Saturday, January 31, 2009

The King's Invitation - a critique

On March 17, 2008, a thread was started on Sharper Iron: Voice of the Evangelists. The thread provided a link to a website of the same name.

I visited the website and found MP3 sermons available for free download. Of the more than 70 evangelists listed on the website, I only recognized the names of two. I am sure that I heard both men preach during the days I spent at Tennessee Temple University.

In 2008, my work required me to travel extensively, and I enjoy listening to sermons while I travel. I downloaded the first sermon in the Gospel Messages category - Tom Farrell: The King's Invitation. I do not know Tom Farrell, nor had I ever heard him preach prior to listening to this sermon. On the whole I was disappointed with the sermon and offer a critique of it here.
01:30 - anybody that wants to be saved, anybody that wants to go to heaven, anybody that wants to live with Almighty God forever, can go to heaven.
I agree whole-heartedly with this statement, but as we will see Farrell believes that everyone has the capacity to WANT TO. I believe the Scripture teaches that only those whom God has regenerated have the capacity to WANT TO, and thus there is a vast difference between his belief and mine.
02:00 - Jesus has opened heaven to everybody.
This is a logical step from the previous statement. If everyone has the capacity of belief, it logically follows that God has opened heaven for everyone. The reverse of this statement is also logical. If God has opened heaven for everyone, then everyone must have the capacity of belief. I believe the Scripture teaches that heaven is reserved only for the elect, and that the elect is a fixed number that were chosen before the foundation of the world, and whose names were written in the Lamb's Book of Life at that time.
02:30 - you know the truth of the matter is I can get into heaven easier than I can get into the Augusta International.
Farrell is sharing a story about wanting to visit the golf course where the Masters is played. His host informs him that since he is not a member he cannot enter the club. But is heaven really that easy to get into? I think not!
03:10 - God is one hundred percent for receiving those who come to Him by faith...
I totally agree. God accepts all those who come to Him by faith.
…there are some people who teach that God wants some to go to heaven and some to go to hell and He's elected some to go up and some to go down...
This is a very common misrepresentation of Calvinism, so let me attempt to clear up the misrepresentation. God has not elected "some to go up and some to go down." All humanity, as a result of the sin of Adam, is on the wide road down. God's justice is shown in the eternal wrath that is poured out on those who inhabit hell. While Adam's sin does not in any way obligate God to provide a remedy, because of His mercy, he provided Christ as the remedy. In addition to providing Christ, He elected representatives from every tribe, tongue, and nation to go up. On those He bestows His mercy instead of His wrath. Those in hell get what they deserve; those in heaven do not get what they deserve but rather experience mercy and grace. Since He was not obligated to offer mercy to any, we should rejoice in the fact that He offers mercy to many.
...that's absolute nonsense...
I agree. His misrepresentation of Calvinism is nonsense. First Timothy chapter two and verse three, the Bible says "this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our savior who will have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth...
I totally agree with his quotation of Scripture. see if you don't get saved, it won't be God's fault, because God wants you to be saved and He wants you to be one of the whosoevers.
I agree with the first half of the sentence. It is not God's fault that people don't get saved, it's because they are enemies of God and willfully reject Christ, preferring to trust in themselves or in the god of their own imaginings for salvation.

I disagree with the last half of the sentence. Since no one but God knows whom the elect are, it is presumptive to state to anyone that "God wants YOU to be saved and He wants YOU to be one of the whosoevers." It would be more accurate to say that "God wants YOU to repent."
05:10 - don't leave here tonight and think God is playing favorites. He wants you in His heaven; He wants to give you the opportunity to be saved.
Paul, addressing the Areopagus as recorded in Acts 17, states the message clearly in verse 17: "Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent."
07:00 - you will never call on somebody until you realize you have a problem. What's the problem? The problem is sin.
Amen! I believe the Scripture teaches that only those who have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, through the preaching of the Gospel, are capable of realizing that they have a problem. That realization leads to repentance and faith.

At 08:40 in the sermon, he begins an illustration about a plumber, which leads into an illustration about a case of strep throat he had while preaching in Nassau, Bahamas, and his trip to a doctor. The point of both illustrations is that we only call on someone when we realize we have a need. The illustrations together consume about four minutes of sermon time.

Personally I do not like sermons that are illustration heavy, especially when the illustrations tend to elevate the speaker's prominence. When I was a child, a particular evangelist was my favorite preacher. I dearly loved to hear him preach, and he and his wife would often stay at my parents' home when he was preaching nearby. The last time I heard him speak was as an adult, and I had asked our pastor if the evangelist could preach, since he would be passing through our town. I was terribly disappointed, as his sermon consisted mostly of illustrations of places he had been and people he had met. Farrell's sermon illustration unfortunately reminded me of that.
17:16 - now here's the bottom line. If tonight you are trusting any part of your goodness to go to heaven, you're not going, and God said so. You may be zealous and work hard and give a lot of money and you be the best sinner in the neighborhood but you're still a sinner and the bottom line is no sin is going to heaven. So you've got to get God's goodness because we don't have it.
19:08 - you see there's a time you can't be saved. Now I'm sure that some of you have grown up believing you get saved anytime you want, but let me tell you a Bible story, and tell you what Jesus said.
He then proceeds to tell the story of the guests invited to the supper recorded in Luke 14. At the conclusion of the story he states:
20:20 - when you walk out tonight on God, He could walk out forever on you.
This was the most disturbing portion of the sermon because of the contradiction of this statement with what he said earlier in the sermon. Earlier, quoting from 1 Timothy 2:3, he said that God wants all men to be saved. Here he is saying that God doesn't want all men to be saved. God is likely to make an exception in the case of those who do not respond correctly to this particular sermon. Upon hearing this, I was reminded of the vacuum cleaner salesman who came to our home years ago. He warned us that if we did not buy his vacuum cleaner that evening, we would never have another opportunity to buy that vacuum cleaner again in our entire life. In effect, Farrell reduces the sovereign God of the universe to nothing more than that vacuum cleaner salesman.
22:40 - you get saved from hopelessness
23:40 - you are delivered from habits
25:35 - you're saved from hate
Sinners are saved from their sin against a righteous God, not from hopelessness, habits, or hate. These are byproducts of salvation, not the purpose for salvation.
26:52 - But God began to fill their heart with love …they did to human beings is beyond description. But there is nothing Saddam Hussein ever did in his entire existence that is as bad as the place called hell.
There appears to be a portion of the sermon missing. Farrell is speaking about the anger of a couple toward the man who raped and murdered their daughter, and how God had worked in their hearts. Suddenly he begins talking about Saddam Hussein.
30:04 - how do you get your name in the Book of Life - call.
I believe the names in the Book of Life were added before the foundation of the world, not at the moment an individual calls upon the Lord. Furthermore, I believe the reason anyone calls upon the Lord is because their name is written in the Book of Life.

I would encourage my readers to listen to the above sermon and then listen to the sermon by Paul Washer: The True Gospel (available at

Also read the post by Dan Phillips, one of the Pyromaniacs, posted on January 26, 2009: Carpe diem, preacherdude.

Links in this article are provided solely for information purposes,
and do not in any way imply full and complete endorsement.


J. Brian McKillop said...

In the top left corner of the blog I have a Daily Verse, provided by

Today's verse is most fitting for today's post:

And Jesus answered them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance." Luke 5:31-32 (ESV)

Mike said...

my my things change over the years.

I could have written your critique.... and we have not seen or talked in about 20+ years.... funny how God can use scripture and His Spirit to guide us to the truth....

Bless you my brother....


J. Brian McKillop said...

I found another sermon with a similar title, "The Invitation," by Jeff Noblit. You can download it from the Anchored In Truth website.