The spiritual condition of America, politics, culture, and current events, analyzed through the lens of scripture. Welcome to the Alex McFarland Show. Are we secure in Christ, or when we become a believer, can salvation be lost?
Hi Alex McFarland, welcome to the program. We're going to talk about an issue today that different Christians have different positions on. I would say equally godly, well-intentioned believers sometimes disagree on this. The question of eternal security.
If we are born again, can we, as they say, or are we once saved, always saved, or can salvation be lost? There are scriptures that could argue this point either way, but to talk about this really important subject with me is a colleague and friend, a brother in Christ, but another nuance of our relationship. This is my pastor, my senior pastor, Dr. Lawrence Clapp, South Elm Street Baptist. My wife and I have been members here 14 years plus, I suppose. Even as an evangelist and speaker, I need authority over me, and I am answerable to my pastor, who I love and appreciate so much, and he's graciously given us a few minutes of his day to talk about this wonderful issue, this most important personal of issues, salvation. But Dr. Lawrence Clapp, my pastor and friend, welcome to the program. Hey, it's wonderful to be with you today, Alex.
Thank you so much for inviting me. It's a pleasure not only to be your pastor but to be your friend and to be a partner with you in the ministry for getting the gospel out to a lost world. Well I know that we are in the missions budget of South Elm Street Baptist Church, and I thank you and the events, publishing, and broadcasting that we do before literally millions of people every day is made possible by the gifts that you and South Elm invest in us and many others, and it is big fruit, but I want to say thank you.
And I want to talk about salvation, but first of all, give us a little bit of your journey, and by the way, folks, if you're ever coming through Greensboro, North Carolina, in central North Carolina, or you know somebody relocating here, I can recommend a really, really good Bible-centered church where people can go and be mentored by a great staff but also a great shepherd yourself. But tell us about you and Jenny and the church, and bring us up to speed, Lawrence. Well I've been at this church for 38 years, and Jenny and I have been married for 38 years. We have two daughters who are both actively involved in their church with our grandchildren and our sons-in-law, and one of the privileges that I have is to not only minister to this church but to the community around. God has given us an ability to be able to minister to people in restaurants, stores, and my wife serves as a clinical nurse specialist at Women's Center at Moses Cone Hospital, a job she has held for over 37 years. Well, she's been a nurse there for 37 years, and she's been the CNS for about eight. And so we're in the probably one of the greatest times of our lives because the very issue we're talking about today, and is really at the forefront of what our church is about, is getting the gospel to nearly 400,000 people in this little corridor of North Carolina.
We want to make sure that everybody has an opportunity to realize that God loves them, he cares for them, and Jesus did everything he did just for them. You know, one of the things that I encourage students, and I've got the privilege of teaching students and you do too, and then young men that go into the pastorate, longevity of location and vocation. And I'm sure you are probably the longest-serving clergy of any church in central North Carolina.
Would I be right about that? Darrell Bock Probably so. I know I'm the longest-tenured Southern Baptist pastor in Greensboro and High Point. Dr. Darrell Bock Well, and here's the thing, and we're not stroking your ego or trying to puff you up, but any hospital I go in in this region, any restaurant, and even like just down the street is Walmart, and I was in there and somebody walked up to me and said, Do you go to Pastor Lawrence's church? And I said, Yes, I do. I said, You know Reverend Lawrence Clapp? And they said, Oh yeah, he's so good.
They've bought coats to give people in the winter. They know you. You're kind of almost like the Pope of central North Carolina, if I can say that. But speak to those, because I know a lot of guys, and they get their first church, and they're so excited. Oh, Alex, I've got a church.
But then 18 months later, they're looking for what some might call greener pastures. Lawrence, what's the benefit of longevity, of location and vocation? Lawrence Well, I think, first of all, you build a rapport with people, but it's not just about our church. It's about the community, and God has opened up doors for me in the community as well as our church. And what that's done for us is it's made us a regional church. We're not the largest church in the area, but we are one of the most loving and most caring. And I've been able to invest in the folks here, and the folks in turn have invested in me. They helped lead my children to Jesus Christ. They helped mentor my children. And one of the things that we have been able to do in that time, Alex, is to develop the concept of our church is a spiritual family, worshiping, working, and living together. Dr. Darrell Bock Well, it surely is. And the reason I say that I know we have a lot of pastors listening to this program. We have a lot of Sunday school teachers. Let me just say this.
C.S. Lewis said, stay at your post. And I know God might call you, and sometimes God really does. You're here, and then God calls you to another place. But there's something to be said, and certainly you personify this four decades, staying at your post, not questing after greener pastures. Because, Lawrence, is it true? Sometimes that greener pasture, you get there, and it wasn't so green.
Dr. Darrell Bock What I've discovered at a lot of my friends is bigger is not always better. Jesus did some of his most powerful ministry one-on-one or in small groups. In fact, if you go back to the feeding of the 5,000, he came back to the disciples and said, where's everybody at? Well, they got tired and they left. And you know what he said to them?
Will you leave me also? So we need to understand, if we get to the point that we have to have a mass, we're missing what Jesus did. He ministered to people where they were one-on-one on an individual basis. C.S. Lewis Hey, we're going to talk about salvation.
Folks, the next few moments could be, I think, very helpful to a lot of people. But before we get there, are there any books or individuals that have especially influenced you to be who you are and the ministry that you do? Who has shaped Lawrence Clapp? Dr. Darrell Bock There are a number of pastors. First of all, my father, who was a pastor. And everybody says, oh, you're a preacher because your dad was. No, that would be the first reason I would not be a preacher.
I'm telling you. Dr. Mark Quartz invested in my life before he went home to be with the Lord. My mentor now is a man by the name of Dr. Jim Henry. I certainly have been impacted greatly by Jim and his ministry. And Jim, along with Dr. Billy Graham, have taught me about the simplicity of the Gospel. I had the privilege to be in Billy's presence once, and he said to me, I thought, man, here I am with Billy Graham. I get to ask Billy Graham the question, hey, what would you say to me as a young pastor?
What instruction would you give me? And he said, you preach so that the six-year-old on the front row understands what you say, and I promise the Ph.D. in the back will get what you said. So those are the guys who helped shape me. Certainly, Alex, you've had an impact in my life. And we have a number of people. Mike Barrett is a close friend, and he has invested in my life. And so there are literally people all over this country who have invested in me.
But I would say those four or five guys that I mentioned are the tops. And I begin with my dad, because my dad was not the greatest orator. He was not the greatest literary speaker. But my dad lived every day of his life what he preached. And what he preached in the pulpit, he lived in our house. That's why he's my mentor.
Darrell Bock Authenticity. You know what? Maybe we don't have big money to give. Maybe we don't have a lot that we think would be the right thing. But you know what? Every last one of us can be authentic.
We can be real. And we're going to talk about our relationship with Jesus when we come back, more of our conversation with Dr. Lawrence Clapp. Stay tuned. We're back after this. What are you doing next summer? It's going to be awesome. We'll talk about foundational things. What does it mean to be a disciple?
How can you defend your faith? Family time, concerts, renewal of wedding vows. It's going to be great. Then fun, a trip to Dollywood.
Who wouldn't like that? And then faith in action. There'll be a mission outreach, talking to people about Christ. So again, August 6th through 11th, 2023, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
Go to faithandfamilyretreat.com. I hope to see you there. He's been called trusted, truthful, and timely. Welcome back to The Alex McFarland Show. Could there be a more important question than the question, where will I spend eternity? Hi, Alex McFarland.
Welcome back. We're talking with Pastor Lawrence Clapp at South Elm Street Baptist in North Carolina. Lawrence, the question of eternal security.
What is eternal security? Well, first of all, Alex, let me begin by saying, every time I go through a death of a person, the family, one of the first questions they ask me is, where's my loved one? Where have they gone? And no matter how well I know them, I have to answer that the same way. I have no clue. I can go off of their testimony, off of their witness, but I cannot see their hearts.
I do not know what's happening there. We have no concept of eternity because we know we're going to die. We know that there's a beginning and ending point. So for us, when we talk about eternity, we're really not sure what that means. But what we do know is this.
We do know that there are two alternatives. There's heaven and there's hell. We know that the Bible speaks more about hell than it does heaven. We know that there's a story that said the rich man lifted up his eyes in torment and anguish in hell, and he saw Father Abraham and he said, let Lazarus dip his finger in the tip of water, just one drop of water.
Now here's the interesting thing, Alex. It never said that Lazarus could see him. It said he could see Lazarus. At no time did God say no, he can come back and do that. God said, no, you had your opportunities.
He says, well, my family, send him back to talk to them. And he said, well, no, they have the prophets and the preachers and the gospel. And if they don't believe that, they're certainly not going to believe somebody coming back from the dead. So that's what we know about eternity. There is no in between.
There is no lying in state. You're either in heaven or hell. And so that's where we begin.
That's the beginning point. And so what we find is salvation doesn't just—it's not insurance, fire insurance to keep us out of hell. We're saved to serve Jesus. And because we are saved, we get to go to heaven. So salvation is part of a lifetime journey, and it doesn't stop when you pray and receive Jesus into your heart and your life.
A lot of folks have asked about this thing, eternal security. And they say, well, I know somebody who lost their salvation. I can only go to the Scripture, and the Scripture is my source. And what the Scripture says, Jesus said, not everybody who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven. That was one of his key teachings. He also—we find in the Scripture in 1 John, I think it's chapter 2 maybe, where it says, if they would have been a part of us, they would have remained with us.
Since they did not, they never really were a part. So there are a lot of folks who say they're believers, but they're really not, Alex. Well, that's true.
And folks, if you're just tuning in, Alex McFarland here. We're talking with Dr. Lawrence Clapp, and we're talking about salvation. Now, the Bible says in John 3.16, whosoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life. But it also says, like you mentioned, I think about Matthew 7, 21 through 24, Jesus, talking about the Judgment Day, he says, many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, we testified in your name. We cast out demons.
We did many wonderful works. And Jesus says, I never knew you. Lawrence, before we drill down into the topic of is it permanent or could it be lost, knowing Jesus to know the Lord, what does it mean to personally know the Lord? Well, first of all, you become enamored with your sin because your sin keeps you separated from God. And one day you realize this is not working.
There's got to be something else. And at that moment, the Holy Spirit brings conviction to your life. And when he brings conviction to your life, you realize it's my sin that separated me from God.
It's my failure to acknowledge God at all in my life. And so at that moment, the Holy Spirit begins to plant seed in your life of there's a better way. And what we find is that Jesus came that we might have life and everlasting. When he was in the Garden of Gethsemane, Alex, he said to us, he said, you know, he was praying to the Father, and he said, Father, is there no other way? Is this the only way?
Is this the only way they can have hope is for me to die? He agonized over that. He struggled over that.
We have that so neatly packaged. And what we need to understand is at that moment when we realize he died for me, the Bible goes on, and you referred to some scriptures a moment ago, but the Bible does say whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. And so we place our trust in Jesus, something we can't see, something we can't prove. It's one of those unique situations. You can't prove him, but when he comes into your life, you know what it is.
It happens. It changes you. And no matter who you are or where you are in your stage of life, you come to the realization God loved you so much, God made you, you wandered away from God, and God in his zealousness brought you back through the blood of Jesus Christ. And you don't just happen to be in Jesus. You have to ask Jesus into your heart in your life. He stands at your heart and knocks and says, I want to come in and fellowship with you, and you fellowship with me. I want to give you eternal life. And what it means for me is if I die tonight, if I die in the next ten minutes, I know that I have done everything I need to do in order to spend eternity with Jesus Christ face-to-face. And when I get there and he says to me, why should I let you into heaven, the answer is going to be because I have received your Son, Jesus Christ, through faith in my life as my Savior and Lord. Darrell Bock Could people do that right now? I mean, maybe somebody's driving in the car, maybe somebody's in the kitchen and the radio is on. Could somebody call out to Jesus just even right this minute and have their sins forgiven?
Darrell Bock Absolutely. Because everywhere we are, Jesus is there through the power of the Holy Spirit. And at that moment – in fact, the Bible says, if we reject him long enough, he will finally just give us over to our rejection. So if he's speaking to you at this moment, you don't have to be at church, you don't have to be in an altar, you don't have to be with a pastor. You can be right where you are and you can go, it is my sin that is separating me from God. I am sorry for my sin. Jesus, I want you to be a part of my life. Darrell Bock Do you know, folks, listen very carefully if you would, because this is hands down, no question, the most important decision you'll ever make, to open your heart to Christ and be born again.
The Bible uses a number of words like saved, forgiven, redeemed, converted, born again. And we've got a tab on our website, if you go to my website, which is simply my name, alexmcfarland.com, there's a tab under resources. It says, what does God say? And we've put this in many languages, a quarter million people have gotten this little booklet.
What does God say about my relationship with them? You can go online and read this. I'll send you, if you email us, I'll send you this little booklet. It's in Spanish, it's in French, it's in Chinese. By the way, a dear lady at South Elm Street who speaks French put our salvation booklet in, what is her name, the sweetest little lady? Darrell Bock Danielle Lupo.
Darrell Bock And she speaks French. And I said, hey, would you translate my gospel booklet into French for me, which she did. But folks, here's the thing. If you call out to Jesus and you say, Lord, I admit I'm a sinner. I'm sorry for my sins and I want to be forgiven.
I believe Jesus is the Son of God, just like he said. And Lord, when you died on the cross, you did that for me. And if you'll do this today, you say, dear Jesus, please save me. Wash my sins away.
Make me your child. The Lord Jesus will hear you. He's promised. And God can't lie. God won't lie to you.
If you will turn to Jesus today, he will forgive you. He will save you. Now when we come back, we've got a brief break, but Lawrence and I are going to talk about really what it means to know the Lord, to grow in the Lord, certainly the most important decision in all of life.
Stay tuned. We're back after this talking about salvation. Fox News and CNN call Alex McFarland, a religion and culture expert. Stay tuned for more of his teaching and commentary after this. Over the last several decades, it's been my joy to travel the world talking with children, teens, adults, people of all ages about the questions they have related to God, the Bible, Christianity, and how to know Jesus personally.
Hi, Alex McFarland. I want to make you aware of my book, The 21 Toughest Questions Your Kids Will Ask About Christianity. You know, we interviewed hundreds of children and parents and families to find out the questions that children and people of all ages are longing to find answers for. In the book, we've got practical, biblical, real-life answers that they have about how to be a Christian in this modern world.
My book, The 21 Toughest Questions Your Kids Will Ask, you can find it wherever you buy books or at resources.afa.net. He's been called trusted, truthful, and timely. Welcome back to The Alex McFarland Show. Welcome back to the program.
Alex McFarland here, and we're going to resume our conversation with Dr. Lawrence Clapp, but I want to remind you of a couple of things. For one, summer camp is coming. Folks, we have seven camps. We've never done seven. It's going to be amazing. 1,200 teenagers.
Now listen to this. We're going to be in Iowa, New Jersey, Colorado, Georgia, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, and the camp is biblical worldview. Now we're going to be with teenagers, middle school, high school, and you can go to the website equipretreat.org, equipretreat.org. It's only $375 per camper. This is hands down the most affordable camp in the country, and yeah, we're going to do all the fun camp stuff. We're going to do the ropes course. We're going to play Frisbee golf. We're going to have the campfire and play guitar and sing songs, all the fun camp stuff, but we're talking about biblical worldview. We're talking about how to defend your Christian faith.
We're talking about God and country. Last summer we did four youth camps, and I promise you it's amazing. At the end of the week all the kids are saying is, oh my goodness, Mr. McFarland, when is next summer? Now folks, equipretreat.org is the website for our biblical worldview summer youth camp, and we know how to have a good time, and we know how to drill down into the Word of God, but also let me just say this. For your donation of $85, you will underwrite one day of camp for a youth, and I frankly need 1,200 people that would each give $85. You could be one of them, and you'll be sending a child to camp for a day, and we're going to tell them about Jesus.
We're going to tell them about the United States, and what we've got to do is equip a generation to stand for truth. The other thing I want to tell you is that July 7 through 9, Angie and I will be at the Cove in western North Carolina, very easy to get to, fly into Asheville or drive. This will be my 16th summer at the Cove, the Billy Graham Training Center. I'm going to finish up my two-year study of 1 and 2 Peter. The theme is Thriving Till He Comes, and I'd love to see you there.
It always fills up. You can join with about 325 people from all over the western hemisphere. We're going to get into the Word of God. We're going to pray together.
It will be a weekend. You'll remember always, July 7 through 9, and you can sign up by going to thecove.org, T-H-E-C-O-V-E, thecove.org, and just in the spacebar, Google my name, Alex McFarland, and I'd love to see you there, July 7 through 9. Hey, Lawrence, you've been to the Cove. It's a pretty special place. Billy and Ruth Graham prayer-walked over those hillsides, and is the Cove pretty unforgettable?
It is. It was in my backyard. I used to pastor the church. I could stand in my kitchen and see it before Billy Graham took it back over.
Ben Lipman School and Columbia Bible College had it, and it is a wonderful, wonderful place. I would encourage everyone to go and be a part of that. Well, thank you, and folks, I'd love to meet you when we're there, but let's wrap up. We've got about five minutes, and we're talking about salvation. So here's the thing, Lawrence. A person prays to accept Christ like many just did. I've got to ask you this. Four decades in the ministry, why do some people seem to thrive in their walk with Christ and others fall away?
Why is that? Well, I think the church fails sometimes in its responsibility, because like a child, when they're born, they're babes in Christ. And they become our responsibility, those of us who have been walking with the Lord.
We all should have someone that we're pouring into, that we're mentoring, that we're taking what we've learned, and we're investing that in their lives. And I think where we fail is we expect them, once they've prayed to receive Christ, to just be a mature 50-year-old Christian, and that just don't happen. The very second that you get up from receiving Christ, that strongest sin that you were tempted with, Satan hits you before you can even get off your knees. You know, Alex, when I think about salvation, two people come to mind, the thief on the cross. He said to the other thief, do you not fear God? Can you not see this as the man of God? And he said, have mercy on me. And so that very day, Jesus said, today you'll be with me in paradise.
One of the greatest testimonies in the Bible was the man who said, God, have mercy on me, a sinner. That's how simple it is. It is so simple, and yet it's difficult. And the reason that they fall, Alex, is because from that moment they make that simple claim, and they begin to walk away from that time. They don't really expect to have a change in their lives. They want a change in their heart, but they're not their lives. salvation is a complete overhaul of who you are, what you're about, what you think, what you say, where you're going, how you act.
And at that moment, when you ask Christ in, he takes control of your life, and he is the one who makes the decisions as to how you're going to live your life, which direction you're going to go, who you're going to hang out with. And so sometimes in the church we have failed to come alongside of those folks, and when they fall, we have a tendency to leave them. And we should be a ministry of reconciliation and restoration, as Paul would say. And listen, there's not a person alive who is not tempted and does not go back into sin.
We talked about that in our private conversation of some friends and colleagues that we know. And our job is not to beat them down. Our job is to get them back to Christ so that he can restore them. After all, King David, after he had fallen, came back and was confronted by Nathan, and he said, God, have mercy on me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation. And God said, because of that, he's a man after my own heart. So being a Christian doesn't mean you sin. Now you have a means of dealing with your sin immediately. And when you deal with that sin, you place it in the hands of Jesus.
And when he forgives it, he never brings it up again. Darrell Bock You know, speaking of discipleship, you and I are each married to nurses. You know, there's obstetrician delivers a baby, but a pediatrician helps raise that baby. And I was thinking about evangelism is like obstetrics. You share the Gospel with somebody, but a baby is delivered. You just don't, that newborn, say, okay, have a good life. No, that newborn wouldn't survive. And when somebody is a baby in Christ, they've prayed the sinner's prayer just like you and I led a 71-year-old Manta Christ here at South Elm two, three weeks ago. Obstetrics is like evangelism, delivering the baby. Pediatrics is like discipleship, raising the baby. Is that a fair analogy? Darrell Bock That is an incredible analogy. And the more you talk about that, I'm sitting here thinking, Paul said it this way.
Some plant, some water, some weed. And then when some reap the harvest, guess what? After that person reaps the harvest, who's going to be the person that's going to nurture and care for that person?
That's our job. Darrell Bock Folks, we've been talking with Dr. Lawrence Clapp, and I wish you could be so blessed as Angie and I are. Now, I tell people, I'm the world's worst church member, because about 45 Sundays a year, I'm not at my home church.
But when I am, I have fellowship, I have encouragement, but I get the Word of God. And folks, maybe you live all over North America and you can't be under Dr. Lawrence Clapp, but you can have a good home church, and I hope you do. Lawrence, as we wrap up here, if you had one scripture verse that is really nearest and dearest to your heart, what is Lawrence and Ginny Clapp? If there's one Bible verse that really personifies what your heart is all about, what would that be?
Lawrence Clapp Well, I won't cheat. I have two. First of all, John 3.16, 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. And then my Father has instilled in me, Romans 1.16, For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for it is the power of salvation for all who believe, first to the Jew and then to the Gentile. I cannot be ashamed of the gospel, Alex. And everywhere I go, every table I sit at, I have a table ministry. And every restaurant I walk in, people walk up and hand me prayer requests. I've led waitresses.
I've led managers. I've led cooks to the Lord. And one of my friends said, You pastor the whole city of Greensboro. In a sense, they don't come to my church, but you know what?
I get to go to theirs. And just yesterday, we had a girl, and Romans 1.16 came to the forefront. We shared with her, and we shared the gospel. What a blessing. Folks, again, we always say this. Now, listen, Jesus is as close by as a prayer.
He really is. If you need to come to the Lord, or you need to come back to the Lord, you can do that right now. And you don't have to wait till Sunday morning to go to church. You ought to be in church on Sunday. You should. But even right now, and folks, again, on my website, which is alexmcfarlane.com, look for that tab, What Does God Say About My Relationship With Him.
Do this. Friend, you might overlook anything else, but do not overlook where you stand with God and where you'll spend eternity. May God bless you. Thank you for your prayers and support.
Thank you for listening. And together, let's stand strong for truth. Alex McFarland Ministries are made possible through the prayers and financial support of partners like you. For over 20 years, this ministry has been bringing individuals into a personal relationship with Christ and has been equipping people to stand strong for truth. Learn more and donate securely online at alexmcfarland.com. You may also reach us at Alex McFarland, P.O. Box 10231, Greensboro, North Carolina 27404. Or by calling 1-877-Yes-God-1.
That's 1-877-Y-E-S-G-O-D-1. Thanks for joining us. We'll see you again on the next edition of The Alex McFarland Show.
Do you have a desire to deepen your faith, better understand Christian apologetics, or to get a biblical perspective on current events? Well, I've tried to make it simple for you to do just that. On my website, alexmcfarland.com, there's a new section called Ask Alex Online. It's simple, it's clean, and you can read my answers to common questions about God, faith, and the Bible. So visit the website alexmcfarland.com and look for the section that says Ask Alex Online.
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