Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Prosperity Preaching?

Have you seen the new Billion dollar bill? I did a double take when I saw the face on it. I was trying to put a name to this man when it suddenly dawned on me who it was.


Do you know? If you have read much of Phil Johnson, you would probably know at first glance. In fact, I'm surprised he hasn't used this in one or more of his posts.

Maybe your asking yourself, I didn't know there was a billion dollar note. Well there isn't, this is actually a tract that Ray Comfort uses in his evangelism. If you haven't been to Ray's site, I would strongly encourage a visit as he has some very unique and catchy props for grabbing people's attention.

Ray Comfort has also revived the use of the law in preaching, citing Wesley and others who stressed a roughly 90% law, 10% grace ratio in preaching to the lost. Why you ask? Well until a person sees their need and their sinful condition, they will not realize the gift of grace being offered them by God.

Ray cites the prevalence of an easy grace gospel as the reason for the high rate of backsliders in today's conversions. Of course you might argue that they were never saved in the first place. However, if a person puts on the Lord Jesus Christ simply to have a better life and experience joy and happiness, when trials come they will cast off their life preserver thinking it the cause of their unhappiness. Rather, when a person comes to Christ for cleansing and forgiveness of their sin, realizing their lost state and impending torment in hell, they will be inclined to weather the adversity knowing Christ has already saved them from much worse.

Ray's approach is sometimes called the 10 cannons of God's law. As he rightly points out, the law is a schoolmaster or guide to bring us to Christ. The law points out our failures and sin, bringing us to our knees in humility before God. Only then can His grace become available to us.

Take a look at his site, you will find some helpful tools to share the gospel and encouragement to overcome the fear of man.

26 comments:

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

John Wesley's sermons made me sick. They are 99% law. The guy seemed quite ashamed of grace.

God Bless

Matthew

Jim said...

I must confess Matthew that I have not really read much of his sermons.

I did read his biography and was extremely impressed with his devotion to the gospel. He and George Whitefield were instrumental in turning England from darkness to light.

He was however a bit confused on the matter of assurance, to the point where George Whitefield felt it necessary to part company. Nevertheless, he was greatly used by God.

We would do well to understand how these men were so effective in preaching to the lost.

Daniel said...

I like Ray, I was following his ministry long before he picked up Kirk Cameron. ;-)


I like Wesley too. He was an evangelist also - and I think good evangelism uses the law - since the law teaches a man he is a sinner in need of a Savior.

Jim said...

Daniel,

Yep I have been following Ray for a long time. He is truly one of a kind.

Kirk has brought a lot of celeb status to Living Waters. Plus the fact that he is around my age and has a large family like me makes me more inclined to appreciate him.

So you liked Wesley even though he was definitely not a Calvinist. Good for you!

Daniel said...

Wesley was a godly, godly man, and I should count myself blessed indeed if I were but one half or one third the man God used him to be.

Jim said...

Indeed Daniel, that would truly be a blessing!

Daniel said...

One of the things that bugs me - one of my pet peeves (if you will) - are people who write off men greatly used of God in the past - simply because they don't agree with that person's theology 100%.

Wesley was absolutely sold out to God - not that his theology produced it, rather his theology didn't get in the way of it.

I have far more respect for someone whose theology is off, but whose heart is "on" - than I do for someone whose theology is on, but whose heart is "off" - if you know what I mean. ;-)

Jim said...

Yes Daniel, I am very much inclined to agree. Of course we can learn much from their lives without adopting their incorrect theology.

I think perhaps Matthew needs to learn a bit of difference between the two.

Even So... said...

One of the things that bugs me - one of my pet peeves (if you will) - are people who write off men greatly used of God in the past - simply because they don't agree with that person's theology 100%.

I agree with you, Daniel, but now for some fun...

Don't diss those used by God, hmmmm...
So, Danny boy, what do you say about Charles Finney (as I run away laughing...)

Jim said...

Looks like I'm gonna have to read some Finney and find out what all the fuss is about.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Wesleyanism is a false gospel.

If a person believes that she might go to hell; she does not believe that she has obtained eternal life through Jesus Christ. If she has never believed that she posessed eternal life, then she is lost.

Arminianism is a fundamental denial of the principles of Christianity, just as much as Romanism.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

Daniel said...

JD - Finney was a heretic, but he was not an apostate. He himself was soundly saved, and under his ministry many people came to know the Lord.

While it is certainly vogue to put a target on Finney and start shooting, we must remember that God called Finney in spite of the errors that Finney would hold and teach.

We ought to give Finney this charity - to remember that his ministry began in a time and place where hyper-calvinism ruled the day - where evangelism was absolutely dead. There were no "balanced" mentors to tell him where to stop the pendulum as his ministry began to swung away from the dead evangelism of hyper-calvinism, out passed center, and into something equally as off.

I admire Finney's love for the Lord, and his passion for God's glory. This was a man who through away a promising career in law to become a preacher - not an opportunist, but a man who underwent a remarkable conversion in accordance with the sincerity and thoroughness of his repentance.

I hold such things in high esteem. I wouldn't want him to come and teach theology though...

Even So... said...

I hold such things in high esteem. I wouldn't want him to come and teach theology though...

Cool for me too. I like what Rod Rosenblatt said about Wesley, when asked by Michael Horton what he would do if JW was a student of his at Copncordia. He said something like, "I would give him an "a" for evangelism, and an "f" for theology.

I might say, "a" for some areas, and "d" for others, but the point you made stands as far as God being able to use someone despite themselves...

Antonio said...

I can look at men and admire qualities about them. But in the realm of spiritual things, I cannot overlook the darkness that has befallen many because of the "ministries" of men who have preached false gospels.

When we read these men's works, we may be attracted to the sincere desire for holiness. However, it is superficial to be drawn to this without realizing the terrible theological bondage and misunderstanding which underlies their concepts of the grace of God.

Antonio

Bhedr said...

Hey Jim,

Our church went through the DVD's. My pastor wasn't fully in agreement with his 90% law and 10% grace, but he did realize that it was an effective soul winning plan.

He does believe in resting in the promise of God.

Some in the Lordship camp do no like to let you rest in Christ. Ray encourages it. In fact he says in one of his comments that there is no greater insult to not believe in the promises of God. He teaches that you can know you are going to heaven through grace alone.

Incidentaly I had an experience in a Georgia Pacific company waiting on a load once that makes me think of the method he uses to evangelize.

Bhedr said...

Oh...I might post on it soon. It was a little bit funny. Not for the poor guys that worked themselves to death trying to get my load ready though.

Jim said...

Antonio, do you have a case in point from history...besides John Calvin. :)

I think the sobering thought is some will be sorely ashamed at the judgement for their shameful ministries.

Jim said...

Brian,

I would love to hear it. Evangelism stories are always great to read.

Yes, I understand Ray may hold some calvinistic thinking but he sure does believe in assurance.

God bless,
Jim

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Jim, I think John Wesley is an excellent case of a much loved preacher who taught a false gospel that leads only to bondage.

The Arminian gospel is no gospel at all.

God Bless

Matthew

Jim said...

Matthew,

I venture to say you are too harsh here with your criticism. While you may be right idealistically, you must look at the circumstances surrounding his ministry.

John was raised by the most legalistic mother around, she herself never fully saw the sufficiency of grace alone until near the end of her life.

Further, there wasn't a huge number of preachers sharing the true gospel with the masses. George Whitefield and John and Charles were prevented from preaching in the church buildings not because they taught a works salvation, but rather that you could know Christ had saved you through the power of His shed blood.

I think another reason for their strong emphasis on the law was the fact that people were trying to be law keepers as a means of salvation. If you want to break their independent spirit, you must show them their utter inability to keep the law. Only then does grace become a gift.

These men have been credited with starting the methodist movement among whom we could name a score of godly men who later went on to start many godly churches and missions. John Newton was a famous methodist preacher. John Newton and William Cowper wrote many hymns together, one of Cowper's most famous being "There is a fountain filled with blood". William Wilberforce was a politician heavily influenced by John Wesley and devoted his life to the freedom of slaves.

I think if we look at the movements today that were started by godly men in the past, we would see much to be undesirable. The problem is that man continues something long after God has abandoned it.

Learning to separate what a man teachs from how he lives is a very important tool.

Any man that preaches truth and yet lives in sin or rebellion is not worth following no matter what he says.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Are we saved by being holy or by trusting in Jesus Christ for eternal life?

If I meet a J.W. or Mormon who seems exemplary in his conduct am I to conclude that he is a true preacher of the faith?

No, becuause he denies the Gospel. An Arminian likewise denies the true Gospel of grace and his ministry is to be rejected.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

Jim said...

No, of course not. Truth is truth and only faith in Christ saves.

There are many exemplary men who are sincerely wrong. Their words will tell you what they truly believe.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

So am I not being fair in holding that Wesley preached a false gospel and in rejecting his ministry?

Jim said...

How would you reject his ministry? He is dead. If you say by not reading his theology than that is your choice of course.

But to not read his life and understand his influence upon England is rather short sighted I would say.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Well I went to the trouble of reading some of his writings and his forty-four sermons and I occasionally quote his New Testament Commentary.

But I do not like the way he gets celebrated. People fail to see the essentially destructive nature of the Wesleyan system.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

Even So... said...

Not to break up the fun and all...

Jim, yeah, I know its the weekend, and I know you are just like me, busy, but Daniel just tagged me with the "one book" meme, and now I am tagging you...

Here it is on my site:
Tag, You're It!