I call your undivided attention to an article written by Rolfe Barnard entitled "The Ascended Lord". Rolfe came to Ashland preaching this message. God used it to change my life, my ministry and to lay the foundation for this assembly The Thirteenth Street Baptist Church.
We were in the mainstream of todays religion, walking in the light of fundamentalism, attempting to win converts to our faith and then employing every method of entertainment, enthusiasm, promises of reward and warnings of future losses to keep them interested. It seemed normal to have over twelve hundred church members professing salvation and eternal life while only one hundred showed any evidence of a living union with Christ, love for Him and His people and hunger for the preaching of the Word.
We preached what is today called the gospel. "Man is a sinner, he is incapable of earning or securing his salvation from hell either by works or deeds of the law. God in love gave His Son Jesus Christ to die for the sins of the world and the only sin now that will send any person to hell is to reject Jesus Christ. If we say that we believe in Jesus Christ we are saved and get eternal life, if we do not make that decision in a public manner we will be judged and sent to hell." This, in brief, is the general line of today's preaching and has much truth but it is not the message of the gospel preached by our Lord and His apostles Go to the New Testament, and you will find that the gospel of God's glory was not presented in this fashion at all. The emphasis then was on the Lordship of Christ. The fact that He died on the cross was not questioned, they knew that, but Peter declared, "God hath made that same Jesus Whom ye crucified both Lord and Christ." His love was never questioned - the issue was His sovereignty, His mercy and grace were never questioned, but His right to show mercy to whom He will show mercy and to be gracious to whom He will be gracious was and is the issue. Men are not being confronted these days with the truth about Jesus Christ. Men will quickly accept Jesus as a savior if we will soft pedal His absolute authority over them. Nearly everybody claims Jesus as their savior but want nothing to do with Jesus Christ, The Sovereign Lord. This is the day of revivals that do not revive; evangelism that does not evangelize; and a salvation that does not save; and it finds its cause in the message being proclaimed from today's pulpit. It is high time that preachers quit offering men the blessings of salvation divorced from the reception, and that willingly and gladly, of the rule and authority of the Lord Jesus in their lives, homes and churches. "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus to be Lord and believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." Rom. 10:9
One encouraging sign of the times in our day is that some are beginning to examine modern evangelism. Burdened, weary of trying to pastor and motivate unsaved church members, preachers are almost at the place of resorting to the Bible message and method of evangelism and missions. It may be that the time is not far off when many books will be shelved and "The Book of Books" will be preached again; when preachers will quit trying to fill the pews and begin to fill the pulpit; when pastors will cease to be menpleasers searching for a better place and become prophets of God seeking His face! If this happens, lawless rebels will no longer talk of patronizing the Son of God, debate whether or not they will let Him in their hearts to save them, accept Jesus as their savior while they bow to the idols of materialism. But we will hear cries from smitten hearts which were heard in days gone by - "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" "Lord, if You will, You can make me clean," "Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner." "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom."
One of the championship football teams of the past had a coach who would come into the locker room at half-time, when the team was down by two touchdowns, and say, (if you will pardon the expression) "Alright, men, its gut-sucking time." Every preacher knows what that means! It's time to quit counting the cost and start paying the price! It's time to quit building the kingdom and start tearing up some false foundations! It's time to quit getting everybody saved and start getting somebody lost!
After he had preached a powerful sermon on the royal claims of King Jesus and called on his congregation to fall in the dust of repentance before the sovereign Lord seeking mercy, Bro. Barnard was approached by a man who said, "Sir, you will catch more flies with honey than vinegar." To which Rolfe replied, "Sir, I'm not catching flies - I'm killing proud sinner!"
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