"Show me the fruits of your ministry and if they so far exceed mine as to give me evidence that you have found a more excellent way, I will adopt your views." Charles Finney – Memoirs.
Okay, so I’ve been at words with a somewhat famous evangelist on Facebook. He has seen fit to announce to the world that people are saved and after seeing this for several weeks I decided to comment on a posting of his.
His name is Randy Hogue and I remembered him as a child at the church that I attended then, and then again later in my adult life. I asked to be his friend on there and told him a little of who I was, where I lived, about Southland Baptist Temple, etc. He actually gave me his phone number and asked me to call him. I would later, during the conversation that ensued, find out his real motive for asking me to call. He seemed to have a free weekend and asked me to speak to my pastor about having him come that weekend. I did mention him to my pastor and he knew who he was. I admit that I was a little put off by his sales pitch to come to my church, but the days that have followed have been even more of a put off.
His postings include – (all of these are copy/ pasted so don’t harp on me for spelling issues) “ R u ready 4 this? 65 people prayed 2 receive Jesus Christ tonite at Beth Haven BC in Kilpatrick AL. to God bd Glory!”
Followed by -
”17(12 adults,5teens) accepted Christ this AM at Eternal Life BC in ooresville,IN. To God b d Glory”
Then I don’t know what set my fuse to the end, but I finally had it and commented on this one – “ 7 saved tonite in Mooresville IN
With that posting I commented - : By saved I pray that these people repented of their sins, turned from their God hating lifestyle and mindset, turned to the One True God of scripture, trusted in Christs atoning work for their sins, had a supernatural re-birth that they couldn't change if they wanted to, are showing fruit of their conversion (otherwise you couldn't know they were ... saved by them just repeating a prayer). If they were truly saved, then time will be evidence, the work that God began - He will finish. People must understand that jumping through a few hoops is not salvation - Do you want to go to hell? No. Do you want to go to heaven? Yes. Are you a sinner? Yes. (even satan knows he is a sinner) Repeat after me.. This has NO scriptural basis. Confess with your mouth does not mean to pray a prayer. The modern gospel is very different than what the Apostles preached - 2 words - man centered. If a person wants to go to heaven just because the alternative stinks, then it is not God centered.
Nothing unbiblical in my posting, maybe a little to the point (but facebook only gives you so many letters to post something). Others commented also on his/ my posting, the most disturbing by a young lady that said someone could go on to commit some very serious sins and still be a child of God. The ones she named would be very difficult for a follower of Christ to commit, she even said that they could even live like an unbeliever and still be saved. Another person commented and called me a Pharisee, the typical jab that those that think they are converted use to justify their sinful life, even though it doesn’t match scripture as a true convert.
Mr. Hogue did send me an apology that read:
“ Thank u Jeff for sharing. God bless u my friend. I'm sorry if my reports offend u. I'm just trying to reach some people for Christ.
I then sent him another message telling him of my testimony, my false conversion, that I placed my faith in a man’s declaration and my sincerity as an 8 year old for my salvation. That for 30 years I based my salvation on saying a prayer as an 8 year old, even though I didn’t know what sin was at that time. I was really honest with him and tried to convey how dangerous it is for a preacher or evangelist to declare someone saved. How that person will take his words and trust in them instead of trusting in Christ. Nothing unbiblical again, nothing done out of malice, but in a spirit of love, to try and convey the dangers of his declarations.
The next I heard was his posting tonight. This was a direct slam to me, and was not done in a spirit of love. It actually is quite blasphemous as he invoked Gods name in a tirade based on my comments to his post, a spiteful “ 14 more got saved tonite & repented of sin, turned from their God hating lifestyle& mindset trusting Christ alone 4 atonement of sin. Ok?
I was actually going to let it rest after his apology, but that shows me that his apology was as about as heartfelt as him declaring people saved. His website boasts that over 35,000 people have been saved at his meetings. I would like to openly ask how many of those are still in the faith? How many are continuing the steps of Christ likeness? How many even attend church now/ still? And finally, how many never had a change, continued on their path of sinfulness, never stepped foot in a church again, can’t stand the things of God, do not read the Word and care nothing more than having their “ticket” to heaven?
I am not saying that some of these souls were not saved, but I would say that they were saved in spite of his message and not because of it. I have heard it, and it is powerful. It does invoke strong emotions as he tells of his childhood and how he and his mom were abused, how he was delivered from drugs and how he now deems people saved. It is a form of hypnotism as he works people into a heightened emotional state, then goes for the jugular with a “if you want to be delivered as I was, just come forward and say this magic prayer”. By the time he has his altar call, he has the audience eating from his hand, they would do anything he asked.
A litmus test for me is, can you take a sermon/ message to a remote village in Africa and get the same effect? Can Randy Hogue go to Africa and tell how he was abused as a child and get 65 tribesmen saved? Or would they think “Big deal, we live a life of abuse, fight for our food, make our clothes from animal pelts and you want us to feel emotional about your former situation?” The Gospel MUST be proclaimed as the apostles and Christ Himself did. Anything else and the person is accursed.
Galatians 1:6-9 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.
This mans gospel is a wide gate and many are going through it. It is evidenced by those that posted against me. I said nothing unscriptural, and the lambasted me. I actually expected it, but did not expect his apology, followed by his spiteful comments this evening. I am praying for this man, as a nerve has been touched. He is upset, because his conscience is working. That is good, but he has a lot of years riding on his messages. The 35,000+ people he popishly declared saved may think twice if he says that he’s been wrong all these years. That would be a good thing on many levels, first it would show that he realizes his methods are that of a salesman, second people will think twice about their decisionism without changes and most importantly God will be glorified that His name will not be blasphemed as one more person stops trying to help Him save people.
It’s simple – proclaim the Word of God. Proclaim His Gospel. Do not lead people through hoops, do not get emotional or situational decisions out of people by telling them a story that would make even a devout atheist feel something tingle in his innards. Just proclaim the gospel and let God do the rest. Numbers mean nothing, except inflating an ego and making your resume’ look better (to some). Preach the Word, and nothing else.