Troy, who has commented previously on this blog, insists that Hillsong do faithfully preach the true biblical Gospel. When pressed to provide some evidence (in response to the mountains of evidence to the contrary) nothing has been forthcoming. Instead Troy asked for some clarification. He wrote:
Would like you to clarify a few things. You said:
"I have heard many sermons by Brian Houston and Hillsong conference guests over the years and I am yet to hear a Gospel presentation that is faithful to what I outlined..."
This is the outline you're referring to:
"At the fundamental level, any Gospel presentation should include these five elements:
1. An explanation of The Holiness of God - His character and nature.
2. An explanation of man's depravity - define and explain sin.
3. The necessity of judgment - heaven and hell are real places where real people go - that God is bound by His character and nature to punish sin.
4. Christ's atoning work and resurrection - that Christ fulfilled the law that sinners break, and took God's wrath on the cross in the place of sinners and that the resurrection verifies God's satisfaction with Christ's payment.
5. The call on all men everywhere to repent of their sin and believe the Gospel."
Do you believe that unless someone is taken through all five of your points they are/will not be saved?
So for example simply saying "Jesus I need you, forgive me for my sin, I give you my life, you are my saviour."
Would someone "be saved" after saying that prayer? Or would God say "pretty close, but not quite..."
What about Romans 10:9:
"If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."
Does simply believing in your heart that Jesus is Lord and confessing that God raised Him from the dead, make you saved? That's what it seems to say here.
What if a person is alone and does not have someone to take them through the "five points", but in a moment of desperation cries out to God, and their life is forever changed? I've heard many stories of this type of encounter where someone meets Christ.
What are your thoughts? Is it the "five points" or you're not in, or can you be saved with out being so specific?
Dear Troy, I have never said that it is the Gospel presentation that saves people. It is God Who saves - not a salvation prayer (which is something Pastor Joel doesn't seem to understand). My point to you and Joel has never been that we can get a right formula that will save people. Salvation is a miraculous work of the Holy Spirit where He regenerates an "enemy of God" who is "dead in sin" (Ephesians 2:1) into a "new creature" (2 Corinthians 5:17, Ezekiel 36:25-27, Ezekiel 37:1-10)) who loves Him and trusts in Him for forgiveness of sin and His righteousness. Please read my series called Anatomy of the Gospel.
But God chose the foolishness of preaching (1 Corinthians 1:21) as the means of proclaiming the Gospel and we are responsible to get it right. I never said that people could not get saved at Hillsong nor that there aren't Christians attending (though genuine conversion is never cultivated in a place where the Gospel is never preached). Read Galatians 1:8-9 tells us that it is a damnable offense to preach any other gospel than the one he preached. Leaving my five points aside for a moment Hillsong's preachers violate their own doctrine statement when "presenting the gospel" in their failure to preach repentance (their faith statement says that you must repent of your sin in order to be saved). And when is repentance from sin preached at Hillsong??? It is a disgrace that they have such disregard not only for the clear teaching of Scripture, but also for their own doctrine statement (which is correct on this point). Furthermore, since the cross is about Christ taking the wrath that we deserve in the place of sinners - how can you explain the cross without preaching about God's wrath - when is God's wrath ever preached at Hillsong? How can you preach forgiveness without what you are forgiven of (sin). How can you preach salvation without preaching what you are saved from (damnation). I will stop there but I hope you get the point.
As for Romans 10:9, the belief described there is a repentant belief or faith. Scripture is clear that turning to Christ in faith involves turning away from sin.
When God graciously saved me as a biblically illiterate 20 year old I was certainly incapable of theologically formulating the doctrine of justification. But I clearly understood that I was a sinner with nothing to offer God. I knew that my salvation depended solely on the completed work of Jesus Christ. I clearly understood that my human works played absolutely no part in my redemption. I also clearly understood that my human works (or wickedness) were the main reason that I needed a Savior to rescue me from the damnation that I deserved. The issue is not our ability to formulate the doctrine of justification, it is whether we are trusting Christ's completed work alone, by faith, or trusting any other system that involves even the smallest level of works righteousness. And to consciously teach any view of justification that involves any degree of human achievement is a damnable offense - including the idea that our salvation hinges on a human decision/salvation prayer rather than a miraculous work of God. It is the reason Paul wrote to the church in Galatia.
Likewise, we might not understand all the inner workings of the doctrine of the atonement. But we do need to understand that the cross Jesus died on is what we all deserve. Remember these words:
One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!" But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." And he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." And he said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." (Luke 23:39-43)
Here we have a criminal who is most likely uneducated and lacking a deep working knowledge of the theology being played out on the cross beside him. But he does know that he is evil and deserves wrath. He does know that Christ is fully righteous. He does know that he has nothing to offer the Lamb of God. He does know that his only hope is to completely humble himself as a wretched sinner and beg the Savior for mercy. And it is to these that God grants pardon!
Thus says the LORD: "Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word. (Isaiah 66:1-2)
It is here we get to ground zero. In order to be saved we must respond in repentance and faith. And different models of atonement elicit different responses to the Gospel. We don't hear the thief thanking Jesus for identifying with the pain of his human experience. We don't hear the thief calling out as a poor victim of Satan awaiting his rescue. We hear a thief who sees his own enormous guilt. We hear a thief who sees the righteousness of the Son of God. And we hear a thief crying out in genuine repentance, trusting in the One Who was heading for His throne. Jesus did not come to provide therapy for victimized people. He did not come to feel the pain of hurting people. He did not come to coach untrained people. He came to save sinners - even really bad ones like me!