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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15
O Timothy Magazine
Some friends in British Columbia sent us a packet of material exposing the ecumenical compromise of the Ralph Bell Crusade which was held in Victoria, B.C., November 1993. Bell is an affiliate of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
Typical Ecumenical Evangelism
There was the typical uniting of evangelical, charismatic, modernistic, and Roman Catholic churches. The United Church of Canada (UCC) participated. This is one of the most liberal of all denominations. The UCC has formally voted to ordain homosexuals and has apologized to native American Indians for bringing the gospel to them, believing that missionary work unnecessarily disrupted their heathen "spirituality."
Catholics were also involved in the Bell crusade. They served in the choir, and those who came forward at the invitations were guided back to the "church of their choice," including Catholic churches.
Bell delivered a sermon at Christ the King Catholic Church in Courtenay, B. C. , Oct. 24, 1993. "Priest John Laszczyk presided over this event, assisted by the pastor of St. Peter’s Anglican Church...Two members of a local Mennonite Brethren church were also present on the ‘altar’, one of whom conducted the choir, the other providing her testimony" (Nigel Parton, "An Open Letter to Pastor Ron Michalski, Glad Tiding Pentecostal Church").
An announcement in the St. Joseph’s Parish bulletin said: "CATCH THE VISION" with Billy Graham Associate Evangelist Ralph Bell today at 3:30 p.m. in Memorial Arena. Catholics are involved in the Crusade. Bring a friend or neighbour who does not know Jesus in their lives, or just come on your own to experience the ‘Good News’ message again and wonderful singing.
This is typical Catholic jargon. The Catholic does not receive Jesus Christ once-for-all in the new birth; he receives "Jesus" many times in baptism,. in the mass, in confession, in all sorts of religious contexts. Thus the announcement encourages Catholics to "experience the ‘Good News’ again." The problem is that a person has either experienced the Gospel once for all, or he has never experienced it all!
Priest Laszczyk, in announcing "the blessing"over the Bell meeting in his congregation said, "I pray, Father, that you would open each and every heart to once again accept... Christ as Lord and Savior." This is what the Catholic Church means when it talks about receiving Christ-a- repeated, but never completed, sacramental acceptance of Christ.
An Ecumenical, Humanistic Gospel
The thing that especially caught my eye in this report was the gospel message Bell preached. It was not the Bible gospel of repentance and faith in the blood of Jesus Christ. It should not surprise us, of course, that the true Gospel was not preached in this context. If Bell was preaching a sound Gospel and getting people soundly converted, the Romanists and Modernists would avoid him like the plague!
Though Bell mentioned such Bible terms as faith and sin and the blood of Christ, such references are meaningless in an ecumenical context if not clearly explained AND contrasted with the false gospels held by apostate denominations.
"For the Biblical Gospel to be understood in such a confused ecumenical atmosphere, it not only must be explained but it also must be contrasted with the false gospels held by apostate denominations."
To communicate the gospel clearly in such a situation the evangelist must say something to this effect: "The Bible demands faith in the blood of Jesus Christ-not faith in a re-sacrifice of Christ on a Roman altar, but faith in the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ on Calvary; not faith in a helpless Christ of crucifix, but faith in the all-powerful Christ of the resurrection; not faith in baptism or a church or a priest or a sacrament, but faith in the risen Christ and in His all-sufficient Atonement; not faith which believes a man is saved partly by Christ and partly by his own religious endeavors, but faith exclusively and entirely in Christ."
The evangelist who refuses to define the Gospel plainly in the hour in which we live is a compromiser and a traitor to the Truth. He knows that the false teachers will follow along behind him and redefine every work he says. (If he doesn’t know this he is too ignorant to be in the ministry.) If he therefore does not make himself unquestionably plain in these matters of eternal consequence, it is obvious that he fears man more than God and is more concerned for the feelings of the "clergy" than the eternal destiny of the souls before him.
When Bell preached on sin, he came woefully short of any biblical definition. He said, "You see, the problem is not that we are bad people. The problem is that we are living our lives independent of God. Now that’s what sin is." A half truth is often a lie. While it is true that sin is living independently of God (Isaiah 53:6), that fact along is not a proper definition of sin. It is a lie to say that we are not bad people! The sinner is a bad person. That is our problem. We are bad. We are evil. Jesus said the sinner is evil (LK.11:13).
The Bible describes the sinner in awful terms (Rom.3:9-18; Eph.2:1-4; Ps. 51:5; 58:3; Jer. 17:9; Is. 59:1-8; 64:6). To pamper the sinner by telling him he is not truly bad comforts him in his self-delusion and is wickedness. The sinner in his natural state does not think he is truly bad; he knows he has problems and knows he needs some help; but he does not think he is an evil person. A proper , biblical self-understanding can only come through the proper preaching of the Gospel and the conviction of the Holy Spirit. It will never come through the kind of preaching we find at ecumenical rallies.
"Bell and company are preaching a false humanistic gospel. Their converts are coming to an unbiblical Christ, a Christ that does not demand repentance from sin. No wonder their preaching is acceptable to modernists and Romanists".
Bell also defined sin as a hunger for God. "We also have a spiritual hunger deep down inside for God that food and water and sex can never satisfy." Bell said, "The pain of our sin manifests itself in loneliness, in guilt, in emptiness and boredom and a lack of fulfillment and a lack of direction and lack of meaning in our lives and these are all warnings that you and I need a physician who can meet the basic needs of our heart, namely, the Lord Jesus Christ."
Why does the Bible never present the Gospel in this manner? It is because this is not the Gospel. The Bible never invites the sinner to come to Christ as a felt-need fulfiller. The Bible demands that the sinner repent of his sin and bow before Christ as Lord. Study the sermons in the Bible and you will see what I am saying. In his sermon on Mars Hill , Paul did not mention the felt needs of the Athenians. He pointed out their idolatry and their sin and proclaimed:"And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead" (Acts 17:30,31).
In "drawing the net," Bell invited the sinner in this manner:": If God is speaking to you, the only thing that matters is to settle that feeling once and for all-to nail it down and open your heart to Him." What does this mean? What does it mean "to settle that feeling"? "The feeling" could be every sort of emotion apart from true Holy Spirit-wrought repentance. Where in the Bible did the Apostles invite sinners "To open your heart to Him"? Who is "Him"? In an ecumenical context, "Him" could mean the Jesus wafer of the Catholic mass, the humanistic god of modernism, or the false Jesus of a cult.
"If a man fails to preach repentance and intimates that sinners merely need to "receive Jesus," , if he fails clearly to define the Gospel in contradiction to the error which abounds on every side, he is preaching a false gospel no matter how sincere he is and no matter what he calls himself."
This is not "nit-picking". We live i a horribly confused hour. The Lord Jesus Christ warned that error in the last hours would be so convincing that even the elect would be in danger of being deceived (Matt.24:24).
For a preacher today to refuse to be particular about the details of the gospel is to invite deception.
Bell and company are preaching a false, humanistic gospel, my friends. Their converts are coming to an unbiblical Christ, a Christ that does not demand repentance from sin. No wonder their preaching is acceptable to modernists and Romanists. No wonder their converts are comfortable in apostate denominations. No wonder they can all use the same "plan of salvation." No wonder they don’t care about polluted Bible versions. It is NOT the Bible plan o salvation.
Fundamental Baptists Preaching Humanistic Gospel
Many fundamental Baptists are using a gospel plan which is all too similar to this ecumenical gospel. If a man fails to preach repentance and intimates that sinners merely need to "receive Jesus," if he fails clearly to define the Gospel in contradiction to the error which abounds on every side, he is preaching a false gospel no matter how sincere he is and no matter what he calls himself. Ecclesiastical labels-whether Evangelical, Independent Baptist, Fundamentalist, or whatever-do not approve us to God; it is our commitment to the Word of God which approves us to Him.