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A Little Ocean Ambiance
Dr. Richard Flanders
Juniata Baptist Church
"Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of
reward." Hebrews 10:35
One of the best experiences of my college training was something
Christian university called "extension." Every weekend, hundreds of
students would spread all over the area to tell thousands of people the
Good News of Jesus Christ. Nobody seems to know how this program came to
be known as "extension," but a good guess would be that the term was
adopted from the extension programs of secular universities which extend
the benefits of their educational service to the general public. Of
course, the most beneficial aspect of a Christian school's program is
salvation message, and the extension of that benefit to surrounding
communities would actually be evangelism. And that is what we were
evangelizing the area in personal witnessing, youth rallies, revival
services, jail visitation, street meetings, and pulpit ministry. We
called it "extension," and it gave all of us, especially us ministerial
students, a good foundation for a life of witness for Jesus Christ.
In looking back and thinking about the "extension" experience of my
college days, I have come to realize the importance of three areas of
confidence it gave me that have enriched my life and ministry. These
not facets of self-confidence, but rather ways of exercising confidence
in God. We dare not lose any of the confidence we had in the Lord in our
younger days if we want to be fruitful in the future. Yet these three
areas are often the very areas where bold dependence on God is subtly
discouraged by ideas currently being pressed upon men in the ministry!
Sometimes higher education undermines the faith that is essential to
fruitful ministry by promoting wrong ideas. Sometimes preachers read
books and attend conferences which eat away at the confidence of their
"preacher-boy" days. In our attempts to debate issues and equip
preachers, we must be careful not to subvert the confidence of God's men
in His Book, His love, and His power.
Confidence in God's Book.
One of the unsettling experiences of a freshman Bible major is the
where his confidence in the Bible is challenged. In liberal schools, the
ministerial student is told that the stories of the Bible cannot be
literally, and even that the doctrines in it can be questioned. At many
evangelical or fundamentalist institutions, while the reliability of the
scriptures as originally written is affirmed, the condition of the text
as we now have it is questioned. Some professors reject whole verses.
Some regard extended passages as spurious. The issue of what the
said is always in the air, and always up in the air, with little chance
of a safe landing. But when student preachers go out "on extension,"
need a reliable Bible! It must be authoritative and correct. Do we
remember how the word "infallible" was used by the great defenders of
faith in referring to the Book of God? Do we remember how important it
was to have "Thus saith the Lord" when dealing with people about their
eternal souls? Some reading this are thinking that I'm being
unreasonable. But, brethren, where actually is reason in the practical
application of biblical text issues? Didn't we have a reliable text of
the scripture before the advent of modern textual criticism? Have the
theories and methods of discerning the original wording really brought
closer to a scientifically established Bible? The fact is that modern
text theories have gendered more questions, more doubt, and more
confusion, rather than more certainty concerning the wording of the
Bible. One thing that has been proven is that we cannot arrive at a sure
text of scripture by the new method! If we do have the original text
somewhere, it came to us by divine providence in the traditional form
that has been handed down. A preacher-boy has more reason for confidence
in his King James Bible than a professor has to rely on a revised
version. If you take the promises seriously in regard to the
of scripture (such as Matthew 5:18 and 24:35) you have more reason to
trust the old Bible than the new. Wherever we are in this controversy,
why must we undermine confidence in the Bible? Let's never do it. Those
who evangelize must have a sure Word from God!
Confidence in God's Love.
As we went out "on extension," we believed that the Lord wanted
saved, and that if, by the power of God, we could persuade a sinner to
repent, God would save him. This was a very exciting thing to believe.
gave us boldness to deal with people on the street, in the jail, and in
nursing homes and laundromats about the destiny of their souls! But all
of us somewhere have run into a form of Calvinism that denies this
concept. Hyper-Calvinism lurks in colleges and seminaries, but it will
also be met in books that pastors read and in sermons by some Christian
leaders. It insists that God's love focuses on the elect, and that He
never desired the salvation of anyone else.
Election is a Bible doctrine important to the whole matter of salvation,
but any explanation of it that denies God's love for the whole world is
perversion of that doctrine. Let's remember that the New Testament
teaches plainly that God wants to save everybody.
"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers,
intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men . . . for this
is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have
men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." (I
"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count
slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should
perish, but that all should come to repentance." (II Peter 3:9)
When you are witnessing for Christ, it makes a difference if you believe
that the person to whom you are speaking is actually a candidate for
salvation! The Lord wants us to win souls with the confidence that He
provided in Christ for the salvation of every sinner.
"And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but
for the sins of the whole world." (I John 2:2)
To remove this confidence from a preacher's heart is to hinder that
evangelistic work. In all our debates over divine election and the human
will let us be careful not to destroy the confidence of others in the
love of God for the world.
Confidence in God's Power.
Before we went out "on extension," we would join in a season of
prayer. In one of the rooms used for prayer at our school, someone
"MUCH PRAYER - MUCH POWER;
We believed that power for witnessing would be granted in answer to
humble, beseeching prayer. This was also the confidence of the people in
the great revivals of former times. Before He went back to heaven, the
Lord Jesus said,
LITTLE PRAYER - LITTLE POWER."
"Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and
ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and
in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." (Acts 1:8)
Believing that promise, the first Christian congregation gave itself to
prayer for ten days until "the day of Pentecost was fully come" (Acts
2:1). The young preachers who evangelized while out "on extension" saw
this promise fulfilled week after week. The power of God led them, gave
them wisdom, and drove the truth home to the hearts of many who then
turned to Christ. Nowadays, scholars and Christian leaders argue over
"sanctification," and some publicly worry about the danger in teaching
people to pray for the power of the Holy Spirit. Sadly, zealous young
have been cooled by statements their mentors have made which kill
confidence in God's willingness to endue His servants with "power from
high" (Luke 24:46-49). But, brethren, we cannot do God's work without
God's power! Sound teaching on being filled with the Spirit such as was
spread in past years by R.A. Torrey and John R. Rice is needed today.
Faith that God will enable us to proclaim the Gospel effectively is
esential to a powerful ministry. Let's not discourage it.
Students still go out "on extension" at my alma mater and win
Jesus Christ. In churches everywhere, zealous Christians also go out
by week seeking the salvation of lost souls. We can praise God that many
of them minister with absolute confidence in God's Word, God's love, and
God's power. Pastors who still believe that their Bibles are reliable,
that God is interested in saving every sinner, and that the power of the
Spirit is available to any Christian who will yield and believe for it,
gender congregations with the same confidence. To break down those
confidences is the Devil's work, with many unhappy results. May those
who influence preachers decline from doing it.
by Dr. Rick Flanders
currently Pastor of
Juniata Baptist Church
Juniata Baptist Church|
5656 Washburn Road
Vassar, MI 48768
Dr. Rick Flanders Biographical Data
Converted in 1963 through a radio ministry.
Earned B.A. and M.A. degrees from Bob Jones University.
Honorary D.D. from Pensacola Christian College.
Pastor at Juniata Baptist Church since 1973.
On BCPM Board, (Baptist Church Planting Ministry)
and also MACS. (Michigan Association of Christian School)
- Articles published in the;
- Sword of the Lord
- Baptist Preacher,
- Christian View of the News,
- Pulpit Helps,
- Maranatha Watchman
- Church Bus News,
- and other national periodicals.
His Majesty's Service
In His Service,
Teaching the Word
To Glorify Our Lord
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