Friday, October 23, 2015

Putting Aside Our Religious Differences

Not everyone that says they are a Christian are followers of Jesus Christ.  There are those who claim to be a follower, but lack the love and tolerance for non-essential doctrinal disagreement.  One of the main problems with Christianity is the division of denominations.-I am of Apollos; I am of Cephas; I am of Paul.  We should all be of Christ    Often those claiming to be Christian are intolerant of those with different religious opinions.  It is time that Christians come together and put aside the non-essentials of doctrine and preferences and work together to bring change to our churches and our country.  Persecution of Christians is about to take a trip back in history and it will not matter what name you call yourself, it will come down to this, are you a true Christian?
Let us take a little trip back in history to 1660.  The Massachusetts Bay Colony of the New World was a Puritan theocratic state in the early 1650s. Puritan leaders did not have much tolerance for people of other religions, and as a result, the Puritan government often persecuted and banished religious outsiders who tried to enter and live in their Puritan towns. A fear was embedded in the Puritan society that if they started to admit outsiders, they would lose their political and religious control of the colony.
The Bay Colony enjoyed a high degree of social harmony, stemming from common beliefs in the early years, but dissension soon appeared.  ​The Quakers who flouted the authority of the Puritan clergy were persecuted with fines, floggings, and banishment
Beginning in 1656, members of the newly formed Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) started to arrive in the Massachusetts colony on ships from England, where Quakerism had recently emerged. The Quakers who arrived in Boston's harbor demanded that they be allowed to live in Massachusetts and practice their own religion freely. They were greeted by intense hostility and were often forced to board the next ship out.
The first known Quakers to arrive in Boston and challenge Puritan religious domination were Mary Fisher and Ann Austin. These two women entered Boston's harbor on the Swallow, a ship from Barbados in July of 1656. The Puritans of Boston greeted Fisher and Austin as if they carried the plague and severely brutalized them. The two were strip searched, accused of witchcraft, jailed, deprived of food, and were forced to leave Boston on the Swallow when it next left Boston eight weeks later. Almost immediately after their arrival, Fisher and Austin's belongings were confiscated, and the Puritan executioner burned their trunk full of Quaker pamphlets and other writings. Shortly after they arrived in Boston, eight more Quakers arrived on a ship from England. This group of eight was imprisoned and beaten. While they were in prison, an edict was passed in Boston that any ship's captain who carried Quakers into Boston would be fined heavily. The Puritan establishment forced the captain, who had brought the group of eight Quakers to Boston, to take them back to England, under a bond of £500.
Despite the intense persecution of Quaker newcomers by Massachusetts' Puritans, Quakers continued to come to Boston in increasing numbers and attempted to spread their message by whatever means possible. They came by ship from England and Barbados and by foot from Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Once in Massachusetts, they rose to speak following Puritan sermons and during trials and shouted from jail cell windows. They published pamphlets and held illegal meetings. They refused to pay fines to the Puritan government and refused to work in jail, with the latter often resulting in their jailers depriving them of food.
The Massachusetts Puritan government soon passed other laws aimed at stopping Quakers from entering and disrupting their status quo. Ship captains, learning of the fines, often refused passage to Quakers intending to sail to Boston. One Englishman, Robert Fowler, from Yorkshire, however, felt called to build a ship to transport Quakers from England to Massachusetts. He built the Woodhouse and set sail from England with eleven Quakers. One of the eleven was Dorothy Waugh, a farm servant from Westmorland who said she had been called by the Lord to come to America and share the Quaker message.
In all, from 1656 to 1661, at least forty Quakers came to New England to protest Puritan religious domination and persecution. During those five years, the Puritan persecution of Quakers continued, with beatings, fines, whippings, imprisonment, and mutilation. Many were expelled from the colony, only to return again to bear witness to what they believed. One of them, 60-year-old Elizabeth Hooten, returned to Boston at least five times. The Boston jails were full of Quakers, and four known executions of Quakers took place in Massachusetts during those five years.
As is evident, the Quakers were not a quiet group in Puritan New England. From their speeches in the courthouse, the church, and from jail cell windows, they attracted a number of supporters and converts. Locals would often give money to jailers to feed the otherwise starved inmates, and the Quakers' unflinching commitment to speaking their truth touched many. There is evidence to suggest that the Puritan hatred towards Quakers was not omnipresent within the Puritan community. For example, the law banishing Quakers from the colony on pain of death was only passed by a one-vote majority. John Norton was the most outspoken critic of the Quakers and is credited with spreading much of the anti-Quaker bias.
Perhaps the most notable Quaker to be brutalized and eventually executed by the Massachusetts government for being a Quaker was Mary Dyer. Dyer originally came to Massachusetts in 1633 and settled there with her husband. In 1652, Dyer returned to England, where she was exposed to Quakerism and accepted Quaker ideals. Five years later, on her way to rejoin her family who had since moved to Rhode Island, she landed in Boston, along with two fellow Quakers, William Robinson and Marmaduke Stephenson. The three were at once jailed for being Quakers and were banished from the colony. Dyer left for her family in Rhode Island, but Robinson and Stephenson stayed. Two years later, in 1659, when Robinson and Stephenson were jailed again, along with several other Quakers, Dyer returned to Boston to visit them in jail. She was arrested upon entry and all were held for two months without bail. Upon their release, they were banished from the colony under penalty of death, but Robinson and Stephenson refused to leave.
In October of that year, Dyer returned to Boston once again to visit another imprisoned friend. This time Dyer, Robinson, and Stephenson were all jailed and sentenced to death. On October 27, the three were led to the gallows, and Dyer watched as her two friends were hung. When it came to her turn, she was granted a last minute reprieve but refused to climb down from the scaffold until the law banning Quakers was changed. She had to be carried down and was forcibly removed from the colony.
Dyer spent the winter in Rhode Island and Long Island but insisted on returning to Boston the following spring. On May 21, 1660, she entered Boston and was immediately jailed. She was quickly tried, and on June 1, 1660, she was hung on Boston Commons.
It was not too uncommon that when a Quaker was being tried and prosecuted under threat of death, another Quaker would openly walk into the courthouse and disrupt the proceedings. Wenlock Christison did just this at the trial of William Leddra in 1661. Christison, himself, who had been banished from the colony under pain of death, burst into the courthouse crying out that for each “servant of God” that the Boston government hung, five more would rise up to take their place. Christison was arrested but never had to face the gallows.
The citizens and magistrates of Boston began to grow tired of having to punish the Quakers and Leddra was the last Quaker to be executed by the Puritan government. A messenger had gone to England to ask for a memorandum from the king. King Charles II, a Catholic supporter, wanted to provide a notification for the Catholics of the New World who were also being persecuted. When a Quaker messenger came asking the king to also provide sanctuary for the Quakers, he agreed. The “King’s Missive” did stop the executions, but punishment of the Quakers by the Boston government still continued, though it was less harsh. As more diverse groups of people landed on the shores of the New World, the persecution of the Quakers by the Puritans gradually faded. By 1675, Quakers were freely and openly living and worshiping in Boston.
This persecution would not have stopped had there not been those willing to stand up and be counted.  In fact, before the Quakers gained the freedom to worship after the four who were hanged, twenty-three other Quakers were scheduled to die by hanging before the King of England intervened. One would think that the Puritans, after escaping persecutions themselves by fleeing to New England, would have been more tolerant. But, as you will see, their self-righteous spirit, viciously dealt with all conflicting religious opinions; and, since the Quakers were far more convicting than any other sect, with their nontraditional doctrines, they were most brutally persecuted. The callous, unchristian brutality of the Puritan persecutors has only been exceeded by the priests of the barbarous Roman Catholic inquisitions, who murdered 9,000,000 souls in the Middle Ages. The murdering Puritans and the Catholic priests had all believed in Jesus, had been baptized, took communion, read the Bible frequently, prayed frequently, attended worship services regularly — they were all saved Christians murdering and torturing those with different religious opinions. So it is simple to conclude — if you want to understand true Christianity, study what those said, who were the victims. Few could argue that the murderers could possibly be Christians.
The same is taking place in America today.  There are those who have a different view of their responsibility in serving the LORD.  There are those who claim, like the Puritans to be doing the work of the LORD.  It should be noted that these same Puritans were in control of the government in Connecticut and Massachusetts.  These same religious leaders passed laws that confiscated property, cut off ears, bore a hole through the tongue with a hot iron, imprisoned and banned other Christians from their state.  Today, the names have changed but the actions have not.
One would think that in the 21st century that the government would act in a more tolerant manner towards those who believe they have a certain obligation in how they serve the LORD.  As not only moral laws are changing in the government, the same is true within the Church.  As the government has legalized the murder of babies, those who speak against this barbarism are considered intolerant, unloving, unkind and even bigots.  The same goes for those who believe they cannot support the LGBT agenda because of teachings in the Bible.  So, just like the 1660’s the government fines those who cannot for conscience sake support the immoral actions of the LGBT, even though it has been made legal by the government.  
What is amazing is the government leaders who support the killing of babies and the immoral actions of the LGBT often claim they are Christian.  Like the Puritans and Roman Catholics it is justifiable to persecute those who cannot for conscience sake, support the actions of murder and immorality as they believe is taught in the Word of God.
One needs only to study the history of early Quaker persecution to understand the mindset of those who are intolerant.  As you study records of persecution, notice how it was the preachers and ministers, (also true in England), who were the principal advocates of violence, including death; often inciting reluctant government officials to go beyond humane bounds, plunging into the depths of Satanic barbarity.  
The actions of Puritan persecutions further proves the Quaker's belief that the government should not interfere in religious affairs.  Every time the government has interfered with the religious freedom of any group of people, government leaders and often religious leaders felt justified in their persecution of those who did not bow to the powers that be.  This has been demonstrated here in America where Native American Indians and Amish have been regulated by the federal government how they can practice their religion.  Most Christian denominations did not care what was happening to the religious freedom of those who did not believe as they do.  It was not their fight.  What has happened is the government has now expanded their authority over Christian beliefs and practices by the power of the court.  The religious freedom to worship the LORD according to the dictates of their heart is no more. It is time that true Christians take a stand to stop the loss of our religious freedom.  It is time we start pushing back with the transformational power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We can no longer give a watered down version of the message of the cross.  That message is to cry out against the evil in one loud voice.  We can no longer listen to the voice of tolerance for sin.  We can no longer allow the government to dictate to the church: how we believe, how worship, where we worship, what our mission is in the world.
There are government and church leaders who tell us to practice our religion in church and not in our everyday life. The cry of separation of church and state is a one-sided discussion.  The state dictates to the church what they can and cannot do.  An example is the IRS makes the decision who is an ordained minister.  Besides giving the pastor his job description, which is based on the Roman Catholic model of worship and polity, the IRS is demanding many other things that are clearly designed to make the IRS Commissioner the new head of the churches in America.  Some of these demands of the government are a direct violation of religious freedom.  How can the government tell the Christian to practice their religion in church and not everyday life when the government practices their control in the church?  Here is some ways the government is involved in the church:
1.      The church must collect a Federal ID (Social Security) number from visiting evangelists, missionaries, preachers and singers before they invite them to the pulpit. They must give a Form 1099 to any minister who receives up to $600 in a years’ time, which includes missionary support. If the ID is not received, the church leaders must withhold a jeopardy assessment of 39% on the spot and send it to the IRS.
2.      They must agree to the IRS definition of benevolence. They cannot deal in cash at any level, but must deposit all offerings into a checking account and write checks for every purpose. This means, of course, that the church, in order to conduct its ministry, has to have an Employer Identification Number which must be provided by the IRS by filing Form SS-4 which a true New Testament church could never do and remain obedient to her Lord. In fact, church leaders have to misrepresent the church as a religious organization rather than a New Testament Church to be compliant with government regulations.
3.      Other things that pastors and church leaders are required to do are to be an informer against their members and also to preach only IRS prescribed sermons.  Remember 1954, Johnson Amendment.  Also, all fund raising material must be submitted to the IRS for their approval.  Most churches are unaware of the IRS requirements and a not in compliance.
4.      The job description for pastors is a list of nine specific sacerdotal duties which again is a Roman Catholic definition meaning sacred. The Catholic Church teaches that these sacraments, when administered by a priest, are essential to one’s salvation. This is totally opposite to the Bible definition which states that baptism and communion are memorials of the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that they follow salvation. The nine duties are: baptisms, weddings, serving the Eucharist (the Catholic sacrament of communion), teaching, spiritual counseling, christenings or baby dedications, administration of church affairs and the regular conducting of worship services. If the pastor does a substantial number of these things, he will receive very lucrative tax breaks. 
5.      As a Quaker minister, the physical sacraments are not, nor have they ever been part of a Quaker minister’s responsibility.  This action of the IRS is in direct conflict with the Quaker teaching of the “Priesthood of the Believer”.  As Quakers believe everyone is a minister of the Gospel and we are called by the LORD and not by the government.  This action of the IRS is in clear violation of the scriptures concerning the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes which the Lord Jesus said that He hates (Rev. 2:6, 2:15). Others who minister to the church in the area of music, youth, children, education and other areas of responsibility don't qualify as an ordained minister, according to the IRS.
6.      The IRS does not consider such ministries as Sunday school, Christian school, busses, youth camp, vacation Bible school, nursing home, etc., to fall within their definition of the word "church".   The Dole Committee (Sen. Bob Dole-R-Kansas) in the US Senate sought to bring the churches into compliance with the FICA tax (social security) laws. This was the deal that would eventually cause the raid and seizure of the Baptist Temple in Indianapolis, 17 years later.
I remember the discussion among Christians during the shut-down of the Baptist Temple how Rev. Gregg Dixson, should bow to the government.  Today, the church has bowed so often that government regulation has taken away many freedoms of religion once held by American churches.
These requirements should be intolerable enough by just the fact that the IRS would even dare to suggest duties for pastors, but to impose under the penalty of imprisonment and confiscation of property the same responsibilities of Roman Catholic priests is nothing short of naked tyranny. The issue is very simple. Will the churches of America bow down to the government in violation of the first commandment, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me," or will they bow down to the Lord Jesus Christ? Our Lord said, "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon" (Matthew 6:24). The purge is now on as we hear of Christian businesses closed on a regular basis because there is no such thing as separation of church and state.  The state has been involved in the business of the church, to the point they even tell us how much of the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ we can actually carry out.
The church is regulated to the point that how the church shows charity to those in need is appalling. There are guidelines how charity is to be given in the areas of food, clothing, housing, medical emergencies and utilities. The church cannot help with transportation or auto repairs and a myriad of other things that churches have historically done on a regular basis. The church cannot make loans to the pastor, members, or others which churches have always done. Obviously, they want to make sure that the money lenders get their profits even from the poor. Can you imagine the government of the US limiting a church as to its duties in regarding charitable activity? There is no subject in the Bible that is nearer to the heart of God than charity. According to the Apostle James, it is the test of pure religion (James 1:27). Paul the Apostle declares that charity is of higher value even than preaching and sacrifice (I Cor. 13:1-3). For the churches to dishonor such a high and noble service to Christ by submitting its administration to the wicked IRS is beyond belief.
So, let me say this, there are more issues at stake in the protection of religious freedom than the LGBT concern.  We can focus so intently on one issue, that we are fail to see our freedoms taken from us by those who seek to destroy the church.  I believe there are true Christians to be found in every Christian denomination.  I believe, the true Christian, is ready to join with other Christians, to fight the evil that is facing those who are following Jesus Christ. Just as early Quakers realized that if they were to have the freedom to practice their religion they would need to stand up and push for that freedom.
Christians who believe in God had better wake up and realize that a well-orchestrated campaign is moving to transform the United States into a thoroughly secular nation without any reference to God. If this succeeds, we will no longer enjoy our First Amendment right of “free exercise” of religion but will be forbidden to speak or display any prayers, Bible quotations, or other evidences of religion in any public place or event.  If you are a true believer in Jesus Christ and part of the Body of Christ, then it does not matter what your denominational name is, what matters is that you a in Christ and need to stand with those who are faithful to the cause of Jesus Christ.  Our religious freedom is important but our message of the transformational power of Jesus Christ is of greater importance.  We cannot ignore the evil and sin that is destroying our churches and nation by being silent and allowing our faith to be dictated by an ungodly government.  It is time that Christians come together and put aside the non-essentials of doctrine and preferences and work together to bring change to our churches and our country. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Why Are So Many Christian Converts No Longer Christian

Over the 47 years of my ministry I have had many funerals, some were for close friends, some were for people I never met and some were for church members.  Every funeral I have had, the question I always ask myself is, were they ready to meet the LORD?  Those who’s  life was questionable, I would ask myself, did I push hard enough for them to make a commitment to the LORD? 

There have been funerals that there was no question the individual was ready to meet the LORD.  On the other hand, there have been many that were not ready.  This has made me question my role as a minister in regards to preparing people to meet the LORD.  I know it is not my responsibility to “save” people.  I am only required to warn them of the impending doom they face for eternity and bring them to a knowledge of Jesus Christ.

I have often wonder, if God gave me the gift of knowing who had cancer, and I was able to warn them of the physical condition before it was too late to find a treatment that would cure them, how many people would want me to tell them they were facing  a deadly disease that will take their life?  If God gave me the gift to cure them of this deadly disease, how many would want me to do so?  Yet, God has given me the gift to know who has the deadly disease of sin, and I am able to warn them of the spiritual condition before it is too late to find a cure.  The sad thing is there are very few people who want to know about their condition.  God has also given me the gift to direct them to the cure for their spiritual disease that is one day going to take their life.  Again, the sad thing is, there are very few people that want the cure for their sin that is bringing them death.  Those who do seek salvation, often wants only an emotional experience that lasts only for a short time. 

The scripture tells us there is joy over one sinner who repents and there is also great joy among the believers when they learn that someone has had their life transformed by the power of Jesus Christ.
 Recently, I was asked about giving an altar call and did not want to get into a theological discussion but after some thought I feel I should share how I feel.  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.

Like many who grew up in churches which used the invitation system I was accustomed to the altar call. At the close of a sermon we sang verse after verse of invitation hymns like "Just As I Am" and we sometimes sang on for long periods of time trying to get people to come forward.  I have listen to ministers whose sermon consisted of telling sob story after sob story climaxing with the saddest one of all and then giving an invitation to come to the front and accept Christ.  Often, it was tied to a time limit, “In the next 60 seconds this altar will be closed and you may leave here and face eternity, lost forever.”

It is the duty of ministers and the church to bring the message of the saving power of Jesus Christ to those who are dying in their sin.  So the goal and emphasis of the Church has been to bring people to the point of making a decision for Christ.  Most often this is done on emotional appeal, many have heard, “The LORD could return at any moment and you are not ready, you need to accept Jesus Christ now.” Or the question has been asked, “If you were to die right now where would you spend eternity?” The problem is there is a high number of “converts” who are drawn to the LORD on these emotional appeals, but they fail to show any signs of a transformed life.  Some have estimated that less than 3 percent of those who come to Christ from an emotional appeal actually get involved in any type of spiritual growth or become involved with a local church.

This was not the case in the Book of Acts.  Peter preached a message that was not an emotional appeal and three thousands were added to the body of believers.  It was stated that they, “continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking bread and in prayers… And they continued daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house.”

As you read the Book of Acts you will notice that the vast majority of those who came to Christ continued to follow through on their decision and that their testimony added to the church.  They were zealous of good works and spread the Gospel wherever they went.  In fact it was just a short time that it was stated, “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also.”

In reading the Book of Acts the early converts to Christianity rejected earthly materialism and smiled in the face of ridicule and rejection.  They praised God for beatings and persecutions and “took joyfully” the spoiling of their goods.  So what made these converts different from today’s converts?
First, those who came to Christ on the Day of Pentecost were devout Jews and proselytes.  They had a knowledge of the Old Testament Scriptures, and were able to understand the message of Peter when he quoted from these Scriptures.

Faith is a necessary component of salvation.  Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God.  The need for a lasting decision must be based on a clear understanding of the Word of God.  So in order to come to a lasting decision one must first hear the Word.  The Word that is needed is the LAW.  Paul tells us it was the LAW that brings conviction of sin. “I had not known sin, but by the LAW: for I had not known lust except the law said, Thou shall not covet.”

This is the problem with today’s message of the Gospel.  We are spending our time preaching the light of the Gospel- the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ without the use of the LAW to awaken the hearers.  Paul told us the LAW was a schoolmaster that brings us to Christ.  We have allowed our message to the non-believer to be based on a happier life, a life filled with love, without the consequences of their sin.  The purpose of the Holy Spirit is to produce conviction in the hearts of the unbeliever.  This conviction is found in brokenness and is accomplished when the person comes face to face with the LAW of God.  The LAW is a mirror into the soul and spirit of man that he may see what he is the sight of God.  The sinner must be brought to the knowledge of sin, of his own guilt, deserving of just punishment, the need of a Savior, the necessity of being transformed from a life of sin to a life of righteousness.  He needs to understand his mind is dark and his heart is hard.  He must be stripped of his self-dependence and self-righteousness; he must come to the understanding that he is condemned and dead to all hope.  In short, he must see that his views of Christ and salvation are superficial.

When Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost his message was to show them the LAW and the prophets pointed to Jesus as the anointed One of God, “Whom they took and had by wicked hands crucified and slain.”  When they heard this they were pricked in their hearts and asked, what shall we do?  They called on the LORD.  “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the LORD shall be saved.”  Here is an example of God writing the LAW in their hearts.  In Romans 2:15 we see how the LAW works.  They show that in their hearts they know what is right and wrong, the same as the law commands, and their consciences agree. Sometimes their thoughts tell them that they have done wrong, and this makes them guilty. And sometimes their thoughts tell them that they have done right, and this makes them not guilty.  What is important to note is they had a knowledge of the LAW.

Appealing to the mind or intellect seems to be the logical means of bringing people to Christ.  It may even seem logical to appeal to the emotions of the individual and force them on an intellect level to accept Christ.  The problem with this approach is the “natural man does not understand the things that are of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to them: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 

Here is the problem with the emotional appeal.  Individuals can be moved to make decisions based on emotions.  Hearing an invitation or altar call song can result in a decision to accept Christ. However, when the emotions change, the decision may also change.  This appeal is often temporary.

When the Holy Spirit appeals to the conscience the person is brought to a personal responsibility for their own actions.  Peter’s message cut to the heart of what they had done, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

It is this same message today, every person in the world is responsible for the death of Jesus because he was “wounded for our transgression, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his strips we are healed.”  So the message of Peter on the Day of Pentecost still applies to us today.

Most often an individual is told pray to receive Christ as their Savior.  Yet, the Scriptures tell us to call on the name of the LORD.  Paul emphasized the same point as Peter when he stated in Romans 10:12-15.   There is no difference between those who are Jews and those who are not. The same Lord is the Lord of all people. This is the WHOSOEVER from the Gospel of John. And he richly blesses everyone who calls to him for help.  Yes, “everyone who calls on the Lord will be saved.” But before people can call to the Lord for help, they must believe in him. This is where faith is important.  And before they can believe in the Lord, they must hear about him.  This is why knowledge is part of the plan of salvation.   And for anyone to hear about the Lord, someone must tell them. This is why we are His witnesses, to tell the lost who Jesus Christ really is and why they need Him as their Savior. And before anyone can go and tell them, they must be sent.  Christ has given to all believers, the commission to go into all the world and preach the Gospel.

Could it be that today we have placed a greater emphasis on the emotional acceptance of Jesus Christ and not upon an appeal to the conscience which brings conviction and leads to a transformed life? Have we been trying to make people feel good about themselves to the point we are creating self-righteous converts and not through the righteousness of Jesus Christ?  Has our message of emotional acceptance of Christ been the reason so few follow Him today?

I believe we need to stop asking for decisions for Christ and preach a message that will expose the depravity of the sinner and move them to the point they call upon God because they have come face to face with who they are in the sight of God, and need their lives to be transformed by the power of the atoning blood of Jesus Christ.

Knowing an individual has made their peace with the Lord, makes it much easier for the minister to carry out the task of committing the soul and spirit to the LORD when they have completed their life here on earth.  Maybe as ministers we do need to be more diligent in giving a message of salvation that appeals to the conscience and not the emotions of individuals, so there is no question about their relationship with the LORD.