Posted in arminianism, books, challies, easy believism, flowers, macarthur

Prata’s Potpourri: Dominionism, 190 blogs, 300 books, decisonal easy-believism, wandering pastors, more

March in Georgia is a funny month. It begins the warm and stormy tornado/thunderstorm season. Yet it also brings us our best chance for snow days off from school. In the last five years, the most snow we’ve received has been in March. I guess you could call the month turbulent.

On the plus side, the forsythia and the daffodils are blooming, and those are two flowers that mean spring business. The days certainly are warmer and the birds have returned to adorn the trees with color and song.The best part is that IF snow falls, it’s always gone by the next day. The temperatures rebound.

I love flowers. Tremendously. If you look closely at a flower, its delicacy and beauty are a never ending marvel. In my yard there are tiger lilies, rhododendron, roses, forsythia, daffodils, magnolia blossoms, pear blossoms, morning glories, the usual southern wildflowers such as bluebells, crimson bee balm, white clover, asters, snowdrops, and there used to be a huge five-o’clock-flower bush. This photo is from the five o’clock flower bush. Its stripe is perfectly placed, and yet other blossoms on the same bush might have different colored stripes in different locations. The delicate stamens seem to be reaching for the sun, like we do when emerging from the house on a day after a long winter and we turn our faces to the sun for a moment and bask.

I started watching The Story of Maths, a documentary about how mathematics was developed and used throughout history. The title even states that it’s the ‘language of the universe’. The opening lines of the BBC Documentary-

Throughout history, humankind has struggled to understand the fundamental workings of the material world. We’ve endeavored to discover the rules and patterns that determine the qualities of the objects that surround us, and their complex relationship to us and each other. Over thousands of years, societies all over the world, have found that one discipline above all others yields certain knowledge about the underlying realities of the physical world.

We know that the Bible yields certain knowledge, but math is a language of God and He uses its pattern and order to beautiful and astounding effect in our world and the universe. It is an interesting documentary, even to me who seems very likely to have dyscalculia.

The first episode deals with the Egyptians and the Babylonians. Though the Bible is not mentioned, any person having a Biblical worldview will see immediately how unified the universe is and that it’s math that permeates it because God is orderly and so is His creation. Knowing the Egyptian and Babylonian cultures from reading the Bible, it makes for a fascinating documentary to see how, for example, the Egyptians dealt with the twice annual Nile floods and having as a result to re-organize the parcels of land and their attendant taxes. Up next will be the Greeks and then I hope Fibonacci when they cover medieval maths.

Flowers are mathematical. How? Watch the video! (On Netflix and all 4 parts free on Youtube)


Yesterday I was asked to research what “Dominionism” is, and today on the Berean Research Twitter stream, I saw this. Rather than duplicate their good work, which mine would not be as concise and well-written, I refer you to this essay which explains it so well. Included in the explanation is New Apostolic Reformation information, who the leaders of this movement are, and what they believe. There are also extra links.

Dominionism (NAR)

The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) is a dominionist movement which asserts that God is restoring the lost offices of church governance, namely the offices of Prophet and Apostle.


Here are a couple of good photo memes I came across this week.

Have you experienced a sermon where the pastor does that? I have, in several different churches. It seems pandemic that the pastor is a roving storyteller on stage. In one case, the long anecdotes delivered from the wandering preacher were not even his own but were stories plagiarized from another pastor’s life and told as if they were his own.

God said of those kinds of pastors,

Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, declares the LORD, who steal my words from one another. (Jeremiah 23:30).

God said of worthless shepherds who do not feed the flock,

Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!” says the LORD. Therefore thus says the LORD God of Israel against the shepherds who feed My people: “You have scattered My flock, driven them away, and not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for the evil of your doings,” says the LORD. (Jeremiah 23:1-2)

I am currently blessed with a pastor who stands, at a real pulpit, and explains the Bible, accurately and passionately. Too many people do not understand that is what a pastor does. Here is a blog series which explains what a pastor’s duties are. And are not.

The Absence of Shepherds
Why Does God Call them Shepherds?
Don’t Starve the Sheep
Abusive Shepherds
What To Look for in a Shepherd
How Do We Measure a Shepherd’s Success?


Living in Georgia and being member of Southern Baptist Convention Churches means usually there is an invitation at the end of a sermon, to walk down the aisle and ‘accept Jesus’ and be written down in a log book and declared a Christian. This is done in children’s Sunday School classes and at VBS, too. Frequently the church’s pastor or an imported evangelism-revivalism type preacher would have us close our eyes at the end of the sermon and the seeker would parrot back a prayer the preacher said, and then sometimes even raise one’s hand to declare they have decided for Christ, no need to walk an aisle. Let’s make salvation easy. Hipster gatherings use glowsticks which are held up to indicate the seeker’s new allegiance to Jesus as a follower. The preachers would tell everyone to close their eyes while the music played, and the preacher says, “I see that hand, yes, I see that hand too.” Once a friend of mine who sat in the back said he peeked and there were no hands up.

What is the “invitation” or “altar call”?

An altar call is an appeal for an immediate public response to a sermon just preached. It is popularly called the invitation and as used in this context is an appeal for a public act of commitment and can involve hand raising, going to a counseling area or signing a commitment card. Most often it involves walking down the aisle to the front of a church auditorium. The altar call is tacked on to the end of a sermon and the invitation usually is to “come forward and accept Christ as your Savior.” Various emotional techniques such as telling sad, tear jerking stories and playing mood-creating music in the background are employed to encourage response to the altar call.  …

In Acts 2:36-37 we are told that at Pentecost 3,000 people were saved but no altar call was used. The saving of those 3,000 was the work of the Holy Spirit of God and not of clever emotional appeals to come to the front of the meeting place. Whatever reasons one may give for using the altar call, it is a fact that it cannot be supported from the word of God.

As we have already pointed out, some people believe and teach that if one does not give an invitation in connection with his sermon he is not evangelistic. But we cannot be more evangelistic than the New Testament and the altar call or invitation system is not to be found in the pages of the New Testament. Actually having an altar call is a departure from scriptural requirements and practice.

In the New Testament and in Christian history up until the year 1820 AD sinners were invited to Christ, not to decide at the end of a sermon whether to perform some physical action. You will search Christian history in vain for an altar call or invitation before about 1820. George Whitefield, the greatest evangelist perhaps of all time never used the altar call. Charles Spurgeon under whose preaching more people were saved than perhaps any other pastor over the centuries never gave an invitation.

Well, where did the altar call come from if God’s word doesn’t teach it? The answer is that the altar call is a human invention that is less than 200 years old.

Source: Why We Don’t Use the Altar Call. More at link.

I always resisted that kind of man-made decisionism and mourned those who were likely false converts, even before I knew what the Doctrines of Grace were. It just seemed manipulative to me. I prayed both for those who might have been prematurely declared a Christian and also prayed for the practice to stop. By God’s grace he opened my eyes and grew me to a better understanding of what justification is and God’s sovereignty over it, through illuminating His word. Here is a meme featuring Calvinist-Baptist Charles Spurgeon on man-made choosing God practices (Arminianism) and God’s sovereignty over His choice of the elect.

Yesterday I saw on Facebook a meme-photo titled “Things Peter Never Said” and I liked it but I can’t find it now. I re-created my own and it went something like this:

#Things Peter Never Said

If your blog roll is getting a little stale, here are 190 blogs for your consideration. Have you ever wondered how Tim Challies, popular blogger and book reviewer, manages to put out fresh content daily with all those wide-spread links? I have. Yesterday he answered the question and opened for public viewing his list of blogs from which he mines content. If you want to read some different perspectives than the blogs you always read, or just want to refresh your blog roll for others, here is a good resource.

190 Blogs I read


On Facebook, someone had posted 300 Books Everyone Should Read. I’ve been having a hard time lately with reading. I studied on my problem for a while and it boils down to two things, I think. I need new glasses, badly, and that means a trip into the city to see an ophthalmologist. It’s been 8 years since I last had an eye exam. I dislike the city and I dislike going to see doctors, hence the delay with proper eye-wear and my eyes feeling tired and blurry by the end of the day.

Secondly, in my ever present push to “be productive,” I’ve gravitated to reading only theological books, which is fine, but it also has sapped some of the fun out of reading. I haven’t read a good yarn since the Grisham book-before-last and the Will Thomas book-before-last. (Both of Grisham’s and Thomas’s most recent books were disappointing and I didn’t finish).

I decided to look at the list and see what someone considered “must-read literature.” I was not surprised by many of the titles on the list. Some of the titles were new to me, while others had long ago been on my own “must-read” list but had fallen by the wayside. I decided to look some of them up at Amazon.

If a book was a young adult book I wanted to read, like Lois Lowry’s “The Giver” or “Where the Red Fern Grows”, I decided to check them out from my school’s library. If the book was a movie, I decided to watch the movie. One such book was “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”.

It is a book about high school, something that fascinates me because I still haven’t figured out what THAT was all about, 40 years ago. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982), Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986), Clueless (1995),  and Election (1999) are some of my favorite High School movies. FTARH and Election deal with one or two dark themes but those are handled well and the movie overall has a cinematic lightness to it. Literally, the movies are light. I found Perks online and began watching.

Perks was different. Though I did not know ahead of time what the themes were, apart from a shy boy negotiating the social miasma that is American high school, the movie was cinematically dark and somber in mood. After about fifteen minutes I became concerned with the direction the movie was taking. I decided to read the plot summary for the movie at Wikipedia instead of watch it. Themes dealt with in the movie were:

suicide by gun,
molestation of female minor,
molestation of male minor,
drugs, tobacco, alcohol,

All righty then.

I was glad I didn’t pursue the movie and I sadly mourn the themes our youth are subjected to these days. What a different 20-30 years makes… In addition, that is one of the reasons I gravitated away from fiction. Sigh. I guess the search continues.

I did purchase three books at Amazon. The Book Thief, The Kite Runner, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. I also have started Pilgrim’s Progress in conjunction with a free class I am taking, and a Jan Karon book, Home To Holly Springs. Spring Break is on the horizon and I will be ready (as long as my eyes are!)


Our new church plant begins small groups today, praise the Lord. I am so proud of our elders and the way they unroll each new aspect of our new church under submission to the leading of the Spirit and done in a manner of unity and mutual respect. The men are certainly good examples to someone like me. Because of the timing of the place we are renting, our services begin at 3:30pm (WHICH I LOVE!) and our first small groups begin afterwards in various homes today. If you can find the time to pray for our church once in a while, I would appreciate it.

Have a blessed Lord’s Day everyone.

Posted in billy graham, decisional regeneration, easy believism, my hope america, relationship evangelism

A close look at "My Hope America with Billy Graham", decisional regeneration, and relationship evangelism (Part 2/2)

The other day I wrote about the upcoming movie release by Billy Graham and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA). The movie’s release is to coincide with the 95th birthday of the well-known evangelist, on November 7. Up until that time, the internet, churches, and publications will heavily tout this movie, called “My Hope America with Billy Graham.”

Readers of this blog know that there are three spheres under which I write: encouragement, prophecy, and discernment. Under the discernment banner, the other day I examined Billy Graham’s teachings and doctrine, compared it the bible, and showed that given the things Graham teaches and believes, he cannot be of the faith. He fails on one of the primary essentials (Jesus as the exclusive way to heaven, AKA the Gospel) and he fails on many other secondary essential issues. The sum total of the first part was to show that even, or especially, popular men can be and could be one of the prophesied wolves bringing false doctrine. (Matthew 7:15, 2 Peter 2:1). Please read that piece for the details and the biblical support.

Though I personally believe that Graham along with a couple of others have done more to damage the faith than to honor it, I’d said that I hadn’t written about Graham but instead have focused on the falsity of others because Graham is no longer active. However, it seems that Graham has produced one final religious/theological/social effort and is using the last vestige of his reputation and means before he dies (his words) to spread it as widely as possible. That effort is the movie of which I’ll speak today. It is called My Hope America.

The movie is an evangelistic effort in which people call friends neighbors, co-workers, and invite them to “meet Jesus” at a party, as Matthew had after his conversion. (Matthew 9).

I agree

There are several premises the video is produced under which I agree. First, their premise that there should be urgency to witness is biblical and appropriate. We need that prompting here in America, especially where wealth dampens urgency and technological distractions sidetrack us from personal relationships within which we share Christ.

The My Hope DVD has been sent to 157 countries already, such as Uruguay, Malawi, etc. It is now being promoted in America. Thus, the My Hope people have identified America as a country in need of missionaries & evangelists. I agree with this also. America has become more and more apostate. It is surely an irony that the nation which once sent more missionaries into the lost nations of the world has become lost herself and needs others to come here. It’s true and the people of this nation need the Gospel as much or more than many other countries on each day that passes.

The Movie’s Claims

In the promotional video, the listener hears pastors tell the BGEA video folks that they “have been praying for a way to mobilize their people into evangelism”, and we’re told that pastors are saying, “we’ve been looking for an opportunity to get our folks involved in personal evangelism and I believe this is it.”

We’re told that pastors are saying the video strategy is “bringing churches together as never before”, that it is going to “heal our land”, and “it is going to put everyone at peace.” We’re told by BGEA folks that “We’ve seen God use this strategy of the My Hope project in Latin America, in Asia, in Africa, Europe…” We see the BGEA folks say that “Each country gets the benefit of people working together towards a common goal in Jesus Christ. And that can change history in a country.”

Those are extraordinary claims and stupendous statements. Aside from being overtly slick and promotional, these claims also seem to be results-oriented. I’ll speak to the results-oriented approach below when I speak of decisional regeneration.

Taking a hard look at the evangelistic efforts of Mr Graham and his methods, let’s focus on two of them associated with this video: Relationship Evangelism and Decisional Regeneration.

1. Relationship Evangelism

Forty-six seconds into the promotional video, the listener hears, “My Hope is Billy Graham’s call to relationship evangelism in America”. There are many scenes of people sitting around a table, or on the floor, or on couches and chairs, watching the various My Hope videos from the BGEA. The listener hears that Matthew was a relationship evangelist, whereupon he met Jesus, was converted, and wanted to share Jesus with as many people as possible and thus hosted a party in his home. (Matthew 9:10-13). The listener is urged to host a party or gathering and invite friends, family, neighbors, co-workers with the goal of sharing Christ as Matthew had.

I completely agree that as Christians we should operate within the spheres into which the Holy Spirit has set us, and witness for Christ using every means and method. Cold sharing, street preaching, friendship sharing, and using our lives of obedience and submission are several ways to share the Gospel with the lost and dying world of our individual spheres. I have no quarrel with that. Hosting a gathering in your home with weak brethren, non-believers, and mature brethren is good. It is proper. It is one way we use the strength of relationships, along with relating the truth of the Gospel to folks on church, in our community, clubs, and family homes.

These different evangelistic methods are variously called servant evangelism, (Galatians 6:10); lifestyle evangelism (Acts 5:13, 20); and friendship evangelism (or relationship evangelism). We should speak personally to friends, neighbors and co-workers. This is the type of evangelism Philip demonstrates in John 1:45-46. The woman at the well went back into town and told her friends. They asked Jesus to stay for two days and He taught them, and many believed.

So is there a problem with the evangelistic approach the BGEA folks are using, hosting “Matthew Parties” with an intent to share Jesus? There could be. As with anything, this ‘strategy’ dwells close to a line of subtlety where it can go off the rails quickly. Note the main DVD synopsis that personal testimonies will be told:

“as they share the common thread that led them to true happiness.”


Scott Boren authored a piece at Christian Leaders called “Does Relationship Evangelism Miss the Point?” He was talking about what have become known as “Matthew Parties.” He used an interesting quote from the book, The Relational Pastor by Andrew Root

However, he is not challenging the reality that the Gospel most easily spreads across relational lines. Nor is he saying that abundant life is not found in Jesus. He’s actually pointing out the fact that if we are going to have loving relationships we need to relate to neighbors, co-workers, family members, and friends in a such a way that we actually encounter them in the relationships instead of using the relationship to get something from them. If we are trying to get them to line up with our beliefs and ideals and are not demonstrating the Gospel. We are peddling it.

The entire piece is good and gives food for thought. When sharing Jesus is not an embedded lifestyle, but a strategy comes along that already has a faddish term associated with it (“Matthew Party”), and the folks we invite know that it is part of a promotional activity, they feel used. And we are using them. It is peddling Jesus rather than simply sharing the Gospel. There is a difference between natural, organic, sincere evangelistic effort, and jumping on an artificially promoted Matthew Party bandwagon.

For another view of relationship evangelism, street Preacher Tony Miano wrote in his piece, ““Friendship Evangelism Is Neither Friendship Nor Evangelism
Let make it very clear that Christians are called by the Word of God to be both friendly and relational. “If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:3)

But Miano goes on to warn of the line that is easily crossed in relationship evangelism, of the danger of backing off in relationship evangelism by not sharing Christ but simply living a perceptible life in front of believers:

“Part of the evidence that “Friendship Evangelism” is not evangelistic is that the practice makes the Christian known but it all-too-often fails to make Christ known.”

So though on the surface, the BGEA strategy of relationship evangelism does have roots in the bible, the  use of it as a strategy and a method can come across as too slick and faddish to the non-believer, they could well wind up feeling used. Secondly it is the Gospel that saves, not the friendship, and third, it leaves room for the Christian to back off in sharing Jesus but yet making the friend feel safely Christian.

Ultimately, what Relationship Evangelism is, is simply discipling.

2. Decisional Regeneration

Decisional regeneration is another thing like Relationship evangelism, which is not completely false but is fraught with subtle dangers which can quickly push one over the edge into false territory. The term means that a person becomes a Christian by deciding to become a Christian. They make a decision that they want Christ to be the Lord of their lives, or they decide to come forward at an evangelistic crusade or church service and decide to become a believer.

The work of salvation is completely in the hands of God. The believer is dead in his trespasses and sins, (Ephesians 2:1). A dead person cannot “decide” to become alive. It is the work of God who makes us alive (Ephesians 2:4).

However we are called to repent, and this is a conscious act of man. Repent means to take a 180 degree turn from the way we were, which was sinful, and to proclaim sorrow for our sins and go the way of holiness. It is perhaps here where the decision comes in.

Man is saved by Jesus but he is always responsible for his sins. Where that ground meets between sovereignty and responsibility is the gray line in decisional regeneration.

However at many churches and especially at Billy Graham crusades, “making a decision for Christ” easily becomes much more shallow. The practice is actually foreign to the scriptures, as Pastor Tim Challies explains here. The invention of the decision for Christ, combined with the altar call, is

generally attributed to evangelist Charles Finney who lived from 1792 to 1875. He emphasized the need for a decision, usually made by “coming forward” to approach the altar. Becoming a believer became synonymous with making a decision and proving that decision by taking physical action. It is important to note that this system is entirely foreign to the Scriptures.

Paul Washer speaks against the dangers of decisional regeneration often. Here, Todd Shaffer summarizes one of Washer’s sermons on the topic:

Washer rails against how Evangelicals are so quick to proclaim people ‘believers’.  One of the most damnable practices in the church is when a person doubts their salvation, they are usually taken back to that day when they “made a decision” for Christ and “asked Jesus into their hearts”, neither of which are statements found in Scripture (apart from a poor hermeneutic).  We are often guilty of giving people a false assurance that is based more on the ‘sincerity’ of their decision than on the presence of a transformed life.

And that is the danger: false assurance. Many people who come forward at a crusade or a Matthew Party having decided for Christ do so many times on a shallow Gospel presentation, or an incomplete Gospel presentation, or decide for a Christ who doesn’t exist, just because they are promised “happiness.”

In his talk about Billy Graham Cecil Andrews was speaking about the fifty year anniversary of the London Harringay Crusade. Andrews, who is from the UK,  said that despite many “decisions for Christ” at that monumental Graham crusade at Harringay stadium, by the time five decades had passed, there was virtually no effect remaining. The people who had been there fifty years before deciding for Christ before were not thriving Christians by any stretch, and it was plain to the interviewers that the “decisions” were vaporous emotional responses and not a lasting spiritual regeneration.

Relational Evangelism at a Matthew Party is a fad

I am not a fan of fads. Christian fads come and go with depressing regularity. Prayer of Jabez rugs, WWJD bracelets, Love Dares, Courageous Resolutions, Promise Keepers, Quiverfull, Daniel Fast, Prayer Circles, Parable of the Talents Challenge, and now Matthew Parties. If the thing has a name it is a sure bet it’s a fad. If the thing is mindlessly replicated from house to house and church to church, it’s a fad.

The bible says, “And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” (2 Peter 2:3). The KJV says ‘they will make merchandise of you.’ The word ‘exploit’ in the verse comes from the Greek word that we know today as emporium, or mall. Strong’s defines it as, “I travel as a merchant, engage in trade; I traffic in, make gain or business of.”

Now, the film is free, the associated bonus programs are free, you can watch them online for free or order them for free. The training is free and the support materials are free. That is wonderful. I am all for that. The My Hope Matthew Party is still a fad and it’s still merchandise. Here’s why:

The BGEA promotes the strategy of decisional regeneration and it focuses on results. This is the prophesied ‘merchandising’ part, even though no money passes hands. It is touted to be man-centered and results-oriented. In one of the promotional videos, it is stated that viewers of the My Hope DVD in other countries have “since 2002, ‘made average of 2 decisions for Christ per home.” Is that like “2 out of 3 dentists say…”?

The video is touted as a “unique opportunity” to witness for Christ where pastors have been “praying for a way to mobilize their people into evangelism”? Praying for a way, unlike the way the bible shows us? and we’re told that pastors are saying, “we’ve been looking for an opportunity to get our folks involved in personal evangelism and I believe this is it.” What if this ‘opportunity’ hadn’t come along? Would these pastors not be able to get their folks into personal evangelism? But you see, that is the results-oriented, merchandising language. The BGEA promotional video makes it sound like this is the only strategy and we better pick up on it fast. Is that like “operators are standing by”?

This is where the decisional regeneration method falters. It leaves the work of sovereign Holy Spirit of  regenerating hearts to the men behind production monitors counting how many decisions for Christ happened in a certain segment of the country.

“Decisions” often lead to False Assurance

Tim Challies explains,

Finney’s legacy in church history is largely one of failure, of creating masses of people who believed they were Christians, but most of whom showed no evidence. They were assured by their decision which they could always regard as a milestone in their lives, but while they had raised their hand, they had never turned to Christ. Why had they not done this? Because the Spirit had not done any work in them and they were, thus, unregenerate. They had attempted to make themselves believers, a task which can only be done by God.

And that was the legacy of the Harringay Crusade in 1954 and it is my worry and fear that the masses of homes where people are artificially invited to a My Hope Matthew Party will ‘decide for Christ’ based on peer pressure, or emotion, or because they were grateful for the food, or any other reason except that the Holy Spirit had opened their eyes to their need for a Savior. False assurance is worse than being unregenerate, in my opinion. Read this verse, and you can vividly see the myriads of unregenerate false Christians pleading with Jesus:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:21-23)

You can just hear them say “I went forward at the altar call! I decided! I saw the Graham DVD! I signed a card! They told me I was in the family of God!” But no…Jesus never knew them.

I’m NOT saying that all people who have ever done those things are lost. I AM saying that the decisional regeneration method combined with fad Matthew Parties and promoted as a strategy that WILL get results is dangerous and shallow. The movie people promote it with terms such as I mentioned above, It is going to “heal our land”, and “it is going to put everyone at peace.” These claims are biblically false. When combined with the results-oriented statements such as people have “made average of 2 decisions for Christ per home” then what you’ve got is a gross misrepresentation of the Holy Spirit and not the praise due for a miracle of reconciliation by a holy, sovereign God.

The Christian Post touts this event as perhaps the biggest evangelistic event in history. Keep in mind it is created by a man who believes Muslims who don’t know Jesus are in the family of God, who believes that Roman Catholic Pope John Paul was the greatest evangelist ever, who makes a plea to thousands of people at his crusades to ‘decide for Christ’ but sends them to Catholic priests and Jewish rabbis for counseling, and put together a DVD which is a tactic, a strategy, and a passing fad of Matthew Parties.

John MacArthur spoke to these issues in his sermon The Lordship Controversy:

A subtle shift in emphasis over the past hundred years or so has gradually eroded the way evangelicals understand and present the gospel. Preaching and witnessing have changed. The message we’re hearing is less challenging, more comforting. But is it the truth?

Just as the My Hope DVD promised lands will be healed and true happiness will be found. Decisional regeneration is shallow and leads to false assurance much of the time. Continuing with the MacArthur segment:

Listen to the typical gospel presentation nowadays. You’ll hear sinners entreated with words like, “accept Jesus Christ as personal Savior”; “ask Jesus into your heart”; “invite Christ into your life”; or “make a decision for Christ.” You may be so accustomed to hearing those phrases that it will surprise you to learn that none of them is based on biblical terminology.

All of those are strategies you hear Billy Graham use and will find on the My Hope DVD. Continuing again:

They are the products of a diluted gospel. It is not the gospel according to Jesus. The gospel Jesus proclaimed was a call to discipleship, a call to follow Him in submissive obedience, not just a plea to make a decision or pray a prayer. Jesus’ message liberated people from the bondage of their sin while it confronted and condemned hypocrisy. It was an offer of eternal life and forgiveness for repentant sinners, but at the same time it was a rebuke to outwardly religious people whose lives were devoid of true righteous­ness. It put sinners on notice that they must turn from sin and embrace God’s righteous­ness. It was in every sense good news, yet it was anything but easy-believism.Our Lord’s words about eternal life were invariably accompa­nied by warnings to those who might be tempted to take salvation lightly. He taught that the cost of following Him is high, that the way is narrow and few find it. He said many who call Him Lord will be forbidden from entering the kingdom of heaven (cf. Matthew 7:13-23).”

Far from enjoying tacos at a Matthew Party and then making a decision to accept Jesus into your heart in order to experience true happiness (Billy Graham method), true faith is described in the Beatitudes, (Matthew 5:3-12).

Faith’s foundational characteristic is humility–a poverty of spirit, a brokenness that acknowledges spiritual bankruptcy. Genuine believers see themselves as sinners; they know they have nothing to offer God that will buy His favor. That is why they mourn (v. 4), with the sorrow that accompa­nies true repentance. It crushes the believer into meekness (v. 5). He hungers and thirsts for righteous­ness (v. 6). As the Lord satisfies that hunger, He makes the believing one merciful (v. 6), pure in heart (v. 7), and a peacemaker (v. 9). The believer is ultimately persecuted and reviled for righ­teousness’ sake (v. 10). … Those who cling to the memory of a one-time decision of “faith” but lack any evidence of the outworking of faith had better heed the clear and solemn warning of Scripture: “He who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36). (source)

“My Hope America” with Billy Graham (Part 1/2)

Here is some more information on all the topics I’ve covered in this blog entry

Got Questions: Decisions for Christ

Got Questions: Easy believism

Got Questions: Asking Jesus into your heart

The Difference In Making (A Decision) For Christ vs (A True Conversion) 8-min video

Paul Washer: “The Sinner’s Prayer” (3-min video)

Tin Challies: Decisional Regeneration