A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Only the judgement morning will reveal who the converts really are

George Whitefield was an evangelist in the eighteenth century. He was converted in his early adulthood and then he became an ordained Anglican minister.

Whitefield held to the 5 Solas of the Reformation:

  1. Sola Scriptura (“Scripture alone”): The Bible alone is our highest authority.
  2. Sola Fide (“faith alone”): We are saved through faith alone in Jesus Christ.
  3. Sola Gratia (“grace alone”): We are saved by the grace of God alone.
  4. Solus Christus (“Christ alone”): Jesus Christ alone is our Lord, Savior, and King.
  5. Soli Deo Gloria (“to the glory of God alone”): We live for the glory of God alone.
    (Source: https://www.gotquestions.org/five-solas.html)

But in Whitefield’s day there are many ordained ministers in the Anglican church who did not truly believe those doctrines, let alone preach and practice them. The Anglican communion around the world is still in that condition today: there are many within it who do not fully believe the 5 Solas of the Reformation.

The majority of Anglican ministers refused to let Whitefield preach in their churches because he was emphasizing the necessity of the New Birth and saying that many ordained ministers were not born again and were preaching a false gospel.

Whitefield often preached in the open air because ministers would not let him use their pulpits. What is more, the crowds who flocked to hear Whitefield were too big to fit into most bricks and mortar churches. So Whitefield resorted to preaching in the open air. He often preached to many thousands of people at once. In those days there were no p.a. systems to electronically amplify sound, but God had gifted Whitefield with a powerful voice and the crowds who listened to him were often so silently attentive that his voice could be heard at long distances. 

I want to share with you a passage from the biography of Whitefield written by Arnold Dallimore. As you read this passage, think about how it contrasts with evangelists like Billy Graham who call people to come to the front and verbalise “the sinner’s prayer”.

[begin quote]

It must be explained that Whitefield made no appeal for people to make a public profession of salvation at his services. His practice…was one of making powerful application of the Gospel as he preached and of therewith leaving the Word to become operative in the heart by the ministry of the Holy Spirit. He looked for the Spirit’s work in arousing the sinner to a deep, and even overwhelming, sense of his need, but this work he called, not conversion, but awakening

Many of these awakened ones sought him out in private, that they might ask his further counsel and beg a place in his prayers. So large were the numbers of those who came that he found it necessary, both in his early ministry and throughout all his later life, to announce certain hours at which he would be available for this purpose. In these interviews he taught that the illumination of the mind and the implanting of faith in the heart are entirely the work of the Holy Spirit. He urged the seeker to go directly to the Lord, entreating that this saving work might be done within him. He directed the needy soul to the Gospel promises and told him to plead them before God, and, on the basis of them, to seek assurance that this Divine work was accomplished within his heart.

Yet Whitefield gave no seeker reason to believe that such an interview was essential to, or necessarily productive of, salvation. His emphasis was ever that salvation is a Divine work, a matter between the human soul and the Lord, and many left his presence to continue to seek – some for days and even weeks – and to entreat God to make them the objects of His mercy. But numerous persons came again to Whitefield, and many others wrote to him, telling him, often with abounding joy and deep assurance, that this work had indeed been accomplished within them. Yet, even then, he still refused to count converts. He chose to wait until conversion had been manifested by months of a transformed life, and his attitude is well expressed in his words, “Only the judgement morning will reveal who the converts really are”.

¹ One of the 1739 editions of Whitefield’s sermon on The New Birth contained also ‘A Prayer for One Desiring to be Awakened to an Experience of the New Birth, and another for One Newly Awakened to a Sense of the Divine Life.’

George Whitefield: The Life and Times of the Great Evangelist of the Eighteenth-Century Revival, by Arnold A Dallimore (The Banner of Truth Trust: Edinburgh UK, Carlisle PA USA, 1970; vol 1, p 137).

[end quote] 

I invite you to listen to this sermon from Ps Sam Powell: You must be born again.

***

Other posts that mention George Whitefield

Standing Against Abuse Requires the Making of Enemies   – a paragraph from that post:

All of us, if we are going to follow Christ and do battle for him against evil, are going to have to come to the same realization that George Whitefield did when he said, “I am fully convinced there is a fundamental difference between us and them. They believe only an outward Christ, we further believe that He must be inwardly formed in our hearts also.”  There is no middle ground. Either we stand for truth or we don’t. Either we are born again or we are dead in our sins. Either we see evil for what it is and expose it no matter what, or we compromise with it and join it.

Live by the Leading of the Spirit. Old Wineskins Cannot Accept New Wine.

The Most Common Reason Churches Enable Abusers and Oppress Victims

 

 

 

 

 

26 Comments

  1. Helovesme

    He looked for the Spirit’s work in arousing the sinner to a deep, and even overwhelming, sense of his need, but this work he called, not conversion, but awakening.

    I’ve been a believer for about 20 years now, but I’ve never completely forgotten what it was like to be unsaved. IMO, this is not a bad thing, if it’s done with the right heart.

    I think Whitefield used the just right word to describe the work that Christ does within us in leading us to becoming born again: awakening.

    I describe myself (before He got a hold of me) as the walking dead. Alive on the outside, but spiritually dead on the inside. Like a ghost that could be seen and heard, but inside I was nothing but a void. It’s hard to find the right words.

    As always, the Word says it much better: “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sin….” (Ephesians 2:1).

    “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ.” (Colossians 2:13)

    I can’t speak for myself 20 years ago, but if someone had tried to “sell” me a Gospel that promised I wouldn’t HAVE to be born again to be forgiven of my sins, and go to Heaven—-I may not have “bought” such a narrative.

    As appealing as it might have been to my mammoth pride, I was so far gone that I knew I needed something far more drastic, but effective than that. And nothing is more drastic than being told you must be born again in Him and through Him—-and nothing else will suffice.

    I was up to my neck in the “wages of death” that the Bible says our sin produces. I had also been abused for most of my childhood and I was buckling under that heavy strain as well.

    You don’t give a person like me, drowning in all sorts of pain, a feeble stick to grab and claim that that will save them.

    I needed a Savior. Not a self-help book or a list of commandments, or recite a bunch of spiritual sounding statements, or whatever other nonsense is out there.

    If I could have helped myself, gotten myself out of the incredibly deep ditch I was in—-I would have found a way. But there was none that came to mind. I was so ashamed of myself, not being strong enough to pick myself up from the floor (metaphorically speaking).

    I had always, in the past, found a way to keep moving, despite feeling crushed on all sides. But this time, I knew I was defeated. My pain now owned me and was calling the shots, instead of the other way around. My pain wasn’t allowing me to bury and cover it up as deep as possible. It demanded to be heard, and felt in its entirety (for the first time).

    Whitefield is so spot on here. I’m proof of this: “Yet, even then, he still refused to count converts. He chose to wait until conversion had been manifested by months of a transformed life, and his attitude is well expressed in his words, “Only the judgement morning will reveal who the converts really are”.

    When I raised my hand (or a pinky finger, which was all I could manage) to meet the Lord at a college Christian meeting—-the person who prayed with me immediately went out and told people. I wish he hadn’t done that. I get that he was excited and joyful, but it was my news to tell, not his.

    Not only that, but I truly stumbled and bumbled to get onto “firm footing” with the Lord. I was serious about my commitment to Him that night, but even I wasn’t sure if I was 100% ready to follow through with it. I had been known, rightly so, for being somewhat flaky.

    For the next year or so, I stumbled and bumbled a lot. I didn’t look any different on the outside, and even on the inside—-I didn’t “feel” very changed! I wasn’t looking for a euphoric experience, but I was unsure of what faith (which I had no experience in) did and didn’t look like.

    And I had very little knowledge of the Word, so reading it was a whole new experience for me. I had read the Word, in seeking Him, before I met Him, but I still didn’t know Him very well.

    I remember thinking that I had to get rid of everything (slowly but surely) that had defined my old life. I had had hopes and dreams and opinions and attitudes and hobbies that I understood I needed to give over to Him. Now it was HIS job to tell me how to think, and how to live. I wasn’t in charge anymore. I wasn’t on the throne of my life anymore. I had tried that already, and it had been a bust!

    Bear in mind that I was also very green on how to trust Him, let alone anyone else. I had never trusted or loved anyone before, in my old life. And the first commandment was based on loving Him above all others.

    Not only that, but once He made me “alive” in Him, I felt as though I’d been thrown into a boxing ring! I had much opposition from my non Christian family, and of course the devil was not too happy at losing one of his prized punching bags (me!).

    So there were attacks all around me, all the time—-and my old life and old self kept calling me back as well. I had to keep reminding myself that I had was “DONE” with my old self and old life. They had traumatized me enough, and I did not want to go back to being in bondage.

    It is hard to put into words what it feels like to “wake up” from a (spiritual) coma, and then immediately start to do battle with all sorts of obstacles and opponents around you.

    Thanks to Christ, I was now “awakened” in Him—-but the spiritual environment that I was now aware of, was not very pretty. The reality of two kingdoms—-one of darkness and death, the other of light and life—-were now much more clear to me. But no longer was I numb to the powers of evil, Now I had to power to resist them, in Him. And I often failed, to be honest.

    There is nothing more discouraging and debilitating than feeling like a failure in this new life that you now beginning to understand—-Christ died a brutal death for you to have. And you keep falling short and are in constant danger of falling away from. I felt like I was constantly letting Him down.

    My father had been my abuser. How in the world does a woman, young in age and in being born again—-deal with his verbal taunts and abusive ways? In a Biblical way, no less?

    I didn’t feel like I could yell back at him (not Christ like!). I didn’t know how to talk to him like a real person (he was very combative). I didn’t know how to witness to him (I felt pressured to do so. It just made things worse).

    The college group who had been so kind to me, did not know how to deal with abuse, or trauma or anything so deep and serious. So it was years (pretty much up until a good five years ago?) before I realized how badly I had handled SO. MANY. THINGS. And sadly, how many lies I had believed and trusted in—–AFTER I became born again. I fell for a lot of deception and false doctrine (and attitudes) because I lacked maturity, but as I got to know the Lord more and more—He helped me see past a lot of hogwash.

    This site and all it’s wonderful people have helped me immensely.

    The last 20 years have been hard. I won’t sugar coat it. Ironically, the abuse I have suffered at the hands of professing Christians has actually surpassed and somewhat abounded what my dad did to me.

    It’s not a competition, which was worse or not. But the latter abusiveness touched me very deeply, very personally—-because i had no idea how cruel such professing Christians could be. I also had no idea the depths and intensity of deceptions out there, right within churches and the church body itself.

    I DO wish I could go back and change many, many things. I made so many bad choices as well as being victimized by other believers. As the daughter of an abuser, I saw (through Christ) how many abusive ways I had picked up on and was 100% guilty of myself. To this day, I work had not to hate myself for ever emulating my abusive father, the one person I wanted to be nothing like.

    Now I look back and 100% believe that no matter what, the Lord was with me the whole time. THE WHOLE TIME. He never left my side. He stuck with me through thick and thin. Even when I backslid or lashed out at Him or sinned without caring about the consequences (or realizing that such consequences existed).

    “And all of us, as with unveiled face, [because we] continued to behold [in the Word of God] as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another; [for this comes] from the Lord [Who is] the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

    Being transformed, from glory to glory. It DOES take time. If He is willing to be patient with me, maybe I should actually embrace that, and let Him work on me and in me—-Him as the Potter and me as His clay.

    • once He made me “alive” in Him, I felt as though I’d been thrown into a boxing ring! I had much opposition from my non Christian family, and of course the devil was not too happy at losing one of his prized punching bags (me!).

      Boy do I relate to that ^. I did not face immediate opposition from my non-Christian family, because I was thousands of miles away from them. But I was attacked by the devil — he was spitting chips that he had lost me, that I had been taken from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. And he tried very hard to terrorize and terrify me.

    • Now free ( formerly strughling to be free)

      Wow helovesme what an amazing testimony. It’s beautiful when you hear how the Lord has not only saved but is continuing to work in us. I especially love this bit
      “You don’t give a person like me, drowning in all sorts of pain, a feeble stick to grab and claim that that will save them.”

      I shouted an amen to that and immediately God’s word kept into my mind and heart – isn’t it wonderful!! His arm is not too short to save.

      Your comments just brings fresh light to that phrase ‘too short’!

      As you say anything else just would bit have reached you and come up short of what you needed.
      In my kind of work if a product is not perfectly formed it’s called ‘short’.

      Thank you for sharing it’s so encouraging. May the Lord continue to bless you.

  2. I have added some ‘extra reading’ links to the bottom of this post.

  3. Krikit

    I disagree with the statement that comes from Christendom that insists “the Bible is our highest authority.” Our highest authority is the Living Word, not the written word.

    I say that because it is only the Living Word, Jesus, that cannot pass away. God/Jesus/Holy Spirit is the One that is eternal. There is enough history of the world to know absolutely that evil can triumph in this present realm. More than once, evil has managed to burn, to completely disappear hundreds upon thousands of written works, including Bibles.

    If every Bible on the planet was done away with, how many would know the voice of the Shepherd?

    • Krikit

      And I am not suggesting bifurcation. I am facing the fact that the written word, the Bible, can be obliterated from the face of the earth, and if it is the “highest authority” we have, then what are we left with should that happen? What have people’s on this earth who have yet to actually have, read, and understand the written word do to understand His existence? Does not God tell us that the rocks and trees will cry out testament to His authority? How will there be a need in Heaven for the written word, when we will be worshiping and living with the Living Word?

      • There certainly won’t be a need for the written Word in heaven to convert anyone because only the converted will be in heaven.

        The prophet Isaiah, through the power of the Holy Spirit, stated that God’s Word would remain forever. “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8).

        Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33).

        Let us hypothetically suppose that the forces of darkness managed to destroyed every bible and every extant copy of a scriptural manuscript on the face of this earth. It is true that there would be no Word left to read. But there would still be believers, because God has said He will preserve His church. And those believers would still recall enough of the written Word to evangelise the unsaved.

        Also, while reading or hearing scripture preached is the normal means by which a person comes to faith, that does not mean that it is the only means. I have heard accounts of children who were kept in cages underground from their birth by very evil people, and those children testified that they had been visited by what they called “the Light Man”. Those children only knew Him as The Light Man until another child who was taken down there (who did know Jesus by name) told them he was called Jesus. That other child knew Jesus and knew what His name was; she had not been confined underground all her life. So God can in His sovereignty people bring people to salvation in ways that are outside the norm. But the fact is, those children who knew and loved and trusted the Light Man were trusting in the true and living God.

      • Jesus promised that the written words will never perish from the earth. As for the peoples of the earth who do not have the written word, Paul addresses them in Romans 2. They do not have the law (the written word) so they will be judged apart from the law, with the law that has been revealed to them.

        What this means is that every man, woman and child will be judged by the witness of the law in their hearts. Even if they have never once seen or heard of a bible, they still know that murder, adultery, theft, idolatry, is wrong, and they still do it anyway. It is that on which they will be judged, not on their knowledge of written revelation.

        The rocks, trees, and all creation, including our own hearts, testify to the existence of a just and powerful God, the one true God who ought to be worshiped.

        But that revelation – which is called natural revelation – is only enough to leave men without excuse. it isn’t enough to give men knowledge of salvation. (Romans 1). For the knowledge of salvation, we need to gospel, which is only revealed to us in words that are to be believed.

      • Thank you Sam.

    • Thanks for commenting on the blog, sister!

      • Krikit

        Everything you said is exactly my reason for having the perspective I do have regarding our “highest authority.” It is the Living Word, the Trinity.

      • nice to know we are on the same page there, Krikit! 🙂

      • Thanks Krikit. 🙂

    • Krikit

      Which is why, Pastor Sam, that it is the Holy Spirit who draws us to him, for our Salvation, yes? Are we to say that His drawing, Spirit to spirit, cannot be done without words from the written Gospel having first been read or heard and understood? That seems to suggest that the Holy Spirit is limited in his scope, which I cannot believe.

      When Jesus walked the earth and lived his ministry, the Gospel was not yet written, yes? Was it not the words and teachings He spoke during his ministry that He refers to as never passing away?

      I will continue to seek understanding.

  4. Finding Answers

    Original post quote It must be explained that Whitefield made no appeal for people to make a public profession of salvation at his services. His practice…was one of making powerful application of the Gospel as he preached and of therewith leaving the Word to become operative in the heart by the ministry of the Holy Spirit. He looked for the Spirit’s work in arousing the sinner to a deep, and even overwhelming, sense of his need, but this work he called, not conversion, but awakening.¹

    ^That.

    No public profession. Just me with a sibling’s Bible – I was the only one to read it.

    The Word became operative, the Holy Spirit’s ministry began, and His work continues.

    I am learning the 5 Solas of the Reformation.

  5. Now free (formerly struggling to be free)

    We need to get back to this preaching and teaching. I studied Whitfield and Wesley at college. Both men found churches preaching heresy, as Paul would put it another gospel.

    I have over the years heard of many professing Christianity but when you got to talk to them more on their faith it was just words only, a mere ‘commitment’ they had no witness of the holy spirit with their spirit at all that they were born again. It was not surprising then their words, actions and reactions often did not match up to that if a true Christian. As with many abusers the facade can be deceptive but once under stress or pressure the true man was revealed.

    There’s far too much easy-believism in churches today, even among children’s ministry. Many if our young people think they are saved because of such. I remember a few times the Holy Spirit convicting people and truly saving them as we prepared youth workers for camps etc and going over what is the gospel? (It was the first part of training.) They had always thought for years they were truly saved, but due to easy believism or false teaching in their churches they came to the reality they were far from salvation.

    Going forward in large meetings or raising your hand does not constitute always that a person has truly understood the gospel, accepted Christ as their only saviour, and truly repented of their sin.

    I’ve known people who went forward in stadiums not to be saved but because they were walking on the ‘glorious pitch’ and got to pick up the ‘sacred turf’ of their favourite football team. Others to get just to shake the hand of the famous preacher, others just caught up in the euphoria, and still others sadly just to be nearer and get a picture of their favourite singer.
    They had no intention of receiving salvation, but they were channeled into a side room and went through a short prayer for salvation. Many believed for years they were born again because of that, because the church said so.

    Children will naturally put up their hands if others are doing it in meetings and the same with peer pressure in youth meetings, coffee bars etc too. I was always encouraged in ministry to stay away from such and to let the Holy Spirit do his work.

    I’m so glad that as a 7 yr old child God had worked in my heart and simply one night at bedtime as we knelt beside my sister’s bed to say prayers. Instead of the usual God bless this or that, I poured out my confession to God accepted Christ as my only Saviour and Lord and asked Him to save me.
    It was a simple prayer but God gave me such assurance right away and over and over again.
    I’m so thankful God truly saved my young soul.

    We need more Whitfields in our churches again. I wonder today if they preached would they still be ousted and forced to preach in the fields and market squares.
    Would urge readers to get hold of sermons and biographies about amazing men whom God used mightily.

    “Take care of your life and God will take care of your death.” – George Whitfield

  6. Hello, everyone. I cannot agree with the thinking that faith can come any other way than by the written word of God. The “living word” distinction that was mentioned was taught by Karl Barth, and has done a great deal of damage in the churches. The only way that we know anything about the “living word” is through the written words of the apostles. John makes this clear in 1 John 1:1-4
    They bore witness with their words to the life, death and resurrection of the living word.

    In John 6, Jesus asked his disciples if they also would go away. Peter answered “Where will we go? You have the words of eternal life.” The greek word is Rhema, not logos. Rhema means the written or spoken symbol representing an idea. It isn’t the idea, it is the actual word that communicates the idea.

    When you conjecture about every bible disappearing, you need to remember a couple of things. First, the removal of God’s words is a curse on the hard-hearted, according to the prophet Amos – God sends a famine of the word of God. And second, Jesus said that his words will never pass away.

    He did say that the church will abide forever, but he also said his words would abide forever. They both go together. You can know nothing about the living words apart from the inerrant, infallible words of God.

    It is true that these words have been wrenched from their contexts, just as they were in the times of the apostles. Peter speaks of it. But we correct that by proper study and prayer, not by throwing out the words.

    I hope this helps.

    • Hi Sam, I certainly do not believe in throwing out the words (the Scriptures).

      I’m not sure that either Krikit or I were upholding the idea that Karl Barth taught about the ‘living word’ distinction. But thanks for mentioning that as it is a good caution to our readers to not trust Barth.

      • Thanks, Barb!

    • Helovesme

      Pastor Sam thank you for that. I appreciated Krikit bringing up the issue, because it was an interesting one.

      I mean no disrespect when I say this: with technology the way it is, as readily available as it is (and spreading)—-the idea of the written Word disappearing never occurred to me. It seems easier to download the Word rather than have it in written context.

      Again, not trying to be one bit flippant. This is why I hardly entertained the idea: what if all Bibles disappeared.

      Pastor’s words certainly helped bring clarity to the discussion for sure.

      Here is another bit to add, from my own personal story (others have spoken of this as well):

      Abuse or loss of a loved or some other horrific event one can be so traumatic, that opening the Word of God and attempting to focus, study and really absorb it can be quite hard.

      If you were spiritually abused, words like “submission, authority or obey” (just to name a few) can cause something of a panic attack. This is somewhat true for me, but much worse for others.

      I am more in the category of the former. I plow forward, reading the Word and taking it in as much as possible. I refuse to abandon it. But I have a really hard time with memory retention as well, as my mind has suffered. And again, focusing and concentration are very hard for me right now.

      I ask the Lord to help me and reveal Himself (as the Living Word) to me as much as possible, because when you ARE suffering or struggling—-you need to remain on the foundation that is Him more than ever.

      So I read, absorb as much or as little as I can—-but I know the Lord (the Living Word) is within me—-revealing who He is to me directly as well.

      It would delight the devil to no end to use pain and suffering to infuse lies and twist the Word of God to his advantage.

      There are abused persons who are unable to find a safe church, or are too traumatized to attend. There are still resources available (like Pastor’s sermons online) that can encourage and bless and help us grow in the Word.

      Not sure if this made sense. I’ve never been through something as serious as what I’m going through (which is saying a lot!), so I’m somewhat “winging” it but also looking to remain on His solid, sure foundation.

      Trying to think straight when you are weighed down and in a deep depression requires nothing LESS than the Living Word working in you and around you!

  7. One final note on the original blog post – Whitefield was the first great awakening. He was teaching historic Christianity and believed the gospel and proclaimed it.

    The second Great Awakening was Charles Finney. He was a full-on Pelagian, and taught that we have everything within us to live a moral and upright life. We just need the proper motivation. This theology is called Pelagianism and was condemned by the council of Ephesus in the 5th century.

    It is not Christianity, for if Pelagius (and Finney) were correct, then Christ would not have died. If all that men needed was proper motivation, God could have done that any other way. But since man is actually dead in trespasses and sins, what he needs is a resurrection, not motivation. This is why Christ died, to satisfy the righteous requirements of the law of God, a propitiation to a just God.

    • Now free(formerly struggling to be free)

      “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
      Romans 10:17

  8. Finding Answers

    Thank you, Pastor Sam, for all your comments.

    I learn so much….

    • You are welcome. I’m glad I am helpful.

  9. IamMyBeloved’s

    Barb, you said:

    “I have heard accounts of children who were kept in cages underground from their birth by very evil people, and those children testified that they had been visited by what they called “the Light Man”. Those children only knew Him as The Light Man until another child who was taken down there (who did know Jesus by name) told them he was called Jesus. That other child knew Jesus and knew what His name was; she had not been confined underground all her life”.

    Can you please share where you got this information from? I’m sure that would be helpful to everyone reading ACFJ. Thanks!

    • I heard it from a survivor of organised ritual abuse.

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