A Voice in the
Wilderness

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" Ol' Time Gospel? "

Come home, Come home..Jesus is pleading..His mercies..and pardon for you and for me... Calling, 'O sinner, come home!'" Words from a favorite ol' time invitation hymn, written in the later 1800's.

Here's another, "There's a wideness in God's mercy..welcome for the sinner and more graces for the good..if our love were but more simple, we should take Him at His word...our lives would be all sunshine in the sweetness of our Lord."

Or, how about, "All my life long I had panted for a draught from some clear spring..well of water, ever springing, Bread of life so rich and free, Untold wealth that never faileth, My Redeemer is to me. Halle- lujah! I have found Him."

"The love of God is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell..."

Billy Graham's Website "message" is entitled "You can Come Home to God." Closing with a misquote, "There is great rejoicing in heaven when a sinner comes home."

Campus Crusade for Christ preaches, "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life" (law1) "Man is continually trying to reach to God." (~law2) "Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be." (sample prayer for salvation)

In a recent E-mail somebody suggested, "prophets of God will not JUST preach doom and gloom. Repentance and salvation are what are most important to God, not just warning the people."

There is "Truth" in pretty much all these excerpts. Jesus does invite, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."(Mt11:28) "Rest" being one of the characteristics of "heaven"; "..that they may rest from their labors.." (Rev14:13)

Yes, there is a "wideness in God's mercy." As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. (Ps103:12) And no limit to His love, "...neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:38-39)

Jesus promises a "fountain of water springing up into everlasting life."(Jn4:14) And that He is the "bread of life."(Jn6:35) And His love was so great that God sent Jesus to "save" the world."(Jn3:16-17)

But when Billy Graham and Campus Crusade preach that we must "come HOME" to God...that God has a "wonderful plan" for your life...that all we must do is to receive the salvation provided, with thanksgiving; is that what the Prophets and Apostles preached? This that we often call the "Ol' Time Gospel" ..is it what Jesus preached? Is it enough to know that the "wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life?"(Rom6:23)

To only see God's love, Jesus' death on the cross; to hear Jesus' invitation to come to Him, to realize that forgiveness is available, and that inexpressible joy is waiting for the one who comes...is like going into a deli where all sorts of wonderful morsels of food await, just for the asking...ON THE OTHER SIDE of the Glass. You can walk into the store and look through that glass, and see all the delicacies. You can desire to have them for yourself. You can hear the Proprietor express to you how wonderful they will taste. And you can say, "Yes...that's what I want! Thank you very much."

The Proprietor says, "This is all FREE." Just one thing. "Let me Wash your hands." "Oh, they're clean enough...I washed them this morning when I got up..Ok, where's the washroom, and I'll do it." "No...sorry, I must wash them for you." "What do you mean!? I know how to wash my own hands! They're not all THAT dirty...! SEE?!"

Jesus says, "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me."(Jn13:8)

The problem with most "gospel messages" being preached is that people are coming "just as I am..." The song has been transformed by deleting "without one plea." Now they preach, "God accepts you JUST AS YOU ARE!" There is no recognition of sin, let alone, any remorse for it. Repentance now turns to God to "follow Him better."

Peter preached, "..God has made..Jesus WHOM YOU CRUCIFIED, both Lord and Christ."(Acts2:36) What was the reaction to this "unloving personal attack"? "Now when they heard this, they were CUT TO THE HEART, and said...'what shall we do?' ...REPENT."

Job, when confronted with God's glory, reacts, "I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes!" (Job42:6) What?! No.."I'm worth it"? "Love and grace"? "Jesus loves me & He's my FRIEND, & will come along BESIDE ME & take my hand"?

Jesus, the One Who loves and invites, also expressed about the two who went to the temple to pray. And the "sinner" who "would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast saying, 'God be merciful to me a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other." (Lk18:13-14)

James writes, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double- minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. (James 4:8-10) This is a far cry from the jocular frolicking manner of those who "go forward" at crusades!

For the unregenerate, there is no "HOME" to "return" to. The person must first be "adopted" as a son."(Rom8:15) One must first BECOME part of the family through the "new birth."(Jn3:3)

Rather than "ever striving to reach" God as Campus Crusade says, "all we like sheep have gone astray." (Is53:6) And so, how does one present the message of "salvation and repentance?" By warning them. Rather than a "loving" message, John preached, "Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?"(Mt3:7) You notice, he labels them for what they are, and then tells what their "doom" is.

Jonah's message is even more striking. "Yet 40 days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!"(Jon3:4) You notice, he doesn't even preach "love, forgiveness, repentance, mercy." But what was the result? The people humbled themselves before God, and were spared judgment. "..others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh."(Jude23)

Rather than a gospel of "graces for the good and loving" and singing "Just as I am, I come" the message preached needs to lead to, "A sinner, undone, I come." Let's correct here Graham's misquote, the verse actually says, "there will be..joy in heaven over one sinner who REPENTS."(Lk15:7)

Amen!


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