Rock Evangelism




 

Harvest ‘03

Hunter Harvest – Rock Evangelism

("Compass"  -  Aired on ABC TV  -  30 May, 2004)

 

 

The Compass program that was aired on ABC TV on Sunday night, 30 May, 2004, was entitled “Converting Newcastle” and featured an evangelistic outreach that was held in the Newcastle Entertainment Centre over a period of four days, from Thursday 11 to Sunday 14 September, 2003.

 

The outreach event, billed as “Harvest 03”, was organized by a group of churches in the Newcastle region, north of Sydney in NSW, Australia.  In recent years this group of churches have come together in an effort to evangelize their community.  The group cooperate under the banner of "Hunter Harvest", the name reflecting that Newcastle is situated on the Hunter River, and the area surrounding the city is known as the Hunter District.

 

 

Pre Event

 

In the months leading up to the “Harvest 03” event which was presented on the Compass program, articles on the Hunter Harvest website enthusiastically promoted the coming outreach.  Quoting from the website, we read:

 

“With more than 80% of local churches of various denominations participating in next month’s Hunter Harvest, church unity and community spirit seems to be at an all-time high.  The Hunter Harvest is the fourth stop on an international tour by Harvest Ministries USA with Greg Laurie, a Southern California-based evangelistic organisation that has drawn more than 2.9-million people to Harvest events in the US and Australia to date.”

 

The website article explained that Greg Laurie, “…pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California (the eighth largest church in the US), co-founded the Harvest events in 1990.”

 

Other information on the website gave details of what one could expect by attending Harvest 03.  Hunter Harvest stated that:

 

“Featuring the latest Christian alternative and rock music and a culturally relevant message of faith, Harvest with Greg Laurie will make its first ever visit to the Hunter Region with a four-night evangelistic outreach at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre, September 11–14. Harvest made its Australia debut in 2000 with an event at the Wollongong Entertainment Centre, Wollongong.  Dubbed ‘the evangelical festival that revolutionised the old fashioned revival meetings with its mix of scriptures and pop culture’ (Los Angeles Times August 27, 1998), Greg Laurie’s Harvest events attract a broad audience and particularly appeal to the young and young-at-heart. The Hunter Harvest will feature music by Crystal Lewis, Switchfoot, Hillsong, Steve Grace, The Lads, a 150 voice choir and the Hunter Harvest Band.”

 

Elsewhere on the website the upcoming Saturday night meeting of “Harvest 03” was promoted as a youth event, and was advertised by the following:

 

“Hunter Harvest Jam 03 combines a straightforward gospel presentation by contemporary evangelist, Greg Laurie with the music of christian artists Switchfoot and The Lads.  This radical youth night will provide an opportunity for teenagers and young adults to invite their friends to hear about the gospel in a non-threatening, non-church, atmosphere.”

 

 

Post Event

 

From information presented on the Hunter Harvest website after the event, we read that the “Hunter Harvest 03 was a phenomenal success. The biggest combined church event to be held in the area exceeded expectations as thousands flocked to Newcastle Entertainment Centre September 11-14, 2003.”

 

“Over the four day event, 26,200 people attended, with hundreds unable to get in because of limited seating. Decisions to trust Christ as their Lord and Savior or rededicate their lives to the Lord were made by over 2,400 people. Volunteers and staff involved in putting this event together, as well as attendees, were hugely blessed by great nights of music, worship, prayer, and preaching.”

 

Hunter Harvest claims that on the Saturday night “…so many kids showed up tonight for the Hunter Harvest-Jam, that the venue allowed an extra 500 to come into the venue and sit on the floor, totalling 6500 inside, while another 1000 are in an overflow building, and there are now 2500 kids milling around the outer courtyard with just not enough room in the venue!”

 

Judging by what I saw on the Compass program, this testimony about the crowds of youth would be a fairly accurate account of what took place.  The building was absolutely jam-packed with eager, young people who were expecting an exciting night of fun and entertainment.

 

 

Assessment

 

From what I saw on the compass program, unfortunately, I cannot get enthusiastic about what is claimed by the organizers of the event to be a phenomenally successful evangelistic outreach.  In fact, just the opposite.  I am greatly alarmed by what I saw.  In my opinion, based upon my reading of the Scriptures and my understanding of end-time events, Hunter Harvest and their “Harvest 03” outreach was nothing more than an ungodly, ecumenical rock festival, conducted by a group of apostate churches.

 

Before the promoters and supporters of this event take me to task for labeling their music as rock music, I quote again from the Hunter Harvest website, where the claim is made that Harvest 03 would be “featuring the latest Christian alternative and rock music…” as a dominating feature of their evangelistic outreach.  I am not certain what the "latest Christian alternative" is supposed to mean but the Compass program confirms that they certainly did feature worldly rock music.

 

Although it's possible that someone truly did get saved (salvation is of the Lord and not of man), in reality the outreach will only be phenomenally successful for leading a multitude of biblically illiterate young people into following after the gods of this world and joining in the great end-time apostate church system, “Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth”, a church system which God Himself promises in Revelation chapter 17 and 18, to thoroughly destroy.

 

 

Rock Music

 

In approximately the last two years I have received numerous hostile and abusive emails from offended young people because of the article posted on my website entitled “World Worship”.  The article was initially written in September, 2002, as a tract that was distributed in the local community when Hillsong came to Cairns, and conducted a four day conference.

 

Quoting from that article, I make the claim that:

 

“Spiritual adultery is the sin of preferring the world’s fashions and amusements to the things of the Lord.  Whether knowingly or unknowingly, Hillsong, by their actions, are promoting just that.  Despite whether their motives are good or otherwise, and despite whether they are nice people or otherwise, the simple fact is that they are using the worldly and ungodly medium of rock music, which they naively describe as worship, in their attempts to bring believers and unbelievers alike, into a relationship with a holy God.” 

 

“Worship should not be offered to God, nor should the Gospel be presented in such a way that they are coupled with the standards of the world, for God says, ‘Be not conformed to this world...(Romans 12.2)’  Attempting to use the things that belong to the ‘god of this world’ in order to bring people into the presence of the holy God of the Scriptures is unacceptable to Him.”

 

“Lost sinners can not be called out of the world by a church that has adopted its lifestyle and entertainment values. It is understood by virtually every serious Christian that to employ in worship something that is obviously associated with, or has arisen from an alternative culture of free sex, godlessness, drugs, and emotional orgies, is worse than inappropriate - it is sinful and demonstrates deception.”

 

Naďvely, many of the young Hillsong defenders who write to me believe that rock music originated with God and that the Devil stole it from the church and corrupted it.  However, anyone who has lived through the 1950s and 1960s knows only too well the history of the music that is now being offered in growing numbers of contemporary churches as worship unto the Lord.  The very term "rock-music" has its roots in the name "Rock-and-roll", a style of music which was birthed in sin, teenage rebellion and debauchery.  The name has a direct link to the post World War two promiscuous sexual revolution. 

 

Many of these young rock music lovers also mistakenly believe that the music played by worldly bands and the music played by contemporary Christian bands is somehow different.  Well, one of the groups who performed at Harvest 03 was The Lads, and their song “My Best Friend” was featured in the Compass program.  The Lads sounded the same as any other worldly rock band to me.  They even looked the same as any other worldly rock band.  Even their actions were the same as any other worldly rock band and the animated and enthusiastic response they got from the audience was exactly the same as what any other worldly rock band would receive from a group of fun seeking kids at any other worldly rock festival.

 

Sadly, like Hillsong, the promoters of Harvest 03 have employed the world’s attractions in their attempt to lure crowds of impressionable, pleasure seeking, young people into confessing acceptance of the Lord Jesus Christ.   However, the Gospel that the Christ of the Scriptures promotes demands a denial of self and an abandonment of the world and its pleasures to all who would contemplate becoming His disciple.

 

“If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me (Luke 9:23; Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34).”

 

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world (1 John 2:15-16).”
 

“Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God (James 4:4).”

 

Obviously, these Scriptures are presenting something entirely different from what the organizing churches of Hunter Harvest presented to the thousands of hyped-up, pleasure seeking youth of the Hunter district.

 

 

Ecumenism

 

Regrettably for those who believe “Harvest 03” to have been such a huge success in evangelizing the lost, even if they had truly presented the most acceptable of songs to the Lord as worship, and even if we could delude ourselves for a moment into believing that God really does have a fondness for the world's music, the gathering would still classify as an abomination in the eyes of the Lord.

 

Upon what do I confidently base such a negative and unpleasant assessment?

 

Prior to the event, the Hunter Harvest website claimed, “With more than 80% of local churches of various denominations participating in next month’s Hunter Harvest, church unity and community spirit seems to be at an all-time high.”

 

The website didn’t reveal just who these “local churches of various denominations” would be, but the Compass program certainly did.  Partway through the Compass program, a Presbyterian spokesman revealed that “…there’s about 300 churches registered in the Newcastle/Hunter area, and we have 282 churches formerly registered as active participants and supporters of Hunter Harvest.  That level of unity amongst the churches has been a real blessing.  We have every form of Christian church – whether it’s Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Assemblies of God, Seventh Day Adventist – they’re all united in this event.”

 

Towards the end of the Compass program the scene changes from the main auditorium of the Entertainment Centre to a room where a crowd of volunteers are preparing follow-up letters to the 2400 altar call responders.

 

A spokesman for the follow-up committee comments to the Compass reporter that “…we want to give them every opportunity to be followed up on and to get plugged into a local church.”

 

The camera then pans across the room and focuses upon a sheet which lists the participating local churches within the Newcastle area, in alphabetical order.  Only part of the sheet is visible, but clearly displayed to the viewer are some of the “local churches” that the follow-up committee directed the altar call responders to.

 

Abermain Mission Hall Church; Anglican Branxton Greta Lochinvar; Avondale Seventh Day Adventist College Church; Crossroads Christian Outreach Centre Maitland; East Maitland Salvation Army; Grace Community Inc.; Gresford Congregational Church; Gresford Paterson Anglican; Hope Christian Centre; Hunter Valley Life Centre; Kurri Kurri Catholic Church; Kurri Kurri Church of Christ.

 

Here we have a veritable hotch potch of denominations, most of which do not have a unity in the faith (Ephesians 4:13), some of which do not continue stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine (acts 2:42), and which have not obtained like precious faith with us (2 Peter 1:1), and even a number which preach a Jesus that Paul did not preach, a spirit which we have not received, and a gospel which is clearly not the Gospel of the Bible (2 Corinthians 11:4).

 

This is perhaps the most blatant disobedience to the clear instructions of God that has been demonstrated in “Harvest 03”, because Scripture plainly commands us to separate ourselves from apostates and those who proclaim doctrines that are contrary to the doctrines of the Bible.  The principle of separation from false religions and those who preach another gospel can be found practically from the beginning of God's Word and through to the very end.  It is a subject which God takes very seriously and for mere men to close their eyes and pretend that God will overlook their defiance, for whatever reason, is presumptuous and simply exhibits deception.

 

Psalm 1:1 tells us that "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful."

 

2 Corinthians 6:14-16 solemnly warns us, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?  And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?  And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?"  Verse 17 continues on to instruct God's people, "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing."

 

Ephesians 5:11 clearly instructs us to "...have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them."

 

1 Timothy 6:3 & 5 says that "If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness...from such withdraw thyself."

 

2 John 9-11 clearly reveals God's heart on the matter of who He considers to be truly His and what we are to do about those who claim to be His but really aren't, for He says through John, "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds."

 

God is very concerned that the doctrine He has laid out in Holy Scripture be obeyed.  He has also made it clear that we are to protect the doctrine as delivered to us in the Holy Scriptures.  In the Book of Jude, verses 3 and 4, we read the Lord's exhortation, "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.  For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ."

 

Rather than joining hands in cooperation with those who change the Word of God and preach a different doctrine, church leaders should be exposing them and warning God's sheep to flee from them.  Rather than sitting in fellowship with false brethren who have attacked the faith and who deny the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ, church leaders should be defending the integrity of the faith and pointing out those who would lead the unlearned and unwary off into serving false gods which will lead them to destruction.

 

God's Word is plain.  We are not to join with the enemies of the Lord for any reason, even if it seems worthwhile and would seem to bear fruit.  2 Chronicles 19:2 asks a very pertinent question of those who join with false religious organizations for expediency and convenience: "Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord?"  The obvious answer is "No!"

 

How professing Evangelical and Protestant churches can fellowship with Roman Catholic and Seventh Day Adventist churches, all the while convincing themselves that God is blessing their endeavours, shows an attitude towards God that is either one of total ignorance of Scripture, or a false assurance that all will be well because they are doing it in His Name and for the cause of evangelism.  Maybe they think that God is a pragmatist and that if it appears to work, then He will be happy?  Perhaps there is some other reason for their confidence that God will actually be pleased, but I can’t think what deception that would be.

 

My main cause for alarm is that a multitude of young people are being deceived into thinking that this is what Christianity and being a disciple of Christ is all about.  The church is a place of unending entertainment and fun and if you will just join that with a belief about God, then you can have joy and happiness evermore.  These youth are being preached another “gospel” which is not only blatantly false, but it is syncretistic and brings them into a global organisation that is all inclusive, even with religions that can be easily demonstrated from the Scriptures not to be entitled to the honourable name of Christian.  Gullible and scripturally illiterate young people throughout the world are being taught that so long as someone claims to love Jesus and name the Name of Christ, they are to be accepted as brothers and sisters in Christ.  Perhaps they have never heard the words of Christ Himself where He has said, "Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven (Matthew 7:21)." 

 

The will of the Father is, among other things, to "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world."  Jesus said that "If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever (1 John 2:15-17)."

 

We can probably expect such willingness to side with Rome from the Anglican Bishop of Newcastle who said, “Newcastle is very unique in that, where Roman Catholics and Anglicans work so closely together.  The heads of churches meet regularly and pray together, and we have meals together.  So this event, in some sense, came as a consequence of that sense of unity…” 

 

But what of the AOG pastor who said, “The bridge building going between churches has been awesome.  And really, to be honest, this event would have no power or significance if it wasn’t for that, and it’s amazing, it’s miraculous…My prayer is that this region will know the love of God.  And I’ll be honest with you, it doesn’t particularly worry me which church they go to – as long as they go to a church that loves Jesus.”?

 

The litmus test for a church that claims to "know the love of God" and to "love Jesus", like all other things pertaining to life and godliness, is found in the Scriptures.  In 1 John 5:2-3, we read, "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments."  Loving God is demonstrated in obedience to His commandments, not by some emotional feeling that has been stimulated by a fleshly response to worldly rock music.

 

John 14:15 further instruct us about loving Jesus.  It reads, "If ye love Me, keep My commandments!"  Verse 21 confirms for us who it is that truly loves Jesus, where we read, "He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me."

 

Church leaders who join with apostate and occultic religious organizations, even with the most worthy of intentions, are not people who obey the commandments of Scripture.  Just the opposite, in fact.  They are people who disobey the commandments.

 

 

Another Gospel

 

One of the false churches welcomed as a member of Hunter Harvest and as a participant in this presumptuous attempt to evangelize Newcastle was the Roman Catholic Church.  Surely those that claim to be Bible believing churches, like the Pentecostals and Evangelicals, know that the Roman Catholic religion is a false religion?  Surely the Protestant churches, such as the Anglicans, know enough about the Protestant Reformation to cause them to think twice about reuniting with a system that God rescued them from back in the 1500s?  And surely they know the Scriptures in which God warns His true worshippers to separate themselves from false brethren and false religious systems which deceive the unwary into following after and serving other gods?

 

The Roman Catholic Church is a church that professes to love Jesus, but its leaders demonstrate that they really do not love Jesus, according to the Scriptures we have just read above.  However, I wonder if the AOG pastor, also mentioned above, includes the Roman Catholic Church as a "church that loves Jesus" and if he wouldn't be particularly worried because some of the 2400 altar call responders ended up in that church?  Perhaps, like Pontius Pilate, he will wash his hands and say, "I am innocent of the blood of these young people", somehow convincing himself that all will be well.

 

 

Baptismal Regeneration

 

What gospel and what doctrine does the Roman Catholic Church teach that should be cause enough for all true Bible believers to refrain from joining with them in any sort of activity?  Well, for one thing, they teach baptismal regeneration, that is, that one is “born again” in baptism, that baptism itself saves the soul even when administered to infants.  They also teach that there is no salvation without this baptism, that one must be baptized in their church to be saved. 

 

Item 1263 of the 1994 English version of the Roman Catholic Catechism reads, “By Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin.  In those who have been reborn nothing remains that would impede their entry into the Kingdom of God”

 

In item 1257 we read further, “The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation. … The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are ‘reborn of water and the Spirit.’ God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism…”

 

Item 1265 reads, “Baptism not only purifies from all sins, but also makes the neophyte ‘a new creature,’ an adopted son of God, who has become a ‘partaker of the divine nature,’ member of Christ and co‑heir with him, and a temple of the Holy Spirit.”

 

And just in case we have not understood this diabolical doctrine thus far, item 1250 specifically teaches that infants are “born-again” and regenerated through baptism.  “Born with a fallen human nature and tainted by original sin, children also have need of the new birth in Baptism to be freed from the power of darkness and brought into the realm of the freedom of the children of God … The Church and the parents would deny a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God were they not to confer Baptism shortly after birth.”

 

These teachings contravene the biblical testimony of Acts 16:31 and other Scriptures where we read, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”  Mark 16:16 states that “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”  In their promotion of infant baptism, it should be obvious to anyone that an infant does not have the capacity to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.

 

Infant Baptism and Baptismal Regeneration are serious errors.  The apostle Paul wrote in Philippians, chapter 3, that in salvation everything must be counted as a total loss. To trust in baptism or any other thing than Christ alone will damn your soul.

 

So as not to appear too hard on the Roman Catholic Church, maybe we should mention what the Anglican Church believes about the practice of infant baptism.

 

On page 500 of "An Australian Prayer Book" a publication of the General Synod of the Church of England in Australia, we find the official church procedure for "A Service for the Public Baptism of Infants to be Used in the Church".  On page 501, we read what the priest has to read out to the congregation as well as part of the prayer he makes to God.  We read, "Let us then pray that God will grant to this child that which by nature he cannot have, that he may be baptized with water and the Holy Spirit, and received into Christ's holy church, and be made a living member of his body."  In the prayer the priest says these words, "Give your Holy Spirit to this child, that he may be born again and made an heir of everlasting salvation..."

 

Like the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church teaches paedobaptism, that is, baptismal regeneration effecting immediate salvation for unbelieving children.  The infant is supposedly made a living member of the body of Christ by the sprinkling of water upon its head.  According to their official church teaching, the Anglican believes that the infant receives the Holy Spirit, is born again and made an heir of salvation through baptism, a belief that, in times past, cost many Anabaptists their lives because they would not accept it.

 

Contrary to Roman Catholic and Church of England belief, Scripture tells us in John 1:12, "...as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name."

 

1 Peter 1:23 tells us that we are born again by the Word of God, not by the act of baptism.  "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever."

 

Baptism, whether it be by sprinkling or immersion, has no power to save anyone.  It is a response to the Gospel, the Word of God, that saves.  Paul wrote in Romans 1:16, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek."

 

 

Anathema

 

The Bible clearly warns in Galatians 1:6-9, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:  Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.  But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.  As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”

 

The Greek word translated in our English Bibles as “accursed” is “anathema”.  Twice Paul states that if anyone, even if it be himself or an angel from heaven, preach any other Gospel, let him be anathema.  However, the Roman Catholic Church teaches that if anyone preaches the biblical Gospel of Salvation by faith alone in Christ alone, and denies that baptism saves the soul, let him be anathema.

 

Presently, the Roman Catholic Church still has 125 anathemas denouncing Evangelical and Protestant Christians (which includes the AOG and other Pentecostals who accept them as part of Hunter Harvest) for rejecting Rome's man made doctrines, and the current Pope has said he is not prepared to remove any of them.  The Council of Trent has not been rejected by modern Catholicism. The modern Popes and Councils continue to cite the Council of Trent as authoritative.

 

Quoting from Dave Hunt’s Berean Call newsletter of March 1995, we read:

 

The Council of Trent (1545‑63) stated that while Christ “merited for us justification by His most holy passion…the instrumental cause [of justification/regeneration] is the sacrament of baptism…If anyone says that baptism is…not necessary for salvation, let him be anathema.” Vatican II (1962‑65) reconfirms all of Trent 2 and reiterates the necessity of baptism for salvation, as does the universal Catechism of the Catholic Church released by the Vatican in 1993, which states, “Baptism is necessary for salvation…the Church does not know of any [other] means…that assures entry into eternal beatitudes…”

 

Trent anathematizes all who deny that “the merit of Jesus Christ is applied…to infants by the sacrament of baptism” or who deny that by baptism “the guilt of original sin is remitted…” Today's Code of Canon Law (Canon 849) declares that those baptized are thereby “freed from their sins, are reborn as children of God and…incorporated in the Church.” Canon 204 states, “The Christian faithful are those who…have been incorporated in Christ through baptism” and are thereby members of the one, true Catholic Church.

 

For centuries before the Reformation, baptismal regeneration was rejected by Bible‑believing Christians, whom the Roman Catholic Church therefore persecuted, tortured and slaughtered by the millions. Non‑Catholics taught from Scripture that baptism was only for those who had believed the gospel: “teach all nations…baptizing them [who have believed]” (Matthew 28:19); “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized” (Acts 2:41); ‘[W]hat doth hinder me to be baptized? …If thou believest [in Christ] with all thine heart, thou mayest.” (Acts 8:35‑37). Infants can't believe in Christ.

 

(From “Batismal Regeneration?” by Dave Hunt, Berean Call newsletter, March 1995)

 

Perhaps it is worth noting that not just one billion Roman Catholics are being misled about their salvation by the teaching of Baptismal Regeneration, but also the members of the Greek Orthodox, the Russian Orthodox, the Church of Christ, the Mormon Church, as well as some Lutheran and Methodist churches, and not to forget the Church of England and Episcopalians.

 

 

Mary Our Advocate & Mediatrix

 

The Roman Catholic Church officially teaches that Mary is “Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix”.  This is quite literally another gospel.  Marian devotion is a heretical doctrine that brazenly contradicts the clear teaching of many Scriptures which claim the Lord Jesus Christ as our Advocate, our Benefactor and Mediator, and the Holy Spirit as out Comforter and Helper.

 

“…we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (1 John 2:1).”

 

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time (1 Timothy 2:5-6).”

 

“If ye love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you (John14:15-17).”

 

The Roman Catholic teaching invalidates the biblical Gospel message, denigrating the role of Christ as our exclusive Advocate and Mediator and ridicules the role of the Holy Spirit as Comforter and Helper.

 

This is another doctrine and another gospel, and has led a multitude into trusting and worshipping another saviour who cannot save. 

 

Why would any professing Bible believer risk allowing even one of the youth who supposedly came forward for salvation at Harvest 03 to be ensnared by such deception and led off into a lost eternity?

 

 

Intercession Of The Dead

 

The Roman Catholic Church also officially teaches, in contradiction to the Scriptures, that we are to have communion with the dead and that the dead can intercede on our behalf.

 

In item 958 of the 1994 English version of the Roman Catholic Catechism, we read the occultic teaching.

 

“In full consciousness of this communion of the whole Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, the Church in its pilgrim members, from the very earliest days of the Christian religion, has honoured with great respect the memory of the dead; and ‘because it is a holy and a wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins’ she offers her suffrages for them. Our prayer for them is capable not only of helping them, but also of making their intercession for us effective.”

 

If a person is not saved before they die, then there is no point in praying that they may be "loosed from their sins" after the event.  The Bible tells us in Hebrews 9:27 That "it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment."  The next thing after death is judgment, not salvation.  It is utter unbiblical nonsense to believe that "...our prayer for them is capable...of helping them..." if they have not believed upon the Lord Jesus Christ prior to the grave.

 

It is also utter unbiblical nonsense to believe that the dead's intercession on our behalf will achieve anything worthwhile, and not only that, but it denies Christ as our unique and only worthy intercessor.

 

"It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us (Romans 8:34)."

 

Hebrews 7:25 further reveals that it is Christ who "is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them", and not some relative or friend who has gone on ahead.

 

 

Transubstantiation

 

The Roman Catholic Church also teaches the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist (transubstantiation), and that in their blasphemous mass Christ is perpetually immolated (offered as a sacrifice) on Catholic altars as an ongoing sacrifice for sin.  This practice is a blatant denial of the full efficacy of Christ’s once‑for‑all, finished sacrifice on the cross of Calvary.  It is also a doctrine that caused a multitude of Bible believing disciples of Christ to be tortured and executed, simply because they would not bow the knee to the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church. 

 

The Roman Catholic Church also teaches sacramental grace, that is, that the merits and graces Christ won on the cross are “conferred gradually and continually” through the sacraments.  Salvation is presented as an ongoing process rather than an immediate and accomplished reality.

 

And what else shall we mention?  What of such unbiblical doctrines as Purgatory?  This is an addition to Christ's suffering on the cross where one must personally suffer for sin in order to be purified for heaven.  This is a denial of the biblical testimony of the sufficiency of Christ’s atoning sacrifice and that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.  If Purgatory were a real place, where one could pay part of the price required for sin, then salvation is by works.  The Bible clearly states that salvation can not be obtained by works, otherwise we would be able to boast of our own achievements.

 

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9)."

 

"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost (Titus 3:5)."

 

And what of indulgences where one can suffer for the sins others, and the wearing of a medal or a brown scapular or saying Hail Marys or a Mass in honor of the dead which can supposedly reduce purgatorial suffering?

 

Roman Catholicism also defends such heretical and blasphemous beliefs as apostolic succession.  This belief promotes that the Pope is a direct descendant of the apostle Peter.

 

They also teach papal authority and infallibility.  Pronunciations by the Pope can actually contradict Scripture, and must be obeyed by church members.  They do not believe in the Protestant claim of sola scriptura (Scripture alone).

 

Roman Catholic doctrine claims that there is no salvation outside the Church of Rome and that Protestants and Evangelicals are unsaved and destined for hell unless they are baptized and converted to their particular religion.

 

“There is but one universal Church of the faithful, outside which no one at all is saved (Pope Innocent III, 4th Lateran Council, 1215).”

 

“We declare, say, define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff (Pope Boniface VIII, the bull, Unam Sanctum, 1302).”

 

“The most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can profit by the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their almsgivings, their other works of Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church (Pope Eugene IV, the Bull Cantate Domino,1441).”

 

Roman Catholics preach a gospel that is contrary to the Gospel Paul preached.  They preach a salvation that is available through the sacrament of baptism and reject the Protest and Evangelical belief that salvation is by faith alone.  They preach another gospel and a false salvation that has been responsible for leading billions into a Christless eternity.  And yet, the cooperating churches of Hunter Harvest, which claim to be evangelizing the lost of the Newcastle region for Jesus Christ, include such false religious organizations as the Roman Catholic Church as co-workers together in an evangelistic endeavour.

 

The question I would like to ask is how many of the young people who came to Harvest 03, and who responded to the altar call after being thoroughly wound up by deafening rock music, thinking this is what being a disciple of Christ is all about, got “plugged into” a local Roman Catholic Church by the follow-up team?  How many of these trusting young people were sent off to the false Roman church to be indoctrinated with heresies that will lead them to worship foreign gods?  And which of the leaders of these cooperating churches will stand up and be accountable for this gross error?

 

 

Seventh-Day Adventists

 

If joining forces with the Roman Catholic Church is not enough to cause alarm bells to ring, then perhaps we should speak about the Seventh-Day Adventists who were a part of Harvest 03 as well.  As the Presbyterian spokesman said, “We have every form of Christian church – whether it’s Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Assemblies of God, Seventh Day Adventist – they’re all united in this event.”

 

What kind of ecumenical deception is this?  Since when did the Seventh-Day Adventists become a “Christian church” as the Presbyterian man claims?  I thought Christians were supposed to be people who were disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ?  Acts 11:26 says that “the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”  These were people who believed and abided in the doctrine of Christ.  John 8:31 records Jesus’ own words, where He said to the Jews which believed on him, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.”  There is a very loose meaning to the word “Christian” in our ecumenical and politically correct modern era.  The word can be used for any religious group or even for any person who leads a fairly moralistic lifestyle.  But it just adds to the forest of confusion that genuine seekers of truth must slash their way through in order to arrive at what really is genuine.

 

In 2 John 1:9, we read the sobering words, “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.”  Like the Roman Catholic Church, Seventh-Day Adventism disqualifies itself from the label of Christian on numerous counts.

 

Seventh‑Day Adventism arose from the aftermath of the Second Adventist Movement of the mid‑1800s which was made up of the followers of William Miller, a man who falsely prophesied that Christ would return on October 22, 1844.  After the embarrassing failure of the prophecy new groups formed.  One group was the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, more commonly known as the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Another was the Seventh Day Adventists, formed by the followers of a false prophetess named Mrs. Ellen G. White (1827‑1915).

 

In the name “Seventh-Day Adventist”, which was officially adopted in 1860 by Mrs. White, “Seventh‑day” refers to their adherence to the Old Testament Sabbath, of observing Saturday as the day of rest and worship. “Adventist” refers to the SDA belief that they are the fulfillment of prophecies pertaining to the latter days remnant and the coming of Christ.

 

The Seventh-Day Adventist’s source of authority is the prophecies and writings of Mrs. White, which are exalted as God‑inspired in the SDA movement.  She was believed to possess the gift of prophecy and to be an inspired commentator of Scripture.  Mrs. White claimed to be, “a lesser light to lead men and women to the greater light”, a latter day John the Baptist you might say.  

 

On page 93 of the official SDA publication, “Questions on Doctrine”, it is claimed that, “the Holy Spirit opened to her mind important events and called her to give certain instructions for these last days, and inasmuch as these instructions, in our understanding, are in harmony with the Word of God, which Word alone is able to make us wise unto salvation, we as a denomination accept them as inspired counsels from the Lord”  According to SDA doctrine, if an SDA member does not accept Mrs. White as infallible they have no salvation!  The Seventh-Day Adventist movement has a source of authority for their faith and practice that is not in agreement with the source of faith and practice of the Bible believing Christian.

 

Like the leaders of the Jehovah’s Witnesses movement, Ellen G. White falsely prophesied the return of Christ for 1843, and then 1844 when it didn’t occur.  However, rather than humble herself and admit her error, she insisted that Christ had indeed come as prophesied, but not to earth.  Instead, He had entered “the holy of holies” in heaven “to make an atonement for all who are shown to be entitled to its benefits.”

 

Mrs. White’s doctrine also teaches that “Christ took upon His sinless nature our sinful nature ... Christ took human nature and bore the infirmities and degeneracy of the race.  He took our nature and its deteriorating condition (Questions on Doctrine, pp. 654‑656).”  In refutation, Jesus’ words are recorded in John 14:30 where He claimed “…the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.”  If, as the SDAs teach, Christ truly acquired a sinful nature, then there could have been no sinless Lamb of God for the Passover sacrifice, and consequently no Savior to take away the sin of the world.  God required a holy and perfect sacrifice, a sacrifice that remained holy even after death.

 

Ellen G. White also promoted the doctrine that observance of Sunday as the Lord’s Day is the Mark of the Beast of Revelation 13:16-18.  In agreement with Ellen G. White, the SDA movement teaches that, though we are saved by grace, we are kept in a position of grace by the observance of the Law.  Christ only paid a “partial atonement” in His sacrifice upon the Cross of Calvary.  SDAs teach that one must keep the Old Testament dietary and ceremonial laws, paying particular attention to keep the Saturday Sabbath and the Ten Commandments, and most importantly, making sure to faithfully tithe, in order to retain their salvation.

 

It makes you wonder what all the Sunday worshippers of Hunter Harvest have in such common with the SDAs so as to unite with them in an effort to evangelize Newcastle for the Lord Jesus Christ, doesn’t it?

 

Again, the question I would like to ask is how many of the young people who came to Harvest 03, and who responded to the altar call after being thoroughly wound up by deafening rock music, thinking this is what being a disciple of Christ is all about, got “plugged into” a local Seventh-Day Adventist church by the follow-up team?  How many of these trusting young people were sent off to the false SDA church to be indoctrinated with heresies that will lead them to worship foreign gods?  And which of the leaders of these cooperating churches will stand up and be accountable for this gross error?

 

 

Fun & Entertainment

 

In the recent couple of decades it has become increasingly obvious that the love of rock music and rock bands, complete with all the lighting, multimedia and stage effects, is the irresistible lure being used by many evangelists to entice starry-eyed, entertainment addicted youth to attend their outreach meetings.  In the Compass program featuring the Harvest 03 evangelistic outreach, the expectations of the crowds of youth was clearly apparent.  If there had been no rock music and no promise of a “good time of fun” it is doubtful if even anyone under the age of 30 years would have turned up for Harvest 03. 

 

During the course of the Compass program, the interviewer and camera crew asked a number of youth about their expectations and assessment before, during and after the show.  Some of the responses to the questions asked are very revealing.

 

For example, on the Saturday afternoon the camera crew traveled on a bus loaded with youth from a Uniting Church on their way to the Newcastle Entertainment Centre.  One school aged young lady in response to their questions tendered that “I’m just expecting to have a lot of fun.  Go out and have a good time.”  Her friend in the seat beside her was also looking forward to the excitement.  She said, “One of the bands came and played at our school and they said it was good fun, and I just wanted to have some fun.”

 

Up at the Entertainment Centre the compass crew interview two youth leaders, a young couple from the same Uniting Church.  The young lady tells the interviewer that “We just really want to give these kids a good time.  It’s going to be a great way to introduce them to God.  A lot of these kids don’t go to church on a regular basis.”  The young man said, “Basically, the power of the Gospel, the message really brings hope, and I think to a lot of these kids, it’s the hope that they really need.  It’s going to be really good.”

 

As if to demonstrate just how really good it was going to be, the next scene shows the crowds of youth responding to Darlene Zschech and the Hillsong band doing a number.

 

Later, the Compass reporter interviews a number of youth sitting in the audience with their girlfriends.  The first youth responds to the questions of what they though about the event with, “Um, good show.  Yesterday was a good show.  Made me feel a bit better about myself, you know.  I’m coming back for more.”  The second youth told them, “I just got told from me mate it was a good night out, so I thought, ‘Why not?’”

 

 

Feelings & Experience

 

The Camera crew and interviewer are speaking to different people at the front after the altar call.  A middle aged man battling his emotions tells them.  “I just needed to be told, or shown, where He [God] fitted in, and I came down [to the front] and I felt a huge burden lifted from my shoulders, and I feel a lot different.”

 

A young lady with her boyfriend draped over her shoulders tells the Compass grew, “I’ve always been, like, challenged with whether or not to get up [in response to the altar call], and I’m proud of myself that I got up tonight – especially after meeting these two girls who are just awesome, and made me cry, and just ‘cause I’m so happy.  Like, everyone here is feeling it I reckon.  It’s just awesome.  Like a feeling of release, like, that you know you can be happy for the rest of your life.  All you’ve gotta do is believe in God.  It’s amazing.”

 

One of the two “awesome” girls, who is acting as an usher or counselor at the meeting, tries to explain to the Compass reporter what is going on when people come down to the front during an altar call.  She says, “It’s like someone’s come down from the heavens and shot an arrow in every single person’s heart, and it burns so much, and you don’t know what that feeling is, and it’s just the Holy Spirit.  I know it now it was the Holy Spirit.  And just cleanses you right through.  It’s just the most awesome feeling.  It’s like you’ve had a shower on the inside.  And it’s a burning – and you can’t – until you go down the front, it doesn’t leave you.  So it’s like a burden, and once you get there it’s lifted completely."

 

Another girl with the same group professes that "I felt a bit empty inside, so I thought I’d get up and get into it."

 

The young lady youth leader from the Uniting Church tells the camera, “They realize how special they are to God, and what God means to them in their life.  Yeah, you know, how could you not – how could you not answer that call that Greg Laurie made?”

 

 

Confusion

 

Towards the end of the program the camera crew and reporter are in the pastor’s office of AOG Eastlakes Community Church.  The pastor is giving his opinion of what happened during Harvest 03.  He makes the statement that “Most people who respond are simply taking one step in a process, and that’s very much how I see it.  And I don’t say, ‘Well, that’s it, you’re in!’, you know.  I just say, ‘Well, you know, you need to really work out your faith, and you need to commit to church.  You need to build relationships with people and with God, and let it grow from there.”

 

Contrary to the pastor's personal belief, however, the Hunter Harvest website reports that "Decisions to trust Christ as their Lord and Savior or rededicate their lives to the Lord were made by over 2,400 people."

 

Were these people who made decisions to trust Christ as Lord and Saviour actually saved?  Or were they simply taking one step in a process, as the pastor says?  Perhaps this pastor is confusing salvation with sanctification?  If someone hears the Gospel, and in an attitude of repentance believes it, and makes a decision to trust Christ as their Lord and Saviour, then they are saved.  The person is instantaneously justified as righteous on Christ's account.  There is no process that takes place as far as salvation is concerned.  Sanctification is the the process that takes place, not salvation.  But the sanctification process is the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer after salvation, not an unbeliever.  But I guess if a person believes that rock music and worldly entertainment and joining with the enemies of Christ is a good way to evangelize the lost then it shouldn't be any great wonder if confusion raises its ugly head in other areas of his understanding.

 

However, like the pastor, I think I would be hesitant to claim as saved most of the people that I observed at the front of the auditorium responding to Greg Laurie's invitation.  If these people were coming in response to the Holy Spirit's conviction of sin in their lives, it certainly didn't show.  In all of the testimonies made during the program, I failed to hear one that made even the remotest mention of the convicting power of the Holy Spirit coming upon then, or that they realised for the first time that they were a sinner in desperate need of a Saviour.  Just the opposite, in fact.  Most seemed to have the attitude that they were somehow very important to God and deserved for Him to bless them in some way.  Most of the young men seemed more interested and occupied in cuddling and smooching up to their scantily clad girlfriends.  There seemed to be a lot of gushy sentimentalism rather than a holy conviction.

 

Perhaps this AOG pastor realizes that the hyped up youth were not really responding to a clear presentation of the Gospel but that they were really only responding to the emotionally charged atmosphere, and once the dust settles a bit, most will think twice about what they have done, that is, if they ever arrive at the place where they hear that they must forsake the world and the lusts of the flesh and deny themselves if they really want to follow Christ.

 

Sadly, this type of evangelism that makes people feel better about themselves, rather than convicting them of sin and calling them to repentance, an evangelism that gives them a night of fun and entertainment, is on the increase as church leaders scramble to build the biggest church in town at any cost.  Geraldine Douge, the presenter of the Compass program commented in closing that Harvest 03 was “…a style of evangelism that’s causing real momentum throughout the Christian world.”  But it's a style of evangelism that creates nothing but confusion, that is willing to overlook what the Bible teaches about joining together with non-Christian, and even occultic religions for the sake of enticing members, that will use any method, even the unholy medium of rock music and stage effects to attract people who otherwise wouldn't give them a second glance.

 

But we live in an age which the Bible prophesies will be a time of great peril.  Mankind will suffer a terrible disease in the last days called the love of self.  This love of self will cause mankind to love pleasure more than they love God (2 Timothy 3:1-5).  Love of self will cause people who profess to be Christians to seek out teachers who will preach messages that make them feel good about themselves, rather than convicting them of sin.  They will shun teachers who preach sound Bible doctrine and gather to themselves false teachers who preach myths and stories they have made up (2 Timothy 4:3-4).  Harvest 03 looks like being part of the fulfillment of that prophecy.  Rather than being a phenomenal success for the cause of Christ, it has been nothing more that a deception that will lead the pleasure-seeking, self-indulgent youth of our day into serving the false gods of this world.

 

Remarkably, I recently read a short article that is pertinent to the subject under discussion.  If Spurgeon thought things were bad in his day he would most likely be shocked by what is going on today in the name of Christ.  I have included the article below.

 

 

 


 

 

Feeding Sheep Or Amusing Goats?

by
C. H. Spurgeon

 

 

An evil is in the professed camp of the Lord, so gross in its impudence, that the most short-sighted can hardly fail to notice it. During the past few years it has developed at an abnormal rate, even for evil it has worked like leaven until the whole lump ferments. The devil has seldom done a cleverer thing than hinting to the Church that part of their mission is to provide entertainment for the people, with a view to winning them. From speaking out as the Puritans did, the Church has gradually toned down her testimony, then winked at and excused the frivolities of the day. Then she tolerated them in her borders. Now she has adopted them under the plea of reaching the masses.

 

My first contention is that providing amusement for the people is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as a function of the Church. If it is a Christian work why did not Christ speak of it? "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." That is clear enough. So it would have been if he had added, ‘and provide amusement for those who do not relish the gospel.’ No such words, however, are to be found. It did not seem to occur to him. Then again, "He gave some apostles, some prophets, some pastors and teachers, for the work of the ministry." Where do entertainers come in? The Holy Spirit is silent concerning them. Were the prophets persecuted because they amused the people or because they refused? The concert has no martyr roll.

 

Again, providing amusement is in direct antagonism to the teaching and life of Christ and all His apostles. What was the attitude of the Church to the world? "Ye are the salt," not the sugar candy - something the world will spit out, not swallow. Short and sharp was the utterance, "Let the dead bury their dead." He was in awful earnestness!

 

Had Christ introduced more of the bright and pleasant elements into his mission, he would have been more popular when they went back, because of the searching nature of his teaching. I do not hear him say, ‘Run after these people, Peter, and tell them we will have a different style of service tomorrow, something short and attractive with little preaching. We will have a pleasant evening for the people. Tell them they will be sure to enjoy it. Be quick, Peter, we must get the people somehow?’ Jesus pitied sinners, sighed and wept over them, but never sought to amuse them. In vain will the Epistles be searched to find any trace of the gospel of amusement. Their message is, ‘Come out, keep out, keep clean out!’ Anything approaching fooling is conspicuous by its absence. They had boundless confidence in the gospel and employed no other weapon. After Peter and John were locked up for preaching, the Church had a prayer meeting, but they did not pray, ‘Lord grant unto thy servants that by a wise and discriminating use of innocent recreation we may show these people how happy we are.’ If they ceased not for preaching Christ, they had not time for arranging entertainments. Scattered by persecution, they went everywhere preaching the gospel. They ‘turned the world upside down’. That is the only difference! Lord, clear the Church of all the rot and rubbish the devil has imposed on her and bring us back to apostolic methods.

 

Lastly, the mission of amusement fails to effect the end desired. It works havoc among young converts. Let the careless and scoffers, who thank God because the Church met them half-way, speak and testify. Let the heavy laden who found peace through the concert not keep silent! Let the drunkard to whom the dramatic entertainment had been God’s link in the chain of the conversion, stand up! There are none to answer. The mission of amusement produces no converts. The need of the hour for today's ministry is believing scholarship joined with earnest spirituality, the one springing from the other as fruit from the root. The need is biblical doctrine, so understood and felt, that it sets men on fire.

 

 


 

 

Click to hear the message:

 

 

"Open To The Light"

 

Pastor Steve Gibb of Trinity Baptist Church in Cairns, Australia.

Preaching on the subject of "Fun and Entertainment in the Churches".

 

 

 


 

 

For more articles on "Ecumenism"

 

Go to my "Ecumenism" page

 




 

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