Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Internal Call of God

I've undergone pointed criticism for my "unduly harsh" review of Bible Revival by Kenneth Berding.  After further consideration, I still stand by my original review; I do not recommend this book.

Mr. Berding's book has been lauded for his call to action.  How can calling on everyone to read the Bible not be a good thing?  Obviously, there's really no harm if that were to happen, and daily Bible reading could create a more moral society than what we are seeing in America right now.  BUT, it would be an external change only.  I stated in my review that I believe that all Christians should read their Bible; however, a true Christian should hunger after God's word without prompting.

If you've read many of my posts, you know that I'm quick to cite Romans 10:17 which tells us that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.  Wouldn't it produce more Christians if more people were reading the Bible?  This is where I make a distinction.  The short answer is -- No, more Bible reading would not convert more people.  People who are saved read the Bible, but not all people who read the Bible are or will be saved.  The author's grandfather was the ultimate example of this.  Mr. Berding related how his grandfather regularly read his Bible and committed verses to memory, but "never came into [a] personal relationship with Jesus Christ," (Kindle location 119).

To say it another way, a Christian is elect of God, and therefore believes.  It's not that a Christian believes, and therefore is elected.  Saving faith is a gift from God.  It's an internal call of the Holy Spirit that produces (1) belief in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ and (2) repentance unto life.

I'm not against a call for more Bible reading.  I'm against the false assurance that if you just read your Bible more, then God will be obligated to do his part in bringing about the work of the Holy Spirit.  Mr. Berding clearly thinks that "Christians" can force the hand of God:
"But is it my conviction that we will never see anything that lasts--that is, we will never see anything worth calling a revival of the Holy Spirit--unless we recommit ourselves to the Bible.  We need a revival of the Bible," (Kindle location 34).
The internal call of God cannot be forced by any work of man; you are either a sheep, or you are a goat.  There is no "book about learning, living, and loving the Bible that would teach and stir the hearts of our people," (Kindle location 44).  That is the role of the Holy Spirit alone.

"When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left.  Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world," (Matt. 25:31-34).