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BUT NOAH FOUND GRACE - PART I
(SERMON #82 ON THE BOOK OF GENESIS)
by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord”
Noah lived in a time of great apostasy according to the ancient rabbis. Genesis 4:26 tells us they began to call idols by the name of God! That's the way the ancient rabbis translated it. Then, down through the patriarchal age, the descendants of Seth fell into greater and greater corruption, spiraling downward into ever deeper apostasy.
That's what happened to Evangelicals during the past 200 years. Charles G. Finney introduced “decisional conversion” in the 1820s. We have reason to believe that Finney was influenced by the demonic, and may have been demon-possessed. His own so-called “conversion” was very strange. In the day he claimed to be saved several things were missing from his testimony: No mention of sin! No mention of Jesus! No mention of the Gospel! No mention of Christ’s atoning Blood! No mention of being forgiven! I have become convinced that Finney was never converted. I know he was demonically influenced – and he may even have been demon-possessed. Dr. Michael S. Horton said,
In Finney’s theology God is not sovereign; man is not a sinner by nature; the atonement is not a true payment for sin; justification by imputation is insulting to reason; the new birth is simply the result of successful techniques. Therefore, Finney is…an enemy of historic Christianity (Michael S. Horton, Ph.D., “The Legacy of Charles Finney,” from Modern Reformation Magazine, computer net posting, April 1, 1996).
Scholars agree that Finney was the author and promoter of what James E. Adams calls “Decisional Regeneration” (click here to read his article). We have borrowed the British term “decisionism” to describe the same false theory.
Beginning with Finney, and continuing throughout the twentieth century, “decisionism” brought millions of unconverted people into a superficial experience. It didn't even get very many of them to go to church! As a result almost everyone in the ghettos of our big cities considers himself “saved.” In many cities in the Southern part of America, virtually everybody thinks they are born again Christians. One pastor in the South told me that he can’t do door-to-door evangelism any more because “everybody thinks they are already saved.”
A Southern Baptist evangelist named Paul Washer tries to remedy “decisionism” by preaching “repentance.” He doesn’t seem to realize that this is only another form of “decisionism.” I just read a sermon Billy Graham gave in 1952. It was printed in the June issue of Decision magazine. It is titled, "Call to Commitment: God demands all. No Less." It was a stronger call for repentance than Paul Washer ever gives! So, how is Paul Washer’s message going to stop “decisionism”? We have heard Billy Graham’s message of “repentance” for decades and it hasn’t helped us! Yes, Paul Washer believes Reformed doctrine. But does he preach like Whitefield or Edwards – or Asahel Nettleton? Do people go home from his meetings and tremble for days or even weeks, as John Bunyan did? No, they don’t! Therefore Paul Washer cannot help us! John MacArthur’s “Lordship Salvation” is also simply another form of “decisionism.” So Western culture is caught in a quagmire of “decisionism” - as our nation stumbles toward disintegration and death. It's my opinion that evangelicalism today is in a worse condition than Catholicism was in the middle of the Dark Ages, before the Reformation. Yes, worse! In many ways, far worse!
Dr. David F. Wells seems to understand this. He is a long-time professor of Systematic Theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Dr. Wells said, “What the Church now needs is not revival but reformation...We are interested in satisfaction, not a holy dissatisfaction with all that is wrong. That is why we need reformation rather than revival” (David F. Wells, Ph.D., No Place For Truth, Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1993, pp. 296, 300, 301).
By the way, how can we discuss revival when even the most conservative pastors no longer believe in Biblical conversion? Only a new reformation could free us from the chains of “decisionism.” But many self-satisfied evangelical and fundamentalist leaders are too timid and unspiritual to actually seek reformation and throw out all forms of “decisionism.” Dr. A. W. Tozer had it right when he said,
We must have a new Reformation. There must come a violent break with that…irresponsible…pseudo-religion which passes today for the faith of Christ (A. W. Tozer, D.D., We Travel an Appointed Way, Christian Publications, 1988, p. 118).
And that’s the way it was before the Great Flood. It was a time when millions of people called out “the name of the Lord” (Genesis 4:26) – but went headlong into the most abject apostasy, the most contemptible and degraded forms of worship that the world had ever seen to that time. There was no respite, no relief, no place to hide from the all-prevailing, overpowering, suffocating apostasy that engulfed the world.
“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).
What a horror to live in such circumstances; what hopelessness one must have felt! Living in such a world must have been a bleak and tortured experience! We would turn away from any description of that world if it were not for the next ten words,
“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8).
The message of grace is extreemly important in these evil days. I hope you will come back to the website and read Part II of this sermon next week.
(END OF SERMON)
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