Friday, February 06, 2009


Note.....The following started out as a comment to be put up on Wade's blog but got too wordy. I post it here in response to the idea put forth by a Seminary President that he would not have anyone on faculty who could not look every person in the eye and say "Jesus died for you." My main point is to show why it is dangerous to make a belief statement that will not allow for a bit of variation as to how someone might see or say a point of theology. That Jesus died for the purpose of declaring God Righteous in saving whomever He saves and just to do so is not the issue. That Jesus died for sinners is not the issue. The categoical statement that was made I see a little bit differently than does that Seminary President. My view follows.

With respect to missions and evangelism [ie.. telling people what Jesus did at the Cross and what happens to anyone who receives the truth of that message] what I'm about to say I've believed all my converted life and have practiced as a Southern Baptist pastor/teacher for fifty three years of ministry.

I'm also a...[boy I hate labels but for clarity sake I'll use one.]....five-point Calvinist and have been longer than most of you have been alive. But here goes...perhaps nothing.

I would never stand before a human being and say "Jesus DID NOT die for you." I WOULD stand before every human being and say Jesus died for sinners. If YOU are WILLING to recognize you are one and are WILLING to call upon Him as Lord and Savior you WILL be saved." No one IS saved because they are elected or IS NOT saved because they are not elected. [And I believe in election.] Anyone who is ever saved will be so because of the finished work of Christ that is received as a broken, repentant sinner.

Where in the scripture does it say or proclaim that anyone has the right/responsibility to stand before anyone and say "Jesus DIDN'T die for you" OR to say or proclaim that "Jesus DID die for you?" [Every textual reference I read that says "Jesus died for you" is said to people AFTER they have experienced His grace.] We do have the right /responsibility to stand before all peoples and tell them who Jesus is and that He did die for sinners and that He has given the command to repent and call upon Him in faith to every person.

Whether they know why they are willing to repent and believe [It was good thinking on their part or God caused them to think in the first place.] or whether they believe they were chosen before the foundation of the world because God looked down through time and saw they would believe or whether God made the choice Himself for His own reasons, or whether they know the faith they've excercised is a gift in and of itself or the natural ability of fallen people that is of itself without merit, makes no difference in the presentation of the gospel to them. Those are all things we can study, debate, teach as we understand them. But no view one holds on these just stated issues alters the need for the gospel being presented and believed by the hearer. Also, that presentation of the gospel can be done cooperatively as a Convention unless we start demanding uniformity of doctrines [except our belief in the power of the gospel] instead of unity of the Spirit because of our Christ/Cross/Tomb agreement.

Now I could begin to show why I believe God chose of His own will BEFORE the world began and why I believe faith IS a gift and why I believe regeneration brings about an ability to infinitum. But that is for the growth of believers.

Someone may say, "Reconcile the seeming contradiction between the point of the fourth paragraph, especially the last sentence of it, with the statement of the sixth paragraph." Ummmmmm...I think I'll just be satisfied with the clear biblical antinomy, since both are scripturally based, with no "seemingly true" about it. They both are true. Father will have to make all our theology perfectly clear when we get home one day. Until then I'll trust His Word to be true and continue to grow in my understanding of that Word while telling ALL people Jesus died for sinners and if you will repent and trust Him you WILL be one of those sinners that will be saved.

Paul B.


Bob Cleveland said...

"But that is for the growth of believers."

Amen, brother. It seems that some want to display the depth of their understanding, of spiritual matters, to the lost world in the course of their witnessing. That has always seemed counterproductive in light of the fact that the natural man can only comprehend the things God said He could;namely that God exists and His invisible qualities, plus guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.

And that last part is the Spirit's role, to convict the sinner. We sometimes act like it's ours, but at least that seems to come from a right heart.

Paul Burleson said...


I could not agree with a comment more.

Anonymous said...

I also agree with your "theology" but I disagree with the seminary president's approach too. To look a perfect stranger in the eye and say something to them in a language that they don't understand is silly. There are a lot of people in the world, and even in the seminary president's community who would not have a clue about what he was talking about if he made that statement to them.
The gospel we are to proclaim is not just "Jesus died for you and for me." It's way more than that.

Paul Burleson said...


I had not considered the nuance you make in presenting the gospel but I think you are correct from my perspective. That is a whole "nuther" discussion and would be an excellent one to have. Good comment. Thanks.

Chuck Andrews said...


As you know I agree with your proposition. You have proven why it is dangerous for any of us to required particular wording of the gospel as a litmus test of the veracity of the messenger. Just like it is dangerous for us to believe that someone’s salvation is only valid if exact wording of a sinner’s prayer contains minimum referrals to particular essentials. Which may be the next thing the seminary president presents as a litmus test.

“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher,
“Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.”

The gospel “is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.”


Anonymous said...

Amen Paul. May God grant me the ability to put theology into understandable words as you and Rachelle do.

And that last part is the Spirit's role, to convict the sinner. We sometimes act like it's ours, but at least that seems to come from a right heart.

Bob: Exactly and you are a wordsmith. This is something I still have to remind myself of.

Paul Burleson said...


Thanks for stopping by. Breakfast time. :)


I stopped by your blog and was going to say a comment similar to this post as I attempted to do at Wade's place. But, again, too many words and then I saw your comment section was closed. It was probably a good thing. Man I couldn't cut the comment down. Thus..A POST.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I very rarely close comments. In this case I thought it best.

Paul Burleson said...


Well your comments added to what Wade had already said go me going. Both were excellent. By the way, At that time I knew nothing of the John 3:16 conference except it's name.

Phil Hoover said...

I am a committed Wesleyan-Pentecostal (and a member of a very Calvinistic congregation--the Moody Church here in chicago---and I love your gives me much to think about.

Paul Burleson said...


I'm honored and deeply grateful you would stop by and comment.

I'm a strong calvinist [I hate labels but they help communication as we both know.] but have shared ministry theough the years with spirit-filled Pentcostals. One of the best is the new President of Oral Roberts University, Dr. Mark Rutland, whose ministry I've followed for years.

Please stop by and comment often.

Andy Miller said...

Paul, I appreciate your commitment to a biblical Calvinism that upholds God's sovereignty in saving and our responsibility in proclaiming the Gospel. I also want to let you know how much I appreciate your ministry. The first memory I have of you was as a child seeing your picture on the "Hall of Fame" among the other former pastors of FBC Borger. By having a tremendous impact on my dad (Steve Miller) in his ministry, you've been very instrumental in my ministry, as well.

Paul Burleson said...


For crying out are suppose to be a little guy around the table with your siblings and parents. At least you were the last time I saw you. Your mom and dad are two of my favorite people.

As you know, I've preached several meetings where your dad has pastored. In fact, tell him I said I believe it is predestined I do another one and if he doesn't ask me to, he'll likely lose his salvation. :)

Seriously, tell your folks "hi" for me and comment often if you would.

Strider said...

Well Paul all kinds of Calvinists have come by to tell you they agree with you so I thought as a non-Calvinist I would come by and agree with you too! Demanding that someone present the Gospel to all is Biblical and right, demanding that someone present the Gospel MY WAY or ELSE is silly and divisive. The Bible never says we MUST say to all that Jesus died for them but it most certainly demands that we not be divisive.
For the record there are many Calvinists here on the field who have given their lives to reach the lost and I enjoy working with them. You are also welcome to come out to Middle Earth and proclaim the Truth of the Gospel any time.

Paul Burleson said...


From what I've read of you and your ministry out in Middle Earth you are my kind of non-Calvinist. Be careful of throwing out the welcome mat to me...I've been known to show up. You know, have bible will travel. :)

Aussie John said...


Can I add my LOUD "AMEN!"? My convictions are likewise. What a blessing it is to read such words in the midst of so much self-driven bombast.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Jerald a comment like this is not only silly it is also rude. I am a salesman and so is anyone who is a witness. You don't get sales by being rude and offensive. I have known Christians who "button hole" people with comments like this and I believe their comments are likely to do more harm than good.

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie John,

You can add anything you want anytime you want to whatever I might say.

I have a feeling one belief system would closely resemble the other whichever of us wrote first.


As I said to Jerald, I think we may see a discussion post coming on about presenting the gospel in a sane, sensible, scriptural manner. Thanks for stopping by.

Mary and I are looking forward to sharing those upcoming couple of days with the folks in the men's and women's bible study groups you and your wife have going.

For you readers...Bobby and his wife, Margie, have two groups going that are reaching a number of people you normally won't find in church on Sunday. Those folks are learning more theology and relational truth than the average church will EVER learn.

Bobby and Margie are lay people doing more ministry than many professional ministers because they know they truly ARE ministers though they make their living other ways. By the way, they are some of the Burleson's choice personal friends for going on forty years now. It started when we saw them come to the Lord in the early 70's and became their pastor and friend.

For crying out loud Bobby, you're getting old. :)

Andy Miller said...

I passed on your comments to my parents, and they were glad to hear from you. My hope is that my dad will persevere until the end by inviting you to come preach again. I'll try to read and comment regularly.

Paul Burleson said...


Thanks for passing on my greetings.

David Kear said...

That was well said.

Thank you!


Paul Burleson said...


Thanks. I have recently discovered and really enyoy your blog. Stop by anytime.

Anonymous said...

And we are looking forward to you and Mary's visit to our Bible Study. We began announcing it this morning at BS. The ladies in Dan's office had already printed flyers for us to take and invite friends. Including the women we have 4 new people since the last time you were here. See you soon.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Paul,

You said "We do have the right /responsibility to stand before all peoples and tell them who Jesus is and that He did die for sinners and that He has given the command to repent and call upon Him in faith to every person."

But if you tell people that Jesus died for sinners and the person you are telling acknowledges they are a sinner but they are unwilling to come to Christ, if they ask did Jesus die for them, can you acknowledge that He did? My conscience allows me to assure the person that Jesus did indeed die for them and if they do not accept that payment for their sin, they will bear the punishment for their own sins. I believe that both free will and the Sovereignty of God are true at the same time.

I am also in the process of being kicked out of my church because my own pastor has recently become a 5 point Calvinist. He is "in love" with Calvinism and will no longer tolerate any other view. He will no longer allow anyone to speak about free will nor will he allow anyone to challenge his view. The pain I am feeling is intense. I am a pastor's daughter, one who is in full time ministry and I am being kicked out of the church because I didn't attend for 6 weeks because the pastor was so horrible to me in two public bible studies, mocking me for my faith.

It appears that unless one accepts 5 point Calvinism in my church one is dispensable, unloved, unwanted and surely it must mean that I must not be one of the elect to reject Calvin's view of salvation.

I hate the division that has been forced into the church because of man's doctrines.

Paul Burleson said...

Cheryl Ann,

Were a person to tell me they know they are without a doubt a sinner and they know they need God, which is what conviction and repentance would bring about, and were they to ask me if Jesus would save them I would say yes. Period.

I'm so sorry for the attitude demonstrated by that pastor. It is THAT MAN'S doctrine that creates that attitude because the Truth and wisdom that is from above is gentle and easily entreated. I doubt he really understands true grace because to understand it [with experience] is to show it. He doesn't.

Again, I'm sorry you have to experience that but just know it has nothing to do with true bible doctrine no matter which side one falls on calvinism.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Paul,

I am so glad that you can answer "yes" to those who would ask if Jesus could save them. If I was a Calvinist I could not answer "yes" because I know that the teaching is that some who process Christ and who appear to receive him are not really of the elect. With my understanding of scripture I don't need to worry about who stays in Christ or who doesn't because he died for all.

Pastor Paul, I think you are a old time Calvinist who is considerate and kind. There is a new breed of Calvinist out there who take the view that it is "my way or the highway". They appear to have no love for those who do not fall in line with their authority since they don't believe that God has love for the non-elect and anyone not swallowing everything is not worth their time.

The pain that this has produced from being pressured to accept Calvinism or leave is indescribable. He is following his "hero" Mark Driscoll and the result is the complete destruction of a once loving church. I am so saddened by how these doctrines have divided the church as a whole. We need to be able to see a balanced view that allows the church to operate in love and acceptance of each other.

Paul Burleson said...

Cheryl Ann,

You got the "old" part nailed.

Seriously, the pastor you've described has a tremendous problem but it isn't theological. I've known people just like him, people who do not love anyone with a differing view about things and wants the authority to say what is correct in doctrines, and they HATE calvinism. That kind of attitude is found in some Calvinists, Pentecostals, Baptists, Catholics, etc.

His problem is a lack of intimacy with the One who is Himself, the Truth. Jesus is far more pleased with someone who may not have it all together doctrinally but loves people and expresses true grace than he is with someone who can dot every "i" and cross every
t" theologically but knows nothing of love, mercy and grace. Remember the Pharisees?

You just continue to search the scriptures to "see if those things be so" and don't take a back seat to anyone in that freedom. That preacher you've described needs pity and perhaps confrontation but it would need to be in a different spirit than he himself displays.

Anonymous said...

"His problem is a lack of intimacy with the One who is Himself, the Truth."

Yes, I think this is the problem. I wonder how he can kick us out of the church and then face Jesus in his prayers. I do not think that he has a fear of God in his life or he would care for the sheep. He calls himself the covenantal head of the church and he believes he has all authority in the church to make spiritual decisions for us. I believe this is forbidden by Christ as it is lording it over the brethren. I tend to think it is a sign of a hireling.

Paul Burleson said...

Cheryl Ann,

What you just said certainly describes a group that is cultic. Notice I'm NOT saying they are a cult but demostrate cultic characteristics. That is dangeous at best and unbiblical a worst.