I’m not one to correct a pastor, especially when you have one who is, as ours is, a phenomenal man of God. This is truly his calling and I’m glad to be able to see him work so strongly for the cause of the Gospel. Unfortunately, we’ve had some issues in the past where an altar call is given where “with every head bowed and every eye closed” we are asked to call Jesus into our hearts. It’s often not in response to a strong message on the sinfulness of man versus the righteousness of the law of God but instead it’s usually in response to a message on the qualities or benefits of a repentant life in Christ. Now, let me be absolutely sure that you understand that my pastor is an AWESOME and thorough pastor who spends much of his time in the sole profession that such men are called to wherein he spends many, many hours pulling together extremely informative sermons on the portion of the Bible that we’re discussing at the time. We’re an expository church where the Word of God is read then explained in the historical grammatical method with excellence and power. What I was addressing was the only “flaw” that I can find and I use that term with the most care as it’s not a flaw in the teaching alone but merely a problem where it appears that the knee has been dropped to the easy teaching of a soft gospel as not to be offensive. In that doing, I’m afraid that the gospel has been corrupted. I am not able to see him until Sunday and he’s leaving for India on Monday – I wanted to be sure that he got the CD “Hell’s Best Kept Secret and True and False Conversions (the “two-in-one” CD that has is mentioned in the letter) so I gave it to my wife who delivered it to him and asked him to listen to it. He asked her why and she said that it was something that I had a problem with regarding his messages but that she didn’t remember exactly. He asked her to have me email him. Without any further ado, here is that e-mail:
[ Our Pastor ],
I understand that you’re busy and I want to get to the point but I need to state something first:
I want you to know that I say this with all sincerity that it has been truly awesome over the last one and a half years that my wife and I have attended and now become members at [ our church ]. I have grown by leaps and bounds as has my wife who just this last Easter really understood what all this “Christianity thing” was all about. That comes, for both of us, after years of being “touchy-feely” christians. It was more about the “God of love” and the “all accepting Christ” and I never understood what God was angry about. [ My wife ] had only been baptized in 1998 but I had been born and raised as a Lutheran. I knew all the stories, I knew all they had to teach me and they never were able to answer any of the real questions I had. Bishop Bjornberg had even come to our church and preached a sermon where he said that the ten commandments were dead religion as they were “old testament” and that, as Christians in the post-modern age, we are to adapt our teaching to match and that the only commandments from Christ that we stand by are to love one another and to love God as He has loved us. I thought I was saved under that teaching and were I to have died I would have gone to Hell. My real salvation came in April of 2003 when I lost everything I had and in tears stood naked before the condemning spirit of God who had shown me the depth of my sin by revealing it through the lives of my family. When I saw how I had offended and betrayed the love and trust of my wife and children then the Holy Spirit turned the light of God on my soul I disintegrated in my own remorse. It was at that point that I had learned that my sins were not against my wife but against the God who gave me breath. It was then that I gave my heart to and soul to God and told Him that I didn’t want anything to do with myself anymore and even if it meant losing everything that I had that I would do nothing but live for Christ from then forward.
It was that realization that showed me the flaws that are present in the common “call to salvation”. Merely calling someone to ask Christ to enter their heart is not only not Biblical but doesn’t make sense. Without a proper understanding of how deep your sinfulness goes it’s impossible to repent. It’s common knowledge that the methods we use don’t work – why else would Greg Laurie have such a strong emphasis on follow up with those who “made decisions for Christ” at his events? It’s because the method is flawed. When I heard Hell’s Best Kept Secret and True and False Conversions I saw the man that I was and why I never got it. It’s because all those times in various churches throughout all of my childhood and most of my young adult life I had only heard of the salvation but never of my NEED.
When we sing “Fire Fall Down” and that one line “you came to fix my broken life” we are emphasizing that Christ was tortured and brutally murdered to fix my marriage or to help me live a fulfilling life. How much more offensive can we be? By the same rate, when we say “we just need to call Christ into our hearts” and we’re instantly saved for all eternity, that’s simply not true. God hears only the prayers of the righteous – so how then can he hear the prayers of unrepentant sinners who only seek for their own wants and needs? The ONLY prayer that God will hear from an unsaved person is that of their broken heart melting under the pressure of the Holy Spirit in a right response to the purity and holiness of God. I’m not saying anything to do with works righteousness – the proper turning of ones heart to God is not a work of man but of God within the sinful crust of a repentant man who has repented properly and turned his heart, mind, and soul directly toward God and who has thrown his stake in the sand saying “THIS is where I stand – no more will I sin against the God who created me regardless of the world and their temptations”.
The CD that [ my wife ] gave you says just that, only much better than I could. This has been on my heart for months and I apologize that I’ve not brought it up before, just as I apologize for how long this is. It is more important to me that I get all of what I have to say out and I am unable to keep things brief. We truly enjoy the teaching and fellowship at [ our church ] and we look forward to more of that to come – my prayer is that you understand this as not criticism of your teaching and merely that I am trying to point out what I see as a flaw which has unknowingly corrupted many churches. I know that I wasn’t saved under that teaching – my fear is that it will cause more false conversions.
May God bless you and your lovely and caring wife as you both plan your trips. Our prayers are, as they have always been, with you.
[ Me ]
Easily one of the hardest letters I’ve ever had to write.