Selfishness as Sin 3

While I am not dealing directly with the quote by Emmons as I have been, for the next few posts under this heading I will be dealing with an article published in Baptist Press and other SBC magazines. It is a very clear example of what happens when you push evangelism without dealing with the sinfulness of souls and without taking the character of God into account. It was written by Ronnie Floyd who is president of the Southern Baptist Convention and a pastor in northwest Arkansas.—what-happened-to-evangelism-in-the-sbc

What happened to evangelism in the Southern Baptist Convention? It was our commitment to evangelism in the past that set us apart from all other denominations. The events and experiences churches offered to their community were done with the specific intent of winning others to faith in Christ. What happened? Where did this go?

Waking up to reality
I do realize that all of our 51,094 churches and congregations do not complete and report the Annual Church Profile. However, of the churches that did report, in the church year from Oct. 1, 2013, to Sept. 30, 2014, the number of baptisms was lower than it was in 1948. This is deplorable! The U.S. population in 1948 was 146 million compared to 317 million in 2014. Therefore, with thousands more Southern Baptist churches with millions more members, along with having 171 million more Americans to reach today, we are reaching and baptizing less people than we did in 1948. We need to wake up to reality. We need spiritual revival in the church and spiritual awakening in America.

I would argue that it was when the SBC left sound theology behind and began to focus on evangelism rather than biblical preaching regarding sin and the true doctrines of the Gospel that the problem was really manifested. There is a huge problem when churches offer things to the community and do them “with the specific intent of winning others to faith in Christ.” While Floyd sees that specific intent as a goal, there is nothing like what he describes in the Bible. Jesus never held an event with the specific intent of wining others to faith in Christ. The great event of the cross was when Jesus Christ purchased His people and their faith. He did not need to do anything to win them in Floyd’s language, and that is because He alone can raise people from the dead and give them life.

A huge and extremely noticeable lack in Floyd’s statement is that people should be convinced of sin. This is what happens when people offer events and experiences rather than solid biblical teaching. The selfish person is entertained with events and experiences and is never taught that he is dead in sin and God must give him a new heart. Instead, this person is encouraged that God loves him or her and that all s/he needs to do is to pray a prayer and s/he will be saved. This is the type of thing that has led the professing Church to where it seems that evangelism is a way of deceiving people rather than a way to point people to Christ. Arminian (at best) theology leads to a man-centered evangelism which is not a true evangelism at all. It tries to talk people into something as if what needs to happen is for man to say a prayer or make a choice. The focus is on man and not God. For example, if one examines Floyd’s article encouraging people to evangelism one will find hardly (if at all) anything on sin or the true character of God. This is not only telling; it is both deceiving and damning.

Floyd thinks that when baptisms are down things are deplorable. In fact, it could be a good sign. It could be that with less people being baptized less people are being deceived that they are truly converted. It is Floyd and those like him who need to wake up to reality. The reality of the matter is that the Bible knows nothing of the evangelism that Floyd is pushing. The Bible condemns the theology behind what Floyd is teaching, however. Men and women do not need to be talked into praying a prayer, they need to be taught about their sinful hearts and their inability to pray and be saved apart from God saving them completely and totally by grace alone. They need to be taught how their selfish hearts love themselves and that they can pray a prayer but that the prayer is wicked and sinful because it is selfish rather than out of love for God. They need to be taught that God alone can overcome their sinful and selfish hearts and give them new hearts that love Him, but they also need to be taught that God is not obligated to save them and that He saves by a free-grace alone. Underneath what Floyd is teaching is something other than the Gospel of grace alone. It is a so-called gospel of being saved by a free-will prayer. It is encouragement to false evangelism rather than biblical evangelism. We need spiritual revival and awakening in America, but we need it to escape the theology and practices of those like Ronnie Floyd.

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