Quotes by Daryl Wingerd
We do not possess the original writings of any biblical author. But modern translations of the Bible are taken from manuscripts that were carefully, meticulously copied from these flawless originals. When we find the near-perfect agreement between these thousands of preserved manuscripts, despite their being copied and re-copied over hundreds of years and in a variety of countries and languages, we can rest assured that what we have today is a faithful representation of the actual words of God.
There is often confusion regarding the intended objects of Jesus’ saving work. Was it His mission to try to save as many people as possible? Or was He sent to actually save many specific people? Another way to ask these two questions is like this: Was Jesus trying to save all people so that many would become His? Or was He saving the many because they were already His? Passages like Matthew 1:21, Matthew 11:25-27, John 5:21, John 6:37-39, John 10:14-16, John 17:1-3, 2 Thessalonians 2:13 and many others, strongly affirm the latter.
The Bible was written by ordinary men. They had their own thoughts, ideas, and opinions which they recorded in both the Old and New Testaments. God did not reach down and take hold of their pens, causing them to write things which they would have never thought to write. And except for the instances where His audible words were recorded, God did not dictate the words of Scripture. Rather, He worked in these men, through their unique personalities, experiences, emotions, and intellects, causing them to record His words.
The individual days of creation are denoted by the phrase, “So the evening and the morning were the first day” (Gen. 1:5), “…second day” (Gen. 1:8), “…third day (Gen. 1:13), etc. All of this seems to call to mind a “day” as we know it. And when we study the other uses of the word in the Old Testament, we find that where the word yom is preceded by a numerical adjective (i.e. “first,” “second,” “third,” etc., as in Genesis 1), it always refers to a twenty-four hour day.
Though God is under no obligation to reveal Himself, He chose to reveal Himself to mankind through creation. God reveals Himself as eternal, powerful, glorious, creative, orderly, loving, all-knowing, sovereign, and worthy of worship. By creating man in His own image, by giving him a soul, self-consciousness, the ability to reason, and a general knowledge of right and wrong, God reveals Himself as personal, holy, wise, righteous, and just. This is known as general revelation.
God’s image in people has been terribly marred through sin. But God has planted a sense of personal moral responsibility in every person. He has instilled in each one a general sense of right and wrong. He has created people to be reasonable, rational beings. God’s image in us is seen in the way we value justice, mercy, and love, even though we often distort them. It is why we are creative, artistic, and musical. These things simply cannot be said about even the most intelligent of the animals.
To put it in simple terms, general revelation provides enough knowledge of God to get rebellious people like you and me into trouble, but not enough to get us out of it. We need something more.
The Bible is a sufficient source of truth and direction for salvation and for all significant aspects of life. A person should not search the Scriptures in hopes of learning the best way to poach an egg or repair an automobile. But when it comes to issues of sin, salvation, the church, the worship of God, evangelism, marriage, the education and discipline of children, relating to an immoral society, or any other aspect of Christian living, the Bible stands alone as sufficient. God’s Word does not need to be supplemented by human wisdom, ingenuity, philosophy, or psychology.
When did pastors and evangelists stop relying solely on the evangel and start relying on methodological innovations? Neither this mindset, nor the methods that flow from it, can be traced back to the apostles. The fact is, altar call methodology is a relatively recent innovation.
A biblical evangelist…is one who studies to know what the Bible says about God, Christ, sin, holiness, justice, wrath, grace, love, and the salvation of sinners, and then teaches those doctrines to unconverted people. Relying solely upon the truth of the doctrines of the Bible and the working of the Spirit of God, he urges them to repent and believe the truth. The biblical evangelist is not a clever or manipulative person who says or does whatever it takes to get people to “make a decision for Christ.” He is not the one who, because he genuinely longs to see people saved, is willing to stray from, add to, modify, or reduce the doctrines of the Bible. The biblical evangelist is the one who is convinced that God saves those who believe “the foolishness of the [biblical] message preached” (1 Corinthians 1:21). He has no confidence in a message that seems more palatable, user-friendly, culturally relevant, or seemingly more effective in persuading people to “make a decision” or say a “sinner’s prayer.”
Every biblical evangelist will, as part of his preaching, implore his hearers to repent and believe. Some may even invite hearers to come forward at the end of the meeting to speak with a pastor or counselor in order to learn more about the gospel, ask for materials to read, ask questions about the Bible or what they heard in the sermon, etc. But no truly biblical evangelist will assure a person that he will be saved if he will, at a particular moment in time, decide something, say something, or do something in response to an invitation. Contrary to the biblical goal of gospel preaching, which is to make men humble, penitent, and wholly dependent on God, such invitations and assurances actually serve to increase self-reliance and build unwarranted spiritual confidence.
Nine Characteristics of Biblical Prayer:
1. An Understanding of Your Own Insignificance and Sinfulness.
2. The Knowledge that Jesus is Your Only Access to the Father.
3. Adoration for God because of His Character and Attributes.
4. Joyful Praise for God’s Work in Creation and Redemption.
5. Thankfulness for God’s Kindness in Giving Every Good Thing.
6. A Sense of Your Need of Strength to Fight against Specific Sins.
7. Humble Trust as You Ask the Father to Meet Every Need.
8. A Selfless Burden to Pray for Others.
9. A Thirst for Increasing Spiritual Wisdom and Understanding.
The preacher may not mean to convey this, but his actions and words so strongly imply it that the listener cannot help but think that he must do something beyond merely believing if he is to be saved. Likewise, the one who does respond outwardly as instructed cannot help but assume that he has gained something of eternal importance by doing so, even though outward responses often reflect no corresponding inner reality. And when the meeting is over, the one who did not respond as invited cannot help but believe he has missed the “opportunity."” Most evangelists who favor the altar call method also strongly affirm the doctrine of sola fide (justification by faith alone). But the charge that their methods appear to contradict this doctrine cannot be easily dismissed. If nothing related to salvation is gained by a person’s outward response to some form of altar call, then what is the reason for asking people to respond in these ways if they want to be saved? Are people saved by faith alone or are they not?
The first evangelists never assured unconverted people that God loves them. This is not to say conclusively that He does not love them in any way whatsoever. But the undeniable fact is, the love of God for man was a total non-factor in the evangelistic preaching recorded in the New Testament. In the book of Acts, for example, the greatest manual for evangelism that exists, the word “love” is never even used. So the first supposedly essential phrase – “God loves you and wants to save you” – has absolutely no biblical precedent… Likewise, and contrary to the second common assumption about the essential content of the gospel message, the words, “Christ died for you” were never addressed to unconverted people. The only people who are ever assured in the Bible that Jesus bore their sins on the cross are Christians. You will search the Bible in vain to find words like, “Jesus died for you,” presented as a promise or an appeal to the lost.
Altar call evangelism rarely produces lasting fruit. While the initial statistics are often impressive, the numbers of those who bear the biblical marks of regeneration are usually minute in comparison. D. A. Carson calls attention to this disturbing pattern in his book, A Call for Spiritual Reformation: “To what extent do those who profess faith at world-class evangelistic meetings actually persevere, over a period of five years from their initial profession of faith? When careful studies have been undertaken, the most commonly agreed range is 2 percent to 4 percent; that is, between 2 percent and 4 percent of those who make a profession of faith at such meetings are actually persevering in the faith five years later, as measured by such external criteria as attendance at church, regular Bible reading, or the like” (Baker, 1992, p. 24).
We must preach the gospel of God’s sovereign grace in Christ to everyone. There should be no restrictions on when, where, or to whom we will preach. We must never attempt to pry into God’s secret will. We cannot know the objects of God’s election and redemptive love until they repent and believe. We do not wait for a “warrant” (the apparent conviction of sin) before proclaiming the gospel and urging people to repent. We preach (as opposed to “offer”) the gospel to everyone indiscriminately because we are not God and we do not know when or where He will pour out His mercy next. Also, we preach to everyone because we have been commanded to do so (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8).
The truth is, altar call methodology creates more problems than it solves. Most “decisions” produce only what the unchanged human heart is easily and deceptively able to manufacture on its own – false religious zeal and moral resolve. The only difference is that in this case, all is done under the banner of Christianity, as opposed to some other religion. While we should rejoice that many have been truly saved through these methods, we should mourn that many more – likely the vast majority – have been left in a worse condition than before.
For the Christian to be driven or motivated toward personal resolution by a change of the calendar frankly seems a little superstitious… To say that January 1st is somehow the best day to make personal resolutions is to pattern ourselves after two societies that were completely steeped in paganism… For us to then say that we are most significantly convicted of the need for change in the days or weeks leading up to January 1st is to say that the Holy Spirit is somehow constrained or motivated by the same pagan system of days that motivated the Romans and the Babylonians… As Christians we know that we are to live in a continual state of repentance, always being sensitive to the necessity for change, always pursuing holiness, and always seeking to obey Christ. To wait until January 1st, viewing it as the one time each year when we make what we hope will be the most significant of these changes is to say that they were not just as necessary on May 7th, or August 19th, or any other day of the year.
The Bible claims for itself a singular and final authority concerning all matters it addresses. No other instructions, written or verbal, represent a higher or even equal authority. This authority was not granted to God at one of the historical councils of the church; God does not need men to agree with Him or determine the extent of His authority. The Scriptures carry ultimate authority for one reason: They are the words of the sovereign Ruler of the universe.
Perhaps one reason for the general failure of personal resolutions is our haste in making them. If we were to take some time to think, study, and pray before we hurry into another exercise in futility, maybe we would actually experience success. God promises that His people will ultimately be successful, not necessarily in worldly or vain pursuits, but in our pursuit of holiness. He has told us that we are being sanctified – we are being made like Christ (Rom. 8:29). But we also know that the main tool in our sanctification is not our own personal resolve, but rather God working in us through His Word (John 17:17). If the Bible is God’s best tool, we should make it ours as well.
Before making any resolution:
1. Consider the Scriptures carefully. Some matters for the Christian are clearly commanded or forbidden in the Bible… Other matters are not so clearly or specifically commanded or forbidden… It is in these areas where it is often profitable to make a specific personal resolution.
2. Consider your other necessary duties. As Christians, we have a number of pre-existing responsibilities that must take precedence over personal resolutions… Before making any personal resolution, ask yourself how it will affect other essential things (that God has commanded of you).
3. Consider how your family, your church, and the reputation of Christ in a watching world will be affected, either by your faithfulness, or by your failure to follow through (Luke 14:28-30).
4. (Consider) your motives…
a. Is it truly my goal in making this resolution to glorify God through obedience and self-discipline and to receive the praise that comes only from Him? Or am I trying to gain the approval and admiration of people? (cf. Luke 6:26; 1 Cor. 4:3-5).
b. Am I trying to appease my conscience by doing well in this one area in order to distract myself from conviction of another sinful behavior? (cf. Matthew 15:1-6).
c. Am I acting defensively, angrily, or in prideful response to criticism from another person? In other words, do I have a sort of “I’ll show them” motive for making this resolution? (cf. Phil. 2:3).
5. Consider the cost. We don’t generally need to resolve to do the easy things. The difficulty, discomfort, self-denial, and even sometimes persecution involved in the Christian’s pursuit of holiness are the very aspects that make personal resolution necessary. Consider these carefully, weighing them opposite the rewards. Then determine that by God’s strength you will endure, understanding the price you must pay, and knowing that what you are doing is good and right.
We don’t teach our children to fear a kind grandfather or Santa Claus, do we? Why then would we teach them to fear God? First of all, the comparison of God with grandfathers or Santa Claus is degrading nearly to the point of slander. As [D.A. Carson] notes, “The sentimental view generates a deity with all the awesome holiness of a cuddly toy.” Second, fearing God is not the same as being afraid of God. The person who fears God in the biblical sense is maintaining a humble reverence for His glory, majesty, dominion, and authority. The person who fears God recognizes that He is not only the Giver of all good things, but also the Lord of the universe and the Judge of sinners. He is the One who creates, and He is the One who has the power to destroy. He is the One who rewards, and He is the One who disciplines. Fearing God, in other words, is the sobering recognition that He is not to be trifled with.
The fear of God brings temporal and eternal benefits:
1. “The secret of the Lord is for those who fear Him, and He will make them know His covenant” (Ps. 25:14).
2. “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and rescues them” (Ps. 34:7).
3. “The Lord has compassion on those who fear Him” (Ps. 103:13).
4. “The Lord favors those who fear Him” (Ps. 147:11).
5. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 1:7; 9:10).
6. “The fear of the Lord prolongs life” (Prov. 10:27).
7. “The fear of the Lord leads to life, that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil” (Prov. 19:23).
8. “The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, honor and life” (Prov. 22:4).
9. As David says to the Lord, “How great is Your goodness, which You have stored up for those who fear You” (Ps. 31:19).
Clearly, fearing God is to your great advantage.
Since the Scriptures tell us in several places that the Christian life is a life lived by faith (Rom. 1:17; Gal. 2:20), some may feel that personal resolve and strenuous effort have no place. While no one should neglect or minimize the necessity of faith as it relates to Christian sanctification, no one should forget that Christian faith is not passive. Christian faith works itself out through personal resolve, self-discipline, and effort.
Unless our resolve is the out-flowing of the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, we, like Peter, will fail (Mt. 26:31-34). As Jesus said to his disciples, “without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5)… It is our responsibility to exert the effort and develop the essential disciplines of the Christian life if we are to become more like Christ. But as we resolve to discipline ourselves and to diligently pursue holiness, we need to know that there is a deeper truth underlying and empowering our experience – the powerful reality that God is the one enabling, compelling, and willing all that takes place.
Being saved does involve the positive response of the human will. The person who is saved begins, at a point in time, to consciously and voluntarily assent and submit to (as well as delight in) God’s revealed truth where he formerly dissented to it in open rebellion or apathetic disinterest (which is also a form of rebellion). God grants regeneration to whom He pleases, thus freeing the will, which, until the point of regeneration, is enslaved to sin and opposed to God and truth. Once the will has been set free through regeneration, faith inevitably follows (cf. John 6:44-45). In this way it is rightly said that saving faith is a gift from God.