Jesus Wants to Save Your Soul, Not Make Your Life More Worldly

This article was originally posted at my site. I’m married with three children, an SBC pastor, a PhD student at SBTS, and an average Southern Baptist. I’ve authored two books. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and YouTube.


A Better Title for this picture would be “Believe in Miracles Jesus.”

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

1 Timothy 2:1-7

There’s no denying that Jesus Christ did many wonderful miracles and works during His earthly ministry. Christians often argue that we need to emulate Christ’s ministry. I agree. Thus, we must understand that Christ’s healing miracles and other miraculous works were secondarily for the people and primarily for communicating truth about Himself.  Christ did not always feed the hungry, heal the sick, raise the dead, etc.  There are several clear examples in Scripture where Christ picked one out of a multitude to heal, leaving the others in physical misery (John 5:2-12). His primary motivation therefore must be something other than liberating society, providing for the poor, etc. Christ is conquering these results of the Fall, but they will not be conquered fully until the end. Thus, Christ’s miraculous works primarily communicated the truth that the results of the Fall had no hold on Him.  Although He was born under the curse, and crushed under the curse, the curse could not hold Him; this is the emphasis of His physical resurrection.  As a result, incarnationally, if I am viewing Christ as a model for missions, then I must point to the fact that in Him sinners have conquered the results of the Fall spiritually, and they will conquer physically as well when He returns.

Therefore, whether I follow Christ or Paul, the emphasis is the same: 1) Sinners receive the abundant life spiritually in Christ the moment they first believe, 2) Sinners receive the abundant life in Christ physically the moment they first believe as well, but this is not fully realized until they receive a new body. Whether I follow Christ’s or Paul’s example, the spiritual redemption of man is still the primary emphasis. I do believe the church is to continue the ministry of Christ on earth for we are called “the body of Christ,” but this ministry is primarily spiritual and secondarily physical.  Because of these truths, my primary goal in missions is the salvation of souls with the secondary goal being to meet the temporary physical needs of sinners.

For a more detailed argument of my above points, see David Hesselgrave’s book Paradigms in Conflict.

What are your thoughts?

This article was originally posted at my site. I’m married with three children, an SBC pastor, a PhD student at SBTS, and an average Southern Baptist. I’ve authored two books. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and YouTube.


  1. Bruce H. says


    The last comment in the second paragraph states, “Because of these truths, my primary goal in missions is the salvation of souls with the secondary goal being to meet the temporary physical needs of sinners.” I got stuck on this. Maybe your “salvation of souls” was all inclusive of what our responsibility is toward each other after we are saved. I know there are places in scripture that state we must assist the poor in general, both saved and unsaved, I guess. Such as:

    Proverbs 14:31 “He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, But he who honors Him has mercy on the needy.”

    Proverbs 19:17 “He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD, And He will pay back what he has given.”

    My thought is, where do we put the ministry toward poor believers? It would seem to be between your two (2) goals. In Matthew 25:40 says, “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” He was speaking to the righteous who were about to enter heaven. The only one’s pointed out here were “the least of these My brethren”. I think He is saying those who were His. In John 21:15-17 Jesus is telling Peter to feed “My” sheep. There are other places that indicate that we have a ministry to those of the body of Christ then the world. Wouldn’t we do that in missions as well? Maybe I’m not seeing the whole picture.

    • says

      Bruce, I’m mainly coming against the social gospel, the idea that we can “be the gospel” to others by doing good to others. The Great Commission is primarily a spiritual message, and secondly a physical one. I think we should feed the poor, love the poor, care for the poor, but the primary thing we must do for the poor is tell them the saving message of Christ.

  2. Truth Unites... and Divides says

    Hi Jared,

    Whose your primary audience for your last two posts?

  3. says

    Good article Jared. I don’t disagree at all and in fact agree. Our org is involved neck deep in this type of thing in Haiti. We have also recently alligned ourselves with another org speaking into the poverty issue. I like what they say on their site:

    ” To be clear, Christianity is principally concerned with saving souls and making disciples of all nations. But this in no way negates the fact that God also calls us to help the poor escape the ravages of material poverty. Moreover, we know that our earthly vocations have a double task, to fill the earth and rule over it, and this universal calling of God urges us to create space for rich and poor alike to live out their freedom and responsibility as stewards of creation.”

    IMO would to God that more orgs, and missionaries, saw it this way.

  4. Paul Bryant says

    “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would have been written,” John 21:25. We are sampled the life of Jesus in the Gospels. The miracles in the life of Jesus most likely were multiple thousands, and why not? Jesus wants to leave us in our misery? We are always to learn to live joyfully in our physical misery? If this is true why pray for anything at all. Having physical miracles are essential now in the Christian ministry. I Corinthians 12, 13, and 14 are the “power tools” for ministry. Baptists “love” chapter 13 but know little about 12 and 14. You do not learn about 12, 13, and 14 until you enter into them experientially. You are not going to exegete into the truth of these scriptures.
    Obedience is the key to revelation, John 14:21, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”
    There is absolutely no disconnect between physical miracles and spiritual miracles. You have made physical miracles secondary and they are not. I Thessalonians 5:23-24, “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.”
    When you separate the spiritual from the physical you have a form of Gnosticism. Because I believe in Jesus I believe in physical miracles today…now!
    I know a layman, a Baptist deacon that prays almost daily for sick people. He is not in “ministry.” He just goes about his business and people are healed instantly. In fact sometimes he just shows up in someone’s “sick” room and they get healed. He prayed for the gift of healing and he has got it. Since October of last year, when he got the gift he has written down 120 healings, but there are more not written down. We have not because we ask not. God is doing healings today.
    Baptists know how to teach the grace of God so that people might suffer well, but know little about our God that heals and delivers from sickness. Deliverance from demonic influence is not something anyone should live with. More often than not God will physically heal but Baptists for the most part live in a state of denial about healing and resignation that God does not do these things presently. What a shame.

    • Greg Harvey says


      At the risk of actually turning this into a discussion–which I’m not inclined to do–the concept that you engage scripture “experientially” and not “exegetically” is, frankly, the kind of spiritual superiority that constantly gets charismatics kicked to the curb in SB churches.

      So take the first Pentecost. Yes, they obeyed by gathering together and were obedient no doubt in the other things Jesus had taught the twelve. It is possible to imagine–it isn’t in the text, though–that they were aware of the many visitors and perhaps in the 50ish days since Jesus’s death God had worked in their minds for what Jesus meant by the Great Commission commandments (the two expressions are enough different to be considered separate commandments with a single purpose.)

      And perhaps someone prayed–remembering the miracles of Jesus though none were related to language–for the ability to speak understandably to those visitors. But then what to experience what happened next? Your formulation is precisely why many Baptists refer to tongues as a manufactured gift. Because it usually is only experienced by someone specifically seeking it.

      I’m not going to wade into whether today’s charismatics are authentic or not. I’ll keep my thought much more straightforward: if you want to emphasize obedience to Paul’s writing in I Cor 12, 13, and 14, you will notice he prefers the other spiritual gifts to tongues.

      • Frank L. says

        “””he prefers the other spiritual gifts to tongues.””””

        “I would like everyone to speak in tongues, but I would rather (de mallon, but more) have you prophecy” (1Cor 14:5). Definitely not the same view on tongues most SB’s I know hold to.

        By the way . . . is there a lot of “prophesying” going on in most SB church services? Any of it predictive?

        “I thank God I speak in tongues more than all of you” (14:18). Again, Paul may “prefer” prophecy in the church service, but he certainly seems to have a higher view of tongues than the SB’s I know.

        I don’t agree with Paul’s broad statement on healing, but I certainly think he can defend the proposition that SB’s are practically and functionally as a denomination anti-charismatic.

        If it is affirmed at all, most SB’s I know only give “lip service to tongues.” They keep all the other gifts–mostly in theory–but functionally jettison tongues.

        The argument of “excesses” by some groups is not a good argument for cessationalism–as Paul seems to understand it–it would seem to me.

        I confess, I grew up in anit-charismatic circles and it was, and has been, a challenge for me to have a balanced understanding of the operation of the Holy Spirit.

        You might compare my contribution in this area to a “blind art critic.”

        • Greg Harvey says

          You picked one verse instead of dealing with the three chapters, Frank. And I’m not inclined to box prophecy in except to note I believe that OT standards are still in force.

          If they’re wrong: take the “prophet” out and stone him or her. This might address CB’s concern, too.

          I’m not going to argue over the passage. I agree with you that an anti-cessationist view is pre-mature (it is pseudoscientific at best.). But I’ve been in probably 30 churches over my life as a full member and God either does not work the way Paul describes or hides that kind of work from the vast majority of SBs.

          I personally don’t think the “show” gifts are necessary to faith and that is precisely the correct stance for the SBC. Any other formulation is condescending to those that don’t evidence (at least without a concerted, human effort) those gifts. I’d be more receptive if charismatics I’d met weren’t so eager for me to share their gift.

          Funny thing is that I joined a very charismatic UMC congregation and in two years of membership never heard anyone speak in tongues once at their very unstructured Sunday evening service. But it was worshipful and I was able to focus on worshiping God while joined with them.

    • Dale Pugh says

      “More often than not God will physically heal but Baptists for the most part live in a state of denial about healing and resignation that God does not do these things presently.”
      Cite your sources, Paul. You make a very bold statement here, but you give no actual evidence. Your statement is based on anecdotalism, a poor substitute for cold, hard facts. Your claim is not even substantiated by what is seen within Charismatic circles and shows a lack of biblical understanding about healing and it’s place within the context of the spiritual gifts. If what you say is true, then you guys with the “gift” should be walking the hallways of every hospital in the country and liberating every suffering child of God out there.
      Does God heal? Absolutely. Does He always heal? No. Does He heal more often than not? Support the claim with evidence.
      I’ve known plenty of people who want to sidestep exegesis for experience. It never comes to a good end. Our experience must align itself with God’s Word, not the other way around.
      Like Greg, I’m not inclined to turn this into a conversation. But you need to have something more in your arsenal of faith than “experience.”

  5. Paul Bryant says

    I will recommend at book, J. P. Moreland’s book The Kingdom Triangle. Here is a man who was cessationist or carefully open. Chapter 7 he talks about the need for the Spirit’s power in evangelical churches. He quotes Dallas Willard on page 187. Willard is speaking to a convention of Vineyard Churches, “You must ensure that Vineyard churches maintain the visible signs of the Holy Spirit and the kingdom of God, or else Vineyard churches will never maintain the faith for discipleship or evangelism or anything else…. I go to churches all the time where the people’s hunger for piety is enormously high, but they live in constant frustration because they don’t have the accompanying faith that God really could change who they are because they never see signs of God doing things. If you want your pastors to have the faith for evangelism, if you want them to have the faith for changed lives, you have to maintain the visible signs of the Holy Spirit.” J. P. Morelands says this admonition is for the whole evangelical church. Because J. P. Moreland got supernaturally healed his whole position changed. This book is recommended by Ravi Zacharias, Chuck Colson, and Lee Strobel among others.

      • Dwight McKissic says


        You & I love & know each other. If for any reason you choose not to answer my question, no problem. Here’s the question: exactly what is it about the Vineyard movement that u find distasteful, unbiblical , inappropriate, or “not good.” My knowledge of the movement, perhaps is not as extensive as yours. Yes, in many way they are different from Southern Baptists, but so are Korean Southern Baptists different from most Southern Baptists–the Korean Baptists according to Art Rogers have a public prayer chant that would drive most Anglo Southern Baptists crazy. Southern Baptists would probably think it’s unbiblical. Much of Black Southern & National Baptist worship is different from most Southern Baptists. The Vineyard movement probably sign the BFM without hesitation or reservation–at least the ones I know. So again, what do u find unacceptable about the Vinryard? Hope to see you in Houston. BTW, the Tide is going to have a tough time with Johnny Football????.

        • cb scott says


          I have spent a good deal of time in Korea. Art is right. However, I was not driven crazy. As I stated to Frank L., my comment has nothing to do with a cessationist position. Nor does it have to do with Korean Baptists or any other Baptist having a prayer language. It has to do with heresy. I will give you two concepts: 1). Power Evangelism 2). Third Wave. Give time to both. You will understand my position.

          I do hope to see you in Houston. Look for me in the exhibit hall. I will be there most of the time.

          Lastly, I fear Johnny Football like tree monkeys fear the Green Mamba. He is faster than a Mamba and slicker than a greased pig at a County Fair in Alabama on a hot 4th of July.

    • Frank L. says

      Paul, great post.

      I think CB is partly correct in pointing out the excesses in the Vineyard Movement.

      However, I don’t think the practical cessationistic creed of Southern Baptists is the remedy. I think we must always look for where the Holy Spirit is operating in our world.

      The Bible is clear that the Holy Spirit’s work is to extend the saving knowledge about Who Jesus is and what He has done.

      The Holy Spirit is like, “light.” A totally dark room can be full of beautiful paintings, sculptures and such, but without light, nobody can see them. Without the Holy Spirit’s work, nobody can see Jesus.

      We need the light.

      • cb scott says

        Frank L.,

        My comment has nothing to do with a “cessationalistic creed” or the absence of one. My comment has to do with the fact that the Vineyard Church movement is not a good thing. The movement is pregnant with heresy and those who “embrace heresy.” (Dave deletes my comments when I call people heretics:-)

        • Frank L. says

          CB, sorry but your comment did have something to do with the operation of the Holy Spirit in the context of gifts of the Spirit in a local congregation because that was the post you were responding to.

          I, too, deplore heresy. That’s why I do not like the practical cessationism that rules life in the SBC. It is no less a heresy than that found in the later Vineyard Movement.

          It’s like Mom always told us: “two heresies don’t make and orthodoxy.”

          My post, like yours, was connected to the post to which you responded negatively. I was responding affirmatively to the quote Paul offered: “we must keep a visible presence of the Holy Spirit alive in the congregation.” The Holy Spirit will not act against an attitude of rebellion or ignorance. We must be welcoming and affirming of His Presence.

          That was my main point. I agree with you in regard to the errors in the later Vineyard Movement.

          • cb scott says

            Frank L.,

            The Holy Spirit will never act outside the parameters of the Scripture. There are no, nor will there be any new revelations of equal authority to the revealed Word of God.

            And again, my comment has nothing to do with a “cessationalistic creed” or the absence of one. My comment had nothing to do with “the operation of the Holy Spirit in the context of gifts of the Spirit in a local congregation.”

            My comment was completely directed toward the Vineyard Church movement. And Frank L., the comparison you make between the Vineyard and the SBC is not good. Are you familiar with the Vineyard Church movement? If you are, I am surprised you would make that statement.

          • Frank L. says

            CB, my comparison was not well-phrased. Though I do not see the depravity and evil in the Vineyard Movement that you see, I do know of the excesses and difficulties with some expressions of “power evangelism” and other issues.

            I meant that the heresy of one group does not justify the heresy of our own. Your post is pretty typical of those I have come across in regard to the Holy Spirit and particularly tongues.

            The charge that “charismatics” go “outside and beyond” the Scriptures is an ancient one in regard to my experience going back some 40 years.

            I am always a bit confused as to whether someone means, “the Holy Spirit never acts outside of the parameters of Scripture,” or ” outside the parameters of one’s personal interpretation of Scripture.”

            Again, my point is that Paul’s quote is appropriate and it is a genetic fallacy to discredit it by pointing to errors by some in the Vineyard Movement, particularly the later phase.

            As I said, I don’t disagree with your assessment of some errors in the Movement. It just goes afield of Paul’s quote, so I’ll let it go. I was just dealing with the quote.

          • cb scott says

            Frank L.,

            Maybe I should have stayed out of this thread. My comment was directed only toward Paul Bryant’s reference to J. P. Moreland’s book and recommendation of its content. I made no comment about tongues whatsoever.

            My point was very singular in nature: “The Vineyard Church movement is not a good thing.” My comment, “The Holy Spirit will never act outside the parameters of the Scripture” was in reference to the heretical teachings of the Vineyard Church movement and its primary mover, who died in ’97, Jon Wimber and his teachings on Power Evangelism and the later teachings on Third Wave.

            Again, I shall state, “The Vineyard Church movement is no good thing.”

            In addition, am guilty of no “genetic fallacy” in my comment about the Vineyard Church movement. Nor did I make the charge, “that “charismatics” go “outside and beyond” the Scriptures” Those are your words and not mine.

            Also, there is no “later phase” error of the Vineyard Church movement. The Vineyard Church was in error from the beginning. It never was, is not, and never will be a good thing.

          • cb scott says

            Frank L.,

            I will bring one more thing about the Vineyard Church movement to the table here since I have already made the comments I have.

            It was the unethical and deceptive activities of Vineyard leadership that was a core issue of the IMB fiasco that surfaced in ’05.

  6. Daniel says

    “”Thus, we must understand that Christ’s healing miracles and other miraculous works were secondarily for the people and primarily for communicating truth about Himself.””

    Jared, I’m not sure I fully follow or agree with this. This is primarily the way I have always been taught but I look at passages like Mark 8 and others. In those passages it says that Jesus was moved with compassion. I believe that as part of the Triune God-head He saw the suffering of men and moved to change their situation. He did not follow this miracle with any call to follow Him (at least by what is recorded), in fact He simply left. He did the same thing when He fed the 5000, healed the man with the withered hand, etc.

    I fully agree that the spiritual redemption of man is what should be sought and I may be missing a greater point in your article. I serve in rural church. Just a few weeks ago I broached the idea of opening a food pantry. Now, it is our desire and plan to seek to help those spiritually who respond to help physically. However, when I was questioned as to why we would want to do such a ministry my reply was fairly simple; “It is needed, and we can.”

    As believers I believe that there are things we should do because we can do them.

  7. Paul Bryant says

    Wow…I am not going to defend my previous statements. The key to understanding scripture by revelation is obedience not exegesis. John 14:21, “Who ever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me and will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and SHOW myself to him.” Exegesis is secondary at best. Those that do not walk in the gifts have virtually nothing to say. You enter into the supernatural and live there revelation comes and you see scripture and you say, “oh that is what that means.” Exegesis then backs it up. If you try to just understand the scripture by exegesis alone you may have some knowledge, but not understanding. I want Jesus to show himself to me. Obedience brings multitudes of “ah ha” moments and your love for Jesus grows.
    You can pick apart any denomination. This is very easy to do. There many things in most denominations that speak to me. Does that negate the rule of scripture in my life…certainly not. Every insight I have is judged by scripture.
    There is also a difference between commitment and surrender. I can be committed, but not surrendered. I Corinthians 13:3, “If I give my body to the flames and have not love it profits nothing.” I can be so so committed to “the cause” and give my life to it and have not love it is for nothing. If I Corinthians 13 teaches us anything that love lives behind the vail of surrender. Surrender is where love resides and obedience will follow. Where there is surrender and obedience there is where Jesus “shows” himself to us. That is where we are to live and breathe. Exegesis will validate what I am saying. The “power tools” for missions again are I Corinthians 12, 13, and 14, exampled in the life of Jesus, the life we see in the Book of Acts, and what we read in the epistles, also what has been prophesied in the Old Testament.
    There are “signs, wonders, and miracles” today. God has raised up those who are walking in them. These are ones that listen, surrender, and obey. Be quiet long enough to hear. There is not less of the Holy Spirit today than was in the Book of Acts. His Spirit did not go away. “The things that I do you shall do also, and even greater things because I go to the Father.” Jesus now is even interceding for us to do His works and even greater things. We want to be an answer to that prayer.
    “My message and my preaching were not with persuasive words, but with demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power,” I Corinthians 2:4-5. Paul Bryant

  8. Dale Pugh says

    “The key to understanding scripture by revelation is obedience not exegesis.”
    Paul, not one person here would disagree that obeying scripture is paramount in the Christian life. Your statement begs the question of how that scripture is to be lived out in the Christian’s life. That answer comes through exegesis. I know for a fact that many of those “walking” in signs, wonders, and miracles are clueless as to what the Bible says and how it is to be properly interpreted. I, for one, believe in the Holy Spirit and His continuing work in our lives. I believe that God can and will do the miraculous. Heck, would you believe that I’ve even prayed for and seen miraculous healings occur? It isn’t an everyday event like your deacon above, but it has happened. I believe that we can trust Him to work according to what we see in His Word, though, not what is touted as experiential evidence of His work that reduces the truly miraculous to some side show. If you’re going to promote experientialism, then I again demand an evidentiary quantification for your claims. Show me the proof of what you’re saying. That should be easy enough.
    You skipped Jesus’ instruction to the disciples in Matthew 7:21ff. Just a snippet from verse 22 says, “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform miracles?'” Jesus responds by saying, “Depart from Me.” Why? Because they don’t know Him and they practice lawlessness. He then follows up with the parable of the houses built on sand and on the rock, declaring that the one who builds his house on sand is one who hears His word but doesn’t act on it. Obedience is based in the Word. Obedience is subject to the Word.
    “Exegesis is secondary at best. Those that do not walk in the gifts have virtually nothing to say. You enter into the supernatural and live there revelation comes and you see scripture and you say, ‘oh that is what that means.'” Brother, you’re walking on dangerous ground. That’s what the Kenneth Copelands and Benny Hinns of this world do, and they are about as biblically messed up as one can get. When I subject exegesis to my experience, then I literally can make the Bible say whatever I want it to say. “This is what I experienced,” they say, “so this must be what it means.” I’ve heard those who hold to such views say, “You know, I was reading this the other day, and God’s Spirit just told me that this is what it means. I know this isn’t what anyone else says about these verses, and this isn’t how anyone else interprets it, but God just told me that this is a new revelation.” Wow, indeed.
    Exegesis is not secondary to experience. God’s Word and knowing the mind of Christ guide us in every aspect of our experience. Our experience must be subject to what we see in God’s Word. Which gifts must one “walk in” in order to be authoritative in their speaking, Paul?
    No, brother, exegesis doesn’t validate what you’re saying.

    • Paul Bryant says

      I am not against exegesis. I am for it. It is like being born again. Until you are in it John 3:16 does not make sense, except theoretically. I understand where you are coming from and openning the door for some kind of relative understanding of scripture. I am not.
      Obedience is the issue. Hearing and listening to the Holy Spirit is where it starts. Does God speak to us apart from scripture? Why of course he does. Everyday you have decisions to make hopefully the Holy Spirit is directing and guiding you. Are you trusting in your salvation? If God has the hair on your head numbered do not you think God is interested in your comings and goings throughout the day? I always want to be attentive to the voice of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not dormant in us. He is aggresively present.
      He is “the Spirit of truth,” John 14:17. He does not contradict the scripture. Spurgeon defined salvation faith as three things: 1) I have to know something, Romans 10:17. 2) I have to intellectually believe that the knowledge of the gospel is true. He would say many so called Christians stop here because they believe intellectually the gospel therefore they are saved. But Spurgeon would say 3) This is essential: you have to put weight on this knowledge, trust in it, live counting on it. God will carry us if we trust him. John Piper defines obedience this way, “obedience is the display of the grace of God working in our lives.” Could not agree more. I want to expect daily I will be in the right place, at the right time, doing the right things, with the right people, but most all for the right reasons. As you would say: “That will preach.” John 14:15, “If you love me you will be obedient.” These are the hard truths. This is not an easy road. Paul Bryant