By Jay Rogers
Published October 15, 2014
When I first encountered the following quote on a popular pro-life blog, I had to do a double take and reread it in full context.
Remember that these abortionists are misguided. They are sinners, just like you and me. And they are also REDEEMABLE. They are not our enemy. Our enemy is the sin of abortion.
These misguided souls are our brothers and sisters in Christ, whether you like it or not. Let this be a reminder to pray for their conversion with increased fervor.
If you don’t believe that these abortionists featured in “After Tiller” can experience a conversion, then you don’t know the same God I do. The God I serve is in the business of miracles.
On one hand Abby Johnson says abortionists are “our brothers and sisters in Christ.” Then she asks us to “pray for their conversion.” Although tempered with some truth, this is a serious error.
First, people who are unrepentant and murder children for a living are not our “brothers and sisters in Christ.” No Christian disagrees that an abortionist can repent and experience the love and grace of Jesus Christ. No one disagrees that our enemy is sin and the devil. But are abortionists already our “brothers and sisters in Christ” because they may be redeemable? Of course not!
Second, the idea that abortionists are simply “misguided souls” who are “just like you and me” belies a deep underlying misunderstanding of what is meant by “conversion” and “salvation.” While it is true that believers in Jesus Christ are sinners in that we fall into sins of omission and commission, to equate the abortionist’s unrepentant sin of child murder with the struggle that believers wage against sin is a shocking perversion of the Gospel.
The Word of God itself makes a strong delineation between those who love God and those who hate Him. What does the Word of God say about those who are unregenerate and not yet converted to Christ?
- They are slaves to sin (Romans 6:17).
- They are haters of God (Romans 1:30).
- They are haters of Christ (John 15:18-20).
- They are haters of Christ’s followers (Matthew 10:22).
- They are children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3).
- They are children of the devil (1 John 3:10).
While it is true that we are all sinners and deserve hell, the doctrine of “total depravity” does not mean that each sinner is as bad as he can possibly be. Nor does it mean that all sins are equally as abominable in the sight of God. In fact, the “shedding of innocent blood” is singled out many times in Scripture as something that God especially hates (cf. Proverbs 6:17). That is not to whitewash the nature of sin in general. In fact, in order for there to be the “Good News,” there must first be the “Bad News.” By nature, we have hearts that are hardened toward God both by our sinful nature and a lifetime of sinful actions that add up with “compound interest.” This is a most radical corruption.
Jeremiah 17:9 – The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
Romans chapter 3:10-18 is the famous passage by the Apostle Paul that gives a litany of scriptures that show that non-believers are by nature at hateful toward God.
As it is written:
“There is none righteous, no, not one;
There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.
They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.”
“Their throat is an open tomb;
With their tongues they have practiced deceit”
“The poison of asps is under their lips”;
“Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
Destruction and misery are in their ways;
And the way of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
From a modern perspective, this is “hateful” language toward sinners. In fact, liberal theologians have committed the error of stating that although Jesus preached love, it was that Pharisaical scoundrel, Saul of Tarsus, otherwise known as St. Paul, who lobbed a stink bomb into the newly born “religion of love.” Of course, liberals ignore the dozens of scriptures in which Jesus himself speaks of hellfire and eternal condemnation for those who will not enter the kingdom of God.
Softening the Heart – Is it Scriptural?
It is true that the Bible uses the hardening or softening of the heart as a metaphor for those who come to saving faith in God. There are dozens of scriptures that speak of this. But who is ultimately responsible for our salvation? It is the Lord himself who hardens and softens.
Exodus 7:3 – But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt.
Note that what God has decreed always comes to pass. God promised to harden Pharaoh’s heart and in response, Pharaoh hardened his own heart.
Exodus 8:15 – But when Pharaoh saw that there was a respite, he hardened his heart and would not listen to them, as the Lord had said.
Then as a result of Pharaoh hardening his own heart, God hardened it to the point where he could not even hear the words of Moses and Aaron.
Exodus 9:12 – But the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had spoken to Moses.
Exodus 10:20 – But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the people of Israel go.
Throughout Scripture, we see it is the Lord who hardens and softens hearts.
Ezekiel 11:19 – I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh.
Ezekiel 36:26 – And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
John 12:39-40 – Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.”
Romans 9:18 – So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
No one by the strength of their own will has the power to soften their own heart so that God may account them “good enough” to merit salvation. Neither do Christians have the power to soften sinners’ hearts. Only God may do that. Although we can’t pretend to know the will of God perfectly, there is a simple way of understanding and applying this truth.
- If God has hardened the hearts of sinners, then harsh preaching will harden them more.
- If sinners are not convicted by the Holy Spirit of their sin, then soft preaching that affirms them in their sin will also harden them.
- If God has softened a sinner’s heart, then hard preaching will convict them of their sin and lead them to repentance.
- If the Holy Spirit has already convicted them of sin, then soft preaching might still serve to lead them accept the love and mercy of God – but it is still a deficient Gospel.
But the issue isn’t hard preaching vs. soft preaching. The objective is to preach a pure Gospel full of truth with a heart of love for all.
The Gospel tells us that we are all sinners and deserve nothing more than the wrath of God. Therefore, repentance of sin should be taught and preached. Those who are born-again as a result of hearing the Gospel are able to repent and believe. Christ’s perfect righteousness is imputed to us by grace through faith as a free gift. Our sins are imputed to Christ through His once and for all sacrifice. Our sins are all washed away by the blood Jesus shed on the cross. This is called justification. Not only are our sins forgiven – which is a great thing – but Christ also broke the power of sin in our lives at the cross. We are then sanctified or “made holy” as we continue to grow in grace.
This is true conversion.
By way of disclaimer, I am Reformed in my theology of salvation. However, none of what I’ve claimed here would have been foreign to the great scholars of the Catholic Church such as Augustine of Hippo or Thomas Aquinas, who certainly taught that we obtain salvation by the grace of God, who alone is able to change hearts. This would not have been foreign to the many popular Arminian preachers, such as John Wesley, Andrew Murray, A.W. Tozer or Leonard Ravenhill. They might disagree with a few of the above points, but they would certainly agree with the following.
Soft preaching can just as well “love” sinners into the pit of hell because it justifies them in their sin rather than pointing them to the cross. However, the message of the cross will always be offensive to those who are perishing. This is unavoidable. A cross-less message is a message that is powerless to save. Of course, we must preach out of a heart of love, having been forgiven ourselves, showing the grace and mercy of Christ we have received.
Truth vs. Experience
What of the charge that sidewalk preachers are hateful and ineffective because they and yell and scream at women?
First, “screaming” is a subjective term. In the few seconds that these preachers have to reach a women entering the front door of a death mill, there is a sense of urgency. There is wisdom crying out in the street (Proverbs 1:20-33).
Here in Orlando the sidewalk counselors use “truth horns.” At right is a picture of Reilly Sproul, who is R.C. Sproul Jr.‘s son (and R.C. Sproul’s grandson), pleading with abortion bound women at Orlando Women’s Center to save their babies. He is adopted. He is telling the women that his birth mother loved him enough to give him to a loving family and how much he loves his adoptive family. No one can doubt this is a precious example of God’s grace. I’ve seen God use all sorts of methods and demeanors to save lives such as Reilly Sproul’s.
I don’t make the presumption that anyone is wrong when they say sidewalk counselors need to be compassionate in their preaching. I do fault them for really bad theology when they presume to call people who are trying to save lives, “hateful” or a “cult” — as some have done on social media and elsewhere. I will continue to defend street ministers who preach the Truth against these attacks.
Second, it is never a legitimate argument to pit experience against biblical truth. Abby Johnson may be able to show a hundred converts to the pro-life cause out of a gentle and loving witness. I may be able to show in central Florida alone a few dozen true conversions to Jesus Christ who came through a loving witness that included some harsh words and confrontation. I can also show at least a few dozen abortion “doctors” who simply quit doing abortions after being exposed to their business associates, OB/GYN patients and neighbors as child murderers.
In her book, Targets of Hatred, abortion clinic owner, Patricia Baird-Windle, stated that the Aware Woman abortion center had a total of 24 abortionists over the years who chose to quit rather than be exposed as child killers by pro-life advocates. We don’t know for a fact whether any of them ever came to know Jesus Christ as their Savior. However, we need to face the reality that there will always be a reprobate element in this world. God hardens those whom He hardens. Note that Pat Windle titled her book, Targets of Hatred. In the end, she completely ignored the dozens of Christians who prayed for her conversion, talked to her one on one, and had nothing but a loving and long suffering attitude toward her.
One could argue that if a few had not been so harsh with Pat Windle or if others had just loved her more, then she could have been loved into the kingdom of heaven. But that is simply a false hope. It ignores a simple truth. We can harden our own hearts, but only God can soften our hearts. And despite the experience of those who have come to the Lord out of either hard love or soft love, our mandate is to preach the Gospel to all creation.
Sinners an active role in hardening their own hearts. What do we do then about those who have hardened themselves against God and will not ever be saved? Even in those cases when there is not true repentance, we can rejoice when an abortionist quits because babies will be saved. We don’t need to shed endless tears over the wicked who refuse to repent.
In fact, Jesus even commanded His apostles in Matthew 10:14, “And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town.”
This essentially means we should concentrate on those who have not yet heard the Gospel. This does not mean we cannot be long suffering with the wicked and continue to work for their salvation.
God can change the heart of the most hardened sinner. But it will not be due to our continual work to try to “soften” their heart by neglecting the hard sayings of Scripture. When the full Gospel is preached, then we have an assurance that souls are being won to Christ. With a deficient Gospel, we can never know if former abortionists aren’t simply being won to a “cause.”
I would like to believe that the pro-life movement will reform itself. Unfortunately, what I believe is that even the word “pro-life” will in time become irrelevant and meaningless as a description for defending all Persons who are created in the image of God. What is needed is not a simple reform, but a revolution, a 180 degree shift toward a biblical, Christ-centered ministry that will take the Gospel of Life to the gates of hell.
- The Forerunner: America's campus newspaper
- The Forerunner Weblog: Archived blog articles by category
- The Boston Awakening: It's time for another Great Awakening!
- Predvestnik: Articles translated from the Russian language Forerunner
- Russian Predvestnik: Russian Forerunner (in Russian!)
- The Mandate: China's Christian newspaper
- El Campeón: Spanish Champion (in Spanish!)
- Pakistani Forerunner: Articles on Christian foundations in Urdu!
- Turkish Forerunner: Apologetics for Christians in Turkey!
- The Champion: Proclaiming the Crown Rights of King Jesus!
- The Puritan Storm: A chronicle of the neo-Puritan revival
- Chalcedon Report: Articles from the magazine by staff and friends
- Why Creeds and Confessions? Foundations in Biblical Orthodoxy
- The Four Keys to the Millennium: Foundations in Biblical Eschatology
- In The Days of These Kings: The Book of Daniel in Preterist Perspective
DVDs & Online Videos
- The Abortion Matrix: Ending Child Sacrifice and the Culture of Death
- The Real Jesus: A Defense of the Historicity and Divinity of Christ
- God's Law and Society: Now includes a free Study Guide!
- The Beast of Revelation: Identified: Ken Gentry's powerful teaching
- Abortion Clinic 911 Calls: Exposing the Dangers of Abortion to Women
- Amazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism
- A Revival Account Asbury 1970: What is true Revival?
- Massacre of Innocence: The Occult Roots of Abortion
- World Changers: A Blueprint for Revival and Reformation
- Jesus Christ: Lord of All of Life! 1998 Reconstruction Conference
- U.S. Taxpayers Party: 1997 National Committee meeting
- Melbourne's Abortion Industry: Exposing the evil of abortion
- Florida's Abortion Industry: Exposing the unfrutiful deeds of darkness
- Abortion Wars: An open letter to the pro-life community
- Pro-life Videos: Streaming videos about pro-life activism
- Pro-life Florida: Pro-life resources for the state of Florida
- Personhood Florida: Constitutional Personhood for all human beings
- Personhood USA: Protecting the pre-born by love and by law
- Life Coalition International: Reports from pro-life missionaries
- The Counselor Corps: Pro-life health referral counselors
- Theonomy FAQ: Frequently asked questions on theonomy
- Theonomy Debate: Is theonomy exegetically sound?
- Pass The Word: Political cartoons and articles
- Second American Revolution: Clips from God's Law and Society
- The Christian Statesman: Christian publication founded in 1864
The Hall of Church History
- Creeds and Confessions: Patristic Creeds and Reformed Confessions
- Church Fathers: Writings of the Ante-Nicene Fathers
“When the lives of the unborn are snuffed out, they often feel pain, pain that is long and agonizing.” – President Ronald Reagan to National Religious Broadcasters Convention, January 1981
Ronald Reagan became convinced of this as a result of watching The Silent Scream – a movie he considered so powerful and convicting that he screened it at the White House.
The modern technology of real-time ultrasound now reveals the actual responses of a 12-week old fetus to being aborted. As the unborn child attempts to escape the abortionist’s suction curette, her motions can be seen to become desperately agitated and her heart rate doubles. Her mouth opens – as if to scream – but no sound can come out. Her scream doesn’t have to remain silent, however … not if you will become her voice. This newly re-mastered version features eight language tracks and two bonus videos.
“…a high technology “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” arousing public opinion just as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 antislavery novel ignited the abolitionist movement.” – Sen. Gordon Humphrey, Time Magazine
Languages: English, Spanish, French, South Korean, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese
Running Time: 28 minutes
$17.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Special Two-Disc Set!
After 40 years of intense study and world-wide ministry, Dr. Francis Schaeffer completed his crowning work of scholarship – to present profound truths in simple film language. Dr. Schaeffer’s brilliant analysis of the past and predictions for current trends have proven so uncannily accurate that this amazing series still feels contemporary almost three decades after its initial release. Ultimately, Schaeffer concludes that man’s only hope is a return to God’s Biblical absolute, the truth revealed in Christ through the Scriptures.
Available for the first time on DVD, this documentary spectacular also includes intimate in-depth conversations with Francis and Edith Schaeffer. With the on-disc study guide, this presentation forms a unique course of comprehensive study. While this series forms an innovative analysis of the past, this outstanding work is more than history. Each episode focuses on a significant era, yet speaks clearly to 21st-century man with answers for modern problems.
$49.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Who is the Real Jesus?
Ever since the dawn of modern rationalism, skeptics have sought to use textual criticism, archeology and historical reconstructions to uncover the “historical Jesus” — a wise teacher who said many wonderful things, but fulfilled no prophecies, performed no miracles and certainly did not rise from the dead in triumph over sin.
Over the past 100 years, however, startling discoveries in biblical archeology and scholarship have all but vanquished the faulty assumptions of these doubting modernists. Regrettably, these discoveries have often been ignored by the skeptics as well as by the popular media. As a result, the liberal view still holds sway in universities and impacts the culture and even much of the church.
The Real Jesus explodes the myths of these critics and the movies, books and television programs that have popularized their views. Presented in ten parts — perfect for individual, family and classroom study — viewers will be challenged to go deeper in their knowledge of Christ in order to be able to defend their faith and present the truth to a skeptical modern world – that the Jesus of the Gospels is the Jesus of history — “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He is the real Jesus.
Speakers include: George Grant, Ted Baehr, Stephen Mansfield, Raymond Ortlund, Phil Kayser, David Lutzweiler, Jay Grimstead, J.P. Holding, and Eric Holmberg.
Ten parts, over two hours of instruction!
Running Time: 130 minutes
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Foundations in Biblical Eschatology
By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.
All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?
These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.
$12.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)