Quotes by Ernest Reisinger
Too often, modern evangelism has substituted a “decision” in the place of repentance and saving faith. Forgiveness is preached without the equally important truth that the Spirit of God must change the heart. As a result decisions are treated as conversions even though there is no evidence of a supernatural work of God in the life.
When our Lord appeared in human form in history the angel announced His coming in the words, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). He cannot be divided. The Savior and Lord are one.
It is vital in this connection to notice how the apostles preached the lordship of Christ. The word “Savior” occurs only twice in the Acts of the Apostles (5:31; 13:23), on the other hand the title “Lord” is mentioned 92 times, “Lord Jesus” 13 times, and “The Lord Jesus Christ” 6 times in the same book! The gospel is: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.”
Nine serious errors of teaching affirming a “carnal Christian”:
1. The “carnal Christian” doctrine depends upon a wrong interpretation and application of 1 Corinthians 3:1-4.
2. The “carnal Christian” teaching divides the two basic blessings of the new covenant [forgiveness of sins and a new heart] because it denies that one of them is experienced by all true Christians.
3. This teaching does not distinguish between true, saving faith and the spurious belief mentioned in John 2:23-24; 12:42-43; Luke 8:13 and Acts 8:12-23.
4. The “carnal Christian” teaching lies in its virtual exclusion of repentance from the conversion experience. This is implied by the suggestion that the “carnal Christian” has not changed in practice but lives and acts just like the natural man.
5. The three-class theory is prone to give assurance to those who were never really converted.
6. The fruits of this teaching are not new to Christianity even though the teaching appears on the present scene under a new mask (see Romans 6:1-2).
7. “Carnal Christian” teaching is the mother of many second work-of-grace errors in that it depreciates the biblical conversion experience by implying that the change in the converted sinner may amount to little or nothing.
8. The “carnal Christian” teaching is also the mother of one of the most soul-destroying teaching of our day. It suggests that you can take Jesus as your Savior and yet treat obedience to His lordship as optional.
9. This teaching breeds Pharisaism in the so-called “spiritual Christians” who have measured up to some man-made standard of spirituality. There ought to be no professed “spiritual Christians,” much less “super-spiritual” ones!
The “carnal Christian” teaching appeals to those who are supposed to be justified, as though a new heart and life are optional. Sanctification is spoken of as though it can be subsequent to the forgiveness of sins and so people are led to believe that they are justified even though they are not being sanctified! The truth is that we have no reason to believe that Christ’s blood covers our sins in the record of heaven if the Spirit has not changed our hearts on earth. These two great blessings are joined together in the one covenant. The working of the Spirit and the cleansing of Christ’s blood are inseparably joined in the application of God’s salvation.
Every Christian is carnal in some area of his life at many times in his life… All the marks of Christianity are not equally apparent in all Christians. Nor are any of these marks manifest to the same degree in every period of any Christian’s life. Love, faith, obedience, and devotion will vary in the same Christian in different periods of his Christian experience; in other words, there are many degrees of sanctification. The Christian’s progress in growth is not constant and undisturbed. There are many hills and valleys in the process of sanctification; and there are many stumblings, falls and crooked steps in the process of growth in grace…[Yet] the Bible [does not] divide men into three categories.
In Romans 8:1-9 there is a division stated, but it is not between carnal and spiritual Christians. It is a division between those who walk after the flesh (the unregenerate) and those who walk after the Spirit (they that are Christ’s). There is no third category. Again, in Galatians 5:17-24 we have only two classes or categories – those that do the works of the flesh and those that are led by the Spirit. There is no third or fourth class or group.
It is clear that obedience is intimately related to assurance; if we do not live and practice righteousness we have no reason to think that we are “born of God.”
When we speak of a backslider two errors must be avoided: First, saying unequivocally that he is not a Christian; second, saying unequivocally that he is a Christian. The fact is that we do not know, we cannot know!
Whatever means you use to get people into the church is precisely what you must use to keep them. If you get them with a ‘religious circus’, then you must keep the circus going – keep up the entertainment. If you get them with biblical preaching and teaching, then that will keep them and you will not need the entertainment.