The Power of Negative Thinking

by Dave Miller on December 10, 2012 · 75 comments

In 1952, a New York pastor named Norman Vincent Peale penned a book that has influenced generations that followed, called, “The Power of Positive Thinking.” Many of his thoughts and ideas were picked up by Robert Schuller, who repackaged them as “Possibility Thinking,” and built a religious empire from them.

These ideas, once seen as counter to the gospel, have now become mainstream, even in evangelical, supposedly Bible-believing Christianity. Christianity has been completely redefined, deemphasizing sin and lostness and separation from God and replacing it with a man-centered, self-reliant, relentlessly positive message – grace without the fall, redemption without the need for forgiveness.

In the Peale/Schuller world, our problem is low self-esteem and a lack of confidence in our own abilities to do great things for God. The solution is for us to think positive, believe in ourselves, dream big dreams and believe that God will help us reach our dreams. Man’s chief end is no longer to give glory to God, but God’s chief end is to bring happiness to us.

My concern is that over time this concept has gained ground and begun to establish itself as settled doctrine. Too many are replacing the hard, cold facts of the true gospel with the cotton candy of self-esteem and “you can do it” motivational approaches. A popular radio network bills itself as “positive and encouraging.” Sermons often become group therapy sessions in which the pastor helps people feel good about themselves but avoids confronting his listeners with anything that might make them uncomfortable or feel guilty or bad. That would be counter-productive, of course. They might go down the street to the other church that would give them what they want and let them leave feeling all warm and fuzzy about themselves. We divorce ourselves from anything controversial, negative, difficult or condemning.

I was attending the funeral of one of our church member’s father in a church from another denomination. I saw something that flabbergasted me. Perusing the hymnal, I found an interesting phenomenon. There was a section of songs about the birth of Christ and about his life. There were songs about the triumphal entry of Christ. Then, the hymnal skipped to songs about the resurrection of Christ. Anyone see a problem? They skipped from the life of Christ to the resurrection of Christ, but ignored the death of Christ. Christ’s crucifixion is ugly and unpleasant – all that talk about the blood and all! Do they not see the irony of celebrating the resurrection of Christ without acknowledging his death?

Can We Lie Our Way to Revival?

In my first ministry (I was an associate pastor), I was trying to organize the church library – a neglected mess. I came across a box full of old weekly newsletters that the church had sent out during the previous pastor’s tenure. I perused the one from the first week of April. In church, the preceding Sunday, heaven had come down and glory had filled the souls of all who attended. In the second week, God’s presence had fallen on the place is such measure that they could hardly stand the blessing. The third week was better than the first and second weeks combined. Obviously, the church was teetering on the brink of a true revival, the likes of which had not been seen since the Great Awakenings!

The fourth newsletter of April was the pastor’s resignation letter. I knew that during the month before his forced resignation, heaven was not coming down at that church and glory was not filling anyone’s soul. He was hyping, “encouraging” the church, putting a positive spin on things. Or, to put it more bluntly, he was ignoring the truth. He was lying.

Ever noticed the new tendency among churches to hype their churches on social media? “What a wonderful fellowship we have at First Church!” Nothing wrong with being thankful for what God is doing, but sometimes it seems a little desperate to me. Do we think we can hype our way to revival and growth?

The problem is not with being positive about the glory and power of God, or with encouraging people to trust in him. The problem comes when we ignore the hard truths of scripture so that we can feel good about ourselves without dealing with the real problems of our souls. Biblical Christianity boasts in Christ, not in ourselves.

Many today operate with a Bible that is about 35 pages long. We ignore most of the Old Testament because it is so harsh and negative. Sometimes we poach a promise that God gave to Israel, such as in Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” We only want to hear about the God of love, and simply ignore his wrath, his holiness, and his justice. We want to be assured that “my God will supply all your need” without bothering with the kind of generous, sacrificial giving that the Philippians demonstrated prior to that promise. We love “ask and you will receive” and other verses like that.

God obviously did not understand the need for positive and encouraging messages. When he gave his Ten Commandments, he worded 8 of them in the negative. “Thou shalt not.” Obviously, he just doesn’t get it. He could have worded those commands positive. “You should honor life.” “Be faithful to your husband or wife.” But he is so old-fashioned and culturally irrelevant.

Of course, we all want to hear positive truths, and the Bible has many of them. But when we sacrifice the full weight of negativity that Scripture contains on the altar of positive and encouraging Christianity, we come face to face with two realities.

  1. We are negative people with some very negative problems.
  2. There is no salvation or spiritual transformation until we deal with the negatives of our existence.

My Doctor is NOT Positive or Encouraging!!

I currently have a large and rather unsightly crater on my right cheekbone. I went to the doctor last week and she was insufferably negative. Why couldn’t she have been more positive, more encouraging? She told me I had a cancer on my face! How insulting. And then she gave me a very painful shot, which numbed my cheek. Then she burned that thing growing on my cheek. (By the way, if anyone every invites you to a Dave-BQ, just say no! Burning Dave was not an appetizing smell.)  She then cut and scraped the burned cancer away. Over and over, she burned me, then scraped me, until there was (hopefully) no cancer left, but an ugly hole!

Shouldn’t she have been a little more positive?

Of course not. Because I had a problem on my face. Cancer! It needed to be dealt with. I did not excoriate her for her negativity, I paid her for her help! I had a problem that needed to be dealt with and I could only be healthy if she took an aggressive approach to my cancer.

It is my belief that the modern positive, encouraging Christianity is simply helping people feel good about their sickness instead of treating it with the truth of the gospel. I am convinced that much of modern “Christianity” is more about air-conditioning the bus to hell rather than leading people toward heaven.

I am considering writing a book – so far I only have the title in mind. “The Power of Negative Thinking.” When I preached this message in my church, a lady came to me and said, “I am mad at you. I have worked in a Christian bookstore for 20 years and I have had to sell the most awful nonsense. Why didn’t you write a book like that so I could sell it!”

Here is my biblical conviction. There is no positive spiritual impact until we stare into the depths of our negative nature and deal with it. Ignoring our depravity is not mercy and grace, but a form of spiritual suicide – akin to ignoring a cancer because it makes you feel bad. The joy of salvation, of redemption, and of spiritual renewal only comes after the dark night of mourning over sin

Here are four truths I believe are well-substantiated in the Bible and need to be held at the front of our minds.

1) We have a negative nature

The mantra of the modern world is that “people are basically good inside.” Everyone wants to hear that and to believe that, but the Bible gives a very different judgment against our nature.

Genesis 6:5  The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Genesis 8:21 And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth.”

We have a sin problem, a heart problem. Our hearts are prone toward evil and cannot be trusted to guide us in the right ways.

How many times, as a child grows up, does he hear the “trust your heart” message. The Bible gives a completely different truth.

Jeremiah 17:9  The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Our hearts are deceptive and will lead us astray. We must not trust ourselves but trust our Savior and his Word.

Read through Romans 3:9-20 to get a biblical description of human nature. It is anything but positive and encouraging. It can be summed up in Romans 3:23, which tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Our hearts have a cancer, called sin. Ignoring that cancer is not loving or helpful. A cancer ignored consumes and destroys. I did not want my doctor to call my cancer a “beauty mark.” I wanted her to deal aggressively and violently with it. It hurt. It is ugly. But it is now (hopefully) gone for good!

2) We are inclined to ignore our negativity!

But we treat sin differently than I treated my skin cancer. We like to live in the land of fantasy, feasting on mental and spiritual candy instead of on the meat of the Word. We are living on Positive Twinkies and it is little wonder that we are not spiritually healthy.

I am currently on a fairly strict diet (down about 30 pounds from my fattest) that doesn’t allow sugar. But before I got on this, I had developed a strategy of self-delusion that was working very well. Every time I would order something horrible at a restaurant, I would ask the person behind the counter, “Now, you have removed all the fat, calories and sugar from this, right?” And they would always smile and assure me that they had. They were lying to me, and I liked it.

That is, I am afraid, what much of modern Christianity has become – people lying to other people about how wonderful they are and those being lied to smiling and nodding in response. We are living on a diet of sugar and wondering why we aren’t growing spiritually. Duh!

Here are the facts. Sugar is bad for me. A high fat, high sugar diet is slowly killing me through obesity. And no amount of positive spin or jolly jokes will change that. And the soul of man is being destroyed by sin. No amount of “I’m okay, you’re okay” sugar or “your best life now” dessert will grow your soul.

Study the Old Testament passages about the false prophets of Israel. They ignored the sin of Israel and preached a message of God’s love and acceptance of Israel even if they did not repent.

Jeremiah 6:13-15 “For from the least to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for unjust gain; and from prophet to priest, everyone deals falsely. They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace. Were they ashamed when they committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed; they did not know how to blush.

False prophets ignored shame and repentance. They offered “peace, peace” to people who intended to remain in their sins and refused to turn to God. The marker of a false prophet in the Old Testament was one who offered the blessing of God without repentance or reformation. They were relentlessly positive!

Much of what we do in American Christianity has way more in common with the message of the false prophets than with the true prophets of God.

Anyone want to read a biblical prophecy that has clearly been fulfilled in our day? Look at 2 Timothy 4:3-4.

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

We want to hear that we are basically good, that we should simply be who we are and not change. God loves us too much to judge us for our sins, doesn’t he? A quick look at churches across America tells us that we can gather quite a crowd tickling people’s ears with the desirable message of human goodness. Who wants to hear about judgment, death and destruction anyway?

But ignoring the negative message is not love and does not lead to spiritual healing. It is spiritual malpractice!

3) Negativity is Necessary!

A few weeks ago, I took our dog on his final, one-way trip. It was time for him. I stayed with him while the vet game him a tranquilizer shot that would render him unconscious. I petted him as he gradually went to sleep. Then, the vet came back in and administered the chemicals that would end his long life.

I think that is what much of modern religion is doing. It is anesthetizing us, rendering us unconscious and spiritually unaware of our dire condition, so that we do not feel the death blow that our sin will eventually bring to us. Human beings are lost and headed to eternal hell. There is nothing we can do about it, nothing we can do to save ourselves or earn the favor of God. Our only hope is to repent of that sin and trust in Jesus, to come face to face with the spiritual darkness that envelopes us and find life and hope through Christ.  We are being lulled into a sleep of death.

A gospel without sin is no gospel at all. It is anesthesia so that you will not feel the death blow when judgment comes. It is an attempt to air condition the bus to hell. Our obsessive attempt to “stay positive” denies the reality of our wicked, sinful natures.

It may draw a crowd but it leaves that crowd in its sinful condition, destined for hell.

Look at what Jesus said when he preached.

Matthew 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Luke 5:32   I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

Luke 13:5  No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

Luke 15:7  Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

Luke 24:46-47  “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

There is no heaven without facing hell. There is no forgiveness without redemption through his blood. Those who wish to rise with Christ to new life must also be buried with him into death. We are called to take up our crosses and die so that we might live.

Any message that ignores that is not blessing people (regardless of how they feel about it), but is condemning them to an eternity without real hope. But real hope comes after the long night of repentance, when the morning of life dawns.

4) Negativity Brings Blessings!

Evidently, James (like Paul, Peter, John and other NT writers) did not get the memo about positivity. He wrote to believers in the early church and said, in James 4:7-10,

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you

No message to think positively, to believe in themselves or to feel good about who they are. Cleanse your hands! Can you believe he called them to “be wretched?” Can you imagine any of the purveyors of positivity to ask people to mourn or weep, or to turn their joy to gloom?  That is so foreign to our modern ways. We have developed far beyond the negativity of the prophets, the Apostles, and our Savior, haven’t we?

But it is the hard road that leads to life and hope and joy. Without some negative thinking, there is no salvation, no spiritual transformation. There is no true wisdom until we realize we lack it. There can be no positive blessing until we realize the truth of our sinful natures and spiritual impotence.

Oh, certainly Christians can and should be kind, tactful, and encouraging to one another in Christ. But we cannot ignore the hard, cold truths of the gospel – that we are depraved and deserving of death without the intervention of Christ. We cannot tell people to believe in themselves but to cast themselves onto the mercy and grace of Christ.

Here is my prayer: That the church of Jesus Christ would embrace truth – that we are lost and undeserving sinners whose only hope is the righteousness of Christ, not our own. That we would face up to the hopeless negativity of our souls and break through that to find the glorious freedom of repentance, the blessing of believing in Christ instead of in ourselves, of trusting him instead of our hearts. May we foreswear the sugar diet that so many popular preachers are feeding their people and embrace the meat of biblical truth.

May we realize that joy only comes in the morning, not by ignoring the darkness.

1 Dave Miller December 10, 2012 at 4:31 pm

If a “positive” message ignores sin and repentance, it is a false and damaging message.

2 Frank L. December 10, 2012 at 9:25 pm

Here’s the key. Good thought.

3 Tim G December 10, 2012 at 5:27 pm

Dave,
This may be your best post ever. A great and needed message today! Encouragement is one thing. False advertizing is telling a lie. We need truth and we need conviction from truth that results in repentance.

Great word for today!

4 Dave Miller December 10, 2012 at 5:34 pm

Thanks.

5 Bob Hadley December 10, 2012 at 6:01 pm

It is anesthetizing us, rendering us unconscious and spiritually unaware of our dire condition, so that we do not feel the death blow that our sin will eventually bring to us. Human beings are lost and headed to eternal hell. There is nothing we can do about it, nothing we can do to save ourselves or earn the favor of God. Our only hope is to repent of that sin and trust in Jesus, to come face to face with the spiritual darkness that envelopes us and find life and hope through Christ. We are being lulled into a sleep of death.

Very Good Stuff there Dave. Very good indeed.

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6 Tommy Rucker December 10, 2012 at 6:28 pm

Excellent post, Dave. I have been verbally chastised for admonishing sin and not making people feel good about themselves in the past. I hope that means I’m being faithful!

7 Dave Miller December 10, 2012 at 6:35 pm

You must be doing something right, then.

8 Frank L. December 10, 2012 at 7:26 pm

Tommy,

I think the extreme side of the issue comes when the preacher loves preaching more than he loves people.

Quite frankly, I hurt when I find out that something I said caused someone else to “feel bad.” That is never my goal, but as you know, it is sometimes the inevitable outcome of preaching on behalf of a Holy God to unholy people.

I personally write my sermons out word for word — though I preach without reading my notes for the most part. I usually know ahead of time when I’m going to “ring someone’s bell.” I do not shy away from preaching the truth, but I also try to make sure I also point the way to the remedy.

I’m a little afraid of preachers who “don’t care who they hurt” as long as they are “preaching the truth.”

Interestingly, a battery (like in a car), has one positive pole that is absolutely necessary for power to flow. However, there are thousands of places under the hood to provide the “negative” pole (ground) to allow electricity to flow.

It is much easier preaching the truth and being negative than being positive is the lesson I’ve learned after being shocked a number of times under the hood of my car.

9 Frank L. December 10, 2012 at 7:28 pm

PS — One way of looking at the way I write my sermons is to consider that the first person I always preach to is myself.

I don’t like to feel bad, so I’m not inclined to go out of my way to make others feel bad.

I try to practice the Golden Rule of Preaching: never preach to someone else a message you have not applied to yourself first.

10 Jess Alford December 10, 2012 at 7:10 pm

Dave Miller,

You may have a hole in your face, but I’ll bet a dollar you look better than cb scott. I have to go to Vanderbilt tomorrow for a second opinion about the nodules in my right lung. I hope it’s not cancer. If it is cancer the Lord and I will deal with it. Sometimes it’s hard to be positive when Mr. Negative is knocking at the door.

11 Tim G December 10, 2012 at 7:40 pm

Praying for you Jess!

And as for Dave looking better than CB, that is really not saying much! Everything looks better than CB! :)

12 cb scott December 10, 2012 at 8:08 pm

Excellent post, Dave Miller.

Tim G., you are a scoundrel, but a good scoundrel.

Jess Alford, Have you been diagnosed with Black Lung? I shall not fail to pray for you in this hard time.

13 Dave Miller December 10, 2012 at 8:34 pm

Truest thing Tim has said in years, CB.

14 Tim G December 11, 2012 at 6:55 pm

Thank you Dave!

CB, I partially agree with you :)!

15 Dave Miller December 11, 2012 at 11:39 pm

Of course, it was meant completely as a compliment.

16 Frank L. December 10, 2012 at 7:19 pm

Dear Lord, I pray that tomorrow the issue with Jess’s lungs will reveal your awesome healing power. Amen

17 Jess Alford December 10, 2012 at 8:17 pm

Thanks guys,

I do have black lung.

18 volfan007 December 10, 2012 at 9:10 pm

Dave,

Great stuff, here…..thanks.

David

19 bill December 10, 2012 at 9:36 pm

Tell us again why your 2nd VP and NOT RUNNING THE LITERATURE WRITING GROUP!?!?!

20 Mark December 10, 2012 at 10:03 pm

I will not read this post. I will not read this post. I will not read this post. I will not read this post.

OK, I read it.

Good stuff, Dave. Thanks.

21 Christiane December 10, 2012 at 10:15 pm

” . . . And I will pour out upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace, and of prayers:
and they shall look upon Me, whom they have pierced:
and they shall mourn for Him as one mourneth for an only son, and they shall grieve over Him, as the manner is to grieve for the death of the firstborn. ”

( from Zechariah 12:10 )

I think often that the healing work of the Holy Spirit is much overlooked by Christian people.

22 SM December 10, 2012 at 10:59 pm

Good post, Rous.

23 SM December 10, 2012 at 11:01 pm

er…, Dave.

24 Dave Miller December 11, 2012 at 12:37 am

Oh, no he di’nt.

25 dr. james willingham December 10, 2012 at 11:21 pm

One of your best blogs, David. I commend you. Years ago I preached a message in reply to Peale’s pious positivisms. I think I have a work in my library on the power of no, but I cannot remember its title. In any case, about 12 years ago, I had a friend tell me that a retired member of one of the tract publishers in the Middle West joined his church. In the process, he found that the fellow’s tract ministry had received a letter from Peale trashing a tract on salvation by the blood. My friend who had two degrees, including an M.Div from the Denver Seminary of Conservative Baptists wrote a summation of what his church member had told him about the letter that Peale had written to that tract ministry. The summation is recorded inside the cover of a biography of Peale. We are reminded of Osteen’s being so positive, that he refuses to identify the problem of Mormons lacking in true Christian Doctrine. The need to identify true biblical doctrine is immense. Even so we also need to realize that the Book is much deeper than we have suspected; its orthodoxy is far more subtle than we suspect.

26 parsonsmike December 11, 2012 at 1:58 am

Dave,

I have a question. But first, Good Post!

You said,
“It is anesthetizing us, rendering us unconscious and spiritually unaware of our dire condition, so that we do not feel the death blow that our sin will eventually bring to us. Human beings are lost and headed to eternal hell. There is nothing we can do about it, nothing we can do to save ourselves or earn the favor of God. Our only hope is to repent of that sin and trust in Jesus, to come face to face with the spiritual darkness that envelopes us and find life and hope through Christ. We are being lulled into a sleep of death.”

If one is unconscious and spiritually unaware of the dire condition they are in, why would they repent?

And why would any sane person who becomes aware of the dire position they are in, not repent?

27 cb scott December 11, 2012 at 7:47 am

“If one is unconscious and spiritually unaware of the dire condition they are in, why would they repent?”

Because, the Holy Spirit of God has convicted them and by His grace and mercy made them aware of their hopeless condition as sinners before a just and righteous God. Upon such a realization that they are hopelessly lost sinners before a just and righteous God, by and through God’s mercy and grace wrought by the Spirit’s conviction upon them, they repent of their sin, believing the gospel of Christ and that alone to save them from their sin.

28 mike white December 11, 2012 at 10:01 am

CB,
But what about the other question?
Why would any sane person not repent?

29 Dale Pugh December 11, 2012 at 10:04 am

Because they choose to rebel against a loving God Who has provided so great a salvation. Some do. Some don’t.

30 volfan007 December 11, 2012 at 11:22 am

Amen, CB and Dale.

David

31 parsonsmike December 11, 2012 at 11:50 am

Dale, CB. Vol,

Then what makes them sane?

32 Dave Miller December 11, 2012 at 11:54 am

Mike, it would bless my heart if you would not try to turn every discussion into a recitation of Calvinist doctrine.

There are many other things that we can talk about. Why not expand your repertoire?

33 parsonsmike December 11, 2012 at 11:59 am

here is there state:
The Holy Spirit of God has convicted them and by His grace and mercy made them aware of their hopeless condition as sinners before a just and righteous God. Upon such a realization that they are hopelessly lost sinners before a just and righteous God, by and through God’s mercy and grace wrought by the Spirit’s conviction upon them, they REFUSE to repent of their sin, and TURN TO believing the gospel of Christ and that alone can save them from their sin.

What makes such a person sane?
How do you even know the Holy Spirit so convicts those who are never saved?

Rather we read…
But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

Thus they are not convicted, they remain blind to the Gospel.
Do any of you have actual verses or passages that back up your position? call me curious.

34 Dave Miller December 11, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Okay, Mike, we got it.

Enough on that rabbit trail, okay?

35 Dale Pugh December 11, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Mike, this is your same take on every discussion we have here. It’s always about your Calvinism and our lack of scripture to back us up. This proverbial equine has been stripped to the bone by our constant flagellation of it’s rotting corpse.
You’re a one hit wonder, my friend, and I’m ready for a different tune.
Blessings to you, and I pray that you and your family have a great Christmas worshiping our Lord.

36 parsonsmike December 11, 2012 at 12:20 pm

I am not the only one to see the inconsistency.
And,I didn’t say, dale, you had no Scripture, but i asked you for it.
But i withdraw my request at this time and bow to the requests put to me.
God Bless you my brothers.

37 bill December 11, 2012 at 11:55 pm

You hit the horse.
The horse dies.
You hit the dead horse.
You hit the dead horse again.
You hit the dead horse again.
You hit the dead horse again.
You hit the dead horse again.
You hit the dead horse again…

38 Frank L. December 12, 2012 at 12:15 am

Has anyone seen my horse?

39 cb scott December 12, 2012 at 4:32 am

Frank L.,

I heard a rumor, not yet confirmed, that after bill hit and killed your horse, someone stuffed him and he is now gracing an office in a Baptist seminary down Texas way.

40 Rick Patrick December 12, 2012 at 7:34 am

Horse? No. Zebra? Yes!

And if Bill really beat Frank’s dead Zebra, then I have a problem with that. As Bill Mac would say, “Who beats dead Zebras?”

41 Truth unites... And divides December 11, 2012 at 5:13 am

Can We Lie Our Way to Revival?

Yes, and we probably have.

42 Tim Rogers December 11, 2012 at 7:32 am

Dave,

A good word. You say;

Human beings are lost and headed to eternal hell. There is nothing we can do about it, nothing we can do to save ourselves or earn the favor of God. Our only hope is to repent of that sin and trust in Jesus, to come face to face with the spiritual darkness that envelopes us and find life and hope through Christ. We are being lulled into a sleep of death.

Not to be a party pooper and especially here at Christmas time. You may let Matt do another “here is how not to blog” article. But your statement does not go with your theology. You have repeatedly stated that we were dead in our sins. A dead man cannot be “lulled into a sleep” he has to be alive to sleep. While I agree with your statement I just don’t see it consistent with your theology. Unless you are like our legal eagle in New Mexico and call yourself and “inconsistent Calvinist”. :)

43 Tim Rogers December 11, 2012 at 7:34 am

Dave,

Wow, I did not see ParsonMike’s post before I wrote mine. If you want to delete my post go ahead because we are saying basically the same thing.

44 cb scott December 11, 2012 at 7:50 am

Tim Rogers,

Sometimes, I think it would be good to hit you in the head with a club.

45 volfan007 December 11, 2012 at 11:24 am

CB,

Anytime Tim can be hit on the head with a club, it should happen. It just makes good sense.

David

46 Dave Miller December 11, 2012 at 11:42 am

Now, that was funny, Vol.

47 cb scott December 11, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Vol,

My problem with hitting Tim in the head with a club is that if I can find one long enough to hit him in the head, it is too heavy for me to lift and swing with any power.

Therefore, I have had to settle to do what I can by wacking him on the knees.

48 volfan007 December 11, 2012 at 1:44 pm

lol…he is a tall man.

CB, I hope your Red Elephants absolutely destroy the Irish in the NC.

David

49 Christiane December 11, 2012 at 2:28 pm

For VOL and C.B. . . . a little stroll down memory lane:

the year is 1973, the Sugar Bowl
and Notre Dame wins over AL. The coaches were Ara and Bear.

http://www.rollbamaroll.com/2012/12/11/3743484/the-historical-alabama-vs-notre-dame-the-1973-sugar-bowl

“Long afterward Bryant said the teams had been so closely matched and the game so tightly fought that he had a hard time thinking of the game as a loss.

“I don’t think we got beat by Notre Dame,” he said. “Time just ran out on us.”

50 Christiane December 11, 2012 at 2:35 pm

now, because of the recruitment of players these days,
the teams this time are not ‘closely matched’, but the Irish will play to win in any case, and don’t feel sorry for them if they get carried off the field should the worst happen :)

They know how to win and and they know how to lose.
You won’t hear an Irish coach claiming that ‘the clock ran out on them’, I can assure you of that.
(wink)

51 Frank L. December 11, 2012 at 5:04 pm

Since there seems to be a pause in the actual debate, I beg your pardon for interrupting for a personal request:

I am going to the doctor’s with my son this afternoon. The issue is not life threatening, but could keep him out of the Navy. He is scheduled to leave in March and has injured a muscle in his back.

I cannot tell you how important it is for him to get into the Navy (in my humble, human, father point of view). Please pray for a miracle to resolve this issue.

Thanks, Brothers and Sisters.

Now . . . back to your regularly scheduled debate.

52 Dave Miller December 11, 2012 at 5:20 pm

That is a worthy reason to interrupt CB and Vol.

53 Doug Hibbard December 12, 2012 at 10:13 am

Frank L.

Praying for your son. As one who has been multiple-times denied due to prior medical issues, I understand at least some of that need.

54 Mark December 11, 2012 at 10:37 am

Tim, without debating this particular charge, I’d say that we are all inconsistent Christians on one level or another.

Have a blessed time in Haiti. We prayed for you all this morning.

55 Dave Miller December 11, 2012 at 11:51 am

It was not my purpose with this post, nor is it my intent now, to enter into a discussion of Calvinism, pro or con, as I have seldom found those discussions helpful or productive.

But I would say the following, by way of, perhaps, muddying the waters a little bit more.

1) No one is saved without repentance, without a sense of conviction of sin and guilt before God. So, our job is to call sinners to repent.

2) As Jesus said, “No one comes unless the Spirit draws him.” We preach repentance and the Spirit brings conviction to hearts and draws people to the Savior. I am simply uninterested in focusing on that process. We proclaim. The Spirit works. People repent and believe. Exactly how that happens I will leave up to the Calvinism/Non-Calvinism Coroners to autopsy.

3) Repentance is also a big part of Christians’ lives. James’ passage was to believers, calling them to weep and mourn, to be wretched. Christians have the indwelling Holy Spirit and a quickened spirit to be able to choose obedience, and have the faculties to respond.

That will satisfy no one, of course, but I am willing to leave mysteries in the hand of God. The Spirit draws us to Christ. We make a genuine faith-commitment to Christ. How can both be true? Ask me again in heaven, maybe I will have an answer then.

56 Christiane December 11, 2012 at 1:13 pm

“The Spirit draws us to Christ. We make a genuine faith-commitment to Christ. How can both be true? ”

because we were made for God

57 Jess Alford December 12, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Dave Miller,

Thanks, I can always depend upon you to lay out the plan of Salvation clear and simple.

If we could just remember,
We’re not in a fix, because we’re number six,
We don’t go to Heaven, because we’re number seven.

58 Dave Miller December 11, 2012 at 12:01 pm

Tim, I don’t know how consistent my theology is, but I know it is not nearly as inconsistent as you represent it to be, because you tend to put words in my mouth I didn’t say and beliefs in my heart I never professed.

You going to Haiti? Sounds cool.

59 Frank L. December 11, 2012 at 7:14 pm

“”"We are being lulled into a sleep of death”"

Of course, every analogy can be torn apart, but I think taken as it is obviously intended this perfectly fits a biblical theology.

60 Dave Miller December 11, 2012 at 11:40 pm

Metaphors and illustrations are meant to amplify a point. They all break down when over applied.

61 Bruce H. December 11, 2012 at 7:43 am

Dave,

I agree with you, but, I see it a little different. I agree that many men have only one drive that they know is effective in their lives and focus the whole gospel around it, be it right or wrong. Many people follow the idea, or even the man, and a church is built on that one idea. What may have worked for that man becomes “cultish” for others. I’m thinking of men like Joel Osteen and others with that encouraging message every Sunday. It has no balance and appeals to a certain group of people. On the other side of that coin, the first church I was a member of focused only on soul winning. I was a new Christian and saw many come to Christ but never grew to maturity. The people were trained to go soul winning and that was the thrust of the entire church. The pastor came from Jack Hyles college which was a clear indication of the soul winning thrust. I finally left the church and God led me to a balanced church and I began to grow by leaps and bounds.

What I am saying is that we, the church, needs to be able to find balance. People who possess Spiritual Gifts need to be able to proclaim the truth out of their gift in order to meet the needs of all in our community. Sometimes, Pastors need to realize that they have a perspective and so do those whom they disciple. I hope the pastors on this blog have a handful of men they are developing so the message to the church is balanced.

“To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” 1 Cor.9:22

62 volfan007 December 11, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Bitter Blue Betty: “No, Youth Guy, “Celibate” is not a fish found off the coast of Alaska… Why would the pastor preach on keeping a fish till you’re married?”

This is what negative thinking leads to…. :)

63 Truth Unites... and Divides December 11, 2012 at 4:33 pm

The Power of Negative Thinking

As a young lad, the fear of Hell scared me into Heaven.

If that’s the power of negative thinking, then I praise God for using the word pictures of Hellfire damnation and the wailing and gnashing of teeth to draw a scared boy into His loving arms.

64 Frank L. December 11, 2012 at 6:00 pm

“”"Can We Lie Our Way to Revival?”"”

Absolutely not, though it seems some are hell bent on trying!

65 Dave Miller December 11, 2012 at 6:35 pm

If I was writing this over again, I might say, “Can we hype our way into revival?”

Of course, its really the same thing.

66 Jess Alford December 12, 2012 at 12:34 pm

Dave Miller,

Sir, I do not think you realize how Liberal some of your posts really are.
It’s almost as if I’m hearing Al Sharpton try to preach the word. Dave, you can do better than that. You really are not suppose to say or do anything that will make your brother stumble. I have to say some of your liberal
remarks offends me.

67 cb scott December 12, 2012 at 3:09 pm

let me get this straight:

Al Sharpton + David Miller = Same Voice?

Jess Alford,

I do hope and pray your visit to the specialist went well and that you Black Lung will go into remission. I really mean that.

However, that does not negate the fact that you are as nuts as a packing house rat. . . and that I state in spite of Jerry Corbaley’s three Kumbaya posts.

68 Jess Alford December 12, 2012 at 3:24 pm

cb scott,

Thank you for your concern, When I went to Vanderbilt yesterday the
Doctor informed me that I need a biopsy, so I go next Wednesday for that procedure.

There should be another show on television called “The Dave and Al show”. CB, someone has to keep him on his toes.

One more thing, my wife calls me a pack rat, and she also thinks I’m nuts.

69 Jim Pemberton December 12, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Outstanding article, Dave. I can’t say I’ve read every article you’ve written, but this is the best I’ve read, and spot on at that. Giving and receiving correction in the Body of Christ is difficult, but essential. We can’t shirk it and expect to have healthy churches.

I think the challenge we often face is not getting the right correction, but getting the type of harmful correction from the curmudgeons we all know who don’t seem to see anything positively. But I think we often overreact by swinging the pendulum too far in the other direction.

70 Truth Unites... and Divides December 12, 2012 at 2:28 pm

The Power of Negative Thinking

“This country is going to Hell in a handbasket.”

71 Jess Alford December 12, 2012 at 3:37 pm

Countries don’t go to Hell, people do.

There was a small Iowa town where all was well until the devil appeared out in the middle of the street. Every was running to and fro scared to
death, until no one was in sight except one elderly gentleman sitting on the sidewalk, the devil asked him why aren’t you scared? The gentleman
answers, you’re the least of my problems. I’m married to your sister.

72 Truth Unites... and Divides December 12, 2012 at 4:35 pm

Jess Alford: “Countries don’t go to Hell, people do.”

That’s powerful negative thinking.

73 heath lloyd December 14, 2012 at 11:10 am

Thanks for this post. One of the best I have read on this entire website.

I am reminded of what a lady told me one time -
“Preacher, don’t tell me what I want to hear; tell me what I need to hear.”

Keep preaching the Word of God.

74 Dave Miller December 14, 2012 at 11:42 am

Thank you.

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