Eternal salvation is given to none but those who are reconciled to God through the one way provided by Jesus Christ. God demands OBEDIENCE as a condition to salvation of the soul in two related duties which the Gospel identifies as REPENTANCE toward God and FAITH toward our Lord Jesus Christ. Each of these commands must be obeyed with the whole heart, in such a complete degree as to satisfy God. It is evident that there are differing degrees of both repentance and faith. That repentance demanded as a condition of salvation must be "toward God," "(away) from sin," "unto the remission (forgiveness) of sins," "unto (eternal) life," "unto salvation," etc. The faith demanded as a condition of salvation must be "toward our Lord Jesus Christ," "unto righteousness (or justification)," etc. Seeing that they both, according to these scriptures, arrive at the same place, that being, justification before God with eternal life secured, they MUST somehow fit together as means through which God saves us. If these are duties of all men, how is the execution of them unto salvation called grace rather than works? This can be easily understood when we know the full meaning of the terms and realize the impossibility of any human heart complying with these demands without the immediate enabling power of the Holy Spirit. Repentance in the gospel sense is a complete change of attitude in the reasoning faculties of man's mind and heart. It includes seeing our own utter sinfulness from God's righteous point of view, abhorrence of the very sin in ourselves which we have loved, a despairing realization that we can do nothing to better ourselves, a willingness and desire to have God correct this natural wickedness, and a willingness to have Him become our owner and the master of our lives. It is in essence an unconditional and willing surrender to God of the rebellious fallen nature which is characteristic of our whole race. It is easy to see that in order for such a change of attitude to occur, there must of necessity be a trustworthy person unto whom the human will surrenders. As the Gospel reveals the wretchedness of our own mind and will, it simultaneously reveals the excellence of the mind, the will, and the infinite power of Jesus Christ. It tells us that He can save us from the just penalty of our own sins, and that He wills to do so. His requirement is that we have an attitude of perfect faith in him for that purpose. He has provided all of the means to enable us to achieve that desired attitude of mind and heart in the word of truth and the operations of the Holy Spirit, IF we will deal with them humbly and honestly. Repentance IS that CHANGE of attitude, and FAITH IS the resulting desired attitude which trusts God and His Son Jesus Christ with all the heart. It is easy to see how that the two duties are inseparable in their completeness, for such CHANGE is absolutely necessary to the EXISTENCE of the new attitude. Repentance is therefore essential to saving faith, although some degree of faith (belief) is necessary to cause a desire for repentance. We can view these vehicles of the soul unto salvation as two legs of the same man, both necessary to carry him to his destination. Each may exist and work independently of the other to some degree, but not unto salvation. If the man's legs were impotent, or paralyzed, in his normal state, it is easy to see why that some miraculous power must work simultaneously with his best efforts to use these limbs to walk. Both total repentance and pure faith are impossible for the sinful heart of man to achieve without enabling grace. Conviction of the eternal truth in the hands of the Holy Spirit works fear, shame, guilt, and sorrow. Godly sorrow works repentance unto salvation. Godly sorrow makes the human spirit contrite, and God "saves such as be of a contrite spirit." (Psalm 34:18) Faith is the final attitude remaining at the completion of gospel repentance. It has not only been provided for by the sacrifice of God's only begotten Son, but it has also been created by grace in the heart through a special operation of the Holy Spirit called REGENERATION. Men "call upon" God in prayer when godly sorrow over their obviously hateful sins has crushed their spirits, and they fully realize their helplessness and inability to comply with God's simplest demands. They cry for grace and salvation. "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved," thus fully harmonizes with the teaching that "whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish." Men cry to God and sincerely ask for his grace unto salvation. God graciously grants them the enabling power to repent and believe unto eternal life. All this is comprehended in the term "new birth" or "regeneration." Ephesians 2:8&9 tells us that even the faith THROUGH which we are saved BY GRACE is "NOT OF OURSELVES: IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD, NOT OF WORKS LEST ANY MAN SHOULD BOAST." Likewise the Bible teaches us that repentance is something which must be "GIVEN" (Acts 5:31 & 2nd Timothy 2:25) OR "GRANTED."(Acts 11:18) Galatians 2:16 makes a clear distinction between our belief (faith) in Christ and the faith of (or from - ablative construction) Christ, which justifies us, in the same verse. This one passage repeats the Greek nouns for Christ or Jesus Christ with their genitive/ablative endings three times in connection with justifying faith, twice in verse 16 and again in verse 22. Exactly the same construction is used in both Romans 3:22 and Philippians 3:9. Paul is the writer of all of these expressions, which agree perfectly with the truth expressed in his letter in Ephesians 2:8 that saving (justifying) faith is "not of yourselves," but rather of or from God. Most of the newer translations have eliminated this distinction by presuming this construction to be what some scholars call an "objective genitive," and have accordingly translated the English preposition in rather than of in every case. This is a matter of opinion, which we reject. The King James Version translators rendered it a genitive construction in all five instances, which indicates in each case that justifying faith is derived from the Savior rather than a product of the human mind. We are not strict "King James only" advocates, but these are verses where we much prefer its translation.
The reproof of the Holy Spirit, who wields the gospel "sword" effectively, inclines the heart of man toward a desire and a realization of need to be saved. When that desire and need becomes urgent because of FEAR, prayer for mercy from the heart toward God begins, unless at this point some false hope is injected by a deceiver. The combination of fear, shame, guilt, and sorrow which always results after the right presentation of truth reaches the heart, works to produce repentance toward God. Whereas the heart in its natural state was in rebellion against God, being concerned only with serving self and perhaps certain other people, it is by this means surrendered to God for His Divine sanctifying operation. One realization that comes with an accurate understanding of the gospel message is that NOTHING in deeds, promises, intrinsic worth, or any other quality originating from within us will help our circumstance. God alone must save us. The gospel has declared it through Jesus Christ our Lord. We call upon Him to save us and surrender to His power, trusting only in His mercy. "It's done! The great transaction's done! I am the Lord's, and He is mine!" wrote Philip Doddridge two centuries ago concerning the "happy day, when Jesus washed (his) sins away." The change, or conversion, of the soul comes miraculously and marvelously to all who obtain it by grace through repentance and faith. The blessed condition of all who are truly converted is one of dual benefit. Christ is in them, and they are in Christ. Jesus told his disciples, "At that day (when the Comforter has come) ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you." (John 14:20) As surely as Jesus was "in the Father," the disciples, having been converted were in Jesus, and He was in them. The blessed state of salvation is sometimes described by one of either of these benefits. "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus," (Romans 8:1) and "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." (2nd Corinthians 5:17) These are verses of holy Scripture which speak of saved people as being "in Christ." The change is intense! The converted person is a NEW CREATURE, made so by the regenerating power of God. The other benefit is mentioned in the following verses: "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me:..." (Galatians 2:20) and "...Christ in you, the hope of glory," (Colossians 1:27) These are only a very few of the verses where such expressions of the intimacy between Christ and his redeemed saints in the earth are put into such words. These are not to be confused with other similar sounding expressions which refer to membership in a local church body, or with those that refer to the Holy Spirit's special place of habitation among a Biblical church of His saints. These different meanings must be discerned by context. Being "in Christ," and being in His church, are not one and the same. Neither is the indwelling Christ, which blessing belongs to every true believer, all there is to "the habitation of God through the Spirit," which refers to His saints "builded together" into a church. (Ephesians 2:22) To fully define "in Christ" might well exceed our capability. We are in his love, safety, security, watch-care, guidance, family, promise, etc. How many additional benefits might be properly named which are ours the moment we have been "born of God!" By this blessing we have access to many others which we may or may not take advantage of by faith, such as His continual sweet fellowship, spiritual good works, and church membership and service therein.
There is a radical aberration of the doctrine of "free will" which has overtaken our nation and much of the "Christian" world, insomuch that thousands of evangelists invite the unconverted to "accept Christ as their personal Savior," promising that they will be instantly saved by so doing, and become recipients of the benefits of the shed blood of Jesus Christ. This threatens to be, if it is not already so, the most effective heresy in deceiving well-intentioned souls the world has ever known. A total surrender to Christ on pain of gospel reproof is the essence of true repentance and faith and certainly is rewarded with such promised benefits, the security of which is witnessed by the presence of the "new creature." When anyone believes such a false invitation and makes a decision to presumptuously "accept Christ's free salvation," and expects to be saved in eternity for having so decided, he has been taught and convinced to trust his own act of committing himself to Christ, rather than to rightly trust Christ's justifying and converting power. It is no wonder that such false evangelists repeatedly advise their converts not to expect any special feelings or vivid consciousness of spiritual transformation at the moment of their "commitment." In most cases they have no such manifestation because there was no regenerating conversion. It is unreasonable to think that one could be transformed into a "new creature" and realize "all things have become new" (2nd Corinthians 5:17) but still not be conscious of some marvelous happening. If there has been no new creation within a man, Christ is not in him and he is not "in Christ." Although he may live long and die in confidence that by his decision to "accept Christ as his personal Savior," God also accepted him as one more redeemed soul, his unregenerated soul remains unacceptable to a Holy God. Though here he may put on much outward show of righteousness, beyond this life he will be cast out of God's sight along with the deceived millions of this religious world.
It is on behalf of such deceived souls, and many more certain to be deceived by this false doctrine, and for Jesus' sake who would save them all, that this long overdue effort to expose this "damnable heresy" (2nd Peter 2:1) is being issued. In past years, God has used this writer with some of the arguments contained in this chapter to help remove the blindfold of deception from misguided souls. By the power of the Holy Spirit they were once again brought under the pain of reproof so that they were enabled, in their second attempt to be saved, to obtain true repentance and faith, and so to really become new creatures in Christ Jesus. We and our fellow laborers wept for them before they wept, and we wept with them in their pain, suffering, and death to sin. We also rejoiced with them as they arose with Christ to live for ever more, and to "walk in newness of life." Each conversion of these "twofold more the children of hell" (Matthew 23:15) has yielded heart-stirring testimonies of their experience of deception contrasted with true conversion experience. It is an incomparable experience to hear the confessions of the heart which has experienced first the false and then the true. Each such testimony, of which we have heard a great number, has increased our understanding of this heart-breaking modern tragedy being visited upon thousands of blinded souls each day that we live. May God help even the perpetrators of this treacherous deception to be enlightened; but if they WILL NOT SEE, may God at least have mercy upon their would-be victims!
All Bible students have read of the "workers of iniquity" who live out their lives supposing that they are servants of the Lord. Yet their "many wonderful works" done in Jesus' name will not prevent their damnation at God's judgement. He who "looks upon the heart" discerns every "whited sepulchre" and "blind leader of the blind" who are "deceiving and being deceived" in the name of Jesus. Most people seem to suppose that such hypocrites as Jesus described in his prophecy are terribly wicked men who are well aware of their own hypocrisy. The facts often are that such hypocrites, themselves deceived, are altogether unaware of their own iniquity in this matter. They truly think that they are doing a great work for God in winning souls. The capacity of the human heart for self-deception is astonishing. In the pride of their hearts they go about to work good works and to direct others in their quest for personal salvation, although they have not experienced the regeneration of God themselves. They know nothing of the Holy "Wind" or SPIRIT of God "blowing" or BREATHING where He wills mysteriously uttering His "sound" or VOICE. "So is every one who is born of the Spirit." (John 3:8) "The DEAD shall hear the VOICE of the Son of God, and they that hear shall LIVE." (John 5:25) They know nothing of the eternal effects of that Holy Wind pacifying their troubled hearts, because it has not happened to them. They have not undergone that transformation into a "new creature" (2nd Corinthians 5:17) of been "called out of darkness into his marvelous light!" (1st Peter 2:9) The light of God has not shined in their hearts to "give the light of the KNOWLEDGE of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." (2nd Corinthians 4:6) Nor have they known those "fruits of the Holy Spirit" (Galatians 5:22), which are "peace of God which passeth all understanding" (Philippians 4:7), "the love of Christ which passeth knowledge" (Ephesians 3:19), and "joy unspeakable and full of glory" (1st Peter 1:8), because they only imagine themselves to be possessors of the indwelling Holy Spirit. They, like the Pharisees of old do not realize that they are "vipers," because their fangs have never been bared for themselves to see. The Pharisees were the best of men according to human discernment. Not until Jesus revealed their true identity unto themselves did they bare their fangs and unleash their venom which was hidden in their devilish hearts to become willful murderers of the Son of God. In their spiritual pride, like Satan, they had ascended to the heavens in their own minds. How intensely they hated the One who raised serious questions regarding their holiness! His probing words cut deeply into their wicked and disguised hearts. These Jews, who persecuted Jesus and sought to kill him, were told by him, "Ye have neither heard His (God's) voice at any time, nor seen His shape. And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom He hath sent, Him ye believe not." (John 5:37&38) Essentially, Jesus was telling those Jews that they knew nothing of their God by experience and revelation, or else they would have believed His words. He had just finished telling them (verse 25) that the "hour" had arrived when "the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live." These spiritually-dead men who were presuming themselves saved by other means than God's life-giving voice were not happy with Jesus' challenge of their rightness with God. We are not unacquainted with this same type of reaction, having witnessed it often as the true evangelism began to expose a deceived heart. One of our good friends, a very effective evangelist and missionary, warns his listeners against the deceptiveness of the "modern pharisee baptists." This is his apt description in simple terms. We hope that the readers can see why from the foregoing analysis.
Each heretical movement develops its own defense mechanisms against the danger of exposure. The longer the heresy runs rampant in the world, occasionally encountering conflict with the real truth, the fuller these mechanisms are developed.
It is thought by many to be the insult exceeding all other insults to QUESTION the salvation of one who has "accepted Christ as his personal Savior." An opposite attitude exists among those of us who preach and practice true regeneration. Among us it is thought to be a wise practice to examine self and others thoroughly, scripturally, spiritually, prayerfully, and frequently, lest some miss the mark. Our preachers frequently preach sermons which induce doubt, which can then be either erased if the doubter is truly saved, or enhanced if the doubter has been deceived, by careful and prayerful examination. The spiritually directed "word of God" pries into the hidden recesses of the heart and discerns the true condition existing there. (Hebrews 4:12) If that truth discerns evil where we thought there was good, how blessed it is to be delivered from our deception! So often souls deceived by a superficial "belief" take offense at the first induced doubts regarding their salvation or holiness. Their displeasure is usually directed toward the person who spoke in such a manner as to induce them to doubt. It is not unusual for them to experience feelings of outrage toward someone who dares to be so insulting as to question their conversion. They do not know that they ought to be thankful that someone cares enough about their eternal welfare to raise such an important question. Gold, when it is tried in the fire, does not perish. It becomes purer with every trial. So it is with God's salvation, but the stubble of deception will be quickly consumed in fiery tests of God's word. Far better it is that it be done now than at the final judgment, when it will be too late to correct any errors. Such offense at having one's conversion questioned is a DEFENSE MECHANISM planted in the minds of many deceived persons by clever indoctrination which follows their "conversion." This thinking safeguards their deception to protect it from exposure by soul- searching truth. It is so utterly unscriptural! The following warnings issued to church members prove it so! "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God." (Hebrews 3:12) "Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. (Hebrews 4:12) "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?" (2nd Corinthians 13:5) The best of churches, with the surest evangelistic methods, warn all their members often in this regard. Satan has done well for himself to construe this as an insult in the minds of millions of people who think themselves to be "Christians."
As if Satan was afraid that a sense of outrage might prove insufficient to keep some deceived souls in captivity to deception, another teaching and practice has been developed as an additional aid. The practice called "rededication" has become a catch-all for troubled souls. There is certainly nothing wrong with the idea of rededication for those children of God who have fallen out of fellowship with God by indulging in sin, but such is a private matter between God and the soul, and should require no public display. AFTER the sin is repented and forgiven, if any acknowledgement is owed to the church, it is appropriate to make that public, but such a confession is far different from the common practice of "rededicating your life." Many people "go forward" in response to such an invitation because they are troubled in the feelings of their hearts, for the purpose of gaining some consolation. They go away "rededicated" and feeling better for a while, until the next time the unsettling truth disquiets their empty hearts. In this manner troubled hearts are pacified one more time, instead of dying to sin and being made alive by the converting power of God once and for ever.
Many years ago I encountered a young woman who had been received from a Southern Baptist church as a member into the church of which I was pastor. During a powerful revival meeting I announced a call for saved people to present themselves as candidates for Baptism to become members of that church. I made it very clear in my instructions that it was NOT an altar call for unsaved people, because we did not practice combining both invitations. As we waited, this young woman came forward trembling and obviously broken-hearted and reached out to take me by the hand. As I took her trembling hand I asked, "Why have you come? You are already a member of this church." She answered, "I don't know; I guess I just wanted to rededicate my life." I realized that she had been taught that way in the church where she had supposedly "accepted the Lord," and so I answered, "We don't practice that way here; if you are not saved and you need to seek the Lord we will pray with you." She declined, and appearing somewhat confused she wandered back to her seat. The following night, at the time of the altar call, she was so troubled that she fell over on the pew on which she was sitting weeping and trembling. Many lost souls came for prayer that night, and being occupied with other things it took some time for me to give attention to her. When I looked upon her she was lying quietly on the pew. I asked, "What is wrong with you?" "Nothing," she answered, "I've been saved." "When," I asked. "Just now!" was her happy answer. Thank God she was NOT encouraged or allowed to take refuge in that insufficient consolation she was seeking the night before.
Another defense mechanism built into the deceived soul is the belief that the proper assurance of salvation is in the word, meaning in the Bible. They have been taught that the Bible is the Word of God which cannot lie, and that the Bible promises eternal salvation to every believer. Believing is then defined to them as an act of man, as if man by his own will could completely trust the Christ whom he has not seen nor in any other manner known, and be saved thereby. Repentance is presented as a deliberate turning away from sin and a change of mind sufficient to bring about the decision to accept Christ's offer of free salvation. When one has made the decision to accept Christ, and makes that decision known, he is immediately assured by the teacher that he is "already saved" and needs search no longer. On the basis of that deliberate commitment, his assurance rests in the confidence that he has believed, that God has promised in his written word, and that God cannot lie. The new convert is then instructed that according to the "Word of God" (Bible) he has been "born again," is a "new creature," is now enlightened, has been justified by Jesus' blood, has been cleansed and forgiven of all his sins, is eternally saved, and has the Holy Spirit dwelling in his heart. He is assured that he has all of this on the strength of his "commitment," in response to the promise of God. If he should protest that he doesn't FEEL saved or contented in his heart about the matter, he is gently reproved for trusting his own feelings more than the word of God. All of these benefits he is made to think are his by promise because he thinks he "took God at His word," when what he really "took" was the false interpretation of his teacher. He is taught that such blind presumption as he has just been led through is "faith." Such doctrine seeks to eliminate any desire for revelation, experimental knowledge, and consciousness of the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit to fully assure the soul of its safety. Such feelings and impressions as are common to regenerated people are absent, but the proselyte is taught not to be concerned about his lack of fellowship with the Holy Spirit. The preacher says that such direct spiritual communications are unnecessary since the convert has the assurance of "God's word" that he already has the Holy Spirit. Such assurances are urged as more desirable security than a sense of the very presence of the Spirit in the heart. They say that we can be safe without knowing intuitively that God abides in us, having His Spirit bear direct "witness with our spirit that we are the children of God." (Romans 8:16) Such teaching reverses the proper order of true knowledge. This false doctrine says, "we know we have the Holy Spirit, because we have believed, and God promised Him to every believer." The true doctrine is, "we know that we have truly believed because we sense the Holy Spirit within us, confirming to us that our faith is acceptable to God." This false doctrine sets up man as both enabler and judge of his own faith, whereas the Bible establishes God as the only enabler and the only proper judge of man's faith.
Any honest-minded person who has no experimental know- ledge of salvation will often be induced to doubt his own conversion by the mere testimonies of those who have experienced the new birth. The deceived person's defense against such doubts is to flee to the sanctuary of the Bible and rest presumptuously upon its promises as misapplied by his erring teacher. Jesus returned as a Comforter to his people and a reprover to the world in the person of the Holy Spirit. (John 14:16-18 & 16:8), but this false doctrine has the Bible set up as the Living Word of God (as used in John 1:1, where the Word IS God the Son). It has both Christ and Holy Spirit imprisoned in the Bible. By thus prejudicing his mind against feelings and impressions, a deceived person is tricked into ignoring the only source of power which can reveal his deception to him, God's Holy Spirit. Invitations given to unsaved people by preachers practicing this deception vary considerably, from inviting sinners to come forward and kneel for prayer, to calling people to "decision" and a walk down the aisle to publicly acknowledge that decision. Such deceptive practices all have in common a dependence upon the will and actions of men rather than the power and operations of God.
Many years ago an old preacher who had no use for the modern "instant salvation" doctrine was overseeing an altar service during which God's people were tarrying and praying with several seekers of salvation. His watchful eye observed a person infected with these deceptive notions attracting the attention of a mourner who had been trying to call upon the Lord for salvation. After overhearing the substance of the interrupter's instructions, the old minister boldly halted his interference and questioned him in this manner, "Are you trying to tell this sinner that faith is a product of the carnal mind?" Indeed, that is what they do when they coax a sinner to "accept Christ" or "take Him at his word" instead of recommending to him the able counsel of the Holy Spirit already striving with his heart.
Some of our churches have been bothered considerably at times by this type of over-zealous "soul-winner" who considers us too ignorant to speed up the work of God by means of counsel to seeking sinners. They have often tried to infiltrate our congregations and to take advantage of the excitement of our revival services to distract and so "win to Christ" those seekers otherwise occupied with the dealings of the Holy Spirit. It has become an added unpleasant chore for sound Christians to stand guard over mourners to protect them from well-intentioned but misguided workers. Some older people wisely observed that this modern practice was, in effect, the same as that of Campbellites churches, in that it "denied the agency of the Holy Spirit" and made salvation dependent upon the actions of men.
My grandmother was the first to warn me against the "modern Baptists," as she called them, who, as an old pastor of hers used to say, were "stealing the Campbellites' doctrine." She said that they would deceive me if given a chance. Many of my friends at school, in later years, were taught by this new breed of Baptists. My salvation experience, which God gave me at age eleven, was a puzzling mystery to them. Whereas children tend to be honest, many of them readily acknowledged that no such spiritual experience or revelation occurred in their hearts when they had "accepted Christ" according to the custom of their churches.
Many years passed before I was an eyewitness to that practice I had been strongly warned against. At the age of seventeen I visited one of their churches. My pastor, an aged man, could well remember when that church practiced the very same evangelistic methods we yet employed. On the occasion of my visit, two girls in their early teens responded to the invitation at the end of the preacher's sermon. One of them walked down the aisle streaming tears all along the way as she came to stand beside the preacher weeping, sobbing and trembling throughout the brief procedure of accepting both of them as candidates for baptism. Not a word was spoken by them in testimony of God's saving grace. It was evident that the one was still in much trouble of heart from conviction of sin, even while she was approved for baptism and church membership. While the church took this action the preacher patted her with his consoling hand, unable to infuse into her soul that peace that accompanies forgiveness of sins, to which the unhindered Holy Spirit would surely have led her. In spite of the obvious, she was apparently consoled enough by those formalities to believe man's assurance that she was saved in that process, so that her heart-shaking conviction slowly began to subside. I left that place with the feeling that I had witnessed a murder! Indeed I had witnessed the murder of a soul, a far worse crime in the eternal view than the taking of an innocent life. My indignation toward that preacher did not cool until I reasoned that he also was deceived. No doubt he thought that he had led two souls to Christ. I was troubled for weeks about that awful scene, as I have been again and again, every time that I have witnessed a similar deception. I will never forget, this side of eternity, the indelible impression it made in the deepest part of my soul. I understood the spiritual trauma I observed in that young lady. It was the same as that which I suffered moments before my soul was flooded with incomprehensible peace and unspeakable joy. To have witnessed that trouble being slowly shoved aside to make room for a presumptuous acceptance of a supposed salvation so cheaply offered, was almost more than I could live with. Had she been left alone to pray to God, she could have quickly found the same gift of grace which God worked into my soul.
Few people seem to realize the danger of this doctrine and accompanying practice to eternal human souls. Many saved people who can see some deficiency in such a system still suppose it to be of little danger. Because of this lack of "vision, the people perish!" (Proverbs 29:18) Many people who apparently are saved, are contributing to the deception and eternal loss of their loved ones and friends by affiliating with and condoning such teaching and practice. An old evangelist used to declare that those who preach Christ in this manner are giving their proselytes a "vaccination" against the gospel. Here he used an excellent analogy. A vaccination works by infecting the patient with a weakened or dead germ of the disease which it is desired to prevent. The patient's body produces antibodies which are designed to overcome the mild infection. These antibodies then remain to immunize the body against the germs of the deadly disease. Many advocates of the "accept Christ" heresy strive to excite their hearers emotionally with the truth about eternal damnation and the tormenting fires of Hell. They love to convince them that they are wicked sinners deserving to be damned. Any person so excited and convinced is tormented and troubled in heart and can easily be induced to seek the fastest and easiest way out of his uncomfortable circumstance. When people in such a condition respond to an invitation, they are led to believe that their response is evidence of faith, that they have complied with God's requirements, and that they are accounted among the saved by God from that moment forever. As they accept the idea that they are saved, despite a lack of internal evidence, their fear and shame begins to subside and they feel a relief from the former anxiety of their worried and guilty minds. The greater the contrast of these feelings, the greater is the effect of the vaccination. In view of this, there is no wonder that Satan allows many of his servants to use the words of the Holy Bible to severely frighten and shame the lost people in their audiences! Such preaching makes stronger proselytes because they are more deeply deceived. The most effective deception is always the one which most nearly approaches the right way without allowing the person to enter at the strait gate into eternal life.
In my youth I had much experience with cattle. Often when a herd was driven through a gate into an adjoining pasture, the frisky calves would miss the gate and run along on the wrong side of the fence beside the herd. It was obvious that the calves thought that they were a part of the herd even while the fence separated them from it. No amount of effort could convince a calf who thought he was in company with the herd to regard that fence as anything important enough to cause a future separation between him from the herd. Trying to drive him away from the herd far enough to get him through the gate was useless. Fortunately, there was another way for the calf to enter, a shortcut over the fence by several strong human hands. For a sinner who makes a false profession of faith in Christ there is no shortcut. He must admit and confess his deception and hypocrisy, be separated from God's fold by God's Spirit and truth, and be driven in his humiliation back to the "strait gate ... that leads unto life" which he missed on his previous try.
The person who has been vaccinated against the gospel may hear a much stronger gospel at a later time. When he hears of the fear of God and the guilt, shame, and sorrow which follow, he may identify this in his mind as the trouble he experienced before he "committed his life to Christ." When he hears of the wonderful "peace of God" that accompanies salvation he may console himself with his memory of the "better feeling" of relief he experienced when he was persuaded he had satisfied God. Thus he has been effectively deceived by a mild likeness of a genuine conversion experience. He remembers a bad feeling which was replaced with a much better feeling, but he has not experienced a "broken heart and a crushed spirit" (Psalm 34:18 & 51:17, Isaiah 57:15 & 66:2), replaced by the "peace of God that surpasses all understanding." (Philippians 4:7) His experience was, like his faith, superficial, being far too shallow to be the mysterious "renewing of the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:5) which comes with "the evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1) Then how can such a person ever become convinced that he has been deceived? We rejoice in hope, because "with God all things are possible." (Matthew 19:26) We have seen many of such people saved. It seems that honesty of heart is the greatest single factor in their enlightenment and deliverance, after they have heard real testimony regarding the manner of God's saving operations from a true witness.
It is fortunate, we think, that sometimes the vaccination results in an overdose, and the subject really does obtain salvation. Some people are truly saved in the midst of such practices, but the far greater number are deceived. We fear that few of these deceived souls ever escape from their bondage. Some may ask, "If such experiences of deception are such clever imitations of genuine salvation experiences, how can deceived people ever become convinced of their insufficiency?" First of all, in answer to that question, the Holy Spirit, our merciful God, will from time to time trouble the heart and induce doubt in the mind of a deceived person. Unfortunately for them, the same teachers who deceive souls labor incessantly to console and reassure all of their proselytes as soon and as often as they doubt their salvation. Associations with genuinely converted people, where possible, will often lead deceived persons to awareness that their associates have an intimate fellowship and communication with God which they are missing. Close comparison of the deceived person's conversion experience with a real salvation experience will reveal the fact that there is an opposite order in the two happenings. In the experience of true salvation, peace is spoken to the heart of man by the Holy Spirit. The intellectual mind may be slow in many cases to comprehend what has occurred, but when the natural mind comprehends that the heart has been filled with the "peace of God that surpasses all understanding," and that forgiveness of sins has been granted by God, "joy unspeakable and full of glory" (1st Peter 1:8) fills the heart and mind in the full awareness of God's love and forgiveness.
In the experience of the deceived person, truly the "cart has been placed before the horse." When deception is experienced, the intellectual mind is first convinced that the demands of God have been met, and that God has freely granted pardon to the soul. As the mind firmly rests on this thought, the relief that is induced settles downward into the heart and eases the pain of troubling conviction and its disquieting feelings of fear, guilt, shame and sorrow. Pangs of conviction sometimes recur, but the deceived person may easily return to the same human reassurances by which he was originally comforted. When a person has been deceived by receiving false consolation from a human hand rather than from the hand of God, his first impulse when pangs of conviction begin to recur is to flee to the very hand which comforted him before. In carrying out the directives of such impulses, he usually receives from that same human hand another dose of deceptive consolation. This very normal impulse is so compelling that it is often difficult to restrain the deceived person from climbing over all obstacles in search of his comforter. What is happening in the spiritual realm in this process of soul-deception is almost too horrible to be believed. God intended for the eternal truth to convict the souls of men "of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment" (John 16:8) in order that they might be inclined and enabled to repent from sin and flee in faith to Jesus for refuge, and be saved. This truth was intended by God to be wielded by the Holy Spirit as a sword while using a human instrument only as His mouthpiece. That same Holy Spirit was intended to draw the soul of a convicted man unto a perfect repentance and faith, cleanse and renew his soul, and bless his heart and mind with peace, love, and joy as evidence of his forgiveness and justification in God's sight. When mortal men take it upon themselves to preach the Gospel, and their expounded words from the Holy Bible in some measure convict the heart of a lost sinner, that soul enters a searching and desperate state. Like a drowning person, that soul will grasp for whatever appears to him to be able to carry him to safety. As he peers frantically and helplessly into the fearful darkness reaching out to swallow him, the Holy Spirit would gently draw him to where he could reach out by faith and take hold of Jesus. Wise counselors would urge him to submit to the drawing of the Spirit and trust God who would lead him on to an embrace of the Savior. A deceiver will ignorantly seek to draw his attention to himself and his interpretation of the Bible. He does not know that the Bible, and indeed the whole Gospel, should already have done its work, and that the Spirit of God must be trusted in doing His final work to complete the conversion. In his ignorance, the deceiver appears in front of the seeker at a time when he is reaching out for the comforting hand of Christ. Instead of touching Christ, he grasps the comforting hand of the altar worker, and by means of what appears to be scriptural truth, he is consoled. In this human priest he finds his consolation, instead of finding comfort in the Divine High Priest, Jesus Christ. Neither the deceived nor the deceiver understand what has occurred in the spiritual realm. The deceiver believes that he has won a soul to Christ. The seeker believes that he has been saved. Neither of them know that a mortal has unwittingly usurped the place of Christ in the mind of the seeker and has brought a measure of comfort thereby to his soul. That false priesthood between the comforted and his comforter, perceived by neither of the two people involved, is what powers the impulse to flee again to that same source of comfort whenever conviction recurs to disturb the heart. Many of the practitioners of this type of "soul-winning" are swift to condemn those religions which deliberately and openly set up a human priesthood. They rightly perceive such a priestly institution as a barrier between men and Christ. Yet they are unwittingly used by the Devil to become just such a barrier them-selves. This is a spiritual reality not perceived by many.
When dealing with a deceived soul of the type being discussed, a child of God should take great care to persuade him not to return to his priest or priesthood which first gave him insufficient consolation.
The practice of announcing a physical invitation to unsaved souls, whatever the form of it may be, is an innovation in evangelism and is therefore not described in the holy scriptures. The practice of praying for lost sinners, and the practice of sinners "calling on the name of the Lord" for salvation antedate the Gospel age. Such practices are taught in Old Testament scriptures (Isaiah 55:6, Jonah 3:8-10) as well as in New Testament scriptures. (Romans 10:13, Acts 22:16) The method of giving an "altar call" was in its origin an invitation to the lost and convicted sinner to come to a specified place to pray and be prayed for by wise and holy men and women. Methods once profitably used to carry out the work of God often later become perverted in the hands of people who are ignorant of their original intent and usage. So has the "altar call" become harmful in the hands of many, having become an invitation to deception. Truly, preachers of the Gospel may invite souls to come to Jesus and be saved, but that is a journey of the heart down a spiritual road to the cross. It must not be confused with a walk down some aisle to the preacher or altar. The only physical altar call we can scripturally give is an invitation to prayer. Only the Holy Spirit is capable of drawing a soul to the foot of the cross where they obtain the cleansing blood of Christ. ANY invitation which promises more than this is deceptive.
Some preachers leave an impression on the minds of lost sinners that one step down the aisle to "go forward and accept Christ" will satisfy God. While it is true that some have been saved in the midst of such a physical act, they were saved because of what was occurring invisibly in their hearts where the Holy Spirit was operating with the word of eternal truth. It is just as much a fact that some have been saved while sitting bodily on their pew while their hearts took a journey with the Holy Spirit to Jesus. Any who are following the preacher rather than the Holy Spirit during such invitations are being misled.
Other preachers use the altar call as a means to obtain subjects for their spiritual inquisition, to be performed by themselves or a number of trained counselors. This is more deceptive than the invitation to come forward and accept Christ, because many come intending to "call upon the name of the Lord," having been invited to do so and feeling that need in their hearts. They respond with "good faith" in the preacher, only to be shortly interrupted and distracted by some inquisitor who is confident that the Holy Spirit needs his help to lead a soul to Christ. Many years ago I visited a meeting where this method was used. A very clever and emotion-stirring sermon was delivered, which climaxed in an altar call which brought many to their knees in tears and prayer. Counting those who went forward with those troubled souls to pray with them, thirty or more people soon knelt at the front of the auditorium in earnest prayer to God. Within a few minutes one of those seekers, thank God, was very obviously rejoicing in the Savior's love in a visible spontaneous display. A merciful God had snatched him from the grasp of the deceiver, and eternally beyond the reach of the deadly procedure about to begin. Approximately five minutes after the prayer began, the assistant pastor, who apparently was the official inquisitor, after consulting his wrist watch, began his work of distracting, one by one, each praying soul with his words of counsel. Soon he had them all up from prayer and apparently pacified, except for two people he could not persuade. These two appeared to have been overdosed to the degree that none of his words could halt them from trembling, sobbing, and weeping. Repeatedly, this ignorant but zealous worker of iniquity attempted to distract from their contrition those two broken-hearted souls whom he was unable to pacify with his urgings. One of the two rejected all of his efforts and remained in prayer even as the crowd dispersed, after the meeting was formally dismissed. The other one was finally coaxed to a microphone. There she gave what they called her "testimony." Still racked with grief and emotion, she told the audience that she had been "saved" some short time before that night, and that she did not know WHAT was wrong with her. It was obvious to any spiritually learned observer that she possessed at that moment a "broken heart and a crushed spirit." She would have been, had she been given the right counsel, an excellent prospect for a true conversion. I would have given much that night for the liberty to advise her to obey the "word of God ... in her heart" (Romans 10:8), instead of the obviously false confidence in a conversion someone had planted in her head. That occasion brought me the closest I have ever come to interference in someone else's "revival meeting." I was scarcely able to restrain myself from attempting to halt such wicked proceedings. To this day I am unsure whether I failed God by not doing so.
One of our preachers once used the following analogy to describe this type of deceptive practice. When he was a child his family kept "setting hens" to hatch baby chickens. He and his brother could not resist the temptation to help the hatching chickens escape from the egg shells. As a result of their assistance, some of them died. He compared the actions of himself and his brother to those of Christian counselors who think they can help mourning souls be born of the Spirit more rapidly and with greater ease.
Some "evangelists" leave an impression in the minds of unsaved people that if they will only come and kneel at an altar and ask God to save them, they are certain to go their way forgiven. If the hearers believe such a false message, some of them will be deceived in their own actions of merely going and kneeling, even if no counselor approaches them during the entire process.
Far better it would be if the evangelist would give no physical invitation of any kind, than that he should project a false hope to his audience. Many good churches of the distant past apparently gave no such invitations as are common today, yet they prayed the power of God down upon the unsaved, preached the Gospel to them with the Holy Spirit, and left the method of saving souls to God. Many were genuinely saved under such practices. True Christians have always prayed FOR lost sinners, and whenever they were requested to do so, they prayed WITH them also. Invitations need not be inherently deceptive, however, if they properly emphasize to those invited to expect deliverance directly from God which they alone will know when it happens, rather than trusting in their own response.
During my high school years I read John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress because it was recommended as a literary classic by a teacher. Its contents were amazing to me. I quickly recognized the early part of it as an allegory of my experience with God in His regeneration of my spirit and my conversion to Christian faith. From this I understood that the whole account was an allegory of a Christian's spiritual life. I expounded this according to my limited ability in an oral report to the class. The instructor seemed quite surprised, and she seriously questioned the authority with which I declared the meaning of the Pilgrim's Progress. Again I affirmed that I understood it by similar experience. She then replied, "I have read that book several times, but I never did feel that I got the gist of it." A particular friend sat on the edge of her chair with profound attention to the report. Sometime later in a religious discussion I was emphatically affirming my certainty of my salvation to a friend when that same classmate tugged at my arm and inquired in what seemed to be a desperate plea, "tell me how I can KNOW that I am saved." Among other words I advised her to attend our Old Time Baptist churches during the coming revival season. She had presumably "accepted Christ" under the influence of a Baptist Church which had long before adopted Billy Sunday's evangelistic method of "walking the aisle." A few months later she confessed to being truly saved while she was bowed down in humble prayer during a revival meeting in an Old Time Baptist Church.
There are two natural and common objections to the type of practice which is conducive to regeneration rather than to deception of souls. The depth of mourning which is manifested in the prayers and actions of some convicted and contrite souls is quite disturbing to all observers. Although his heart is disturbed by the spectacle, the wise observer is patiently content to trust God's workings, knowing that God is able to save without human interference. The unwise observer may become outraged at God for so afflicting the mourner, or more likely, at the preacher, for not doing more to "help" the poor struggling soul. Any deliberate attempt to help that soul by human counsel which is not directed by promptings from God's Holy Spirit must be prevented if the practice is to remain conducive to regeneration. Unwise observers are particularly disturbed if the cries and prayers of mourning souls continue for long periods without any relief. There is a common saying among the deceivers: "It doesn't take God all day to do his work." This they say in ridicule of those who tarry long in prayer with mourning sinners. All of us understand that God's "new creation" seems to human perception to be an instantaneous happening. Regarding completion of the regeneration process and God's seal of eternal salvation, it can correctly be said to be so, but that final great transaction will not be completed until the conditions of REPENTANCE and FAITH have been fully met. They too are a part of the process of God's regeneration, requiring both the drawing and enabling of God's Holy Spirit, operating simultaneously with the surrender, trust, and prayerful desire of the seeking sinner. Saving repentance and faith are NOT products of the carnal mind of man, which are laid down as prerequisites to some guaranteed automatic response of God, who will grant an "instant salvation" to all who do them. In their completeness they are both quite impossible actions apart from God's immediate enabling grace. They are NOT works or actions of the body, although they often are accompanied by some characteristic outward activity. They are attitudes and acts of the heart. It is a shallow view of the depth of true repentance and faith which motivates such impatience and ridicule. Such displeasure with the disturbing effect of mourning on observers has been the primary motive behind the modernizing of evangelistic practices in many churches. It is an easily provable FACT of documented history that thousands of churches which in years past could often be found praying, singing, and tarrying with mourning souls, even into the late hours of the night, have since eliminated all such practice in order to embrace streamlined methods more pleasing to the carnal mind. "Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox." (Proverbs 14:4) The travail, the birth-pangs, experienced by both interceding saints and lost sinners coming to the new birth, are not pleasant to experience or to behold without the advantage of spiritual understanding, but those who have eliminated all such unpleasantry have also deceived themselves with the false belief that there can be an eternal "increase" without them. These have departed from the doctrine of the cross, choosing to eliminate the suffering and shame in the flesh necessary to "cease from sin." (1st Peter 4:1) They have not correctly understood the doctrine of "the cross," in which is the "power of God, unto us which are saved" (1st Corinthians 1:18). They suppose that doctrine to consist only in the fact of Jesus' suffering for us, and not to include the necessity of our suffering under the weight and misery of the revealed awfulness of our sins, which necessitated that awful death of God's Son. Thus they scoff at that spiritual experience which brings the soul into intimate touch with the only understanding which can PRODUCE saving repentance and faith.
Most of the Baptist churches of old put great emphasis on intercessory prayer to God in behalf of lost sinners, and much less emphasis on pleading with lost sinners in behalf of God. In most modern churches, that emphasis is completely reversed. The only prayer used in evangelism is usually a formal pretence of brief duration in which the lost sinner supposedly shares, after which he is declared "saved," if indeed any prayer is encouraged. On the other extreme, modern evangelism ingeniously employs all of the arts of human persuasion in attempts to convince the carnal minds of lost sinners to "believe and confess" who have not received grace with which to believe, nor any change of heart to truly confess. It is easy to see why the result of such erring evangelism is usually deception. Such deception of the soul, though unintended, is the cruelest of all deceptions. It gives troubled and frightened souls false hope and false consolation, convincing them in the process that they are eternally saved, when, in fact, they remain as lost as they ever were. Such deception is difficult to undo, even under conditions of great spiritual power and excellent truth.
I have never forgotten a scene in which a nine year old boy was so overcome with sorrow that he lay face down on the floor trembling, weeping, and crying to God for a long while, after which God took away his sorrow and saved his soul. Many saints knelt around him deeply sorrowing and praying God to save him, but none dared to disturb the work of God. I marveled as I watched, rejoicing in the glory of God, who swore, "every knee shall bow unto me." The death of both of his parents could not have created a deeper sorrow than was observed in such a small boy. While some might have questioned his accountability for his sin, evidence of that "godly sorrow (which) works repentance unto salvation" (2nd Corinthians 7:10) was undeniable. I rejoiced, as I often do when I am witnessing such mourning, not because I enjoy seeing the suffering of the mourner, but rather because I understand that this is the way to forgiveness. Salvation and rejoicing are forthcoming to every soul who "sorrows to repentance."
Perhaps even more disturbing to many people is the fact that many such mourners will leave the place of prayer still mourning and quite unsatisfied. They may return many times to pray, and to be prayed with, before peace is given from God to quiet their troubled souls. Men want God to deal with them as if He was another man with whom they had "struck a deal," and so to put Him under obligation to keep His end of the bargain. God is the eternal, all-powerful, sovereign ruler and creator of the universe and He can do with His creatures, including man, according to His will and purpose. It is accurate to say that one who is still lost and troubled remains so because he has not "believed," but only by the undeserved favor of God has ANYONE ever been enabled to "believe unto righteousness." Only through this faith "by grace" are men justified by the blood of Jesus Christ. He who "worketh all things after the counsel of His own will" is not obligated to save people either while they are walking down the aisle of after five of ten minutes of prayer. He may sometimes do so, but only when He is satisfied to do so. God does often glorify His sovereign power by means of outward manifestations of His inward workings with the heart of one who is seeking salvation. He will save people in His own way and according to His own time, and in so doing He will glorify himself before the eyes of many witnesses.
In the mid 1960's, a young woman attended a revival meeting where the power of God's Holy Spirit so humbled a man about thirty-five years of age that he bowed down in prayer and mourning. She had been religious all of her life and had seen many people profess faith and salvation by walking down the aisle of a church building in response to a preacher's invitation. That praying man was immediately surrounded by a number of praying saints who spoke only to God as they prayed earnestly unto Him. After a while, he arose with an unmistakable testimony of conversion written upon his countenance, and also announced vocally to the congregation the fact that God had just saved his soul. After the meeting she was asked whether she had ever witnessed anything like that before. After answering in the negative she was asked what she thought happened to that man. "He got saved," she answered, "I could see it by looking at him." While God's salvation is frequently not that obvious to observers, this was a case where God had a purpose in using the new convert as an unwitting but excellent witness, adding much to spoken words by means of His demonstration. The next night she renounced her experience of deception and sought to receive God's eternal blessing in a manner similar to that which she had witnessed. Only after many such efforts, made during a period of several months, she was finally enabled to fully repent and believe, and God was glorified in saving and blessing her soul.
Sallie Rochester Ford, in her partly fictional tale about Mary Bunyan, blind daughter of John Bunyan, described a Baptist prayer meeting scene in that age of persecution three and one-half centuries ago. She described a scene of Mary attending a prayer meeting with friends, according to what was probably a good description of the manner of those early Baptist churches. Diligent saints gathered in prayer for lost souls, leaving the unsaved attenders to God to be dealt with by His Holy Spirit. As they prayed, Mary Bunyan became convicted of her sins and of her need for salvation. She informed the praying saints, who then prayed for her at length. After all of their combined efforts, she left that meeting unsaved but deeply impressed to visit her father who was confined in the Bedford jail for preaching the gospel. In his own jail cell John Bunyan knelt in prayer with his daughter and there it pleased God to save her. It probably cannot be ascertained how much of this particular account was fact and how much was conjecture. Mrs. Ford did not present it as a factual account. We do know from Bunyan's biographers that he prayed much for his blind daughter while he was imprisoned. At the very least this story conveys something of the MANNER of God and His saints of that distant time. That is why we mention it here. Sister Ford, the wife of a very influential Baptist preacher of the nineteenth century, S. F. Ford, and also a noted religious scholar in her own right, was not only very familiar with what Baptists practiced in her own time, but with their historical practices also. (MARY BUNYAN: THE DREAMER'S BLIND DAUGHTER, A TALE OF RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION by Sallie Rochester Ford)
To complete this chapter on observations I feel compelled to add one last experience which seems to identify a risk associated with this fundamental error not emphasized previously. About four years into my engineering career, and a year before I had to abandon it for the sake of the ministry to which God had called me while I was a senior in college, I encountered a co-worker whom I remembered had been, about ten years earlier, a very honored student at a Baptist college in the same city where I attended high school. Very soon after we met I asked him if he remained a devout Southern Baptist. "No," he replied, "I am an agnostic." Somewhat shocked, I asked him how he, who had been such a vaunted example of their "Christian youth" could have come to doubt the existence of God. "Well, you see, faith is blind," he said, "and I can't accept that." I asked in reply, "Is that what they taught you?" He said that it was. I told him that he had been misinformed, that faith was an ability that could see much farther and far deeper and be more certain than any other perceptive ability known to man, being "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1) I was already well aware that the college he had attended had lapsed into acceptance of a "faith" that was little more than blind presumption of the truth of the Biblical message long before he attended there. Insistence upon any experimental aspect of saving faith had long before been eliminated from their doctrine. Still, I was amazed that he would settle on agnosticism, until I considered what I might do if I had trusted in a mute God whose only communications to me were contained in letters written two to four millenniums ago. Since the Holy Spirit came into my heart to dwell at age eleven, God had on occasion spoken to me quite as vividly as he had the day of my astonishing conversion. Many clever skeptics both in person and in print had tried to convince me that my new birth experience was merely imagined, or was perhaps a hallucination. Secular college life, especially, will try Christian faith like that. I knew such suggestions were impossible, because no such unrealities could grow more intense as time progressed and be edified by similar recurrences at irregular intervals, sometimes when I neither expected nor desired Divine communications.
Such apostate men and women are only a part of the legacy of a mute God, misrepresented as such in order to pacify a new class of unregenerated "Christians," modern "Baptist church members" proselyted to satisfy a lust for great numbers. George Whitefield very ably described this type of evangelism and its converts in a sermon of long ago, saying, it is "Peace. peace, when there is no peace" from God. (First sermon of 25 OF THE GREATEST SERMONS EVER PREACHED, compiled and edited by Jerry Falwell) (I am NOT recommending the other 24 sermons in this book!
All who are truly born of the Holy Spirit are permanently indwelled by Him. Because of the intuitive evidence which accompanies this blessed condition, it is impossible for such converts to doubt God's existence, except, possibly, for a brief moment of temptation. Certainly none of them could ever become an agnostic or an atheist. Virtual agnosticism often appears in members of a modern "christian" culture which knows nothing of real fellowship with, and communications from, a Living God. The United States of America is the blessed heritage of a people who, in great numbers, knew the "voice" of God as something much more intimate than their interpretation of the Bible, but largely because of this tragic fundamental error and what it produces, we are rapidly losing that blessedness.
Jesus said of the "good shepherd," "the sheep hear his voice: and he calls his own sheep by name ... he goes before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow ... for they know not the voice of strangers." Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. ... other sheep I have which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold and one shepherd." (John 10:3-16) How could the forces of evil lead such a people very far astray?