Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire: What Happens When God’s Spirit Invades the Hearts of His People. By Jim Cymbala and Dean Merrill. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996. 206 pages. Paper, $15.99.
I had heard of Jim Cymbala, his church, and the famous Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. I read that his church has over 16,000 members.
I first noticed the people who endorsed his book. There is a list on the back cover as well as on the first page inside the front cover.
David Wilkerson is an endorser found on the back cover. He was a famous Assemblies of God preacher. It is well known that the Assemblies of God teach that salvation depends on persevering to the end, and that people can lose their salvation if they don’t persevere. I will never forget the night that David Wilkerson spoke at the Marshall Civic Center. His message was that suicide is the unpardonable sin and if a person has thought of committing suicide, they have committed this sin. It was awful. David Wilkerson was without question a false teacher who preached a false gospel in a denomination that preaches a false gospel.
The rest of the endorsers are on the first page of the book, including Nicky Cruz who is also an Assemblies of God preacher and a personal disciple of David Wilkerson. On page 33, Jim Cymbala says, “Nicky has been a close friend of mine and a frequent guest at the Tabernacle.”
Thomas Trask is the General Superintendent of the General Council of the Assemblies of God. Article VIII of the Assemblies of God bylaws says this: “The General Council of the Assemblies of God disapproves of the unconditional security position which holds that it is impossible for a person once saved to be lost.”
Jack Hayford is a pastor in the Foursquare denomination. He was once the president of this denomination for 5 years. My wife and I became very familiar with Foursquare when one of our sons was in college and fell in love with a girl in this denomination. He even flew to California to meet her family and church. He, and we, found out first hand that Foursquare teaches that a person must persevere to keep salvation or they will lose it. Here is a quote from Jack Hayford: “It is an extremely demanding and difficult thing to lose your soul. If you want to, you can do it. It can be done. And there are people who have done it.”
Ron Mehl was a pastor of Beaverton Foursquare Church in Beaverton, Oregon. On a blog entitled, “Bible Answers from Beaverton Foursquare,” we read, “If we are wholeheartedly following Jesus, and have a desire to please Him, then the possibility of losing our salvation is a moot point.”
Inside the book, Jim Cymbala speaks frequently and favorably about Charles Finney, the famous 19th century evangelist (pp. 115, 149, 174-75). Here is just one of many revealing statements made by Charles Finney: “Perseverance in faith and obedience is a condition of final and ultimate acceptance and salvation.”
On page 117, Jim Cymbala speaks favorably of William J. Seymour and the Azusa Street revival of 1906. Here is a quote by Seymour, “Salvation…when we get it, we will know it. When we lose it, we will know it.” Seymour confronted a preacher named Durham who preached eternal security and locked him out of his mission.
On page 118, Jim Cymbala speaks favorably of Leonard Ravenhill. I actually met and heard Ravenhill in 1976 when he spoke at the First Presbyterian Church in Marshall, TX. Here is a sample of his teaching: “Get rid of this bunkum about the carnal Christian. Forget it! If you are carnal you are not saved. You don’t trust God if you believe once saved, always saved.”
I went to the Brooklyn Tabernacle website and discovered that Francis Chan spoke there in November 2011, and in June 2014. Francis Chan is famous for writing and preaching a theology summarized in this statement by him: “The thought of a person calling himself a Christian without being a devoted follower is absurd.”
Jim Cymbala’s pattern here is as disturbing as it could be. He is a promoter of false teachers who proclaim a false gospel. But, no doubt, Jim Cymbala does not consider them to be false or he would not promote them. He is not a novice. He’s been involved in ministry for over 35 years. He is bound to know what these men teach, and yet, he promotes them.
In the book, it is hard to find what he says that someone must do to be saved. He certainly gives himself a good opportunity to do so on pages 44, 77, and 143 as he tells stories about people getting saved. The terminology he uses is vague as the following statements show:
“Oh God, I need you in my life. Help me please” (p.44).
“He gave his heart to the Lord” (p.77).
“David surrendered to the Christ he heard about that night” (p.143).
Cymbala makes a very disturbing comment about “faith alone” for salvation on page 81:
Even the great Protestant Reformers who taught us the principle of sola fide (faith alone) also preached that intellectual assent alone does not bring salvation. There is one more step for demonstrating a real and living faith, and that is calling out to God with all of one’s heart and soul.
Having said that, he does not explain what that means as it relates to salvation. He goes on to relate it to the ongoing prayer life of the church.
If you want to learn more of what gospel Jim Cymbala proclaims, I suggest you go to the church website and listen to these two sermons, “The First Gospel Sermon, Part 3”, and “Finishing the Race.” In these sermons he says we must hate all our sins and turn from all our sins. He says our lifestyles must be godly if we are to make it into Christ’s kingdom. Readers of this journal know that it is because we are ungodly that eternal salvation is by faith alone, in Christ alone, apart from works. I do not recommend this book.
Cypress Valley Bible Church