Francis Chan’s Anointed Sermon

francis-chan-preachingFrancis Chan preached in Kansas City at the One Thing 2013 IHOP conference on Dec 30, 2013. A friend who attended sent me the link to Chan’s sermon. I was moved to tears by Chan’s passion. This is my recollection and my brief reflections of his sermon after watching it once.

Gospel. Chan presented the gospel clearly and passionately by explaining God, Sin, Redemption and Consummation. He presented a God who is holy such that if we saw him in his holiness we would die. He explained how sin distorts, disfigures and destroys us. He expressed how through Christ God loves us in spite of our rebellion against him. He expressed our glorious hope of one day being in the presence of God. I learned that I must always present the gospel clearly, passionately and meaningfully in every sermon and Bible study.

Bible. Chan earnestly pleaded with the audience to read the Bible. He said that if we just read the Bible for 10 min a day, we could read the entire Bible in a year at the normal reading speed. I was so moved by his plea that I woke up at 4 am and read 22 chapters of the Bible today on Jan 1, 2014 (Hosea, Joel, and half of Amos)!

Believing lies. Chan read 2 Tim 4:1-4 and said that our sin causes us to listen to and believe lies (2 Tim 4:3-4). He told the story an old prophet lying to a younger prophet and caused him to be killed by a lion (1 Ki 13:15-24). Then he told the story of how 400 false prophets all lied, while only Micaiah told the truth as a prophet of the Lord (1 Ki 22:6-9, 15-23). Chan said that our own desires to sin causes us to disobey God by committing immoral acts, engaging in premarital sex, marrying uncommitted Christians and justifying divorce. I was moved by Chan telling stories from the Bible in such a real, contemporary, contextualized and applicable way.

Loving Jesus or loving revival. Chan shared how much he wanted to see a revival. He witnessed to others frequently but people were rejecting the gospel. He prayed fervently that God would rain down fire from heaven to move the hearts of people, just as Elijah prayed and God consumed his offering before 400 prophets of Baal (1 Ki 18:36-39; Jas 5:17-18). He agonized why God does not do the same when he preaches–just as God did with Elijah. His answer from God was that Elijah was about to be killed by 400 godless prophets, while he is preaching at a Christian conference! He repented that he wanted a revival more than he wanted Jesus. Though on a miniscule scale I cannot but confess and repent how much I want to see results from my preaching and teaching more than I want to simply see and delight in and know Jesus (Phil 3:10).

Reputation. Finally, Chan read Rev 3:1. He shared how much we Christians live based on our reputation, rather than based on the truth of who we are. He asked what our 10 best friends and family would say about our faith, our prayer, our purity and the authenticity of our Christian lives. Next, what would God say about our prayer life and our purity. He asked if we are more concerned about our reputation and about what people think of us, or about what God really thinks of us. This is the clincher. Do I care more about what people think of me, or about what God thinks of me?

May God bless you to watch this sermon–which will help you check your own heart–and share your reflections as you begin 2014.


  1. CanadianGirl

    agreed! I watched it too and was really moved and inspired by it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts :)

  2. Thanks for sharing this Ben. The value of Chan’s sermon here is as you say: help you check your own heart and share your reflections.

    I listened to all of this video and have some reactions, both good and bad. There are some important ways in which Chan misses the mark here, and the reasons he misses the mark are the very reasons why Christendom in America has been crumbling, and why he longs for revival but doesn’t see it.

    I’ll collect my thoughts and share my reflections/reactions soon.

  3. Thanks, CanadianGirl, Brian,

    Chan himself is an authentic, amicable, non-offensive, lively, spirit-filled, joyful, funny and relevant Christian.

    If I may speculate on where Chan “misses the mark” then I would say that he is to the “right,” i.e., on the conservative, evangelical, Reformed side with much emphasis on propositional truth and living out the Christian life in obedience to Scripture.

    I would say that UBF would fall into this “conservative right wing” category, except that we might bring along more baggage, cultural or otherwise, that are cringe factors and offensive to this generation and to the general population, because we are generally not contextualizing the gospel to the present, but are more or less teaching the Bible as though it is still the 1960s to 1990s. Chan in contrast, is quite contextualized and resonates with people in this generation quite relationally.

    Am I off in my speculation as to where you may regard Chan as “missing the mark”? How might you compare Francis Chan with Andy Stanley? I am still looking forward to watching Stanley’s sermon at Willow.

    • I’m not qualified to compare preachers themselves, nor should we in my opinion. I see both Chan and Stanely as doing much for the kingdom.

      I will say that Stanley’s sermon at Willow 2013 was a 4 star sermon and Chris Brown’s Willow 2013 sermon was a 5 star (even though Stanley’s sermon impacted me more). Chan’s sermon here is a 3 star sermon (using my handy dandy rating systme which has nothing to do with impact or quality but has much to do with connection and articulating the gospel messages.

      [I see that earlier I rated Stanley’s Willow 2013 sermon as 5 stars, so I suppose at the time I was giving that sermon too much credit; in anycase it was a very good sermon!]

    • forestsfailyou

      Ubf is still trying (by and large) to teach the bible to 1960’s post-war Korea. They are trying to teach the bible with a special emphasis on cultural ideals of Confucius- notably obidence. Where I see none of their doctrine damning, there is a major issue with viewing Jesus Christ as a perfect disciple rather than a savior. To steal a metaphor from cs Lewis, we should not lean so far on horseback that we fall off the left side in an attempt not to fall off the right side. Many modern churches emphasis Jesus salvation and do not encourage or demand obidence to the scripture. It is an ideal that I am not sure can be found. People are sinful and prone to easily abuse authority. A system of authority is ripe for exploitation, especially when there exists a culture of no open rebuke of elders. I don’t understand and never will. I honor my father and mother when I lead them to truth. Elders and authorities are sinners too.

    • Forests, this is one of the clearest, most accurate and most insightful statements I’ve ever heard about ubf:

      “Ubf is still trying (by and large) to teach the bible to 1960′s post-war Korea.” – See more at:

    • “I would say that UBF would fall into this “conservative right wing” category”

      You would think so. But in a conservative right wing church, would it be possible that abortions, divorces and re-marriages are not only tolerated, but even ordered and arranged by the top leaders? This is what happened in UBF. The top leaders claim to have fear of God and to follow the Bible absolutely, but they don’t. Having “face” is everything for them, not having faith. UBF also easily neglects the church traditions such as holy communion or baptism. Conservative right wing people wouldn’t do that. UBF is only conservative about their own traditions; they think they are better than the Christians before them, like the Presbyterian church from which they separated themselves.

    • Chris, I think ubf does indeed lean conservative. The things you mention are the kinds of problems with conservative folks actually, at least from my American view of “conservative”. For example, who has the most problems with high-profile sexual immorality and divorces? Conservatives. And the people most outspoken about condemning LGBT people are conservatives, and yet the most outspoken against such people tend to turn out to be LGBT themselves. Some of the hypocritical contradictions in ubf are indeed due (at least partly) to its conservative tendencies. That’s why I’m a liberal conservative and love to hang out with liberals or other liberal conservatives. At least they don’t pretend to be holy (not all conservatives are like this).

  4. Just to make sure we are talking about the same sermon, I am reviewing Chan’s December 30, 2013 “Session 8 Teaching” sermon.

    First of all, here is what I found good about the sermon. Chan’s sermon is a solid 3 star sermon. He knows how to speak to people and connect with them. His sermon is not boring, but lively. He shows a rich diversity of thoughts. And indeed this is actually a sermon (not just a lecture) because in essence Chan preaches the gospel Jesus preached.

    The highlights for me was his teaching on Christian service. The two kidney story was amazing! Chan exhorts us to “be who you are” and not to pretend to be something we are not. He also shows a deep love and respect for people and family, while at the same time speaks with his own voice and personal conviction from God. I highly appreciate those things. His final point may be his best for me: be lovers of Jesus not just revival.

    Yet I cannot give this sermon a 4 or 5 star rating. Chan missed the mark in some ways that are very important to notice. I have several points here, but I will start by sharing my first 2 points:

    1. Chan fails to speak from the mystery of God, that is “Christ in you”. Chan mentions that God will be with us in Heaven and in special times when we are alone with the Lord or in community gatherings. He longs for the precense of God. This is a good thing, but why does he not speak from the reality that Christ wants to live in you? We don’t “go somewhere” to be in the presence of God (Colossians 1:26-27). This does not mean the kingdom of God exists only in the hearts of believers, but it does mean that Jesus wants to live inside your heart and soul. And it does point us to the mystery of God revealed fully through Jesus: Christ lives inside you. Why don’t we preach and extol as if that were true! When we look inward, we as believers find Jesus living inside us. We believers are the presence of Jesus in the world, wherever we go. Do we realize that? I would ask Chan, “Is not Jesus inside you?” Preach from Christ who speaks from within you and you’ll see amazing things happen! I felt somewhat empty during parts of Chan’s sermon here, feeling as if God is far away and my only hope is a future hope of God’s presence. I know however that the living hope is found now, Today, and is a present hope because Christ is living inside me now.

    2. Chan gets lost in the false gospel of “repenting of sin”. This is what I call the “hamster wheel teaching”. Chan does correctly teach the gospel message of salvation, which is forgivenss of sins, but then contradicts himself with the hamster wheel teaching when he talks about repentance. This has been a common problem with American preachers for decades. Evidence of this are the several guilt trips Chan presented throughout the sermon. His guilt trips are mild relatively speaking, but misplaced nonetheless.

    The salvation message of the gospel is valid, but the way we present salvation is important to me, as I believe it was to the Apostles and to Jesus . And I believe it is important especially in order to find the fulfilment of the “life to the full” and “contentment” promises.

    The Holy Scriptures from the New Testament do not present the gospel message of salvation as “repentance of sins and forgiveness”. Always the message is “repentance and forgivness of sins” or “repentance for the forgiveness of sins”. See the difference? My point is that sin is tied to forgiveness, not to repentance, in the Scriptures.

    My contention is that the way we articulate this basic message of salvation makes much difference in how we live and how we connect with and impact others, even though it does not affect our eternal state in my opinion. To find life to the full, we must get the salvation message correctly articulated. Revival will be far off as long as we misunderstand and miscommunicate this point.

    The hamster wheel teaching is most clearly heard when Chan presents a “reputation vs. truth” dichotomy. He asks what would others say about our prayer, passion and purity? What would God think of our prayer life? And then Chan points out the disconnect, and exhorts us to be obedient and remove that disconnect. But how can we? Well, according to Chan we would repent of our sins. But then we fail. And we ask again, how can we remove the disconnect between our reputation and who we are? Well, we would repent of our sins, according to Chan. I hope you can see the hamster wheel here… sin/repent/sin/repent… on and on the wheel spins. I ask, is this the gospel message? I contend an emphatic “no!”.

    Furthermore, when we dwell only on the salvation message of the gospel, even if we do so correctly, I contend that we will miss the mark in our preaching and in our living. We simply must grow into the other gospel messages: peace, glory, grace and kingdom. The gospel is not taught in the Holy Scriptures as a hamster wheel, but as a journey of growth in the kingdom, and as dwelling in the wonderful contentment of peace, and as the amazing ocean of grace and the vibrant, living hope of the glory of Jesus! Where we start that journey does not matter. Some may be drawn by the glory of Christ. Others may be drawn by the peace of Christ. Why are we required to always start with the salvation message? The salvation message may not always be the way to draw people to Christ. In fact, the kingdom message might be the most powerful. In any case, I long for sermons that go beyond the salvation message and examine the other gospel messages, which are of equal importance.

    The gospel is a resting point, both an end and a beginning all at once. The gospel is about entering into the rest of God Today, and dwelling in that grand effervescent “moment” that surpasses understanding and transcends space and time. You won’t get to that “moment” by repenting of sins, but only by forgiveness of sins.

  5. 3. Chan fails to find the gospel narrative in the Old Testament. As we all know, the OT presents the obedience=blessing/disobedience=cursing dichotomy. I believe this was God’s wisdom to the ancient world. The OT is revolutionary teaching for those times. What about today? I contend that we who live after Jesus have the duty to look for the “Jesus narrative” in the OT prophets and writings. And furthermore we should NOT look for or preach about the obedience/disobedience dichotomy, since that no longer applies. Christ is the goal and fulfilment of the law and the prophets. So while Chan makes some interesting and somewhat helpful comments from a few OT passages, I contend that he missed the chance to share the gospel messages of grace, peace, glory and kingdom (which makes sense since he focuses mainly on the gospel message of salvation).

    One example is Chan’s explanation of 1 Kings 13:15–24. There is much to learn from this, but if we only think about salvation and the hamster wheel teaching about repentance, we misapply the obedience from this passage, which I think Chan does. Chan makes some points that are mildly helpful but I find much more exciting teaching here, based on the “Jesus narrative”.

    In 1 Kings 13, we see a man of God and an old prophet, who both lied and prophesied. I think the old prophet was trying to teach the younger man of God a lesson, that is to “obey the command the Lord your God gave you”. Instead of remaining faithful to the personal word from the Lord to him, the younger man of God decided to obey what the older prophet said. One lesson here is that each believer should find and listen to God’s voice, and not just obey what spiritual leaders say, even if they say it is God’s word. If Christ lives in each believer, we should help each other listen to God’s voice, not just exhort each other to conform to some ideology. Futhermore, we should be asking What does this tell us about Jesus?

    The similar thing happens when Chan explains 1 Kings 22. Here we have 400 prophets vs 1 prophet named Micaiah. They said Micaiah was a prophet who never prophecys anything good but only speaks evil things (i.e. he’s just too bitter and negative!).

    The issue here in the passage seems to me to be lying by spritual leaders (prophets). But Chan speaks about the world telling lies and spritual leaders telling the truth. When I think about the Jesus narrative here, I learn that we are not to rail against the world, but against spiritual leaders who don’t listen to God’s voice and who can’t consider the reality that one prophet (Micaiah) might be right and all 400 spiritual leaders be wrong.

    And Chan also uses Amos 7:12. I think this also teaches us to be on guard against religious leaders like Amaziah who say shut up and go away when someone brings up a message from the Lord that is unpopular or not easily understood or is deemd too negative. Amos was a “nobody” yet he held to his personal conviction from the Lord.

    So all 3 OT passages point to discerning God’s voice to you personally and acting on that conviction in the midst of being blasted by religious/spiritual leaders. This calls to mind many things Jesus said against religious/spiritual leaders. But all I hear from Chan is “obey the word of God”, as if we cannot hear God’s voice apart from religious/spiritual leaders, and as if God is bound to speaking only what is written. I agree that the Holy Spirit will not contradict the Holy Scriptures, but God is not bound to the exact written word.

    I can probably be more clear in this third point if I listen to the sermon again, but this is my first reaction.

  6. So in terms of labels Ben, I see Chan’s sermon as fueling the fire of the division between “conservative” and “liberal”. Either side could insert their “vision” and get fired up to think they are “right” and “on the Lord’s side”. This is the yoke of our generation. The gospel messages destroy that yoke and go beyond labels.

  7. This is what a reformed pastor wrote and reflected upon after nearly 40 years of pastoral ministry, which I thought is helpful to all of us Christians who have different theological inclinations:

    “I wish I’d known that people who disagree with me on doctrines I hold dearly can often love God and pursue his glory with as much, and in some cases more, fervency than I do. The sort of intellectual pride that fuels such delusions can be devastating to ministry and will invariably undermine any efforts at broader Christian unity across denominational lines.”

    His other 9 reflections are also quite useful for all Christians in ministry, I think:

  8. Thanks for sharing this Ben. Disagreement is something we all need to learn how to handle better. We need to learn that disagreement does not mean disunity automatically. We need to learn that disagreement does not mean condemnation.

    I am sure some reading this thread have already scoffed at me, thinking, “What? How dare a nobody like BK criticize someone like Francis Chan! How dare you disagree with such powerful spiritual leaders!”

    But I do disagree with parts of his sermon, and I shared why, and I’m ok with that. I am sure Chan disagrees with many of my thoughts. I think it is better to express why we disagree and have lively debates, so that we all learn and grow. I love Chan as a brother in Christ.

    I also disagree with our friend JA at times, and I tell him what I disagree with. And he tells me what he disagrees with me about. Yet he is a dear friend and brother as well.

    One of the greatest challenges for us ex-ubfers is learning how to rid ourselves of decades of flattery and kiss-ass suck-up thinking. Our challenge is to learn that disagreements are ok and that it is ok to have your own voice, make your own decisions and form your own opinions. Casting off the groupthink I used to “defend” as the “best way to make disciples” has been a great challenge for me. I grew a goatee to remind me of this :)

    That list you shared is very relevant and helpful. This one especially:

    2. I wish I’d known about the inevitable frustration that comes when you put your trust in what you think are good reasons why people should remain loyal to your ministry and present in your church. I wish I’d been prepared for the feelings of betrayal and disillusionment that came when people in whom I’d personally invested so much love, time, and energy simply walked away, often with the most insubstantial and flimsiest of excuses.

  9. Thanks, Brian. I fully agree that it is perfectly fine to disagree. To me, it might even be a lot more fun than unanimously agreeing (to falsely create a united front) even when we don’t really agree.

    I did not see Chan’s references and illustrations from 1 Kings the way you did. I thought he made his point well, which is that we Christians listen to lies and listen to what our itching ears want to listen to (rather than listening to the truth), such as, “What’s wrong with divorce if I’m no longer happy in my marriage?” or “What’s wrong if I date a non-Christian?” (which I think that most Christians will agree is nether healthy nor prudent).

    But then if a Christian thinks that it’s OK for themselves or their kids to date an atheist, a hedonist and an anarchist because they are basically nice human beings, then, I guess “it’s OK” to them.

    Personally, I would advise against a Christian dating a non-Christian. But I would not guilt trip them, or coerce them, or intimidate them, or make their decisions for them. I would present to them what I believe Scripture teaches, and then leave it to them to make their own decisions.

  10. Ben, you are stating exactly what bothers me about the 1 Kings teachings. As you point out, Chan sets up a “lies vs truth” dichotomy. I see this as harmful. He mentions a couple lies, divorce and dating. But the audience is free to insert our own “lies”. Into this teaching. Who decides what is truth and what is lies? I do not like this kind of preaching, and it immediately turns me off. It is part of the reason I remain outside the camp of Christendom.

    “What’s wrong with divorce if I’m no longer happy in my marriage?” or “What’s wrong if I date a non-Christian?” – See more at:

    Divorce is not the problem, and dating a non-Christian is not the problem. This line of “pointing out the problem” type thinking is not new. Most Christian pastors seem to me to teach a similar thinking, and I believe this also has helped fuel the decline of the Christian church in America. The implication is that all those “bad people” would be so much better if they didn’t divorce, or didn’t date non-Christians. But will stopping such things really help? Will pushing against “sins” make people better?

    Given the problems we have all seen with divorce and other sexual issues with Christains who follow this thinking, I reject it. Their thinking is negative based “push” type thinking. Such thinking is not going to amount to heatlhy transformation. And it is based on the gospel-related issues I pointed out in Chan’s sermon.

    What is better is a “pull” type thinking, drawing people to something good and equipping them with tools and gospel-thinking for “now”, the present. I think Chan and many Christian leaders have been focused on “future hope in Heaven” and are ill equipped to deal with the present “here and now”.

    You mention “if a Christian thinks that it’s OK for themselves or their kids to date an atheist, a hedonist and an anarchist…”

    I say that such things are fine. Aren’t we all partly such things anyway? So what if my kids date an athiest or a hedonist or an ararchist? That’s their choice. In fact, if there is any advice I’d give to my kids it would be to not date a Christian. I really don’t want to get entangled with Christians ever again. Believers yes, Christians no.

  11. This blog article excellently explains what I’ve been thinking about repentance and shows why I didn’t like parts of Chan’s sermon:

    “Let me give you a picture to illustrate true repentance. Suppose I call you up and give you an invitation to come to my house. You’ve never been here before so you need directions. There are two ways I could direct you. I could give you my address and provide an accurate picture of where I live. Or I could say, “flee from your house – just drive from your house as fast as possible and don’t look back.” Do you see the difference? In both cases you’re going to leave your house. That’s guaranteed. But only by trusting my directions will you arrive at my house. Repentance is just like that. It’s not fleeing from sin like a Pharisee. It’s turning to God in faith. In both cases you will leave your sin. But only by trusting God will you actually arrive someplace better than where you started.”


  12. Brian, I think I hear what you’re saying (or not). Is it that you do not like negations? Don’t divorce? Don’t date non-Christians? Don’t watch porno? Don’t be a self-righteous Pharisee?

    I do agree that telling people what they should not do (or what they should do) does not change people. Only Christ, the Holy Spirit and the gospel clearly understood changes people.

    Yes, ideally and as much as possible, whatever we do we should do primarily because of the beauty and mystery of Christ and the gospel. But sometimes my heart feels hard and my spirit feels dry (what St. John of the Cross calls the dark night of the soul). Then perhaps some “do’s” and “don’ts” may help–not as a permanent solution, but to overcome the crisis moment or the bump in the road.

    All commands and imperatives in the Bible should be grounded deeply in the indicatives of the gospel. But there are still commands and imperatives throughout the OT and NT.

    Moses says, “choose life” (Dt 30:19). Joshua says, “choose whom you shall serve” (Josh 24:15). Jesus extends grace freely to the worse of sinners and says, “leave your life of sin” (Jn 8:11). Paul says, “flee fornication” (1 Cor 6:18).

    As a Christian, I want to obey not because I am forced, challenged or commanded to obey, but primarily because of what Christ has done for me.

    In my opinion there is a place for imperatives and commands to be obeyed, not because they save us, but because we are already saved by grace.

    • “Is it that you do not like negations? Don’t divorce? Don’t date non-Christians? Don’t watch porno? Don’t be a self-righteous Pharisee?” – See more at:

      Yes, currently, I’m not able to process negations very well. But more specifically, I have an adverse reaction to moral negations. I don’t see any value in restraining sensual indulgence, even though such moral negations appear wise and humble. I am highly sensitive to the harm this kind of teaching can do because the Spirit has been continually leading me back to the book of Colossians, especially Colossians 2:1-23.

  13. Perhaps another reason regarding our differing approaches toward Scripture might be that I am at least a 4 point Calvinist (and possibly a 5 point), while many may not be. My hope and prayer is that my Calvinism may be of the non-angry variety. I do not wish insist on or impose my Calvinistic inclinations on others, and never ever on my wife!

    This article (in New York Times no less) is indicating a recent resurgence in Calvinism in the U.S.: It is sad and unfortunate that some Calvinists have a reputation for being rigid, inflexible, intimidating, coercive and dismissive of anyone with other views.

    • I have no issue with a happy Calvinist :) For me, the petals fell off my TULIP. So you might say I am a 1 point Calvinist. I suppose you already know which point… which is of course “irresistible grace”. I don’t buy the logic that says all 5 points must be taken or rejected in whole.

  14. So instead of moral negation type teaching, or the “here’s what I believe the bible says, obey it or disobey it” teaching, I love the thinking, reasoning, faith-rooted, exploratory nature of teaching such as Spurgeon:

    “Christian people fall into a certain outward method of procedure, a peculiar outward mode of uttering their faith, which becomes to true godliness what the body is to the soul. The form is useful, the form is necessary, the form ought to be vitalized—just as the body is useful and is necessary and is vitalized by the soul. If you get both the form, as modeled in the Word of God and the power, as bestowed by the Spirit of God, you do well and are living Christians. If you get the power alone, without the ordained form, you somewhat maim yourself. But if you get the form without the power, then, you dwell in spiritual death.”


    This verse from 2 Timothy (only with a thin layer of Christianism on top) seems SO much like an awful lot of church/religious leaders in Christendom, as is also a reason why I remain outside the Christendom camp:

    “Lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.”

  15. So what I’m saying is not that I know all the answers, but that I’m so weary of the shallow and flawed “repent of your sin” teachings. I long for Spurgeon’s voice in these matters. Spurgeon was a visionary whose prophetic voice saw what struggles were coming to the Church.

    “We are unhappy if we do not see our children walking in the God’s Truth. Yet the idea of birthright membership is an evil one and is as perilous as it is unscriptural. If children are taken into the Church simply because of their earthly parentage, surely this is not consistent with that description of the sons of God which is found in the inspired Scripture —”Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man but of God.” Not generation but REGENERATION, makes the Christian.

    You are not Christians because you can trace a line of fleshly descent throughout twenty generations of children of God. You must, yourselves, be born again. For except a man is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Many, no doubt, lay hold naturally on the form of godliness because of family ties — this is poor work. Ishmael is a sorry son of Abraham and Esau of Isaac and Absalom of David. Grace does not run in the blood. If you have no better foundation for your religion than your earthly parentage, you are in a wretched case.

    Others have accepted the form of godliness by the force of authority and influence. They were, as lads, put apprentice to godly men. As girls, they were under the guidance of pious teachers. And as they grew up, they came under the influence of persons of superior intelligence and character who were on the Lord’s side. This accounts for their form of godliness. Many persons are the creatures of their surroundings — religion or irreligion is with them the result of circumstances. Such persons were led to make a profession of faith in Christ because others did so and friends encouraged them to do the same.”

    JUNE 2, 1889

  16. Chris, I think you know that I am not disputing with you that UBF has unresolved and unaddressed issues. That is why many have asserted that UBF is not presently a healthy church, and that overall she is in fact declining (while there are pockets of active outreach).

    The saving “face” and honor preserving mentality requires some supernatural baptism of fire to begin to bring us back down to earth from our almost hollow triumphalism (of glory days gone by).

    • “many have asserted that UBF is not presently a healthy church”

      Not sure if you wanted to imply that, but it sounds a bit as if UBF has been healthy and only recently become unhealthy. This is an idea that I vehemently dispute. UBF has never been healthy and there never were “glory days” as the 1976 open letter shows. In fact, in the past abuse in UBF has been even worse and without Samuel Lee UBF has become a little bit healthier in some areas. Though, yes, it’s presently still not a healthy church. (Maybe I was just missing the word “still”.)

      The recent decline in membership may be even a sign of healthiness. People see that something is wrong, and they leave. In former times, people were so indoctrinated that they didn’t even see it, or were so fearful they could not leave, because they believed leaving UBF was equal to leaving faith.

    • Joe Schafer

      I totally agree with Chris on this point. UBF was never a healthy church, and in my estimation it’s still very unhealthy.

  17. Thanks, Chris, Joe,

    I did not realize it, but I do actually agree with you that UBF has unhealthy elements throughout her 50 year existence. Hopefully, the next generation, if not this present generation, may begin to acknowledge this to be true.

    Until a gut reality check is done, not much will happen significantly beyond what is presently happening: spurts of evangelistic activity in a few chapters and fellowships, membership and offerings declining, while some leaders continuing to boldly declare that God is doing great work.

    As you know, sinners invariably take credit for what God has done through them, or in spite of them. That is perhaps the unfortunate “glory days of old” that some longstanding members recall, and cling on to. This is sad and unfortunate.

    • Spot on, Ben:

      “Until a gut reality check is done, not much will happen significantly beyond what is presently happening” – See more at:

      One of the themes of ubf leaders who left in the 2011 events (4th worldwide reform movement) was “many things have changed in ubf but nothing has changed.”

      That speaks to a fundamental flaw in the ubf teachings, especially about the gospel. When the gospel is taught well, life is continually new, regardless of what changes or doesn’t change. The 50th Anniversary “mission” statement for the next 50 years states this well and told all ubf members that nothing will change for at least 50 years. Many of us will be dead in 50 years, so we decided to leave and find our lives with whatever time the Lord gives us on this earth.

      The blue book lectures confirm this double-down resolve by ubf leaders to “keep the heritage” as their gospel and “pass it on” to their Korean children.