Making sin personal

Lately I have had a lot of opportunities to speak with Christians about what they would say to me if I were not a Christian, and I am getting rather frustrated at the painfully generic (or altogether absent) message that is being presented back to me.

I have been told to “just believe”… what does that mean?  Is that it? Then I was told, “The bible says that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).  Great!  So what do I do with Matthew 7:21– “Not everyone that says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven…”  Didn’t they call Him Lord? Doesn’t it seem obvious that they believed He was resurrected from the dead?

The problem is, to understand Romans 10:9, you have to understand what the Bible says about a person before that point. More specifically, that people are wretched sinners and they need a savior. So, Christians run to Romans 3:23– “for all have sinned”.

The problem is, the world is perfectly fine with being called sinners. This is because the world has changed the definition of what sin is. Unregenerate people will say, “we all have made mistakes”, or “nobody’s perfect” and they twist sin to be mistakes and oops moments, or “learning experiences”. The Christian has to understand that sins are vile crimes against God. Everyone who sins is a fist shaking rebel against God and deserves hell for their crimes.

After hearing that I have heard non-Christians so many times say- “if that is true, then NOBODY is going to be in heaven!” They don’t understand the Holiness of God. They have no clue about His justice and His hatred toward sin.

Most people have a “group” mentality. They think, I’m not as bad as most people, and this type of generic language I keep hearing fosters that thinking.  The reality is, on judgment day, that person will be standing alone before God, filled with wrath for the crimes that person had commited.

That is why we need to make sin PERSONAL, because it is personal. People need to be shown that when they sin, it is a personal offense against the creator of the universe. James 4:9 wrote that we need to come to God mourning and weeping over our sins, letting our joy and laughter be turned to gloom and sorrow.

When a person is broken, surrendering themselves to Jesus, dieing to themselves, then Romans 10:9 takes on a whole new meaning and understanding Matthew 7:21 falls right into place. But the ground work has to be laid first. Only a contrite heart will truly cry out to Jesus as Lord and that person’s hope will rest in resurrection of Christ that he has put his trust in.

I don’t see ANY personal conviction of sin in any of the recent conversations I have had or tracts I have seen.  Let me challenge you to look at the way you present the Gospel and the tracts you hand out. Do they present generic ideas of sin and belief, or do they explain what sin is and what true trust and repentance is?


Published in: on March 26, 2009 at 8:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Problem with Romans Road Evangelism

I recently had the privilege to sit down with a pastor from a church I was visiting and a few people in his congregation. In speaking with them, they told me that that they use “Romans Road” evangelism to reach the lost. The main thrust of Romans Road is Romans 3:23 -For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  This is a very popular evangelism method, so I wanted to put my thoughts out there and get feedback on what you think about using this method.

I have long thought that there was something missing from this method, and I believe a recent witness encounter clarifies this problem the problem that I have with it.

One day last week I had a service technician at my home and I asked him what he believed… What happens when we die? He answered me with, “I believe in Jesus, and God. I believe that there is Heaven and Hell and purgatory…”  He said, “I’m not really religious and I backslid for awhile, but I still believe in that stuff. I don’t go to church though.”

So he was a backsliding, non-practicing, Catholic who has an intellectual belief in God. So I probed a little deeper and asked him, “How do you see yourself? Would you say that you are a wretched sinner?”

To that he said, “Well, we have all made mistakes… I mean, no one is perfect, right? But I think God understands that we are human. He is a forgiving God.”

And in his own words, he quotes Romans 3:23, but then he reveals the problem with using this verse alone to try and bring conviction of sin. This man did not himself against God’s righteousness, but twisted scripture to compared himself to the rest of the world.

He may have had a “general” understanding of sin, but he did not see himself as a sinner in the biblical sense,as a guilty criminal before God. He needed a PERSONAL conviction of sin and if you read a few verses back, Romans 3:19-23, you will see that it is the Law of God that brings the correct understanding of sin.

But we know that whatever things the Law says, it says to those who are under the Law; so that every mouth may be stopped and all the world may be under judgment before God, because by the works of the Law none of all flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law is the knowledge of sin. But now a righteousness of God has been revealed apart from Law, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets; even the righteousness of God through the faith of Jesus Christ, toward all and upon all those who believe. For there is no difference, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God…

In context, the purpose for Romans 3:23 is that no one is left out of the penatrating gaze of God’s Law. All are guilty before him. It seems that verse 3:19 needs to be our main thrust, not 3:23.

One question that you may have is, do I ever use Romans 3:23 in my witness encounters? And the answer is yes, but only in the situation when someone believes that they have not sinned or if they think they are going to skip judgment somehow. But it is always used in conjunction with their guilt under the Law.


Published in: on March 18, 2009 at 2:49 pm  Comments (15)  

Beth Moore- A review of “Stepping Up”

Awhile back I posted an article on judging our teachers and in it I identified a few points that are red flags before we jump head-first into a ministry.  In that article, I examined Beth Moore and her testimony that I found in Christianity Today.

I received a few emails telling me I was wrong and a clear testimony could be heard in her “Daniel” or “Stepping Up” video series, so I watched “Stepping Up” and would like to give you my thoughts as objectively as a I can.

The first thing you notice is that Beth Moore is PASSIONATE. No question about it.  She also has a lively personally which draws people to her. She is like the ultimate motivational speaker.  She is funny and expressive which makes her enjoyable to listen to. She exalts God as well as Christ and does not lack in praise and worship.

The background for this 6 hour study was the Psalms of ascents (Psa 120-134). These were songs that pilgrims sang when traveling to the three yearly feasts.  The first hour was about how important songs are to us. The problem is that songs quickly tend to manufacture emotions and get people pumped up on superficial feelings.  When the person makes a “decision”, it may the music moving in them and not God. Another problem is that too much of our Christian music is severely lacking in sound theology. Most of it is encouraging “feel good” music. I think this is an important difference of opinion, but most definitely a secondary issue.

One of the topics that is she relates to is bondage to sin, but the overtones are not being a rebel against God, but more like a victim of sin. She said that she was miserable in that cycle of sin, and she would repent, but she didn’t know how to get out of that hole. There is almost a theme of being oppressed by our circumstances, not willful rebellion against a Holy God. She mentioned God’s wrath in this series, but she said that God is coming back and people are going to have to answer for the things they have done TO YOU.

In her second session about 3 quarters of the way through, she presents the Gospel to her audience. This is THE most important message we have as Christians. If she is not clear and on target with the Gospel, then nothing else matters. I listened… and waited

Unfortunately, it was very disappointing.  This is the Gospel she presented…

This is the simplest process you have been invited to take. Simply coming to the cross of Christ and saying, I just don’t believe that You did it for everyone, I accept that You did it for me. By grace and grace alone I receive this gift. I want to walk Your path. I want to fulfill the destiny, in You, that You have had for me since before the foundation of the world. Come into my life Holy Spirit, You will never leave me or forsake me… and it’s done. And it’s done. Sealed until you see Him face to face- He’s never getting out, no matter what you do. You can try and get rid of Him and you cannot make Him go away. Believe you me, if you could, I would have done it. Take a deep breath of absolute assurance and absolute certainty. … You’ve got to know that you know that you know that you belong to Christ, no matter how you feel. Tomorrow morning you may awaken and say, “I don’t feel any different”. Well it doesn’t have anything to do with how you feel, does it girls? It has to do with what you know to be true, and you know that God is faithful to do what he promised and if you invited His Son into your life, He is there, and He is there to stay.

Her audience needed to hear that they had broken God’s Law, that everyone in that audience, and at home, were guilty criminals before God. Beth needed to allow her audience to weep over their sins before being brought to the cross. Her presentation, you will not find any mention of sin, Hell, judgment to come, repentance or the Law of God… the very thing that Paul says is a schoolmaster that leads us to Christ. People need personal conviction of sin, and she told them to repeat an incantation, a magical phrase. She then prompted them to more of an intellectual belief in Christ rather than total surrender.

I want you to notice something else. Beth says that it is not about feeling different, and that is true, but what she left out is that it is all about BEING different. Being saved is a radical change. The concept of being born again is like being run over by a Mac truck. Your thoughts, your desires, your very nature would have been crucifed with Christ. You may not feel different the next day, but unless there is a new creature standing where the old sinful man stood, then you are not saved.

Beth does mention repentance in her study, and she talks about what a sinner she is, but I would like to see something deeper from her on these issues.

The way she talked about repentance, it was saying “I’m sorry” to God every day. I want to know if she thinks repentance is also the one time turning from sin, forsaking it, and turning to God, that happens at salvation. I know that as Christians we all still sin,  but apologizing to God and turning from sin are two different things.

And she does calls her self a sinner, but I have close family members who call themselves sinners and then turn right around and say, “I don’t deserve Hell! No one deserves Hell!” There are also countless Catholics who call themselves sinners that believe in work righteousness and will end up in their sins on judgment day.  Saying she is a sinner does not give me an insight to her theology in this area.

She also says in her study that she will NEVER talk condemnation talk to any of her girls. She then talked about not being able to take the next step if we continue to be carnal. It sounds like she believes that someone can be living in sin and still be a Christian. If that is true, then this is really bad teaching. I thought of this again when she talked about people living “totally disobedient to God” and then said, “I’m not coming down with condemnation on anyone…”  If she believes that a sincere prayer saves a person, then she would not be able to tell the sheep from the goats. I would be interested in knowing what she would say about someone like Ray Boltz. I suspect it would be something like “only God can judge his sincerity.”

She mentioned a girl in Africa she was ministering to and she said that the girl, who claimed to be a Christian, contracted AIDS, but Beth did not say how she got the disease. The girl waited until the last possible moment to tell her family and they said to her, “You are no longer one of God’s children.” Beth gave a strong answer to that, which was,  “THAT IS A LIE!”  The problem is that the audience is not given any more information, so the audience is led to believe that she was a Christian no matter what kind of fruit she was bearing. She could have been a career prostitute, but don’t dare question her salvation.

She also talked about encouraging one another and she gave some examples like, “That is a beautiful handbag” and “Girl, your hair looks fabulous!” I don’t think that is the type of encouragement that Jesus or Paul had in mind. In fact, that plays more to pride and self esteem. When I think of biblical encouragement, I think more of something like, “Do not rejoice that demons are subject to you, but rejoice that your name is written in heaven!”

On a positive note, Beth talked about being forgiving one another and being more loving and more gracious to each other. From my viewpoint, she was right on the money with these.

Overall, I did learn a lot about the 3 feasts and there were some valuable information in her session, but the focus was too often on my blessing, my healing, my joy, my encouragement, my pain, my weariness, my healing… it was very man centered at times and I am sure that there plenty of women that feel fantastic after her studies. I could be very wrong about some of her theology, but there was nothing good in her Gospel presentation. This series needed the Law of God and it was no where to be found.


Published in: on March 11, 2009 at 1:16 am  Comments (43)