(illustration by Holly Garcia)
As summer vacation time rolls around, I am reminded of the legion of camps and vacation Bible schools being offered by “churches” of every stripe. And, since there is so much false doctrine being promulgated from the pulpits, books, and websites of “Christian” ministries, it stands to reason that their camps and vacation Bible schools would follow suit.
Christian camps and vacation Bible schools can be a great way to train our children in Biblical doctrine, but not if they are doctrinally aberrant – particularly with respect to the gospel message.
As alluring as it may be to give the kids a nice, wholesome getaway (not to mention giving the parents a break from the kids), we should be cautious where we send them.
Most parents would not even think about sending their children some place where their physical safety would be a concern. This vigilance should extend to children’s spiritual well-being. We should not send our children to church camps or VBS without knowing EXACTLY what they are being taught, and whether or not it lines up with scripture. Otherwise, our precious children may be being fed a diet of theological poison, without our being aware. This could have serious long-term consequences.
Some good up-front questions to ask yourself would include:
- Do I know what the gospel is? If you are not sure, click the link below:
- Do my kids know the truth of the gospel?
- Do I know what the false gospel of Lordship “Salvation” is? If not, click the link below:
- Who is the sponsoring organization, and what are their beliefs?
- What print and other media are being used?
- Who prepared those media, and what are their beliefs?
- Who are the teachers and counselors, and what are their beliefs?
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. If the sponsoring organization, materials, or teachers are not crystal clear on the doctrine of salvation, then sending your kids to their camps or vacation Bible schools would be ill-advised.
The camps and VBSs are often packaged with clever themes, focused on fun and adventure, or some special interest. Those that are teaching false doctrine will not advertise that, because most of the time they don’t even know.
I have come up with several examples of false doctrine that one may encounter in camps and vacation Bible schools, and have chosen to illustrate those with the following fictitious offerings:
- Camp Sherlock: Join Holmes and Watson on a Journey of Fruit Inspection
- 19th Hole Christian Golf Camp: Shooting Par for Salvation
- Social Media Evangelism: Lordship Salvation Proof Texting
- Green Missions: Become Equipped to Save Planet Earth!
- All Aboard! Choo Choo the Meat and Spit Spit the Bones on the Ecumenical Soul Train
- Camp Vegas: Salvation Roulette and 21 Reasons Why Christ is not Enough
I used hyperbole in the above examples to make a very serious point. We should stay away from false teachers, and we should keep our kids away from them too. If we don’t know whether or not a teacher is sound, we should not use our kids as guinea pigs.
John, good answer by Ron. He has a way with explaining things. This woman is OSAS as she puts it. And interestingly even mentioned a book I had told her about by Tom, “Secure Forever! God’s Promise or our Perseverance?”
But then somehow I am to accept doctrine that teaches a gospel that doesn’t include an eternal solution? As you say, and as I asked her, what were we saved from then? It wasn’t about whether somehow had ever doubted, or not fully understood every aspect, but I asked specifically if one never believed that the gift was eternal life, then what were they believing Him for?
If the solution for sin wasn’t eternal, then what was it?
If we are not going to be resurrected to life, then what point?
I used the example of 1 Corinthians 15 and 2 Timothy 2, these things are a canker, and overthrow the faith of some, and worse, when you preach a gospel that doesn’t include the free gift of eternal life (one of the meanings of His resurrection), you have preached another gospel. (Which is basically what Yankee says in that sermon that they ‘marked and avoided’ him for).
Jackie – I am glad (when you saw the earlier conversation), it didn’t shake you too much. I was also glad when the original conversation was removed, and thankful I had saved it to answer. This had already shaken the faith of another who had been bound up in loadship when it was stated that ‘we’ teach things like 100% comprehension, no doubting, completely feeling secure (as one pastor also shared with her), and if she wasn’t, then ‘she never believed’.
He came to give us LIFE. I wonder what life they think that is? Pray for them, that they might not rush in to judgment by not hearing a matter fully, so that they might not make young ones stumble.
Holly, I understand what you’re saying.
Believing in Jesus means believing that He (alone) is the only way to heaven. Believing that one can lose salvation means that one is trusting in himself to stay saved.
How else would one lose salvation?
If one doesn’t believe in Jesus for eternal life, I don’t understand what they are believing in Him for. And, if they don’t understand that eternal life is eternal, it seems highly doubtful that they have really understood the gospel.
Understanding the gospel, on a basic level, is an essential part of becoming a believer.
Matthew 13:19: “When anyone heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.”
John 3:16 is such a great place to start with evangelism, because it tells you that whoever believes in Jesus has everlasting life. Just to make it more clear, John 3:15 says that whoever believes has eternal life. Eternal and everlasting both mean that it can’t be lost or forfeited.
Ron Shea says the following about eternal security:
“For at least these reasons, we believe that the doctrine of eternal security is indissolubly bound to the very core of virtually every aspect of the doctrine of salvation and the gospel message. Accordingly, we believe that any professing Christian who denies the security of the believer is not simply in minor error, but fails to demonstrate even the most rudimentary grasp of any aspect of salvation whatsoever, that such a grevious error is a strong indication that the smallest vestige of the gospel has never been comprehended, and that a true saving faith in the work of the Savior is not evident in a profession of faith that is tainted by this heresy.”
I also like Tom Cucuzza’s booklet on eternal security, which is linked below:
Click to access cucuzza-the-permanence-of-salvation.pdf
I’ll answer more later, but Lori and her other friend Lori, were outing Yankee Arnold for his sermon here “Eternal Security is the Gospel”. To Lori L., she has a friend, a ‘teacher of an apologetics group’ who believes you can walk away from your salvation. Lori herself stated that if one walks away, it’s obvious they were never a believer. I stated I was unwilling to say that, or judge their salvation by performance but by whether they believed the gospel.
Every portion of the gospel is an eternal solution. So I said, if one does not believe that eternal life is the gift one is given when they believe (Rom 6:23), then what were they saved from. For that, and some more Bible verses, I lost a couple friends.
Yankee was called false and having listened to that sermon I don’t believe they did.
Eternal security does not = feelings of security, assurance, or ‘100 % comprehension’ as the other Lori stated.
Eternal security = the free gift of eternal life, and the truth that He keeps us and seals us until the day of redemption.
Eternal security is the foundation of everything we have been delivered from. Not their definition obviously, but the definition that comes from the Word. Which by the way, when I offered the Word as my answer, I was told the conversation was not ‘profitable’. I could only think on 2 Tim 3:16-17.
I was saved last July and fell into deep bewitchment — lordship, calvinism, the whole shebang — about two months later. I went from thinking I could lose my salvation to thinking I must persevere. Did I lose my salvation? No. Did I get chastised for deliberately continuing in error? Oh yes. The Lord shook asunder the foundation of sinking sand I had been building upon and instead placed my feet upon the solid Rock of Christ.I am forever grateful to my great God and Savior Jesus Christ. What caused this? No one taught me eternal security that is so intricately a part of the Gospel. The promise of Christ is ETERNAL life, and so believers trust Christ alone for such a promise. It’s tragic when OSAS isn’t taught to a believer from the beginning. I was plunged into the throes of performance-based Christian living and still thought I had to prove myself to the Lord. How vain of me to think! I praise God that He revealed by His grace the promises of eternal life and the security I have through being in Jesus’ wonderful hands.
Btw, I had tentatively come to the same conclusion regarding the church in Galatia. Thanks for confirming that for me.
Great! Thanks, John, I will check that out. I’ve always wondered about that verse. I’ve come across your blog a few times when researching Lordship Salvation and liked what I saw. I came across it again today while Googling in search of some good evangelistic tracts and somehow ended up on this page. Thank you very much for taking the time to respond to my questions in so much detail.
Lori, confessing the Lord before men is not a requirement for eternal life. If it were, then salvation would not be by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. It would be by grace through faith plus confessing Christ before men.
If one had to confess Christ to be saved, is it once? Continuously?
And, if a believer becomes confused (like the Galatians), and begins to confess faith in Christ plus works, is he confessing Christ? I would say no.
The Bible clearly teaches that some believers stop believing (Luke 8:13). Still other believers don’t confess Christ because they desire the praise of men more than the praise of God (John 12:42-43).
Matthew 10:32-33 has nothing to do with whether or not someone has eternal life. It has to do with whether or not he will be commended by Jesus at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
You might be interested in reading our interpretation of this passage under our “Difficult Verses” section.
Lori, the people in the church at Galatia were saved. They are called brethren throughout. The people trying to confuse them are not saved. They are called false brethren (2:4).
Thanks for the article link, John! You expressed much of what I was trying to say. I’ve actually never considered that a once-Christ-professing atheist could ever have been truly saved. How does this square with the Lord’s statement in Matt. 10:32-33? “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.”
Thanks for that clarification, John. My guess is that many, if not most, people who object to the teaching of eternal security once they are shown the truth of it from the scriptures, are likely trusting their works for salvation (as I was), and that’s a different gospel. (Btw, what’s your take on those in Galatia who were being confused by the Judaizers? Saved, but later confused? Never saved? A mixture within the congregation, perhaps?) But I have also heard of people who think it’s possible to stop believing, even though they don’t believe that good works play any part in their salvation. I agree that this is a serious error. Still, even if they’re not easily and immediately persuaded otherwise when shown, I think they could be saved, but confused. Or, they may not be saved. Either way, they’re in great need of someone to come alongside them and try to help them see it. I do agree with you that this is an extremely important issue.
Lori, welcome and thanks for your comments.
I think you may have misunderstood one of my previous comments.
I do not think one needs to know about being born again in order to be saved. I think that one is born again when he believes.
Regarding the doctrine of eternal security, it may be possible that someone trusts is Jesus as Savior without having considered the issue of eternal security. If such a person was subsequently taught bad doctrine, then they may believe they can lose their salvation.
However, if I encounter someone who does not believe in eternal security, I don’t assume they are saved. I would try to show them from the Bible why the doctrine of eternal security is true. If they continue to object, it would have to be because they think there is something in addition to believing in Jesus that is required in order to go to heaven.
I have no way of knowing whether someone who is not trusting in Christ alone for eternal life ever did. But, I can’t assume they did.
Please note that someone whose testimony is faith in Christ plus something else is testifying that they don’t believe the gospel now.
The late Jack Weaver and I wrote an article a while back called “Why We Can’t Judge Whether Or Not Someone Possesses Eternal Life.” It is linked below:
Phil, all I meant is that if someone thinks they can lose their salvation due to sin, do they really believe Jesus paid for their sins.
Re: being “born again.” You’ve made illogical leaps, John and Holly. My saying that being born again is not a “required” element in the preaching of the gospel does not equal saying that we are NOT born again when we believe. Nor does it equal saying that Jesus should not have told Nicodemus that he “must be born again.” (That is an unjust conclusion regarding my statements.) We DO need to be born again, and we are – when we believe. And there’s nothing wrong with telling people that fact when you present the gospel — the same with eternal security. In fact, I would commend you for proclaiming both of those truths. But where do you see those two things in the examples of the preaching of the gospel in Acts? Where are they in 1 Corinthians 15? You are confusing the fact that “we must be born again” with the idea that we must KNOW we are being “born again” when we believe, or else we have believed a false gospel. Ditto for eternal security. You are teaching that we must KNOW that we are eternally secure at the moment of believing, or else we have believed a false gospel. If we had to know every spiritual blessing that accompanies salvation at the time we believe, we would have a very long and complicated gospel.
I think there is a misunderstanding here. Not everyone who believes the simple gospel has even THOUGHT about the issue of eternal security.
I am the person Holly is quoting. I grew up in a church that taught baptismal regeneration and that you had to work to keep your salvation. This was in indeed a false gospel! It kept me from being saved until the age of 35 when I finally understood and believed the true gospel. So I am very strongly opposed to any “gospel” that has any works added to it.
Under that false system, if I had been asked if I believed that Christ died for my sins, I would have sincerely answered “yes” – although in fact, I did not believe that Christ had died for ALL of my sins because I believed I had to do works (including refraining from committing too many and/or too many serious sins) to get to heaven. Therefore, without realizing it, I was actually denying that “Christ died for our sins.” I am NOT saying that you can believe that kind of gospel and be saved!
I am speaking of the very common situation where someone hears and believes that Christ the Son of God died for their sins (all of them), was buried, and rose again. They’ve never even THOUGHT about the issue of eternal security. Then, after they are saved, someone tells them that it’s possible for them to stop believing and, as a result of no longer believing, lose their salvation. They get confused because they haven’t been discipled properly.
Are you saying that that person was never saved? Of COURSE it necessarily follows from the gospel that we are eternally secure! But not everyone has your intellect or gift of discernment, Holly. Will you automatically accuse someone of never having believed and been saved – even though they have believed, and do believe, that Christ the Son of God died for (all) of their sins, was buried, and rose again – just because their scriptural understanding and intellectual prowess are not so equal to yours that they haven’t come to the logical conclusion that they are eternally secure? On the other hand, if a person thinks he’s responding to the gospel but that “gospel” includes trusting in his own works to get and/or keep himself saved, then he’s not believing in the true gospel that saves. That was me.
I maintain that it is possible for a person to be saved without knowing about “eternal security” and later begin to worry that he could stop believing and fall away. For this reason, I think it’s very important to teach all believers this doctrine as soon as possible. If someone is confused on this issue, why not ask them some questions to determine what they believed when they were ‘saved?’ You may very well find that they believed a false gospel. Or, you may find that they believed the true gospel in simple childlike faith but did not understand all the implications of it, including that they are eternally secure.
There is a danger in hinging ones salvation on ones understanding. Our faith in Christ as our Savior is what saves us, not the level of our understanding of the doctrines of salvation. There certainly needs to be the validity of Christ’s saving work for us, but the believer at the time of his accepting Christ as Savior may not necessarily be aware that he or she has been born again or regenerated or a new creation…. We should not judge whether a person is saved by the extent of their grasp of all the doctrines of salvation. The thief on the cross may have understood very little about Christ, yet Christ was enough for him and he turned to Him to be saved.
When I was saved in 1975, after reading Romans, I knew that Christ suffered and died for my sins in order to reconcile me to God and that I was eternally saved. At the time I was not even thinking about or connecting Christ’s resurrection to my salvation, yet I believed he did rise from the dead. The fact that I believed that Christ was God and rose from the grave must have been enough for me to trust what he did on the cross to eternally save me. Certainly since then I came to know that his death, burial and resurrection were all key to securing my complete salvation.
A well known TV preacher said he was saved as a boy at a revival and testified, “I don’t know all that Jesus has done to save me: I just know he saved me.”
Paul spends considerable time in his Letters explaining to people who are already saved believers what all is involved in salvation.
Holly, if one doesn’t believe eternal security, then they don’t understand the gospel. They haven’t yet understood what “Christ died for our sins” means.
They may have believed that Christ died and was raised from the dead, but they don’t understand that, in so doing, he took away all of their sins – past, present, and future.
In other words, they may think that Jesus is necesary to go to heaven, but that he is not sufficient.
Therefore, they have not believed the gospel.
We must be born again to have eternal life, that is a fact. There probably are people who understand and believe the gospel, including believing that they are eternally secure,without being aware that they have been born again.
People have begun to separate and also redefine eternal security as equaling their own feelings of security and/or doubts after they are saved. They are separating the free gift from the gospel. One posted Yankee Arnold’s video on Eternal Security is the gospel. Of course to Yankee, Eternal Security means He gives us eternal life and keeps us secure. He saves us from the penalty (eternal death) and it is part and parcel of believing the gospel.
One woman, who interestingly quotes this site and also Tom Cucuzza posted she did not agree. Her friend agreed with her that it was ‘dangerous’ to include eternal security as part of the gospel. This same woman is the one that questioned me, and I asked her, if one has not believed that eternal life is the free gift we receive when we believe (Rom 6:23), what is it they were saved from? She wouldn’t answer.
Her friend said this (which I found so very sad), Just because something is true and is related to the gospel, or Christ, or our salvation, that does not make it a part of the gospel – a requirement that we must believe that truth in order to be saved. For example, we are regenerated, i.e., born again when we are saved. Is that important? You betcha! Is that intricately related to salvation? Of course. Is it part of the gospel? Must a person know about it and believe it to be saved? Nope. And if you were to say they must, you would be adding to what God requires. That is a dangerous thing to do. Ditto for eternal security.
So Jesus likely shouldn’t have told Nicodemus, ‘you must be born again’…. 🙂
I just shake my head and how people miss the obvious fact that if Jesus is not resurrected, neither are we (eternal life) and yes, that is very necessary to the gospel.
Phil, I agree. The simple gospel message is not good enough for a lot of teachers.
By the way, AWANA uses the same picture of a big floating cross in a raging sea showing the cross as a lifeboat crowded with people. The cross being their only rescue and salvation. The only requirement to be saved, whether it is a lifeboat or the cross, is to accept it. i would think VBS programs would employ this picture of the cross-lifeboat as our only salvation in their gospel message. But sadly LS’s have some hoops you have to jump through before you can get to and stay on that lifeboat.
How frightening for these people really, that they are hindering these little ones from coming to the Lord…
Phil, agree. Any program can be altered – and will be – if the people using it are not clear on the gospel.
I also know someone personally who was barred from teaching at an SBC “church” because she was not LS!
I used to be an AWANA leader. It is sort of like VBS except it runs during the school year on a week nights. I was a leader and later a director in it for a couple of years. As far as I could see it promoted purely grace alone doctrines to kids–and that is exactly what I taught my group of 10 and 11 year old boys; that Christ did everything to save you and all you have to do is believe what he did for you plus nothing else. The trouble is that there are churches, like the one I was in, that had AWANA who were LS and taught things like faith involved repentance from sins and changing ones life to be saved. I think some parents would take the grace message that AWANA taught and change it to faith plus this or that, so the kids loose sight of the fact that they are saved by the gospel alone and nothing else.
There are lots of SBC, Bible churches and other LS faith plus works churches that have AWANA and also have grace only VBS programs. Just having grace only programs like these doesn’t guarantee you will have grace only believing kids. The parents, pastors and church leaders can easily change and modify the gospel message in the kids minds.
Mary – If you have talked to them and that’s their excuse, for me personally, I stay away. That’s like Paul saying, “Well Mary, Peter and Barnabas are believers, they are my Christian brethren, and what they preach is not law, they’re just living it when I’m not around and playing the hypocrite. But when they’re with me, they teach the right stuff.”
Can’t imagine that happening. But like you say it’s happening, so many are compromising, and yet others may not know the people they quote, but they should, they have a responsibility to take heed to the doctrine, saving both themselves and their hearers (1 Tim 4:16) — from consequences of course. And yet, pastors introduce the wolves to the flocks as our Christian brethren.
So let’s say they are. So likewise would Paul say, “go ahead and listen to Hymenaeus and Philetus, just not when they’re talking about no resurrection”….?
They have absolutely no Biblical premise to stand on for their compromise.
Just wanting some input, what do we do when pastors say, the grace pastors I am talking about, share their pulpits with former colleagues and pastors who are now moderate Calvanists, but say they don’t teach calvanism, they can give really good sermons, but they would disagree with their calvanism, is this compromise and is it a sin.
I believe these men once heard and believed the true gospel, but have fallen from grace, wouldn’t their messages be confusing and wouldn’t they be doing the double speak, maybe I am too harsh, but aren’t they now in the category of confused false teachers (believers) now.
Also look at their books wouldn’t undiscerning people pick up their books and be poisioned by their calvanism.
The bible says we should mark and avoid them in Romans 16.17, Are they not part of the apostasised believers, i know calvanists and arminianist say if a so called believer apostasises then they were never believers, thats what I was taught and the commentaries all say that.
I thought the bible says we should not put up with false teaching or teachings not even for one hour.
Appreciate your comments, this is going on in a lot of the independent Baptist churches. My previous church has been doing this, I thought a little leaven leavens the whole lump.
I take it back, I found one name, Thom Schultz in Colorado, which also had a picture of their ‘Group’ magazine, with a Roman Catholic iconic Jesus holding up a ‘slow’ sign. It was under ‘groupspartners’ and then ‘get to know us’ which still doesn’t tell anything that isn’t generic.
Alex – I found the same thing as Jude1four, except under staff – no names, under affiliates, it was about sales things, no gospel, no statement of faith (that I could find). If you go to their about/ then jobs or teams it lists other websites and a facebook page where I assume you can find more.
Alex- The VBS program you are referring to is produced by a company called “Group”. My kids do VBS at a local church who uses their programs every year.
Alex, I’m not familiar with that program. It sounds like a pre-fab “kit.”
Have anyone heard about “Everest Adventure Bible Camp”? Google gave only 87 hits. Most hits go back to thebridgemarkham but it isn’t clear if they created the program. There was another link (on some pirate site) that says “Full Download Everest Adventure Bible Camp VIDEO and Games With Gameplay Walkthrough And Tutorial Video HD” but the link had died. I suppose somebody must have published these themed Bible camp materials that churches can just buy a kit and run their own camps. But churches aren’t very good at citing their sources…
Charis, a long time ago, probably over 10 years ago, I prayed for Christian friends. Ones that cared about the truth, honest, transparent, normal. I realize people can’t be as transparent as they’d wish, for our ‘church’ has become an unsafe place in many instances, but I’m thankful that he brings the likeminded together.
Thank you for your comments.
This place truly is an oasis for me 🙂
Johninnc – that was a good post by Ron. Misguided cheerleaders would be about right for believers. Unfortunately so many today identify as ‘Christ followers’, ‘radical disciples’, ‘bondservants’, ‘slaves’, and whatever else term they like to use to draw attention to themselves. Not saying none are sincere, it’s just that I watch as they decimate and ridicule and accuse believers and non-believers alike.
May our example shine a light for some of these poor people, that these ‘disciples’ have trodden under foot.
Charis – I’m so sorry, sometimes I don’t see when someone else has posted, but I am afraid you are right, and for your children’s sake, you probably must get out of there.
I could have saved your pastor a whole lot of time.
If he asked, “How to know if you’re REALLY saved,” I likely would have suggested he read 1 John 5:9-13 and John 20:31, John 3:16-18, 36; 5:24; 6:40, 27.
These men should know better. They have become mini accusers of the brethren… The ONLY answer to that question is “Did you believe God’s Testimony of His Son”? THAT is the only way to know that you have been given eternal life.
The love to use terms like REALLY saved, or TRULY saved or SAVING faith as if their wisdom of words have power vs. the Gospel.
So sorry you are going through this, may the Lord give you and your husband wisdom from His Word and prayer together about it. (1 Thess 5:21; Acts 17:11; 1 John 4:1). Love in Christ, Holly
Charis, welcome and thanks for your comment.
Yes, the gospel is simple, and most of organized religion is there to corrupt people from the simplicity.
2 Corinthians 11:3: But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
We are glad you’re here and welcome you to comment as you feel led.
Holly, you make a great point about shodding our feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace.
Ron Shea has a great writeup about putting on the full armor of God. Please see below:
We believe that the first, and most basic training for believers, is in the clarity of the cross, and the doctrine of salvation.
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
For many years, when I read the above passage, my ears heard it correctly, but my mind heard “Breast plate of holiness.” And I interpreted this verse as a call to holiness.
Certainly, the Bible commands us to be holy. But the fact is, we are not holy. Nor can we be truly holy while we inhabit a body of sin and death. But holiness is not the same as righteousness. Holiness is dependent on how we conduct our lives. We are told to live a holy life. Righteousness, however, is the believer’s legal standing before God in spite of how we live our lives. We are proclaimed “not guilty” or “righteous” not because we have lived a good life, but because the sinful life we have lived was paid for by the death of our Savior. Righteous is a key term in the salvation of mankind. It is the legal declaration when the payment of our sins by our Lord is applied to our own personal account. And “a man is justified by faith, apart from the deeds of the law.” (Romans 3:28). We will take a life time trying to live in the holy manner commanded by our Father. But no believer should enter his second month as a new believer without a clear understanding of the work at the cross by which he was made “righteous” in the sight of God. The doctrine of salvation is the first priority in the discipleship of a new believer.
And when I realized that the reference was to righteousness, and not holiness, I realized something else about this passage: Virtually every item in the Full Armor of God is directed to the gospel message . . . the defense of the gospel message, and the spread of the gospel message.
First and foremost, the discipleship of a believer must root them in Christ crucified . . . the truth and the purity of the message of salvation. If it does not do this, discipleship is little more than misguided cheerleading.
Johninnc and Adam777, I’ve been praying for men to stand fast against compromise, most especially regarding the gospel. I understand that for some reason, some have become wishy washy, and I think a lot of that has to do with people not realizing the importance of putting on their armor daily which includes shodding their feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace. How many don’t realize how important that is?
Or how many are not in the strong meat of His Word (Heb 5:12-14)?
I didn’t realize or remember or practice either of the above. I thank the Lord for His mercy, His chastening, and my hitting bottom…
Every Sunday I leave church (this is a church almost identical to Calvary Chapel in its beliefs) feeling like I need to expunge the entire message from my brain. I did not realize just how steeped this church is in lordship salvation. We’ve been here for over 10 years now. My kids have grown up here. Our friends are here.
This morning featured a sermon on “how to know if you’re REALLY saved.”
After having read through this site and a few others which teach the true gospel, it’s become clear to me where all of my confusion and fear regarding salvation have come from: pastors who do not know how to read the Bible.
I believed in Jesus at a young age, raised in the Catholic church. I believed that he died and then rose from the dead, and because he did this, I can go to heaven. Simple, right? Well, around the age of 12-13, my mom decided to leave RC and become protestant. We then bounced from one denomination to another: evangelical free, Dutch reformed, and a few others I can’t recall. Anyway, I ended up at aged 15 questioning salvation. After all, I was going to these youth meetings with all of these kids “on fire for the Lord!” and me not “feeling” it. I pleaded with God to help me, show me some kind of a sign that he was there. Nothing. Then little by little, I left the church. I went to college and explored things like Buddhism and even Wicca. Through a rather interesting, circuitous route, I ended up at a Methodist church, and simply telling God, “I want to be with you.”
My current pastor would tell me that 1.) I was either not saved as a child and FINALLY came to Jesus as an adult *OR* 2.) I was saved, and then not saved, and then saved again. (I believe he’d lean more toward option #2.)
It’s my belief that I was saved from the beginning, as a little girl who so easily accepted the truth and simplicity of the gospel. (Interesting that this happened while still a Catholic– I had no belief in ANY kind of work for salvation. Jesus died=I go to heaven, totally free.)
The problem is that my kids are old enough now to hear and understand what is being spoken from the pulpit. My oldest tells me he’s confused. Who is he to believe? Me or the youth pastor that he likes and admires?
My husband doesn’t want to leave, even though he does have issues with some things being taught.
I just feel stuck, but I don’t want to rock the boat, so to speak. Stuck and a little bit sick. But I also want to thank you for this site. It’s been such an encouragement to me.
** I realize this post doesn’t exactly follow what the OP intended. Please feel free to move it if necessary.
Adam, I think there are a lot of believers that are part of churches that aren’t very clear on the gospel. They love the Lord and want to witness to others.
Some decide to stay in those environments, despite the error. Others sense something is wrong, but can’t quite “put their fingers on it.” Still others separate and seek the fellowship of people who are crystal clear on the gospel and are passionate about defending it.
I am hopeful that more of the people who are part of churches that compromise the gospel will leave them and join (or form) churches that are faithful with the gospel message.
I have to be candid in that back while I was buying all those tracts and wanting to win souls (I still do very much so) by His Grace, I lacked in discernment and was perhaps a bit naive as to how necessarily deep rooted lordship salvation was in the professing church. My attitude was correct and the desire within me to bear witness for His name’s sake, but I just was perhaps a touch immature and didn’t fully realize the ramifications of handing out a clear Gospel tract by a ministry that otherwise perverts the Truth utterly and grossly.
I obviously now see the reality of what the professing Church thinks it takes to go to heaven, and I like you Johninc, refuse in any way, shape, or form to go along with it to get along with them. In fact, I find myself truthfully at times feeling utter contempt for those people who would pervert the Lord’s only way to Heaven.
Holly, I know you wouldn’t suggest any believer should associate with BGEA.
And, like you said, there is so much information available now to anyone who is willing to take an honest look.
Holly, I know you wouldn’t suggest any believer should associate with BGEA.
And, like you said, there is so much information available now to anyone who is willing to take an honest look.
John, I didn’t mean to suggest that anyone sound should associate with BGEA, maybe some did then, I don’t think a lot back then knew some of the things he said and did, there just wasn’t as much information as readily available as it is now.
No, associations matter, and it only creates confusion and harms those who look up to someone who associates with these men. It cost me greatly in my life.
Maybe Billy Graham himself once understood the gospel, maybe not. And, maybe some of the people in his organization do. But, one has to wonder why people who are clear on the gospel would associate with an organization that is not.
I won’t do it.
Adam777 – there are so many different people working for that organization, there have got to be some who get it right some of the time. Plus, when they use the Word of God, it has power as we know. I always pray those who did come to faith via some of those ministries are just as bold as you to speak about the error. I am not well-received for it, but I do not seek to please them, but my dear Lord, and for the sake of those who do not know Him yet, I want them to hear the truth without a lie staining it.
I think it would have to be so sad to be saved, yet go to your death having deceived others all your life, being deceived, and not ever having assurance because you were bewitched by so many lies of others. I was there, what wasted time. I was free once, bought by my Savior. I didn’t know I was free after awhile, after men’s teachings began to place shackles and weights upon me, and they grew heavier, until I sat there in my condemnation, and didn’t know any longer what my position was in Christ. I am so thankful that He drew me back into obeying to remain in His Word, and abide in Him. It took time to learn, but so grateful for the freedom the truth gives us.
Truth be told, I came to trust in Christ as my Saviour as a child while riding in the back seat of my dad’s car and reading (what I recall was) a Billy Graham Gospel Booklet for children. Nevertheless, I have no problem calling the message he preaches most times these days heretical. People too often it seems allow their emotions and feelings to cloud their dividing of truth from error.
The reason why I said what Billy Graham preaches most times is heretical is because a couple years ago I bought a considerable amount of Gospel tracts, with some having been published by Billy Graham’s group. Unbelievably, a review of those tracts actually revealed that they were 100% accurate, and even used repentance in the correct Biblical context. Curious, I know, considering all the lies he propagates from the pulpit consistently.
John, I always find that quite interesting… friends, family. They call contending for the faith, standing firm for the truth of His Word, ‘quibbling’. They’re offended because Jane is able to use the Word and not stoop to their tactics.
Oh, so she also made heretic status (based on patriarchal-abusive-to-women Bill Gothard)? Well, that makes sense, sounds about right. And these people can’t see the irony of their lack of tender hearts. These people don’t even recognize the gospel anymore because they’ve not prepared with the true gospel from His Word.
Tell her to keep standing firm with the sword of truth.
John John – I missed your post earlier, I love Psalm 118, I believe it also identifies Him as this gate of the Lord into which the righteous shall enter. It is marvelous in our eyes…
Holly, my wife had a childhood friend tell her to never talk to him about faith anymore. He blocked her on Facebook, rebuked her, and said by quibbling with him online she was keeping others from coming to the truth.
He was highly offended by my wife’s insistence that someone completely devoid of any good works could get into heaven if they believed in Jesus as Savior.
He called her a heretic and quoted Bill Gothard: “Truth, carried to an extreme, is heresy.”
I too was told that many had called to ‘complain about me and threaten to not return if I spoke about him again’. (In a Bible study).
It’s the way that people stop their ears, by threatening. People, especially those who think they came to Christ because of Billy Graham, that is extremely threatening to them.
I usually ask them what the gospel is, and I find that the biggest problem we have in churches, is those who do know Christ have not shod their feet with the preparation of gospel of peace daily, which is why they have forgotten…
“What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not BY FAITH, but as it were BY THE WORKS OF THE LAW. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.”—Romans 9:30-33That’s it right there. A superficial reading of Scripture could lead one to think God expected Israel to pursue righteousness as if by works of the law, and ditto Christians. Yet it was HE who laid the Stumbling Stone!”This is the LORD’S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.”—Psalm 118
shouldnt be any question where he stands now.thats works for salvation any way you slice it
Jude, thank you for confirming what we knew about Billy Graham’s LS.
In a church-Bible study that we attended here in Australia about 2 years ago, when I mentioned that Billy Graham is an ecumenical false teacher(publicly confessed that he has no problem with Catholicism, Mormonism in his interview with Larry King), I nearly got my head bitten off by others in the Bible study: how dare I criticise that great man of God when so many people around the world got saved because of Graham’s evangelistic crusades?
No discernment on their part, but we are accused of being ‘judgemental’ and unnecessarily critical.
Jude, Billy Graham seems to be getting more ardent in his LS.
Thanks for the warning.
I realize that most people on this site are aware that Billy Graham is a wolf but I came across one of his tracts on “The New Birth” and was disgusted with the utter heresy that was listed on it and felt the need to post it in a public forum to warn others. Here is what the Billy Graham tract said:
“There are only two conditions for the new birth: repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. You should confess that you are a sinner; you must experience sorrow for your sins and for your transgressions of the law of God; you must forsake your sin, and then receive Christ as your Saviour and Lord. To receive Christ means much more than to believe in him. It means that you must follow Christ, and make Him the Master over your body, mind and soul.”
This is so off the mark it seems like JW propaganda. Anyway I just felt the need to share this to warn anyone who may think that Billy Graham is a minister go the gospel. He is not.
Flint – what town do you teach in? We are in the same situation on our Tuesday night class. Glad to hear others are out there of a like mind. I’ll try to remember you in prayer as we have our Tuesday study. In Christ.
Flint, welcome and thanks for your comment.
I have prayed for you and your Tuesday night class.
More and more I am coming to believe that organized churches and church type organizations are lost causes and have settled into the false gospel of works. The pastors coming out of seminary are a joke and our churches are a joke.
I started teaching Hebrews last night at a Bible Study and after it was over we were all talking. Someone was talking about the issues in the USA and how Christians need to do something. I made the comment that I am not called to save the US I am called to present Jesus Christ and the salvation that is found in Him. I am all for voting and praying for our leaders and if God calls you to run for office do so but we must remember that our citizenship is in heaven. A person then said the way things are going there wont be any more churches. My response was – So What! The church is not a bunch of buildings or ministries. Its the body of Christ.
So few churches or organizations are presenting the true Gospel of Grace. If I were to hazard a guess I bet it is less then 10%. I stay in the church I am at now only to be a light. I have given up on Christian radio for the most part. It seems that even those teachers who I would consider free grace seem to compromise by speaking with false teachers like John Mac. Believers are not being taught the Word.
If you think of it please pray for me on Tuesdays as I teach in the evenings. I just finished James. When you understand the difference between salvation and discipleship it really makes teaching Gods Word exciting!!
Thanks again for this website.
Excellent hyperbole. Good humor is always rooted in the truth John! When sending kids to camp parents worry about the food, the safety, the kids cabin mates, if the counselor’s are experienced enough to handle emergencies, etc. Even more important is they type of gospel that will be fed to these little camping ‘sponges’. What they hear in these relaxed, fun environments will stay with them for a long, long time.
Q: Do you think Jesus thought children important to the Kingdom?
A: “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.” Luke 18:17
He not only finds children worthy of salvation, He uses them as an example for all of us on the SIMPLICITY of His gospel message and how our hearts should respond to His salvation message: like children. Beautiful. Perfect. God be praised!
Adam777, yes, and he seems to love to do as he did in Matthew 4 and take Scriptures out of context, and add them to what God has said….
Satan is a liar, a deceiver, a murderer… he is prowling about, seeking those he may devour. Praying we may pull some from the fire.
The Lord Jesus Christ says:
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life”. John 6:47
“Yea, hath God said……?”. Genesis 3:1(b)
Scooter I’m with you, I believe completely they are not of human origin, but of their father (John 8:44).
Alex great observation… “whey they can’t get around God’s standard, they immediately lower it”, how true, very insightful. I do have to confess I have to love the antinomian label for MacArthur….
Bryan – that would be great, I hope you make sure they can go!
Keith – there was a fruit inspector today on FB, you won’t believe this, but he literally said none of his 2000 + friends had the Holy Spirit. Not one (it was like 2361). I had to be amazed that it didn’t on him that he was the only one left of all the people he knew to judge himself as unsaved….
Jude1four, great answers, appreciated reading.
Keith, welcome and thanks for your comment.
I agree. The LSer either fails to realize – or has forgotten – that one must be perfect to enter into heaven, and that one must rely on Christ’s perfection.
As the above quotes from the Bible Boot Camp section of the heretical website demonstrate, if anyone is guilty of antinomianism, it is the LSer since he believes that sinless perfection in a professing believer’s life is not required to get to heaven as long as he is “striving for maturity” or sin is not “habitual” or a “continuing pattern”, whatever that means.
Scooter, welcome and thanks for your comment.
It’s amazing how many variations of works for salvation there are. May we put on the full armor of God and fend off the subtle attacks as well as the not so subtle!
“Immaturity is normal, but the immature move on, they grow. Lack of growth is a sign of death/no life/no salvation.”
Hebrews 5:12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
Hebrews 3:1Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;
It’s amazing how people can just make up these doctrines. Then again, we have to wonder if these doctrines are even of human origin (1 Timothy 4:1)
Lord willing, I plan to take my 2 girls, 8 & 7 to junior camp at the Grace Farm in Dewy Rose, GA. A camp for young kids that was founded by Freddie Coile, a Florida Bible College Alumni. It’s just a 3 hour drive for us.
I notice when they can’t get around the logical consequence of their heresy – i.e., sinless perfection – they invariably lower God’s standard to “characterized by holiness”, “pattern of holiness”, “lifestyle of holiness”, “striving for holiness”, etc.
I have read people (probably from some “holiness movement”) who actually claim JM is an antinomian because based on his teaching if one doesn’t have to be perfect, one tiny little fruit would have to be enough to “prove” one’s salvation! XD
Jude, thanks for your comment.
These guys are basically saying that you have to try to keep some of the law in order to be saved.
The Bible is clear that salvation through keeping some of the law is not an option.
John- I looked up the website you referenced and it’s clear that they are a John MacArthur style Calvinist/lordship salvationist heretic ministry. Below are excerpts from the “we believe” tab of their website. My reply is below each one.
“…that because of that imputed sin and corruption, every human being is totally depraved in every aspect of his being, is completely inclined to evil, and is by nature unable to do good, or seek God or salvation.”
My comment: If men can’t seek God, why does God tell us to seek him repeatedly in his word?
“And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us” (Acts 17:26-27).
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).
“And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).
“And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Luke 11:9)
“…that those who have been united with Christ through repentant faith are new creations who are free from sin’s control and hungry for righteousness.”
My comment: Why does Paul say tell the saints in Rome not to let sin reign in their mortal bodies if it is not possible for a believer to be controlled by his sin nature?
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. (Romans 6:12 KJV)
…that God’s election of an individual to eternal life is of God’s free and holy purposes and is absolutely apart from anything foreseen in man.
My comment: The inspired apostle Peter says that election is according to God’s foreknowledge of those he knew would trust him for salvation.
-Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. (1 Peter 1:2 KJV)
…that faith is the gracious gift of God involving the knowledge of, complete trust in and serious commitment to Jesus Christ as one’s Sin-bearer and Master.
My comment: God’s gift is eternal life in the form of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? (Luke 11:13 KJV)
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23 KJV)
Sorry for the lengthy post but it just pains my to see the Lordship Salvation doctrines engulfing the vast majority of Christendom and I wanted to do my part to expose these false teachings using the Word of God.
Just had to add the corinthians had the gifts of the spirit so why how would they receive them if they were not saved?
Princess, I’m not really familiar with them.
I looked on their website at an online gospel tract called “The Gospel.”
It was a decent presentation, with the possible exception of the following: “Will you believe in Jesus today? You can tell God that you know you have sinned and are sorry.”
My comment: Sorrow for sin is not a necessary condition for receiving eternal life. This kind of confuses that issue.
There is also a focus on testimonials that draws attention to life change as evidence of salvation. Following is a quote:
Ezekiel is an eight year old boy whom teachers described as extremely troublesome. “His home environment made him stubborn and mischievous.” However, since two Good News Clubs have started in that school, Ezekiel has never missed a club and the power of God through the gospel message has changed his life. The teachers now see Ezekiel as a bright spot in this school of so many troubled children. As a result one teacher declared, “There is hope for all children.” Praise God he has given hope for eternity to every child in every nation every day!
My comment: Does Ezekiel share in the responsibility for his stubbornness and mischievousness? If his home environment had been more wholesome, would he have needed Christ? If his behavior had already been good, would he have needed Christ? Are there children who are well-behaved who are not saved? If so, how would you describe what happened to them if they were to believe in Jesus as Savior?
Has Ezekiel believed in Christ as his Savior? It never says so. What if Ezekiel starts to misbehave again? Is God’s power somehow diminished?
I was wondering if you know about Child Evangelism Fellowship & their materials?
Holly, the quotes were from a website not necessarily targeted to children. However, you are right that the purveyors of this bile are wolves.
Partial commitment to Christ required to be saved? Partial obedience? So, that means that one must commit to obey at least some of law in order to be saved?
Alan, you may be right that Lordship “salvationists” tend to give children a pass. And yet, we have seen books, tracts, etc. with LS messages specifically targeted to children.
Once children become conditioned to trust an LS ministry, they will be more susceptible as teens to swallow their false doctrine.
I wonder why the Holy Spirit when He inspired Paul to write to the Corinthians continually called them beloved sons, beloved brethren, dearly beloved, brethren, brother, sister, saved, etc.? Why did He not tell them they weren’t assured of being children of God?
These people are wolves, and people are letting these false prophets teach their children… Lord help the little ones.
John, I agree that parents should be diligent and examine carefully the gospel message that is being presented to their young, impressionable children. However, I think the greatest danger of deception comes in the teen years. Lordship salvationists tend to give little children a pass, but they can be quite brutal and ruthless when it comes to teens. They give little credence to childhood evangelism and assume that those who express any rebellious streak later were never “really” saved as children. It breaks my heart to think many of them will be exposed to the likes of David Platt and Francis Chan, with the result being total devastation of their assurance and an endless struggle to find acceptance from God through their performance.
I saw a video once in which David Platt claimed that a person can believe the facts about the Gospel (that Jesus died for his or her sins and that He rose again) and still be lost. Incredibly, his logic was that, well, Satan believes all the facts about the Gospel and he’s not saved!
Holly, I found the following on a heretical website under “Bible Boot Camp: Lesson 10: The Lordship of Christ”:
Those who claim Jesus as their Lord are saying that they recognize and submit to Christ’s authority. They are committed to fulfilling the requirements of a disciple of Christ–denying oneself and willingly obeying Christ.
Question: Is there any difference between a believer and a disciple? Is discipleship required of all believers, or is discipleship a higher, optional level of commitment? Believers are disciples. There’s no difference. What the Bible requires of disciples it requires of all believers. One cannot say, “I’m a believer but not a disciple.”
Those who claim to be saved and are disobedient are liars and not saved. Whoever claims to be saved must be Christ-like. We’re not talking about sinless perfection, but striving for maturity. Immaturity is normal, but the immature move on, they grow. Lack of growth is a sign of death/no life/no salvation.
Also note that one’s lifestyle can contradict his profession of faith. That is, if the evidence in one’s life is not consistent with what should be evident in a Christian’s life, he should not assume that his faith is genuine. One’s lifestyle will either confirm or deny his profession of faith.
Question: What about the so-called “carnal” Christian? Paul uses this term to describe those who professed to be saved yet were living ungodly lives, just like unsaved people (1 Cor 3:1-4Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)). The word “carnal” simply means “fleshly,” suggesting that which is controlled by the old nature, the flesh (as opposed to the Spirit). Based on this, some have suggested that one can be a genuine Christian and yet live an ungodly, carnal life for years on end. However, we should probably not think of the “carnal Christian” as a legitimate category of believer. If one’s faith is genuine, he will not persist in a worldly, ungodly lifestyle, but he will be transformed and sanctified as he submits to God’s work in his life. True believers persevere in faith and in good works, not in rebellion and worldliness. Those who fail to give evidence of a transformed life are not just carnal; they’re not saved. One cannot use the excuse “Sorry, but I’m just a carnal Christian” to justify his ungodliness. We’re not saying that it’s impossible to backslide, but that a true believer’s life will not be characterized by ungodliness, at least not as a long-term pattern of life.
Question: We know that Jesus is the Lord and that believers must recognize Jesus’ right to rule over them. However, there is some debate regarding whether or not one must acknowledge the Lordship of Christ at the point of salvation. Some say that salvation occurs without the necessity of recognizing any aspect of Jesus’ claim of authority over one’s life. That is, one can be saved without any intent or desire to follow the Lord in obedience or loyalty. However, the general teaching of the NT is that the faith one exercises at the point of salvation must include at least some degree of commitment to Christ as one’s Lord. Virtually nobody makes a perfect, total commitment of his life to Christ at the point of salvation; few make such a commitment after salvation, for that matter. But the convert must understand that becoming a disciple of Christ requires submission to him. The NT presents Jesus as both the Savior and the Lord, and that is how we must present him to others. The other side of this argument is what I call “easy-believism,” which claims that no more than simple acknowledgement of the facts is required for salvation–no repentance, no commitment–a simple recognition that Jesus is the Savior. I disagree with this position.
My comment: This is not Christianity. This is works for salvation.
Oh Johninnc, how terribly sad but true. I am so thankful I have been able to go back with my kids and hopefully clear up the error they have been taught at these very camps, these stereo-typical teachings of doctrines of men…