Thursday, December 13, 2007



Revival! June 1- June 6th Special singing each night. How often we have observed similar advertisements in front of various churches. Also we have seen such wording in the media announcing the special meeting. Because of this type of promotion, the average American would equate having a special meeting with revival. But, is this a true definition?

When the late missionary Dr. James A. Stewart first came to the U.S.A. from Scotland, he spotted such a sign in front of a church. He was riding on a bus at the time and was excited by a sign that said “REVIVAL— HERE EACH NIGHT THIS WEEK AT 7:30!” Upon seeing this, he grabbed his wife by the hand and went to see the pastor of the church.

An explanation was given that here in the Southern U.S.A., it is the custom for a church, when it has a special meeting for a time, to call it a revival. Then Brother James Stewart asked a very valid question: “It what you’re having at 7:30 each evening is a “special meeting”, why don’t you call it that, instead of revival?” You see, he had been in a real revival in Europe for much of his ministry and to call a series of meetings a “revival” was shocking to this man. He called it prostitution of the word “revival”.

He was right. Today, many things pass for revival. Sometimes a spirited gospel song is considered a revival. Perhaps when a few people shout, “Amen”, or “Hallelujah”, it is considered a revival. When several folks get saved in one meeting, some call that revival. These are all good things, but not necessarily revival. Others have had the audacity to proclaim that we are in a mighty revival now; called the “Charismatic movement”. Yet the major fruit of the movement has been a watered down gospel of ecumenism, hardly a true revival! Actually, the Charismatic movement has done more to bring about the one world church than any other force in history! Even when you consider that the Charismatics have called our attention to the work of the Holy Spirit, something often neglected in the churches, we are compelled to renounce it, as a movement. I say this because as a movement, the Charismatic movement has produced much division among true Christians, especially the current “name it and claim it” variety. Perhaps the most striking proof of its failure is the fact that there is generally little holiness, or biblical separation, or true godliness associated with the movement. Too often, standards are thrown to the wind! Some of the Charismatics’ own leaders have said this, so I am not trying to slander them. I do hasten to add that non-charismatics can’t throw any rocks here! When we speak of holiness, we all fall short! But shouldn’t a movement that sweeps the country and purports to be true revival be touching all around? Yet today we have more bars, more pornography, more prostitution, more homosexuality, more child molesting, more abortion, and more nakedness, more divorces, more illegal drugs, more rebellious children in general, more sin, in spite of any movement! A real revival would certainly change all that! Study the history of the Great Awakening, and other revivals and you should see this clearly.

The Foundation for Revival: Truth

Since 1968 when I was called to preach, I have seen the need for revival. I titled my first awkward newsletter in 1970-71 “Revival for Survival”. I still believe revival is the only answer for our survival.

There has been a resurgence of Puritan literature in our day. Also, the works of sound evangelicals of yesterday such as Charles Spurgeon, J.C. Ryle, John Brown, J. Gresham Machen and many others are abundant as perhaps never before in history if you know where to look for them. The average Christian book store doesn’t stock too much “meaty” reading. Some declare this abundance of good literature as revival. While I certainly count it as a wonderful thing to see all this good literature published at a time when we also have more shallow, carnal, religious books available, in itself, this is not revival. It is foundational to a revival! Before we can have revival, we must know who God is! We must see Him in His awesome majesty. He must be glorified in His attributes. These old writers have a way of pointing us to this omnipotent God. This has been strengthened by many present day writers such as J.I. Packer, R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur, John Piper, Sinclair Ferguson, Jerry Bridges, etc., who seemed to have picked up the torch from earlier writers now gone such as D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, William Hendriksen, A.W. Pink, etc..

Because of this renewed interest, many preachers have come to appreciate the sovereignty of God. For many years this truth has been pushed aside. I have personally noticed that in the last 25 years there are many more churches and pastors boldly declaring the old paths. Churches have openly declared to adhere to the Westminster Confession (Presbyterian-Reformed), and the London, or Philadelphia Confessions (Baptist). These are definitely “Old Paths”, and is a reformation of sortsin progress”, which must come before a real revival. It is hopefully a beginning. I am grateful to God for this revelation to His called servants, but this is not, in itself revival!

Revival Is The Work of God!

The book of Habakkuk is one book that deserves our careful study in these wicked days. It is not my purpose at this time to expound all three chapters, but I do want to take a brief look at the whole book.

Chapter one deals with the prophet’s complaint. Sin and violence had covered the land. The situation was much as it is today. Evildoers needed to be punished, yet, justice is forgotten and the guilty go unpunished.

God’s answer is startling. He tells the prophet in chapter 1, verses 6.and 7, “For, Lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwelling places that are not theirs. They are terrible and dreadful: their judgment and their dignity shall proceed of themselves.” In verse 9 He goes on to say “They shall come all for violence.

The prophet cries out about the sin and God sends the Chaldeans! This is equivalent to us today in the U.S., Britain, Canada, Australia and other free-world nations crying to God about our sinful nations, and having Him reply by sending the Russians or Chinese! A strange answer, we would say!

Then in verse 12, Habakkuk cries to God again and asks the question, “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look upon iniquity: Wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?” In other words, “God, can you use evil people to chastise those who are not as wicked as they?”

Chapter two shows us the prophet waiting (something we all have a problem doing). He climbs upon his watchtower to wait upon God’s answer, but, indeed God does answer when we patiently wait upon Him. The reason Habakkuk could wait patiently on God is that he had an understanding of God’s attributes. He saw that:

  1. God is eternal — “Art Thou not from everlasting?” (1:12) As the late Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “He is forgetting for a moment the immediate problem, and asking himself what it was he was sure of about God. The first thing was, ‘Art thou not from everlasting?’ He is not like the gods whom men worship; He is not like the god of the proud Chaldean army. He is God from eternity to eternity, the everlasting God. There is nothing more consoling or reassuring when oppressed by the problems of history, and when wondering what is to happen in the world, than to remember that the God whom we worship is outside the flux of history. He has preceded history; He has created history. His throne is above the world and outside time. He reigns in eternity, the everlasting God”.1
  2. God is self existent — “‘Art thou not from everlasting, O, LORD?’ — he uses the great name ‘Jehovah’ — ‘art thou not from everlasting, O, Jehovah?’ That name tells us that God is the self existing One, the eternal I AM.”2
  3. God is holy. “‘Art thou not from everlasting, O, LORD my God, mine holy One?’ He is sure, not only of His eternal existence, not only of His self existence, and His independence of everything and everybody, but that He is the ‘Holy One’, utterly and absolutely righteous and holy, ‘a consuming fire’ ‘God is light and in Him is no darkness at all’ and the moment you consider Scriptures like this, you are forced to ask: ‘Can the Lord of the earth do that which is unrighteous?’ Such a thing is unthinkable”.3
  4. God is almighty. “‘O, Lord, thou hast ordained them for judgment and O, mighty God, thou has established them for correction.’ God can take care of all His enemies when it pleases Him.”
  5. God is faithful — “‘My God, mine Holy One, we shall not die.’ He is recalling that God is the God of the Covenant. Though He is independent and absolute, eternal, mighty, righteous and holy, nevertheless He has condescended to make a covenant with men.

For those saintly men,. the prophets, and all who had spiritual understanding in Israel, this fact was more significant than anything else. While believing in the eternal attributes of God, they might have been chilled by the thought that such a God might be far away in the heavens, and oblivious of their need. But what linked Him to them was the knowledge that He was a faithful covenant-keeping God. God had given His word and He would never break it”.4

So, because of these attributes which the prophet recognizes in chapter 1, we find that he is able to wait upon the Lord in chapter 2. In this chapter Habakkuk pronounces woe concerning seven major sins of his day. It really sounds like our day, though. Listen to this list:

  • covetousness v. 9
  • murder v. 10
  • oppression v. 12, 13
  • drunkenness v. 15
  • adultery and/or homosexuality v. 15
  • violence v. 17
  • idolatry v. 18

While realizing the historical setting of this chapter, and that these sins primarily refer to the Babylonians, clear spiritual principles can nevertheless be found here. God is always against sin in every age and sin does not change.

For instance, as Edward Marbury says “Drunkenness itself is a horrible sin; it is one of the fruits of the flesh” (Gal 5:21). “Drunkenness is confessed of all men to be a sin; and they who love it best and use it most will be very angry with you if you call them drunkards.”5 Also, drunkenness leads to immorality, as Edward Marbury recognizes. “Lot was drunk when he committed incest with his daughters (Gen 19) and so overcome with wine, that he neither knew of their coming to his bed nor of their going from him.”6 As in Leviticus 18, both heterosexual (outside marriage) and homosexual (abnormal) relationships are forbidden, so Hab. 2:15 could mean either. Sin never changes, it is always sin and exceedingly sinful!

Habakkuk recognizes the awful problems of his day and future days and this brings him to the prayer room. Note that chapter 3 begins by saying a Prayer of Habakkuk the prophet on Shigionoth, “It was a prayer accompanied with music, neither mournful, nor joyful, but expressive of profound and strong emotion.”7 Like so many of the beautiful Psalms of David, this chapter is as much poetry as prayer, yet it has a profound theological lesson for us.

Habakkuk heard God’s voice. Like others such as Isaiah, who heard, or saw a vision of God, He became afraid. Men are in our day so flippant regarding God. They are not afraid to take His Holy name in vain! Even professing Christians speak of the Lord Jesus in such casual terms as if to say “He’s my buddy.” They try to treat Him as a “spiritual bellhop,” catering to all their needs and wants. They speak of Him as if He were all sentimental, soft, lovey-dovey; as if He would even wink at sin! This is not the God of the Bible! The God of the Bible, as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is majestic and Holy! He is angry with the wicked every day! As Habakkuk said. He will not look upon sin.

My friend, if you ever see God, you’ll be in the dust before Him. Read of John the beloved in Rev, 1:17. No flippancy here! He fell at His feet as dead! Thomas, who got a glimpse of the resurrection glory, and who had been an intimate friend, a disciple, cried when He saw Him. “My Lord and My God!”

One of the greatest problems today, even in our churches is that “there is no fear of God before their eyes” (Rom. 3:18). A healthy fear of God is needed, even for Christians. In the old days a “God-fearing man” was a man who understood that “His commandments are not grievous”. Professing Christians today scoff at the commands of God, but I have news for you, even in the New Testament there are commandments. I realize we cannot keep them except in Christ, but “He worketh in you” and He says “if you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

It is awesome. There is a famine in the land “for the hearing of the word of God.” The word is here but we don’t hear it. It is preached in many places, but who takes heed? Ungodly humanist “law” is exalted above God’s law.

Habakkuk heard from God. He was God’s prophet. Yet he was afraid. When is the last time you heard from God, preacher? I mean, really heard from God. We all need to hear from Him. The need for God is desperate!

Revival Comes To God’s People

Revive thy work. Revival is a restoration. It presupposes a declension. In times of spiritual lull, sin runs rampant and we need a renewal.

  1. It is a renewing of His work in the Church. Churches are dead without God’s breath, no matter how orthodox they may be!
  2. Renewal in the home — our homes are falling apart. What home in America has not been touched, either directly or indirectly, by divorce?
  3. Revival is a renewal in God’s people. To reach the lost, Christians must be renewed first in their prayers, then in their love for God, above all things. Then God becomes the number one topic. He is worshipped and appreciated and the ball games, the theaters and the other amusements and things of the world become “strangely dim”. In other words, God gets our worship and all our attention. How can we give Him less than all and claim to be Christians? Jesus said we are to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. However we cannot do this in the natural man. We must be divinely enabled.
  4. Revival is awakening (Eph. 5:14). Oh, how we need to be awakened! It is bad enough that sinners sleep the sleep of death, but professing Christians also are sleeping, and it is going to take a loud voice, indeed, God’s own voice, to awaken them!

Read the history of some of the revivals of old and you will find the same thing each time. Before an awakening swept through the heretofore unconcerned world, it first arrested the Christians. Even genuinely born again people need revival. They, too, have to be on fire for God.

Hear these words of Duncan Campbell, who was used of God in the revival of 1949 and after, in the Scottish Hebrides Islands:“What have been the outstanding features of this movement? Three stand out clearly.”

“First: an awareness of God. To be fully realized, this has to be felt. A rector of the Church of England, referring to his visit to the Isle of Lewis, said, ‘What I felt, apart from what I saw, convinced me at once that this was no ordinary movement.’”

“Second: the main feature has been deep conviction of sin — at times leading almost to despair. I have known occasions when it was necessary to stop preaching, because of the distress manifested by the anxious, and many would find expression for the feeling in their hearts and burden of their guilty conscience, in the words of John Newton:

‘My conscience fell and owned its guilt
and plunged me in despair:
I saw my sins His blood had spilt
and helped to nail Him there.’”

Third: Physical manifestations and prostrations have been a further feature, I find it somewhat difficult to explain this aspect; indeed. I cannot. But this I will say: The person who would associate this with satanic influence is coming perilously near to committing the unpardonable sin. Lady Huntingdon on one occasion wrote to George Whitefield respecting cases of crying out and falling down in meetings, and advised him not to remove them from the meetings as he had done. When this was done, it seemed to bring a damper on the meeting. She said, ‘You are making a great mistake. Don’t be wiser than God. Let them cry out. It will do a great deal more good than your preaching”’8 (emphasis mine).

If you are really interested in revival, there are several books I will recommend. But if you read no other, you should read Jonathan Edwards’, Narrative of Surprising Conversions. Here is an excerpt from it:

It was very wonderful to see how persons’ affections were sometimes moved — when God did, as it were, suddenly open their eyes, and let into their minds a sense of the greatness of His grace, the fullness of Christ, and His readiness to save, after having been broken with apprehension of divine wrath and sunk unto an abyss, under a sense of guilt which they were ready to think was beyond the mercy of God. Their joyful surprise has caused their hearts, as it were, to leap, so they have been ready to break forth in laughter, tears often mingling a loud weeping.

Sometimes they have not been able to forbear crying out with a loud voice and expressing their great admiration. In some, even the view of the glory of God’s sovereignty, in the exercises of His grace has surprised the soul in such sweetness, as to produce the same effects. I remember an instance of one, who, reading something concerning God’s sovereign way of saving sinners, as being self moved — having no regard to man’s own righteousness as the motive of His grace, but as magnifying Himself and abasing man, or to that purpose, felt such a sudden rapture of joy and delight in the consideration of it: yet then he suspected himself to be in a Christless condition, and had long been in great distress for fear that God would not have mercy on him.9 (emphasis mine).

“Revive thy work!” — It is God’s work and as the Sovereign of the universe. He controls the keys. “Ministers knock at the door of men’s hearts; the Spirit comes with a key and opens the door” (Thomas Watson)

Salvation is of the Lord (Jonah 2:9). This is true in the Salvation of a soul, of a preacher in the belly of a whale, and of His church. Did not Jesus say in Matthew 16:18, “Upon this rock, I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”?

When God begins a work, He will bring it to fruition. God is not abandoning His church. We must remember however that...

Revival Comes in God’s Time

Habakkuk says “Revive thy work in the midst of the years — just as in the fullness of time God sent forth His Son. Christ came right on time, just at the exact moment God had chosen to fulfill all the prophecies of His first coming. He will come again and “will not tarry” — just at God’s appointed time the Son of Righteousness will appear with healing in His wings (Mal. 4:2) God has also appointed times of refreshing for His people. The day of Pentecost came when God had decreed it should, and likewise revival will come in God’s time and in God’s way. The Great Awakening came at just the right time. Reliable reports are that in the 20th century Korea, Romania, Russia, Indonesia, and the Scottish Hebrides were places that experienced a measure of revival. Will God do it in Century 21? It is all in God’s time. You can’t work it up or even pray it down. But, prayer is the place to begin to be ready for revival. God controls the time. He has decreed that one day time shall be no more. As for now, we must “redeem the time for the days are evil” (Eph 5:14).

“In the midst of the years make known!

Revival is God being really known, not just the abstract truth about Him. Systematic theology has its place, but theology cannot replace God! True theology is the study of God. We must see the veil lifted and really study God, not just about Him. Oh, to really know Him, and the power of His resurrection!

Revival is a shaking of the dry bones. The dry bones were once alive, so we can apply it to today’s dead church. When the dry bones live, we can see the church again reap a harvest. True soul-winning can only be done in the power of the Holy Ghost.

Why Is There No Revival?

As the thundering preacher from Wales, John Elias, pointed out: “We don’t have revival because “The Church does not feel the need for revival as it should.”10 Elias, in one of his famous letters, makes it clear that the reason the word of God has so little effect in our lives is that we do not consider it is the Word of God.

We can have revival in any age. There is nothing in Scripture to forbid it. We must, however, apply the word of God to ourselves, We must pray expecting great things from God. We can casually say we want revival without being also willing to pay the price. Can we really cry with Habakkuk, “Revive thy Work in the midst of the years.”?

May this be our heart’s cry! Amen!


  1. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, From Fear to Faith (London: Inter-Varsity Press, 1953), p. 29.
  2. Ibid, p. 29, 30.
  3. Ibid, p. 30.
  4. Ibid, p. 31, emphasis mine. (All headings, ‘a’ through ‘e’, also by Lloyd-Jones.)
  5. Edward Marbury, Commentary on Habakkuk (Minneapolis: Klock and Klock, 1979 reprint. Originally written 1650) p. 506.
  6. Ibid, p. 506.
  7. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, op. cit., p. 57.
  8. Duncan Campbell, God’s Answer (Belfast: The Faith Mission, 1960), pp. 88, 89. Hymn quoted, “In Evil Long I Took Delight”, John Newton.
  9. Jonathan Edwards, The Narratives (Asheville: Revival Literature, 1957 abridged edition, James Stewart, Editor) p. 55.
  10. John Elias: Life and Letters (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1980)

By Charles Woodruff Email: Originally published August, 1989

Edited by for Word of Truth, June 20, 2006.

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Monday, December 03, 2007


Perhaps you, dear reader, are one who believes that it is only necessary to preach to the saved -- the sheep -- the elect. Not so, my brethren! The example given us by Phillip and the Ethiopian eunuch, Paul and Silas, and Barnabas, Peter, Apollos, Aquila and Priscilla, Timothy, and all through the New Testament tells us what our calling is to be. In examples given, we see some believed, and some didn't. When Timothy was told "Do the work of an evangelist (Greek=ευαγγελιστου; bearer of glad tidings), make full proof of thy ministry”(2 Timothy 4:5b), this job was not to just carry a message to the sheep, but to all men. Otherwise, how would you identify the lost sheep, i.e., the unsaved elect? He said "My sheep hear my voice" The sheep hear; the goats (non- elect) do not hear. That is how you ultimately tell the difference. Eusebius in the third century (which was about 1400 years earlier than anyone called Baptist, Old Baptist, Primitive Baptist, Methodist, Calvinist, Lutheran or just about any other group), says: "men do the work of evangelists, leaving their homes to preach Christ, and deliver the written Gospels to those who were ignorant of the faith.” (H. E., 3:37) (Fausset’s Bible Dictionary).

Some have the idea that since God is absolutely sovereign, and in control of all of His affairs, that God doesn’t use men, or that He hasn’t used men since the apostles; that the great commission isn’t for us today, and it was fulfilled by the apostles. If the great commission was only for apostles, by the same logic “Feed my sheep---Feed my Lambs”(which some preachers claim is their only obligation), was also only for apostles. Who was told to feed the sheep? Wasn’t it Peter? (See John 21:15-17). What was he, if not an apostle? So, by the same logic, if you are not to preach to the lost today, you cannot feed the sheep either since the apostles are all gone! Think about it! This nonsense of “only apostles sent” is totally unscriptural! Timothy was a bishop (a pastor), not one of the apostles, yet he was told to “Do the work of an evangelist” (II Timothy 4:5), which is preaching to the lost! What we must see is that God still uses men. The true teaching of God's sovereignty shows God uses whom He chooses, when He chooses, and in what way He chooses! The false teaching of some extreme Calvinists generally teaches that God doesn’t use anybody, and nobody can really do anything in the service of God.

It is true no human can accomplish anything for God unless He divinely enables them, but it is evident from scripture that He has, and still does enable men to do His work. There is a great commission job for us today, just as there was a similar job for Moses in his day, for Elijah in his day, Peter and Paul in their day. It is still the job of men called of God to “Go ye therefore and teach all nations” (Matthew 28:19). Do you know how I know this (besides being called of God myself)? I know because the Lord Jesus in the same verse said “Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world”(Matthew 28:19-20). The part regarding “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” shows that Christ meant for His disciples (not just the twelve, but all His followers), to train others to do that which they were trained to do. Evangelism! This command has never been rescinded. We are to carry it out today, as in the first century! It is valid until the end of the world!

Those He addressed that day certainly did not live until the end of the world, and the commandment is in force until then. Who is going to obey it? Who is going to carry it out? The answer is: all those he has called through the ages. People like Polycarp, John Wycliffe, Hugh Latimer, William Tyndale, John Hus, Samuel Rutherford, John Bunyan, Thomas Watson, Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Gill, John and Charles Wesley, Brownlow North, William Carey, Hudson Taylor, Adoniram Judson, Amy Carmichael, David Brainerd, Jonathon Edwards, George Whitefield, Charles Spurgeon, D.L. Moody, Arthur W. Pink, George Muller, David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, A.W. Tozer, Vance Havner, Leonard Ravenhill and Jim Elliott. These are gone on, but the world is still here, and God still raises up men (and sometimes women), to do His bidding, i.e., His work, even today!

In Ezekiel God warned there would be blood on the hands of the watchman who failed to warn of impending doom. “When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul” (Ezekiel 3:18,19).

Even though this is in the Old Testament, the principle has not been negated. There is blood on the hands of those who sit idly by and do not obey the great commission; because to not obey the great commission is not to obey the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He said “If you love me, keep my commandments”(John 14:15). So, from scripture we can see that any man who claims he is called to preach, and will not preach indiscriminately to all that he can, is disobeying God and ought to shut up, or repent! It is the obligation of the preacher to --“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” ( Mark 16:15).

If you are not interested in reaching sinners for Christ, you had better examine yourself to see if you are indeed in the faith (see II Corinthians 13:5). It is not enough to believe you are elect, or hope you are elect!. Remember He said "Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things that I say?" (Luke 6:46) I weep because of sinners in my own family and all around me. God wants us to have a heart of compassion for the lost. I also weep for some friends who do not see the truth of the necessity of preaching to the lost. They feel it is “Arminian” to advocate doing so. No it is just biblical! Jesus said “And ye shall be witnesses unto me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8b).

In 1 Corinthians 1:21(b) "it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." Then in 1 Corinthians 3:4-6 " For while one saith I am of Paul: and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?" Both these verses show the design of God to use his ministers (yes, even unworthy men who have themselves been washed in the blood of the Lamb), preaching His Word, which God alone quickens to the saving of the soul. Listen to the word of God on the matter “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:11-13).

Call it "gospel regeneration" if you will, but that is God's design to save His elect. He regenerates them and opens their understanding in conjunction with His word. "Of His own will begat He us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures" (James 1:18). These are some of the "every creatures" that are talked about in Mark 16:15 who have been regenerated and converted. Since the word is said to be the instrument God uses in begetting (or birthing), it seems to violate scripture exegesis that one would be regenerated, and then days, months or even years might pass before he is converted and believes the gospel! Some even teach that you may be regenerated and remain an idol worshipping heathen all your life, never hearing of Jesus Christ! Away with such nonsense!

I want you to know that no one believes in the sovereignty of God any more than I do. But I also believe in the declaration of the gospel to all. The great commission was not just for the apostles, it was for all time until He comes again. God is absolute Sovereign in all of His doings. He does the saving. He sends revival when it pleases Him. Saying this, He didn't leave His preachers without tasks.

These are or tasks or obligations. First: glorify God. Think about it. As practically all the catechisms say "What is the chief end of man?" Reply "Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” The scripture says " Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31). That is first, above all else. Then comes teaching the saved, then reaching the lost, in that order of importance, the way I understand it.

Then you know about John 21:15-17, our obligation to feed the sheep (those in the churches who are revealed as elect, appear to be elect, or likely might be). So that is second of our duties as called men.

Then there is the obligation of reaching the lost, which is our third responsibility, and the one many don’t want to hear, but you had better hear, my friend! Paul says in Romans 1:14, "I am a debtor both to the Greeks and the barbarians: both to the wise and the unwise. So as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are in Rome also." Paul earnestly beseeches sinners to be reconciled to God here in

2 Corinthians 5:18-20 "And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." He is both debtor to the lost, and an ambassador for Christ!

As J. I. Packer said in his classic book, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God , "When you pray for unconverted people, you do so on the assumption that it is in God's power to bring them to faith" (1) Thus, true believers are forced to believe in God's sovereignty, EVEN THOUGH THEY MAY PROTEST THAT THEY DO NOT!

Actually, I believe, deep inside, every real Christian realizes God is Sovereign, whether he can express it or not. As Mr. Packer said: "I do not intend to spend any time at all proving to you the general truth that God is sovereign in His world. There is no need; for I know that, if you are a Christian you believe this already."(2)At first, I thought maybe Bro. Packer had not met some of the Christians I had met! But he clarifies: "How do I know that? Because I know that, if you are a Christian, you pray; and the recognition of God's Sovereignty is the basis for your prayers."(3)

Then he makes this searching statement: "You would never dream of dividing the credit for salvation between God and yourself. You have never for one moment supposed that the decisive contribution to your salvation was yours and not God's. You have never told God that, while you are grateful for the means and opportunities of grace that He gave you, you realize you have to thank, not Him, but yourself, for the fact you responded to His call. Your heart revolts at the very thought of talking to God in such terms. In fact you thank Him no less for the gift of faith and repentance than for the gift of a Christ to trust and turn to” (4)

(1)Taken from Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J. I. Packer., page 15 ©1961 by Inter-Varsity Press, England, and used by permission of Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove, IL 60515. (2) ibid., p.11, (3) ibid., p.11. (4) ibid., p.13.

Salvation is all of grace (see Ephesians 2:8-10), yet God uses those He has saved to reach those He will save. Are you usable?

“For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region“(Acts 13:47-49).

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


There are a number of transliterated words in the King James Bible, most of which are in the New Testament. Examples are at the raising of the young girl where Jesus says Talitha cumi, which in Aramaic means damsel (or little girl), arise (Mark 5:41). Another is Raca found in Matthew 5:22, and is Aramaic for a senseless, empty headed person. Then, Eli Eli Lama Sabachthani (Matthew 27:46), which was our Lord’s utterance from the cross, and caused the crowd to think He was calling Elijah. It is a fulfillment of Psalm 22:1, and means in English, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Matthew says “Eli” which is Hebrew, and Mark 15:34 uses “Eloi” which is Aramaic. It is a transliteration, but is translated for us “on the spot.”

The first church I joined, after really being converted, was Maranatha Baptist in Atlanta. When I was first invited there I was obliged to ask “What in the world does Maranatha mean?” It means “the Lord cometh.” Once I knew the answer, I had a desire to know more regarding the Second Coming of Christ. The word is found one time in scripture in this form. Let us look at the context in which we find this untranslated word: “The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord with the church that is in their house. All the brethren greet you. Greet ye one another with an holy kiss. The salutation of me, Paul, with mine own hand. If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.” (First Corinthians 16: 19-22)

The apostle Paul was summing up his first letter to the church at Corinth. It was actually penned for Paul by Stephanas, Fortunatus, Achaicus, and Timotheus. It was written from Philippi, by hand. You know they did not have computers in 59 A.D., not even typewriters! Several of Paul’s epistles were penned by assistants because his vision was evidently suffering. (see Galatians 6:11) So our text is dealing with closing salutations after much instruction, rebuke and prayers in the previous fifteen chapters from the apostle. The entire two epistles to Corinth are very profitable for doctrine and instruction in righteousness. Even here at the close of the first, we glean much practical truth. Remember this is the word of God, alive and powerful, sharper than any two edged sword. (See Hebrews 4:12)


The churches of Asia salute you. These churches sent greetings of Christian love and fellowship to the Corinthian church. In the early church there was a strong bond of fellowship, and Christian love. Not like today’s churches where often those in the same denomination are in competition with each other. It is really sad, for true Christians are part of the same worldwide family. Each local church is to be a gathering of called out ones, but are connected and related to the body as a whole. One reason the true church has lost influence today is this total disconnect. A number of years ago, Vance Havner published a book Why Not Just Be Christians?(1) It hardly seems a possible goal in our day. Another very interesting book by an anonymous author was titled The People of the Way(2), a wonderful concept dealing with all Christians gathering to only Christ, dropping all labels, and doing only as the Bible teaches. In our day of sin and apostasy, it won’t happen, unless God sends revival according to His sovereign purpose.

Well, this problem was one of the things Paul had to combat in this epistle. In the church there were several factions. Paul straightened them out by saying: For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are you not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man. I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.” (First Corinthians 3:4-6)

Corinth was the most immature of the early churches, there was much sin in that assembly, yet Paul found much to commend even in Corinth, but he did have to minister much correction there.

Aqulla and Priscilla also gave a greeting in the Lord to Corinth. They were the married couple with whom Paul first worked with in Corinth. That is where they settled when driven from Rome. Later they went with Paul to Ephesus. Like Paul, they were tentmakers by trade. They sent word from the church that gathered in their home in Ephesus. This was where most early churches met, in homes. They didn’t have elaborate buildings. It was said of the early church how they loved one another, not a certain denomination. There was only one! Christians! It is said how much they loved Christ, not just doctrine, and words about him. All true doctrine emanates from Him.


Paul and those with him loved Christ. Aqulla and Priscilla loved Christ. Verse 20 said: “All the brethren greet you. Greet one another with an holy kiss”. When the love of Christ is in you, you love the brethren. You love the church (Greek=ecclesia), not a building of bricks and mortar, but the people that make up the body, especially your local church. Remember what John said regarding this: “ In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither is he that loveth not his brother.” (First John 3:10) He also says: “We know that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.” (First John 10:14) I trust I do not need to remind you that although this is written in masculine gender, it includes godly, Christian, sisterly love as well.

You would think today from some of the church fusses and splits, and anger, and bitterness today, that no one in the churches today has ever read these verses. I would that every Christian everywhere could read the article I recently published by J. C. Philpot. Maybe read it several times! It hit the mark! It is on this blog site in case you missed it. (Just keep scrolling back through the months until you see it. It was late 2006 I think). Please read it!

Greet with a holy kiss? Today so many will greet with a sour look, angry words, backbiting and deceit, and in some cases, even fists! Now this church at Corinth had people from various parts of the Roman empire. Diverse people, Jews and Gentiles, who were brought together by the Holy Ghost. They were recently converted Christians from all the pagan backgrounds. There were divisions. There was sin of the worst kind. There were the factions, as mentioned. There was drunkenness, adultery, failure to deal with a disgusting manifestation of that sin in the assembly, false doctrines, misuse of spiritual gifts. Paul had a lot to set right, and he did for them, and us.

Paul said: “And I brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet are ye able. For you are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal and walk as men?” (First Corinthians 3: 1-3) “Carnal” is “having the nature of flesh, i.e., under control of animal appetites.”(3) These “babes in Christ” were having to be taught by the apostle to lean on God for everything. They were babes. They were on the “baby food.” These were not people who had been saved for many, many years. So, what’s your excuse, professing Christian?


“The salutation of me, Paul, with mine own hand. If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.”
(First Corinthians 16:21,22)

The gear is changed here. Instead of assistants doing the actual writing, now Paul takes up the pen with his own hand. He who had already seen a great work of God done in Corinth, a work which Arthur Pink called“ one of the grandest triumphs of the gospel.”(4)

Yes, Corinth was much as many in America have become today: self indulgent, adulterous, blasphemers, haters of God, sensual, having not the Spirit etc.. In a short phrase; America is a sinful nation, laden with iniquity. Do you dare deny it? You know that is where we are as a nation for the most part. If it was not for the godly remnant, we would already be through!

Well, Corinth was like this, and Jehovah God turned it around, using Paul, and at least it became a powerful church there that loved the Lord Jesus Christ. It almost shocks the senses, as I am sure it did the Corinthians, to see at the end of the epistle something much more than the standard salutations. Paul himself was writing: “IF ANY MAN LOVE NOT THE LORD JESUS CHRIST LET HIM BE ANATHEMA!” He was speaking to them, but he was speaking to us throughout the ages as well. The word love here is not even the strongest Greek word for love. It is phileo, a word that means great affection. You see, an awakened sinner must embrace Christ with the affections of the heart. It is not enough to be awakened, you must hear and believe the gospel. A regenerated person will embrace Christ with the heart.

Paul says if a person does not have this spiritual transformation, let him be anathema, a transliterated word from Greek that means accursed. Paul uses the word several times (First Corinthians 12:3, Romans 9:3, Acts 23:14). But in Galatians he says: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed (anathema). As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed (anathema).” (Galatians 1:8,9)

The papacy over the centuries has tried to put anathemas on people when they opposed Rome’s abuses, and distortions of the gospels. Martin Luther, John Calvin, and other reformers got their anathemas, but they had no power over them. Even when a martyr such as John Hus, who was burned at the stake in Prague in 1415, and pronounced accursed, it only took his earthly body. (see link) No pope can give heaven’s anathema! But an apostle surely can!

So many places in scripture we are told that embracing, receiving, trusting Christ is absolutely necessary for salvation. Examples: “He that believeth on Him is not condemned, but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18)

“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” (John 5:39-40)

Kiss the Son, lest He be angry and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him.”(Psalm 2:12)

The alternative is to be accursed, i.e., eternal damnation. This anathema which is coupled with maranatha, which as I already said, means “the Lord comes,” or “has come.” Most scholars take the former meaning. It is derived from two Aramaic words, which was the language spoken by the Jews of Christ’s time, and the language He used. Coupling these two transliterated words together amplifies the meaning intensely. If any man (or woman), loves not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him (or her), be Anathema Maranatha! In other words, let them be damned! Christ is Coming!

When is He coming? I don’t know, but if the Apostle John said it was the last days in 90 A.D. (see First John 2:18), it must be nearing the last days of the last days over 1900 years later! How is He coming? In like manner as you have seen Him go away. (see Acts 1: 11) Why is He coming? To take His children to be with Himself (see John 14:6), and to execute judgment on the ungodly. (See Jude 14,15) Oh what a day of glory that will be for some, and what a day of anguish it will be for others! (see John 5:29) When is He coming? No man knows the day nor the hour.( Mark 13:32)

Maranatha! He shall come. I know, many do not believe it. Peter said it would be so. (See Second Peter 3:3,4) Remember the Jews had it wrong the first coming of Christ. They thought He would come as a warrior taking vengeance on their enemies, and sit on the throne to rule with a rod of iron. They apparently got it mixed up with His second Coming. He has been a stumbling block to the Jews. But the time of the gentiles is almost over. Maranatha! He shall come. A lot of eschatology, and much of our theology in general will be straightened out when He comes. We used to ask the late Dr. B.B. Caldwell “What position do you take on the coming of Christ? Are you pre-millennial, post-millennial , or a-millennial?” He would just look at us younger preachers (at that time in the 1970’s), smack his lips and say; “I’m a looker.” Well, I don’t have it all figured out so I guess I am also a looker. The word does say : “ So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Hebrews 9:28)

“The solemn declaration stands here, that if they do not love the Lord Jesus, they will be, and they ought to be, devoted to destruction. The Lord Jesus will soon return to make investigation, and to judge the world. There will be no escape; and no tongue can express the awful horrors of an ETERNAL CURSE PRONOUNCED BY THE LIPS OF THE SON OF GOD!(5)


(1) Vance Havner, Fleming Revell, Old Tappan,NJ, 1964 (OOP)

(2) Unknown author, Reiner Publications, Swengel, PA, 1970, (OOP)

(3) Nave’s Study Bible, glossary, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, 1978

(4) Gleanings from Paul, chapter six, Prayers for Weaker Brothers, online ed.

(5) Albert Barnes (1798-1870), Barnes Notes on the New Testament, Ages Library edition. Public domain. (Some emphasis mine. CW)

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.” Paul’s prayer, and mine for you all, Charles

Thursday, November 01, 2007

HYPER-CALVINIST- Charles Woodruff

Hyper-Calvinist! More and more frequently I hear this term used. What does it mean? We must check the definition of some of the terms people use since everyone seems to have different ideas in regard to meanings of words. I remember distinctly a person once asking me, "Who is this fellow 'Hyper Calvin'?" This person seemed to think "Hyper" was John Calvin's brother! So, I say it is time to clarify some terms.

According to Webster, the prefix "hyper" is from Greek and means "over, above, in behalf of, it usually implies excess."(1) So we could say that a hyper-Calvinist is an excessive Calvinist just as a hyper­active child is excessively active or over and above normal in activity. Another theological use of "hyper" is found in "hyper-dispensationalist" or one who goes to extremes in marking off dispensations, or epochs, of time in God's dealing with man.

Calvinist, in some areas of the world is a particular religious denomination, but in most areas it is a general term meaning: “(1) a follower of Calvin; (2) one who embraces the theological doctrines of Calvin.” (2)

As for the first part of this definition I cannot find much sympathy, for I (as every true Christian must be) am a follower of Jesus Christ, not John Calvin! John Calvin did not die for my sins nor did his arch-rival Jacob Arminius! Jesus Christ died for my sins! (I Cor. 15:3). Blessed is that name, Jesus, above every name (Phil. 2:9, 10). It is the only name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). No, I do not follow Calvin — I follow Christ!

Now before I go any further let me state that John Calvin, like many before and after him, was a worthy theologian. I have gained much from reading his sermons and commentaries. His Institutes of the Christian Religion is a monumental work. In it you find the marrow of the great Reformer's theology. But scripturally I cannot follow Calvin. I can learn from him, as he was one whom God used to "speak the things which become sound doctrine" (Titus 2:1). Martin Luther was also used of God in this way. This does not mean Luther or Calvin were infallible men. Luther never did really accept the book of James or the book of Revelation as divinely inspired. He had a "blind spot" here. Because he had come out of the ritualistic, works-religion of Catholicism, Luther could not grasp the meaning of James saying, "Faith without works is dead" (James 2:20).

Calvin also had come out of the Catholic Church and did not have absolute truth on all matters. Of course, none of us do! There were some errors in Calvin's teaching, so even the second part of our definition could not be embraced by a real Bible Christian without some reservation. Remember the definition? "One who embraces the theological doctrines of Calvin." Dear Christian reader, could you do that unequivocally?

Webster defines Calvinism as "the theological doctrines of Calvin....the distinguishing doctrines of this system are predestination, particular redemption, total depravity, irresistible grace, and the certain perseverance of the saints." (3) These were certainly things that Calvin believed. To summarize these teachings we often put all these so called five points of Calvinism under the general heading of God's sovereignty. Certainly, any grounded student of scripture must concede that God is Sovereign (the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, the Highest Authority). It is an issue today in the church because many fail to recognize this authority. (See two articles by the author, "What Jesus Christ Said about God's Sovereignty" and "The Issue of the Sovereignty of God Today" Write, or email me for online, or printed, copies.)

The teaching of God's Sovereignty is certainly not exclusive to John Calvin. All these related truths mentioned are, when rightly taught and understood, completely scriptural whether John Calvin taught them or not. Our criteria must be: Thus saith the Lord God! And beginning with man's total depravity, as God does in the biblical doctrine of salvation, it is clear that only a Supreme Ruler, a Sovereign God can save a vile, wretched sinner. Yes, God is in total control!

But of our subject, "Hyper-Calvinism", it can be said that some go beyond Bible truth in several areas, and could legitimately be termed hyper-Calvinists because they go far beyond what Calvin himself taught on some points. For instance, a popular misconception regarding what Calvinists believe concerns predestination. Some say that all Calvinists believe that God has predestined some for heaven, others He predestined to hell including the "non-elect" who die in infancy. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth of scripture and, in all fairness, Calvin did not teach this and nothing could be further from the teaching of 99% of those called Calvinists. Partly to blame for this thinking is the poem, "The Day of Doom" by Michael Wigglesworth (1631-1705).(4) In this poem infants are depicted as standing before God and being condemned to hell for sin which they would have committed had they lived. No doubt in Puritan Massachusetts in 1662, when this poem was written, there were some who totally agreed with its conclusion. Maybe there are some today who do. If so, they go beyond Calvin who never taught such a teaching. We could say that those who teach as scriptural truth the damnation of infants are definitely hyper-Calvinists.

Scripture teaches that all men without God are depraved sinners bound for hell. God in mercy has done for some men what they could not do. "There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God" (Romans 3:11). God must open blinded eyes or none see. "You hath He quickened who were dead in trespasses and sin" (Ephesians 2:1). Dead sinners must be brought to life by the regenerating Holy Spirit! This is not just Calvinistic doctrine — this is the Word of God! So God doesn't have to predestine or elect these dead sinners to hell. They are condemned already because they have not believed (John 3:18). Conversely, God must elect or predestine some to heaven or all die. I do not in this article want to survey all the theology involved here, but merely point out that this is the Biblical truth of God's predestination. Some say this interferes with man's will. But man's whole being, including his will, is depraved and dead. "Salvation is of the Lord" (Jonah 2:9). "It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy" (Romans 9:16). As a matter of fact, reading the entire ninth chapter of Romans should forever shut men's mouths and shut them up to the Sovereignty of God! That God is in control of all things is not hyper-Calvinism, but solid Bible truth. "In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will" (Ephesians 1:11).
To sum up our little examination and to determine what and who is a hyper-Calvinist check the following points:
1. A hyper-Calvinist is one who follows Calvin rather than the teachings of the Bible even when the Bible and Calvin are not in harmony. Remember, the Bible, not any man, is the final authority and the Christian's only rule of faith and practice.
2. A hyper-Calvinist thinks more of converting men to the system of Calvinism than pointing men to Christ. There is nothing wrong per se with systematic theology if it is setting forth scripture. The Philadelphia Confession and Westminster Confession both are good to help crystallize our beliefs as long as they don't blindly become our "Bible." We must do the same as the noble Bereans~ and “search the scriptures" (Acts 17:11).
3. A hyper-Calvinist carries the teachings of God's Sovereignty to unscriptural extremes and has no vision for evangelism and teaches that the elect will be saved "anyhow." Here we are actually speaking of two great dangers from the unscriptural extremes. First, the belief that God will save His chosen "anyhow" leads us to do nothing to reach them, which is unscriptural. Secondly, it leads the untaught convert to believe that because he is elect he will go to heaven anyhow without a changed heart, which is also not a scriptural truth. "By their fruits you shall know them" (Matthew 7:20).

John Calvin never taught such a doctrine. Here I quote Charles Spurgeon, who certainly was evangelistic in practice. "Oh I do not know of a more thoroughly damnable delusion than for a man to get a conceit in his head, that he is a child of God and yet live in sin — to talk to you about Sovereign Grace while he is living in sovereign lust."

And regarding Calvin he says: "A Calvinist I am, but John Calvin never taught immoral doctrine. A more consistent expositor of scripture than that great reformer I believe never lived, but his doctrine is not the Hyper-Calvinism of these modern times, but is as diametrically opposed to it as light to darkness. There is not one word in any of his writings that would justify any man going on in iniquity that grace might abound. If you do not hate sin it is all the same what doctrine you believe! You may go to perdition as rapidly with High Calvinistic doctrine as with any other" (emphasis mine).

So, as I have already pointed out some failures of this great reformer whose shoes I am not worthy to shine, let us not accuse him falsely. He believed that converted men were saved from their sin, not to live in them. A hyper-Calvinist teaches God’s Sovereignty which is scriptural, but is "lopsided" and does not balance this teaching with other teachings of the Word, which also must be taught. A hyper-Calvinist has a party spirit and will not fellowship with others who may not see the truths of Sovereignty. Oftentimes these brethren forget that they have not always seen these great truths themselves, and they also forget that God must reveal the truth to men or they will never see it. The Bible is so strong about this party spirit that we must be extremely careful not to unnecessarily divide good Bible-believing Christians. When you preach God's Sovereignty you will automatically alienate some, so there is no justification for rejecting those who do not reject us. Ironically, those who have such a party spirit often feel they are very spiritual, but what saith God? "For while one saith, I am of Paul and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase" (I Corinthians 3:4-6). It would be a blessing if we could totally lay aside denomination and doctrinal-system terms and just be Christians. This is the only thing God will look at anyhow! I realize, however, because of liberalism, we must say for identification that we are fundamentalists, or evangelicals. Because there are Catholics, we must identify ourselves as Protestants and Baptists. People want to know where we stand, but above all let us stand with the Word of the living God and whatever our doctrinal persuasion, be above all a Christian! cw

(1) Webster's Universal Dictionary (1937 edition; World Publishing; New York).
(2) ibid.
(3) ibid.
(4) found online at

(adapted from
Most Calvinists reject as deplorable the following hyper-Calvinistic and destructive beliefs:
- that God is the author of sin and of evil
- that men have no will of their own, and secondary causes are of no effect
- that the number of the elect at any time may be known by men
- that it is wrong to evangelize
- that assurance of election must be sought prior to repentance and faith
- that men who have once sincerely professed belief are saved regardless of what they later do
- that God has chosen some races of men and has rejected others
- that the children of unbelievers dying in infancy are certainly damned
- that God does not command everyone to repent
- that the true church is only invisible, and salvation is not connected with the visible church
- that no government is to be obeyed which does not acknowledge that Jesus is the Lord, or that Biblical Law is its source of authority
- that the grace of God does not work for the betterment of all men
- that saving faith is equivalent to belief in the doctrine of predestination
- that only Calvinists are Christians (Neo-gnostic Calvinism).

Arminianism and Hyper-Calvinism were both among the historical errors battled by Charles Spurgeon, who was himself a five point Calvinist. He vigilantly fought these twin errors on both sides of the spectrum. One of Hyper-Calvinism's main errors is to declare that, because of God's sovereignty, we should not evangelize the lost. Spurgeon rejected such nonsense as do the large majority of people who would call themselves Calvinists today (such as R.C. Sproul, John Piper, John MacArthur, Alistair Begg and many others) We believe the doctrine of election should be declared strongly because the Bible does and because man's affections are enslaved to sin. He cannot save himself but needs the effectual working of the Holy Spirit if he is to have ears to hear when we preach the gospel. The preacher casts forth the seed of the gospel (the command to believe) indiscriminately but the Holy Spirit germinates the Word (so to speak) in the hearts of those he intends to save; i.e. those given to the Son by the Father in the eternal covenant made before time (John 6:37, 39, Eph 1, 4). Many Christian missionaries whom most would consider heroes held to the five points of Calvinism: William Carey (he was opposed by a Hyper-Calvinist), Jonathan Edwards & David Brainard (missionaries to native Americans) just to name three.

Saturday, October 06, 2007


by Robert McCurry

Excited Children masquerading as witches, ghosts, goblins, demons, and other grotesque characters skipping through the neighborhood knocking on doors chanting "trick or treat" while holding out a sack in which one is to drop a piece of candy or other goodies ... the party at school, or church, or Sunday School where they bob for apples, tell fortunes, or go through "haunted houses"... decorations of jack-o'-lanterns, witches on brooms, and black cats with arched backs ... It's "Halloween"--one of the strangest days of the year.

Are Halloween activities really just the simple, innocent holiday fun most people believe them to be? Where did this holiday originate? Why is this holiday celebrated?

History provides the answers. Though it was the Roman Catholic Church who designated the October 31st date as All Hallows Eve, or "eve of the holy ones" day, in prelude to their November 1st All Saints' Day, it was earlier pagan peoples who gave the annual holiday the sinister meaning and traditions it still holds.

"The American celebration rests upon Scottish and Irish folk customs which can be traced in direct line from pre-Christian times. Although Halloween has become a night of rollicking fun, superstitious spells, and eerie games which people take only half seriously, its beginnings were quite otherwise. The earliest Halloween celebrations were held by the Druids in honor of Samhain, lord of the dead, whose festival fell on November 1st." 1

"It was a Druidic belief that on the eve of this festival, Saman [Samhain], lord of death, called together the wicked souls [spirits] that within the past 12 months had been condemned to inhabit the bodies of animals." 2

"The Druids, an order of priests in ancient Gaul and Britain, believed that on Halloween, ghosts, spirits, fairies, witches, and elves came out to harm people. They thought the cat was sacred and believed that cats had once been human beings, but were changed as a punishment for evil deeds. From these Druidic beliefs come the present-day use of witches, ghosts, and cats in Halloween festivities." 3

Halloween "was the night for the universal walking about of all sorts of spirits, fairies, and ghosts, all of whom had liberty on that night." 4

The pagans believed that on one night of the year the souls of the dead returned to their original homes. "There was a prevailing belief among all nations that at death the souls of good men were taken possession of by good spirits and carried to paradise, but the souls of wicked men were left to wander in the space between the earth and moon, or consigned to the unseen world. These wandering spirits were in the habit of haunting the living ... But there were means by which these ghosts might be exorcised." 5

To exorcise these ghosts, that is, to free yourself from their supposed evil sway, you would have to set out food--give the demons a treat--and provide shelter for them during the night. If they were satisfied with your treat, it was believed they would leave you in peace. If food and shelter were not provided, or if they were not satisfied. these spirits, it was believed, would "trick" you by casting an evil spell on you and cause havoc.

"The modern custom of 'Trick-or-treat' began in Ireland hundreds of years ago ... A group of farmers went from house to house begging food for the village Halloween festivities in the name of their ancient gods. Good luck was promised to generous donors, and threats were made against those who would not give." 6 Thus these ancient pagan traditions continue today as youngsters, masquerading as ghosts, skeletons, and demons go "trick-or-treating"--begging in a sense for food while promising to refrain from evil deeds.

"It was the Celts who chose the date of October 31 as their New Year's Eve and who originally intended it as a celebration of everything wicked, evil, and dead. Also during their celebration they would gather around a community bonfire and offer as sacrifice their animals, their crops, and sometime themselves. And wearing costumes made from the heads and skins of other animals, they would also tell one another's fortunes for the coming year." 7

"The celebration remained much the same after the Romans conquered the Celts around 43 A.D. The Romans did, however, add a ceremony honoring their goddess of fruit and trees, and thus the association with apples and the custom of bobbing for them." 8

The apparently harmless lighted pumpkin face or "Jack-O'-Lantern" is an ancient symbol of a damned soul. Jack-O'-Lanterns were named for a man called Jack, who could not enter heaven or hell. As a result, he was doomed to wander in darkness with his lantern until Judgment Day." 9

"Fearful of spooks ... folks began hollowing out turnips and pumpkins and placing lighted candles inside to scare evil spirits from the house." 10

Since Halloween is unmistakably pagan in its origin and practice, how did the professing church come to accept and keep such a day? Again history provides the answer.

Ever since the time of Constantine--who made Catholicism the state religion--the Roman emperors realized how essential it was to have a unified empire, where as many as possible would be of one mind. The civil and religious leaders saw how important it was for the sake of unity to allow only one religion within the Roman domain.

A stringent state policy was implemented to force all non-Christians to accept the state religion. The condition for "conversion," of course, made it easy for the pagan population of Rome and elsewhere to "accept" 'Christianity'. Since "acceptance" of 'Christianity' was made simple, refusal was made difficult. This plan resulted in large numbers of the heathen population within the empire to flock into the membership of the church. These people brought with them many pagan practices and celebrations, Halloween merely being one of them.

How could the church deal with this problem? The church realized that to excommunicate these pagans would only reduce the membership of the church. This they were unwilling to do. The church had also learned in past times that it was not possible to force the people into discarding all their heathen practices
and adopting Roman ones.

There remained only one other way.

t was reasoned that if a pagan practice or festival could not be forbidden, let it be "Christianized." Let the recently converted pagans keep certain of their heathen festivals, such as Halloween or All Souls' Day--but label it "Christian." Of course they were asked not to pray to their ancient pagan gods on this day. They would now use this day to commemorate the death of "saints."

"In the A.D. 800's, the [Catholic] church established All Saints Day on November 1st so that people could continue a festival they had celebrated before becoming
Christians. The mass that was said on this day was called All Hallowmas. The evening before became known as All Hallow e'en or Halloween ... It means hallowed or holy evening." 11

"The celebration of Halloween is a survival of ancient pagan beliefs. When the early [Catholic] church was unable to stop pagan practices, it accepted them and gave them a religious tune." 12

Most of the ancient symbols and traditions of Halloween still exist today. Youngsters still dress in costumes and go trick-or-treating, begging in a sense, for food while promising to refrain from evil deeds. And, too, they still light their candles, although much smaller than a torch, and place them inside their pumpkins.

"It is the one night of the year in which a child experiences the emotion of fear, fantasy, and mystery." 13

In advising on what to do on Halloween, The Good Housekeeping Book of Entertainment says: "Orange, black, and red, the devil's colors, are the colors associated with Halloween, and this scheme should be carried out as far as
possible ... Have paper streamers and lanterns hanging from the ceiling, or if you would like to have something less usual, you could make a giant spider web with black and orange strings, or in narrow strips of crepe paper coming from the four corners of the room, complete with a large spider--one of the devil's followers." 14


Bible-believing Christians cringe and shudder at the thought of Satan worship and occult rites. But how many of these same people will dress their children as witches, ghosts, skeletons, or devils and send them out to "trick-or-treat"? How many smile approvingly at the church or Sunday School and youth organizations that have Halloween parties and sponsor "haunted house" activities?

The 18th chapter of the book of Deuteronomy; (vv 10-13) very explicitly forbids Christians to have anything to do with witchcraft, spiritism or the demonic. In verse 10 of that chapter we read:

"There shall not be found among you anyone that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire (this has reference to the worship of the pagan god, Moloch, which was state worship), or that useth divination (a false and pagan counterpart of prophecy; the art or act of foretelling secret knowledge, especially of the future), or an observer of times (astrology), or an enchanter, (to cast under a spell; charm; enrapture; to chant [magic words]), or a witch (divinations in connection with the worship of idolatrous and demoniacal powers), or a charmer (a fabricator of material charms or amulets to be worn especially around the neck as a charm against evil or injury), or a consulter with evil spirits (an inquirer by a familiar spirit), or a wizard (a false prophet, especially a conjurer; one who summons a devil by oath, incantation or magic spell), or a necromancer (one who in one form or another seeks to find information by consulting the dead)."

"Thou shalt not learn to do after their abominations ..." (Deuteronomy 17:9). Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I Am the Lord your God" (Leviticus

It is obvious that the elements, symbols, and traditions of the Halloween observance with its emphasis upon goblins and demons, witches, and skeletons, ghosts, and apparitions rising from cemeteries constitute a dabbling with the very things which Scripture forbids to God's people and an open invitation to demonic activity.

It is at this point that many will say, "But we don't worship demons or Halloween. It doesn't mean the same thing today as it did in the past. It's now just a harmless, innocent time of fun for the children and the young people."

Yet, history clearly shows that Halloween is unmistakably a "religious" (pagan and Roman) holiday. Religion is the adoration, obedience, and service rendered to the object of one's worship. It presupposes profession, practice, or observance of whatever belief and practice--in this case Halloween--as required by some superior authority. It is indisputably clear that Halloween is not commanded or sanctioned by the Lord God--the true Christian's Superior Authority--in the Scriptures.

"Abstain from ALL appearances of evil" (1 Thessalonians 5:22).
"And many that believed came and confessed, and shewed their deeds. Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men" (Acts
19:18, 19).
"Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do ALL to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians

1. Halloween Through Twenty Centuries, Ralph Linton, P. 4.
2. Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th Ed. Vol. 12 pp. 857-858.
3. World Book Encyclopedia, 1959 Ed. pp. 3245-6.
Highland Superstitions, Alexander MacGregor, p. 44.
5. Folklore, James Napier, p. 11.
6. Holidays of Legend, Mildred H. Arthur, p. 87.
7. World Book Encyclopedia, quoted in Atlanta Journal & Constitution, Associated Press,
October 6, 1977.
8. ibid
9. World Book Encyclopedia, 1977 Ed., Vol. 9, pp. 24-5.
10. The Book of Festival Holidays, Marqueite Ickis, pp. 125-6.
11. World Book Encyclopedia
12. Holidays of Legend, p. 87
13. The Book of Festival Holidays, pp. 125-6.
14. Good Housekeeping Book of Entertainment, p. 168.

~~ Written and Compiled by Robert McCurry


I really could not add anything to Pastor McCurry’s excellent, concise study on Halloween, but it is worth noting that many Protestant churches observe Reformation Day on this date, or as a Reformation Sunday on the Sunday immediately following October 31st. This is because 490 years ago, on October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany and the Protestant Reformation was begun. The Catholic church, and many others would rather you didn’t remember that, but celebrate Halloween instead. An article at Wikipedia, submitted by a Lutheran, which I believe to be accurate, has this to say about it:

“Reformation Day is a religious holiday celebrated on October 31st in remembrance of the Reformation, particularly by Lutheran and Reformed church communities…… On this day in 1517, Martin Luther posted a proposal at the doors of a church in Wittenberg, Germany to debate the doctrine and practice of indulgences. This proposal is popularly known as the 95 theses, which he nailed to the Castle Church doors. This was not an act of defiance or provocation as is sometimes thought. Since the Castle Church faced Wittenberg's main thoroughfare, the church door functioned as a public bulletin board and was therefore the logical place for posting important notices. Also, the theses were written in Latin, the language of the church, and not in the vernacular. Nonetheless, the event created a controversy between Luther and those allied with the Pope over a variety of doctrines and practices. Luther and his supporters were excommunicated in 1520“.

On Reformation Day “The liturgical color of the day is red, which represents the Holy Spirit and the Martyrs of the Christian Church. Luther’s hymn, A Mighty Fortress is Our God is traditionally sung on this day. Lutherans customarily stand during the hymn, in memory of its use in the religious wars of the Sixteenth Century. It is also traditional in some Lutheran schools for schoolchildren to hold Reformation Day plays or pageants that re-enact scenes from the life of Martin Luther. In the 2003 movie Luther, an accurate portrayal of the story of Luther is given".

And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.”
(Revelation 18:4).