Monday, August 31, 2009

Across America: City #27

The Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department protects the 27th largest city in America. This week we ask you to pray for the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department and for Chief Cathy L. Lanier. For the next 23 weeks Ten-Four Ministries will be contacting the police chiefs in the largest 50 cities in America and presenting them with The Gospel. This is an ongoing project called The Across America Project.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Getting John 1:12 Right: Should You Invite Jesus Into Your Heart?

by Jim Elliff

Is it useful to critique any person’s or ministry’s method of evangelism? For one thing, there are not enough people calling on others to follow Christ. Should I attempt to cripple their efforts in the slightest way, even for the few who might listen to me? I hope I will not. I would rather think that I’m improving our evangelism. And it does need improving.

The apparent results of the method of evangelistic appeal built upon the verse in question (John 1:12, along with Rev. 3:20) surely cannot be argued with. I think I could say with ease that almost all the evangelistic results coming out of America are rooted in a method that emerges from the problematic view of John 1:12 which I will unfold. One campus organization whose workers almost always use this verse, with what I believe is an errant understanding of it, claims that tens of thousands are won to Christ each year through their multiple worldwide ministries. I’ve known many involved in this ministry, and can attest to the sincerity of these workers, and their willingness to be bold for Christ. Surely the majority of evangelistic workers cannot be wrong. Surely pastors who have taught this particular view cannot be in error. At least from the ad hominem side of the argument, I’m going to look pretty silly if I’m opposing such faithful people and am in error myself. So, I’ll tread gently. I’m talking to friends who care as strongly as I do about good evangelism.

Since I have, in the past, made much use of John 1:12 with what I consider a wrong interpretation of it, I think I have the right to speak openly about how I see it now. I have watched as scores of people have responded positively to my wrong use of this verse over several years of my earlier ministry. There is something haunting about that. I asked them to do what I assumed this verse was calling for, and they did it. In earlier days, one motivation for abandoning this concept had to do with observing that so many of my converts coming through the wrong use of John 1:12 appeared to be false converts. I could not live comfortably with that.

I hope you understand me when I say that I also “miss” this verse as a mainstay evangelistic tool. The old way was easier, produced what appeared to be more instant results, received the approbation of almost all my friends, and called forth many colorful illustrations to support it. As soon as I understood the verse in another light, I lost my main conceptual weapon. It took some time to work out how I was going to present the gospel from then on.

A Look at the Verse in Context

I haven’t told you the concept many wrongly derive from this verse. I’ll do so after I quote the verse in its context (1:11-13).

He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

What is the wrong use of John 1:12 that I’ve been alluding to? It has to do with the use of the word “receive” which is taken to mean that an unconverted person is to “ask Jesus into his heart” as the invitation of the gospel. The wrong use of this word, in tandem with Revelation 3:20 (“Behold I stand at the door and knock. If any man opens the door . . .”) has shaped Western evangelism (and beyond), making our evangelism look a lot different than the apostles.

What then is this verse, with its surrounding context, actually saying?

1. First, it declares that the world, and Jews in particular, were blind to Jesus. They did not understand who He was. They did not know Him even though He created them all. On their own, they were incapable of perceiving who Christ was. They did not “receive” or “welcome” or “accept” or “properly acknowledge” Him. Although a full blown doctrine of depravity is not taught here, it is implied because of the universality of their rejection of Christ apart from the special case John will mention.

2. Second, it teaches us that some people, regardless of the general blindness, do have the power (or actual right) to become children of God. It is those who receive Him. That is, it is those who welcome, accept, or favorably acknowledge Him. So, in the midst of general rejection there are some who receive. This word “receive” does not mean “those who invite Christ into their hearts” but rather those who welcome Him for who He is, truly God. A simple comparison with the word “receive” in verse 11 and in verse 12 will yield that this word could not possibly have the meaning of inviting Christ in, as is commonly used by Western evangelism. Here is the error that has spawned much confusion in evangelism.

3. Third, it teaches that reception of Jesus must be qualified further. In other words, not mere welcoming of Christ is enough, but those who receive must believe, “even to those who believe in His name.” There are two ways to take this. John might mean that this “receiving” is the same as “believing.” In other words, the two words could be used interchangeably. Or, John may be saying that reception of Christ must include faith. It would be as if John is saying, “Those who receive him have the right to become his children, but I mean receiving plus true believing or faith.” Either nuance leads us ultimately to faith. We know that faith is more than the mere reception of Christ in truth, or as He is actually. That is its beginning. But it is more. It is reliance upon the Christ who came into the world on His intended mission, to die for us. Those who believe (which starts with their welcoming of Him) have the right of sonship.

4. Fourth, the child of God experiences something beyond (and I contend, before) his faith. God, in other words, is doing something to make him a child of His that could not be done simply on man’s initiative. In fact, these people’s sonship has nothing to do with bloodline, human decision, or the will of others on his behalf. When John says that a person must receive and believe, yet his birth into the family has nothing to do with blood, human decision or the will of another, then he is acknowledging something mysterious and profound. Salvation, as much as we would like to say otherwise, cannot be ultimately attributed to man in any way even in his believing, but is an act of God first of all.

Verse 13 may convey the idea that the order for attaining sonship begins with the birth (“who were born,” emphasis mine) which results in the faith that is said to be necessary for sonship. (“those who believe in His name, who were born . . . of God”). If this order is correct, we can say that regeneration, at least in a kind of philosophical order, precedes faith. If we do not say this, we would have to say John is teaching that it is at least concurrent to a man’s faith. While the man is believing, he is being born; while he is being born, he is believing. But since John asserts that “human decision” could not initiate this birth necessary to be a child, it appears that placing it before the exercise of the will in belief is the right way to view the chronology.

Where Does This Leave Us?

Modern evangelism almost never recognizes verse 11 and verse 13 of the passage, and therefore uses verse 12 persistently and wrongly. By not recognizing verse 11, it fails to understand “receive” correctly, leading to all kinds of problems. Because modern evangelism fails to think of verse 13, we see less than adequate dependence on God and acknowledgment of God as the author of salvation. That may explain, in part, why so much pride can be found in evangelism.

The idea that receiving means “inviting Christ into the heart” causes huge problems for us. It is an easy concept to convey, granted. I used to say that I would never talk to people about believing in Christ, which has difficulties in explanation because of varied levels of meaning, but would only use the idea of “inviting Christ in.” Even a child can get that. But, when the Scriptures as a whole do not support this idea, am I free to make my wrong concept the centerpiece of the response to the gospel? Other than Revelation 3:20, also misunderstood, no place in the Bible appears to promote this idea of “inviting Christ into the heart.” Over 500 times the idea of belief in Christ is expressed, but no mention is made of “inviting Christ in.” Ninety-eight times “belief” and its various forms are used in the evangelistic book of John. We grant that many times the idea of faith is spoken of in the light of the Christian’s walk, but many other times faith is discussed in terms of the initial entrance into God’s family.

When we use the concept of “inviting Christ into the heart” we are robbing faith of its richness. Salvation is reduced to an act more than a life. There is no formulaic prayer (“I now invite you into my heart”) that automatically saves. A man can only be saved through faith. Though we talk about something called “the sinner’s prayer,” it is not found in the Bible. You will have to go to the booklets that promote the idea of “inviting Christ in” to find such a prayer. Think of how much evangelism you have been exposed to rests on the idea that such a prayer be prayed before a person could be saved.

When the Bible speaks of calling on the name of the Lord, it might mean something like evoking Christ’s name in order to be received by God—a sound concept. But regardless what you might think about the wisdom of using a prayer for becoming a child of God, it could not be ultimately necessary. It is certainly only ancillary at best. It is “belief in Christ” that is held out to be the link between the lost man and Christ as seen in so many commands and experiences in the Bible. Paul and Peter did not say, “repeat this prayer after me” at the end of their messages. Rather, people heard and believed, most often during their preaching of the gospel. Granted, some may have prayed as a way to express their faith (though we don’t have records of such outside of Luke 18:13, a prayer unlike the typical “sinner’s prayer”), but such a prayer could not be said to be required by the apostles or God.

Some who doubt their salvation have stated (I have heard this many times myself) that they must surely not be a true Christian because “I did not ask Jesus into my heart.” They would do far better by examining the faith they say they have. They would do better than that by examining for the evidence of life within the soul; and perhaps better than that by looking away from themselves to Christ first, then figuring out when they first believed.

Here is what we should do:

1. We should forever bury the idea of “inviting Christ into the life.” Even if two verses could be interpreted to say that this is a possibility, the sheer number of other verses plainly stating that belief in Christ is the gospel invitation, should lead us to abandon the concept in almost every case. I know that Christ is in the believer, but the believer is also in Christ. The second concept may be mentioned in the New Testament more than the first, but we don’t have people pray to get in Christ? No, we must tell them to believe. We mean a repenting belief and a belief that affects our life from then on.

2. We should abandon the “praying the prayer” method for our appeal. You may pray for people, and even with people, but do not even intimate that praying a certain prayer saves. It does not. No prayer automatically forces God to receive a sinner. God is personal and is sought and talked to, I grant. But when we are asked what He expects, it is to be stated that God demands that we believe. “Do so and live!” Again, by “believe” we are meaning more than just acknowledgment of Christ; no, we mean trust in Christ and what He has done for sinners, a transfer of trust that affects our lives and behavior forever.

3. We should use the biblical terminology of “belief” in Christ. There are other ways of expressing this found in the NT, but “belief” is consistently displayed as the essence of our response. I will not list verses here, but nothing could be easier to find in the New Testament. Read John to see this repeated scores of times. Or read through Acts with this in mind. Ask, “What did the apostles expect people to do in response to their message?” Remember that the booklets give you verse after verse about belief, and then, at the end of the presentation, make a bee-line to John 1:12 and Revelation 3:20, wrongly interpreted. They finalize the deal with a formulaic prayer. Don’t follow that pattern any longer. It is enough to instruct people to believe in Christ, with a sound repenting faith.

4. We should also spend far more time talking about the awfulness of sin and the work of Christ for sinners. Our main work is not so much to explain the sinner’s response to Christ (that is important mainly for pretending believers), but to labor on the gospel itself. When we are brutally honest with people about their sin, and lucid about the only answer being in Christ, His death and resurrection, then we have preached the gospel. We have done what is necessary to cooperate with the Spirit in their conversion. We will actually work against the Spirit when we get caught up in a formulaic approach to the gospel as opposed to a content-filled proclamation. Get the message right and depend on God to convict and convert. You will know someone is saved, not when they “pray the prayer,” but when they repent and believe in Christ, with the evidence of truly following Him. Ask, “Do you believe?”

If We Continue

If we continue with the current pattern of evangelism, we will persist in seeing the results that such a pattern automatically brings. That is, we will see people who sincerely pray a little prayer who have, for the most part, not really believed in Christ. Now, we will always experience fallout on some level even if we are true to the biblical words, for even Jesus had his false converts, as did Paul and the others. This explains why so often the New Testament says, “Do not be deceived.” Yet, when we promote the idea that praying a pray, inviting Christ in, or receiving Christ, is what God requires, we augment the problem, producing massive numbers of unbelieving “believers.” We will continue to have far more tares than wheat. Who would not want to change that sad reality?

I’m embarrassed at my paltry manner of explaining what I’m trying to help us see. But perhaps you will be able to take these concepts further. At a minimum, I’m calling for a purer evangelism, regulated by the Bible and not by ease or history or practicality. Do not back down in your fervor, but use the right method. It stands to reason, even if numbers are smaller, that more true converts will come from good methodology. I know that God ultimately saves, and that He can use anything He wishes to do, but surely we are right to continually purify our evangelism for His glory.

Copyright © 2008 Jim Elliff. Christian Communicators Worldwide, Inc. Permission granted for not-for-sale reproduction in unedited form including author's name, title, complete content, copyright and weblink. Other uses require written permission.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Law Officer Magazine

Ten-Four Ministries and the Armor of God Project were recently featured in Law Officer Magazine, one of the largest publications to the law enforcement profession.

The story has sent numerous officers to our website that have requested a vest because they do not have one. Please keep us in your prayers as we respond to these requests so that the ministry can remain financially stable and pray for the officers that will soon receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

You can read the article here.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Across America: City #28

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department protects the 28th largest city in America. This week we ask you to pray for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and for Sheriff Gillespie. For the next 27 weeks Ten-Four Ministries will be contacting the police chiefs in the largest 50 cities in America and presenting them with The Gospel. This is an ongoing project called The Across America Project.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Amazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism

Our good friend Lane Chaplin posted a wonderful video on his You Tube page about a video resource that is about as good as it gets. The Founder of Ten-Four Ministries, Tony Miano, makes an appearance in the video as well as our good friend Leon Brown from The Evangelism Team.

Link To Purchase the DVD

Study Guide for Amazing Grace

"Just what is "Calvinism?" Does this teaching make man a deterministic robot and God the author of sin? What about free will? If the church accepts Calvinism, won't evangelism be stifled, perhaps even extinguished? How can we balance God's sovereignty and man's responsibility? What are the differences between historic Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism? Why did men like Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards and a host of renowned Protestant evangelists deny the Arminian definition of free will and label it heresy? Why did the Roman Catholic Church condemn the Reformed teaching of predestination and election and embrace free will theology? And why do so many Protestants, perhaps unwittingly, agree with Rome on this issue?

Amazing Grace - The History and Theology of Calvinism is the first video documentary that answers these and other related questions. This fascinating three-part, four-hour presentation is detailed enough so as to not gloss over the controversy. At the same time, it is broken up into ten "Sunday-school-sized" sections to make the rich content manageable and accessible for the average viewer."

Thanks Lane for a great post and video and thanks Eric Holmberg with the Apologetics Group for a wonderful, informed, detailed video about a subject that has been abused and twisted through the years.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Police Assist with ‘Vested’ Opportunity

DAPHNE, Ala.—On Wednesday, Mobile Police Capt. Kara Rose picked up 11 ballistic vests from the Daphne police station to be donated to Ten-Four Ministries’‘Armor of God’ project, which collects used protective vests and ships them to underprivileged police departments.

Mobile Police Capt. Kara Rose flanks Daphne Police Chief David Carpenter, who loads a box of used ballistic vests into a police cruiser. The vests will be shipped to officers who need protective gear as part of the ‘Armor for God’ project. (Staff photo by Sasha Heller)

“The vests are expired here but they may be able to save someone else’s life,” Daphne Police Chief David Carpenter said. “If this will save a life, we’re all for it. We’re just happy to help out.”

The Daphne P.D. regularly updates its vests every five years; before this project, old units were discarded.

Body armor can be the one thing that keeps a police officer alive after taking a slug in the chest while chasing a perp down a shadowy alley.

But for some law-enforcement officials, that extra line of self-defense against piercing bullets and shotgun shells is not a reality.

“There are officers out there who don’t have vests and need them,” Daphne police administrative assistant Tracy Bishop said. “This is an opportunity for them to get the level of protection they need to perform their duties.”

The project’s founders—Muscle Shoals Police Lt. Clint Reck and Tulsa, Okla., Police Capt. Travis Yates realized a need for increased personal protection among police officers.

“There is a real issue with law-enforcement officers here in America and across the world that are working without ballistic vests to protect them,” Yates said.

After communing with pastors congregating in the Phillipines, the two policemen set their plan in motion.

For the initial delivery, Reck and Yates, Ten-Four Ministries director, shipped 24 used vests to the Philippine National Police.

The day after receiving the vests, a high-ranking Phillipino officer in Cabuyao, Laguana, chased a stolen car down a dead-end road and was shot in the chest by the suspect. Had he not been wearing the donated vest received the day before, the officer would likely be dead.

“It was a one-time event but once the life was saved, we decided to continue this as an ongoing project,” Yates said. “We placed our efforts under the umbrella of Ten-Four Ministries,” formed in 2002 in Los Angeles to provide practical and spiritual support to law-enforcement members around the world.

The anonymous nature of donating used-ballistic vests means that officers from West Virginia to the West Bank may survive a deadly encounter thanks to a small act of charity.

Saving lives and souls

Yates lists two primary goals to the project.

The first goal is to save as many lives as possible by distributing protective vests to underprivileged police departments.

The second goal is of a higher calling.

“This is a Christian project and we present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those that receive the vests,” Yates said. “This is done either in person when we give the vest to the officer or through a letter that we send along with the vest.”

The only requirement for receiving a vest, Yates said, is that they must be a sworn officer. The ministry only delivers the message; it is up to the receiver of the vest to remain open to receiving the message.

“We will present The Gospel to the officer but there is no other obligation on the officer’s part,” he said.

Hand-picked protection

Prior to shipping the vests overseas, Yates personally inspects each unit and coordinates deliveries with missionaries and local pastors.

“It is very important that before we agree to provide vests to other countries that we ensure the vests actually end up with sworn peace officers,” he said.

The last thing Yates wants is for the vests to mistakingly find their way to some fanatical guerrilla outpost threatening a coups.

“While we have had several countries express interest in our vests, including some in Africa, we currently only send vests to two countries: the Philippines and Guatemala,” Yates said. “We have excellent contacts and we are working within those countries and they ensure the vests go to officers.”

Studies show

Many tests have been conducted showing that vests can still stop a variety of bullet types long after a manufacture warranty has expired.

“We have worked with Rochester (N.Y.) rangemaster and vest expert Sgt. Roy Adams and, in addition, both Clint and I have over 30 years of combined experience in law enforcement,” Yates said.

“We are very familiar with how and why vests degrade,” he said. “We have both been involved in ‘vest shoots’ where we shoot at vests to test their effectiveness.”

Some factors accounted for during testing include: how old the vest is; the type of vest; and the type of wear and environment the vest has been in.

“We will not issue a vest unless Clint and myself will also wear that vest,” Yates said. “We do not recycle every vest that comes to us. Sometimes the vest cannot be given out.”

Ten Four Ministries is a non-profit organization that also works with the 10-33 Fund, helping to support thousands of families of officers in financial hardship.

On July 14, Yates started an online fund, at, which at press time had raised $20. A $20 donation covers the cost of sending one ballistic vest overseas, the site said.

To date, Ten-Four has received 500 vests; it expects 600 more, Yates said, adding that the organization has distributed 400 of its donated vests: 250 went to the Philippines and 150 stayed in America.

For more information, visit

Special Thanks to

Original Link

Armor of God: Testimonies

We receive e-mails almost daily from officers about the Armor of God Project. While I have the blessing to see these and to know the impact being made, I wanted to share just a few with you here:

From Oklahoma:
"There have been 2 Deputies shot here in the last year. I am father of three children and a vest would make me safer."

From Louisiana:
"You guys will never know what it has meant to me how you have helped us. I re-dedicated my life at the first of the year, and the Gospel tracts that were with my vest were great. My vest fits perfect."

From Alabama:
"I am a new Deputy and the Commisioners say there is no money for a vest"

I know for a fact there are thousands of officers out there working without a ballistic vest that are not aware of this project. Please let your community know what we are doing. Thank you so much for your support both financially and with your prayers.

A Call To Action

After watching the above video, I have one thought. Preach The Gospel.....Go Preach The Gospel.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Take Up The Shield - Special Discount

We are celebrating the fourth printing of this special book with a discount for a limited time. If you order 10 books, you will receive a 40% discount, plus free shipping (click free shipping at check out). This special must be ordered in quantities of 10. Included in this new version of the book are special inserts discussing the various ministries of Ten-Four Ministries plus a Bookmark. Click Here to order now.

Written by a street cop, this unique publication compares the various pieces of law enforcement equipment to the spiritual armor that the Bible describes in Ephesians chapter 6. Real-life law enforcement stories drive home the importance of each piece of equipment. Although much has been written about this well-known passage of Scripture, little has been written from the perspective of a Christian who wears and uses the physical armor of the police officer every day, fighting both the physical battle against crime in our society and the spiritual battle against evil that all individuals are called to fight.

You don't have to be a cop or a Christian to be encouraged and challenged by this book. In addition to building your faith, this book will serve as a helpful introduction to the men and women who protect you and your community.

Across America: City #29

The Louisville Metro Police Department protects the 29th largest city in America. This week we ask you to pray for the Louisville Metro Police Department and for Chief Robert White. For the next 28 weeks Ten-Four Ministries will be contacting the police chiefs in the largest 50 cities in America and presenting them with The Gospel. This is an ongoing project called The Across America Project.

The Biblical Gospel & Evangelism

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Sin & Assurance

I was honored and humbled to be asked to preach in my home church this morning. The text was Romans 7:14-25. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, then struggle with sin is a part of your new birth. I hope the below message can be an encouragement to you.