Studies in Perfectionism by Benjamin Warfield

Warfield, Benjamin B., Studies in Perfectionism. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1958. 464 pages.

  1. B. Warfield is known as one of the major exponents of the Reformed view of theology. He studied at what is now Princeton University and Seminary, graduating from the later in 1876. He taught first at Leipzig, Germany but was later the successor to Archibald Alexander Hodge as professor of Systematic Theology at Princeton Seminary. He died in 1921. During his life he earned several distinguished degreesHe wrote theology profusely. This book was taken from the original ten volume series of Warfield works first published by Oxford University Press which has been popular for years as a corpus of his writings.

    The original work, Studies in Perfectionism, included material on “German rationalists as Ritschl, Wernle, Clemen, Pfleiderer, and Windisch.” For the use of the present audience this one thousand page work was truncated by excluding this material. The study’s foci is on such men and movements as Asa Mahan, Charles Grandison Finney, Hannah Whitehall Smith, the Oberlin teaching, the Higher Life teaching, the Fellowship movement, Keswick, and the Victorious Life movement, mostly as they appear in English-speaking countries.

    Perfectionism is a phenomenon which, if dealing exclusively in the Christian context, has appeared in Catholic, Arminian/Weslyan, Quaker and Quietists circles. It has been most prominently displayed in the Keswick and Victorious Life movement. The predominate theme of Warfield is that sin is under-evaluated and under-appreciated by these perfectionists, and that sin consists of any failure to conform to the law of God. In Warfield’s view, the perfectionists discussed have a theoretical rather than actual perfectionism. Salient arguments and a great deal of vital history make this a most useful book.

    “Perfectionism was first given standing in the Protestant churches through the teaching of John Wesley, although he himself never claimed perfection.”2 Warfield’s initial concern, however, is with the Oberlin College situation and the two men, Asa Mahan and Charles G. Finney, and the development of what is called “Oberlin Theology.” His evalution?—”The cold, Pelagian system of the new divinity has been attached to the engine of fanaticism.”3 This “New Divinity” emphasis on the ability of man stood in direct opposition to the teachings of Jonathan Edwards which had predominated prior to this time. In its earliest days the Weslyan perfectionistic view took hold at Oberlin. A second stage of the Christian life was called by the different names of “entire sanctification,” “holiness,” Christian perfection,” and sometimes “the baptism of the Holy Ghost.”

    Finney’s theological perspective was largely shaped by the Congregationalist N. W. Taylor. A distinctive aspect of this perfectionism is that “what is taught is a perfection that consists in complete righteousness, but in a righteousness which is adjusted to fluctuating ability.”4 A person is not responsible for righteousness beyond what he knows that perfection to be.

    As their perfectionism developed a more serious “sea change” occurred, centered around the doctrine of “the simplicity of moral action.” The end result was that Finney and the Oberlin Theology taught that man was either entirely holy or entirely sinful in each and every action. There could be no mixed actions. The doctrine turned further into the message that a man “to be a Christian at all must be perfect: and the concern of the Christian is not to grow more perfect, but to maintain the perfection which belongs to him as a Christian and in which, not into which, he grows. What, then, he seeks after is not holiness—he has that. Nor more holiness than he has—if he has any he has all. What he seeks after is ‘establishment.'” 5 This shift leaves no room for two classes of Christians, a view which was first held by these Oberlin theologians.

    Finney’s Pelagianism is seen in his belief that the Christian “is justified no further than he obeys, and must be condemned when he disobeys.”6 This means that the person continues to move between justification and damnation depending on their obedience. Finney taught as well that atonement had nothing to do with the Augustinian system of imputation by which the sinner is justified even though a sinner. “The penitent soul remains justified no longer than this full-hearted consecration continues.”7 Additional doctrines of the Oberlin system and Finney are drawn upon by Warfield to establish the Pelagian underpinning of their theology.

    Coming back to the Weslyan influence on sanctification, Warfield lays out the life of W.E. Boardman and the Pearsall Smiths. Mr. Boardman wrote the definitive beginning book on sanctification, however poorly written, entitled, The Higher Christian Life. Mrs. Smith wrote the most popular holiness book of all time, The Christian Secret of the Happy Life. Though she had discovered her views through Methodism, she recalled that she had first heard them in her Quaker circles. In this she rejoiced. She remained a Quaker all of her life.

    The “higher life” is built upon the double conversion theory, dividing justification from sanctification. The later is obtained as the former through an act of faith. The product of the later is rest in Christ and the complete victory over sinning, hence the inclusion in this book on perfectionism. There are two kinds of Christians in this movement, the sanctified and the merely justified. One is supposedly freed from the guilt of sin in the first conversion and the power of sin in the other.

    Boardman, the Smiths, and the Oberlin faction of perfectionism, among many others, come together in the great Oxford Union Meeting in England in the later quarter of the 19th century for an historic gathering. They are alike in this: they all want perfection and they all believe that it comes, not by work, but by faith. There is this also which distinguishes them: they give a very large place to the will. It is the strong place of the will in choosing to allow the perfection work of Christ to take place.

    The Smiths taught that man could sin constantly even though a Christian. But, when they choose to abide in Christ, then there was perfect rest and holiness. This is perfectionism, though not in constancy—only as the will is operative to abide in Christ.

    They also stressed the place of faith in opposition to works in sanctification. In other words, contrary to the Reformed position which give the law a continued use and obedient works a rightful place, the “higher life” teaching puts all its emphasis on faith. It is “resting, not working” that is the principle.

    It is interesting to note, as a sideline, that Mrs. Smith was a universalist in her view of salvation, but this does not show up in her holiness teaching.8 And it is of even greater interest for our discussion that Mahan and the Smiths were together in the formation of the Keswick movement which continued this same two-tiered life of the believer.

    Warfield discusses the German Fellowship movement and the Victorious Life movement with Charles Trumbull in largely the same vein. The purveyor of the later was the Sunday School Times which was edited by Trumbull and by Robert McQuilken. Here again we have the motif of “let go and let God”. Trumbull goes in some ways even further by saying, “It is not your faith. You have no faith in you, any more than you have life or anything else in you…You have to take His faith as well as His life and healing, and have simply to say, ‘I live by the faith of the Son of God.’…It is simply Christ, Christ alone.”9

    This book hits the nerve of modern evangelicalism. I have often seen the encroachment of the higher life movement in America’s view of revival, for instance. It is most disconcerting to find that, for the most part, those who host conferences on revival do so with the intention of promoting the “deeper life” view of things. In other words, most of such meetings more or less become extended “deeper life” conferences. My suspicion is that many of the religious leaders in evangelicalism today were affected heavily by the resurgence of this sort of teaching in the seventies and believe that coming back to it in force will bring some of the joys they experienced when younger. I consider this a grave mistake.

    Some might contend that what Warfield was addressing in the later part of the book on the “higher life” is not related to the subject of perfectionism. Yet it is germane. Today we might call such movements “semi-perfectionism.” We would see that the idea of the purveyors of this sort of thing believe that man is somehow suspended above two types of living—the one carnal, the other spiritual. As long as the spiritual is operative, that is, Christ through the believer, then there is perfect rest and victory over sin. In this way Christ works through you, and He works perfectly because of His nature. This is a transient state, however, for when the carnal, or merely natural human aspect of our being is in charge, the result is entirely selfish and sinful. Here we can see the results of the Oberlin teaching and the “higher life” teaching. This entire holiness or entire sinfulness is directly descending from Finney’s view of the “the simplicity of moral action” stated above. The suspended will theory is more akin that of the Smiths and the Keswick people. I have personally espoused this view in former days and can vouch for its inaccuracies and frustrations.

    For Warfield there is the knowledge that it is God’s intention to sanctify with whatever means He chooses. He will do that with every person who is his without need for a second “conversion” (cf. Heb. 12:14; 1 Thess. 5: 18, etc.). Sanctification is not ultimately dependent upon our will, but God who promises “He will do it” (1 Thess. 5: 19). The believer progresses in his sanctification, aggressively disciplining his life because God is in him working to perform His will (Phil. 2: 12-13).

    In the overall look at this kind of perfectionism seen today, we can observe the following; 1. There is a lack of appreciation for the place of the demands of God through the law. For Warfield, an understanding and appreciation of the moral law is needed. Instead, everything is adjusted in terms of the law so that rectitude is not adherence to the law precisely, but to whatever we interpret to be the highest state. There is a vast difference. In other words, these perfect people are not really perfect, except in relation to their own perception of perfection.

    2. The “higher life” teaching produces a certain passivity. In “letting go and letting God” all of the Bible’s commands are not brought to bear on the believer’s life. All he is concerned about is relaxing in Jesus.

    3. The “higher life” teaches a two-tiered view of the Christian life which is unbiblical. The carnal life mentioned in relationship to the believer in 1 Corinthians 3 is largely misunderstood and has damaged many. Because we teach that one can be saved without sanctification, masses of unconverted church members are lulled to sleep and end up in hell. The Bible teaches that “without holiness, no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12: 14). This teaching abuses the doctrine of perseverance.

    4. This type of teaching creates a lack of self-examination about one’s state with God. One is admonished to look away from themselves to Christ for sanctifying life . As in most theories, there is some measure of truth in that thought, but the Bible also enforces the need to look at ourselves seriously and to take responsibility for sin.

    This is a seminal book on the subject of perfectionism and is apropos to our day. In fact, it is almost uncanny, just how appropriate it is, though written almost a century ago.

 

Scotland Saw His Glory edited by Richard Owen Roberts

Roberts, Richard Owen, editor, Scotland Saw His Glory. Wheaton, Illinois: International Awakening Press, 1995. 351 pages.

Richard Owen Roberts, President of International Awakening Ministries, has taken out-of-print sources to compile this book. One source was issued in a limited edition of only thirteen copies; the earliest source is dated 1743. No information is given on the lives of the authors. He claims no originality; the works he uses are fully incorporated, with almost no quoting. He mixes and complements the six primary sources to accomplish his purposes.

It is of note to mention that Robert’s own personal library on revival is one of the largest in the country, and that he also helped build Wheaton’s revival collection into the thousands of volumes. Mr. Roberts is known throughout the United Kingdom and the United States for his work in historic revival.

The book is a chronology of major revival events and personalities in Scotland from the reformation days of the fiery John Knox in the 1500’s to the visit of the evangelists Moody and Sankey in the 1800’s. The survey stops in the nineteenth century due to the sources chosen, all of which were written before the stirrings of revival in the 50’s on the Isle of Lewis.

Scotland has seen the glory of God! The recurring revival waves built what was at one time a mighty witness in Scotland. The beginning wave was Reformation itself, a movement of life and spiritual verve and associated with Knox the Reformer. There were, of course, other men, such as Patrick Hamilton, George Wishart, William Cooper, and the larger-than-life John Welsh, who were sixteenth century men of note. But all revivals cool at some point and another shower must refresh the soil. This first happened when the participants of the Reformation were now up in years, through the ministry of John Davidson. In 1596 at St. Giles in Edinbugh the pastors of the nation met in a solemn assembly under his spiritual leadership, until a great breaking took place, the effects of which rippled throughout the land through the various synods.

Some thirty years later (1625) in the sleepy town of Stewarton God came again. The town certainly “has little or nothing otherwise to commend it” 1 than the revival which goes by its name. According to Fleming, one of the sources, “This great spring time of the gospel did not last for a short time merely, but continued many years.”2

One of best known of revival experiences followed at Kirk of Shotts in 1630 when the young preacher John Livingstone took the last service of the communion period. Over 500 were converted as they listened standing in the rain. This same man preached one other occasion and a thousand were converted3 . On both occasions he had been up all night in prayer and had minimal preparation time.

The Cambuslang revival under the leadership of a very mild and quiet spoken preacher named William M’Cullough, also has become a standard. Though sometimes associated with Whitefield, it commenced four months before his first visit.4 The crowds associated with this season of revival sometimes reached thirty thousand, especially during the two communion periods. This great work about which so much has been written began in a church that was spiritually stagnant, and through a pastor who was so average in his preaching skill that he was called, a “yill minister.”5 This term was used at the time to mean that “his rising to speak during field preaching [before the revival] at communions was taken by many as the signal to seek refreshment.” But revival changes a man and on his tombstone was written, “He was eminently successful in preaching the gospel.”6

The author continues his sketch by a survey of several other lesser movements such as Moulin in 1799, Arran in 1812, Skye in 1812, Breadalbane in 1816-17, Lewis in 1824-33, and Kilsyth in 1839. The revival of 1859-60 is well known transatlantically for the very reason of its connection with America and the Prayer Revival of 1857-8. In fact, the 1859 effected all of the British Isles, especially Wales, Ireland and Scotland, under such men as Brownlow North and Edward Payson Hammond and others. Roberts ends his survey with the visit of Moody and Sankey. A notable characteristic of the 1859 was the emphasis on the Spirit and Moody’s own “baptism with the Holy Ghost”7 added to that emphasis.

Roberts has done a yeoman’s work in compiling the data and in making the book read as if it were authored by one individual. The use of language is even throughout. The flow of the work is agreeable and covers the salient history. For many this will be an excellent introduction to the work of God in Scotland, without overbearing detail. The book reads well, though the American reader will continually struggle with getting the “feel” of the country geographically. It does move me. I have already recommended that others buy the book for its ability to stir the emotions and to excite the vision for revival.

At first I was disappointed that Moody and Sankey were included. They certainly do add a very different tone to the book, being more akin to the mass evangelists of today. Indeed, it is commonly known that they are the first of the truly organized of the mass evangelists. They put the “city-wide” into crusade evangelism. Though evangelism is in the center stage of revival, one almost never thinks of revival as an organized evangelistic effort. Perhaps I could say, in defense of Mr. Robert’s choice, that the contrast was important and the shift we see in Moody has been more or less permanent. For this reason we need to engage these two men. Roberts did include a revealing footnote from one of his sources, noting that their success “arose and was maintained in connection with the preaching of the theology of the Westminster Confession.”8

What this means is that the previously sound theology, even though Moody did not fully espouse it, was instrumental in the effect which their message had. I have seen this phenomenon in other revival literature. It is not uncommon for American Finney-styled theology (Moody was a direct descendant of Finney methodologically though less catastrophic theologically) to have an immediate effect in reaping what years of better theology has prepared. By that admission I still personally do not espouse the Moody way of conducting business, even if he is a powerful and engaging figure. I do think that he was a godly man, but his ways were too manipulative and set a problematic precedent.

I was again struck with the place of preaching on regeneration which is seen in Scottish revival history. Let me develop this by quoting Mr. Roberts in three places:

“The minister [William M’Culloch, prior to the Cambuslang revival] in his ordinary course of sermon for nearly a twelve-month before the work began had been preaching on those subjects which tend most directly to explain the nature, and prove the necessity, of regeneration according to the different lights in which that important matter is represented in Holy Scripture.”9

“Robe [of Kilsyth in the 1742 revival] traces the preparation made for the revival back to a series of discourses on regeneration which, like his friend M’Culloch of Cambuslang, he preached to his people. ‘It is probable that both ministers were influenced by Doddridge’s Letters on Regeneration, which were at that time in the enjoyment of a considerable popularity.’10

“In that month [March, 1799 at the inauguration of the Moulin revival] Stewart…began a series of discourses on regeneration, founded on the story of Nicodemus.”

The significance of this information is that of correcting common misconceptions about revival. In our day, we think of revival in terms of the Christian life. Questions such as how one can live effectively and handle stress and cope with family problems, loom large in our thinking. We must address these. But historically revival was more centered on the foundational doctrines of salvation. It really was gospel work, in that larger and more doctrinal sense. And at the heart of it all was the repeated call to regeneration. The doctrine was tuned to the sin of the day in this way. Since regeneration, or the giving of life to dead souls, is knowable in the true Christian’s life (“by their fruits you shall know them”), a professed believer can be challenged to examine himself to see the evidence of it. This kind of preaching made regeneration a searching doctrine. Many souls were brought under conviction by the preaching of this truth. I am convinced through this further evidence that we must preach regeneration again today. No doctrine fits our day quite like it.

Entertainment Evangelism, a Response to a News Reporter

Hello, this is B____ L_____, religion reporter for the W_____ E____. I am writing an analysis story on a trend we see hear of “entertainment evangelism.” D____ C____ of Current Thoughts and Trends magazine said you would be a good person to talk with.

In a couple of weeks, a group called “Impact World Tours” affiliated with Youth with a Mission will have a crusade here. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the group but they will put on four shows featuring Polynesian dancers, world-class athletes, skateboardsers, roller bladers and a “hip-hop dance team.”

At the end of each night of entertainment, there will be an altar call where people will be invited to accept Christ.

There are also other events planned for the Wichita area that combine rock climbing, Christian rock music and evangelism for kids. I’d like to tlak to you about the benefits and drawbacks with this kind of evangelism in contrast with other ways of trying to reach people. My phone number here is _________________.

thank you,
B____ L_____

Dear B_______,

I have known the Youth with a Mission people, intersecting with them through the years in various places around the world. They are always zealous and concerned people. The issue of entertainment evangelism, of course, does not originate with them. For instance, I know of one pastor of a large church who had mud wrestling in his church on a Sunday morning and another who made a baptistry for kids in the shape of a fire engine. Bells clang and confetti is shot out when a child is baptized. Another man I knew jumped on a rope and swung out over the congregation one Sunday morning. The list of strange antics is endless, and to my thinking, quite demeaning of the gospel of Christ.

We began to see more and more of this sort of entertainment evangelism in the emergence of the youth movements in evangelicalism in the 60s. It was all quite innocent then, and very unprofessional for the most part. The concert music artists expanded the practice considerably and added the professional touch. Many churches, for instance, are not driven by great preaching of the Bible, but by their massive music programs. In fact, I think that some of the poorest preaching is sometimes found in these churches, and I am always surprised that people continue to go to them. This is not a statement about large churches, but about those who have nothing much but their music to hold them together.

Concerning the larger picture of evangelism, two matters are getting attention in our day. First is the question, “What is the gospel?” Some say it is merely a system of good works, or moral actions, plus going to church that makes a person a Christian. Others disagree, but nonetheless trivialize the gospel by the lighthearted way in which it is presented and responded to. But the gospel is more than this. The gospel is the news that Christ has come into the world as God’s Son in order to deliver sinful people from the justice of God. Jesus died in the place of needy, sinful people who will put their lifelong trust in Christ as their only hope. A true Christian puts his trust in Christ alone and not at all in himself, and desires to live wholly for God, though imperfectly due to weakness.

The second question that we struggle with is the one addressing the problem of entertainment evangelism. It is this: “How do we get a crowd to preach the gospel to?”

In the early church, this problem is informed by two important observations.

First, the early church gathered on Sundays for believers to worship God. The emphasis is that the design of the meetings was for believers. Unlike so many worship services today, no real emphasis was given to the nonbeliever. They did not spurn them, of course. And if they came in they might be convicted by what they heard (see 1 Cor. 14: 24-25), but the church was not focused on attracting outsiders during these services. Because of this they could pray long prayers, hear long sermons, get on their knees, etc., all practices which would not be appealling to the outsider. In other words, worship and evangelism were consider two different things. The Lord’s Day gathering was about worship. The rest of the week was about evangelism.

A second observation is that the early church, to my knowledge, did not plan any meetings for attracting nonbelievers. The history shows that they always borrowed the crowds of others. Over a dozen times, for instance, the early Christians went to the Jewish synagogues to spread their message. Sometimes they conversed or reasoned with the people for months in these settings. Even in Athens, Paul went to the synagogue first. They also used any mob settings where people would gather in opposition to them. They sometimes saw crowds gather through the apostolic miracles or by just preaching in the marketplace. Again, they went on the other man’s turf.

Unlike the early church, the major way evangelism is done today is by arranging various gatherings for the nonbeliever. When you design meetings for evanglism, you have to ask the further question, “How do we get them there?” This is what is driving the whole entertainment evangelism movement. At first, churches would use any means as long as it was close to the gospel. That is, they might use music as a primary means. But now, anything goes, whether it is systemic to the gospel or not. And, because people generally don’t want to hear the gospel preached, the methods are getting more and more unusual and dramatic.

This has the following results, in my thinking. First, it trivializes the gospel message. Coming to Christ is a very serious thing. A person is damned and is going to hell because he or she is rebelling against God. But now they are reverting from that whole way of life to enter into relationship with Christ. Entertainment does not mix well with such a serious message. The result is that the message suffers.

Second, I believe that it produces spurious results. When persons respond to such a message that is so intermingled with entertainment, they often misunderstand the calling of God given in the gospel. An emotional appeal at the end of an emotion packed and excited period of entertainment causes people to act without clarity and sensiblity. At times, even a kind of group response to the gospel can take place. Many of these so called converts fall away and show no signs of really entering into relationship with Christ.

Finally, the entertainment approach to evangelism creates an appetite that cannot be fulfilled by most churches. The next meeting must have more of the same kind of entertainment to keep the people coming and it must be better than the last. This causes pastors to work harder at the next show than at the content of their message and the personal needs of the people. The appetite of the people commands his life and not the call of God and truth.

 

The Unrepenting Repenter

The believer in Christ is a lifelong repenter.  He begins with repentance and continues in repentance. (Rom. 8:12-13) David sinned giant sins but fell without a stone at the mere finger of the prophet because he was a repenter at heart (2 Sam. 12:7-13). Peter denied Christ three times but suffered three times the remorse until he repented with bitter tears (Mt. 26:75). Every Christian is called a repenter, but he must be a repenting repenter. The Bible assumes the repentant nature of all true believers in its instruction on church discipline. A man unwilling to repent at the loving rebuke of the church can be considered nothing more than “a heathen and a tax collector.” (Mt. 18:15-17)

What Is Repentance?
Repentance is a change of mind regarding sin and God, an inward turning from sin to God, which is known by its fruit—obedience. (Mt. 3:8; Acts 26:20; Lk. 13:5-9) It is hating what you once loved and loving what you once hated, exchanging irresistible sin for an irresistible Christ. The true repenter is cast on God. Faith is his only option. When he fully knows that sin utterly fails him, God takes him up. (Mt. 9:13b) He will have faith or he will have despair; conviction will either deliver him or devour him.

The religious man often deceives himself in his repentance. The believer may sin the worst of sins, it is true; but to remain in the love of sin, or to be comfortable in the atmosphere of sin, is a deadly sign, for only repenters inhabit heaven. The deceived repenter would be a worse sinner if he could, but society holds him back. He can tolerate and even enjoy other worldly professing Christians and pastors well enough, but does not desire holy fellowship or the fervent warmth of holy worship. If he is intolerant of a worship service fifteen minutes “too long,” how will he feel after fifteen million years in the eternal worship service of heaven? He aspires to a heaven of lighthearted ease and recreation—an extended vacation; but a heaven of holiness would be hell to such a man. Yet God is holy, and God is in heaven. He cannot be blamed for sending the unholy man to hell despite his most articulate profession (Heb. 12:14).

What Are the Substitutes for True Repentance?

1. You may reform in the actions without repenting in the heart. (Ps. 5 1: 16-17; Joel 2:13) This is a great deception, for the love of sin remains. (1 Jn. 2:15-17; Acts 8:9-24) At this the Pharisees were experts. (Mk. 7:1-23) The heart of a man is his problem. A man may appear perfect in his actions but be damned for his heart. His actions are at best self-serving and hypocritical. What comes from a bad heart is never good. “Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.” (Jas. 3:11-12)

2. You may experience the emotion of repentance without the effect of it. Here is a kind of amnesia. You see the awful specter of sin in the mirror and flinch out of horror yet immediately forget what kind of person you saw (Jas. 1:23-24). It is true, repentance includes sincere emotion, an affection for God and a disaffection for sin. Torrents of sorrow may flood the repenter’s heart, and properly so (Jas. 4:8-10). But there is such a thing as a temporary emotion in the mere semblance of repentance; this emotion has very weak legs and cannot carry the behavior in the long walk of obedience. Your sorrow may even be prolonged. Yet if it does not arrive at repentance, it is of the world and is a living death—and maybe more (2 Cor. 7: 10). It is an old deceiver. Judas had such remorse but “went and hanged himself.” (Mt. 27:3-5)

3. You may confess the words of a true repenter and never repent. (Mt. 21:28-32; 1 Jn. 2:4; 4:20) Confession by itself is not repentance. Confession moves the lips; repentance moves the heart. Naming an act as evil before God is not the same as leaving it. Though your confession may be honest and emotional, it is not enough unless it expresses a true change of heart. There are those who confess only for the show of it, whose so-called repentance may be theatrical but not actual. If you express repentance to appear successful, you will not be successful at repenting. You will speak humbly but sin arrogantly. Saul gave the model confession (1 Sam. 15:24-26) and later went to hell. Repentance “from the teeth out” is no repentance.

4. You may repent for the fear of reprisal alone and not for the hatred of sin. Any man will stop sinning when caught or relatively sure he will be, unless there is insufficient punishment or shame attached (1 Tim. 1:8-11). When there are losses great enough to get his attention, he will reform. If this is the entire motive of his repentance, he has not repented at all. It is the work of law, but not grace. Men can be controlled by fear, but what is required is a change of heart. Achan admitted his sin after being caught but would not have otherwise. Find his bones in the Valley of Achor; his soul, most likely, in hell. (Josh. 7:16-26)

5. You may talk against sin in public like a true repenter but never repent in private. (Mt. 23:1-3) The exercise of the mouth cannot change the heart. Your sin is like a prostitute. You are speaking against your lover in public but embracing her in the bedroom. She is not particular about being run down in public if she can have your full attention in private. “Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?” (Jas. 4:4)

6. You may repent primarily for temporal gains rather than the glory of God. There are gains for the repenter, but the final motivation for repenting cannot be selfish. Self is a dead, stinking carcass to be discarded. We are to repent because God is worthy and is our respected authority, even if we gain nothing. Indeed, our repenting may appear to lose us more than our sin had gained. (Mt. 16:24-26; Phil. 3:7-8) And this is a test of true repentance.

7. You may repent of lesser sins for the purpose of continuing in greater sins. (Lk. 11:42) We try to salve our nagging conscience by some minor exercise of repentance, which is really no repentance at all. The whole heart is changed in the believer. The half repenter is a divided man: part against sin and part for it; part against Christ, part for Him. But one or the other must win out, for man cannot serve God and mammon (or any other idol); he must love the one and hate the other. (Mt. 6:24)

8. You may repent so generally that you never repent of any specific sin at all. The man who repents in too great a generality is likely covering his sins. (Prov. 28:13) If there are no particular changes, there is no repenting. Sin has many heads, like the mythological Hydra. It cannot be dealt with in general, but its heads must be cut off one by one.

9. You may repent for the love of friends and religious leaders and not repent for the love of God. (Isa. 1: 10-17) A man talked into repentance may reform for the love of friends or the respect of the spiritually minded, yet do nothing substantial. If a man turns from sin without turning to God, he will find his sin has only changed its name and is hidden behind his pride. Now it will be harder to rout for its subterfuge. You have loved others but not God. And you have loved yourself most of all. Lot’s wife left the city of sin at the insistence of an angel and for the love of her family, but turned back. She had left her heart. “Remember Lot’s wife.” (Gen. 19:12-26; Lk. 17:32)

10. ‘You may confess the finished action of sin and not repent from the continuing habit of sin. If a man is honest, he is a good man in human terms; but he is not a repenting man until the sin is stabbed to death. He must be a murderer if he would be God’s: “For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” (Rom. 8:13) God knows what you have done; what He wants is obedience. (Lk. 6:46)

11. You may attempt repentance of your sin while consciously leaving open the door of its opportunity. A man who says ” I repent” but will not leave the source or environment of that sin is suspect. Though some situations which invite temptation cannot be changed, most can. A man who will not flee the setting of his temptation when he is able still loves his sin. A mouse is foolish to build his nest under the cat’s bed. “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” (Rom. 13:14)

12. You may make an effort to repent of some sins without repenting of all the sin you know. The businessman learns to show concern for the needs of his clients, yet he batters his wife through neglect. Another gives his money in the offering plate weekly but steals time from his employer daily. Every man boasts of some sins conquered, but true repentance is a repulsion of sin as a whole. The repenter hates all sin, though he fails more readily in some than in others. He may not know all his sins, but what he knows he spurns. Repentance is universal in the believer; the spirit is willing even when the flesh is weak (Mt. 26:41).

Repentance and faith are bound together. A repenting man has no hope for obedience without faith in the source of all holiness, God Himself. In repenting of sins, he loses his self-sufficiency. God is his sanctifier. (Jude 24-25; 1 Thess. 5:23-24; 1 Pet. 1:5)
Repentance is a gift of God (Acts 11:19; 2 Tim. 2:25) and a duty of man (Acts 17:30; Lk. 13:3). You will know if it has been granted by the exercise of it. (Phil. 2:12-13) Do not wait for it; run toward it. “Be zealous and repent.” (Rev. 3:19) Pursue it and you will find it; forget it and perish.

Reformation or Revival?

If you have been around me very long, you have heard me emphasize that the crying need, the absolutely desperate need of the hour, is reformation. You have also been aware that for years I have also longed for revival. Recently I was asked what the difference actually is, if any, between revival and reformation. This is an important question worthy of your precious time to think it through.

Though many are blinded to the current dilemma, the fact is that a sound and lively truth-basis has been ejected from the premises of modern evangelicalism. Evangelicalism has been dispossessed of truth to such an extent that it is becoming frightening. In its place experience and mysticism are house-sitting the church or, if not these, then church growth pragmatism or an unhealthy preoccupation with the psychological. But the necessary doctrines of the holiness of God and His just wrath, justification by faith alone, the transforming nature of regeneration, the sovereignty of God over all of creation and in salvation itself, the nature and extent of grace in justification and in sanctification—doctrines upon which the earlier revivals thrived—have been considered unimportant and useful only for wizened old theologs holed up in ivory towers who do not relate to the church’s future.

Many are unaware that Jonathan Edwards was preaching a series on justification by faith alone when revival came to New England, or that the many of the Scottish revivals, for instance, were precipitated by the preaching of series on regeneration, or that the highly doctrinal book of Romans has an illustrative history as a tool of great revival of the kind I am speaking. Sound doctrine was at the core of revival. But sadly, to large numbers of evangelicals, it doesn’t seem to make any difference what we believe, only that we are feeling something or enjoying any number of the other substitutes for biblical Christianity.

On such a foundation, does it make sense to revive the experience of believers alone? To revive a church’s experience alone when it has a mushy and insufficient doctrinal foundation is only to magnify our problems, to give credence to error, and to expand what got us into trouble in the first place.

Because of this dilemma, let me make an easily misunderstood statement: Revival, as we commonly understand it, would be ill spent on such doctrinally deficient churches as we find today. This may seem a strange comment to make since I, like many of you, have actually hoped for and preached for revival. But my conviction has to do with the usual, one-sided understanding of revival prevalent in most circles. As A. W. Tozer said, “A revival of the kind of Christianity which we have had in America the last fifty year would be the greatest tragedy of this century, a tragedy which would take the church a hundred years to get over.”

Merely bringing to vibrancy or bringing to life the experience of the believer alone may be extremely useful for dead orthodoxy—orthodox or correct belief without life. But we do not, on the main, have dead orthodoxy today. We have live heterodoxy. Hetero means “other” or “different.” Heterodoxy is divergent or even heretical belief. Reformation is that word we use to speak to the recovery of the correct doctrines and their vigorous application to all of life.

We should not want a revival of experience alone without true reformation. And so the term revival is not adequate for our day unless we add the qualifiers “reformational” or “word-driven.” It is not wrong to desire revival if we mean a revival that is a resurgence of correct believing along with the enlivening of our experience with God which comes out of (not apart from) that sound doctrine. This means that I believe the most long-lasting change would not come by only having merely warm, or even powerful, dramatic experiences with God. No, what is needed is for some of the major organizations and churches, for instance, to reshape their view of the gospel to conform to the Bible.

I pick this issue of the nature of the gospel, from among many choices, because the “gospel” which is being preached is resulting in such massive fallout (sometimes as high as 90% or more in certain campaigns) that failure to re-think doctrinally the nature of the gospel is one of the great anomalies of our day. But, unfortunately, if you gather the leaders of many of the religious organizations together today, they would make a very definite point of not discussing what they believe. Their aim, in terms of revival today, is to see more experience, or more expansive growth. I do not mean that anyone is malicious in this oversight, but somehow the importance of reformation is just not sinking in.

This incognizance explains why the theologians almost never invite the parachurch leaders to their meetings, and the leaders, who are planning and writing the future of evangelicalism, almost never get the theologians to speak to them about the message they are promulgating. There are exceptions which could be noted, but, in the main, we are really failing to help each other by going our own way.

Now, to clarify, I am not saying that experience with God is not useful or desirable. Remember that I said dead orthodoxy needs experience with God. And if that is a description of you, then you know just what you need. I don’t doubt the extreme value of renewed experience with God. What I am saying is that experience is the servant or handmaiden of the truth, and first things should be first.

If you shoot past truth to get to experience, then you will have at best something very limited and immediate only, something which, in the final case, will produce a greater heteropraxis (wrong living). Heterodoxy always leads to heteropraxis. God has already instructed us as to how transformation of behavior is to take place. It is through the truth, not by mere experience. “Sanctify them by Your truth; Your Word is truth.” Jn. 17:17.

Perhaps it will help to illustrate through the recent and rather short-term season of public confession which affected many of our schools and churches. Sadly, in the midst of this wonderful and blessed activity, there was the distinct desire, perhaps in more cases than we would like to admit, to suspend preaching or teaching of the Word in favor of on-going experience. Now I believe God brought the conviction we saw, and I believe that it is possible for a group to experience times of confession within biblical sanctions, but a major mark of the recent work was the stark absence of the centrality of preaching.

During this period of public confession, it seemed to be a matter of excitement in the testimony of people that there was no preaching at all. It was as if preaching was unnecessary, that truth explained would actually get in the way of the work of the Spirit. Compare this to the early church in the New Testament during their inaugural revival. These people would hang on to Paul’s teaching through whole nights if possible!

Again, I am quite happy to believe that God was involved in much of what happened, and we should all be thankful for that, but it is possible, unwittingly, to fail to obey God in our handling of this great blessing of conviction and Divine presence. You will find nothing like such minimizing of preaching, for instance, in the Great Awakening or other earlier revivals before the mid-1800’s. And even if we could point to a work of God here and there with a reduced emphasis on the preaching of the Word, our present dilemma would still demonstrate the need for such a reforming work of God. It is not just great experience over a few days or even weeks that will rectify our situation, but a complete re-orientation to truth and a return to thinking and doctrine.

Experience-driven revival is more like a flash flood than a mighty river. Heightened experience certainly leaves its mark, some of which may be good wherever it meets orthodoxy, but a reformational revival is a life-giving river which has continuing positive effects. When reformation takes place, the conviction is not just over our behavioral sinfulness but over wrong doctrine (or simply apathy toward pursuing truth itself) as well. As Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary professor and author, Dr. Don Whitney, said to me, “We must repent of our doctrine as well as our lives.”

A Church Membership Recovery Model

“What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray.”
~~Matthew 18:12,13~~

Our Desire:

We exist to love God and share His love with everyone. With this in mind, out attempts at recovering members will be done in the spirit of love and grace. We desire that they recognize God’s love for them in our efforts of restoring them to active service within the body of Christ. To ignore their absence and situation would be unloving.

Our Goal:
Lord willing the result of this ministry will produce members of First Baptist Clever who recognize the blessings of being identified and committed to the body of Christ. We are praying for a membership that loves Christ and the fellowship of other believers.

Our Current Status:
Resident Members = 289
Non-Resident Members = 225
Total Membership = 514
Average AM Worship = 125
Future Status:
Total Membership = 250
Average AM Worship = 300
Ministry of Recovery Involvement:
This is a church wide ministry and will involve everyone possible. We will focus especially on already established relationships with straying members while attempting to create new relationships with them.

Ministry of Recovery Process:
Saturate each stage of the process with prayer.
Plan and prepare ministry in Deacon meetings.
Host guest speaker to discuss the Biblical nature of the ministry and encourage the church in their decision to proceed.
Prepare updated Membership List.
Review the Membership List with the Deacons.
Categorize the Membership List:
Unknown Members
Known w/o Contact Information
Known w/o Significant Relationship
Known w/ Friendships
Known w/ Family Ties
Prepare a letter for the initial contact with straying members. This letter will be sent to one category at a time to the last known address.
Hold a special church wide meeting to discuss the Ministry of Recovery.
Mail letters.
Contact by phone and/or home visit if possible once the letter has been sent. Encourage members of church who know the straying member to contact as well.
Report regularly during business meetings.
Ministry of Recovery Decisions:
Resident Members:
No address or phone number (no contact possible) – Remove
Attending another church – Transfer
No longer wishes to be affiliated – Remove
Wishes to be restored:
& recognizes importance of Christ and Churchmanship – Recovered!!
w/o attendance or involvement – Educate
if same desire after being patiently informed – Remove
Non-Resident Members:
No address or phone number (no contact possible) – Remove
Attending another church – Transfer
Missionary (remain in contact) – Maintain
College student (remain in contact) – Maintain
No evangelical church in new community (remain in contact) – Maintain
Military w/o evangelical church in area (remain in contact) – Maintain
Evangelical church available & not attending anywhere – Educate -if same after being patiently informed – Remove
Recently relocated and actively searching (remain in contact) – Maintain
Membership Qualifications:
Understanding that no one is qualified in and of themselves, it is God that qualifies us by grace alone through faith alone in the work of Jesus Christ alone, we recognize there are Biblical qualities that must be present in receiving and maintaining members. For a person to be received into membership he/she must be:

Regenerated: God must have given spiritual life to the person. This new life is made evident by the fruit of faith and repentance along with devotion to Christ as Lord. The individual must have the ability to articulate their faith (they must have a credible profession of faith).
Baptized by Immersion as a believer: Christ and His disciples taught the importance and significance of Scriptural Baptism. This first step of obedience must be taken prior to being received into membership.
Committed to the church covenant: The church covenant is a document that summarizes the Biblical teaching related to congregational life. The congregation recognizes this document as a statement that reflects its commitment to Biblical Christianity.

The church covenant covers such topics as:
– Salvation
– Mutual encouragement
– Mutual accountability
– Unity of the body of Christ
– Christian obedience to Christ
– Financial stewardship
– Congregational worship
– Proper observance of the ordinances
– Missions
– Membership movement after relocation

Committed to the church’s confession of faith: The confession of faith is a document that summarizes Biblical doctrine. We recognize that in order to have true unity doctrinal agreement is necessary.

This piece is taken from the First Baptist church of Clever, MO., Doug Richey, pastor. They granted permission for us to use this. Permission is granted to you to adapt and use it also.

Questions for a Prospective Pastor*

It is not uncommon for a pastor to be opposed by the very people who at first enthusiastically promoted him. Why? Often it is because only surface communication took place between the potential pastor and the congregation before he assumed his position in the church. In our day it is possible for a pastor to be chosen for a church with almost no serious questions being asked, much less any doctrinal questions. This should never be the case. We suggest that churches seek the most complete dialogue possible about matters of doctrine, practice, and lifestyle. If the church fails to do so, the prospective pastor should call for it. This procedure protects both pastor and church.

Two other matters are of extreme importance. First, the potential pastor should supply a list of references. The church must carefully follow up these references and even ask those individuals to suggest others. Consideration should be given to the fact that sometimes a person is disliked for no fault of his own. (Even Christ was hated.) The breadth of inquiry through references assures you that the pastor has “a good reputation with those both inside and outside the church.” (1 Timothy 3:7) Your questioning of references should focus on the list of qualifications found in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. These lists of qualifications were written primarily as a means of observing the lives of prospective leaders in the church, not as a list of questions to ask the candidate. Such observation is extremely important. Of course the ideal would be for your church to live with the man and observe his life over months and even years of time. Because this unfortunately is not the pattern of most churches, you will have to depend heavily on the observations of the references supplied. Superficial or overly subjective answers by the candidate himself could distort the true picture. The survey below will refer to the above mentioned passages, but their use will be more general; your use of them with the names references should be extensive. This does not infer that the passages mentioned are not of extreme importance for the candidate to use in questioning himself.

Related to the above is a second consideration: Much effort should be made to expose the prospective pastor to the church for as long a time as possible before a decision is reached. Exposure to a prospect is not a problem when choosing pastors from within the congregation, but it does pose a considerable difficulty for those bringing a new pastor in from outside. A quick weekend of meetings is often not enough for the people to be properly informed. Remember, this man will be there a long time, influencing your family and the community for Christ. We know that you are ready now to have your new pastor. But there is one thing worse than no pastor—the wrong pastor.

This final suggestion: After initial interviews, consider getting taped or written answers to these questions from the one who is the most serious prospect at the time. Ask him if he is interested enough to go to this further stage of inquiry and tell him that it will take a good deal of his valuable time. This in-depth questioning is for those men who show a high level of interest. Clarifying questions can then follow by phone and personal interview. A select group of these questions may be asked later in the larger church meetings to allow the pastor to speak about his beliefs and to receive further questions.

Jim Elliff and Don Whitney
The following questions are not necessarily listed in order of their significance. Some of them may not be important to you. You may want to add others. There is no such thing as the perfect pastor; but attention to these matters along with lengthy times of prayer and even fasting should assure you of finding God’s man for your church.

________________________________

There are many who profess to know Christ who are mistaken. What evidences do you have that you have been given life by God?

What does it mean for a person to love God? In what ways do you see true biblical love toward God demonstrated in your life? Do you see true biblical love toward God in the lives of your wife and each of your children?

How does your wife feel about your commitment to pastoring?

Why do you believe God wants you in the pastorate?

Closely examine each of the Bible’s qualifications for pastors and deacons (1 Tim. 3; Titus 1:5-9; Acts 6:1-6; 1 Pet. 5:1-4). Which are you strongest qualities? With which requirements do you have the most trouble? Why do you believe these areas of difficulty do not presently disqualify you from ministering? (Note the phrase “must be” in 1 Tim. 3:2.)

A pastor is charged by God to preach to the church and to shepherd the people in a more individual way. Which aspect of the ministry appeals to you the most? What are some specific ways you could be helped to develop your skills in either of these areas?

What are your methods for involving yourself in the lives of your people as their shepherd and overseer of their souls?

What activities characterize your evangelistic interest? What is your approach to personal evangelism? corporate evangelism?

What is your approach to counseling? How do you handle your counseling load?

What are your specific and regular practices regarding the spiritual disciplines (e.g., personal prayer, Bible study, meditation, stewardship, learning, etc.)?

How would you describe a successful pastor? How would you describe a successful church?

How is the pastor held accountable? What relationships in your life currently provide accountability for responsible attitudes and behavior, both personally and as pastor?

Who are your favorite Christian writers, commentators, theologians, etc.? Why? What books have you read in the past year?

Describe an instance when you made attempts to reform the church in some significant area. What were the results? What did it cost you personally?

Describe your leadership style. What have been some weaknesses? Strengths?

When you have met with opposition, has it been mostly related to your style of leadership, your personality, your beliefs, or something else?

According to your observations, what doctrines needs special emphasis in our day?

What is true biblical repentance?

What is true biblical faith?

Explain justification by faith. What is the difference between the Catholic view of justification and the biblical view?

Please explain your view of sanctification. What are the various means God uses to sanctify the believer?

Can a person have Christ as his Savior without submitting to Him as Lord? Explain.

What is your position on the inerrancy of Scripture?

Explain the biblical term “baptism of the Spirit.” When does this baptism occur?

What are your views on baptism by water?

How does the Bible relate the sovereignty of God to salvation?

What does the Bible teach about the extent of man’s depravity?

What does Christ’s atonement accomplish?

What does the Bible teach about the perseverance and preservation of believers?

What is the proper use of the Old Testament law?

How do you articulate your present view of end-time or eschatological issues?

Do you believe that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin? What is the significance of your belief?

What is your interpretation of the biblical teaching on Hell?

Do you believe that the events described in Genesis 1-11 are factual or symbolic?

What does the Bible teach concerning spiritual gifts? Please delineate your views about prophecy and speaking in tongues.

What is your view of divorce and remarriage? How strictly will you follow this view in practice?

What is your view of the phrase, “The bishop [pastor] then must be…the husband of one wife”
(1 Tim. 3:2)?

What are your requirements for performing a marriage ceremony?

Please explain your views on church discipline. Relate any personal experience.

How would you handle a case of scandal or immorality by a church member?

What is your view on abortion?

Many children who appear to be converted at an early age show no evidence of knowing Christ later. How do you handle children when they come to you for counsel concerning conversion? What is your advice to parents?

What is a useful plan for receiving new members into the church? What are prerequisites?

What are your views on styles of church music?

Who should direct the worship of the church? Why? Which methods of leading corporate worship are appropriate? Which are inappropriate?

What does the Bible teach is the purpose of the church’s weekly gathering?

What are your views regarding raising money for various projects within the church? Should the church solicit those outside the church?

What are your convictions about the local church and debt?

What does the bible teach about women in pastoral ministry?

What does the Bible teach about how churches should make decisions?

How should a pastor and his church relate to other churches locally and (if denominational) to the larger body? Do you feel comfortable cooperating with other denominations? Do you draw any lines?

What are the biblical responsibilities of elders? Are there any distinctions between elders, pastors, and overseers? If applicable, what distinctions exist between staff and non-staff pastors?

What are the biblical responsibilities of deacons? How are deacons and elders to relate?

What emphasis do you give to the leadership of fathers with their families, especially in terms of family worship? Do you personally engage in family worship with your wife and children?

What is your missionary vision for the church? How are you currently demonstrating missionary interest and involvement?

__________________________

A man does not have to have full and immediate answers to every question to be a good and faithful minister. With some of these questions it may be acceptable for him to say, “I don’t know,” or, “I don’t have my position completely developed on that yet.”

However, beware of a pastor who seems to avoid giving clear answers. Certainly with some questions he may find it necessary to define terms and qualify his response. Proceed carefully if he avoids making his position as plain as possible.

Other questions, if applicable, might deal with such issues as the church growth movement, home schooling, the Masons, the New Age movement, racial views, political activity of the church, relationships with other ministries or movements, etc. Questions regarding other important doctrinal issues should be asked as needed (e.g., regarding the deity of Christ, the acceptance of the Trinity, etc.) Both a search committee and the church should satisfy themselves concerning any issues they wish to discuss.

____________________________
*Some or all of these questions may also be appropriate for ordination councils, securing church staff, qualifying missionaries, Christian school faculty interviews, and evaluating suitability of candidates for Christian ministries.

Questions and Answers about Childhood Conversion

Click on the questions below to hear Jim’s answers in Real Audio format.

 

  • Introduction to the topic of childhood conversion.
  • 1. When should a child be baptized? What evidence do we look for? Do we encourage it or wait for the child to ask for it? (asked by parent of an 8 yr old)
  • 2. What is your opinion about children taking communion?
  • 3. What is your view on children praying? If we have doubts about our kid’s conversion, should we allow them to pray at meals or before bedtime?
  • 4. What do you do as a parent who has teenage children or grown children and you blew it with them when they were little?5. Is conversion a process like sanctification? Explain.
  • 6. When a child is professing and repenting, is that a sign of a regenerated heart?
  • 7. Should I not have anymore children, so that I will not possibly give birth to a soul bound for hell?
  • 8. Explain your optimism that young children (babies and unborn) will go to heaven?
  • 9. Explain how you did family quiet time. Give examples.
  • 10. How do you suggest we present the idea of hell to preschoolers?
  • 11. Where do I start as a parent with all this information presented at the Legacy Conference?

 

The World Trade Center and Our First Acts

The wilting sadness of the World Trade Center tragedy—the dead bodies in the dust, the people jumping out of windows, the angst of the traumatized, the weary searching, the yearning eyes of family members, the apparent senselessness of it all—leave disturbing imprints on our American soul. What are we to do?

First, we should pity all who do not know Christ. We will all die, but not all will die in such a tragic manner. Some who perished are now in heaven. How many were prepared for that we will not know now. But others met this untimely death without preparation. I can think of nothing more tragic than that. If we weep, and we certainly must, let us weep for the tragedy in terms of eternity.

Second, we should pray for a revival of genuine Christianity. In my library I have a secular book describing the awful financial failure in 1857 here in our country. It was devastating, and Americans reeled under that blow. However, this depressed state prepared the country for the last great movement of God in the 1858 prayer revival. Some estimate as many as a million people were brought to Christ during a two-year span. Could it be that this “was intended for evil, but God meant it for good”? (see Gen. 50:20)

Third, we should pray for wisdom for our leaders. Christians, of all people, are in a position to petition God for help in what may be a difficult and strenuous military ordeal. Our leaders need God’s perspective. We have access to God through Christ and we should use our access to the highest throne in the universe to pray for them. God forbid that we should fail them in this task.

Fourth, we should comfort. God is the “God of all comfort.” We should offer words and deeds to those who cannot process this grief. Our touch and our words may actually avert bitterness and produce positive good. Compassion is a good word and a better act. Our compassion will teach a future generation not to be cynical, when the media is constantly desensitizing them.

Our perspective on this tragedy will likely be very different than our friends and associates. We believe God controls the world to the good end of glorifying Himself. We believe God sends important messages through disaster. But these ends are not understood or appreciated in our biblically illiterate day. Let’s first of all offer our love and concern, then, as our friends are able to process it, we will be able to speak of the sovereignty of God over all the nations of the world toward a purposeful end.

 

Five Resolves For Personal Revival

A tool for bringing biblical discipline into the life “for the purpose of godliness”.
Availabe to read/print online here or as a formatted, downloadable bulletin insert here.

Thirty-five Reasons Not To Sin – By Jim Elliff. A rationale for practical holiness.
Available as a downloadable bulletin insert here.

The Unrepenting Repenter – By Jim Elliff. A four page card encouraging self-examination regarding biblical vs. incomplete repentance.
Available to print from your browser here.

The Integrity of the Local Church – By Jim Elliff, A call to leaders to maintain the soundness of the church’s spiritual union. 14 pp.
Available to print from your browser here.

Childhood Conversion – By Jim Elliff, What to observe and how to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in the conversion of children. 9 pp.
Available online here.

The Eaglet – By Jim Elliff. Vividly illustrated story explaining true faith and repentance. Illustrated by Caffy Whitney. 24 pp.
Available online here.

A Pictorial Survey of the Bible – By Buz McNutt. 36 Graphic depictions for easy grasp of the history of the Bible. Great for kids and adults.
Available online here.

An Intimate Hour With God – A tool that guides you or a group through an hour of prayer. May also be used daily or for special occasions, retreats, days of prayer, camp prayer time, church prayer meetings, etc.
Available online here.