THE PURITANS WOULD CONDEMN THE AMERICAN SEEKER-SENSITIVE CHURCH STRATEGY — YET THEY MINISTERED TO “SEEKERS” IN THEIR OWN CHURCHES …

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Dr. John Gerstner offers guidance toward a man who is seeking God, but remains in an unregenerate state.  Excerpted from a sermon entitled PURITAN ACCEPTANCE.

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I am posting this audio clip to preserve the teaching of John H. Gerstner. Dr. Gerstner was the teacher and mentor of outstanding theologians such as Drs. Carl W. Bogue and R.C. Sproul.

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My apologies for the poor audio quality; the recording was originally made on audio cassette in 1987.  I have restored it to the best of my ability using Sony Sound Forge Pro 10 technology.

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Contrary to popular opinion Calvinists believe in inviting “seekers” to church.  In fact the Puritans invented “seeker-sensitive” churches – but not in the sense the modern day American mega-church has perverted it.

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Highlights from sermon:

  • Being convicted is one thing, but regeneration (being born-again) is another
  • An unregenerate man who recognizes his unconverted state yet persists in going to church, giving to charity, and participating in Christian activity is actually compounding his sins.  He is doing “bad good works.”  He is a hypocrite.
  • There are many “seekers” in today’s churches who are engage in a hideous unauthenticated seeking of religious practice.  It is motivated by mere self-interest and fear, not love for God.
  • The Puritans believed that a man who was aware of his own inner corruption and sinfulness and, simultaneously has conviction, is “seeking.”
  • This path of “seeking” is called paraventure, quoting 2 Timothy 2:25.
  • There is a danger that lies in ministering to a man in this state by giving him a false hope of salvation, for at this point he is not truly saved (he is still unregenerate).
  • Not really what the Puritans had in mind regarding "seekers"

    Not really what the Puritans had in mind regarding “seekers”

    Inherent in SEEKER evangelism is the danger of incipient Arminianism.  The man is in danger of believing that he will be regenerated based on his performance of seeking.

  • The unregenerate seeker is adding to his sins while in the process of seeking.  What to say about this?  Should we then tell the seeker to stay home to avoid sin?  The answer is: of course not!
  • The unregenerate seeker is engaging in bad “good works” as opposed to his previous state of bad “bad” works. It is bad to come to church without a love of God in your spirit. It is worse to abandon any concern for your soul. Sins are not equally heinous.  To seek is not as sinful as not seeking at all; however to come to church seeking, but living as a Christian hypocrite, is worse than staying home.
  • There are degrees of sinfulness. Jonathan Edwards posited that the sinner in hell would exchange the whole world in exchange for the ability to make the number of his sins one less.
  • Jonathan Edwards believed that anyone who came to church seeking God honestly would eventually be converted.  Any man aroused by God to seek salvation will ultimately be converted by God.
  • The Puritans were very careful to guard against sudden conversions lest they prove to be false.

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Listen to lecture by Dr. John Gerstner (approx. 20 minutes):

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