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What must I do to be saved? Acts 16:30-31 “He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”
Southern Baptists used to believe that salvation came about when a person, child or adult, man or woman, answered the urging of the Holy Spirit, and repented of their sins, which was called accepting Christ as their personal savior. This is better expressed as personally accepting Christ as their savior.
(This expression more than likely came about by Protestants who do not believe in infant baptism. However, the way it is said “accepting Christ as your personal savior” seems to indicate that Christ is yours, instead of the other way around. Personally accepting Christ shows that you as an individual has made the decision to follow Christ instead of your parents doing that for you.)
About the time of Evangelism Explosion, the Sinner’s Prayer came into favor across the world, and forms of it were used by Billy Graham and Campus Crusade for Christ, and televangelists. (Remember, Evangelism Explosion’s author was Presbyterian.)
Baptists along with other evangelicals, latched onto this method of bringing people to Christ. Pastors began asking those who came forward to accept Christ to say the Sinner’s Prayer. It was usually like this, “Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner and I do not deserve eternal life. But, I believe you died and rose from the grave to make me a new creation and to prepare me to dwell in your presence forever. Jesus, come into my life, take control of my life, forgive my sins and save me. I am now placing my trust in you alone for my salvation and I accept your free gift of eternal life.”
Baptists reaffirmed this prayer in June 2012 by this resolution, “We affirm that repentance and faith involve a crying out for mercy and a calling on the Lord (Rom. 10:13), often identified as a ‘Sinner’s Prayer,’ as a biblical expression of repentance and faith,” the resolution said. But it added, “A ‘Sinner’s Prayer’ is not an incantation that results in salvation merely by its recitation and should never be manipulatively employed or utilized apart from a clear articulation of the gospel (Matt. 6:7; 15:7–9).” This was added, in part at least, because David Platt, a Calvinist Southern Baptist, said that this prayer was superstition.
This prayer was brought to vote in 2012 because it was felt that the Sinner’s Prayer does not bow to Calvinism, and as I said, many fear that Calvinism is taking hold in Southern Baptists churches. A major disagreement is that Calvinists believe that God predetermines or predestines who will be saved, and the other half of Southern Baptists believe that we each have a free will to either accept salvation or reject it.
In fact, the pastor of a First Baptist Church, posted this blog on his non-Calvinist church website in November 2013 which says: “We can argue the merits of Calvinism. But of this we can be certain. Those who call on his name shall be saved. Whether you believe God has predetermined whom he will allow to call on his name or not, know this. If you call on his name, you will be saved.”
That statement by that pastor contradicts itself, and is very confusing. He says that it might be possible that Calvinists are right and that God had already predetermined if you are going to heaven or hell, but if you or your friends call on God’s name, you and they will be saved. He leaves out the part of what if you or your friends are not predetermined to go to heaven. What this pastor means is that he leans toward Calvinism, and that you or your friends cannot call upon God for salvation unless you have been predetermined to be one of the elect. So if you cannot call upon God, that means you will never be denied because you can’t call in the first place.
If you were to ask a Baptist sitting in a pew today how to be saved, this is what you would be told, “When the invitation is given, go forward, the pastor will take you by the hand and will ask you if you are accepting Christ as your savior. You say yes, they will pray with you and it is done.” Baptism will follow if and when you decide to be baptized, but baptism is not a part of the salvation process. Male and female salvation was always the same.
That is the way it used to be. And that is still the official way Baptists and other evangelicals are saved.
But a new element has been introduced, and even though it is not a part of a church’s “altar call” or “invitation to receive Christ,” it what is being taught to young preachers.
The next post will deal with the new element that has been introduced for females.
We ended Part 5 with salvation as taught by Presbyterians. Today we will discuss the Calvinist part of salvation believed by Southern Baptists.
Presbyterians used to be a very common faith denomination and every city and town had a Presbyterian church. My father was born into a Presbyterian family and was baptized as a baby in the late 1800s. He became a Baptist and was a licensed minister, pianist, and deacon in a little Baptist church which he helped start as a mission church. I never met a person who I knew was a Presbyterian until recent years.
Baptists and Presbyterians have long had a commonality with John Calvin who shaped the Presbyterian faith, and Baptists who follow this are called Calvinists. Many Baptists are Calvinists, and more are becoming so. Calvinists are a very strict, conservative sect operating with the Baptist church. Many Southern Baptist Seminaries promote their Calvin leanings. Al Mohler, Bruce Ware, Wade Burleson, and many others that you might recognize are Calvinists. I insist on repeating over and over: I am not a Calvinist.
Baptists who subscribe to Calvinist doctrine, (they also operate under the umbrella of the Southern Baptist Convention), believe that in the womb God decided if you were destined for heaven or hell, and thus Baptists use the term “once saved, always saved (from the womb forward),” which gives assurance to many Baptists, and causes unbelief by others. Baptists often use the words “if they were truly saved” which most do not understand that this, too, comes from the Calvinist view because it means that perhaps they were not chosen for salvation before birth.
If I were Calvinist, I would be out fishing today instead of writing this.
But I am not, so here I am with a blog post that is far too long so I will divide it up one more time and in Part 7 we will continue the discussion of how Southern Baptists are saved.
Every Christian faith persuasion has its own doctrine about salvation. It is important to learn how other faiths teach that people come to individual salvation. We will give their faith persuasion because you will not be informed properly unless you understand the process in churches around you. Remember, we are all using the same Bible, and we all believe salvation comes through the death and resurrection of Christ.
Below is a simplified explanation of the salvation process. The person walking down the aisle toward the pastor to accept Christ most likely has no idea of the theological complexities of each faith denomination, and truthfully they don’t have to know anything except that are responding to the desire within themselves to be saved. At this point in their lives they probably have no idea what living for Christ means, and certainly have not formed deep theological expressions of faith.
Churches of Christ believe that individuals make their profession of faith, and that they must be baptized in order for salvation to be complete. Catholics, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and Methodists baptize infants in the trust that those babies and children will later make their decision in confirmation classes or through life decisions.
United Pentecostals believe that people are not saved unless he or she speaks in tongues, and is baptized, and, as expressed above, they also believe that the promise in Acts 2:38 means that if a person is baptized in Jesus’ name, he or she will be saved at a later time. Assemblies of God rose out of the United Pentecostal faith, believing that when a person is saved, they are sanctified, but do not have to speak in tongues in order to be saved, even though speaking in tongues is common among them.
Presbyterians follow John Calvin (1564) with one of the strangest salvation process of them all. Calvinists believe that God allows certain people to call on Him and be saved. “Calvin defines predestination as ‘God’s eternal decree, by which he compacted with himself what he willed to become of each [person]. For … eternal life is foreordained for some, eternal damnation for others.’ So predestination is an act of God’s will through which God elects or chooses those whom God calls to faith and thus to eternal life, and through which God chooses those who will not receive faith. Other theologians have seen in predestination only a positive calling to eternal life. Still others have seen it as God’s foreknowledge of who would choose faith.” You can see from this statement by John Calvin that he actually says that God creates certain people to be damned to hell. What kind of God is that?
Others believe that salvation is a process and that you are not actually saved until you die. Catholics believe in a purgatory where salvation can be delayed until certain conditions are met.
Generally baptism follows a personal decision to follow Christ, or in the case of some faiths such as United Pentecost, adult baptism can be performed before salvation with the assurance that salvation will happen. They also baptize in Jesus’ name, rather than in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as most churches baptize. Some faiths believe that salvation is a two-step process, and is not complete until the person is baptized. Some faiths baptize both infants and adults. Most faiths, Baptists included, baptize very young children.
All those faiths will baptize adults after the adult has expressed a belief in Jesus Christ as savior.
Some Christian faiths believe salvation can be lost, and if a person falls from grace, that person must be saved again. Relatively few people feel the need to be saved again, so even if it is a church’s official doctrine, few practice it.
In the next post we will discuss what salvation means to Southern Baptists.
We look to God for our spiritual selves and for our physical selves. This is expressed through salvation and also through daily living. First we will discuss salvation and how complementarians change salvation for women.
Evangelism Explosion by Dr James Kennedy has long been used as a handbook for eager church members to use when they made visitation calls to people in their neighborhood, or to people who had attended a church service and made the mistake of leaving their name and address. Evangelism Explosion, 1961, is now in its fourth printing and is still a bestseller among evangelicals.
When Kennedy wrote the book, he was the pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church which began as Presbyterian of the United States of America, which allows women ordination. In 1978, under Kennedy’s leadership, Coral Ridge joined the conservative Presbyterian Church in America that does not allow women ordination.
According to Wikipedia, “Evangelism Explosion’s materials have been translated into seventy languages. Jeff Noblit (I am not sure why he is quoted) suggests that it is “probably the most used and copied soul-winning training course ever embraced by Southern Baptists,” while Stan Guthrie suggests that it is “the best known and most widely used evangelistic training curriculum in church history.” It is used by over 20,000 churches worldwide.”
“If you were to die tonight, are you certain you would go to heaven?” was a question we were to ask when witnessing to a prospective convert. There were other key points made when I studied the book at my Baptist church in the 1970s. I, too, wanted to know how to bring a person to accept Christ. One such key point was to look around the living room and pick out a picture and make some comment about it that you could use to start the conversation about heaven and the person’s spiritual condition.
Never being very clever at espionage, and being far too direct in my approach, this did not fit my personality. I can see through manipulation a mile away and was sure others could, too. In fact, one day a few years ago, I was in a Christian bookstore and had just asked if they carried a children’s book that accepted the fact that dinosaurs were here millions of years ago, when these questions were turned on me. I wanted to tell the young lady that I thought her approach was awfully crude and straight from the book. But I was much older, and it was my lunch hour, and most times I do not want to draw attention to myself, so I let her ask her questions and I answered them.
Yes, I am confident that if I die tomorrow, my soul will be with Christ. As I write this, I am aware of how fleeting life is. Today I was with a woman when she received a phone call that her daughter had just been killed in a car accident. So the question can fit every one of us, but it is not the best way to bring up a conversation about a loving God who wants to save us.
My personal salvation experience was that I accepted Christ while kneeling beside the bathtub one night while the baby was asleep and my husband was watching the election returns on television. Nobody asked any questions, and there was no prepared sentence that I said back to Christ. I did argue with Him, though. I had been baptized two times already, and still did not feel like I was saved, and I wanted some kind of assurance that this time would be for real, because I sure did not want a third baptism. Sufficient to say, there was a third baptism, and this time there was no doubt, and has not been since that time almost 50 years ago.
But this series is not about me. It is about men who have the Desire to be God, and how they are infiltrating that desire into mainstream Christianity. They are doing it through the relationships mankind has with God – salvation and daily living.
Part 5 will be posted Monday.
In Genesis 3:4, Satan tempted Eve with the fruit by telling her that God knew that their eyes would be opened and they would be like God, knowing good and evil. God was the ultimate being, there was none like God.
Eve, desiring wisdom, took the fruit and ate it. Then she gave it to Adam and he also ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge, and now both Eve and Adam knew good and evil. They were banished from the garden with the new clothes on their backs that God made for them.
Then God said that these human beings had become like God in that they now knew good and evil. (Genesis 3:21-22 NIV), The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and life forever.”
As they left the garden, there was no leadership involved. Neither Eve nor Adam was deemed to have leadership over the other. Now they both had knowledge of good and evil, making them individually capable of doing what is good, or choosing to do what is evil. They were equal. They were equal from the beginning and they were equal after the sinning. God said so.
God is not evil, but these humans were not God, and the knowledge of right and wrong would often cause man to choose that which is wrong. We see it in God’s words, “He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”
Mankind has the desire for eternal life. We want to go to heaven, we want to be saved, and we want to be with God. We believe that God wants that for us also, so much so that he sent His Son Jesus to make that possible, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:15).
We believe that eternal life comes from God, and not from human males. We desire eternal life, but it is not ours to give or to withhold, even for ourselves.
Man has often desired to have more spiritual authority than God gave mankind. Look at Jesus’ disciples. We are told in Matthew, Mark, and Luke that James and John came to Jesus asking to sit one on each side of Jesus when Jesus came into his kingdom. Jesus told them flatly that they did not belong there. No man is divine and human man cannot be in that place. Yet men want that position and they have claimed it, by a misinterpretation of the scriptures. They have gone further than to claim it. They have chosen to teach that husbands represent Christ (the savior) in a marriage, while giving the part of the church (lesser, one who needs to be saved) to wives.
Women do not want to be greater in the kingdom today than males, and women did not want it then. Women never asked Jesus for any honor to be bestowed upon them. Women do not claim superiority over males, nor do women desire to be males. Women just claim equality.
But look back at what God said about man. God said that man would reach out and take it. Just what God said would happen, is happening. Males are stretching forth their hands, and some are claiming that males hold the power of everlasting life, and that women must denounce their desire to be males (man-gods) in order to obtain that everlasting life for themselves. In this way, they believe that human males become our gateway to God.
To become a gateway to God means that you are directly connected to God but those who enter the gateway must enter through you.
If someone told you that human males are born to be gods, you would brand that person as a heretic, or a Mormon. Yet that is what is being taught by some professors in Southern Baptist affiliated seminaries, some pastors, and any other person or seminary that uses Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism as their guide.
This misogynous book was published in 1991 and was, and still is, sponsored by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. It continues to be a best-seller. The 482 page book is a collection of male headship writings and teachings of various Christians. John Piper and Wayne Grudem edited this book and it is therefore assumed that they agree with its teachings, for why would anybody put something in a book that they do not agree with? And why would anyone use such a book unless they, too, believe it?
In this series, we will use their own words to see how they express this belief that men are gods, and that women are inferior to these human male gods. In order to elevate themselves, they must first oppress females. So they do that with their claim that women want to be men. This is evidenced all through their Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood book. Others have taken up their mantra that women want to be men, as we can see in this email I received.
I don’t even know where to begin! By saying the things you say, you are instantly breaking Gods commands for women. How can you, a poor sinner, decide what the scripture means? It’s very simple if you read the words that are written, and not what you WANT to think it says. God’s words are non-negotiable and are to be lived every single day. I know we all sin, but by saying that His words/commands are WRONG…I can only pray you will see the true word of God and repent. Women are NOT equal to men, or they would BE men. You are mad at God because he did not make you a man.
We will examine the ramifications of what this means to women. And we will show you how these men believe that they are gods. There is only one God in heaven, so they can’t all be God, but they teach that all men have the potential to be man-gods on earth.
For some time I have been struggling with the teaching that God chose males to be rulers over women. I could not understand how any Christian group or pastor can teach that women can give birth to a boy-child who they believe is inherently greater than the mother is.
But I had a problem with this because every time I would think, “A woman cannot give birth to a being superior to herself,” I would come up with Mary who gave birth to Jesus, who was the son of God.
Yes, she could do it, but that is the exception and women can’t give birth to a greater being than she herself, can she?
You will be surprised as I was to learn that complementarians are actually teaching that women – you and I – are giving birth to god-men on earth.
Adam, who was in God’s image, passed the divine image (albeit flawed by sin) on to his son Seth. The divine image resided in the individuals Adam and Seth. (MALE-FEMALE EQUALITY AND MALE HEADSHIP GENESIS 1-3 by Raymond C. Ortlund, Jr., page 89 of Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood).
Here we have Adam passing along his divinity through his seed to a son, Seth. According to complementarians, a woman in the image of God reflects an incomplete image, as she does not have spiritual or physical leadership over others.
We can see Ortlund’s reasoning in one of two ways: 1) Only Seth had the divine image and the other sons of Adam did not, and divinity would have been lost; or he meant 2) Adam passed his divine image to Seth and then to all his sons (which is the way you must see it in order for males to have headship over females).
According to the Ortlund as each male had sons, those sons became imbued with divinity. Thus they became little man-gods, which is still being passed on through to sons in the 21st Century. Ortlund does not say that divinity was passed on through daughters, even though he does claim that men and women are both in the image of God. Was not Eve, too, in God’s image and wouldn’t Eve have passed that divinity to her sons and daughters?
Genesis 5:1 says “…When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were created, he called them ‘man.’” That scripture goes on to say that that Adam had a son in his likeness , in his own image, so this is apparently where Ortlund feels he can exclude women. But then the statement is made that Adam had other sons and daughters and no mention is made of those sons having the divine image, so Ortlund is choosing to see what he wants to see in order to confirm his beliefs.
Instead of Desiring God, as John Piper and Wayne Grudem would have you believe through their premier misogynistic work, these seminary professors, pastors, preachers, Christian leaders, and Piper and Grudem themselves, are Desiring to be God.