Just a short search reveals that there are a plethora of articles written about the pros and cons of social media. And there’s no lack of commentators on the concept that social media and mobile living have negative consequences. The purpose of this writing is not to revisit these issues nor is it to actually add to the conversation, but to look at the use of social media, text messages, and non-personal communication as un-biblical and most applications.  What I mean by that is this, that the word of God regulates all that we do as Christians, and because of this the word of God must regulate our use, our language, and our communication when using technology. Without such thinking the Christian community finds itself much like the world when it comes to the use of Facebook or twitter and even the use of text messaging. As a pastor of the local church, I’m finding more and more conflict and sin arising from the fleshly assumptions that are inferred from the non-communicative use of these platforms. After all, if we are to do all things for the glory of God into the honor of his name, and we are to at all times be considering how we are to spur one another on toward  love and good deeds, then we must be very critical and discerning on how we speak, what we share, and how we look to the outside world and to each other when laying our words into public view. The church of Jesus Christ is the light of the world, that means that we reflect his nature, his heart, his words, and the fullness of the glory of God in reflection as his body. Therefore to say and do something that is contrary to the heart and nature of Jesus Christ our Lord, who is the God who created all things and to his holy and above all, is to bring shame and reproach upon the name of Jesus. There is much I would like to say, but I feel it vital to stick to the matter of most importance.

Anonymity in Consequences reveal the Truth of the Heart (Matt 15:18)

In reality, the heart of man is revealed in his words above many things. Those words are a product of his true nature, and if the words on social platforms are not reflective of Christ, then they are devoid of Christ. This goes from the type of things we “like”, “share” or discuss and most importantly, it moves into our conversations and engagements. If our interaction with people is small bits of online trivia or even spiritual memes or bible verses then who are we really talking to? The ‘one’ or the whole? And when we speak on the web, why is it that we are able to say things in such a manner that seems to provide no shame or restraint? This happens because there is really no consequences for our words online. No frowns, no harsh looks, and no real empathy of having to see someone else who is hurt by what we say and how we say it. Now there is a point where sometimes people just read wrongly what we mean but even in that, we ought to consider the fact that we may cause someone else to stumble due to our “freedom” of expression.  It is better to remain quiet and “seem” wise than to speak and be shown an idiot. (Proverbs 17:28… look it up.) So, I believe that the church ought to employ policies that incorporate social platforms and text messages because it is our words and it is our hearts. So, if I offend you in person or online, it is a matter of gospel proportions to which the word of God commands reconciliation. Imagine being brought under public discipline in the church because of your facebook page. Remember out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks – or types.

Mission of Social Voice conflicts with Message of the Savior (Mark 16:15)

While it is true that Christian should be concerned with issues related to justice, social problems, economics etc.; we should relate to these things as they are presented in scripture: temporal and certain. And at times we should cry out when injustice prevails and wickedness reigns so that we are lights pointing to and shining out of darkness. We are not to be so dominated by these matters that our light just becomes darkness. We are not to mis-engage the culture with culture but we are to confront the culture with the gospel. There is NO HOPE in government but there is MUCH HOPE in Jesus Christ. So, when we spend all of our waking hours promoting our views, our desires, our opinions or even our platforms we have missed the boat and left the gospel out. There is not to even be balance on these matters because we should be known for the gospel so that when we speak of other things, it shocks people into listening. “Wow, he said something about _______, all he ever talks about is Christ, we better see what has taken his time from Jesus and pay attention.”  Just a thought…

Communication is Thought Flowing not Sound Bites (Col 4:6)

When we communicate, there are many ways to do so and much of communication is non-verbal. So when words are heard the hearer must judge what is being said in the context of SYNTAX and COUNTENANCE.  So, a small bite of information on a page, phone or computer is not communication worth considering. Who can explain a theological position in 140 characters? Who can expose all the points of view on an issue with a “share” or “like”? What text message is not going to be read from the emotional state of the recipient? See the point? We are called to communicate truth and engage the world with truth while we engage each other with truth. When our life consists of continued sound bites, that’s all we are; a pundit talking head with no meaning. So, when using sound bite technology, it must ALWAYS point people to a real relationship that is going to suffer and grow as it matures.

Judgment is Made from a Part instead of Knowing the Fullness in Wisdom (Prov 1:5 & Jas 3:13)

Recently I responded publicly to a private request to review some material on a very controversial subject. I did so because I typed the word “done” in the comment section instead of the reply section to the private post. In doing so I was bombarded by people from all across the nation accusing me of things that they “assumed” the word “done” meant. Then they began to pass judgment on my character, my faith and my purpose. While I first took these things personally, I realized how quickly such things can devour the church, so I have decided to do no more comments other than personal engagement in a public way. (Like, “Great job son….”) While there may be exceptions, for the most part when we speak personally online or via text, it is misunderstood because there is no context. We need to stop this stupidity and learn to talk on the phone so we can explain ourselves as the LORD commands us to. Oh yeah, it does BEHOOVE each of us in Christ to answer biblical rebuke to our character. Anyone who thinks otherwise should be warned. The Bible is in authority over us. (that’s a period)

Breeding of Trivial and Temporal Mindsets oppose Making Disciples of all Nations (Matt 28:19-20)

I guess breeding may be a poor choice of words but it’s how I view it. One places text for view and then another reads it and at the end of the day we know our personality type, our favorite food, have seen three people set themselves on fire and read 100 memes about how God is so good. So what? It’s silly and worthless and has no eternal value at all making it a huge waste of time. It would be different if it wasn’t a continual factory of nonsense, but it’s constant. Let’s be intentional in our disciple making. Leave a legacy not a laughing stock.

Pride of Opinion defuncts Precious Gospel-Powered Affection (1 Cor 13:7)

This one speaks for itself. The ultimate sin of such things is that we lose sight of Christ and our love for each other because the wickedness of our world consumes us and for some strange reason we feel that it is worth divorce.

Idolatry of gods vs the Incredible God of Truth (1 John 5:21)

Time is spent somewhere… and boy it surprises me sometimes when I log onto the web in the evenings to see people who have shared everything under the sun starting at 9PM and continuing until 2AM. Where would these people be if they prayed that much? Where would the nation and the church be if the people of God spent more time praying than spraying silliness across the “interwebs”? Let us repent of such idolatry. If it isn’t time then maybe it is ZEAL. That’s right… I see people walking around with their phones never to have a moment without it open. I learned years ago that I hated technology in my face when I don’t want it there. So, I leave my phone at home or else I would be subject to the same aggravation. It’s time that Christians get out of touch because honestly, we are not in touch in ANY good way. And even if we are, the side views and other things that catch our eye to see the good far outweigh the worth of the good. Maybe it’s time we just go back to connecting with no public profiles at all, no smart phones and no wasted lives.  We must put Christ at the center of our lives if He is indeed our Savior. If He cannot be the center, then He isn’t the center and our profession of faith is a lie and we do not practice the truth. So, utilize social media as if Christ is seeing it, because He is, because He is the Lord of Facebook, Twitter, Texts, Youtube and all!

There is a place for things. I just don’t think it is what it should be for holy people. I will be posting my own journey on this road and the steps I am taking to secure not just my witness but intimacy with my family and friends for the sake of growing in grace instead of growing without a face.

Seriously Engaged by the Grace of God for your Good.

Pastor James

My brother in Christ, Eddie Dalcour, Ph.D. of Christian Defense Ministries has prepared a good response to the issue of the latest SBC Resolution on the Sinner’s Prayer.  I will be posting a line-by-line response soon and Lord willing, we will be answering this and other issues in a public venue.  Please find Eddie’s words and contemplate them in line with the word in your heart and the spirit in your mind:

“Recently, a doctrinal lightning bolt has struck the Southern Baptist Convention. It centers on the open declaration of some Arminian SBC members affirming their doctrinal position and thus openly denying the doctrinal position of the Calvinistic members of the SBC—namely, denying Four of the Five Points of Calvinism[1] or, what is called, the doctrines of grace. Headed by Pastor Eric Hankins of FBC Oxford, MS, a statement of faith entitled, “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation” was developed by a number of pastors and professors within the SBC. It consisted of Ten Articles of Faith affirming Arminian doctrines and denying Calvinistic ones. A Petition was attached for SBC members to sign. As expected, Arminian concepts and texts (esp. John 3:16; 1 Tim. 2:3-4; 2 Pet. 3:9; etc.) are merely cited in the Articles with its “traditional” understanding assumed. Ironically, Article Three uses the phrase (in agreement) “penal substitution.” But this is completely inconsistent—for this phrase is a borrowed phrase from the Reformers and thus a decidedly Calvinistic concept.

Undeniably, the Southern Baptists have enjoyed a long history of biblical scholarship; scholarship, however, which has been purely Calvinistic in soteriology. Josh Buice, pastor of Pray’s Mill Baptist Church in Douglasville, GA, rightly asked: “Have we forgotten our history as Southern Baptists where we had Calvinists such as Lottie Moon, James P. Boyce, John L. Dagg, A. T. Robertson, John A. Broadus, and many others who served in our convention along with those who were less Calvinistic (Reformed) in their doctrine? They didn’t fight over it, throw mud, and pull out the heresy sword to use on one another.”[2] For decades SBC Calvinistic and Arminian pastors have co-existed with no problem. Now, by aggressively promoting this anti-Calvinistic Petition, the promoters of the Articles are causing a divisive and an unnecessary fraction within the SBC.

Sinner’s Prayer?
In the same Arminian pool, at this year’s SBC the so-called “sinner’s prayer” was happily “affirmed,” but not by all. The Calvinists have always seen the “sinner’s prayer” and its theological “implications” as a departure from the biblical view of salvation by grace-alone. For those not completely familiar with the “sinner’s prayer,” it is usually a prayer of repentance and “inviting Christ into your heart,” which is led by the evangelist/ minister/pastor in which the “unbeliever” (i.e., the “sinner”) is instructed to repeat. This has been the standard and traditional method at most evangelical events/revivals. However, as many have pointed out, not only is the traditional “sinner’s prayer” a relatively recent part of contemporary evangelism, for there is simply no historical evidence for it (or the accompanied so-called, “alter-call”) before the eighteenth century, but, there is absolutely no biblical evidence supporting the concept of it.
Proponents of the “sinner’s prayer” typically point to Matt. 7:7; Luke 18:13-14; and Rom. 10:9-10 to make their case. However, none of these resemble in any way, shape, or form the traditional “sinner’s prayer.” Also note, the words in this “prayer” are not the words of the unbeliever, but rather, they are the words of the minister, which are repeated by the unbeliever as directed. In response to the lack of biblical proof, some proponents will argue that just because it is not in Scripture or a recent method, it doesn’t make it invalid or wrong. True, but the real concern is not the lack of biblical (or historical) evidence, thus being “non-biblical,” rather, it is the “un-biblical” (contrary to Scripture) implications of the “sinner’s prayer” that is the heart of the issue. There is a difference between something “non-biblical” and something “un-biblical,” that is, something that opposes Scripture.
The Erroneous Implications of the “Sinner’s Prayer”

We use the term “implications” in order to draw a distinction between something that is comprehensibly promoted and something that is indirectly promoted or supported. With that said, some of the main biblical defects associated with the “sinner’s prayer” (in terms of its implications) include:

1) Decisionism. Decisionism is the teaching that one’s “decision” causes regeneration, that is, it is the cause of one being “born again.” It teaches that when an unbeliever makes a decision to accept Christ as his or her Savior, God then responds by regenerating him or her (bear in mind, theologically,regeneration is not justification, which is through, not as the cause of, faith). The idea that man does his part (the faith-act) and “after,” God does His part indicates man cooperating with God in salvation (i.e., synergism). It places a work (viz. the decision or faith-act) as a contributing work in addition to the work of Christ. Hence, it becomes (by implication) a grace + works system. This concept is also called “decisional regeneration,” which is similar to Rome’s doctrine of “baptismal regeneration,” where the act of water baptism is said to be the necessary cause (laver) of regeneration.

In contrast, Scripture teaches that regeneration is the gracious act of God alone—not God’s grace “and” man’s work (faith-act, decision, etc.). It is God alone who justifies and makes alive the spiritually dead unregenerate man (Rom. 8:29-30, 33; Eph. 2:1-3)—through the preaching of the gospel as normal means (Rom. 1:16). It is this act of God, then, that is the cause of one being born again in which, as a result, the now regenerated person believes by which is “declared” righteous (justified). Thus, man’s faith in Christ (which is grated as a grace-gift; see Acts 13:48; Eph. 2:8; Phil. 1:29) is the result, not thecause, of regeneration—without the corporation of man as Rome teaches.

2) The “sinner’s prayer” opposes the biblical teaching: Regeneration precedes Faith. Passages such as John 1:13; Acts 13:48; Rom. 8:29-30; 2 Thess, 2:13; 1 John 5:1; etc., teach exegetically that regeneration comes before faith. Before any unbeliever is regenerated, he does not naturally want to make a decision to believe or seek for God; he does not have the ability to have faith/belief in Christ—he only “loves darkness” (John 3:19), for he is a slave to sin, spiritually dead, radically deprave.

3) The “sinner’s prayer” presents a false view of the state of the unregenerate. Scripture teaches that because of the Fall of Adam, man has lost hisability to make spiritually good choices (John 6:44; 8:34-47; Rom.3:10-18; 8:7-8); the unregenerate man can-not[3] come to Christ unless the Father draws him (John 6:44, 65); he is spiritually dead—not sick (Eph. 2:1-3); thus, his will is not free, rather, it is a slave to sin (John 3:34, 36); it wills (thelō) to “do thedesires” [epithumia, lit., “lust”] of the devil (John 8:44); it is “held captive by him [the devil] to do his will” (2 Tim. 2:26). The unregenerate man, then, has no ability or desire to submit to or please God. Paul said in Rom. 8:7-8 that “the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”[4] Paul also affirmed that “there is none righteous,” none “who seeks for God,” none “who does good”—“not even one” (Rom. 3:10-12).

Therefore, the concept of the “sinner’s prayer” where an unregenerate person does righteous “good” acts such as repenting and “inviting Jesus to come into his heart, thus pleasing God and submitting to Him[5] while “in the flesh” is clearly an unbiblical idea. Jesus said, “The flesh profits nothing”! (John 6:63) and “this ‘nothing’ is not a little ‘something’” (Luther). Only if God, by His grace alone, first regenerates (makes alive), through the gospel, the spiritually dead, “in the flesh,” sinner, granting him faith and repentance, will he then choose to believe and come to Christ. It was “while we were enemies we were reconciled to God. . . .” (Rom.5:10). While traveling on the road to Damascus, Saul was not “seeking” God nor was contemplating Steven’s message—for he hated Christ! It was when Christ first appeared to him, thus making him spiritually alive, that he asked: “Who are You Lord?” and then obeyed Him forever more. Thus, it is entirely by God’s grace alone that He regenerates anyone.

4) The “sinner’s prayer” introduces the idea of a “second” mediator—namely, the minister becomes the “mediator” by directing the unbeliever to repeat after him the “sinner’s prayer” to God consisting of repentance and inviting Christ into his heart. As a result, the minister becomes the “go-between” mediating between the “sinner” and God in the prayer. Passages such as 1 Tim. 2:5 show this Romish idea as patently false—God needs no “assistance” from a minister to help get Jesus in one’s life.

There are many other theological problems associated with the concept of the “sinner’s prayer,” however, these above suffice. Again we are not suggesting that all who practice the traditional “sinner’s prayer” and the Charles Finney[6] “alter-call” deny salvation through faith alone or promote the Roman Catholic doctrine of “another” mediator other than Christ. Nor are we saying that genuine salvation has not occurred at revivals that include the “sinner’s prayer.” Butanyone that confesses (believes in) Christ in a biblical sense has already been saved, thus, no need for a subsequent “sinner’s prayer.” We are simply saying that whether or not something seems “to work,”[7] if it is based on teachings or concepts that are unbiblical, it should not be practiced—“Do not go beyond what is written” (1 Cor. 4:6).

“Believer’s Prayer” of Thanks Giving!

So, how are we to record new converts for the purpose of follow-up at evangelical events? Answer: Turn the unbiblical “sinner’s prayer” to a “believer’s prayer” of celebration or thanks giving prayer. In other words, at a revival during the close—after the clear preaching of the gospel—the question that can be asked, should not be, “Who wants to invite Christ into your heart?” but rather, “Who here based on proclamation of the gospel, put their faith in (believe) Christ for the very first time?” (or something similar). Then, any following prayer is for “new believers” thanking God for saving them, making them alive, giving them faith, sending Christ to die for them, etc. This way, it glorifies God in that it publically proclaims: “It is His doing you are in Christ Jesus” (1 Cor. 1:30) and by “grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). It also affirms the gospel as “the power of God for salvation” (Rom. 1:16) and correctly acknowledges the total inability of man due to the inherent effect of sin, thus openly affirming that salvation is exclusively by God’s grace alone.”

—-CITATIONS/FOOTNOES—-
[1] The Five points of Calvinism are 1) Total depravity/inability, 2) unconditional election, 3) limited or definite atonement, 4) irresistible or efficacious grace, and 5) perseverance of the saints (note, point 5 is not disputed in the Articles).
[2] As reported in christianpost.com.
[3] The Greek term translated “can” in John 6:44, 65 (“No one can come.”) and 8:43 (“It is because you can-not hear My word”) is dunamai meaning “ability,” not “choice.” In these passages, the term refers to unregenerate man’s spiritual inability to come to (believe in) Christ and hear His words (see also Rom.8:7-8).
[4] As with John 6:44 and 8:43, the term “even able” in Rom. 8:7 (“for it is not even able to do so”) and “can” in the next verse (“and those who are in the flesh can-not please God”) isdunamai meaning “ability,” not choice. Thus, because of his nature, the unregenerate has no spiritual “ability” to come to Christ; to hear His words; to please or submit to God; he is “not even able to do so”—unless God first makes him alive, thus changing his enslaved will.
[5] The idea of “inviting Christ into one’s heart” has absolutely no biblical support. It is he who truly believes/has faith in Christ as a result of regeneration that has an intimate relationship with all three Persons in the Trinity.
[6] Charles Finney was a revivalist in the 19th century who popularized the “alter-call” method. However, Finney is rightfully labeled as a heretic for denying many essential Christian doctrines such as that the sole ground of justification is the righteousness of Christ, thus denying justification through faith alone. Finney also denied original sin and substitutionary atonement, to name a few.
[7] Although, as many have shown (e.g., D. A. Carson), statistically of those who came forward at a typical alter-call after praying the “sinner’s prayer,” less than 2-4% were attending a Christian church five years later. In other words, the artificial method of alter-calls and “sinner’s prayers” at evangelical revivals are not working—2-4%! This shocking statistic shows the very high number of false conversions utilizing these unbiblical methods.