Pop Evangelism’s Misuse of Scripture–Part 1

 

Part 1 (“Choose this day”) •  Part 2 (God loves you…”) • Part 3 (“… and has a wonderful plan”)
Part 4 (The Savior is waiting”) • Part 5 (“If my people humble themselves”)

In many evangelistic tracts and revival meetings, these Scripture texts stand out: Joshua 24:15, Jeremiah 29:11, John 3:16, 2 Chronicles 7:14, and Revelation 3:20. But most of popular evangelism use these texts out of context.

JerichoJoshua 24:15 — “Choose this day. . .”

Joshua 24:15 is a very popular verse used in evangelistic meetings to call people to “choose” God, to make a personal “decision” for Christ.

Joshua Chapter 24 tells us that Joshua gathers God’s people Israel at Shechem before his death for a renewal of God’s covenant with them. Going back just one verse sheds much light on verse 15. In verse 14, Joshua asks them to make a vow of obedience to the Lord and put away pagan gods,

Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.

He calls them to worship God only, and put away the gods of their fathers when they were still pagans: Abraham in Ur of the Chaldees (“beyond the River”); and their fathers in Egypt. But Joshua tells them that if they did not want to worship God, then choose between whom:

And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell.

He gives them two choices: (1) the pagan gods of their fathers from beyond the River; or (2) the pagan gods of the Amorites who lived among them in Canaan. Then Joshua declares to them his allegiance to Jehovah, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

So Joshua 24:15 is taken out of context when used to appeal to people to “choose God this day” and be saved—your salvation depends on your own decision, they are told. How could sinful human beings make such a decision on his own “free will” when they are unable and unwilling to come to God (1 Cor 2:14-15)? Jesus flatly declared this, You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you (John 15:16). Paul emphatically denies this “decisional regeneration,” “So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy” (Rom 9:16).

Moreover, the choice is not even presented to unbelievers, but to God’s chosen people Israel. So it is a grave misuse of Scripture in evangelism to use this verse to tell unbelievers to make a decision for Christ. The right use of this text is within the context of a church, asking those who worship other gods to serve the Lord of Joshua and his house.

Part 1 (“Choose this day”) • Part 2 (God loves you…”) • Part 3 (“… and has a wonderful plan”)
Part 4 (The Savior is waiting”) • Part 5 (“If my people humble themselves”)

 

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5 thoughts on “Pop Evangelism’s Misuse of Scripture–Part 1”

  1. What you regard a mater of choice is to me a matter of either to obey God or face God’s judgment.

    When a born again faces God’s commandments, his heart ,filled with godly fear,  obey immediately, not regarding it to be a matter of choice.
    Joshua could have said as you quoted, that Israelites chose once to serve God, but their human choice ended up in what?  Disbelief and disobedience.
    But those  whom God regenerates by His Holy Spirit will never say that they chose God or they found Him.  Rather they would say that they were found by Him and  they were chosen of Him.  To them,  it is not a matter of choice  as you like to believe as if you possess the perfect freewill that Adam and Eve had.  When it comes to God’s commandment , I see nothing but to fearfully  submit myself to obey in godly fear.
     
    It is proud folks, who still like to believe that they have ability to choose God, to regard God’s commandment as some sort of things to pick and choose.  As far as I am concerned, God’s commandment is NOT a matter of choice we make but a matter of submission.

    To those who lack such godly fear, God’s commandments become a matter of choice.

    God gave Adam and Even FREEWILL to choose.  But didn’t they  ruined it, becoming slaves to Satan? The fallen men might still like to believe that they have ability to choose spiritually, and that God saved them because they chose Him while others did not. These fallen men  have no idea what an impossibility it is for any man to be saved apart from God’s enablement.  Didn’t Jesus say that salvation is like a rich man trying to go through an eye of a needle.

    Now, listen Ken, didn’t God say that He looked down from heaven if any will seek (choose)  Him, and found NONE?  Nada!

    Fully knowing the inability for men to choose Him, God in His Grace decided to give His elects new hearts , and on top of that, His Holy Spirit, so that they could be led in to the Truth who is Jesus Christ, the Word.

    And didn’t the Word say? “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. “ John 15:16.

    You may believe all you want, Ken,  that you chose to obey God, not realizing that it is God who gives desires of your heart.  You might be one of those who firmly believe that you deserve the due rewards for making good choices for God, when even the rewards God gives us, are by His grace. For we deserve none but hell.

    So, truly truly born again will render God all the credit, and all the glory to Him agreeing with God  that Yes, Lord , it was you who chose me, it was you who led me this far, inclining my heart to obey you….

    Read the Joshua 24 again and hear how Joshua related to Israelites from the story of Abram how God led him out etc…, etc…  I read there that it was God who did everything to bring Israelites to salvation , and none of good choices that Israelites made.

    When the entire Joshua 24 relates how God did bring salvation to Israelites, one verse which Joshua stated to point out the fact that Israelites once believed that they chose God, would not void the entire narration of that chapter 24 that it is God who saves and thus as for Joshua and his household there was no alternative or choice, but to obey God.
    I have not insinuated anything but stated my mind straight way.  God puts intentionally a verse like you love to quote in His Book, Ken, to fulfill His Word that His Word, Christ shall be a stumbling block to some proud and worldly wise.
    Choices had to do which idols the Israelites could serve…  As to God, you ought to obey him or you face His Judgment!

  2. I’m in total agreement that this verse is taken out of context when used to tell the unsaved to “choose Christ”, as if they have any ability within themselves to do so.  However, if you are insinuating that v.15 does not call on God’s people to choose to serve Him, then I’m concerned that you too are taking this verse out of context.  That is exactly what it means, given that in verse 22 Joshua tells them that they “are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord, to serve him”.
    Joshua most definitely is challenging the Israelites to choose to serve the Lord, and that if they do not choose to serve Him, then they have to choose who they will serve.  This is similar to the challenge from Elijah in 1 Kings 18, and the teaching of Jesus that you can’t serve two masters.
    This is not a choosing unto salvation, but it is a call to God’s people to get off the fence and go “all in” with respect to serving their God.
     

    1. “However, if you are insinuating that v.15 does not call on God’s people to choose to serve Him, then I’m concerned that you too are taking this verse out of context.”
      I don’t think Pastor Nollie is, in anyway, hinting that idea.
      “But Joshua tells them that if they did not want to worship God, then choose between whom”
      Which is exactly your thoughts:
      “Joshua most definitely is challenging the Israelites to choose to serve the Lord, and that if they do not choose to serve Him, then they have to choose who they will serve.”
      Although frankly, I’ve never met someone who tried to use Joshua 24:15 to share the Gospel.

  3. Right on,brother!

    I concur with what you wrote here. 

    Some twenty years ago,  I decided to leave the church I attended almost 17 years when they used the texts involved to promote FREEwil gospel as if God gave mortals  choice to choose God or idols.

    As you well pointed out, when it comes to serving God, it is the Will or Command of God that we serve Him with all our hearts and minds.  Else, mortals shall receive God’s due judgement.

    However, when it comes to serving idols, mortals may have choices as you well pointed out.

    The text involved clearly state that fact,  yet, those who could not give up their idea of FREEwill choice, see things completely opposite way…

    Recetnly I wrote the following to address similar issue…

    http://www.fufamilyplus.com/xe/?document_srl=10730#2

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