‘The Sinners Prayer’ is not the Gospel.

Today’s sermon review is from Sermon Audio and can be found here. You can download the PDF here. The title of this sermon is:

‘Don’t Put It Off!’
By Denis Lyle
Lurgan Baptist Church

Bible Text: Acts 24:24-27

22 But Felix, having more exact knowledge concerning the Way, deferred them, saying, “When Lysias, the commanding officer, comes down, I will decide your case.” 23 He ordered the centurion that Paul should be kept in custody and should have some privileges, and not to forbid any of his friends to serve him or to visit him.24 After some days, Felix came with Drusilla his wife, who was a Jewess, and sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ Jesus. 25 As he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was terrified, and answered, “Go your way for this time, and when it is convenient for me, I will summon you.” 26 Meanwhile, he also hoped that money would be given to him by Paul, that he might release him. Therefore also he sent for him more often and talked with him.27 But when two years were fulfilled, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus, and desiring to gain favor with the Jews, Felix left Paul in bonds.”

Acts 24: 22-27

Today’s text is one of a rejecting of the Holy Spirit. This can be seen inappropriately by some as synergism yet the Bible teaches monergism; that God is the one that works faith and salvation into you. This text shows us how someone can be so loved by God that they get numerous times to hear the Gospel of Christ, they are given the gift of faith, made spiritually alive, and constantly reject this gift and spiritually kill themselves by this rejection of repentance as they hold closely to their sin, love their sin and return to spiritual death in their sin.

Justification is finished for you, this gift of subjective justification is worked through the Spirit. Yet, why do some reject the doctrine of original sin and justification by faith and think that you have to finish your salvation by a decision of the mind (rationalism), an emotional response (emotionalism), and reciting a magical incantation (the sinners prayer)? Let’s see how this sermon goes and maybe we might get some answers.

I want you to take your Bibles with me this evening and turn to the Acts of the Apostles chapter 24 and read from verse 24 until verse 27. I want to talk to you in the closing moments of our service tonight on the subject “Don’t Put It Off!” Don’t put it off. For some of you listening to my voice tonight, have put off the matter of salvation for many a day, many a week, many a month, many a year, and tonight the word of God is gonna come to your heart afresh. Don’t putt off the matter of salvation because there’s a danger and the danger is this, that when you keep putting off the matter of salvation, you keep putting off the freedom of God’s conviction so that when the Gospel is preached, it runs off you like water of a duck and you greet the Gospel with a yawn, with indifference, and with total unconcern. Don’t put it off.

‘Don’t Put It Off!’ By Denis Lyle; Lurgan Baptist Church

How does one put off the matter of salvation? Normally we have to wait awhile in the sermon to find the flaw but Denis comes right out with it. Salvation, in this sermon, is finished and applied to you by something you do. For Denis, it is decision theology with something else added. Let’s see where he leads us.

“You see, not everyone who listens to this message tonight will be saved. Now the Lord is not willing that any should perish. God has a great heart of compassion, a great heart of love. God is not willing that any should perish but some will not be saved because they’re just out-and-out sinners, they don’t really believe what I preach, they don’t want to believe. They hate God. They hate Christ. They hate the Bible. They hate the Gospel. They don’t intend to get saved. Some will not be saved because they’re out-and-out sinners. Some will not be saved because they’re self-righteous sinners. They think that the Gospel tonight that we preach is for the pervert, it’s for the murderer. The Gospel that we preach, they say, is for the down-and-out but not for them.”

‘Don’t Put It Off!’ By Denis Lyle; Lurgan Baptist Church

Denis, so if I don’t believe in what you preach are you saying that I am going to hell? Seems like if I don’t make a decision for God plus Denis’ additional requirement, then I would go to hell. That is some strong heavy conviction. It’s interesting, to say the least, saddening actually, if a pastor says “if you don’t like what I’m going to say in my sermon then you hate God, Christ, and the Bible. Let’s see where he takes us he might change things around.

“He preached a Christ-centered, pertinent message to this man and the conviction of the Holy Ghost was so strong that Felix trembled like a leaf in a storm. He was right at the threshold of salvation, he was right at the door of salvation but then he did something, my friend, that you have continually done, he said, “Go thy way for this season. Go thy way for this time. When I have a more convenient season, I will call for thee.” And so the devil trapped him and Felix is in hell tonight. He’s in the caverns of the damned because he put it off.”

‘Don’t Put It Off!’ By Denis Lyle; Lurgan Baptist Church

“And no doubt as Paul preached on righteousness, Felix glanced back on a past that was stained with cruelty, that was stained with injustice. How could such a man like he stand in the right before a holy God? My friends, did Paul not speak to him concerning the faith in Christ? “Felix, it’s only through the cross that God can take something from you and that Christ can give something to you. God can take from you your sin. Christ can give to you his righteousness.” Can I ask you tonight how do you stand before God? Like Felix, is your past stained? Is it guilty? Maybe there’s a skeleton in your cupboard tonight that haunts you. Maybe there’s some sin that you’ve committed, some deed that you’ve done, some person that you’ve wronged tonight, there’s something in your past tonight, something murky in your past, and from time to time that thing comes out of the skeleton, out of the cupboard and that skeleton haunts you, it unsettles you, it annoys you. One thing, my friend, tonight is absolutely certain: with Christ, you’re a sinner. You’ve fallen short of the standard of God. You’ve broken his law. You’ve offended his mercy. If Paul was here tonight, he would be saying to you, “Your past is unclean. You need Christ’s righteousness upon you.” The second thing he said to Felix was this, he said, “Your present is unchaste. You need Christ’s Spirit within you.” Therefore you receive the second point that the preacher brought before this person. He talked about self-control, he talked about temperance, and this was a thing that this guilty person knew nothing about.”

‘Don’t Put It Off!’ By Denis Lyle; Lurgan Baptist Church

If Felix is in hell it’s because he rejected the Spirits work of gifting repentant faith to him. Felix didn’t need to do anything, so he didn’t put something off. He did do something, he rejected God’s work in him by rejecting the gift of faith that was worked in him. Felix hardened his heart by giving back the gift of faith. He was made spiritually alive and decided to “cut the cord” and reject the gift of repentance.

Denis is so close with most of what he is saying but he just keeps taking the glory off of the Spirits work that gives to you Christ’s finished work. He keeps taking that gift and turning it into an unfinished work that you have to do. It turns the Gospel into Law. He’s already giving us some stern condemnation of the Law, add on top of that the teaching that the gospel is unfinished and cannot be applied to me without my work to God. This is Pelagianism. The notion that God needs me to work my conversation or to start my conversion.

“I wonder tonight does this story reflect your story? Have you violated your marriage vows? Have you been unfaithful? Is your marriage on the rocks tonight because of unbridled lust? Because of unchecked passion? Maybe you’re here tonight and you’re presently engaged in premarital sex or you’re engaged in extra-marital sex. I don’t know but God knows. One thing I know tonight is this, my friend: if you’re without Christ, Satan has bound you. You’re a captive to sin and a captive to Satan but Jesus Christ has been anointed to preach deliverance to the captives. Maybe you’re saying, “Well, you know, preacher, I’ve tried to reform.” Sure you have, but you know like many of us in our unsaved days, we tried to reform time and time again but, you see, we couldn’t. We couldn’t break the habit in our life. We couldn’t break the practice of sin in our life, for it’s only when God’s Spirit comes to live within you that you’ve got the power, that you’ve got the resources to overcome daily sin in your life.”

‘Don’t Put It Off!’ By Denis Lyle; Lurgan Baptist Church

“And as Paul stood before them, he reminded Felix of his past, his past was unclean. He needed the righteousness of Christ upon him. His present was unchaste. He needed Christ’s Spirit within him. And then he looked into the eyes of Felix and he said, “Felix, your future is uncertain. You need Christ’s promise to you.” For he not only preached of righteousness and temperance, he preached, my dear friends, of judgment to come.”

‘Don’t Put It Off!’ By Denis Lyle; Lurgan Baptist Church

He’s flirting dangerously to the concept of sinless perfection here. The idea that Christ enables you to stop sinning. This comes from the idea that the Gospel isn’t for anything other than the moment of conversion. Somehow after conversion you have no need of forgiveness in Christ crucified, that’s behind you, now you need to get to work on cleaning up your life, because that’s the Hallmark of a true Christian according to those who believe in the false gospel of “life change”.

He’s condemned a lot of sins in this sermon. The way this is going I don’t think he is going to offer forgiveness for those sins to Christian’s. This is another danger of this type of false gospel, the idea that the Gospel is only for the unbeliever or unchurched. It’s saddening and dangerous. This sermon is all Law because even the Gospel that he is trying to give to the unbeliever is one that the unbeliever has to finish by his or her decision and Denis’ extra requirement.

“My friend, tonight may I remind you the Great White Throne Judgment lies ahead for you and I want to tell you tonight the Lord Jesus must be faced and faced he will be. And my friend, you’ll face him either as Savior or as Judge and there’s no escape tonight except by the way of the cross. You see, Felix may have his day and Drusilla may have her day, but your day is coming. The Bible says God has appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained. The Bible says God shall bring every work into judgment. The Bible says it is appointed unto men once to die but after this the judgment, and as death leaves men, so judgment will find them.”

‘Don’t Put It Off!’ By Denis Lyle; Lurgan Baptist Church

“Are you like him tonight? Wonder as you’ve sat under the sound of the word of God for years, for months, for weeks, have you ever trembled? Well, if you have, thank God for it. I wonder, my dear friend, tonight is there a tiny measure of concern in your soul about your sin? About your relationship with God? About where you’re going to spend eternity?”

‘Don’t Put It Off!’ By Denis Lyle; Lurgan Baptist Church

He asks a lot of questions but doesn’t give many answers. Denis is very good at working your emotions to get you to feel bad, not knowing that the Spirit is the one that works condemnation and forgiveness of sins through the Word, not through toying with the Law to get an emotional response.

He is finishing his sermon in the next few quotes. So far this sermon has been heavy on Law with extra sprinkles of emotional manipulation. Denis has done a great job exegeting the text but he doesn’t do very well at distinquishing between law and gospel and that might be because he has a different gospel; one of works. He’s wrapping up the sermon. Last chance to see if he will deliver the Gospel without works. Spoiler alert, he won’t.

“I wonder where you are tonight in the chain of events. Like Felix have you heard the Gospel? Like Felix have you been moved? Maybe you’re here tonight and you’ve been thinking about your sinful lifestyle, I wonder have you thought about the day of judgment? I wonder if you’ve thought about the day when you’ll stand before the Great White Throne Judgment and the books will be opened and whosoever was not found in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire? I wonder if you’ve ever thought about the day of judgment? I wonder have you ever thought about the love of God? I wonder have you ever thought about the Christ of Calvary, the cross where the Lord Jesus Christ laid down his life a ransom for many? I wonder tonight if you’re thinking about these things? My friend, I plead with you, I beg with you tonight, don’t put it off for I notice here not only the argument that the preacher brought and the movement that the Spirit wrought, but look at the deferment that the devil sought. For Felix it was a moment of decision, eternity hung in the balance but he let the moment pass. “Some other time, preacher. Some other time.””

‘Don’t Put It Off!’ By Denis Lyle; Lurgan Baptist Church

“Dear unsaved friend tonight, will you listen to me for a moment? There are multitudes in hell this evening and they’re there because like Felix they put it off. And some of you have heard the Gospel for years and months and weeks, and you’re still putting it off. Are you going to put it off again tonight? Are you going to let the devil deceive you? Destroy you? Damn you?”

‘Don’t Put It Off!’ By Denis Lyle; Lurgan Baptist Church

“Let’s pray. Let’s just take that moment or two of quietness. I wonder is God speaking to you tonight? Maybe you’re a young person, young man, young woman. Maybe you’re middle-aged tonight. Maybe, friend, tonight you’re near the end of life’s journey. You’ve just a few more days and then you’ll be in the great eternity. Don’t put it off. Turn to Christ tonight. I wonder will you do that? I wonder will you say, “Preacher, I’ve been putting it off too long. Tonight’s the night. I want to get saved.” I wonder in the quietness of these moments, ere we leave this building, will you pray a simple prayer, the sinner’s prayer? Will you pray with me tonight just in the quietness of your own heart, “Lord Jesus, I am a sinner but I thank you tonight that you love me and shed your blood for me at Calvary. Tonight, now, I turn from my sin and trust you as my Savior.” Will you make that prayer yours tonight? Just will you say it? Will you come to the Savior now? If you prayed that prayer tonight, I’d love to know. I’ll be standing at the door as you leave. Just say, “Denis, I prayed the prayer.” My friend, we’ll be able to give you something that will help you, encourage you, and we’ll pray for you. Maybe you would like to take that step tonight. Maybe you felt that you’ve sinned away your day of grace and God has spoken it to you tonight again and you felt the tug in your soul. Well, my friend, don’t put it off.”

‘Don’t Put It Off!’ By Denis Lyle; Lurgan Baptist Church

There is Denis’ false gospel; your decision plus a magical prayer and boom your a Christian and need to get to work cleaning up your life. He never gives forgiveness to those who are Christian’s, only offers a brief brush stroke of “gospely” words without actually giving anyone the Gospel of God in the flesh, taking away your sin upon Himself in His baptism, all of it till you die, having his body nailed to the cross, and dying for those sins as the perfect sacrifice. Nor was His ressurection mentioned which is what the Christian faith rests on. That He was raised three days later, showing that He is God and that He truly is the propitiation of our sins.

That’s the Gospel of Christ crucified for you. This Gospel is yours through the Spirits work, which is to give you this subjective justification, as yours though the means of Word and Sacrament, in and with the gift of faith. All is finished and given to you. Your spiritually alive and you can reject this faith and become dead in your tresspasses as you once were. Yet, you don’t cooperate with the Spirit as if you weren’t spiritually dead in sin, that would be synergism. The Christian faith is monergistic. There is nothing left that you need to do for your salvation. God has done it all, your justification is a gift, not your doing.

Yet, this sermon states that it’s unfinished, that you have to decide, make a choice for God and then say some magic words. None of this is Biblical. Did Paul, or anyone in the Bible try to lead someone in “the sinners prayer”? No. Did Paul tell Felix that he needs to make a decision for God in order to be saved? No. Is the Holy Spirit either too busy or too weak to bring you to repentant faith that He needs your efforts, your magical words to complete your justification? No. Is God’s word so weak that God needs your words in order to regenerate you? No. Is it your magical words that regenerate you, are they more powerful than God’s Word? No. Do your works merit your justification? No. That is where this false gospel ends up. That you finish your justification by saying magical words. That you say an incantation and boom, you’re saved from the wrath of your sins.

“Wicked men will come, and they will not persevere. They always have this fault of teaching something different and new. A wicked spirit, not rooted in solid doctrine, causes this. It always looks for something new and a better doctrine”.

Luther’s Works Vol. 28

This false teaching says that God couldn’t or wouldn’t finish your justification and that somehow it is now down to the wire and it’s you, your rational brain or emotions, and a magical incantation. It’s witchcraft. It’s a breaking of the second commandment. It’s taking God’s name and invoking it into a lie. That lie is that magical words save you. What about someone who is mute? Denis’ false gospel would exclude them, as well as anyone who suffers from a brain disease, since justification is finished with an act of the mind, a decision, a choice, according to this false gospel. It also is taking God’s name and using it in a magical incantation that merits grace. The sinners prayer is not Biblical, it’s demonic. Anything that strips Christ of His glory, as the one who finished your justification, is demonic.

“1 But the Spirit says expressly that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons,”

1 Timothy 4:1

“1 I command you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at his appearing and his Kingdom: 2 preach the word; be urgent in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort with all patience and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not listen to the sound doctrine, but having itching ears, will heap up for themselves teachers after their own lusts, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn away to fables. 5 But you be sober in all things, suffer hardship, do the work of an evangelist, and fulfill your ministry.”

2 Timothy 4:1-5

The Gospel is a gift, it’s not free, it cost God’s own body and blood, it is more precious than gold and diamonds, and is certainly worth more than your works, or incantations. God has given all for you, He has finished all that needs to be finished. Your sins, past, present, and future, were placed on Him, the Lamb of God, and He was sacrificed for your sins. He rose from the dead proving that your sins are paid for that He is the propitiation of your sins, so that you can have His righteousness.

You are clothed in the finished work of Christ, given to you through Word and Sacrament. The Holy Spirit has given you the gift of faith, the forgiveness of sins, and has sanctified you, set you apart for Himself, grafted you into Himself into His family of believers, the saints. All of this He gives to you, out if His abundant love and mercy for you. May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. With your sins forgiven, go in peace.

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