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A Little Ocean Ambiance
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Doctrinal Writings
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Dr. Richard Flanders
Juniata Baptist Church
Vassar, Michigan
"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 our 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 the salvation message, and the extension of that benefit to surrounding communities would actually be evangelism. And that is what we were doing: 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 were 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 class where his confidence in the Bible is challenged. In liberal schools, the ministerial student is told that the stories of the Bible cannot be taken 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 original 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," they need a reliable Bible! It must be authoritative and correct. Do we remember how the word "infallible" was used by the great defenders of the 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 new theories and methods of discerning the original wording really brought us 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 preservation 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 everybody 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. It 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 a 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 all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." (I Timothy 2:1, 3-4)
"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 has provided in Christ for the salvation of every sinner.
"And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." (I John 2:2)
To remove this confidence from a preacher's heart is to hinder that man's 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 earnest prayer. In one of the rooms used for prayer at our school, someone posted this slogan:

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,
"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 issues of "sanctification," and some publicly worry about the danger in teaching people to pray for the power of the Holy Spirit. Sadly, zealous young men have been cooled by statements their mentors have made which kill confidence in God's willingness to endue His servants with "power from on 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 people to Jesus Christ. In churches everywhere, zealous Christians also go out week 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.

Monthly Article
July 2002
by Dr. Rick Flanders
currently Pastor of
Juniata Baptist Church
Juniata Baptist Church
5656 Washburn Road
Vassar, MI 48768
(517) 823-7848

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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