Monday, January 29, 2018

What About Soulwinning?

Let me preface this study with a few remarks:

1. I very much believe that it is vital for believers to faithfully give the gospel to the lost.

2. There are some who may use the term “soulwinning” that are not guilty of the things I am going to write about in this post.

3. I am not writing about this subject just to be critical, but rather I want to warn against some very serious errors in modern day evangelism. How we go about giving out the gospel is extremely important. I fear that there are multitudes of people that have been wrongly led to think they are saved as a result of the kind of soulwinning that I am writing about. They think they are saved because they “prayed the prayer” or "walked the aisle."

The way most fundamental churches emphasize what they call “soulwinning,” you would think it was a major subject in the word of God. However, there is only one mention of soulwinning in the Bible, and it is not even talking about evangelism. It is never right to build a doctrine on a single verse taken out of context!

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise. (Prov. 11:30)

The general context is divine wisdom applied to the daily life of Israel under the law. There are certainly moral principles that we may apply from Proverbs, but we must always be mindful that it wasn’t actually written to the Body of Christ living under grace.

The immediate context concerns the wisdom of being good to others so that they will be good to you (vs.24-31). So, v.30 is not talking about winning souls to Christ; it is talking winning souls to yourself. The expression, “tree of life” is used four times in Proverbs to signify fruitfulness, happiness, and vitality (3:18; 13:12; 15:4).

I am all for true evangelism, but I am against “soulwinning” as it has been taught by preachers like Jack Hyles. I was influenced by such teaching early on in my Christian life. What caused me to eventually reject it? Reading and studying the Bible! What is the problem with it?

1. The presentation – They give a presentation instead of the plain gospel. The whole approach is faulty. “If you died to today, are you sure you would go to heaven?” The typical soulwinning presentation is centered around going to heaven, but the Bible does not teach that going to heaven is the purpose of salvation. It is about being reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:17-21). Everybody wants to go to heaven, but not everybody wants to be saved from their sin and reconciled to God. The typical presentation does not emphasize the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. They briefly mention that Jesus paid for our sins so we can go to heaven if we will just invite Him into our heart.

2. The goal – Their goal is to get people to repeat a prayer. People are religious by nature, and so it is easy to get them to repeat a prayer if it means a free ticket to heaven. Where does the Bible say we must pray to be saved? We must BELIEVE the gospel with our heart, trusting Christ as our Savior (Eph. 1:13; Acts 16:31).

3. The high pressure techniques – Soulwinners are not supposed to give the sinner a chance to say no. “You want to go to heaven, don’t you? Say this prayer with me…” Jack Hyles bragged about a car dealership using his soulwinning book to train their salesmen.

4. The wrong standard of success (numbers) - That is how the “sinner’s prayer” and “walking the aisle” got started. They need visible results to count up numbers. They think the more numbers they have (professions, baptisms, attendance, offerings, staff, buildings), the more blessed they are of God. Paul said that those who suppose gain is godliness have a corrupt mind (1 Tim. 6:5).

Most soulwinning churches have a door to door soulwinning program every week, and SHAME on you if you don’t participate! Those who don’t go soulwinning are put on a major guilt trip and are they not allowed to be involved in the church. We do door to door canvassing, but we simply hand out gospel tracts and invite people to church. Of course, if we have the opportunity we will share the gospel with anybody who is interested.

I certainly believe that we should try to persuade sinners to trust Christ as their Savior, but we are to persuade them with gospel, not a soulwinning presentation. We need to have confidence in the power of the gospel (Rom. 1:16; 1 Cor. 1:18; 1 Thess. 2:4). Just sincerely share the gospel the best way you know how. Use your personal testimony. Don’t put pressure on your self to “win souls.” We just need to give the gospel (1 Cor. 3:6-7) and trust the Holy Spirit to work in hearts through the word of God. Whether or not the sinner trusts Christ to be saved is between them and the Lord. We shouldn’t get in the way and act like we are some kind of mediator between God and men (1 Tim. 2:5).

It is the responsibility of every believer to be a faithful ambassador for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20). Being an ambassador for Christ is a way of life, not a once-a-week program.


Monday, January 15, 2018

What Paul Said About Angels

The majority of the references about the ministry of angels on earth concern Israel and her Messiah. There are 297 references to angels in the Bible, and only 13 are found in Romans through Philemon (13 epistles). There are 76 references in the book of Revelation alone! Nowhere does Paul teach that God uses angels to directly minister (by instruction or intervention) to the Body of Christ. In light of our exalted position in Christ, we do not need them (Eph. 1:15-23; 2:6). 

Paul used the word “angels” just once in his prison epistles (written after the Acts transition), but he did refer to them several times with other words such as “principalities” and “powers” (Col. 1:16). A “principality” is the realm ruled by a prince, and “powers” are the rulers (Dan. 10:10-11:1). Angels are organized according to rank. This is true both of fallen angels (Col. 2:15; Eph. 6:12) and holy angels (Col. 2:10). When Paul taught us about spiritual warfare (Eph. 6:10-20), he said nothing about angels helping us wrestle against evil spirits. We don't need angels because we are to be strong in the LORD, and in the power of HIS MIGHT.

We are not living in a dispensation in which God is using visible manifestations of the supernatural. The rule is that “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). God has given us His Spirit and His word, and we are thereby able to become “perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

Here is a simple survey of the references to angels in Paul's epistles:

1) Rom. 8:38-39 – Angels are powerful, but not powerful enough to separate us from love of God.

2) 1 Cor. 4:8-14 – The angels observe us (both good and evil).

3) 1 Cor. 6:1-3 – The Body of Christ will have authority over angels in the ages to come (Eph. 3:21).

4) 1 Cor. 11:10 – I can’t be dogmatic about this verse. Is he referring to good or evil angels? If good, they are interested in seeing former pagans now serving the Lord. If evil, this may be a warning that fallen angels will target those in rebellion. 

5) 1 Cor. 13:1 – Angels apparently have their own language but can also speak the tongues of men. 

6) 2 Cor. 11:13-15 – Satan is a counterfeiter and deceiver that can appear as an angel of light (v.3). 

7) Gal. 1:6-12 – An angel from heaven will not be sent from God to deliver a gospel message contrary to what Christ revealed to Paul. In the future tribulation period an angel from heaven will preach another gospel (Rev. 14:6-7).

8) Gal. 3:19 – God used angels in giving the law to Moses for Israel.

9) Gal. 4:13-16 – Christ has made appearances as the Angel of the Lord.

10) Col. 2:18 – Worshipping angels is idolatry, and angels are not seen today.

11) 2 Thess. 1:3-10 – Angels are in the armies of Christ when He comes to judge the world.

12) 1 Tim. 3:16 – This verse refers to Christ personal and spiritual (the Church). Angels observe the Body of Christ as a demonstration of the wisdom of God (Eph. 3:10).

13) 1 Tim. 5:21 – Elect angels are those that did not follow Satan. Another verse that teaches angels observe us.

Nowhere is these references do we find Paul teaching the Body of Christ to expect the same kind of angelic ministry that Israel received in times past (instructing, strengthening, and protecting). He did tell us that angels are observing us and that God is using the Body of Christ to teach principalities and powers in heavenly places about His manifold wisdom. God purposed what He is doing in this age before the foundation of the world, but kept it hid in Himself until He revealed it through His chosen vessel, the apostle Paul. What He is doing, and how He revealed it, is a great demonstration of His wisdom (1 Cor. 2:6-8; Rom. 11:32-36)!

Angels are amazing creatures with great capabilities, but instead of them ministering to us, we are actually ministering to them! They are not all-knowing. They are learning things about God through us. They cannot experience salvation. They know about God’s power, but they have never experienced His grace, mercy, and love as we have.

In light of our exalted position in Christ, we do not need the ministry of angels! We do not need their:
1. Instruction (Col. 1:25; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 1 Cor. 2:9-16)
2. Strength (Eph. 3:14-21; Col. 2:10)
3. Protection (Eph. 1:13-14; 4:30)

The only angels that are interacting with man today are Satan’s angels. They are not only observing us, they are working against us (Eph. 6:12). Satan sends “seducing spirits” to introduce leaven into churches and ministries (1 Tim. 4:1-6). Satan can appear as “an angel of light” to deceive (2 Cor. 11:14). We are in a SPIRITUAL warfare, and our SPIRITUAL weapon is the word of God.

The Bible teaches us that the Lord has His holy angels and Satan has his evil angels (Matt. 25:31-46). Where did Satan get his angels? He deceived some of the angels to follow him in his initial rebellion against God (the lake of fire was prepared to curtail the rebellion). Who are the devils? They could be the disembodied spirits of the giants that perished in the flood (Gen. 6). The fallen angels that cohabitated with the daughters of men are chained in hell awaiting judgment (2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6).

God has a twofold purpose concerning heaven and earth (Gen. 1:1; Rev. 21:1; Col. 1:16-20; Eph. 1:10). As the most high God, He is the rightful possessor of heaven and earth (Gen. 14:22; Matt. 28:18). When Lucifer fell in pride, He said, “I will be like the most High” (Isa. 14:14). There is wickedness in the heavens and on earth through Satan’s plan of evil (Gen. 1:8; Job 15:15; Eph. 2:2; 6:12; Rev. 12:7-12).

God’s plan to establish His kingdom on earth was prepared FROM the foundation of the world, and has been spoken by the prophets since the world began (Gen-Acts; Heb.-Rev.). God’s plan for the heavenly places was planned before the foundation of the world, but kept secret since the world began until revealed through Paul (Rom.-Phile.). His plan for the earth concerns Israel, His earthly people. His plan for heaven concerns the Body of Christ, His heavenly people. God will use Israel to rule the earth. God will use the Body of Christ to rule in heaven (Eph. 2:6-7).We will judge angels (1 Cor. 6:3).

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Work of Angels

Are angels just sitting around on clouds playing harps? The Bible refers to angels in heaven and on earth. Heaven is the primary abode of the holy angels, but we also read much in the Bible about their activity on earth (Gen. 28:10-17; John 1:51). Basically and essentially, holy angels are God’s ministers that do whatever He commands them to do (Ps. 103:19-22).

The supreme duty of angels is to worship and praise God (Ps. 148:1-6; Heb. 1:6; Rev. 5:11-12; 7:11-12).

God uses angels to execute judgment on the wicked (Gen. 19:1, 12-13; Matt. 13:41-42; Rev. 16:1).

God used angels to minister to Israel (Gen. 32:1-2; Dan. 12:1):
1. Israel received the law by the instrumentality of angels (Acts 7:53; Gal. 3:19)
2. God sent an angel to help Israel take the land of promise (Ex. 33:1-3)
3. They protected God’s prophets (2 Kin. 6:17; Dan. 6:19-24)
4. They brought God’s chastening on them (2 Sam. 24:15-17)
5. They delivered instruction and messages from God (Dan. 7-12; Lk. 1)
6. They watch over the children of the kingdom (Matt. 18:1-10; Heb. 1:14)
7. They carried away the righteous to paradise upon death (Lk. 16:22)
8. They gather Israel from the four winds of the earth (Matt. 24:31)
9. They accompany Christ in His second coming to establish His kingdom in Israel (Matt. 25:31)

Angels ministered to Jesus Christ throughout His earthly life:
1. An angel announced His virgin birth and gave assurance to Joseph (Lk. 1:26-28; Matt. 1:20)
2. An angel warned Mary and Joseph to flee to Egypt and told them when to return (Matt. 2:13, 19)
3. An angel announced His birth to shepherds and angels worshipped Him (Lk. 2:8-15)
4. An angel guided the wise men (Matt. 2)
5. Angels ministered to Jesus after His temptation (Matt. 4:11)
6. An angel strengthened Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane (Lk. 22:43)
7. Angels stood by ready to assist Jesus while on the cross (Matt. 26:53)
8. An angel rolled away the stone of His tomb and announced His resurrection (Matt. 28:1-8)
9. Angels were present at His ascension into Heaven (Acts 1:9-10)

Angels observe the church which is the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 4:9; 11:10; Eph. 3:10). They are not teaching us, we are teaching them! In our next post we will consider what Paul said about angels. 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Nature of Angels

Angels are created spirit-beings (Heb. 1:7, 14). They are not made of flesh and blood (Heb. 2:14-16). Does this mean that they don't have a body? Paul said, "There are also celestial bodies" (1 Cor. 15:40). Although angels are spiritual in nature, their tangible constitution is such that “some have entertained angels unawares” (Heb. 13:2). This is because angels, consistent with every passage in which a description is given, are said to be men. Some mistakenly think that Christ said angels are sexless. He said that the angels in heaven do not marry (Matt. 22:30), but He never said they were sexless.

The angels that were sent to deliver Lot out of Sodom before its destruction were called men (Gen. 18:16; 19:5, 10, 12). Mary saw the angel Gabriel as “him” (Lk. 1:29), and Daniel said that he had the “appearance of a man” (Dan. 10:18, see also Dan. 9:21). After the resurrection of Christ, there was seen a “young man” (Mk. 16:55) and “two men” (Lk. 24:4) in the tomb who were identified as angels. "Two men" (Acts 1:10) appeared to the disciples at the ascension of Christ and they were angels. Cornelius had a vision of “an angel of God” (Acts 10:3), but later said it was “a man” (Acts 10:30). The apostle John said that the measure of a man was the same as that of an angel (Rev. 21:17).

There is not a passage in the Bible that describes angels as being women, or as having wings. Where do people get that idea? Many think that Cherubs and Seraphims are angels. Cherubs are said to have four wings (Ezek. 1:6), and Seraphims are said to have six wings (Isa. 6:2). The Bible does not say that these heavenly creatures are angels. By the way, Satan was the anointed Cherub before he fell in pride (Ezek. 28:14). Satan may appear as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14), but he is not an angel. He does have fallen angels that follow him (Matt. 25:41). Zechariah saw two women that had wings like a stork (Zech. 5:5-11), but they were associated with wickedness and were not identified as angels. In the book of Revelation we read of angels that fly (8:13; 14:6), but this does not prove that they have wings.

Angels can eat food (Gen. 18:1-8; Ps. 78:25), yet they can pass through walls (Acts 12:7). They have their own language, but they can speak with the tongues of men (1 Cor. 13:1). They are always said to be dressed in white linen (Mk. 16:5; Jn. 20:12; Acts 1:10; Rev. 15:6). Angels are said to have glory (Rev. 18:1), but never a “halo." Angels cannot die (Lk. 20:36). Angels are wise (2 Sam. 14:17, 20). They are interested in the spiritual things of God (1 Pet. 1:12). They have a knowledge of future events (Rev. 17:1), but it is limited (Matt. 24:36).

The physiological abilities of angels is extraordinary. Twice we read that angels are “mighty” (2 Thess. 1:7; Rev. 18:21), and once that they are “strong” (Rev. 5:2). They are said to “excel in strength” (Ps. 103:20), have “great power” (Rev. 18:1), and be “greater in power and might” (2 Pet. 2:11) than men. One angel will bind Satan for “a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit” (Rev. 20:1-2). They can speak from the heavens and be heard on the earth (Rev. 8:13; 19:17). They can exercise power over the elements (Rev. 7:1), and smite men with blindness (Gen. 19:11). That one angel killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers (Isa. 37:36) is one of the greatest illustrations of their strength.

Although called evil when serving God to the detriment of men (Ps. 78:49), angels, excepting those that are fallen (2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6), and those associated with Satan (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 12:7, 9), are termed “elect” (1 Tim. 5:21), “holy” (Matt. 25:31), and are associated with light. This is not to say that they are perfect like God, for even “his angels he charged with folly” (Job 4:18). But they do obey God (Ps. 103:20), worship Him (Rev. 5:11-12), and direct men to worship Him (Rev. 22:9).

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