Immutability. While many do not know the word, it refers to the essence of God’s innate character from which all things expound, whereby He is never-changing in any aspect at any time. Scripture teaches that God is the same yesterday, today and forever and therein expressly defines immutability. Because God is never changing it stands to reason that His nature, mission, purpose, and decrees have also never changed. In a basic sense, this is true of all doctrine found in scripture, and while some things can be mysterious, eventually God has made known the mystery but has not changed the message. This is certainly true of God’s message of redemption that is found throughout the entirety of Scripture. This message of redemption is commonly known as The Gospel, which comes from the historical use of “God Speak.” Originally, the New Testament used the word “evangel” (transliterated) which means, good tidings, or good news. Combining this small argument produces the fact that God has a good message for His people and it has never changed. Why then does it seem as if there are many “gospels” continually before the sons of men?

BECAUSE OF MAN

Man’s nature has always been contrary to God. (Romans 3) Even in the best of days, humanity is looking for ways to make a good thing better and because the nature of mankind is that of a sinner, broken and fallen from the glory of God, he (man) is rightly condemned. So, the outcome of such things is that when a man is inclined to move nearer to God, he is always going to add to the gospel and in doing so, produce “another” gospel, which is no gospel at all. (Galatians 1)  Another reason so many gospels are in fresh supply is that man’s will is corrupted because of the sinfulness of his nature. He is unable to divide truth rightly, so he creates his own truth and works diligently to make this new truth work for his purposes. Man also has a desire to be in charge of his life and to be the god of his choices and future. Unbeknownst to him, this exercise is a result of the delusion given by Satan, (2 Cor 4) who blinds the eyes of unbelievers in order to keep them from seeing the glory of God. The works of Satan then, are always prominent, not just in the obvious evils of the world, but also among God’s people and in sometimes within the context of the local church. Jesus was not taking a ‘stab’ at sarcasm when called the Pharisees the sons of Satan. He said it because it was true. He wasn’t sarcastic, and He wasn’t trying to be rude but he was, teaching an unyielding theological doctrine found throughout Scripture. That doctrine is that many men who are religious and pious, with great fervor, are often the tools of the devil. Just as the Pharisees had twisted the use and instruction of God’s word, so do some this present day. The root of this activity is Satan, who produces the fruit of unbelief. I often refer to this unbelief as a “low view” of Scripture.

SOLA SCRIPTURA

The Holy Writ is the single court of mediation for all things Holy, Divine, Revealed, etc. In other words, the Bible has the final word relating to the knowledge of God. John 1 teaches that God is fully known in Jesus Christ, who is the living Word, and Hebrews 1 teaches that God speaks only through His Son. When the picture of  Scripture convenes on this matter, one can easily see that Paul (2 Tim 3:16) is in agreement with Jesus (John 17:3-8), who clearly teaches that eternal life is knowing God and His Son, through the Word that gives life, who is Jesus, who has left His Word for us. (long sentence) Without the word of God, and when the Scriptures are viewed as non-essential, another gospel is always birthed. And even with the text of Scripture, it is easy to conceive any variation of Good News pretextually. That is why the Bible must be read and understood collectively and within its context.  Eternal life is at stake and anyone who is to gain life in Jesus Christ must the gospel through the hearing of it. So, what is this Gospel? What is the true Gospel that is taught in Scripture?

ALL OF GOD, ALL OF CHRIST

What this article hopes to produce is a clear picture of how the gospel is taught through the lens of the Bible while partly revealing some small aspects of how easy it is to ‘reduce’ the gospel to one or ‘lesser’ parts of the whole. The gospel is not some opportunity for man to peek into or “try” to see if it fits his life or ideals. The gospel has nothing to do with what any person can do to merit or obtain salvation. If it were any combination of such things, it would not be good news at all because man is, as soon to be discussed, unable to merit escape from sin, death, and condemnation. Salvation and the good news therein,  is certainly and emphatically, all of God through all of Christ. This means that the purposes of God found in Scripture flow from His eternal decrees that have been set forth before the foundations of the world, namely, that God created the Heavens, Earth, and all that is in them for His glory. In turn, God receives glory when He redeems sinners, for whom Christ died, and the word of God’s Spirit through His word makes salvation effectual in the lives of lost men when they hear and then through hearing, they believe.

MAN’S DILEMMA

Humanity is unable to be saved apart from Divine intervention and restoration. This idea is not just some human idea, scripture teaches clearly that it is impossible for man to be saved in himself. In Acts 16:30-31 the Apostles respond to the question of, “What must I do to be saved?” by saying, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ…”  Notice that belief isn’t the savior, Jesus is the savior. This glorious truth is good news because it eliminates pride and control when one is confronted with the reality that there is nothing he can do to merit or establish eternal life on his own. The GOOD NEWS is that God has done the work and has made it certain and sure. Because of the fall of Adam and Eve, all humanity is now guilty and condemned under God’s righteousness (Justice), and without a miracle of redemption, all humanity will remain under wrath. Think about the following truths:

  • Romans 1:18 teaches that God will pour His wrath out on ALL ungodliness.
  • If anyone does not believe on Jesus Christ for salvation from sin (John 3:36), the wrath of God abides or remains on him.
  • Sin is worthy of such judgment. This is right. In the garden of Eden, God declared death was the penalty of sin and this truth is clearly confirmed throughout the narrative of Scripture and even more so, by the teaching of the Apostles. (Romans 6:23)
  • Without a supernatural rescue, all mankind is doomed to just condemnation because they love the darkness of sin and the darkness of self-reliance. (John 3:17-20) Man’s dilemma is grave and inescapable.

THE LOVE AND GRACE OF GOD

So now it can be clearly seen that man is in a very bad position. He is utterly dead in his sin. Some could argue that God could just remove many from the place of guilt, but righteousness requires penalty against sin. It is right for God to bring justice against sinners because to sin against God is evil. Remember the thought about salvation being “all of God?” This is where the reality of God’s work for the sake of sinners is clearly revealed. God’s love and grace toward sinners are the effectual agents in redemption. His desire and decree to save lost souls is the birthplace of salvation. From this point, the Genesis of the purposes of Christ’s advent, life, death, and resurrection secure the purchase of His people which is their redemption.

The grace of God holds a divine efficacy that does more than enables salvation; it also fully secures salvation for dead sinners. Grace secures the believer from the wrath of God, the consequences of sin, that is death, and rescues him from certain and just condemnation while placing the believer squarely within the gaze of God as if he had never sinned. Jesus delivers us from the wrath of God completely, and no purpose under heaven will prevail against the work of Jesus Christ in redemption. God is mighty to save! (1 Thess 1:10).  Romans 5:12 and Romans 6:23 both reveal that while all men are dead in sin through Adam, many are made alive only through Jesus Christ, which is a gift of God alone. (See also Romans 5:16, 18)

ALONE MEANS ALONE

For many seasons, the gospel has been wrongly preached and compounded resulting in a very distorted view of the good news of God. There are some who would preclude salvation without works and others who restrict the grace of God and make it vain. There are several clarifying points, taught in scripture, that are not mutually exclusive:

  • One must believe on Christ Alone for salvation.  There is no salvation apart from saving faith in Jesus Christ alone. One must believe on Christ, fully and willfully, in order to experience salvation. Salvation does not come through any other means than faith alone in Jesus Christ. There is no work, no effort, no right living and no action that captures the eyes of God and causes His gaze to justify a sinner. Believing in and on Jesus Christ results in the often common phrase of “repenting and believing” the Gospel of Jesus Christ. All men who are saved from sin are so because they have no longer loved sin, but loved Christ; which is the point of faith.
  • All who believe in Jesus Christ alone will be saved. This is not up for discussion and yes, while Scripture shows there is such a thing as “false belief”, that is not the point. All of those who believe are saved and only those who believe in Christ are saved.
  • Belief is the action of man. Those who believe, and likewise repent, are actually the ones doing the believing and repenting. God does not believe for humanity, Jesus has never repented of sin, nor will He do so for an unbeliever. Vicarious faith is a heresy, God is not the one who believes, man is the one who believes God for salvation. Any man who desires to be forgiven must believe in the final and finished work of Jesus Christ. He must believe on his own, not through his parents, teachers, friends or congregation. All condemned souls will remain condemned if they do not believe in Jesus Christ. (See John 3 & Romans 3)
  • Man is unable to believe. Those who believe are unable to do so in the mire of their sin. No human being who ever lives on this Earth will ever have the capacity or desire to trust in Jesus Christ. While this seems contradictory to the previous sound and biblical statements, in like manner, scripture teaches all four of these things simultaneously. To deny either of them is to make a false premise and lead some to a false pretense of what the gospel teaches.  Humanity is opposed to God, hates Him and is unable to comprehend His righteousness without a divine intervention. Unbelief is a willful act of the natural state of man. It is a desire that flows from the center of man’s heart and mind. He hates God and does not submit to Him. (John 3 & Romans 3)

GOSPEL ALONE

See how desperately lost humanity needs the good news of God? In order to be saved, a sinner must do what he is unable to do. He must place faith in Jesus Christ alone and must be empowered, no, created to believe. Man CANNOT come to faith in Jesus Christ except the Lord bring Him to life. Consider these verses:

John 3:3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
John 3:19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. [20] For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.
1 Cor 2:14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
John 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

NEW BIRTH

Hearing the words of Christ is the vehicle through which the Spirit of God gives ears to hear and believe. (Romans 10:17) Jesus in John 3 makes it very clear that one cannot see or enter the kingdom unless that one is born again. “You must be born again.” How is this good news you may ask? It is good news because God has not only provided the ultimate end of salvation in His power, but He has also provided the means through His power.  This is good news!  When one hears the gospel, as the Spirit gives understanding, he is brought to life!  He believes, he sees, he loves, he repents, he holds, he strives, he comes to Christ, he longs for prayer and fellowship… because God has made him alive!  This is such a great salvation! God has never told a man to meet Him half way.  God has never said, “I will come to you if you first come to me?”  God has never provided a possible “good news” through Jesus Christ, the possible savior. No, God the Son is the author and finisher of “our” faith. He started it and He will finish it.  Crying out to God for eternal life is a manifestation of the glorious work of God from eternity past and it will be sealed until the day of the Lord Jesus for all eternity future.

Believing and repenting and all that comes from trusting in Christ, including the faith, is a work of God. Ephesians 2:8-9 reveals this very explicitly. You are saved by grace, through faith and this (faith/grace) is not of your own doing. If it were, one could boast, but here all boasting is in Christ. So often many stand argumentatively on these things as they stand their ground to defend their pleasure and pride in knowing they did what is right in the eyes of the Lord by believing.  Beloved, be very careful. FEW if ANY of these who would stand against the word of God and place their faith in the traditions of men are in Christ, and if God does not do a work in them, they never will be.

Historically, this truth has always been part of the protestant faith. Of course, Jesus and Paul passionately teach this as “THE GOSPEL” of God, but so have countless many. The Baptist faith from antiquity to date continue to hold such truths as foundations of the gospel:

  • A. Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace.Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Saviour. (BFM2000, Article IV. Salvation subsection A. Regeneration.
  • Those whom God hath predestinated unto life, He is pleased in His appointed, and accepted time, effectually to call, by His Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God; taking away their heart of stone, and giving to them a heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and by His almighty power determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ; yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace.Although the gospel be the only outward means of revealing Christ and saving grace, and is, as such, abundantly sufficient thereunto; yet that men who are dead in trespasses may be born again, quickened or regenerated, there is moreover necessary an effectual insuperable work of the Holy Spirit upon the whole soul, for the producing in them a new spiritual life;8 without which no other means will effect their conversion unto God.9
    8 Ps. 110:3; 1 Cor. 2:14; Eph. 1:19,20
    9 John 6:44; 2 Cor. 4:4,6 (SLBC1689)

FAITH NOT ALONE

The grand gesture of God’s sovereign grace produces that which He has decreed before the foundations of the world. Namely, the salvation of a lost people for whom Christ died and all the works that flow from such gracious affection. These occasionally are called good works, or evidences of regeneration. As John writes his gospel, he points the apex of his pen toward the proclamation that “these things were written” in order that you would “believe” and so believing, “have eternal life.”  (John 20:31) His first epistle (1 John 1) reveals the work of God (John 3, Ephesians 2:10) as the fruits of the light of Jesus Christ in the life of those who profess faith in Him. Faith is never to be believed ‘in’. Faith can never be the object of faith nor can the fruit of faith be a guarantee of salvation. Jesus Christ alone is the guarantee of salvation and He alone will produce the fruits of His work in His people. (Galatians 5:22)

If there is a BETTER news that this, it would be difficult to establish such a claim. God is sovereign and omnipotent!  Be glad that He has saved you in His way and through His means: through the life, holiness, death, resurrection and glory of Jesus Christ the Lord!

What a savior.

Pastor James

 

 

As I chime in here I actually shudder at the necessity of such writing and smirk at the lack of interest it will garner pressing against all the other noise related to the fodder of this election year. My heart though is very burdened for the sake of the Glory of the Name of Jesus Christ our God and so I write, for those small few who will read and engage the scripture on this matter so that their joy would be full, their minds at ease and their affection for the saints will be pure.

Looking at any election is like peering into the ocular tube for Anton van Leeuwenhoek at his first peek at a eukaryote. He didn’t know what he was going to see nor did he understand what he saw as he gazed. This year’s election possibilities are foreign in history, foreign in my life-time and foreign for the Church. So what does the church need to know about voting, candidates, values, morals, etc. “How would Jesus Vote?” is usually on the tip of everyone’s tongue, while not in that same query, the outcome of investigation is always the same, “what should I do as a believer this election year?”

To date, actually just this week, I have read over 30 articles, responses, rebukes, theological positions, white papers, red letters, vlogs, blogs, comments, posts and even napkin scribbles related to how a Christian SHOULD view and RESPOND to the question at hand concerning this electoral challenge.  Quite honestly I am disgusted with it all. I am tired of the undue burden placed by well-meaning people on the body of Christ. I am tired of pulpits being hijacked by lesser mundane inanity in place of sublime glory. I am labored over the souls of so many sheep who are stepping over each other in an attempt to be “right” in the eyes of God while murdering their fellow man. (1 John should come to mind here) I am overwhelmed as a pastor of the local church when I have to continually be on guard that such ready division could implode at any moment and usher a barrage of discipline and unnecessary harm. I am weary of so-called defenders of truth who in their polemics violate the basics of the faith through harassment, evil speech and hatred. As you can see I am tired of things as they are and the only reason is that it is dividing the body of Christ over matters to which the Scripture DOES NOT SPEAK.

Let the exegete stand up and use the context of divine utterance in truth instead of conveying a converted and untruthful boast while calling it God’s. Speak the truth in love for the sake of the glory of Heaven wherein lies no victory in government, national, creed or liberty. Be true to the truth of the Word of God lest God be a liar; let Christians repent of such low hearted and contrived silliness as their flesh shakes with desire to burst their opinions against the decrees of the living God. In summary, let the word of God be true and let those who handle it not twist it lest they face the judgment. God needs no help and God’s word speaks not the matter of national interests for any nation, race or ethnos. Get that and be quiet otherwise.

Therefore, for the sake of the redeemed of the Lord and our unity which is not just commanded of us but GIVEN to us through the SPIRIT, let’s look at Romans Chapter 14 and 15 and what it says about matters of conscience and let’s quit listening to each others commentary, but rather hear the exposition of God’s word so that our souls will be one.

For the sake of argument, let’s say ALL of us are right in our own eyes. That’s right, every contrary statement is true and in an absurd reality, it was permited for insanity to reign righteously. (Not going to happen but I am not here to argue your point of view as many would think.)

As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. (Romans 14:1 ESV)

Look at that! I can stop now. Do not quarrel over opinions.  “It’s not my opinion!” some would say… yes it is. God’s word does not anywhere give us directives or moral commands on voting, elections, policies, social matters and the like. But the contrary, we must discern individually on these matters that are of no consequence. And yes, let the Lord send America to destruction, it’s destined to be there one day anyway, why not now? Maybe then Christians will share the faith instead of nationalism. So in Romans 14:1, if “THEY” are wrong, we are to just be welcoming. If one thinks they should vote for Snoopy, then let them. If one is convinced they should “nevertrump” so be it. If someone else is writing their own names in; great! Quarreling is SIN SIN SIN SIN SIN and is WICKED! So…. let’s look at 15:1

We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. (Romans 15:1-2 ESV)

No only are we to welcome others and their different opinions, we are to BEAR with them and build them up. This is not in correction to our way of thinking. Disagree?

The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. (Romans 14:22 ESV)

So now what? This text speaks of what one may eat or drink, wear, think, decide on matters of choice. Regulate their entertainment. We know what sin is and we know what liberty is and we are NOT free to sin but are free to be at peace with God through Jesus Christ in our convictions on matters like these. For example, I think it is a very poor expression for people to dialog and put their personal information on social networks, so I don’t do it. Often times I engage in encouraging others to be careful, but I cannot say, “God prohibits the use of Facebook!” It just isn’t so. Just like I cannot say, Godly people vote for CANDIDATE X or would never vote for CANDIDATE Y. We are NOT supposed to gain others to our opinion at the cost of intimacy and unity.

Keep in mind right now that I am not speaking TO or ABOUT anyone. So if any of you reading this desire to converse, please do so. If you desire to rebuke, please do so. But be biblical about it, because I will follow the scriptures. I will talk with you about sin and I will call your pastor if it doesn’t resolve. So, OPEN RESPONSES to me should be private if they are directly respondent to this article.

Remember, there are always weak and strong arguments that come from weak and strong positions. There are differences of opinions but we are to bear with each and go along without confusion and argument. Dogma at the cost of love is worthless dogma when it isn’t dogma. Look at the next few verses in 14.

One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. (Romans 14:2-3 ESV)

Wow, we are not to be concerned with converting out brothers to carnivores or to the GOP or the SBC or to the WWJD! We are not only supposed to bear with others in affection, but we are to serve them out of affection and never hold with contempt those who seem to oppose our views. Why? Because we are accountable to the Lord Jesus Christ on these matters and will answer for them one day. We best be sure we are right while we are also not violating the commands that are clear; you know, like loving your brother, bearing with his weakness, not being divisive, not quarreling, not repaying evil, not breaking the unity of the faith… and stuff like that.

Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. (Romans 14:4 ESV)

 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. (Romans 14:10-12 ESV)

We best be willing to stand before God and say, “I am right and spoke on your behalf… ” with these matters, because we will be called to account on how we speak, act and interact, especially with the use of God’s word. (James 3:1) So, let’s be sure in our minds that what we desire to say and hold to is RIGHT before the Lord. Otherwise, we could be in for a grand surprise. Either way, it is our choice on the matter, not our job to change the minds of others. Remember we are talking about moral peripherals, not absolutes.. voting, not worship.  If I chose to vote one way, my wife another and my daughter to abstain, we are ALL RIGHT before the Lord if we are prayerfully acting in response to the Lord and His bearing upon our consciences. In doing so, we live AS THE LORD’S and we live TO the LORD and if we die we die TO the LORD.  The ultimate purpose in all our actions is ascribe glory to the one for whom it is due, Jesus Christ. See verses 5-9 below. These temporal things have NOTHING to do with the Kingdom of Christ. After all, man casts the lots but the Lord decides the vote. (Proverbs 16:33)

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. (Romans 14:5-9 ESV)

When we make division over these types of things we cause sin in the lives of each other. Resentment, doubt, anger, fear, frustration and many other grievances. This cannot be, it is not our lot. We should be willing to lose our rights and lives for the sake of each other, not remove each other from our lives for the sake of the temporal. (v13) The things that are clean are not forbidden. Is voting clean? Is patriotism clean? Is debating these things clean? If it is for you, then good. If it isn’t then good. (v14) We are not to exercise our conciseness and our liberties to the detriment of our affection. (v15) We are not to be KNOWN for our politics but rather the law of love in Christ Jesus Alone! Let us care more for our brother than our rights and liberties. [20] Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. (Romans 14:20 ESV)

[13] Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. [14] I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. [15] For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. [16] So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. [17] For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. [18] Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. [19] So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. (Romans 14:13-19 ESV)

See how this portion of text closes? Serving Christ, not the nation is our priority. All the lands of this world are temporal and ONLY those things which are ETERNAL remain and our siblings in Christ and His glory are eternal. We may be political “enemies” but we are one in Christ Jesus. (Sarcasm intended). Our convictions are personal, private and for dialog only when called upon. When it comes to political issues I rarely, if every, give my thoughts. But when privately asked I labor over the word of God and my prayers and express my fear in sharing them and warn the hearer to not adopt my position but rather pray and seek the Lord and whatever they decide will be pleasing to Him. Our desires should be to edify each other (v19) and to be at peace at all times and to violate our conscience, we sin; so to violate another’s, we cause them to sin.  But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. (Romans 14:23 ESV)

What I Don’t Care About

I don’t care who you vote for and why or why not you vote. God doesn’t either except that you listen to Him and His word. Neither candidate of any party is right, just look at their policies. Every candidate is right on something. There is no such thing as a lesser evil or a greater good; that’s a very childish and ignorant petition. The conscience of a man is ignored with much gravity, God speaks through His spirit (through His word) to our consciences and we best not ignore Him.

What I Do Care About

I do care about the joy of the saints, the glory of God, the name of Jesus Christ, the mission of the church (which is not to change America, but to see it die for Christ!). I do care about meanness in the name of Jesus. I do care about the love of God that is given to us so that we can love each other. I do care about the unity of the faith and the intimacy of the body. I do care about the testimony of the local church. And so should you.

Care beloved. Love as Christ has called us to love. Turn off the tele, stop the likes and frowns, tweet no more to the harm of each other. Let the world do what the world does and pray the Lord gives each of us wisdom and the next time someone comes up to sway you to their idol, just smile and thank them, encourage them, and be at peace.

Be in CHRIST beloved, trash the rest.

Pastor  James

PS. Did you catch the matter of discipline. Just to emphasize, the body of Christ should bring any who cause division in this manner under public discipline according to the word of God. That is clear… even if they are a national treasure, small country pastor, pew sitter or praise recording artist. Think a minute on that. It’s what’s at stake.

PSS. And yes, there are many opportunities for debate here, the spirit of the matter is that we must not continue in this division and we must stop allowing others to twist the use of God’s word to validate their personal convictions. Straw men do not work, they just sit and burn… that’s the point.

AW Pink reflects on this reality in a portion of his writing entitled “The Devil’s Delusion”. Here is an excerpt called “Another Gospel”.

SATAN IS NOT AN INITIATOR but an imitator. God has an only begotten Son – the Lord Jesus, and so has Satan – “the son of Perdition” (2 Thess. 2:3). There is a Holy Trinity, and there is likewise a Trinity of Evil (Rev. 20: 10). Do we read of the “children of God,” so also we read of “the children of the wicked one” (Matt. 13:38). Does Godwork in the former both to will and to do of His good pleasure, then we are told that Satan is “the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2). Is there a“mystery of godliness” (1 Tim. 3:16), so also is there a “mystery of iniquity” (2 Thess. 2:7). Are we told that God by His angels “seals” His servants in their foreheads (Rev. 7:3), so also, we learn that Satan by his agents sets a mark in the foreheads of his devotees (Rev. 13:16). Are we told that “the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God”(1 Cor. 2:10), then Satan also provides his “deep things.” (See Greek of Rev. 2:24.) Did Christ perform miracles, so also can Satan (2 Thess. 2:9). Is Christ seated upon a throne, so is Satan (Rev. 2:13 – Gr.). Has Christ a Church, then Satan has his “synagogue”(Rev. 2:9). Is Christ the Light of the world, then so is Satan himself “transformed into an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14). Did Christ appoint “apostles,” then Satan has his apostles, too (2 Cor. 11:13). And this leads us to consider “The Gospel of Satan.”

Satan is the arch-counterfeiter. The Devil is now busy at work in the same field in which the Lord sowed the good seed. He is seeking to prevent the growth of the wheat by another plant, the tares, which closely resembles the wheat in appearance. In a word, by a process of imitation he is aiming to neutralize the Work of Christ. Therefore, as Christ has a Gospel, Satan has a gospel too; the latter being a clever counterfeit of the former. So closely does the gospel of Satan resemble that which it parodies. multitudes of the unsaved are deceived by it.

It is to this gospel of Satan the apostle refers when he says to the Galatians, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another, but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the Gospel of Christ:” (1:6, 7). This false gospel was being heralded even in the days of the apostle, and a most awful curse was called down upon those who preached it. The apostle continues, “But though we, or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”By the help of God we shall now endeavor to expound, or rather, expose, this false gospel.

The gospel of Satan is not a system of revolutionary principles, nor yet a program of anarchy. It does not promote strife and war, but aims at peace and unity. It seeks not to set the mother against her daughter nor the father against his son, but fosters the fraternal spirit whereby the human race is regarded as one great “brotherhood.” It does not seek to drag down the natural man, but to improve and uplift him. It advocates education and cultivation and appeals to “the best that is within us.” It aims to make this world such a comfortable and congenial habitat that Christ’s absence from it will not be felt and God will not be needed. It endeavors to occupy man so much with this world that he has no time or inclination to think of the world to come. It propagates the principles of self-sacrifice, charity and benevolence, and teaches us to live for the good of others, and to be kind to all. It appeals strongly to the carnal mind and is popular with the masses, because it ignores the solemn facts that by nature man is a fallen creature, alienated from the life of God, and dead in trespasses and sins, and that his only hope lies in being born again.

In contradistinction to the Gospel of Christ, the gospel of Satan teaches salvation by works. It inculcates justification before God on the ground of human merits. Its sacramental phrase is “Be good and do good”; but it fails to recognize that in the flesh there dwelleth no good thing. It announces salvation by character, which reverses the order of God’s Word – character by, as the fruit of, salvation. Its various ramifications and organizations are manifold. Temperance, Reform Movements, “Christian Socialist Leagues.” Ethical Culture Societies, “Peace Congresses” are all employed (perhaps unconsciously) in proclaiming this gospel of Satan – salvation by works. The pledge-card is substituted for Christ; social purity for individual regeneration, and politics and philosophy, for doctrine and godliness. The cultivation of the old man is considered more “practical” than the creation of a new man in Christ Jesus: whilst universal peace is looked for apart from the interposition and return of the Prince of Peace.

The apostles of Satan are not saloon-keepers and white-slave traffickers, but are for the most part ordained ministers. Thousands of those who occupy our modern pulpits are no longer engaged in presenting the fundamentals of the Christian Faith, but have turned aside from the Truth and have given heed unto fables. Instead of magnifying the enormity of sin and setting forth its eternal consequences, they minimize it by declaring that sin is merely ignorance or the absence of good. Instead of warning their hearers to “flee from the wrath to come” they make God a liar by declaring that He is too loving and merciful to send any of His own creatures to eternal torment. Instead of declaring that “without shedding of blood is no remission,” they merely hold up Christ as the great Exemplar and exhort their hearers to “follow in His steps.” Of them it must be said, “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God” (Rom. 10.3). Their message may sound very plausible and their aim appear very praiseworthy, yet we read of them–“for such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves (imitating) into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore, it is no great thing (not to be wondered at) if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness, whose end shall be according to their works” (2 Cor. 11:13-15).

In addition to the fact that today hundreds of churches are without a leader who faithfully declares the whole counsel of God and presents His way of salvation, we also have to face the additional fact that the majority of people in these churches are very unlikely to learn the Truth for themselves. The family altar, where a portion of God’s Word was wont to be read daily is now, even in the homes of nominal Christians, largely a thing of the past. The Bible is not expounded in the pulpit and it is not read in the pew. The demands of this rushing age are so numerous, that the multitudes have little time and still less inclination to make preparation for the meeting with God. Hence the majority who are too indolent to search for themselves, are left at the mercy of those whom they pay to search for them; many of whom betray their trust by studying and expounding economic and social problems rather than the Oracles of God.

In Prov. 14:12 we read. “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man; but the end thereof are the ways of death.” This “way” which ends in “death” is the Devil’s Delusion – the gospel of Satan – a way of salvation by human attainment. It is a way which “seemeth right,” that is to say, it is presented in such plausible language that it appeals to the natural man: it is set forth in such a subtile and attractive manner, that it commends itself to the intelligence of its hearers. By virtue of the fact that it appropriates to itself religious terminology, sometimes appeals to the Bible for its support (whenever this suits its purpose), holds up before men lofty ideals, and is proclaimed by those who have graduated from our theological institutions, countless multitudes are decoyed and deceived by it.

The success of an illegitimate coiner depends largely upon how closely the counterfeit resembles the genuine article. Heresy is not so much the total denial of the truth as a perversion of it. That is why half a lie is always more dangerous than a complete repudiation. Hence, when the Father of Lies enters the pulpit it is not his custom to flatly deny the fundamental truths of Christianity, rather does he tacitly acknowledge them, and then proceed to give an erroneous interpretation and a false application. For example: he would not be so foolish as to boldly announce his disbelief in a personal God; he takes His existence for granted and then gives a false description of His character. He announces that God is the spiritual Father of all men, when the Scriptures plainly tell us that we are “the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:26), and that “as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God” (John 1:12). Further, he declares that God is far too merciful to ever send any member of the human race to Hell, when God Himself has said, “Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the Lake of Fire” (Rev. 20:15). Again; Satan would not be so foolish as to ignore the central figure of human history – the Lord Jesus Christ; on the contrary, his gospel acknowledges Him to be the best man that ever lived. Attention is drawn to His deeds of compassion and works of mercy, the beauty of His character and the sublimity of His teaching. His life is eulogized, but His vicarious Death is ignored; the all-important atoningwork of the cross is never mentioned, whilst His triumphant and bodily resurrection from the grave is regarded as one of the credulities of a superstitious age. It is a bloodless gospel, and presents a crossless Christ. who is received not as God manifest in the flesh, but merely as the Ideal Man. 

In 2 Cor. 4:3,4 we have a scripture which sheds much light upon our present theme. There we are told, “if our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world (Satan) hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God should shine unto them.” He blinds the minds of unbelievers through hiding the light of the Gospel of Christ, and he does this by substituting his own gospel. Appropriately is he designated “The Devil and Satan which deceiveth the whole world” (Rev. 12:9). In merely appealing to “the best that is within man,” and in simply exhorting him to “lead a nobler life” there is afforded a general platform upon which those of every shade of opinion can unite and proclaim this common message.

Again we quote Prov. 14: 12 – “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” It has been said with considerable truth that the way to Hell is paved with good intentions. There will be many in the Lake of Fire who commenced life with good intentions, honest resolutions and exalted ideals – those who were just in their dealings, fair in their transactions and charitable in all their ways; men who prided themselves in their integrity, but who sought to justify themselves before God by their own righteousness; men who were moral, merciful and magnanimous, but who never saw themselves as guilty, lost, hell-deserving sinners needing a Saviour. Such is the way which “seemeth right.” Such is the way that commends itself to the carnal mind and recommends itself to multitudes of deluded ones today. The Devil’s Delusion is that we can be saved by our own works, and justified before God by our own deeds; whereas, God tells us in His Word – “By grace are ye saved through faith . . . , not of works lest any man should boast.” And again. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us.”

A few years ago the writer became acquainted with one who was a lay preacher and an enthusiastic “Christian worker.” For over seven years this friend had been engaged in public preaching and religious activities, but from certain expressions and phrases he used, the writer doubted whether his friend was a “born again” man. When we began to question him, it was found that he was very imperfectly acquainted with the Scriptures and had only the vaguest conception of Christ’s Work for sinners. For a time we sought to present the way of salvation in a simple and impersonal manner and to encourage our friend to study the Word for himself, in the hope that if he were still unsaved God would be pleased to reveal the Saviour he needed. One night to our joy, the one who had been preaching the Gospel(?) for seven years, confessed that he had found Christ only the previous night. He acknowledged (to use his own words) that he had been presenting “the Christ ideal” but not the Christ of the Cross. The writer believes there are thousands like this preacher who, perhaps, have been brought up in Sunday School, taught about the birth, life, and teachings of Jesus Christ, who believe in the historicity of His person, who spasmodically endeavor to practice His precepts, and who think that that is all that is necessary for their salvation. Frequently, this class when they reach manhood go out into the world. encounter the attacks of atheists and infidels and are told that such a person as Jesus of Nazareth never lived. But the impressions of early days cannot be easily erased, and they remain steadfast in their declaration that they “believe in Jesus Christ.” Yet, when their faith is examined, only too often it is found that though they believe many things about Jesus Christ they do not really believe in Him. They believe with the head that such a person lived (and, because they believe this imagine that therefore they are saved), but they have never thrown down the weapons of their warfare against Him, yielded themselves to Him, nor truly believed with their heart in Him. The bare acceptance of an orthodox doctrine about the person of Christ without the heart being won by Him and the life devoted to Him, is another phase of that way “which seemeth right unto a man” but the end thereof are “the ways of death.” A mere intellectual assent to the reality of Christ’s person, and which goes no further, is another phase of the way which“seemeth right unto a man” but of which the end thereof “are the ways of death,” or, in other words, is another aspect of the gospel of Satan.

And now, where do you stand? Are you in the way which “seemeth right,” but which ends in death; or, are you in the Narrow Way which leadeth unto life? Have you trulyforsaken the Broad Road which leadeth to death? Has the love of Christ created in your heart a hatred and horror of all that is displeasing to Him? Are you desirous that He“reign over” you? (Luke 19:14). Are you relying wholly on Hisrighteousness and blood for your acceptance with God?

Those who are trusting to an outward form of godliness, such as baptism or “confirmation”; those who are religious because it is considered a mark of respectability; those who attend some Church or Chapel because it is the fashion to do so; and, those who unite with some Denomination because they suppose that such a step will enable them to becomeChristians, are in the way which “ends in death” – death spiritual and eternal. However pure our motives, however noble our intentions, however well-meaning our purposes, however sincere our endeavours, God will not accept us as His sons, until we accept His Son.

A yet more specious form of Satan’s gospel is to move preachers to present the atoning sacrifice of Christ and then tell their hearers that all God requires from them is to “believe” in His Son. Thereby thousands of impenitent souls are deluded into thinking they have been saved. But Christ said, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish”(Luke 13:3). To “repent” is to hate sin, to sorrow over, to turn from it. It is the result of the Spirit’s making the heart contrite before God. None except a brokenheart can savingly believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

 Again; thousands are deceived into supposing that they have “accepted Christ” as their “personal Saviour,” who have not first received Him as their LORD. The Son of God did not come here to save His people in their sin, but “from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). To be saved from sins, is to be saved from ignoring and despising the authority of God, it is to abandon the course of self-will and self-pleasing, it is to “forsake our way” (Isa. 55:7). It is to surrender to God’s authority, to yield to His dominion, to give ourselves over to be ruled by Him. The one who has never taken Christ’s “yoke” upon him, who is not truly and diligently seeking to please Him in all the details of his life, and yet supposes that he is “resting on the Finished Work of Christ’ is deluded by the Devil.

In the seventh chapter of Matthew there are two scriptures which give us approximate results of Christ’s Gospel and Satan’s counterfeit. First. in verses 13 and 14, “Enter ye in at the strait gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat. Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Second; in verses 22 and 23, “Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied (preached) in Thy name? and in Thy name have cast out demons, and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.” Yes, my reader, it is possible to work in the name of Christ, and even to preach in His name, and though the world knows us, and the Church knows us, yet to beunknown to the Lord! How necessary it is then to find out where we really are; to examine ourselves and see whether we be in the faith; to measure ourselves by the Word of God and see if we are being deceived by our subtle Enemy; to find out whether we are building our house upon the sand, or whether it is erected on the Rock which is Christ Jesus. May the Holy Spirit search our hearts, break our wills, slay our enmity against God; work in us a deep and true repentance, and direct our gaze to the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.

Ineffable.

Thinking on such seems foolish.

Considering the task surely a fool’s errand.

Subject this to the God of Heaven.  Unknown, Unknowable, Indescribable.

YET, He who is at His side makes Him known.

The SON perfectly knows the MIND of the FATHER.

The Spirit is GIVEN the Son without Measure.

The Spirit and the Son give life.

The Spirit Prays for us.

The Spirit reveals God to Us.

The Spirit rebirths us.

So, the worship of God is fully known in the face of the LOGOS come to Earth, Jesus, the Eternal Son who is GOD!

But even in knowing, ETERNAL LIFE GIVEN CERTAINLY, there is an inability to FULLY encapsulate the essence of the nature of the glory of God. Therefore, looking, seeing, knowing, believing, loving, hoping… they all are still yet a shadow.

Why? Because even when the fullest of our minds and souls see and savor, we are awestruck, unable to speak past the whispers of wonder locked behind our language and thought.

Now to HIM who is able to do far more than ANYTHING we could ever THINK or ASK…

We worship in SPIRIT and we worship in TRUTH. THe spirit alone allows a peek into the unknowable. Jesus reveals fully. He is truth. And when we are unable to see what we can see and unable to relay… we see and are satisfied knowing that our bold affection is that given to us by GOD. Through God the Spirit. God the Son.

I digress that I may rest in the unfathomable; knowing what I know of that which is not knowable yet known… 🙂 I love this. No, I love Jesus.

 

Dr. David F. Wells (PhD, University of Manchester) is the Andrew Mutch Distinguished Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. In addition to serving as academic dean at Gordon-Conwell’s Charlotte campus, Wells has been a member of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, a distinguished lecturer at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity, and the recipient of a major grant from the Pew Charitable Trust. The author of numerous articles and books, he has written extensively on postmodernism, open theism, and the history of Christianity in America.  Over a decade ago he penned a small article entitled, “The Bleeding of the Evangelical Church” that broke some surface thought on at that time, a major problem among Evangelical churches in America. Some of the foundations of his concerns have yet to be seen or even addressed and I fear that today’s church is more than dead, she has become apostate. That article is copied here in its entirety from Monergism.com.  I would love to hear your thoughts as we process such things together, for the good of our hope in Christ Jesus.

 

The Bleeding of the Evangelical Church

by David F. Wells

Article by Dr. David Wells, from a booklet of the same name, copyrighted by The Banner of Truth Trust.

I came to America twenty-five years ago, a newly minted doctor and ready to begin a teaching ministry. Today I look back on this quarter of a century with immense gratitude for the opportunity to serve Christ during these years and for the nourishment which I have received from the Church during this time.

This quarter of a century has been a time of many bright highlights, but if I am not mistaken it is also a time of lengthening shadows in our evangelical world. We have been transformed from being an inconsequential religious player to one of some consequence during this time, but the costs are now becoming plain.

Twenty-five years ago, evangelicals were outside the religious establishment. That establishment was made up principally of the mainline denominations. But today evangelicals have become the religious establishments, however informally. But despite this, I believe that today we are in some peril. We have a fight on our hands and what we’re fighting for is our evangelical soul, for it is possible for us to gain the whole religious world while losing our own souls. I do not say this because I am one of those who thinks that the best is always what is in the past, that we are always in a state of decline, and that if we want to think of a golden age we have to think of something that is behind us. I do not think that way at all. In some ways we, today, are better off than we were twenty-five years ago. Perhaps a lot better off. And yet in spite of that, I believe there are matters within the evangelical world today which are seriously amiss. Continue reading “Evangelical Death or Delusion?”

The Goodness Of God endureth continually” (Ps. 52:1). The goodness of God respects the perfection of His nature: “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). There is such an absolute perfection in God’s nature and being that nothing is wanting to it or defective in it; nothing can be added to it to make it better.

He is originally good, good of Himself, which nothing else is; for all creatures are good only by participation and communication from God. He is essentially good; not only good, but goodness itself: the creature’s good is a superadded quality, in God it is His essence. He is infinitely good; the creature’s good is but a drop, but in God there is an infinite ocean or gathering together of good. He is eternally and immutably good, for He cannot be less good than He is; as there can be no addition made to Him, so no subtraction from Him (Thomas Manton).

God is summurn bonum, the chiefest good.

The original Saxon meaning of our English word God is “The Good.” God is not only the greatest of all beings, but the best. All the goodness there is in any creature has been imparted from the Creator, but God’s goodness is underived, for it is the essence of His eternal nature. As God is infinite in power from all eternity, before there was any display thereof, or any act of omnipotence put forth; so He was eternally good before there was any communication of His bounty, or any creature to whom it might be imparted or exercised. Thus, the first manifestation of this divine perfection was in giving being to all things. “Thou art good, and doest good” (Ps. 119:68). God has in Himself an infinite and inexhaustible treasure of all blessedness enough to fill all things.

All that emanates from God—His decrees, His creation, His laws, His providences—cannot be otherwise than good: as it is written. “And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Gen. 1:31). Thus, the goodness of God is seen, first, in creation. The more closely the creature is studied, the more the beneficence of his Creator becomes apparent. Take the highest of God’s earthly creatures, man. Abundant reason he has to say with the Psalmist, “I will praise thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well” (Ps. 139:14). Everything about the structure of our bodies attests to the goodness of their Maker. How suited the hands to perform their allotted work! How good of the Lord to appoint sleep to refresh a wearied body! How benevolent His provision to give the eyes lids and brows for their protection! So we might continue indefinitely.

Nor is the goodness of the Creator confined to man, it is exercised toward all His creatures. “The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing” (Ps. 145:15-16). Whole volumes might be written, and have been, to amplify this fact. Whether it is the birds of the air, the beasts of the forest, or the fish in the sea, abundant provision has been made to supply their every need. God “giveth food to all flesh, for his mercy endureth forever” (Ps. 136:25). Truly, “The earth is full of the goodness of the LORD” (Ps. 33:5).

The goodness of God is seen in the variety of natural pleasures which He has provided for His creatures. God might have been pleased to satisfy your hunger without the food being pleasing to our palates—how His benevolence appears in the varied flavors He has given to meats, vegetables, and fruits! God has not only given us senses, but also that which gratifies them; this too reveals His goodness. The earth might have been as fertile as it is without being so delightfully variegated. Our physical lives could have been sustained without beautiful flowers to regale our eyes, and exhale sweet perfumes. We might have walked the fields without our ears being saluted by the music of the birds. Whence then, this loveliness, this charm, so freely diffused over the face of nature? Verily, “His tender mercies are over all his works” (Ps. 145:9).

The goodness of God is seen in that when man transgressed the law of His Creator a dispensation of unmixed wrath did not at once commence. God might well have deprived His fallen creatures of every blessing, every comfort, every pleasure. Instead, He ushered in a regime of a mixed nature, of mercy and judgment. This is very wonderful if it be duly considered; and the more thoroughly that regime is examined the more it will appear that “mercy rejoiceth against judgment” (James 2:13). Notwithstanding all the evils which attend our fallen state, the balance of good greatly preponderates. With comparatively rare exceptions, men and women experience a far greater number of days of health than they do of sickness and pain. There is much more creature-happiness than creature-misery in the world. Even our sorrows admit of considerable alleviation, and God has given to the human mind a pliability which adapts itself to circumstances and makes the most of them.

Nor can the benevolence of God be justly called into question because there is suffering and sorrow in the world. If man sins against the goodness of God, if he despises “the riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering,” and after the hardness and impenitency of his heart treasurest up unto himself wrath against the day of wrath (Rom. 2:5-6), who is to blame but himself? Would God be “good” if He did not punish those who ill-use His blessings, abuse His benevolence, and trample His mercies beneath their feet? It will be no reflection upon God’s goodness, but rather the brightest exemplification of it, when He will rid the earth of those who have broken His laws, defied His authority, mocked His messengers, scorned His Son, and persecuted those for whom He died.

The goodness of God appeared most illustriously when He sent forth His Son “made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Gal. 4:4-5). It was then that a multitude of the heavenly host praised their Maker and said, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14). Yes, in the Gospel the “grace (Gr., benevolence or goodness) of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11). Nor can God’s benignity be called into question because He has not made every sinful creature a subject of His redemptive grace. He did not do so with the fallen angels. Had God left all to perish it had been no reflection on His goodness. To any who challenge this statement we remind him of our Lord’s sovereign prerogative: “Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?” (Matthew 20:15).

“O that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men” (Ps. 107:8). Gratitude is the return justly required from the objects of His beneficence; yet is it often withheld from our great Benefactor simply because His goodness is so constant and so abundant. It is lightly esteemed because it is exercised toward us in the common course of events. It is not felt because we daily experience it. “Despisest thou the riches of his goodness?” (Rom. 2:4). His goodness is despised when it is not improved as a means to lead men to repentance, but, on the contrary, serves to harden them from supposing that God entirely overlooks their sin.

The goodness of God is the life of the believer’s trust. It is this excellency in God which most appeals to our hearts. Because His goodness endureth forever, we ought never to be discouraged: “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and he knoweth them that trust in him” (Nah. 1:7).

When others behave badly to us, it should only stir us up the more heartily to give thanks unto the Lord, because He is good; and when we ourselves are conscious that we are far from being good, we should only the more reverently bless Him that He is good. We must never tolerate an instant’s unbelief as to the goodness of the Lord: whatever else may be questioned, this is absolutely certain, that Jehovah is good; His dispensations may vary, but His nature is always the same. (C. H. Spurgeon).

Each day that we live is a day that assumes. In reality, the assumption of life goes beyond the scope of our comprehension and sight. This is saying that we don’t even see everything that we assume. In the life of the church, the true believers of Jesus Christ, there is a silent assumption that is killing the wisdom of God. (Eph 3:10) This is the assumptive Gospel.

What I mean by this is that there are many people who live with a mouthed profession and a proposed confession of Christ as Lord and Savior. A stated belief that is good, however, when the covers are peeled back, a huge assumption is found lying in decay under the nicely made sheets. This assumption says, “I said the words with my mouth, so I am saved and am a child of God.” This assumption also goes to this point, “Therefore, I have confident security in my own actions in regard to my salvation and am OK with God, period.”

While a confession “could” be proof spiritual adoption by the Father and true adoption empowers such a confession, the confession in itself most of the time is not a confession at all, but a lie. A confession is a statement of absolute truth. In other words, when a criminal confesses to a crime after being caught, he or she “agrees with” the courts and admits what is true. The action of the crime and the confession of the crime are married to the evidence that agrees with such statements and actions. So, as a believer in Christ, one’s confession must also follow this mold.

So, in this context, I want to make a confident observation in the area of most confessing Christians. Jesus asked a question in Luke 6:46 by asking, ““Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” See, Jesus is very clear here, among other places, that if we are truly His, our hearts will be in tune with the Father’s will, law and glory. He gives a huge test in Matthew 22 by telling the Jews that the greatest commandment is to love Him above all things and the second of equal importance is to love others as much as you love yourself.

This is what Christ “tells believers to do” and if one is a true believer, then they will most definitely follow this rule. Any other action contrary to this is a slap in the face of the true Gospel, a diminishing of the true nature of the church, which is the body of Christ who died for the church to present her holy and blameless. (Eph 5) Now back to the assumption.

For many who claim Christ, their lives do not “look” like their claim. They do not follow Christ but only “think” they have His ticket to eternal life. In some cases, Christ isn’t their treasure at all, but life and assurance of not experiencing eternal death is their joy, not Christ. This is a dangerous assumption, this is an “adjusted” Gospel and in the words of Paul, “…not that there is another one (gospel), but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the Gospel of Christ.” (Galatians 1:7)

I have seen this played out my entire life. People who claim Christ and then get hurt because of their own selfish desires to have things their way. “So-called” Christians who are willing to sacrifice love and worship for honor and pride. Men who force their ways on others in order to be the one who wins in life. People who hold grudges and refuse to fellowship with someone because of differences of opinion. These are just a few things that are seen in the body. Their root is plain and simple: depravity. The sinfulness of man will rule if the Holy Spirit of God is not in them.

So, how does one get an “adjusted Gospel”? The “Together 4 the Gospel” pastor’s conference this year dealt with this theme directly. Dr. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Seminary, gave a lecture on “The Trajectories Toward and Adjusted Gospel” and is well worth your listen.

Dr. Mohler gives eight ways the Gospel has been lost or adjusted and he makes it very clear that the church must return to an “Unadjusted” Gospel. Until the church comes to this reality, those who live in a world of assumed salvation with no fruit in their lives are those who are condemned already and on whom the wrath of God remains, despite their faith in their gospel.

The Trajectories to an Adjusted Gospel: (Highly Truncated and Surface Listing)

  1. Modern Trajectory – This is the thinking that says, “It is impossible to believe in the New Testament when we have such modern inventions.”  This line of thinking gives an open line to complete meltdown of essential doctrine and desires to “rethink” the manner of the scripture and its truths because we are smarter than we once were.
  2. Postmodern – In a nutshell, this line of thinking says, “It’s OK if the scripture isn’t the “final” authority, because we can still get a lot of “good” out of it and we’ll just stick to that.”  For example:  The benevolent, let’s love everyone into heaven gospel.  Or the, Jesus is a good role model gospel.  This thinking says that what “I” think is true is true for me and what you believe is OK too, even when it isn’t what I believe.  This destroys the meaning of scripture and defines salvation depending on the weather or feelings.  This moves to defining God and the bible based on what people “think” not on what it actually “says”.  Current teachers of these ideas are Brian McClaren and Rob Bell.
  3. Moral – “The Gospel is immoral because it breeds a degrading of man.”  This thinking eliminates the truth of God’s holiness and desires to see all mankind as essentially good and moral and they are victims of their circumstances and environment.  This thinking says, “hell, sin, wrath and judgment push people away from the love of God, so let’s stop talking about that.”  Many people who teach from this point of view would say that God was an abusive Father because He allowed Christ to suffer on the cross.  This line of thinking says, “This is not fair, God is not fair and His plan of salvation is not fair.”  Well, ask even my 5 year old what fair is, she’ll say, “that we should all be in hell and receive judgment.”  Dr. Mohler says, “God is perfect and “fairness” does not apply to God because perfect is superior to fair and fair CANNOT question perfect!”  Amen.  Brian McClaren also fits into this teaching and teaches that the scripture is a library of learning that we should be careful around.  The scripture says it is absolute truth… so who’s wrong?
  4. Aesthetic Trajectory – “God is sooooo beautiful!”  This type of thinking devalues the cross and gives the idea that we can “win” people to love the beauty of God.  Mankind, however, cannot see God’s beauty until we see our ugly and the ugly that sin has caused.  Some would say, “we don’t need a bloody cross”.  That thinking takes away the beauty of God and His salvation of an undeserving people.  The cross is beautiful even though it is not pretty.  Paul stated, “I chose to know nothing but Christ and Him crucified lest the cross lose its power!” (1 Cor 1)
  5. Therapeutic – This is the largest group of Gospel adjusted people in the country, the “Oprah” gospel.  This says that we are sick but we don’t know why and we need therapy.  For those who are not in therapy at the moment they are “envious” of those that are and find a reason to get therapy for themselves.  The rescue of the soul in this linking is “internal” fixing of one’s sickness that was brought on by mom or dad or the job, but not sin and depravity.  This thinking removes the need for Christ at all but, if you want Christ as part of your therapy, then fine, but understand you go with what “works for you!”  This is a majority of the unchurched in this country and is continually perpetrated by “Christians” who fall into the psychological “needs” trap and try to mold therapy into the gospel of Jesus.  Christ is sufficient alone for salvation.  (**I am not knocking therapy, just the idea that one’s soul and life is “found” or “fixed” through it.”
  6. Pragmatic Trajectory – This started in the garden of Eden.  Adam and Eve, after falling from God’s Glory, decided to do something to “cover” their transgression.  They made clothes out of leaves.  This thinking says, “all solutions must be pragmatic.”  This is the area where most pastors and leaders spend their time.  They consider what someone can “take home” and “use right now.”  Well, the gospel is the power of God above all things, so, what else does one need?  One of the main reasons for this is prideful accomplishment and personl desire to see growth.  Pragmatism is immediate, like fast food.  Could you imagine waiting in line at Burger King for them to grind up beef, bat it out, season it and warm up the grill?  Nope.  And in the church, we have forgotten that the fruit is the Spirit of God, not the heart of man.  This type of thinking results in management, not magnificent worship.  This “cult of efficiency” produces crowds that are not the church and the change in their lives is not regeneration.  (I’m not sure if I wrote this in my notes from a quote from Mohler – if you find it, let me know.)
  7. Emotional Trajectory – This thinking looks for an emotional reward and runs away from what causes an emotional cost (salvation and repentance).  This thinking weighs the reward vs. cost and decides that the reward of feeling and happiness outweigh the cost of joy and life that is not immediate and has to be fought for.  It’s like the junkie who just keeps using wanting that high from old, never to find it again.  Emotionalism is replete in most mainline word of faith churches and churches that put musical feeling and worship style as a high priority.
  8. Materialist Trajectory – This thinking says, “If I can see it and hold it, then it’s real.”  This is the prosperity gospel like that of Joel Osteen, that makes Jesus as a giver of all sorts of gifts and the stays with the idea that if people can find a tangible reality in Christ, then Christ will be more appealing and real to them.  In other words, the “world” is what I really want, so Christ can give it to me.  I’ll write more on this thinking in later posts, but for now understand that this thinking is dominant in missionary efforts across the globe.  A good video on this from Dr. John Piper can give you a quick five minute feel for the problem.

What is the bottom line with this assumed gospel?  That everyone who has an assumed gospel has no gospel at all.  They are those who “think” they have life and their lives are spent pursuing their own desires, passions and treasures, including their own religion, feelings, and spiritual growth for their own glory.  They do not cherish the one true God who is Jesus Christ as their all satisfying everything!  Let us pray for them.  Pray for us, that we might be true to our confession in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Look at the words of Christ in Matthew 7.  May the AUTHORITY of the scripture destroy your assumed Gospel and give you life in Christ alone!

12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy [1] that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

A Tree and Its Fruit

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

I Never Knew You

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Build Your House on the Rock

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

The Authority of Jesus

28 And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.

This is the rough transcript for the sermon dated Sunday, December 20th, 2009:

The CROSS of Christ – Why Jesus Really Came?
Seeing Christmas through Christ is something that we have TRIED to do over the last two weeks. To some degree I must say that pulling topics out of scripture is dangerous and it is weak and it is a chance for man to do something deadly, create a pretext as ultimate authority.

Looking at LUKE we have seen the Worship and Glory of God in Christ as the LIVING GOD MAN who came to live with us from eternity to be the propitiation for the sins of the church.

MUCH can be said, taught and dived into over this topic which is why it is so dangerous at times, that we could leave out such glorious truths about Christ. But in the essence of our focus, our goal today is to look at Christmas from the lens of Christ once again as the REASON HE was born into this world…

LET US READ John 1:14-18 together: Please stand.

John 1:14-18 (ESV)14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
15 ( John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’ ”)
16 And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

As we think on this text, we might ask ourselves, “Why does this have to be a Christmas message?” To answer: “Because the REASON CHRIST CAME TO EARTH was to be GOD in the flesh so HE could DIE ON THE CROSS”

The Cross of Christ is the essence and apex of history. Let’s look at this text in “light” of the “topic” at hand.

BACK UP A BIT:

John 1:10-11 (ESV)
10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.
11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.

NOW MOVE THE BOTTOM OF 18 – “NO one has ever seen God”

18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

Can you feel the tension here? God is NOT SEEABLE… He cannot be seen. EVEN CHRIST was not SEEN – The light of God in Christ was still not seen. So the question is now, what did Jesus come to do?

Jesus came to give light: that LIGHT is LIFE and that LIFE is ETERNAL: Listen to this in verse 4
John 1:4 (ESV)
4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.

NOW listen to Jesus prayer in John 17:

John 16:33 (ESV)
33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

John 17:1-3 (ESV)
1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you,
2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.
3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

SO – the trouble is this: How can you know someone you cannot see and is NOT seeable?

The answer is SCRIPTURE or the WORD – See Verse 17
17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

Several things that show us GOD:

1. HIS LAW: The law was given through moses – however, the law cannot give us SIGHT to see God – the law just points the way in TRUTH and is gracious… but it is NOT GOD but an pointing to the fulfillment of the RIGHTEOUSNESS of God who is CHRIST! This is also the WORD of GOD – given to moses… His word proclaims His glory to us… It tells of Him.

  • Moses is shown to SHADOW Christ in several ways in John’s Gospel –
  • The serpent on the pole in chapter 3 – MOSES shows the grace of God who tells the truth that if “anyone looks, they will not die.”
  • Jesus says, “So must the Son of Man be lifted up that whoever looks and believes in Him will not die…” para
  • Jesus says in chapter 5 that “If you believe Moses you will believe me and if you don’t believe Moses, you cannot believe me.” Moses writing, God’s WORD points to CHRIST, the fulfillment of TRUTH and GRACE so that we might SEE the LIGHT that gives LIFE and KNOW GOD so that we might have ETERNAL LIFE.
  • Jesus also says that MOSES didn’t give the Jews bread in the dessert, but God did…
  • Jesus is the BREAD OF LIFE…

2. MOSES – saw God, spoke to God, saw the BACK of God when he wanted to see His glory!!
3. His EVANGELIST – Verse 15 – Continuation of John the Baptist’s testimony – John even came a brief moment in life and ministry before Jesus to PROCLAIM HIM as the LAMB of God!
4. GRACE and TRUTH came through CHRIST ALONE – This is GOD in the flesh who is GRACE which is the only way to SEE GOD and TRUTH in that the law, although true, was not the REAL – Christ IS THE REAL – the LAW pointed to CHRIST! – See that the law was a small picture of Jesus – this is the essence of how one can SEE GOD. The fulness of GOD in the flesh – JESUS!

  • THIS IS HOW we see God, Jesus is how we know God, Jesus is GOD’S IMAGE: Perfect SEEING of His glory. LOOK
  • MOSES brought the picture of God’s glory to the people, Moses mediated for the people but Moses could not SHOW the glory of God to the people ultimately because ALL Moses had was the back end view of things!

SO – who is Jesus that He can show us God? Well, look and see:

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

GOD’S WORD shows us JESUS because God’s WORD IS JESUS and God became MAN.

John 1:1-3 (ESV)1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 He was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

WORD was in the beginning, before time and the word was with and the word was GOD.

JESUS is the WORD the WORD is God and JESUS was man – FLESH (INCARNATION) / DWELT (TABERNACLED – LIVED, Camped)

Colossians 1:15-20 (ESV)15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.
17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.
19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,
20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

JESUS came, God came and lived with us and lives with us still and will live with the church forever! JESUS knows us, He is man, He is God and He sits to BE the mediator between God and US forever. He did not pack up and go home, He came to KNOW man forever and be intimate with mankind.

OH LET US SEE HIM!

Hebrews 2:14-18 (ESV)
14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,
15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.
16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham.
17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Hebrews 4:14-16 (ESV)
14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.
15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

LET US SEE JESUS AND LET US KNOW GOD

14b, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

WE have seen GOD’S GLORY – as of the only SON from the FATHER

EVIDENCE:

God is not just something to be studied, He is someone to behold!

2 Peter 1:16-21 (ESV)
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,”
18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.
19 And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts,
20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.
21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

1 John 1:1-4 (ESV)1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—
2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—
3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.
4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

GRACE AND TRUTH

God is GRACIOUS, He gives LIFE to the DEAD and SIGHT to the BLIND – In a sense of spiritual sight and life that only He can give. And gives this through HIS SON – Jesus who is ALIVE, real, the WAY, TRUTH and LIFE

God is TRUE – to His promises, His existence, His nature, His glory – now much more than what we cannot see can be seen in the fulness of GRACE – The FULLNESS OF CHRIST! FULLNESS – “Without Measure in chapter 3 – God gives the SON ALL THINGS, Spirit, Love, Power, Dominion… Jesus lacks nothing of Who God Is as He is GOD FULLY – We can know GOD as completely as He is through CHRIST the LIVING WORD!

We cannot take ALL OF THIS IN ONE SITTING… it’s much more than I can handle.

16 And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

FULNESS OF GOD – The completeness of GOD we can see GRACE UPON GRACE. We can SEE HIS GRACE in Christ and we can RECEIVE His grace through Christ!

How? Through the sacrifice of His Son there is JUSTICE on Sin – He is our mediator, through His flesh and blood, He has brought man to God.

John 1:11-13 (ESV)
11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.
12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,
13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Grace comes and continues to come – Grace is the essence of SEEING GOD.

Which are you? DID NOT receive Him or DID – If you did, you SEE HIM, that’s the issue here… You see Him and if you see Him you know Him and if you believe, You have been made a child! Given sight to see, believe, love, adore, cherish, treasure and KNOW the God of all the universe as Christ the MAN!