthiest men in town invited Mrs. Hyles and me to his house to
eat. The food we ate was flown in from Europe. The house was a castle. The
spoons and forks and knives were lined up like soldiers in pursuit. We sat
down to eat, and in the midst of the meal, the wife of this wealthy man
asked me if I were going to join the ministerial association. I tried to
avoid the question, but she wouldn't let me. Finally, her wealthy husband
said, "Pastor, answer my wife! Are you or are you not going to join the
I put my silverware down, looked him in the eye and
said, "Sir, you run a business in this town. If you ever need my advice
about how to run your business, you ask me and I'll give it to you. I'm
Pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond. If I ever need your advice about
whether I join a ministerial association or howl preach, I will ask you, but
until I ask you, you keep your nose out of my business!"
God give us sense again. God give us some reasoning
There is not a week passes but that I get a call from
some pastor who is having trouble. As soon as he tells me he is having
trouble, I can take it from there. Some influential people in the church
want to run the pastor. Some fellow who is president of the corporation,
president of the local civic club, chairman of the board, and whose wife
presides at the local flower club, is so accustomed to running things, he
wants to run the preacher. It's typical. It happens all the time, and the
poor preacher who is faithful in his preaching the Gospel has his hands tied
by some man who doesn't know any more about preaching than the preacher does
about the man's business.
Sure, wealthy people in the church should be
represented on the board. The middle-class people in the church should be
represented on the board. The poor people in the church should be
represented on the board. The highly, formally educated people should be
represented on the board, and those who have little or no formal education
should be represented on the board. No one class of people should be allowed
to run a church, and, by the way, no one class of people is better than
another class of people because of financial standing, prestige, political
power or formal training!
I know a big church that was almost destroyed because
when the pastor who had been there over 40 years resigned, the choosing of a
new pastor was basically placed in the hands of seven well-to-do, wealthy
men, and these men called a pastor that, in my opinion, practically
destroyed the church. What a pity!
We have businessmen in our church; we have doctors in
our church; we have lawyers in our church, but they sit side by side with
everyone else. The poorest man in our church is as welcome as the richest,
the least formally-trained person is as welcome as the most formally
trained, the illiterate is as welcome as the Ph.D., and all are equally
represented in places of leadership. The doctors, lawyers, the
college-trained and the businessmen are humble, godly people who realize
that whatever they have is by the grace of God, and they happily sit side by
side with those who have less money, less formal training and less
The vice president of a bank in downtown Hammond was
on our deacon board. (Though he is now in Heaven, we remember him with
gratitude.) One night I recommended something that he thought was unwise,
but as a deacon he stood and said, "I'm the vice president of a bank, and
what the Preacher suggested doesn't make sense to me, but I make a motion we
do it because the Preacher wants to do it, and I think he knows best in this
case." God pity the nobles who are trying to run their preachers, and God
pity the preachers who let them do it.
When I first came to Hammond, the deacon chairman came
to me and said, "Pastor, some of the deacons are concerned about your
preaching. We want to have a meeting to discuss your preaching. Is that
okay?" I said, "Why, of course it is." He said, "How about tomorrow night
(Monday night) in the Frances Classroom?" I said, "That will be fine." He
said, "Would 7:00 be all right?" I said, "Seven o'clock is fine." He said,
"All right, then, we will have a meeting tomorrow night at 7:00 in the
Frances Classroom to discuss your preaching." I said, "That's good." About
7:30 the next night he called me and said, "Where are you?" I said, "I'm at
home. Where did you call?" He said, "I thought you said we could have a
meeting in the Frances Classroom at 7:00 tonight to discuss your preaching."
I said, "You can, but don't expect me to be there, because my preaching is
none of your business." I told them they could have a meeting every Monday
night at 7:00 in the Frances Classroom if they wanted to, but I was not
going to be there.
Years ago at a deacons' meeting at First Baptist
Church, a deacon was discussing a little problem that had arisen. He was a
good man, and this meeting did not keep him from continuing to serve on the
deacon board, but he mistakenly stood and said, "Pastor, if you hadn't said
something in your sermons recently about a certain thing, we wouldn't have
this problem." I left the front of the room, walked to the back row of the
deacons where he was sitting, and in front of all the deacon board I said,
"Sir, when we paint these walls, you get one vote. When we build a building,
you get one vote. When we borrow money, you get one vote, but when I walk in
the pulpit, you don't get a vote!"
I am not in any way trying to cast reflection on the
highly trained or highly successful, but I like what the old fellow said
when he said, "The only difference in the educated and uneducated is that
they are ignorant on different subjects." I am not fighting for diminishing
the importance of the educated and wealthy; I am for putting everybody on
the same level.
In another generation, Chief Justice Charles Evans
Hughes was moving his membership to a Baptist church in Washington, D.C.
Numbers of people joined the church that Sunday. Charles Evans Hughes was on
one end of the line, and a very, very poor person of another race was on the
other end of the line. When the pastor read the names of those who had come
for membership, he started with Charles Evans Hughes, whereupon Justice
Hughes said, "Pastor, start at the other end of the line. The ground is
level at the foot of the cross." He was right!
Several years ago a very wealthy couple visited First
Baptist Church of Hammond. She was sitting there with her furs and diamonds,
and he was sitting there with the best of apparel. Across the aisle from
them was a little Mexican boy who had a hole in his pants. He reached down
and with embarrassment put his hand over the hole in his pants. The very
wealthy lady looked at her husband and with a tear in her eye said, "Honey,
do you know what makes this church great?" He said, "What?" She replied,
"That little Mexican boy over there covering up the hole in his pants is
just as welcome here as we are." She was right. It could also be said that
she was just as welcome as that little poor boy was. Praise God, the ground
is level at the foot of the cross!
4. Nobles and common men should share the leading of
the church. At this writing, we have seven doctors and three lawyers in our
church. We have numbers of businessmen. I doubt if there is a church in
America who has more college graduates than the First Baptist Church of
Hammond. Praise God, I also doubt if there is a church in America that has
as many poor little bus kids as the First Baptist Church of Hammond, and
there is not a church that has as many Spanish-speaking people as we have in
the First Baptist Church of Hammond, and there is not a church in America
that has as many deaf people as we have in the First Baptist Church of
Hammond, and there is not a church in America that has as many poor people
as we have in the First Baptist Church of Hammond, but here is one church
where the ground is level! No one is better than anybody else because of the
house in which he lives, the car that he drives, the ring on his finger, the
clothes on his back or the degrees hanging on the walls of his office.
Together every class financially, every class educationally, every class
socially should have representation in the leadership of the church; that
is, if all are participating in the obeying of the Great Commission.
5. The pastor should preach these truths
sternly and lovingly to his people. God has a way of protecting such a
pastor. When I took my stand in the early days at Hammond, we lost over 400
people. Some people threatened to take the buildings away from us, but how
God has blessed through these years! Put a guard around your church. Walk
guard around it yourself. Watch for every little place that you can see a
danger point. Keep the church in the hands of the soul winners, the street
preachers, the bus captains. Don't even check to see what the balance is in
their bank accounts. I have no doubt in my mind but that American Baptist
Churches started their decline when they put the building of the church in
the hands of the common people and the leadership of the church in the hands
of the noblemen. The same could be said about thousands of Southern Baptist
churches, Baptist Bible Fellowship churches, Southwide Baptist Fellowship
churches and strictly independent churches.
Practically all of these churches were started by
workers. That's why the churches grew, but over the passing of the years,
the inevitable happened. Hard-working people become successful people. When
they become successful, they often cease to become a part of those who build
Such was the case in our text. The people were
rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem after the 70 years of captivity in
Babylon. Nehemiah had returned to help with the rebuilding of this wall.
People were working hard, but sad to say, "their nobles put not their
necks to the work of their Lord." Let this not happen in your church and
mine. Let us love everybody equally and give everybody equal opportunity! Do
not look down on somebody because he is poor or because he is rich. Do not
look down on somebody because he is unlearned or learned, educated or
uneducated. Let the ground stay level at the foot of the cross!
An Enemy of Soul
One of the great battlegrounds in New Testament
churches is that of pastoral leadership. It is the opinion of this preacher
that far too many pastors have allowed their hands to be tied, and far too
many people have tried to tie the pastor's hands. Now I do not think for a
minute that the pastor should be a dictator. I simply think he should be a
leader. For the next few pages, we will discuss the Scriptural position of
the place of the pastor in the leadership of the church.
1. In business matters, the church should be a pure
democracy. Of course, it would be unwise for the pastor to be allowed to
borrow money on behalf of the church or to build a building without church
approval. The business of the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, is
in the hands of the people, not the pastor.
I know a pastor who said to his people that he would
leave if they did not build. I think this is poor leadership, and I also
think it is unwise leadership. God may call the pastor to another church, or
He may call him to Heaven, and the people would be saddled with a debt that
he incurred. When it comes to the borrowing of money, the church is a
democracy. When it comes to the church budget, the church is a democracy.
When it comes to church business, the church is a democracy.
Just as ridiculous as the pastor being the business
dictator of the church is the unscriptural practice that the deacons are
supposed to be the business dictators of the church. There is no Scripture
whatsoever to substantiate this. At the First Baptist Church of Hammond, the
deacons are an advisory board. The pastor recommends the budget to the
deacons; the deacons work on the budget and then present it to the church.
The final authority is in the hands of the church. The pastor cannot spend a
dime of the church budget on his own. The only money that he can disburse at
his own discretion is money that is given him with that instruction. Quite
often people give a check made out to the church and they say, "Pastor, use
this in any ministry you feel wise." This is exactly what I do, but unless
the money is designated for such, I have no power whatsoever to disburse the
money, except as is dictated in the budget, which is approved by the church.
Let me also say that there is not one Scriptural
reference of trustees or a board of trustees in the church. Philippians
1:1, "Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in
Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons." Here
you have the simplicity of the organization of the New Testament church
- pastor, deacons, people. At our church, we have five
trustees elected from the deacon board. However, they do not form a board of
trustees; they simply form the official signature of our church. So, when
the church votes to take action in business matters and loan matters, the
trustees sign the papers. There are hundreds of deacon boards in America and
boards of trustees in America who rebel against pastoral dictatorship, and
then in turn wrestle the power of business in the church for themselves,
making the church a bureaucracy which is just as unscriptural as a
2. The spiritual program of the church should be under
the leadership of the pastor, and the people should follow. If I were to
lead the First Baptist Church into borrowing money that the church did not
want to borrow, and God called me Home to Heaven, I would have done the
church an injustice. However, if I lead the church to have a Bible
conference, and I choose the speakers, which I would, this does not leave
the church with any responsibilities in the case of my death.
When I became Pastor of First Baptist Church, there
was an evangelism committee to try to tell me when to have evangelistic
meetings. There was a missions committee to try to tell me when to have
missions conferences. There was a finance committee to try to tell me when
to take an offering. There was a pulpit committee to try to tell me whom to
have preach when I was gone and to approve where I could preach. Of course,
I could not live under this situation, and I would not, and I did not. If
I'm not going to be the spiritual leader of the church, then I'll move on
and get a soap box and a vacant lot and preach on a street corner somewhere.
A typical example of the average church battle
concerning this subject is the story of Moses and Aaron.
1. While Moses was busy, he received a call from God.
Exodus 3:1, "Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his
fat her in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside
of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb." Notice
that Moses was busy keeping the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law. He was
seeking no place of leadership whatsoever. This is usually the way it is.
God calls a man who is busy somewhere else. I know of no place in the Bible
where God called someone who was seeking a position. He calls someone who is
busy doing the job where he is. I have been pastoring for 45 years. I
have never sought a church, nor have I ever wanted to leave a church where I
was pastoring. I have tried to stay busy and work hard. I tell God my phone
number and my address (He probably already knew it!) and tell Him to contact
me when He wants me to move. Until then, I will not seek to move, nor will I
desire to move.
I was busily serving as Pastor of Miller Road Baptist
Church in Garland, Texas. One day I received a letter from First Baptist
Church of Hammond. I had never heard of the church, nor had the church, for
that matter, ever heard of me. One of the deacons, Mr. George Huisenga,
owned a little gift shop in downtown Hammond. He sold enough Christian books
to receive a catalogue from Zondervan Publishers. Zondervan had published a
little book for me, and that little book was advertised in the catalogue. In
this advertisement were some statistics about the growth of the Miller Road
Baptist Church in Garland, Texas. The little advertisement couldn't have
been over 1 1/2" square. Mr. Huisenga saw it, tore it out of the catalogue,
went to the pulpit committee, tossed it on the chairman's desk and said,
"This is the fellow you ought to consider calling." Nobody had recommended
me, I had not sought the position, and for that matter, I did not want the
position. They sent me an application form. I replied that I was not
They continued seeking me and pursuing me. Finally
when I was speaking in the Chicago area, two members of the pulpit committee
came to hear me speak. They took me out to eat and introduced me to the rest
of the pulpit committee. I told the committee that I had no interest, that I
would be flying back to Texas the next day, and that I did not want to leave
my church in Garland, Texas. Mr. Huisenga looked at me and said, "Well, we
did buy you a meal. Would you at least pray this prayer at least one time
sometime soon: 'Dear God, do You want me to visit First Baptist Church in
Hammond, Indiana? Amen.' - would you pray that
prayer?" I said, "Yes, I'll do that."
I went back to Texas, and to be quite frank, I forgot
the promise I made. Weeks passed. One night I was driving from Oklahoma City
to Dallas. I left Oklahoma City after preaching in a Baptist church there
and drove through the night to get home. In the wee hours of the morning, I
came to the little town of Denton, Texas. Just before I got to that town, I
remembered the promise I had made to Mr. Huisenga, and so I simply began to
pray while driving, "Dear Lord, do You want me to visit Hammond, Indiana?
Amen." Within five seconds after I prayed that prayer, I was stunned as I
looked to the right of the highway and saw a neon sign that said three
words: HAMMOND WELCOMES YOU. I could not believe it! I stopped the car,
walked over and put my hand on the sign to be sure it wasn't a mirage. It
was the Hammond Service Station in Denton, Texas, and painted on the sign
were such things as "cheap gas," "mechanic on duty," etc., but there in neon
it simply said, HAMMOND WELCOMES YOU. I was stunned. I trembled as I drove
the rest of the way to my home in Garland, Texas. That was on a Wednesday.
After the service Wednesday night, I was to drive to
Lake Louise, Tacoa, Georgia, to speak in a Sword of the Lord Conference. I
asked my deacon chairman to drive with me so we could share the driving
responsibilities, as I had not slept the night before, and I was afraid that
two nights in a row driving all night would make me so sleepy I would be
injured in an accident. I couldn't forget that sign the night before, so I
thought I had better pray some. My deacon chairman drove from Dallas to
Little Rock, and from Little Rock to Memphis, I drove.
As I was driving, I got to thinking about the sign I
had seen the night before. It simply said in neon lights, HAMMOND WELCOMES
YOU. I began to pray as I was driving between Little Rock and Memphis.
Something like this was my prayer:
"Dear Lord, did You mean anything by that sign last
night? Should I visit Hammond? Make it plain to me."
I fell asleep at the wheel while praying! When I woke
up, I was just a few inches from the back of a big six-wheel truck. I jammed
on the brakes, skidded the tires, burned some rubber and stopped, after
barely tipping the truck in the back, doing no damage to the truck or my
car. I was scared to death! I looked up! Would you like to know what was on
the back of that truck? Two words-HAMMOND, INDIANA. I said, "Dear God, if
You will get me to Tacoa Falls safely, and if that church ever calls me
again, I'll go preach up there."
When I drove into the conference grounds at Tacoa
Falls, Georgia, before I got out of the car, somebody came out of the office
and said, "Is Dr. Jack Hyles here yet?" I said, "Yes, here I am." They said,
"There is a call for you." I said, "It's from Hammond, Indiana, isn't it?"
They said, "Yes. How did you know?" I said, "I saw some signs along the
way!" I picked up the phone and told the caller that I would come to visit
What I am saying is that I had no desire to go
anywhere. I was busy where I was. God literally had to grab me and shake me
to get me to consider going to Hammond. Now I praise His name that He called
me here to Hammond.
Exodus 3:2-4, "And the angel of the Lord appeared
unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and,
behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses
said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not
burnt. And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto
him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here
am I." Notice that Moses was surprised when God called him to a place of
leadership, but notice that he did say, "Here am I."
Now look at Exodus 3:10, "Come now therefore, and I
will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the
children of Israel out of Egypt." God called this unsuspecting,
unseeking man to lead His people out of Egypt. No real leader wants to be a
leader. A man who wants to lead is not qualified to lead. In my opinion,
that's what's wrong with our presidential system in America. The way we
choose a president will never offer us a real leader. We choose from men who
seek the job. We should seek the man who is qualified for the job. Notice
Exodus 3:11, "And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that
I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of
Israel out of Egypt?" Especially notice the words, "Who am I that I should
go unto Pharaoh?" Moses did not feel worthy to do the job. Ah, it sounds to
me like this fellow is going to be a leader.
Moses even argued with God somewhat in Exodus 4:1,
"And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor
hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto
thee." He had some reluctance, feeling that he could not do the job, and
God had to convince him that he would not have to do the job alone.
Now notice Exodus 4:10-12, "And Moses said unto the
Lord, 0 my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast
spoken unto thy servant: but lam slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. And
the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the
dumb, or deaf or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD? Now
therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt
say." Moses argued on the basis that he was not a good speaker. He was
not eloquent; he was slow of speech. Maybe he had some impediment of speech.
What I'm saying here is that Moses did not seek the
job, Moses did not want the job, Moses did not put himself up for the job,
and at no place did he exalt himself.
Now notice that Aaron did not seek the job of the high
priesthood. Exodus 40:1, 12-15, "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying.
And thou shalt bring Aaron and his sons unto the door of the tabernacle of
the congregation, and wash them with water. And thou shalt put upon Aaron
the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him; that he may minister
unto me in the priest's office. And thou shalt bring his sons, and clothe
them with coats: And thou shalt anoint them, as thou didst anoint their
father, that they may minister unto me in the priest's office: for their
anointing shall surely be an everlasting priest hood throughout their
generations." Aaron was God's choice. Aaron did not apply for the job of
being the high priest. He did not seek it. He did not necessarily want it,
but he was chosen by God.
So we have two men. One was the leader of Israel;
another was the high priest of Israel. Both were chosen by God; neither
seeking the job, or for that matter wanting the job, or for that matter
feeling qualified for the job, but they were called of God.
2. People often challenge God's leaders. Numbers
16:1-4, "Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi,
and Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On, the son of Peleth, sons of
Reuben, took men: And they rose up before Moses, with certain of the
children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in
the congregation, men of renown: And they gathered themselves together
against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon
you, seeing all the congregation are holy, even one of them, and the LORD is
among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of
the LORD? And when Moses heard it, he fell upon his face." Let us notice
several things about this rebellion of Korah.
(1) This is the same Korah that is mentioned in Jude
11. "Woe to them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily
after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of
Core." So, according to the Word of God, we know Korah made a serious
(2) He was of the family of Kohath, a son of Levi. Now
the three sons of Levi were Kohath, Gershon and Merari. So we have these
three families-the Kohathites, the Gershonites and the Merarites. Each was
given a task to perform concerning the tabernacle. The Gershonites were
responsible mainly for the tent of meeting; that is, the tabernacle itself.
The Merarites were responsible for the boards and bars of the tabernacle.
The Kohathites were responsible for the transporting of the furniture of the
tabernacle. Ah, it's a wonderful thing to have a part in the work of God. It
is also a wonderful thing to be satisfied with the part that God has given
(3) There were others in the rebellion. Dathan and
Abiram, men of the tribe of Reuben, the firstborn of Jacob, no doubt felt
they should have been chosen to do the job that Moses and Aaron had been
chosen to do.
(4) They rebelled against Moses. Numbers 16:12.
Notice, there were 250 princes; that is, bosses, men of rank. Notice also
they were famous in the congregation, men of renown, men who were accustomed
to being in charge and well-known people.
This is the same old story. You would think that this
was a Baptist church split. The Devil has no new methods. He operates the
same way, and he has always operated the same way.
(5) They gathered themselves against Moses and
Aaron. Notice in Numbers 16:3, "Ye take too much upon you." Nothing
could be farther from the truth. Neither Moses nor Aaron took the job upon
them. They did not want their jobs. They did not seek their jobs. It was God
Who called them, just as God calls men today to pastor churches. Moses tried
every way he could to avoid the job that God called him to do. He did not
feel qualified; he did not want the position.
I know how he felt. I do not like to lead. I certainly
do not like to be a boss. If I had my way, I would never boss anybody. Time
and time again after I have had to be a boss or a strong leader, I've gone
to my office and wept. Such is the case with any real man of God.
Now notice the words in Numbers 16:3c,
"... wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the
congregation of the Lord?" This is the typical lie that rebels use.
Moses did not lift up himself; Aaron did not lift up himself; God lifted
them up! God called them!
Every organization must have a leader. A country must
have a king or a president. A state must have a governor. A city must have a
mayor. A team must have a coach. A school must
have a principal. A home must have a father. A church
must have a pastor.
Now notice the words in verse 3, "seeing all the
congregation are holy." Somehow these people could not accept the fact
that what they were doing was holy. God had given the Kohathites the
responsibility of transporting the furniture; He had given the Gershonites
the responsibility of transporting the tent; He had given the Merarites the
responsibility of transporting the boards and the bars, and bless your
heart, that was as holy as the jobs that Moses and Aaron had.
There is no unholy job for God; every job is
important. If God has given you the responsibility of pastoring a church,
realize that it is holy and sacred, and give it your best. If God has given
you the responsibility of being the church custodian, realize it is holy and
of God, and give it your best. If God has given you the responsibility of
being a church secretary, choir director, Sunday school teacher or deacon,
you have been called of God just as much as the pastor has. Give it your
best, but let each be satisfied with the will of God for his own life. There
are no big shots or little shots in the New Testament church.
No real pastor wants to lead, but he has to; he has
been called of God to do so. Every real God-called pastor would rather
follow than lead, but somebody has to lead, and there is nobody to lead but
3. The first committee ever appointed made a tragic
mistake! Deuteronomy 1:19-22, 26, "And when we departed from Horeb, we
went through all that great and terrible wilderness, which ye saw by the way
of the mountain of the Amorites, as the LORD our God commanded us; and we
came to Kadesh-barnea. And I said unto you, Ye are come unto the mountain of
the Amorites, which the Lord our God doth give unto us. Behold, the LORD thy
God hath set the land before thee: go up and possess it, as the LORD God of
thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged. And ye
came near unto me even one of you, and said, We will send men before us, and
they shall search us out the land, and bring us word again by what way we
must go up, and into what cities we shall come. Notwithstanding ye would not
go up, but rebelled against the commandment of the Lord your God."
(1) The Israelites were at the door of the Promised
Land. They came to Kadesh-barnea, and God told them that He had given them
the land. In Deuteronomy 1 :20b, notice the words, "which the LORD our
God doth give unto us." In verse 21, notice the words, "go up up
andpossess it, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath said unto thee." It
was God's command for them to go possess the land.
(2) They wanted to appoint a committee. Look at verse
22. God had led the Israelites all the way from Egypt, as He led Moses, and
Moses led them. God told Moses and Moses told the people concerning the
passover. God told Moses, and Moses told the people concerning the crossing
of the Red Sea. God told Moses, and Moses told the people concerning the
journey across the wilderness. Then they came to the very door of the
Promised Land - their goal. Again God led Moses, and
Moses led the people. It was time to enter into the Promised Land. Couldn't
they go in the same way they got to the door of the Promised Land? Yes, but,
sad to say, the people wanted to appoint a committee!
Someone has said that a committee is a group of the
unprepared who are unqualified to do the unnecessary and who read the
minutes and waste the hours. Somebody else has said that a camel is a horse
put together by a Baptist committee.
(3) The committee came back and recommended not to go.
The Israelites took the advice of the committee and refused to go into the
Promised Land. How tragic! For 40 years they then needlessly wandered in the
wilderness all because they had changed their method of following the will
of God as a people. Sure, God allowed them to have the committee, but that
was not His first choice.
His first choice was for the people to follow Moses as
Moses followed God.
Our churches are "committeed" to death!
4. God expects His people to follow His chosen
Hebrews 13:7, 'Remember them which have the rule
over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow,
considering the end of their conversation."
(1) Notice the word "remember." It means, "don't
forget," "Keep this before you."
(2) Notice the word "rule." The word "rule" is the
word "guide" or "lead."
(3) Notice the words, "who have spoken unto you the
word of God." Here we have the spiritual leaders whom God chooses. They are
our guides or leaders - again, not in matters of
business that would cumber the church with a great debt, but in spiritual
(4) Notice the words, "whose faith follow." Wow, what
Now look at Hebrews 13:17, "Obey them that have the
rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they
that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief for
that is unprofitable for you." Here you have the same word "rule," and
then you have the word "submit," which means "to yield." Then it tells us to
whom we are to yield - to those who watch over our
souls. Then we are reminded that they must give an account to God for what
they do. We are not talking here about moral matters. We are not talking
here about business matters; we are talking about spiritual leadership.
Now when does this unscriptural practice of a muzzled
pastor start? So often it starts with the choosing of a new pastor. A man of
God serves faithfully for many years. His people follow him; they trust him;
they love him. He leads them well, and they follow well, and there is a
Then, the pastor resigns or passes away. The people
must choose another man of God.
Between pastors, people who are capable have to assume
some of the responsibilities that the pastor had fulfilled. Oftentimes,
these are places of leadership. These men who are capable of leadership
fulfill these responsibilities, and, of course, they are often men of
renown, famous men in the congregation, as we noticed in Numbers 16:1. These
men enjoy this leadership, but now it's time to call a new pastor. The
church calls a new pastor, and the pastor assumes the responsibilities Now
these men who have led in the interim period have enjoyed their place of
leadership and hate to relinquish it to the pastor.
Then the people do not know the new pastor and do not
trust him as much as they did the old pastor. This is normal and a natural
thing. However, the people are supposed to follow the new pastor, not
because they know him well, but because he is God's man! Soon his hands are
tied. He does not have the liberty the other pastor had. A few men in the
congregation who are famous and well-known do not want to relinquish the
powers that they had to assume during the interim period.
In conclusion, let it be said that this pastor does
not enjoy leading, nor is he advocating men who want to usurp authority and
power. He is simply saying that when God calls a man to a place, that man is
usually busy somewhere else and does not seek the place. No pulpit committee
or no church should seek a man who is seeking them. Let God lead the
committee to the man, as was the case in the First Baptist Church of Hammond
a third of a century ago, and let that man be fully persuaded in his own
mind that he is the man, and let the church be fully persuaded. Then let
that man lead with love and the people follow with love. Let the business of
the church be a democracy, and let the spiritual program of the church be
placed in the hands of God's chosen man. What a wonderful relationship can
exist when God's people follow God's man and when God's man, not wanting to
lead, accepts the call of God and does lead!
The Universal Church
An Enemy of Soul
(For a detailed study on the doctrine of the
church, consult the author's book on this subject.)
I could not believe my ears! I was listening to a
preacher on the radio. He announced that it was time to take communion. He
suggested that each listener get a cracker or a piece of bread and some
juice and sit beside the radio and take communion with his other listeners.
He then said, "If you do not have any bread, a banana would be all right. If
you don't have any juice, any kind of liquid, even a glass of water, will do
as long as you do it in memory of the broken body and shed blood of Christ."
What a tragedy! What a travesty! What a total lack of knowledge concerning
the Lord's Supper being an ordinance of the New Testament church!
I was reading a national publication. It told of an
international youth organization having communion at its annual convention.
What a shame to miss totally the purpose of the Lord's Supper and bypass the
institution to whom it was given!
Over and over again I hear and read the term,
"electronic church." Of course, there is no such thing as the electronic
church, but it is just as scriptural as the term "invisible church" or
The word "church" in the New Testament is a "called
out assembly," and it is to have pastors, deacons and members. This
called-out assembly has been given a commission found in Matthew 28:19,
20, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of
the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe
all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway,
even unto the end of the world. Amen."
Mark 16:15, "And he said unto them, Go ye into all
the world, and preach the gospel to even creature."
The local church has been given two ordinances:
baptism and the Lord's Supper. The church is the unit by which the work of
God is carried on.
The following sentences are certainly an
oversimplification and at best are a summary. The New Testament knows
nothing about "a church" or "the church," except as it is given a location.
All believers cannot and do not form a church because all believers have not
yet become a called-out assembly. This chapter is being dictated on an
airplane. I am flying from Chicago to Charlotte, North Carolina. It is
Monday afternoon. Yesterday, a called-out assembly met in an auditorium on
the corner of Oakley Street and Sibley Street in Hammond, Indiana. This
called-out assembly is named the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana.
This is all that Jesus had in mind when He started the New Testament church,
and it seems that for some time the Christian world used the term "church"
only as it relates to a local, called-out assembly.
Shortly after the beginning of the fourth century,
Emperor Constantine supposedly was converted. He had a desire for all to do
likewise, and it has been recorded by some that he commanded baptism. From
this endeavor came the Catholic denomination. It was named the "universal
church," the name "Catholic" meaning "universal."
Here the battle started. We then had New Testament
Baptist people (though often called by other names such as Anabaptists,
etc.) believing in the Scriptural doctrine of the local, New Testament
church, and we had the Catholic denomination advocating a universal church.
Hence, the battle started concerning this doctrine, and it wages until this
day. Historically, the Anabaptists and Catholics strongly differed on the
doctrine of the church.
With the passing of the centuries came the Protestant
Reformation from which came our Protestant denominations of today. Of
course, the Reformation began as a battle between Martin Luther and the
Catholic denomination over justification by faith; and though Luther,
Zwingli, Calvin and other reformers are to be greatly admired, they,
nevertheless, continued the Catholic originated doctrine of the universal
church; that is, that all believers form the church. The term "invisible
church" is often associated with this doctrine.
As far as this doctrine is concerned, the battle that
once was Catholics versus Baptists now becomes Catholics plus Protestants
With the passing of the centuries something happened
that I often call the "second reformation." As the Protestant denominations
became more liberal, especially on the doctrine of salvation, many churches
and pastors and members became disenchanted with the mainline Protestant
denominations. From this group came what we call "inter-denominationalists."
Basically, they are fundamental Protestants, and much of their discontent
with the mainline Protestant denominations was caused by the same thing that
caused the first reformation - the doctrine of
justification by faith. However, just as their forefathers protested on that
doctrine, they did not protest on the doctrine of the church and continued
teaching the doctrine of the universal or invisible church.
So the first battle concerning this doctrine was waged
between the Catholics and the Baptists. Upon the first reformation, the
Protestants joined in this malay, and at the second reformation the
interdenominationalists were added to those advocating the universal or
invisible church, making it now a battle between the Catholics, Protestants
and interdenominationalists versus Baptists. Sad to say, because so many
Baptist preachers have been trained in inter-denominational institutions,
the doctrine of the universal or invisible church has infiltrated even
Baptist movements and Baptist churches. The usually reliable Scofield Bible
has added fuel to the flame until it has now become in many Baptist circles
unpopular for one to advocate and believe the historic Baptist doctrine that
Jesus started only the called-out assembly, or the local New Testament
church, and that that is the only church in existence and will be until the
As we investigate this doctrine of the church, it must
be remembered that we are always talking about a called-out assembly.
1. There are now New Testament churches. Much has been
said about when New Testament churches started. The Scofield Bible
erroneously teaches that the "church" was started at Pentecost. Of course,
we can not accept the fact that there is such a thing as "the church." There
are churches, and the first New Testament church was started during the
personal ministry of Jesus Christ. Since it is a "called-out assembly," it
appears that the first church was started in Matthew 10:1, "And when he
had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean
spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner
of disease." The word "called" here comes from the same root word from
which the word "church" comes. Here Jesus called out the apostles.
Matthew 10:2-4, "Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first,
Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee,
and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the
publican; James the son of Alpheus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was
Thaddeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him."
Now turn to I Corinthians 12:28, "And God hath set
some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers,
after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities
of tongues." Notice that in the church were first apostles. It was in
Matthew 10 when Jesus called out the apostles. Though I would not make an
issue of this, it seems plain to me that this was the beginning of the first
called-out assembly or the first church. I would make an issue, however,
that the church was not started on Pentecost, and that it was started
sometime during the public ministry of Jesus.
Notice please Matthew 18:17, "And if he shall
neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the
church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican." Here we
have a mention of a local called-out assembly. Mr. Scofield in his Bible
says that this is "discipline in the future church," but there is nothing
that says, "tell it to the future church"; it simply says, "tell it to the
church." The church was certainly in existence by Matthew 18:17.
Read Acts 2:41, 47, "Then they that gladly received
his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about
three thousand souls. Praising God, and having favour with all the people.
And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." Notice
the words "added to." It is impossible to add to something that is not
already in existence. It is obvious that these verses are talking about
people being added to the local New Testament church assembly. Consequently,
there must have been an assembly. You cannot add to something that is not
already in existence. (Again, study my book, The Church for a more detailed
2. Though the New Testament church was started during
the earthly ministry of Jesus, there were such assemblies in the Old
Testament. God never changes His philosophies. If Christians in the New
Testament age need the fellowship of God's people and compose a unit for
that fellowship, for the propagation of the Gospel, and for the edification
of believers, then there would certainly be a need in every age for a
similar assembly. Again, let it be stated that we are not talking about a
New Testament church. However, wouldn't the Old Testament Christians need to
get together? Wouldn't there be a need for edification, for Bible study?
Notice Acts 7:3 7, 38, "This is that Moses, which
said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up
unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear. This is he, that
was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the
mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give
unto us." The Israelites were called "a church in the wilderness." Now
this does not mean they were a New Testament church. It does mean that they
were a called-out assembly. They had been in Egypt, through the passover
lamb and the Red Sea miracle; they were called out of Egypt, and they
assembled in the wilderness. So, this was a called-out assembly
- not a New Testament church, but, nevertheless, God
had called out His people and had them assembled. Again let me emphasize
that God never changes His philosophies. If His people in one age need to
assemble, His people in all ages need to assemble.
3. There will be a church in the air. Hebrews
12:23, "To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are
written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just
men made perfect." In conjunction with this, read I Thessalonians
4:14-1 8, ' 'For if we believe that Jesus died
and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with
him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are
alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which
are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout,
with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in
Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught
up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so
shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these
Here we have what is commonly called the rapture or
the calling away or the calling out of God's people. This will take place at
the first resurrection when all the saved people are called out of the world
to an assembly in the air where we will enjoy the Marriage of the Lamb, the
Marriage Supper of the Lamb and the Judgment Seat of Christ. Then for the
first time, all of God's people will be assembled. Because they will be
called out, and because they will be assembled, then and only then will all
Christians become a church, for then and only then will all Christians
become a called-out assembly!
I make a big issue of this because of the error that
many make of bypassing local congregations because they feel they belong to
"the church" simply because they are saved. These are they who advocate the
doctrine of the invisible church, such as all believers are called in the
The very nature of their work, however, contradicts
their doctrinal position, for those who advocate the doctrine of the
invisible church always go to the visible church when they need money, and,
gullible as we are, we in the visible churches support our invisible church
friends, as they bypass us but feed off of us!
It is also interesting to note that colleges and Bible
institutes that teach the invisible church seem to get most of their
students from the visible churches. Often, however, these same invisible
church adherents neglect and sometimes ignore the local church. Mr. Scofield
even calls the invisible church the "true church," which would imply to me
that the local church is not the true church.
In one interdenominational institution that has many
Baptist students, the students are not allowed to go to a church on Sunday
morning. They have what they call the "campus church." (There are as many
Scriptures for the electronic church as there are for the campus church!) It
might be interesting to visit that campus on a Sunday evening and a
Wednesday evening to see what emphasis it gives to the very institutions who
have made it what it is. They are sending out preachers to pastor the very
institutions that they neglect and overlook. One of its graduates told me
recently that she attended that institution for four years and never one
time went to a Baptist church.
4. There will be some kind of an "assembly" in the
tribulation and in the millennium. God will not change His mind about the
needs of His people. We are told that there will be multitudes of people
saved in the tribulation period. It seems to me that these people would need
more than ever a place of refuge, of strength, of edification, of
encouragement, of Bible teaching, like a church. Though there will not be
"New Testament churches," nevertheless, there will be assemblies of
Christian people who will need such an institution.
Preachers often erroneously call this "the church
age." It should be called the "New Testament church age." There is no doubt
that the New Testament assembly (church) is a unique one, and there has
never been nor ever will be one exactly like it. Bearing in mind that God
does not change His philosophies, nor will the needs of Christian people
change, there must be some unit of assembly for the Christians in the
tribulation and in the millennium.
The Great Commission will likewise be given to these
assemblies or, better still, it will apply to them. Matthew 28:19, 20,
"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I
have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the
world. Amen." Notice the words, "even unto the end of the world."
When will the world end? Read Revelation 20:11, "And I saw a great white
throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven
fled away; and there was found no place for them." Revelation 21:1, "And I
saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth
were passed away; and there was no more sea." This is at the end of the
millennium, after which we will abide in the New Jerusalem. Until that time,
there will always be saved people who will live on earth, and an unchanging
God will have some form of assembly for them, so it is interesting that the
Great Commission is until the end of the world, which means that there will
be soul winning in the tribulation and in the millennium, and there will be
baptisms in the tribulation and in the millennium. These are church
ordinances or assembly ordinances.
Now turn to Matthew 26:29, "But Isay unto you, I
will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I
drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom."
You will notice here that our Saviour promised us that He will one day
take communion with us. So we see that communion will be given and taken
during the millennium. Since this supper is a church ordinance (or an
assembly ordinance), it leads us to believe that there will be some kind of
an assembly of Christians until the end of the millennium.
I cannot emphasize strongly enough that these
assemblies will not be New Testament churches. New Testament churches were
started by Jesus Himself probably in Matthew 10:1, and certainly during the
public ministry of Jesus, and will end when all believers of this New
Testament church age are raptured, thereby forming the church in the air.
During this New Testament church age, we are to be
faithful in attending our churches just as a soldier is faithful and
supportive of his own unit of battle. Suppose I meet a soldier on the
street, and I ask him, "What battalion are you in?" and he replies, "Oh, I
don't belong to a local battalion; I belong to the invisible army or the
universal army. Occasionally I visit a local squad or platoon or company or
battalion, and I think they are all right, but I belong to the great
battalion composed of all soldiers everywhere." My dear reader, such
soldiers would build an army that would never win a battle. There must be
the individual fighting unit, and there must be leaders in that unit. So God
has given us the individual fighting unit called the local church. Without
it we will be as ineffective as an army would be without squads or companies
or battalions; and the invisible, universal church is as unscriptural as the
universal, invisible army is unlawful!
The Modern Tongues
An Enemy of Soul
Matthew 28:19,20, "Go ye therefore, and teach all
nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of
the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have
commanded you: and, lo, Jam with you alway, even unto the end of the world.
Luke 24:47, "And that repentance and remission of
sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at
Mark 16:15, "And he said unto them, Go ye into all
the world, and preach the gospel to every creature."
Acts 1:8, "But ye shall receive power, after that
the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in
Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of
John 20:21, "Then said Jesus to them again, Peace
be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you."
All of the aforementioned Scriptures deal with the
cornmission that our Lord has given us to take the Gospel to the entire
world and to every creature. Upon the resurrection of our Lord, the church
in Jerusalem had a wonderful ingathering of souls. However, a problem arose.
There were people there out of every nation under Heaven. Acts 2:5, 9, lO,
11a. "And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every
nation under heaven. Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in
Mesopotamia, and in Judea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and
Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers
of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians...."
Now, what could be done? People from all over the
world were there in Jerusalem. Peter stood up to preach. The Gospel was
being delivered, but the people could not understand what Peter was saying.
Suddenly, a miracle took place. God gave the ability
to the soul winners there to speak in other languages. Acts 2:4, "And
they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other
tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." The word "tongues" here is
the word "glossa," in the Greek, which means either the physical tongue or a
Now then, every man from all the countries heard the
Word of God in his own language. Acts 2:6, 8, "Now when this was noised
abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every
man heard them speak in his own language. And how hear we every man in our
own tongue, wherein we were born?" It is very interesting here that the
word "language" in verse 6 and the word "tongue" in verse 8 are used
interchangeably. Then in verse 11, we have the word "tongues" mentioned
again. "Cretes andArabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the
wonderful works of God." This was given in order that people might be
1. This wonderful miracle was perverted by some
immature Christians. I Corinthians 3:1-4, "And I, brethren, could not
speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in
Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: or hitherto ye were not
able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for
whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not
carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I
am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?"
Paul wrote many letters as inspired by the Holy
Spirit. He wrote to the churches in Corinth, Rome, Galatia, Ephesus,
Philippi, Colosse and Thessalonica. The only church to which he mentioned
tongues was the church at Corinth. These were the "tongue-talkers." Now
let's see if they had something that the other churches did not have. Let's
see if they were more spiritual than the other churches. Notice several
things in the first four verses of I Corinthians 3.
(1) They were carnal, which means "fleshly." (Verse 1)
It is obvious that they lived in the flesh. You will find this same thing in
verse 4 when Paul asks the question, "Are ye not carnal?"
(2) They were babes in Christ. (Verse 1)
(3) They were not mature enough to eat spiritual meat.
(Verse 2) He had to feed them with milk.
(4) They were a church tilled with envying, strife and
division. (Verse 3) Notice, they are called carnal twice more.
(5) They walked as men. (Verses 3 and 4)
So here we have a church of fleshly people who are
babes in Christ; who could not bear to eat spiritual meat, but had to be fed
with milk; who were filled with envy, strife and divisions; and who were
followers of men.
So this is the church that was filled with the
tongue-talkers. Did they have something the other churches didn't have? They
absolutely did! They had carnality, envying, strife, divisions and were
spiritual babes. It doesn't sound like they had some kind of a second
blessing or a sanctification that others didn't have. Certainly they were
not to be envied, but rather to be pitied.
2. This gift of speaking in other languages in order
for people to be saved who could not understand the language commonly used
was the least important of all the spiritual gifts. I Corinthians
12:4-10, "Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there
are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are
diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of
knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to
another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of
miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another
divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues." I
Corinthians 12:28-31, "And God hath set some in the church, first apostles,
secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of
healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Are all apostles? are
allprophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? Have all the
gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? But covet
earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way."
Now notice several things:
(1) All were not given the same gifts. I Corinthians
12:8 and 9 say that one was given the word of wisdom, another the word of
knowledge, another faith, another the gifts of healing, etc. The modern
tongues movement claims that this gift of tongues is available to all.
Absolutely not! God does give gifts to each of us, but does not give all of
us every gift.
(2) This gift of tongues was the least important of
all. Notice the list in I Corinthians 12:8-10. The last one mentioned is the
gift of tongues. Now notice the list in I Corinthians 12:28. Once again, the
last gift mentioned is the gift of tongues. Notice the word "secondarily" in
Also notice the word "thirdly" in that verse. These
are adverbs which modify the verb "set," which means that these gifts are
given in order of their importance. The apostles were more important than
the prophets, the prophets more important than the teachers, the teachers
more important than the miracles, the miracles more important than the
healings, etc. The last in importance is the gift of tongues. This gift was
last in importance because it was least needed.
(3) This gift was not earned. The fact that it is
called a gift teaches us that it is not earned.
3. There is no record that Jesus, our example and
pattern, ever had to use this gift. All Christians would agree that our goal
should be to be like Jesus. I John 4:17, "Herein is our love made
perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as he is,
so are we in this world." Philippians 2:5, "Let this mind be in you, which
was also in Christ Jesus." John
14:12, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that
believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works
than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father."
There is not one record in all the ministry of Jesus
when He spoke in tongues, meaning He had no occasion to do so. His entire
earthly life was limited to one little country of just a few square miles.
It was not necessary for Him to speak in tongues. Now if He did not speak in
tongues, is a person less spiritual because he does not have that gift or
because his calling does not necessitate such a gift?
4. Jesus rebuked the Corinthian people because of
their perversion of this gift. Notice the following study of I Corinthians
Verse 1, "Follow after charity, and desire
spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy." The best spiritual
gift, and the one to be most desired, was to prophesy, which means "to
teach, to reveal truth," etc.
Verse 2, "For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue
speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit
in the spirit he speaketh mysteries." These people who were speaking in
tongues when no unsaved people were present and who were causing confusion
in the church were understood only by God and not by man. Of course, God
understands all languages, but the people couldn't understand, so the
"tongue-talkers" were rebuked for using this gift in the church.
Verse 3, "But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men
to edification, and exhortation, and comfort." Those who were perverting
this gift were not edifying. Notice that they could not comfort, exhort or
edify God's people with this gift.
Verse 4, "He that speaketh in an unknown tongue
edified himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church." Notice
the selfishness of those who spoke needlessly in other languages, and the
unselfishness of those who taught so they could edify the church.
Verse 5, "I would that ye all spake with tongues,
but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he
that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive
edifying." Paul wished for every Christian that he would have the
opportunity someday to witness to a person in another language so that
person could hear the Gospel in his own language and be saved, but he
plainly says that the one who teaches the Bible is a greater person than he
that talks in another language.
Verse 9, "So likewise ye. except ye utter by the
tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken?
for ye shall speak into the air." Notice he says that someone who talks
in other languages, unless there is someone there who can understand that
language who is not saved, is speaking into the air. He is wasting his time.
Verse 12, "Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous
of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church."
Notice Paul says that since you are wanting spiritual gifts, you should
seek the most important one; that is, edifying the church, or of being
understood so you can help people.
Verse 14, "For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my
spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful." Paul rebukes the
heresy of praying in tongues. Listen, it is a waste of time. God knows
English, and the gift of tongues was given so that people of other races
might be saved.
Verse 15, "What is it then? I will pray with the
spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the
spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also." Paul teaches here
that to be spiritual is to pray or sing so one can be understood. The modern
"tongue-talkers" would lead us to believe that to be extra spiritual is to
talk in tongues. Paul says to be extra spiritual is to be understood.
Verse 16, "Else when thou shalt bless with the
spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at
thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?" It
has always been the common practice of New Testament, soul-winning Baptist
churches to say "Amen" in church. Paul wonders how one could say "Amen" if
he cannot understand what is being said.
Verse 18, "I thank my God, I speak with tongues
more than ye all." Paul told the people that he spoke with tongues more
than all of them did. Of course, this was necessary. Paul traveled from
country to country, and God enabled him to speak in other languages so that
the people of different nations could understand the Gospel.
Verse 19, "Yet in the church I had rather speak
five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others
also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue." Paul said that when
you go to church, it's 2000 times better to speak and be understood than to
speak and not be understood.
Verse 22, "Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to
them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not
for them that believe not, but for them which believe." Ah, here is the
clincher. It plainly says that tongues are for those "that believe not." In
other words, it is a tool for soul winning. The modern tongues movement-I
suppose I should not say "modern," for it is not modern; it was used in the
baby, un-spiritual, carnal church in Corinth -
confuses the unsaved, and in some cases even frightens them away from the
Verse 26, "How is it then, brethren? when ye come
together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrines hath a tongue.
hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto
edifying." Paul is saying here that in church everything should be done
to edify. This totally eliminates the talking in tongues in church unless
there are unsaved people there who cannot understand the language being
Verse 33, "For God is not the author of confusion,
but of peace, as in all churches of the saints." Paul explains to us
that the tongues movement being used at the church at Corinth (which was not
a Bible tongues movement at all) was confusion, and God was not the author
Verse 34, "Let your women keep silence in the
for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but
they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law." Along
with the perversion of tongues and other perversions by the church at
Corinth, the ladies were speaking in these languages. Paul told them to be
quiet in church. Notice also verse 35, "And if they will learn any
thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to
speak in the church."
Verse 39, "Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy,
and forbid not to speak with tongues." Here is the conclusion of the
matter. Paul says that teaching is the best gift, but we should not
disbelieve the gift of tongues. This gift was begun on Pentecost. Sometimes
it is necessary.
The First Baptist Church of Hammond is located in the
metropolitan Chicago area. People from many parts of the world have settled
in Chicago. It is not unusual for people to come to our services who cannot
understand English, but speak other languages. For example, we have a
special ministry to the Spanish-speaking people. In our Spanish-speaking
department alone, it is not unusual for us to have over 2000 people to come
to hear the Gospel preached in Spanish. There is no need for anyone to have
the gift of tongues concerning the Spanish people, because we have people
who can teach them in their own language.
We also have a ministry to the Vietnamese and
Cambodians, so it is not necessary for one to have the gift of tongues to
It is quite common for Romanian people to be saved in
our church. Fortunately, we have a businessman and his wife who speak fluent
Romanian, and often during the invitation time, we call upon them to come
and win Romanian people to Christ.
On occasion we have had people to come to the altar
who can understand only Arabic. Again, fortunately, we have a doctor and his
wife in our church who speak Arabic.
The same thing could be said concerning German people
However, one Sunday morning one of our young
businessmen came to the altar and said, "Pastor, I have a Chinese lady on
the back row of the lower section of the auditorium who is weeping and
obviously wants to be saved, but she cannot understand English. I have tried
to witness to her, but she speaks only the Chinese language. Please ask if
anyone in the auditorium can speak Chinese." I did ask for someone to come
to translate the Gospel into the Chinese language. There was no one. This
young man was so disappointed. He went back to his seat, and I forgot about
the Chinese lady because of the busy time during the invitation.
After the service this same young businessman came
forward. His face was as pale as a ghost. He said, "Pastor, something
happened back there a while ago that I could not believe."
He continued to talk, stuttering as he did, but this
is what he said. "Pastor, I went back to the back row, and I told this
Chinese lady in English that I could not find anyone to tell her how to be
saved, but that I was going to tell her in English, even if she could not
understand. Immediately when I started presenting the plan of salvation, a
startled look of understanding came on her face. She pointed to her ears,
shook her head up and down as she was understanding what I said. I tested
her. I asked her to stand up; she did. I asked her to sit down; she did. I
asked her to raise her hand; she did. She was understanding my English,
though she could not speak or understand the English language. I told her
how to be saved. She received Christ as her Saviour, and immediately after
she prayed and received Christ, she pointed to her ears, shook her head from
side to side as if she could not understand me anymore. Pastor, I don't know
what that is."
Now I did not say it; I'm just telling you what the
man said. It has never happened to me; I have never had an occasion to have
such a need, but this young businessman, not expecting it, not seeking it or
even desiring it, told me that story. You can make your own judgment, but
whatever happened in this instance, it is exactly what happened on the day
of Pentecost, and it is exactly what the gift of tongues was to the New
Testament church in the book of Acts.
Where Are the Nine?
Recently an article appeared in a leading conservative
publication which I feel must be answered. I am a novice at this; to my
knowledge I have never done this before, that is, publish an answer to
someone else's article. It had the same title as does this answer, and it
appeared to me to be directed toward my good friend, Dr. Bob Gray of
Longview, Texas, whom I love and admire dearly. I feel I must rise in his
defense and in defense of all of those who feel somewhat under attack by the
aforementioned article, many of whom pastor some of the greatest
soul-winning churches in America. That article dealt with churches who are
baptizing multitudes but are seeing little or no church growth, and I feel
it hit the jugular vein of soul-winning churches, and it must be addressed.
First, let me say that I consider myself a friend to
the author of the article. I love him, respect him, and admire him very
much. I have no plan to attack him. I think he is a good, sincere, honest
child of God. He is one to whom our country owes a debt. He is a great
preacher, and I have some feeling that my dear brother did not mean for his
article to come across exactly as it did.
I do not think my brother is a compromiser. If I
understand the meaning of the word "compromise," it describes someone who
goes against what he believes for his own personal gain, whether it be
popularity, money or success. I do not think that my dear brother is a
compromiser. I think he is consistent with his pen and in the pulpit with
what he believes, and I do not think he is "selling out" for anybody.
There are many things in his article with which I
agree. I agree with him concerning revival and the need for real revival in
America. I agree with him that Christians across America should heed II
Chronicles 7:14. I believe that God's people in our country need to repent.
I also agree with him that soul winners should always present the plan of
salvation thoroughly and carefully. This is not in defense of shallowness. I
agree with him that numbers are not important for numbers themselves. I
agree that our soul winning should not be for numbers but to keep every
person out of Hell that we possibly can.
I have no desire to publicize my personal differences
or convictions or standards with my beloved brother or to air in public the
dirty linen of fundamentalists, but someone needs to rise in defense of the
great soul-winning churches and the great soul-winning pastors who felt the
brunt of this article.
1. Soul winning is not a method of church building. It
is a command from our Commanding General. Occasionally someone will come to
the Pastors' School at First Baptist Church of Hammond, spend a week hearing
and seeing the soul-winning emphasis here, and go home to win souls and see
his church grow. This growth may continue for several years, and then it may
level off. Often this same pastor will then go to someone else's pastors'
school to find other methods by which he can build his attendance. Soul
winning is not a method; it is a command. We are supposed to go soul winning
and do soul winning if our churches grow or if our churches decrease in
attendance. An increase in church attendance is simply a delightful product
of soul winning; but if such an increase does not occur, the command of the
Great Commission is no less valid.
We are likewise commanded to baptize people upon their
acceptance of Jesus Christ. If the church grows or not, the Great Commission
is still valid. We are to win souls, baptize our converts, and train our
converts to win souls.
2. Our command is not to build churches. I know of no
place in the Bible where we are commanded to build churches. Matthew 16:18
tells us that it is Jesus' place to build the church. It is our job to obey
His command. I am not in the church-building business; I am in the
soul-winning business, and I'm doing my best to conserve the results and to
build a spiritual hospital for the healing of wounded Christians and a
dining hall for the feeding of God's people. It is easy for us in obeying
the Great Commission to ofttimes enjoy church growth. Then our motives
become wrong, as we decide to build churches rather than win souls. The
motto of my ministry is, "I will not use my people to build my work; I will
use my work to build my people."
3. Where are the converts? In Luke 17:12-19 we have
the story of the cleansing of ten lepers. Only one returned to express
gratitude, and our Saviour asked the question, "Where are the nine?"
(Luke 17:17) The answer is found in the same verse, "Were there not ten
cleansed?" Regardless of where the nine are, they were cleansed. This is
the big thing. It was nice for the one to return to express gratitude; it
would have been nicer for all ten to have returned, but the main thing about
this story is that all of them were cleansed. Now, I'm not saying that all
the people who walk the aisles in our churches to receive Christ are
sincere; but I do believe that the percentage of people who are genuinely
saved who walk the aisles in the churches under attack by our dear brother
is just as great as the percentage of the churches who have lesser numbers
profess faith in Christ.
Now let us discuss where the nine are and where many
of the converts go who are saved in these churches. Since these churches are
not primarily concerned about building churches but keeping people out of
Hell, they reach into many areas of society whose people can do nothing for
the church. Many of these are transient. For example, at our church we reach
thousands of bus people a year who live too far to attend First Baptist
Church regularly. Many of them are children and teenagers whose parents will
not let them return to First Baptist Church.
Every Sunday we have sailors walking the aisle
professing faith in Christ. These men are stationed at a naval base about 80
miles from First Baptist Church. These are not men who are going to attend
our church regularly. They come and go; but, thank God, they are cleansed,
if they are sincerely receiving Christ.
We operate a rescue mission. Scores of these mission
men are baptized every year. Most of them are men whose lives have been
ruined and wasted, and they come from all over the country as transients.
They get saved and go back to their families or go to the next city. They
cannot be added to the attendance of our church; but, thank God, if they
sincerely trusted Christ, they are cleansed.
The churches under attack by our dear brother are
churches that preach on the streets and reach street people. These people
are transients. They are reached, they are brought to church, they are
baptized according to the Great Commission, but they do not live in our
city. They go their way. We try to do what we can to contact people in other
cities to help them; but if they are never seen again, they were cleansed if
they were sincere in their profession of faith in Christ.
Churches of our persuasion go to rest homes and take
the Gospel of Christ. When these people receive Christ, many are allowed to
come to church for one Sunday just to profess faith in Christ and be
baptized. We have baptized scores of people from rest homes this year who
cannot regularly attend our church and most of whom will never come to our
church again; but if they were sincere, they were cleansed.
Scores of our converts each year are shut-ins. Our
church and others like ours go to the highways and hedges, go to the maimed,
the halt, and the blind, and we do all we can to get people saved. Our job
is not to get them to help us build a church; our job is to get them
cleansed. After a person who is a shut-in is saved, we believe he should get
baptized. We make special arrangements for such people to come to church on
at least one occasion so they can be baptized. They do not increase our
church attendance; but if they were sincere, they were cleansed.
We have a ministry to the truck drivers. Many of our
people go to truck stops to do soul winning. Every Sunday we will have from
half-a-dozen to twenty (sometimes even more) truck drivers who sit together
on my right on the front. These men love our services. Many of them receive
Christ as Saviour. In obedience to the command given in the Great
Commission, we baptize them. They go back to their truck stops, get in their
trucks, and go on their way. They will not be shown on our future attendance
records; but if they were sincere, they were cleansed.
Our people bring their relatives to our church,
especially when they come to visit at vacation time. Hundreds of these
people are saved every year. They are baptized while they are here and then
return to their own homes. They do not help us increase our attendance on a
regular basis; but if they were sincere, they were cleansed.
Hundreds of people have come from the states of Ohio,
Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin to visit our services because they
have heard of our church. When they come, they bring their lost loved ones
with them because they know that we will do our best to get them saved. Many
of these unsaved loved ones receive Christ or at least say they do. Then
they return to their homes; they live too far to help us increase our church
attendance; but, thank God, if they were sincere, they were cleansed.
Every week we send many of our men to jails across the
area. We have an active prison ministry. Hundreds of these prisoners are won
to Christ each year. When they are discharged from prison, many come to our
church to get baptized before they return to their homes in other cities and
states. This does not help us in our attendance; but if they were sincere,
they were cleansed.
In Luke 14:16-24 we find the parable of the great
supper. There are several places mentioned where we are to go to invite
folks to come. These places are the streets and lanes of the city. We are
told to bring in the poor, the maimed, the halt, and the blind. Then in
verse 23 we are told to go to the highways and hedges. Now most of the
people you will find in these places and under these conditions are not
people who are going to build your church, but we are to reach them. Then we
are commanded when we reach them to baptize them; and, praise God, if they
were sincere, they are cleansed.
Add to this the educable slow or retarded people (we
reach hundreds of these), the migrant workers, and many other groups such as
the Vietnamese, the Cambodians and the Chinese, and you will find that a
real soul-winning church that obeys the Great Commission will reach
multitudes of people that will never help their attendance; but, thank God,
if they are sincere, they are cleansed.
I sincerely believe that this is the heart of the
Saviour; and when He looks down and sees an unselfish group of people who
are obeying the Great Commission and are willing to reach multitudes who
cannot boost the attendance or boost the offering, I think the Saviour then
says, "I'm going to build that church. That church is a tool being used to
obey My commission, so I'm going to build it, keep it in good shape, send it
new members, and send it converts from nearby who are stable families."
So in answer to the question, "Where are the nine?"
the answer is, they are cleansed. That's the big thing-not if they count in
the attendance report. It is for this reason that the soul-winning churches
are the growing churches in most cases. However, I rise in defense of a
church that is not growing but is busy obeying the Great Commission.
I pastored country churches as a young man. In one
place we had only seven prospects that we found in a church census. So, we
would go down to the next town 25 miles away on Saturday and win everybody
we could to Christ. Then we baptized them. They could not help our church
attendance; but if they were sincere, they were cleansed.
When I was a boy growing up in Dallas, Texas, a church
was started one block from the high school I attended. It was called the
Galilean Baptist Church. I will never forget the soul winning that church
did. They preached on street corners; they passed out tracts in shopping
areas. I can remember that on Sunday afternoon the pastor would go down to
the zoo and stand by the monkey cages where the crowds gathered and preach
to the people. This church reached thousands for the Lord, but it never
became a giant church. It was average-sized at best and was only a fraction
of the size of a church just a block away. They won thousands to Christ.
They did not keep them all or most of them; but all of those who were
sincere were cleansed.
It is hard for people whose main desire is to build a
church to understand those whose main desire is to obey the Great Commission
and keep people out of Hell. We obey the Great Commission. Jesus builds the
church by sending us enough local people to keep the tool in good shape so
it can do the job for God in reaching others and in obeying the Great
4. In a sense, the church that doesn't grow or that
decreases in attendance is growing. When a ministry first begins, there is
not much attrition, especially in the case of a new church. Most of the
growth in the first few months or years is net gain. However, as a church
grows older, she begins to lose people in certain ways. It is much like a
lavatory in a bathroom. There is a drain at the bottom, and there is a drain
at the top. When one wants to fill the lavatory, he plugs the drain at the
bottom, and all the water that comes from the faucet is net gain. There
comes a time, however, when water begins to reach the
top and flows out through the upper drain. A church is
like this. There comes a time in the life of a church when it begins to lose
people for various reasons. When such natural losses come, the church must
be reaching many people to take the place of the losses. The membership and
attendance must be replenished, so a church is actually growing when it
isn't growing. Death takes some; college takes others. Marriage takes some;
others move out of the area. Yes, sad to say, some become disgruntled and
leave; others become shut-ins; and others choose to go to smaller churches
For example, when I became Pastor of First Baptist
Church of Hammond 33 years ago, you could hardly find a fundamental church
in our area within driving distance. Now there are 40 churches within
driving distance of my house that are soul-winning fundamental churches.
Most of these are pastored by people who at one time went to First Baptist
Church, and some are even our converts. Most, if not all, of these churches
have members who were saved at First Baptist Church of Hammond.
At one time there were six song leaders in churches in
our area who were saved at First Baptist Church. I remember one time finding
that there were three deacon board chairmen in our area who were saved at
First Baptist Church.
I was in the airport at O'Hare Field in Chicago. My
name was paged because an agent wanted to see me. A young married lady who
heard my name came up to me and told me how glad she was to see me. She
wanted me to know that she was saved at First Baptist Church and that she
was now going to another church in the area. Recently I was at a police
department in a suburb of Hammond. I was told that the captain there was
saved at First Baptist Church and was going to a church in the suburbs. A
few years ago I spoke at a Sunday school convention on the north side of
Chicago; I counted 27 of our converts who were teaching Sunday school in
other churches within an hour and a half' s drive of the First Baptist
Church of Hammond.
The converts of soul-winning churches migrate over the
entire country. There are hundreds of preachers from First Baptist Church
who are pastoring churches around America. Add to that hundreds of church
secretaries, assistant pastors, Christian school administrators, Christian
school teachers, etc., and you have a great host of people, many of whom
were saved here, who are scattered across the country.
Then there are those who have been saved at First
Baptist who have moved to other parts of the country. Often in San Diego or
Norfolk or Jacksonville or some other area near a naval base, I meet sailors
who were saved at First Baptist and who are serving in other churches.
The other day I was in San Antonio, Texas. I met a
Mexican lady who was saved at First Baptist Church. A few years ago I was in
Denver. A pastor came to visit the services to tell me that one of our
converts was a faithful member of his church. Almost everywhere I speak,
laymen come to me and say, "I was saved at First Baptist Church, and I'm
serving God here." I was on the airplane the other day. A stewardess told me
she was saved at First Baptist Church of Hammond.
Soul-winning churches have converts all over the
world. A missionary in the back country jungles of Mexico found a little
group of people who had never heard the Gospel. Very carefully this
missionary explained the Gospel. One little Mexican boy began to smile and
shake his head up and down. The missionary inquired as to why he was smiling
and nodding. He said, "I know all about that. I used to live in Chicago, and
I went out to the First Baptist Church of Hammond and got saved." Some
preacher friends of mine were in Korea. They went to an army base to eat a
bite. The guard at the guardhouse checked their identity. One of the
preachers witnessed to the guard, whereupon the guard replied, "I was saved
in Hammond, Indiana, several years ago."
Preachers all over America tell me that while they are
out soul winning they meet our converts. Likewise, I meet the converts of
other fundamental soul-winning churches while I'm out soul winning.
I was preaching in Longview, Texas. I had to drive
well over a hundred miles to get to the Dallas airport. I was in a rented
car. I got behind an accident, and for almost an hour I couldn't move. When
the roads were cleared, I found myself driving over the speed limit in order
to make my plane so I could get to my church in time for the service that
night. I was pulled over by a state trooper. He looked at my driver's
license and began to cry. He said, "You won me to Christ seventeen years
You see, soul-winning churches have converts
everywhere. They are not attending our churches; they give no money to our
churches; but if they were sincere, they are cleansed.
5. There is a deadly accusation against us that we
believe "easy-believism." (Of course, I must confess that I don't know what
"hard-believism" is.) I simply believe in "believism." Perhaps the folks who
were bitten by the fiery serpents in the wilderness and were saved from
death by simply looking at the brazen serpent lifted on a pole were accused
of believing an "easy-lookism." I would imagine that somebody accused the
Ethiopian eunuch of practicing "easy-believism," and the same thing would be
true of the Philippian jailor or the woman at Sychar's well. Each of them
was saved during one conversation in the matter of a few minutes. I feel the
term "easy-believism"is a term used by those who are spasmodic in soul
winning for those who are faithful in soul winning. It may even be an excuse
for their lack of soul-winning effort.
6. Was Jesus a failure after having spent 33 years on
this earth after doing so many things that the Bible says the world could
not contain the books that would be written if all He did was placed in
print? He came to the cross. At the time of His death, His follow-up program
was seemingly a failure. His board chairman was denying he belonged to the
church or the faith of the Lord. His treasurer was committing suicide. One
of his board members was doubting. The rest forsook Him and fled, and only a
few ladies gathered around the cross. Where were those that He had cleansed?
I don't know where they were, but I know one thing: They were cleansed!
Now I believe in a follow-up program. I would compare
our follow-up program at First Baptist Church of Hammond with any follow-up
program in America, but I'm afraid that too many churches are following up
on converts they are not having. I've often said that I would rather
conserve two out of a hundred than one out of one.
7. If one must criticize, why not be critical of the
churches who are not growing and not winning souls instead of the churches
who are not growing and yet obeying the Great Commission? If you must
criticize, why not criticize the churches who are baptizing ten and have
less in attendance than those who are baptizing 6,000 and have the same
Why not reward the hard-working bus workers instead of
criticizing their churches? Why not reward and honor the folks who preach on
the streets and go to the jails, the rest homes, the streets and lanes and
highways and hedges to get the maimed, the halt, the blind and bring them to
Christ instead of criticizing their churches? Why not reward and honor those
who preach and reach the forgotten who cannot come to church regularly but
nevertheless have been cleansed? Why not honor and reward the pastors and
churches who reach so many who can in turn offer nothing to the church?
I commend my brother for these many years of preaching
the Gospel. I commend him for overcoming obstacles. I admire him and love
him deeply, and I cannot help but believe that he is more in agreement with
the churches that were the object of his article than he is with those
churches who spend less time obeying the Great Commission and reaching those
who can give us nothing in return. I honor him, I respect him, I admire him,
and I appreciate his ministry.
Now let him and me both join in appreciating the
ministry of pastors and people who go day and night obeying the Great
Commission. It is sad that those who are called fanatics and who are fought
by city councils, police departments, newspapers, false teachers,
ministerial associations, businesses, atheists, and others because of their
soul-winning zeal, are also fought by a faithful servant of God who perhaps
lapsed into a moment of judging motives.
May God bless him for his years of service; and may
God bless those embarrassed by his article who preach the same Gospel, exalt
the same Saviour, and believe the same Book.
Let's Be Baptists!
Matthew 16:16-1 8, "And Simon Peter answered and
said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and
said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona:for flesh and blood hath not
revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto
thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and
the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
The word "church" here is the Greek word which means
"called-out assembly," which, of course, refers to the local church, which
is the only church in this age. There is a so-called church called the
"invisible church" or the "universal church," which supposedly is composed
of all believers, but all believers cannot yet be a church and will not be
until the rapture because all believers have not yet become a called-out
assembly. At the rapture all believers will become a church. Hebrews
12:23, "To the general assembly and church of the first born, which are
written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just
men made perfect."
The doctrine of the universal church originated with
the Catholic denomination - the word "catholic"
meaning "universal." Throughout history there has been a battle between our
Baptist forefathers and the Catholic church concerning the heresy of the
universal church or invisible church. I make an issue of this because the
church (local, that is) is the unit of battle in the warfare against evil
and for God and good. To bypass this unit of battle or make light of this
unit of battle is to lessen our effectiveness in the warfare.
Now notice Hebrews 12:22 23, "But ye are come unto
mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and
to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of
the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and
to the spirits of just men made perfect." The general assembly will be
all the host of Heaven, and the church will be the called-out assembly of
God's people. Consequently, there is only one church on the face of the
earth today, and that is the local body of New Testament believers, like the
First Baptist Church of Hammond and churches of like faith.
Before we enter into this study or discussion, let me
say that I have the kindest feeling toward all believers, and I have no
desire to be offensive, though I have no doubt that this study will offend
some, perhaps many. However, if we reach the people we should reach for
Christ, we will have to revive the emphasis on the local churches! Because
of that, the eternal destiny of men, women, boys and girls will rest in our
ability to emphasize the institution that Jesus started for the perpetuation
of the Gospel and for the war against evil.
1. All believers do not form the bride of Christ. Many
have been influenced by the inter-denominational teaching that has
infiltrated our Baptist churches that all believers form the bride of
Christ. The simple truth is, there is no bride of Christ today, nor will
there be until the rapture.
The word "bride" is mentioned only five times in the
New Testament. First is John 3:29, "He that hath the bride is the
bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth
him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom 's voice: this my
joy therefore is fulfilled." Even a casual reading of this verse shows
that it has nothing to do with all Christians forming at this present time a
bride. This is the only time the word "bride" is mentioned in the Bible
until Revelation 18:23, "And the light of a candle shall shine no
more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall
be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the
earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived." It is also
mentioned in Revelation 21:2 "And I John saw the holy city, new
Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned
for her husband." It is mentioned again in Revelation 21:9, "And
there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of
the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew
thee the bride, the Lamb 's wife." Then, it
is mentioned again in Revelation 22:17, "And the Spirit and the bride
say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst
come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."
Now follow me carefully. The only time the word
"bride" is mentioned before Revelation 18 is in John 3:29 which has nothing
at all to do with the church. In Revelation 18, the rapture has already
taken place. We have already been called unto the marriage of the Lamb. No
one is a bride until she gets married, and so we are not a bride now, and
all the verses except John 3:29, which even mention the word "bride" in the
New Testament, are mentioned after the rapture while we are in the air at
the marriage of the Lamb. An engaged lady is not a bride. She must be
married; then she becomes a bride, so all believers are not a bride until
after the wedding. The wedding takes place in the air after the rapture, so
all believers will not become the bride of Christ until the wedding takes
Again I make an issue of this because Baptists are
being led astray by inter-denominational people concerning the doctrine of
the local church. So, just as all believers will not become a church until
we become a called-out assembly, all believers will not become a bride until
this called-out assembly.
2. All believers do not form the body of Christ. The
local church is the body of Christ, as I am going to show you. Notice
Colossians 1:18, "And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the
beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the
preeminence." Notice the words, "he (Jesus) is the head of the
body, the church...." Now the word "church" is the called-out assembly.
Since all Christians have not been called out to assemble, then He is
talking about the only church in existence now, which is the local church.
And since He is the head of the body, and the body and the church are
synonymous, then the body of Christ is the local church. He is the head of
the called-out assembly.
Now in what way is He the head? He is the head in the
sense that He owns it - like the president of a bank
is the head of the bank. Christ owns the church; He is to run the church,
and the church is His body in the sense of ownership of an institution. The
word "body" is used in many ways, but it is often used concerning a group of
people. This called-out assembly called the New Testament church is a group
of people. They are a body of people. He is the head of that body. The word
"head" means that He is the "Boss-man" of the church; He is to run the
church; He is the King of the church.
Notice Colossians 2:10, "And ye are complete in
him, which is the head of all principality and power." It says here that
He is the head of all principality and power. Now what is that principality
and power? It deals with government. Paul said that we wrestle not against
flesh and blood but against principalities and powers. Jesus is the head of
all principalities and powers, and the word "head" is the same word that is
used in Colossians 1:18 where it mentions that He is the head of the church.
So God is teaching us here that Jesus controls the
affairs and destinies of the world. He puts up kings and sets down kings. He
is the One Who is going to end up as King of the entire world. Now in the
same way that He is the head of principalities and powers, He is the head of
the church, as is told us in Colossians 1:18. That means He runs the church;
He is the Boss of the church; He is to be the ruler of the church.
The church is His body like someone would say, "That's
my coat. This is my tie. This is my pulpit. This is your microphone. This is
your building. That's my home. This is my car. These are my shoes." In the
same way, the church is His church, His body, because He owns it. It is a
body of people who are owned by Him; it belongs to Him and He is the head.
3. There are three basic groups of fundamentalists
today. Group one is what I call "American Baptist fundamentalists." These
are they who came out of the American Baptist Convention; that is, the old
Northern Baptist Convention. These fundamentalists are basically your
Conservative Baptists and General Association of Regular Baptists. Both of
these groups came out of the American Baptist Convention.
Group two I call "Protestant fundamentalists." These
people came out of the Protestant denominations. They came from the
Presbyterians, the Methodists, the Episcopalians, etc. Basically they are
the interdenominational people today. They have started many Bible
institutes, Bible colleges, etc. These are not bad people; they are fine
people. I'm not trying to criticize them; I'm trying to identify them and
Group three is what I call "Southern Baptist
fundamentalists." These are they which came out of the Southern Baptist
convention or were influenced by someone who did. In this group we have the
Baptist Bible Fellowship, the World Baptist Fellowship, those who were
influenced by Dr. J. Frank Norris, Dr. Lee Roberson, and in latter years Dr.
Bob Gray, myself and others who were Southern Baptists who left the
These are the main groups of fundamentalists during
this and the past generation.
4. Notice the identification of each of these three
groups. Group number one came out of the American Baptist Convention
basically because of the Bible. They got tired of the liberalism of the
American Baptist Convention and withdrew. This is true basically with both
the Conservative Baptist Association and the General Association of Regular
Baptists. This is certainly to be admired. They did not, however, pull out
because of formalism. They retained their formalism to a great extent.
Likewise, they did not pull out because of church organization. Therefore,
they, to a large degree, retained the same type of church organization as
the American Baptists.
Group number two likewise pulled out because of the
Bible, because of the liberalism in the mainline Protestant denominations
and not because of church organization or formal worship.
Group number three withdrew from the Southern Baptist
Convention not necessarily because of the Bible. Thirty, forty and fifty
years ago when group number three withdrew from the Southern Baptist
Convention, most Southern Baptists believed the Bible to be the Word of God.
We withdrew because we could not put up with the worldliness, the formalism
and the high church organization of the Southern Baptist Convention. We
pulled out because of differences on standards, pulpit leadership, prophecy,
worldliness and formalism!
This means that groups number one and two have more in
common today with each other than either does with group number three. Group
number three is the old-fashioned preaching crowd, the
hellfire-and-brimstone group. Because of this, the action in fundamentalism
has been basically in group number three. The emphasis on soul winning,
evangelistic preaching, standards, separation from the world and informal
worship services have come largely from group number three. Group three
would agree with groups one and two on the Bible, but would not agree on
type of worship, standards, separation, etc.
Since one of the main things that separated groups one
and two from group three is evangelism and soul winning, most of our growing
churches have come from group number three, because, whatever errors the
Southern Baptist Convention had, they, at least, in years passed, preached
the Gospel; they did not have the high church organization; and they had, to
some degree, evangelism and soul winning.
Though there are many admirable things about groups
one and two, they, nevertheless, have not had the emphasis on the old-time
Gospel preaching, the old-time religion, informal services and strong
evangelism and soul winning as has group number three. Again, this does not
mean we should not love them or even like them, but it is far better that
group number three works within its own boundaries and circumference, loving
and appreciating groups one and two and thanking God for them, but basically
training its own preachers and doing its own work.
5. Group three built few schools in which to
train their preachers. Because of that, we sent our students to group number
two to go to college and to be trained for the ministry. They came back with
a belief in the Bible, but with formalism, different music on Sunday morning
from that on Sunday night, error concerning the universal church and with
influence from group number two. Because of this, an interdenominational
influence has crept into our Baptist churches. We got the people saved, got
them called to preach, sent them to schools in group number two only to see
them come back, in many cases, to criticize our informality, our type of
music and our soul winning and evangelistic zeal! Group number three has
helped to populate the schools of group number two.
However, in the last few years, group number three has
been building colleges. It is now possible for group number three to train
its own preachers, and while we should have a high regard and a sincere love
for those in groups one and two, we should, nevertheless, train our own,
thereby avoiding the influence of interdenominationalism, formalism and
oftentimes weak standards coming from the group one and two schools.
6. Group number three has failed to publish enough
books and literature. I was in a church recently pastored by a fundamental
preacher. He has one of the fine churches in America. I looked at his
library. I picked out 15 books. To my surprise, 13 of his books were written
by group number two. Two of his books that I picked at random were written
by one man in group three, and I am that man. We have sent our preacher boys
to group one and two schools to be trained. They have come back and diluted
our Baptist heritage. They have come back mixed up on the doctrine of the
church. They have come back having been taught a certain form of church
organization that we believe not to be scriptural. They have been taught
that churches should be operated by committees, and in some cases, they have
been taught to wear a gown while preaching on Sunday morning.
Let me emphasize that I am certainly not angry, nor do
I feel negative toward fundamentalists in group one and fundamentalists in
group two, but there are philosophical differences that should cause each
group to educate and train its own preachers and likewise to write its own
I came home from this church where the pastor had 13
of the 15 books that I picked written by group two. I was shocked! So at
random I picked 15 books from my library. To my amazement, all 15 were
written by group two! Consequently, I have encouraged our group three
brethren to write books and literature.
It's a natural thing that preachers in group three do
not write. Most of us are busy winning souls and building churches, so we
have left the non-aggressive people to write the books that train the
aggressive people to be non-aggressive.
I'm suggesting that we coexist, but let each group
stay within its own group as far as training is concerned. Let us fellowship
with each other, but not organize together! Let us keep peace from a
distance rather than up close.
Let me illustrate. One of the largest churches in
America became pastorless. The former pastor had served for over 40 years
and had built one of the great soul-winning churches in America. He was one
of the founders of group three, having pulled out of the Southern Baptist
Convention and having led many others to do the same. The church sought
another pastor. They chose a pastor from group one. He was not a bad man. He
believed the Bible, but his beliefs about church organization, red-hot
evangelism, etc. were different from his predecessor, and the church was
harmed greatly because of his ministry. The church certainly should have had
a warm feeling toward this pastor, though he was a member of group one, but
they would have been very wise to have called a member of group three to be
We must fill our next generation with independent, New
Testament Baptist churches that are informal in their services, evangelistic
in their fervor, soul winning in their practice, and independent in their
At this writing I am 66 years of age. I have pastored
the same church for over a third of a century. I realize that before many
years I must step down. I constantly keep before my people the importance,
not only to call their next pastor from the ranks of a Bible-believing
group, but also from the ranks of a group that agrees with the First Baptist
Church on types of public services, the King James Bible, separation,
standards, soul winning, evangelism, the old-time religion and old fashioned
This church is a perfect example. First Baptist Church
of Hammond thirty-five years ago was a member of group one. It was a church
that had been influenced by the American Baptists and later by the
Conservative Baptist Association. These were good people; my predecessor was
a fine man who believed the Bible, but he preached in tails and striped
pants. The church services were ultra formal. There were 22 committees. The
church was highly organized, far beyond the New Testament pattern. I was not
their type of preacher. They contacted me. I felt led to come, but bedlam
broke loose. I was group three; they were group one. Because they loved me
and believed in me, the great majority of the people went with me, though
not totally understanding my position or philosophies. Now through the years
we have had a strong group three church, but it took a war to make it so.
When I was a young man in Texas, we were proudly
Baptists. We loved the interdenominational people but did not run with them.
We loved American Baptists but did not run with them. We loved the General
Association of Regular Baptists and the Conservative Baptist Association,
but did not run with them. We loved the fundamental Methodists but did not
run with them. We thanked God that they preached the Gospel, but the
doctrine of the local, New Testament church meant something to us back in
those days, and the doctrines of informality and separation and standards
meant something to us. We thanked God that they preached the Gospel and
rejoiced at every soul they won, but organizationally, we kept to ourselves.
7. This influence from groups one and
two is basically and historically a Catholic influence. In about 313
A.D. the Catholic church was started, basically by Constantine. In the years
following 1530, there was what we call the Reformation. The Protestants came
out of the Catholic church. These Protestants included what we now call
Methodists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, etc. However, Baptists never
came from the Catholic church. Baptists came from Jesus Himself, Who founded
Baptist churches, or should I say He founded the first Baptist church!
Though the Reformation was led by some great men such
as Calvin, Luther, Savonarola and others, these great men were not a part of
our Baptist crowd. In fact, they persecuted our crowd. In some cases, our
Baptist brethren were martyred, and in some cases they were martyred by
Protestants. I teach our Hyles-Anderson College preacher boys to read the
lives and biographies of the reformers but not to read the sermons of the
reformers. Find their work ethic; study their character; ready their
biographies, but not their doctrine. Read the doctrines of Baptist
As I understand Revelation 17 and 18, the Roman
Catholic church is the mother of harlots mentioned there. Now if you are a
mother, you have to have children. So, the Catholic church gave birth to
some children. Who are they? The Protestants. Now with the passing of the
centuries, the Protestants had some babies. Who are they? The
interdenominationalists or what I called previously the Protestant
Fundamentalists. Now just as the Protestants pulled out from the mother on
the doctrine of justification by faith, they did not pull out from the
mother in many other areas. They still favor their mother.
Now from these children of Catholicism were born other
children. These are the interdenominational churches, and though they
certainly are to be admired because of their stand and their withdrawal from
protestantism as it became liberal, they, nevertheless, still favor mama,
and in some cases, they favor grandmother!
So today we have the Baptists who have been here since
Jesus started the first Baptist church. We have the Catholics, the mother of
harlots; and we have the Protestants, her children; and we have the
interdenominationals, the children of the Protestants and the grandchildren
of Catholicism. So, as the interdenominational schools and literature have
influenced our Baptist churches concerning formalism, the doctrine of the
church, church organization, etc., so did the Protestant churches influence
the interdenominational churches, and likewise did the Catholic church
influence the protestant churches. So our formalism comes from the Catholics
by way of the Protestants and the interdenominationalists.
Again let me say that we should feel no animosity
toward these our brethren in Christ, and we should realize that we are
brothers and sisters. We should love each other, but as far as our church
affiliation and church relationship is concerned, we should stay with the
churches patterned after the church that Jesus started.
There are members of Baptist churches who are at this
very moment upset with me, even as you read this chapter, and I'm not
surprised. You have not been trained to be a Baptist, and you are living
proof of what I am teaching in this chapter.
We live in a nice neighborhood. We have good
neighbors. We speak to our neighbors. We are kind to our neighbors. We love
our neighbors, but we don't eat with our neighbors, live with our neighbors,
or sleep in the same house with our neighbors. Does that mean we don't love
them? Of course, it doesn't. In no way am I suggesting that we not love and
thank God for other Christians who are members of groups one and two, or for
that matter, another denomination, but we should be proud that we are
Baptists, just like we are proud of our families.
8. Churches should start schools; schools should not
start churches. The only institution that has been promised divine
perpetuity is the New Testament church. No school has been made that
promise, so if a school controls a church, there is no promise that that
school can have divine perpetuity. If the church controls the school, the
school is under the canopy of that promise. Christ is head of the church,
not the school; so consequently, if the church has a school, that school
does not have to die. It may choose to die, but it does not have to die. If
a school starts on its own, it has to die. It may live for a while and serve
for a while, but it does not have the promise of divine perpetuity.
Suppose a group of churches starts a school. Again, it
is outside the promise. The local church should start the school, not only
so it may live but because it may stay stronger. If ten churches start a
school, the school will be just as strong as the weakest link. Now I'm not
criticizing the school if it lives for just a while, but it does not have
the promise of divine perpetuity.
9. A fundamentalist is one who believes in the faith
and practice of the original purposes and doctrines of an institution. To
put it another way, a fundamentalist is one who returns to the original
faith and practice of any organization. You can have a fundamentalist Mason,
a man who is a Masonic lodge member who returns to the original faith and
practice of the Masonic lodge. You can have a fundamentalist member of the
Parent-Teacher Association. You have fundamentalists in Iran.
If you are a Catholic, you go back to Constantine in
313 A.D. If you follow the faith and practice of the original intents of the
Catholic church, you are a fundamentalist Catholic and go back to 313. If
you are a Lutheran, you can be a fundamentalist Lutheran and go back to 1530
and the original intent of Martin Luther and the Lutheran church. If you are
an Episcopalian, you can go back to the original faith and practice of the
Episcopalians in 1531 and be a fundamentalist Episcopalian.
If you are a Presbyterian, you can go back to the
original faith and practice of the Presbyterians when they were founded in
1540 and be a fundamentalist Presbyterian. If you are a Congregationalist,
you can go back to the faith and practice of the Congregationalists when
they were founded in 1603 and be a fundamentalist Congregationalist. If you
are a Methodist, you can go back to the faith and practice of the Methodist
church as it was founded in 1765 and be a fundamentalist Methodist.
If you are a member of the Disciples of Christ
denomination, you can go back to 1812 to the original faith and practice of
the Disciples of Christ denomination and be a fundamentalist Disciple of
So, if you are a Disciple of Christ, you go back to
1812 to be a fundamentalist. If you are a Methodist, you go back to 1765. If
you are a Congregationalist, you go back to 1603. If you are a Presbyterian,
you go back to 1541. If you are an Episcopalian, you go back to 1531. If you
are a Lutheran, you go back to 1530. If you are a Catholic, you go back to
313. I am a Baptist fundamentalist, so I go back to the faith and practice
of Baptist churches as founded by Jesus during His earthly ministry!
10. The perpetuity of Baptist churches does not follow
the bloodline of Baptist denominations; it follows the bloodline of
fundamental Baptists. The perpetuity of Baptist churches is not in the
American Baptist Convention. It may have been at one time, but when the
denomination grew liberal, the fundamentalists could no longer endorse its
faith and practice, so the ones who left carried the bloodline of
independent, fundamental Baptist churches. To be quite frank, that means
that the bloodline is in the split and not in the main body that has
deteriorated and often even died.
I am simply saying the hope for America is in
independent, fundamental Baptist churches that preach Heaven like it is,
preach Hell like it is, fight sin, go soul winning, and take a stand for
what is right and against what is wrong. That is the hope!
When I was a young man in east Texas, I pastored the
Grange Hall Baptist Church in the country outside Marshall, Texas. Down the
road from me was the Grange Hall Methodist Church. The pastor of that church
was a fine young man whose name was Edmund Robb. Ed Robb was a fundamental
Methodist, not a fundamentalist as I am, for I am a fundamental Baptist who,
as I see it, goes back to the time of Christ, but Ed Robb was a good
fundamental Methodist. He believed in salvation by grace. He did not believe
you could lose salvation. He had revival meetings. He believed in
separation. He and I were good buddies. We spent some time together. We
fellowshipped together. We prayed for each other. I liked him; he liked me,
but he never preached for me, and I never preached for him. Our church did
our best to follow what we thought the Bible taught; his church did the best
to do what they thought the Bible taught. We loved each other, we prayed for
each other, but we did not organize together!
I am not asking group one to become a member of group
three. I'm not asking group two to become a member of group three. I am
asking for us to love each other. I'm asking for us to love all believers
and, for that matter, love the souls of all men. I am asking, and using all
the influence I have, that each group train its own preachers, stick with
its own literature, maintain its own purity, train its own preachers, and
study its own literature, while loving others who disagree. Let's be loving
toward all believers, but let's be Baptists!
An Enemy of Soul
Acts 5:28, "Saying, Did not we straitly command you
that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem
with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us." Acts
5:42, "And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach
and preach Jesus Christ." Acts 20:20, "And how I kept back nothing that was
profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and
from house to house."
In the beginning, let me make it plain that I am for
lifestyle evangelism, but I am unalterably against ONLY lifestyle
evangelism! There are those who have attacked personal soul winning. They
love to use such terms as "confrontational evangelism" as they make light of
and often even ridicule those who pass out tracts, witness from house to
house, preach on street corners, etc. These are enemies to the salvation of
men, and certainly, they are hindrances to the obeying of the Great
I have said before that I believe in lifestyle
evangelism, if it is accompanied by what we call confrontational evangelism;
that is, personal soul winning. Matthew 5:16, "Let your light so shine
before men, that they may see your good works, and glonfy your Father which
is in heaven." It is plain that we are to live in such a way that people
will want what we have and that they may glorify God because of our good
works. There are examples of this in the Bible. The best was our Saviour
Himself. John 3:1, 2, "There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus,
a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him,
Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do
these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him." Nicodemus, an
unsaved man, inquired of Jesus concerning his salvation, for he could tell
that He was a teacher come from God. How could he tell this? By the miracles
that Jesus did. In other words, we have an example of lifestyle evangelism.
On the other hand, our Saviour did not limit His soul winning to His life,
but He also was a confrontational soul winner, such as is found in the very
next chapter of John, when in a public place He won a woman to Himself.
I was in southern California preaching. The pastor was
driving me to the morning service. On the freeway, it was obvious that a
lady in a car behind us was following us. If we would change lanes, she
would change lanes. She made no attempt to pass us when we slowed down. We
turned onto a busy street from the freeway; she turned on that same street
and stayed right behind us. We again turned onto a little neighborhood
street; she likewise turned and continued to follow us. Soon she motioned
for us to stop. The pastor did so, got out of the car, thinking that perhaps
something was wrong with our car. The lady wanted to talk to us about her
relationship with God. The pastor asked her how she knew that we could help
her. She said, "I saw a Bible on the dash of your car. I thought perhaps you
could help me." The very placing of that Bible on the dashboard of the car
was lifestyle evangelism.
I was eating in a restaurant in Illinois recently. As
I was paying my bill, the lady cashier said, "You're a reverend, aren't
I said, "Yes, ma'am. I'm a pastor. How did you know?"
She said, "I feel the Spirit."
On occasion people do notice our lives and seek us
out. I was in Garland, Texas, pastoring. One day I was driving north on
Garland Road. I noticed a policeman following me. I turned right onto Miller
Road. As I traveled east, I noticed the policeman was still following me. I
turned left on Fifth Street. To my surprise and disappointment, that
policeman was still following me. I turned left on a little neighborhood
street. If I remember, it was a dead-end street. The policeman turned left.
I finally decided once and for all that I was going to find if he were
really following me. I turned right up a little alley; he turned right up a
little alley! I stopped, got out of the car, wondering what I had done to
warrant such apprehension. He got out of his car and said, "I want to get
right with God; can you help me?" That man got right with God and today is
pastoring a Baptist church.
Many years ago when I was in college I worked at J. C.
Penney Company. I worked hard; in fact, I led the entire men's department in
sales, though I was only a part-time worker. I tried to be nice, honest and
courteous. Soon I was called to pastor a little church out in the country.
Within a matter of a few weeks, the secretary in the office was saved, her
mother was saved, her father was saved, her sister was saved, her sister's
husband was saved, the assistant manager of the men's department was saved,
his wife was saved, a salesman in the men's department was saved, his wife
was saved, the manager of the shoe department was saved, his wife was saved,
a lady who worked in the hosiery department was saved, and her son was
saved. If I remember correctly, and I think I do, 16 people were saved who
worked in that one store. I trust that my life before them had something to
do with it.
Therefore, I have no axes to grind with those who
believe that we should live right and make folks want what we have. The axe
I do have to grind is that it is not the only way, and that you can't have
one without the other! If you don't love them enough to live it, you won't
love them enough to tell it. If you don't love them enough to tell it, you
won't love them enough to live it. If you live it, you can't help but tell
it. Romans 10:11, "For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him
shall not be ashamed." Acts 4:20, "For we cannot but speak the things which
we have seen and heard." These verses tell us that if we believe, we
will not be ashamed, and that we cannot help but speak what God has done for
Let us address the issue of lifestyle evangelism by
answering the many errors connected with this enemy of soul winning.
1. The error of saying we should witness only when
the Holy Spirit leads. What is meant by this is that the Holy Spirit
will direct us in some mysterious kind of way to know to whom we are to
speak. The truth is the Holy Spirit does lead us, but not in the way that
the lifestyle evangelism folks would tell us. Notice Matthew 28:19, 20,
"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all
things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even
unto the end of the world. Amen." This is a command for us to go soul
winning, to witness to all nations. Notice Mark 16:15, "And he said unto
them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature."
Here we are told to preach the Gospel to every creature.
Now read John 6:63, "ft is the spirit that
quickeneth; the flesh profit eth nothing: the words that I speak unto you,
they are spirit, and they are life." Notice that the Word of God is
Spirit, so when God tells us to get the Gospel to every creature, this is
the Holy Spirit leading us. This lifestyle evangelism heresy that says God
will give you special direction when He wants you to speak a word for Him is
foolishness. It is very close to the fallacious "word of knowledge" that
people claim to have. Brother, the "word of knowledge" is the Word of God,
and when God says something in His Word, this is the Holy Spirit leading,
because the Holy Spirit is the One Who gave us the Word.
Oh, yes, I believe that God opens doors for us. Just
yesterday I walked into a gift shop at the hotel where I was staying. There
were several newspapers lined up in front of me. I wanted to buy a paper and
did not know which was the best, so I kindly asked the little lady in the
gift shop, "Which one of these papers is the one that has the good news in
She replied, "I haven't read it." Then she said, "I
don't know any good news, do you?"
Well, praise the Lord, it so happened that I did know
some good news, and it was not long until I explained the plan of salvation
to her and she prayed the sinner's prayer.
2. The error that "just the Bible is enough."
These advocates tell us that the Bible is all that is necessary, as they
criticize those of us who practice personal soul winning, obey the Great
Commission, and, yes, even practice confrontational evangelism, as they call
Look at Acts 8:30, 31, "And Philip ran thither to
him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou
what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me?
And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him." Notice
especially the words, "except some man should guide me." The
Ethiopian was asked by Philip if he understood what he was reading. He
replied that he could not understand unless some man should guide him. The
Word of God was not enough. This man was reading the best part of the Bible
that was available then to deal with salvation. He was reading the clearest
book of that Bible concerning salvation. He was reading the clearest chapter
of that book concerning salvation. He was reading the clearest part of that
chapter concerning salvation, and yet he needed somebody to guide him.
Now read Psalm 126:6, "He that goeth forth and
weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,
bringing his sheaves with him." Notice the first word is "he." Following
that it says he should "go." Then it says we should weep and bear precious
seed. Notice what the enemy has done; he first takes off the "he." In other
words, "Let the Bible do its work." The deterioration starts when soul
winning stops, so it is not surprising that once we have taken away the
"he," we have taken away the "weepeth." When you stop your confrontational
evangelism or soul winning, it will not be long until the burden is gone.
Now the next line is "bearing precious seed." They first take away the "he,"
then take away the "weepeth," then they take away the "precious seed." What
is the precious seed? The King James Bible, of course. The New
International Version is not precious seed. The New Scofield Bible
is not precious seed. The New King James Bible is not precious seed.
Good News for Modern Man is not precious seed. The Reader's Digest
Bible is not precious seed. The American Standard Version is not
precious seed. The Westcott and Hort manuscripts are not precious seed. The
precious seed is the King James Bible, preserved for us word-for-word, but,
don't be surprised when they give us seed that is not precious.
So, they first took away the "he," then they took away
the "weepeth," then they took away the "precious seed" and substituted for
it seed that is not precious.
There are organizations that specialize in placing
Bibles in public places. Certainly I am not opposed to this, but it is not
enough. The Bible itself will not do its work without a soul winner. Oh,
yes, there are people who have been saved in motel rooms just reading the
Bible, but somewhere back yonder there was a human instrument who planted
the seed. As I travel across the country, I find in some places and in some
motel rooms the Precious Seed. Then there are times I find seed that is not
precious, but, it is not surprising. When you take away the sower, you will
eventually substitute for the precious seed.
3. The error of those who say, "If you live
right, people will initiate the conversation." How foolish! Look at
John 4:7, "There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto
her, Give me to drink." Here is the dialogue between Jesus and the
fallen woman at Sychar's well. Notice that Jesus initiated the conversation
in verse 7 when He said, "Give me to drink."
Now look at Luke 19:5, "And when Jesus came to the
place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zaccheus, make haste,
and come down; for today I must abide at thy house." Here is the story
of the conversion of Zaccheus when Jesus won Zacckeus to Himself. In verse 5
the first words that were spoken were spoken by Jesus. "Zaccheus, make
haste, and come down." Jesus initiated the conversation. He was the soul
winner and started the dialogue.
Now notice John 5:6, "When Jesus saw him lie, and
knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt
thou be made whole?" The Saviour was at the pool of Bethesda. He was
going to heal a man and win him to Himself. Notice who initiated the
conversation. In verse 6 Jesus said, "Wilt thou be made whole?"
Now look at Acts 8:30, "And Philip ran thither to
him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou
what thou readest?" Here we have the story of Philip, the soul winner,
winning the Ethiopian eunuch to Jesus. Notice who initiated the
conversation. In verse 30 the soul winner, Philip, asked, "Understandest
thou what thou readest?"
Notice Acts 16:28, "But Paul cried with a loud
voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here." The jailor was
about to be saved. Notice, the soul winner spoke first. The Apostle Paul
initiated the conversation by saying, "Do thyself no harm."
As mentioned before, there are isolated instances when
the conversation is initiated by the sinner, but for every one case like
that, there are thousands where the conversation is initiated by the soul
I was in the Dallas airport. It was near midnight. I
was catching a late-night flight to Chicago. I went to the gift shop to buy
a newspaper. The gift shop was just closing. One of the clerks was a young
lady speaking to another clerk. She said, "I'm so tired I could just die."
She did not know I was there. I was bent over picking up a newspaper. I
said, "Then what?"
She said, "What are you talking about?"
I said, "Then what?"
She said, "What do you mean?"
I said, "You just said you were so tired you could
die. I asked you, 'Then what?"' In a few moments she was saved.
I was in the Charlotte, North Carolina, airport. I
stopped to buy a newspaper at a little newsstand that was in the
hallway. I was singing and whistling. The lady selling me the newspaper
said, "You sound like you are happy."
I said, "You never sold a newspaper to a happier man
than the one you're talking with now."
She said, "You must have a good boss."
I said, "The best!"
She said, "Who is your boss?"
Well, praise God, in a few moments, my Boss was her
I was walking down the concourse toward my gate to
catch a plane at O'Hare Field in Chicago. A man almost bumped into me coming
the opposite direction. Suddenly he said, "Oh, my lord."
Instinctively I said, "You must know Him, too."
He said, "Who?"
I said, "You just talked about my Lord." He had
forgotten something on the airplane. I walked with him to the gate
and led him to Christ.
I have been winning souls for many, many years. I
could count on the fingers of my hands the numbers of times that people have
initiated the conversation, but thousands and thousands of times I have
initiated the conversation.
4. The error that says soul winning is just for the
preacher in the pulpit. They love to use Mark 16:15, "And he
said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and
preach the gospel to every creature." The word "preach" simply means
"evangelize," and what they should do is read the entire verse where it says
every creature," which means that most of the people who are saved are won
to Christ by individual, personal soul winning. It is with the tongue that
people are saved as the soul winner tells them the story of Christ.
Matthew 28:19, 20, "Go ye therefore, and teach all
nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of
the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have
commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.
Amen." The word "teach" implies that it is the use of the tongue.
Notice again Mark 16:15, "And he said unto them, Go
ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." You
have the word "preach" which necessitates the use of the tongue.
Luke 24:47, 48, "And that repentance and remission
of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at
Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things." You have the word
"preached" and the word "witnesses." Both these require the use of the
Acts 1:8, "But ye shall receive power, after that
the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in
Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost
part of the earth." You have the word "witnesses," which again means the
use of the tongue.
We are supposed to tell people how to be saved. It is
not enough to live a sweet, Christian life and expect people to flock to us
asking for what we have.
Apply the same thing to other truths. Suppose the
average pastor taught tithing by lifestyle tithing. In other words, he says
nothing about tithing, preaches nothing about tithing, teaches nothing about
tithing, but gets in front of his people with a collection plate and drops
his tithe into the collection plate, hoping that someone will get the idea
and follow suit. Of course, this is absurd.
Try the same thing about separation. Suppose a
preacher does not preach against the Hollywood movies. He just goes to a
movie house and stands outside. As people see him not going in, they will
not go in. This also is absurd. It is foolishness. We are supposed to speak
the things we have seen and heard.
Something wonderful has happened in our generation.
The New Testament church in the book of Acts was a soul-winning church.
Through the years we transferred the soul winning to evangelism, and for
these many centuries, there has been an emphasis on the evangelistic church.
Now what is the difference between the soul-winning
church and the evangelistic church? In the evangelistic church, the pastor
stands behind the pulpit and preaches the Gospel to the unsaved people whom
the folks have brought to church. In the soul-winning church, the people
leave the church and go out into the highways and hedges, win them to
Christ, bring them to church to walk the aisle and make public their
profession of salvation. In our generation, we have seen the better churches
turn from evangelistic churches to soul-winning churches. This enables
people to be saved more than one day a week - every day of the week! It
enables hundreds of people to preach the Gospel, rather than just one man on
Sunday. It also enables the man of God to preach to the Christian people on
the Lord's Day, realizing that they will be going into the highways and
hedges and bringing folks to Christ.
5. The error of saying, "Just be Christlike."
Yes, we are to be Christlike. I John 4:17, "Herein is our love made
perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as he is,
so are we in this world." Philippians 2:5, "Let this mind be in you, which
was also in Christ Jesus." John 14:12, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He
that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and gre ater
works than these shall he do; because Igo unto my Father." Psalm 1 7:15, "As
for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied, when
I awake, with thy likeness."
However, one cannot be totally Christlike unless he is
a soul winner. Jesus was a soul winner. Oh, yes, He did some wonderful
works. John 21:25, "And there are also many other things which Jesus did,
the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the
worid itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen."
However, He did more than just wonderful works. He also spoke the message.
He sought sinners. He did not wait for them to seek Him out; He sought them
Notice Luke 19:10, "For the Son of man is come to
seek and to save that which was lost." He came not only to save the
lost; He came to seek the lost. He sought them out and won them to Himself.
Let's read I Timothy 1:15, "This is a faithful
saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world
to save sinners; of whom I am chief" He came into the world to save
sinners. If we are like Him, we will have to do more than just be sweet,
kind and forgiving, though those things are a part also. We will likewise
have to speak the words of salvation.
Let's read again John 14:12, "Verily, verily, I say
unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and
greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father."
It does not say here that we should just live the life that He lived, love
as He loved, though the Bible does say that. It does not say here that we
are to forgive as He forgave, though the Bible does say that. It says we are
supposed to do the works that He did.
What works did He do? He came to seek and to save that
which was lost, so we cannot be completely Christlike until we do likewise.
Notice in this passage who it is that is supposed to
do the works that He did. "He that believeth on me," said the
Saviour. That means that every single believer is supposed to be a soul
6. The error that says we should not win souls in
public places and from house to house. We are to win souls in public
places and from house to house! Acts 20:20, "And how I kept back nothing
that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you
publickly, and from house to house." Then the street preacher is right!
The person who goes from house to house knocking on doors is right! The one
who passes out tracts in public is right! The one who practices
confrontational soul winning is right!
Notice Acts 5:42 "And daily in the temple, and in
every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ." There
are those who teach that this means we are supposed to preach salvation in
the pulpit and then go to every house and preach salvation. Now I have no
problem with that, though when he is talking about the temple there, he is
not talking about a place where they went for preaching. The temple was a
place that was used several times a year, and was a place of activity, a
public place, if you please. These people were simply doing the same thing
that the people were doing in Acts 20:20 - they were witnessing in public
places and also in the homes.
7. The error that we should not persuade people to
be saved. One verse will take care of this heresy: II Corinthians
5:11, "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but
we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your
consciences. ' The word "persuade" means "to prevail upon." We
are supposed to prevail upon people to be saved.
Now turn to Luke 14:16-24, "Then said he unto him,
A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at
supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now
ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said
unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I
pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of
oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said,
I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So that servant came,
and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry
said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city,
and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.
And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there
is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and
hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say
unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my
First, notice where we are to go. Verse 21 says we are
to go to the streets and the lanes. It says to bring in the poor, the
maimed, the halt and the blind. In verse 23 we are to go to the highways and
Then notice that we are to compel them to come in. The
word for "compel" is a very strong word which means, "to constrain by
threat, force or persuasion." At the least it means we are to plead with men
to come to Christ.
Yes, we are to be a testimony through the way we live,
but that is not enough, and I believe it is impossible to do only that. As
was said before, if you don't love them enough to live it, you won't love
them enough to tell it; and if you don't love them enough to tell it, you
won't love them enough to live it; and if you live it, you can't help but
8. The error of those who call personal soul
winning "easy-believism." Those who are too lazy, too indifferent or too
embarrassed to go into the streets and tell about Christ and to go from
house to house knocking on doors telling about Christ have coined a wicked
term and attributed it to those who are soul winners. This term is "easy-believism."
(I always wonder what "hard-believism" is!) These are often legalists who
add things to belief and faith for salvation. Often they are people who
disobey the command to baptize Christians as soon as they are saved.
When I came to Hammond in 1959, here at the First
Baptist Church before a person could be baptized, he had to appear before a
committee. The committee met at 6:00 on a Sunday night, right before the
evening service. At this meeting they questioned all the converts who wanted
to come into the church. Each convert had to give his testimony (in other
words, he had to be a public speaker) so the committee could decide whether
or not he was saved and ready for baptism. (Be reminded that on Pentecost
they were saved and baptized at the same time. The eunuch in Acts 8 was
saved and baptized at the same time. Over and over again in the Bible,
baptism immediately followed salvation!)
The first month that I was pastor of the church, I did
nothing to change this. Then it came time for the monthly meeting. (We had
92 people that month who wanted to join the church because they had been
saved!) The committee met in my office, and in poured 92 people! (Twenty
people could fill my office.) The converts were lined up outside the door,
down the hallway and even out onto the sidewalk. The chairman of the
committee rushed up to me and said, "We won't have time to do this! What can
we do?" I said, "The best thing to do is obey the command of God and follow
the plan of the New Testament church and baptize them when they are saved!"
That is exactly what we did from that time on.
You see, this kind of a lackadaisical, half-hearted
attempt to get people saved along with this committee system just will not
work when God's people are obeying the Great Commission and going everywhere
preaching the Gospel!
I was in Jamaica preaching. We had a question-answer
session. A Jamaican stood up, and with perfect diction and ministerial
deliverance, he asked me about my plan concerning baptizing converts. I knew
what he was hoping to hear, so I gave him what he wanted to hear. I said,
"My plan is that when a person gets saved, we wait for about 6 months, check
him out, have him approved before a committee, and then once we feel he is
sincere, we will baptize him."
Oh, the Jamaican liked that! He smiled and said,
"That's exactly my plan."
Then I said, "But since my plan and God's plan differ,
I decided to use God's plan instead of mine, so we baptize them as soon as
they profess faith in Christ."
To be quite frank, I do not know what "easy-believism"
means, but I do believe in "believism." Look at some of the Bible
conversions; for example, the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch. In Acts
8:36, the eunuch asked, "What doth hinder me to be baptized?" In
verse 37, Philip said, "If thou believest with all thine heart, thou
mayest." Later on in verse 37, the eunuch said, "I believe that Jesus
Christ is the Son of God." In verse 38 he was baptized. This, my friend,
is believism-the only way a person can be saved.
Now notice the conversion of the Philippian jailor in
16. In verse 30, the question is plainly asked,
"Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" In verse 31, it is answered plainly,
"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy
house." This, my friend, is believism.
Now read Acts 4:4 where 5,000 men were saved by
believing. "Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed;
and the number of the men was about five thousand." This, my friend, is
Look down to Acts 4:32, "And the multitude of them
that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them
that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all
things common." Notice that those who were saved were those who
believed. This, my friend, is believism.
Now noticeActs 8:13, "Then Simon himself believed
also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and
wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done." Simon
believed and was baptized. This, my friend, is believism.
Now turn to Acts 10:45, "And they of the
circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter,
because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy
Ghost." These Jews believed and were saved. This, my friend, is
Now readActs 11:17, "Forasmuch then as God gave
them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ;
what was, I that I could withstand God?" Notice the words, "who
believed on the Lord Jesus Christ." This, my friend, is believism.
Now turn to Acts 11:21, "And the hand of the Lord
was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord."
It says a great number believed and turned to the Lord. This, my friend, is
Now read Acts 18:8, "And Crispus, the chief ruler
of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the
Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized." Crispus was saved by
believing, and many of the Corinthians were saved by believing, and they
were immediately baptized. This, my friend, is believism.
Now turn to the following passages in John 3. John
3:15, "That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have
eternal life." John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only
begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have
everlasting life." John 3:18, "He that believeth on him is not condemned:
but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed
in the name of the only begotten Son of God." John 3:36, "He that believeth
on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall
not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." All of these, my
friend, are believism.
The word "believe" is the Greek word which means "to
depend upon" or "to roll up on." It means faith. What it means is trust. As
this chapter is being dictated, I am on a 737 jet, flying to Chicago; in
fact, we are close to making our approach at this time. I am totally relying
on this airplane to get me to Chicago. That is believism. I believe it will
get me there, and I am trusting it to do so. I am sitting in a seat on that
airplane. All of my weight is now on this seat. I have just lifted my feet
from the floor. I am trusting this seat to hold me up. When a person
realizes he is a sinner, realizes he is lost, realizes Jesus has paid the
price for his sins and was raised from the dead after three days and three
nights, and relies upon that Saviour because of what He did to save him, he
is saved! That, my friend, is believism.
It is sad to say that you will find these enemies of
soul winning (confrontational evangelism) in every fundamental movement on
earth, but there are several things that are normally associated with them -
formal worship services, a church controlled by committees, an enslaved
pulpit, etc. There is more to it than a fervent soul winner criticizing
fervent soul winners; it is a group of what I call "white gloves" Christians
who don't want to get soiled by old-fashioned personal soul winning,
building bus routes, etc.
Dr. John R. Rice used to say, "Everybody wants to be
in the army of the Lord, but everybody wants to be in the quartermaster
corps; nobody wants to be in the infantry."
These enemies of soul winning love to cast reflection
upon those who are obeying the Great Commission, and they have many little
cliches to try to put us in a bad light. It seems to me that if they were
going to fight someone, they would fight the liberals. The truth of the
matter is, these pacifist Christians seem to hate fundamental soul winners
far more than they hate the liberals, but, thank God, there are hundreds and
hundreds of great soul-winning churches in America who are obeying God's
command to take the Gospel to every creature - the halt, the maimed, the
blind - to the highways, the hedges, streets and the lanes of the city, etc.
May their tribe increase, and may they not be thwarted or hindered by those
who like to coin phrases to be used as a shield for their indifference.
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