Heaven’s Gates, Hell’s Flames and baptisms called due to rain


According to a Baptist Press story, First Baptist Church of Horn Lake, Mississippi came up a little short in their baptismal service recently. After 3 nights of showing the drama called “Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames” (by Reality Outreach Ministries), 423 people made professions of faith.

The pastor, Joe Turner, explained it as “just a movement of God.” “Jesus said in John 12:32, ‘If I be lifted up, I’ll draw all men unto me,’ and what we’ve been doing is lifting up Jesus. That’s what’s doing it.” What Pastor Turner did not say is that the very next verse, John 12:33, explains Jesus’ statement: “This He said, signifying by what death He would die.” When interpreting the Bible, context really is king.

Only 36 of those who made professions showed up for a special baptism service. The article notes that the “church was originally hoping to baptize 100 people in an outdoor service. But weather moved the service inside, and Turner said weather may have been a factor in fewer people showing up for the baptism than expected.”

Isn’t that just like Baptists? It takes 600 gallons of water to get them baptized and only a few drops to keep them from church. Of course, presumably the no-shows are not yet Baptists. Nevertheless, given their failure to make an appearance at a scheduled service, they already seem to be well on their way to becoming typical Baptist church members.

Share this post:

26 Responses to “Heaven’s Gates, Hell’s Flames and baptisms called due to rain”

  1. Ouch. I wonder how so many well meaning pastors settle for this style of outreach. These men clearly want to see God save people – but how does it come to this?

  2. Sounds like all “show” and no substance. Enticing people emotionally and scaring them with images of hell cannot replace the conviction of the Spirit and genuine repentance.

    This is why I loathe this kind of methodology as an “evangelistic” tool.

  3. 600 gdallons to get them baptized and a few drops to keep them from church… what a statement of truth! I wonder if this pastor will see the slippery slope of this 20th and 21st century ‘down-grade’ and return to the simplicity of the Gospel of Grace?

  4. This is another example of the “magic prayer” theory of conversion that I was raised in. We tug on people’s heart strings and tell them, “Just say these words and you will be saved.” I continue to be astounded how the “people of the Book” can be so tragically wrong about something so fundamental as conversion.

  5. 423 made professions of faith.
    100 were expected for baptism.
    36 actually showed.

    As a minister, I expect 100%. In other words, with 423 professions, I expect 423 baptisms.

    Are there 387 individuals out there who are now “twice the child of Hell” because they have a sense of holding fire insurance, but have no true sense of the wonder and joy of grace?!?

    And, if ‘typical’ SBC stats hold true, what will happen with those 36? Where will 24 (2/3) of them be in the months and years ahead? Will they be AWOL like the other 2/3 SBCers who have membership in the church but no presence?

    Of the dozen who remain, how many of them will be solid church members and how many of them will be carnal and cantankerous?

    When it is all said and done, how much has been done for the Kingdom?

  6. I have said this in a previous post but it is worth repeating here. Baptist in general and Southern Baptist in particular have fully embraced the heresy of “Decisional Regeneration”. If you have not read this article by James E. Adams you need to!

    Spurgeon also dealt with another heresy that is very close to what we are here discussing, and while Southern Baptist do not outright say they believe it, they prove otherwise by the practice of baptizing someone a quickly after their profession of faith as humanly possible. Spurgeon call this heresy Baptismal Regeneration.

    If the statistics hold true for First Baptist Church of Horn Lake Mississippi only 10% of those 36 out of 432 people who followed up in baptism will be in church in a year (that’s 3.6 people out of the initial 432 professions), and if you look at the number who will be in church in 5 years the result of their big evangelism campaign of scaring people into Heaven will be a complete wash out. There is a very big difference between “fearing Hell” and truly “loving Jesus”… the difference is measured in obedience. Jesus said “if you love me you will keep my commandments.”

    Father, deliver the Southern Baptist from this sin of worshiping the IDOL of Baptism Numbers!

    Pastor Greg

  7. Greg:
    While I empathize with your comments, I don’t believe that ‘decisional regeneration’ can rightly be classified as heresy. Errant, yes.

    Baptismal regeneration is a bit different than what you are describing here, although I must admit that we (SBCers) sometimes approach the way we do church as if one who is baptized is / has been regenerated without any doubt whatsoever.

  8. I agree with Greg’s comments about the difference between “fearing hell” and “loving Jesus.” However, there is certainly a legitimate place for helping people see the terrors of hell. Who can forget Edwards masterful use of verbal images of the dangers of hell in “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God?” Jesus was very descriptive about the awfulness of hell and warned people to avoid it all costs (Mark 9:43-48). I am not suggesting that this dramatization is the best method for communicating this truth. However, we should not be too quick to discount the doctrine of hell as an instrument the Spirit can use to awaken those asleep in their sin and move them toward conversion.

  9. Monk,

    Regeneration, or the new birth, is wholly due to a work of God. The new birth is a change wrought in us by the Holy Spirit, not an act performed by us. This is stated so beautifully by the Apostle John when in the first chapter of his Gospel he speaks of the children of God as those ‘which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God’ (v. 13).

    “Decisional Regeneration” is indeed a grievous heresy because it teaches that Regeneration takes place because of a decision (an act) of man. “Just pray this prayer, make a decision today, and you will be saved” is what the evangelist of Decisional Regeneration preaches. But, I ask you, how many have you witnessed who did exactly as the evangelist instructed and yet are this very hour far from the kingdom of God?

    Now, I am not saying that there is not a decision of the will of man in salvation, their surely is! However Regeneration (by a work of the Holy Spirit) comes first, then the will of man is freed from the bondage of sin allowing man to freely choose Christ, which he now does eagerly because now (after Regeneration) Christ has become the desire of his heart. And not only does the Regenerated man choose Christ today, he keeps on choosing Christ in the days that follow proving the reality of his salvation.

    This Regenerating Work of the Holy Spirit, the doctrine of Decisional Regeneration denies… therefore it truly deserves to be called a grievous heresy.


    You are right on… we must never give up preaching the doctrine of hell due to the abuse by those who misuse it!

  10. Brilliant post–probably my favorite one yet. The church I grew up in held a “Judgment House” for four or five years while I was in high school and college. We had several hundred related professions of faith, baptized 10-20 people per year because of JH, and now, five years after the church stopped doing JH, there are probably not six current, active members who were converted through this outreach. And all those other “converts” didn’t move to other communities! Decisional regeneration if ever I saw it.

  11. Let me get my slop uniform on before I post this so the mud will come off easier.

    I know that many in the SBC practice shoddy evangelism, we all know that. I have ceased to be surprised.

    But let’s really take a look at what happened in Mississippi. 432 professions of faith. We believe that most of them are bogus, and that they are still lost in sin. A measley 36 showed up for baptism. And of that 36…could 2 be saved? Really saved? Did two people actually come to repentance by the presentation of the gospel at the judgment house?

    Jesus had people who were bogus following him all over the place. One of the inner circle betrayed him. I bet the disciples even baptized a few false converts themselves.

    So what are we saying here? If it’s, “Hey, let’s not do shoddy evangelsim,” I say, “Amen!” If it’s, “There’s no way that God can use a judgment house to convey the gospel and bring repentance.” I say, “You are nuts.” If we’re saying, “Hey, a bunch of people said they wanted to follow Jesus at the judgment house but didn’t show up for baptism!” I say, “Same as it ever was.”

    As I see it, if one person really did see the light of the gospel in the face of Jesus Christ that night, it’s glorious. Don’t you think? And if 400 plus false professors slid further into condemnation because they backpedaled from the gospel…still glorious.

    So what’s your problem, people?

  12. Still glorious, Amen. but…

    The Son of Man had to be crucified too, and that was glorious, but woe to Judas, the Sanhedrin, Pilate and the rest for doing it.

    Let’s pray that those that didn’t show (not to mention those that did) to be baptized either did or will repent and believe. If they were spurious decisions, then all is not yet lost, God may yet have mercy on them and use this experience to bring them to Himself.

  13. Decisional Regeneration can be found I think on http://www.hisbygrace.com–that‘s where I read it a few years back. Jim Eliff has a good article on the SBC not being a regenerate denomination–this can be found on Baptist Press and his website at Christian Communicators Worldwide.

  14. let me preface this comment by saying I like Jim Ellif, and have been blessed by many of his articles. Now…somebody care to show me a REGENERATE DENOMINATION?
    Don’t waste your time replying, there isn’t one. If there were, would the parable of the wheat and tares apply only to the UNregenerate denominations?

    “Whats the problem?” you ask.

    Stack these gospel methods/messages up against 2 Timothy 4, and Galatians 1, and when they are seen to be man-centered, then know that they are another gospel (see vs.11 of Galatians 1), and follow Pauls advice on the matter.

  15. Unfortunately, that kind of thing is pretty common in Western Kentucky. Hopefully it will be a little different in Thailand.

  16. Don’t worry guys, they will host the “Power Team” next month, and they will ‘pump up’ those slackers who missed their baptism, and get it done with p.o.w.e.r!

  17. Praise God that He does use attempts such as these to save the lost. But does that mean we continue to spread a false gospel? Do we condone the misuse of the Word? Does Satan really rule hell? Or was it (hell) created for his (Satan’s) punishment? Is Satan really at the gates of Heaven tearing young girls away from their mothers? Can repeating a magical prayer save me?
    This production is heresy.
    The gospel is adequate for salvation. The true gospel.
    There is a holy God. He created you and me in His image. We fell into sin and now every person born is born into sin. This holy God has a perfect law. We are all guilty of breaking it. We all deserve His just and righteous wrath. For this reason, God sent himself in the form of His Son; the God-man, Jesus. Jesus lived a perfect life without sin. He obeyed the perfect law perfectly. He was innocent; guiltless. He was then crucified. He was accursed. He died a sinner’s death. He was the perfect sacrifice; the only acceptable payment or appeasement for the sin of man. All who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. The Lord reveals Himself to those whom He chooses. The Holy Spirit convicts the child of God of their sin according to the Word of God. The true child of God then repents of that sin and surrenders his whole life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. This Christian will suffer trials and tribulation. If a Christian is living in this world according to their heavenly citizenship, they will be persecuted for their faith. This is the will of God. Jesus did not come for us to be happy and have our best life now. He came that we would be righteous. We have none (righteousness) of our own. He imputed His to us (the children of God). Oh what manner of love the Father has lavished upon us that we should be called the children of God. Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any created thing shall be able to separate me form the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    Just a final note. I appreciate our brothers and sisters for their love for the lost. They have put many of us to shame in their efforts. I do not doubt their love for the Lord. I simply plea that we not think the sovereign Lord of the universe who holds all things together needs us to use our craftiness to accomplish His work.

  18. When the 2nd great awakening began in the 1st quarter of the 19th century, most protestants believed that it was the result of a sovereign, supernatural work of God. When Finney and his cohorts interjected their “new measures” into this God-sent revival they “proved” that such a work could or more accurately would be manufactured and sustained indefinitely through the human employment of means which were “psychological” in nature. Through their suppression of the facts concerning the true nature of the “old school” theology (Calvinism)and their embellishment of numerical reports (sound familiar?) concerning “new measures” converts, they won the day by appealing to the newly acquired pragmatism of their contemporary culture. It went like this, if it works it must be OK. Seems like I’ve heard that before myself. Well, the pragmatic argument stuck so firmly in the minds of “evangelicals” that almost 200 years later we find the same foolishness repeated over and over again. The present goal of manufacturing 1,000,000 baptisms is, to this point, the apex of ignorance, which, in my opinion, will create an environment of carnality and foolishness beyond anything we have seen in our ranks up to this present day. On the bright side, it may hopefully be used of God to show us our folly and change the direction of our motivation and methodology within the SBC. Of course, our present man-centered theology must be the first to go if we are to return to N.T. evangelism and missions. Without a reformation we are consigned to an ever increasing foolishness beyond what any of us could have ever imagined. May God have mercy upon us!

  19. My step son and his wife were two of those attending and making professions. I had very serious doubts about these professions when they called and told us aabout it. The proof will be in the fruit, or lack of it. They did not attend a baptismal service, and have missed a Sunday already. I see it as a witnessing opportunity for his mother and I. This is at least his 2nd or 3rd such profession. Please pray for them and for his mother and I. thank you

  20. Pastor Steven King said…. Its amazing how many negative comments have been made by someone who is actually trying to have an outreach. Even though the lasck of baptisms were at his church, look at the Ascension and Pentecost! Over 500 people saw Jesus ascend into the clouds and only about 120 were there to recieve the Spirit of God, 10 days laser on the Day of Pentecost!. Thank God the 120 were there. Don’t be so critical and negative. What are YOU doing to reach the lost to Jesus. Thank God for any outreach and pray positively for them!

  21. Well, our church just finished with presenting this drama. It has been my experience that many who come to church and profess a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ whether they are baptized or not fall away. I believe this is more a failing on us as Christians not doing our job than it is the fault of this drama production.

    If you have a problem with the “scare tactics” that many mention then you might have a problem with the parable of the The Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-28) Please read the following and tell me how the drama production is that much different than the story Jesus told.

    19″There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
    22″The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23In hell,[c] where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

    25″But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

    27″He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, 28for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

  22. I have witnessed “Heaven’s Gates & Hell’s Flames” twice. Is this theology that nonbelievers suffer eternal torment in hell supported by the scriptures? Absolutely not! The scriptures state that nonbelievers perish, not live eternally suffering in hell:

    For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

    Those teaching the concept of eternal torment make Christianity a religion of fear and worry as opposed to one of love and forgivness. This false belief holds Christianity hostage to an untenable contradiction. That is, how can God be Love if He created a system whereby the bulk of humanity will be tormented eternally in hell? These are two mutually exclusive concepts. If one is true, the other must be false. The simple truth is that man is born as a mortal being. If man accepts Jesus as his Savior from sin he becomes an heir to everlasting life. At the Second Coming these heirs are born again as spiritual beings which live forever. Nonbelievers will be cast into the lake of fire and perish instantly! God does not hate us, He loves us. He created a system whereby those desiring so may gain everlasting life, while others quickly perish. It is our choice.

    This false theology inspired the free website Have-No-Fear.com which proves that those cast into hell die immediately.


Leave a Reply