Love is a term that many people use without meaning or purpose and sometimes it is assigned the wrong definition. God is love and His love toward His elect is a decisive action unto their eternal life, redemption, forgiveness, etc. I want to encourage you to think on this Love of God this year… this day… right now.

 

Midweek Teaching: Assurance and Faith is Found IN Christ Alone

This midweek sermon is dealing with the topic of assurance is based on the finished work of Christ and reveals that James & Paul concur that it is all centered on the work of Christ alone through Faith, not works. While works are commanded of the believer and church discipline can be enforced, Christ alone through Faith alone is the biblical prescription for hope.

 

Covenant Theology

  • The Parties include the mediator and the subject of the covenant.
  • The Promise can be natural or supernatural or both.
  • The Conditions are established at the behest of the mediator and must be met.
  • The seal or ceremony shows us something about the covenant as it also reveals the certainty of the promise.

 

A COVENANT

A promise given from one party to another upon which are imposed stipulations or conditions that are sealed by a token, symbol, or ceremony.

Trey teaches us about covenants and shows that when it comes to redemption, God meets the stipulations or conditions of the covenant that has been established and the promise is given to some before the conditions are even met. 

Ephesians 1:1–14

[1] Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,

To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:

[2] Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

[3] Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, [4] even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love [5] he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, [6] to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. [7] In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, [8] which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight [9] making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ [10] as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

[11] In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, [12] so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. [13] In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, [14] who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (ESV)


Thomas (Trey) Mason is an elder candidate with GraceTruth Church and actively serves in areas of teaching, research and pastoral care.

 

 

 

John 6:11–22 (ESV)
11 Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” 13 So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. 
JESUS MIRACLE EXPOSED THE MIRACLE OF REDEMPTION
  • V11 – Took the loads and distributed and also the fish
    • The bread that he was GIVEN gave forth more bread. It was transformed 
14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!”
THE PEOPLE KNEW THE SCRIPTURE and WANTED THEIR EARTHLY KING
Deuteronomy 18:15–19 (ESV)
15 “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— 16 just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ 17 And the Lord said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19 And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.
  • Their hope was in escape from ROME and revitalization of Judaism
  • Their focus was that Messiah’s significance was Earthly: Wealth, Food, Victory, Freedom 
    • They could not see the DIVINE revelation of Jesus Christ, nor Him being the bread of life, nor their own true need for salvation!
15 Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.
THE WORK OF JESUS CAUSED THE MIND OF MAN TO DO ANY CREATIVE THING
REMEMBER THIS IS THE PASSOVER THAT POINTS TO JESUS, but 
JUST LIKE THE JEWISH LEADERS OF JOHN 5, THE MULTITUDE COULD NOT SEE
***REVEIW*** 
SECOND PASSOVER
Jesus is the LAMB – He is about to focus on FEEDING to FILLING, this miracle.
  • Lamb dies points to the death of Christ
  • Bread and fish will FILL but not satisfy
  • MANNA is a shadow of the TRUE BREAD
  • PASSOVER is removed and JESUS BECOMES THE BREAD and the WINE (His flesh is now the true lamb)
JEWS IN AWE
  • In John 5 the JEWS put their hope in Moses.
  • They saw Scripture but could not see Jesus
  • Passover was their PRIME festival
  • NATIONAL pride was at its highest
  • THE people were taught that EXODUS was a picture of FUTURE GLORY that Messiah would bring and give them freedom from ROME, just like Egypt.
THE WORD OF GOD NOT IN THEM (SO these people also were taught WRONGLY – generation to generation of error)
  • They came to Christ on their own terms with their own conditions
  • They saw Christ through their human interpretation and practice of Moses
  • They comprehended by the flesh, not the Spirit for they were not born of the Spirit
  • They searched the Scriptures for salvation but they spoke of JESUS and His gospel, not them
  • John 5 leaves us seeing the condition of Israel and her spiritual leaders: Dead and blind, feasting on morals not grace!
  • John 6 reveals to us the product of the sheep without a shepherd; feasting on manna not glory!
THE WORK OF JESUS CAUSED FOCUS
  • They wanted Jesus as King and would do anything to get Him there
    • They had the numbers, He had the power, they were all in Jerusalem and could do something!
    • Jesus would provide for their bodies and families, how much more could come from His hands if He were made their King!

RECAP: WEEK 42’s notes.
JESUS IS THE ONE WHO TOOK INITIATIVE
5 Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” 
6 He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. 
  • He sees them and is concerned with their need for food (but mostly spiritual food)
    • He feeds them to later show them their true god… their bellies.
    • Mark records the crowd running and trying to catch up on the north side of the hill and that Jesus taught them for a while, then speaks of them needing to eat.
    • JOHN focuses on the continuity of his gospel’s THEOLOGY, not CHRONOLOGY
  • He inquires, not for the sake of needing to know, but for the image of revealing that NOTHING could be done with ANYONE’S help. It was a HOPELESS cause
    • Just as it was hopeless for these people to eat food, it is hopeless for these people too be fed the true bread from heaven.
MANS FEEBLE FAITH AND FOOLISH ATTEMPTS
7 Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.” 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, 9 “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” 
  • Mary needing wine
  • Jews thinking 48 years
  • Nicodemus thinking natural birth and wind
  • Samaritan woman considering a bucket of water
  • Disciples looking for real food
  • Philip looking at the world’s market
  • Andrew shows that this is an impossible task
    • The disciples never once considered that Jesus COULD do anything, they set out to prove that they could neither AFFORD nor PRODUCE any food that would feed the 13 of them, much less the crowd. 
CHRIST NEEDS NO ASSISTANCE
10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. 
  • HE could have asked the crowd to bring all they had etc.
  • INSTEAD he asked them to sit down in an orderly fashion, he had a plan, he was going to feed them
  • WHAT were the disciples thinking at this moment as Jesus only had the one man’s lunch.
  • 5000 men alone were to large to handle and feed, but also women and children could make this crowd a number of 15-20K large. 
  • Imagine that 5K men could easily have overtaken Jesus at any point. 
  • THIS MIRACLE IS ABOUT TO BE A PRECURSOR TO A SPIRITUAL PICTURE (manna vs Jesus)
CHRIST PROVIDES THE NEED WITHOUT INCIDENT OR HESITATION
11 Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. 
THE SATISFACTION AND FILLING OF THE GIFT OF GOD
12 And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” 13 So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. 
THE BLINDNESS TO TRUTH WITH THE VOICE OF TRUTH
14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!”
  • Many believed he was messiah, but they did not know his intention nor their need for true salvation.

THE WORK OF JESUS CAUSED FEAR 
  • With Rome and the Jews
  • With Herod Antipas (Galilean King) Mark 6; though JTB had risen from the dead.
  • Ceasar – John 18:36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”
  • JESUS KINGSHIP was to die by the Spear, not Fight by the Spear
  • JESUS withdrew from them, dispersed the crowd and TOLD His disciples to leave there in boats
  • Jesus went to pray, because what had just happened, and what people wanted to happen were grave and serious events, very burdensome and pushing toward the ultimate end: His crucifixion. 
THOUGH THE WORK OF JESUS WAS MIGHTY, WITHOUT HIS PRESENCE, THERE WAS DARKNESS
16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, 17 got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 
  • People were looking for him
  • His disciples were looking for him
  • Authorities were looking for him
  • ALL for different reasons: crowed wanted more from him, disciples believed he was their life in the flesh, authorities were fearful of his teaching (against their own)
  • DARKNESS seemed to be the state of men without Jesus; they were scared, alone, and didn’t know where they were going. 
  • EVEN though JESUS had proven His power, when he wasn’t CLOSE, they feared. Even when He was close, they feared: (sleeping in the boat).
  • Jesus had JUST FED (like manna) the multitude and now His people faced the sea!
18 The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. 
  • This act of creation was enough to topple the faith of the men. WE LOSE ALL SIGHT when things go ary. We lose all hope, like being in darkness. (Storm) 
  • The disciples were looking for Jesus
JESUS REVEALS HIMSELF ON HIS OWN TERMS TO THE DISCIPLES
19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were frightened. 
  • Jesus appears in the sea. MIRACLE number 5: He walks on the water. 
  • He had power over the water, the bread, and now the sea. He defies the laws of nature
  • Peter comes out to him here, but John doesn’t record it because it is already recorded in the Synoptics.
  • THREE OR FOUR MILES is to PROVE that Jesus was not walking on the shore! They were in the middle of the sea.
  • Their fear is not the point of John’s writing… he is focusing on what takes away their fear:
THE PRESENCE and REVELATION OF JESUS CALMS FEAR
20 But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” 
  • Jesus is our refuge, hope, and life
  • Jesus brings faith for His people so they walk in confidence that he is near
  • Jesus is the only ONE who would have calmed them in this situation, they were no longer afraid.
    • ANY STORM is in the hands of Christ. He is always near… 
21 Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.
  • Jesus also is the GOD of time and space. He moves the boat and the 12 with himself immediately to dry land. 
Psalm 107:23–32
23  Some went down to the sea in ships,
doing business on the great waters;
24  they saw the deeds of the Lord,
his wondrous works in the deep.
25  For he commanded and raised the stormy wind,
which lifted up the waves of the sea.
26  They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths;
their courage melted away in their evil plight;
27  they reeled and staggered like drunken men
and were at their wits’ end.
28  Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
29  He made the storm be still,
and the waves of the sea were hushed.
30  Then they were glad that the waters were quiet,
and he brought them to their desired haven.
31  Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
32  Let them extol him in the congregation of the people,
and praise him in the assembly of the elders.
THE UNREGENERATE MAN CONTINUES TO LOOK FOR JESUS ON HIS OWN TERMS FOR HIS OWN PURPOSE ( that will soon change)
22 On the next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone.

 

There is never a short supply of opinions. If the US Treasury could tax them, the country would be trillions in the black. These pesky little opinions are ever so frisky and they have a tendency to move about and change rapidly causing frustration, confusion, and sometimes anger. Theological discussions are not immune to such fodder and in fact, if anyone is ever in short supply of a sack of opinions, let them come down to the nearest social hangout, denominational office, men’s breakfast or their own household and it is assured they will find the plethora of mixed thoughts and logic drowning the passers-by. To the point: while there is always room for us all to have our feelings and thoughts about matters, we cannot think in contradiction to the sound truth taught in Scripture. There is no room for the thoughts, freedom, will and wisdom of human beings to stand in contradiction and question God or His actions.

While I’m not naming names or pointing out labels, consider the fact that each person in the realm of theology/biblical studies carries a label and each of those labels exists to define their position on some section or ‘point’ of doctrine. These labels can be helpful, for example, being a baptist identifies someone who holds to the belief that baptism is supposed to be for those who profess faith in Jesus Christ as well as to the belief that the proper mode is to be submerged under the water. Now, Baptist doctrinal statements have changed through the years, but that particular matter has stayed unscathed. In contrast, Presbyterians consider baptism more a sign of a covenant than the outer sign of profession. Therefore, they baptize their children as a sign of covenant and those that hold to this position are well suited for the Presbyterian doctrine of baptism. Now back to opinions. When it comes to whether the mode or expression of baptism, people can hold differentiating opinions and in good conscience, still be considered brothers in the Lord through faith alone in Jesus Christ. However, when the opinion becomes a matter of biblical contradiction, there is a problem. Some people hold to the teaching that without water baptism, one will remain in a state of condemnation. We call that contradiction a matter of urgency because it directly relates to the biblical teaching of salvation or soteriology. When opinions become biblical contradictions they are called heresies and when heresies undermine the gospel of Jesus Christ, they are damnable.

No matter how many people have held to such belief, it doesn’t change the error to truth. Paul teaches the Christians of Galatia that if they were to adopt the idea that circumcision would better secure their salvation they would forever be cut off from Christ. How? Because to believe in Jesus Christ Alone, plus something else is “no gospel” according to the Bible. In our example, if one believes baptism is a requirement in addition to grace and faith, then it is “no gospel”. This is problematic. Because the one trusting by faith in something that they do in order to secure or merit salvation is condemned like Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3. They are condemned because they are not believing in Jesus Christ and His work, but their own. Jesus called this type of thing, “darkness.” Now let’s move to the theological circles of other doctrines. Such as a works salvation.

Works, good works, obedience, sinless perfection, and all sorts of things related to humanity’s ability to cognitively decide and follow after Christ, are in the realm of being “another gospel” and as such, a damnable heresy. There are two matters though that need to be clarified. Some people are born of God and believe on Jesus Christ while later taught that they better work hard to persevere and then they get confused and disturbed, like the Galatians who were called “saints” and “brothers” by Paul. Other people just love the false gospel of working their salvation into existence. They love the ability to stand before God and declare, “I did it! I made the choice, I’ve followed the rules, I am obeying you!” While it may not seem strange, these words are demonic expressions akin to the words of Satan when he said, “I will, I will, I will…” and then God condemned him and threw him out of Heaven. In like manner, Jesus Christ will throw those who stand before Him and say, “Didn’t I do this and do that and say this?”, into the lake of fire. Make no mistake, those who trust in the freedom of their choice to choose and believe are dead in their sins. I pray that many who seem to fight for their ‘fair rights’ in the economy of grace DO NOT FIND them. Because the fair right of all people is to be damned by a loving and gracious and holy God.

God, being gracious and loving, has given life through Jesus Christ alone to be received by grace through faith. Let’s not continue to jump into labels that contradict this. Philosophy has no place in the study of God and when the mind of men get tangled into the ineffable glories of God, well, man just finds himself turned over to reprobation, confused, lost and alone. So what label do you like to wear? Is that label honoring to the Lord? Does it fit well with the sound synergistic and supernatural revelation of Scripture? If not, I would consider removing it you as quickly and as far as possible. Because in the end, we could all be wrong, but we cannot all be right and those who are wrong are condemned already and God’s justice and wrath remain. Let us see the light of the good news in the face of Jesus Christ and settle our opinions at the cross where Jesus took our sin after living our obedience so that we are now the righteousness of God! Amen.

Pastor James

“Once Saved Always Saved” echoes in the halls of many churches, and while the statement has ‘some’ truth, the language and meaning behind words dictate a false sense of security surrounding so many ‘actions’ or ‘beliefs’ regarding salvation. Scripture does teach a guarantee of hope and a sealing by God the Holy Spirit, but the contemporary doctrine of “eternal security” is far from the biblical doctrine of perseverance. The security of the believer rests fully in the work of Christ which affords a sure grasp of the faithfulness of God. God’s faithfulness, not man’s, is the objective and subjective adherence to the Lord’s grace. God purposes and prepares a people for His glory in a certain and definite way.

Recent history has relegated salvation to an experience or response rather than a work of God’s mercy and grace and eternal security has become a “pointing” to those actions or experiences. In like manner, the hope of salvation is found in what man does, rather than God’s divine actions, which of course, is a grave mistake. Proclaiming a man saved from the wrath of God while he clearly has not believed in the work of God is no less than a Demonic. It has always been the activity of the Devil to distort the truth toward the natural palate of humanity in order that God is robbed of Glory. Man’s greatest god is himself and one’s self-love gives any false gospels teeth for the unregenerate, who find solace in perpetuating humanistic theology. Man can find salvation only in Jesus Christ who is the good news of God by faith alone.

Security, then, must be found in the right place, or Person; Jesus Christ the Righteous. Because one’s eternal sealing is the work of God, not the work of man, a few quick thoughts should be secured. Faith Alone is the operative platform on which the believer stands, security, likewise, in the mind of the Christian, must proceed from faith in Christ. That is, believing that Christ has secured the believer is surely secure. Security is not found in the works of obedience, works of love, or works that proceed from grace. Yes, God works mightily in His people good works, but many lost people can also illustrate right living and yet have no security. So many think security is found in the following of the command to “put to death” the flesh and its members. While this is rightly found and grounded in the ability of the Christian because of Christ, it is never going to be perfected and it cannot be the blanket of hope in which the doubting believer wraps himself for warmth. The attitude of hope lies in the essence of God’s regenerative power through the Spirit whereby one cries “Have mercy on me, a sinner…” not, “Thank you God for my goodness.”  Salvation doesn’t make one good in person, it imputes the goodness of the only true Good Son, Jesus, to the believer.

Likewise, a disciplined man with all the moral compass of a saint cannot guide the seal of his salvation by his route of discipline. He would be utterly lost, even walking in the right way, if he places security in the path of goodness. Jesus Christ walked the path of Goodness. He secured the hope of the believer because He obeyed in His humanity to the fullest particle of glory: holiness! While the point is not to carry on this Unchained glory by defining terms, consider the teaching of our present day regarding “justification”, “sanctification”, obedience, holiness, progression, etc. The terms themselves according to Scripture are bound to the finished work of Jesus Christ, His ministry, His cross, and His resurrection. The atonement provided the certain salvation of a people and it is by the decree of God that this came to pass a certain and true expiation and propitiation. There is security beloved. No man in Christ is getting more and more holy or becoming more “like” Jesus. While we as believers do mature and are called to follow a pattern of life, as is all the population of the world, that growth can be undone in a minute and even then, it is not counted as righteousness just because we begin to fall in line.

There is no being MORE HOLY or MORE SANCTIFIED because Scripture teaches that our security in holiness relies on the grace of God, not our works. (I am not being antinomian, and if that’s what you read in hearing what Scripture clearly teaches, then just move on. Thanks.)

It is a matter of MATURING and GROWING in Love which produces all sorts of growth indicators. But these are not sufficient as evidence of eternal life for even the pagan can consume himself with right living. In like manner, the soul that is afire with the Spirit of God and sure of the redemption that is in Jesus Christ has a central divine affection for the Lord Jesus and love purposes its good works. (Gal 2:20, Romans 12:1-2) We must look carefully at these points and recognize that the law (works) and grace (faith alone), are mutually exclusive means to redemption. If the works of Jesus’ life were not sufficient to warrant our righteousness, then why did He die and to what end? If all He had to do was die it would have been sufficient for Herrod to have found and beheaded the Christ child early on. No, it was Christ’s obedience in His humanity that satisfied God’s command and expectation of perfection. It was this righteousness that enabled the God Man to take on the penalty of sin for sinners. It was His divine essence that empowered Him to live again and rescue His people from deserved death.

Sometime later we can visit the ideas of apostasy. But for today, let’s focus on the security of our beloved faith that is rooted and affixed forever in Jesus Christ!

Rest well,

Pastor James Tippins

 

While there are many who claim to understand this phrase, it only applies to the efforts of many evangelistic appeals that accompany a large majority of “evangelical” ministry. Easy believism as a term has been captured by some to mean simply believing the gospel of Jesus Christ as recorded in Scripture. For our conversation here, that is not what is meant. Easy believism is the realm of ‘quick’ and ‘fashioned’ methods or responses that supposedly secure faith. These methods are seen in the practices of the ‘altar call’, ‘sinner’s prayer’, ‘Jesus in the heart’, ‘making a decision for Jesus’, ‘checking the box’, ‘raising the hand’, ‘repeat after me’, and more other aspects of sealing the response to the Gospel command.

Without going into a 250-page history lesson on the Evangelical Church, I’ll just place a few highlights on the history of such practices:

  1. In the 19th century, Charles Finney had a very heretical view of man’s condition after the fall of Adam and Eve and supposed that preachers could overcome obstacles to faith in Christ. Finney is in gross error because scripture teaches that man is inherently depraved and sins because of his nature, sinner.
  2. He produced a series of revival tactics that included having people come forward to receive Christ while also employing multiple tactics like coercion through fear, sadness, music, stories, and mourners who would come forward with others to encourage them to “do something” in response to belief.
  3. Others copied and began to expand the practices of Finney which eventually changed the mission and message of preaching through manipulation and response, instead of the biblical teaching of “bold statement of the truth” and trusting in the Spirit to bring salvation.
  4. DL Moody was a successor of Finney who engaged in an ecumenical effort developing campaigns of ‘mulit-faith’ groups who would utilize music and celebrity appearance to bring hearers to the Finney style responses to a call, not to a clear Gospel message.
  5. The most prominent proponents of ‘decisionism’ is Billy Graham who started his ministry in 1950 and in the same year began a national radio show, “Hour of Decision.” This launched his revivalist efforts and Graham’s tactics and techniques have been normative for the majority of professions of faith for much of the 20th century.
  6. Evangelical churches continue to invest a great deal of time and energy in ‘decisions’ for Jesus while the church of America continually gets weaker and weaker in truth, commitment, sound doctrine, and power. The church answered this over the last 40 years by engaging more and more programs, training and assimilation strategies that further divide the simple and plain teaching of Scripture from the lives of people.

In brief, this type of belief is found in no place in scripture. Some may try to employ the Romans 10:9 card, but by doing so, they twist scripture for their own practices. Ultimately, the continued use of such things is a blatant disregard for the Lord and His word. It’s a refusal to listen to sound teaching and engage in useful and profitable dialog concerning the souls of men. Sadly, it appears that people really do love the glory that comes from men rather than God’s ultimate glory that is revealed in the ‘foolish’ gospel message of Scripture.

If you find yourself trusting in any of the aforementioned methods, I would encourage you to consider your hope and whether or not you really do have security in your eternal life. Maybe your hope really is in Christ Alone, and God pushed through the methods with the message of the cross to your ears. If not, then take a moment and write out your testimony. Describe your salvation, your hope, your security and your exultation in Christ. I will gladly and privately respond to walk you through the gospel of Christ and its absolute power over sin and death!

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ for it is the power of God unto salvation first to the Jew then the Gentile. Romans 1:16.  Are you ashamed? Let’s pray not.

In closing, belief in Christ is easy. It is seeing and being persuaded of what God has said about His Son. What Jesus has accomplished in His life, death and resurrection constitute the good news, because, without it, every human being is justly condemned in his sins. Believe ‘simply’ on Christ Alone, if you really think about it, all this other stuff isn’t easy at all, but more and more works that condemn and have no object of hope.

For His Glory,

Pastor James

A few weeks ago we considered the biblical overview of The Gospel of Jesus Christ. And we’ve taken a glimpse at the assurance of salvation. Today I want to share what I believe are the consequences of false or ‘works based’ gospels and show that Scripture teaches that they are not really good news, but a prescription for death and false hope. Before I begin I want to answer the critic who says, “Why do we need to even hear about these ‘false’ gospels?” The reason that we need to hear about them is because they are being preached and shared by a majority of Evangelicals in our local community. This so-called gospel is being published on the television, in the newspapers, on the radio, and on the internet at a breathtaking rate and by a great number of people. Scripture teaches ONE gospel, ONE way to salvation, ONE means of Grace, and ONE savior who is Jesus Christ alone. Anything taught contrary to such things, especially when it interferes and invades the church, has to be called out and shown to be in error. So, I make no apology for doing what God has called us to do, and I implore each of you to be prepared to speak the truth in love when an error in doctrine arises in the lives of those around you. It is a gravely wicked thing to allow another human being to live in perpetual unbelief when we have the truth.

What False Gospel Are We Talking About?

While there are many obvious heretical teachings alive and well in our culture, the primary matter at hand is dealing with a weak and cheap grace or a grace plus works. There are people who believe that salvation is faith alone in Christ and then they will add obedience or baptism or church membership etc. to the pile of requirements for justification. And I will warn you, I am going to rant and chase a rabbit or two against the margins of this article.

The False Gospel of Man-Centered Faith can be heard from many Baptist pulpits. Christ is preached as the redeemer and savior, but afterward comes the list of do’s and don’ts. Don’t hear what I am not saying; God will produce good things in our lives, such as our love for each other, our desire to be in the word, our continued putting to death of our flesh, etc. But all of these things are results of God’s work in us and are a reflection of Christ’s righteousness, they are not a means to salvation and they surely do not offer a display of righteousness or guaranteed proof of one being born again. If we are honest, we have to admit that many unbelievers can pull off the same type of lifestyle. They can act the part, speak the part, do the right stuff, and seem like a genuine believer. But each day when they rest in their beds, their confidence in this gospel says, “I know I have eternal life because look at all I am now. I am living a pretty good life… Thanks, Jesus!” This gospel is not one that saves because one’s hope is what he has become, not what Christ has done for His redemption. We could call this a False Gospel of Fruitful Works. It rears its ugly head and causes a man work even harder after “faith” in order to be right with God when Jesus Christ has already done all the work required. Some folks even take great pride in their lifestyle that seems to be less sinful compared to so many others. This gospel of Piety and self-righteousness places them in the company of the Pharisee that Jesus says went home condemned.

A few more false gospels teach that the bible isn’t the rule of faith or the means to salvation in revelation. These people offer a relationship with Jesus Christ outside of Scripture and some of them even consider their own writing to be a new revelation. Others teach that man’s will determines his eternal destiny and that all he has to do is speak into being his salvation request to God and “poof” he’s saved. I call stuff like this having faith in one’s faith. This means that one knows he is right before God because he did the right thing or said the right prayer. Jesus Christ is the ONLY way a man can be righteous before God. Sinners do not make themselves available for purchase, God has bought them with the blood of Christ.  This type of so-called gospel puts a greater emphasis on man’s decisions and determination rather than the infallible and effectual work of Jesus Christ the Righteous.  The so-called gospel of sloppy grace is where someone claims to be saved by grace alone through faith and even has a right understanding of the gospel per se but they then take the grace of God and consider it a license for living in darkness and rebellion. This makes no sense. That would be like me saying that God has saved me eternally but has done nothing in my life or my heart right now. God gives His people a new heart and He puts His spirit in them. So, His work will produce His fruits: Kindness, gentleness, etc. (Gal 5:22). To say that Grace doesn’t transform a man is to say God is a liar. After all, anyone who claims the name of Jesus but walks in darkness is to be put out of fellowship in a public manner. This includes a false gospel, false testimony, false doctrine and false actions. But, we don’t put hope in the transformation, the transformation is evidence of the claim of faith in Jesus Christ and as we’ve stated above, we hold fast to Jesus, who is our righteousness, not the works. (James 2:15-25)

Saving faith and faith are two different things. Sadly, most people have the latter, just faith in something, but it is displaced. Jesus is the only true object of faith. Do you ‘believe’ on Jesus Christ? Are you believing now?

What about this Trauma?

The trauma comes when the object of hope is non-existent, or worse, existent but ineffectual. What happens when a believer sins? Does he run to the altar of repentance, work a few days in a row without sin and then feel OK with God again? What happens when the sin is not of the action or the affections of the flesh? What happens when a believer gets depressed? For years I clawed at the walls of my emotional depravity while I was being told that I just had to shake it off and enjoy life and ministry. I remember people giving me counsel that if I was neither happy nor having fun, then maybe I wasn’t called to ministry and should quit. If my hope were in my faithfulness to the Lord or the success of ministry or my joy, then I would have died or quit Christ many years ago.  Sometimes our lives are joyless and even then we can have joy that cannot be expressed. (1 Peter 1) When someone is given an ineffectual object of faith, they will never live up the standard of that object. They will never be good enough or holy enough to feel adequate. And if they do, then they have bought into the false gospel of self-righteousness like we’ve mentioned above.  If we gauge our salvation on the measure of our joy and our joy is not to be found, then what?  Where is the anchor that holds the man to Christ?  What anchors the faith of the believer to the Savior? Is it sinlessness?  Is it sacrifice? Is it church work?  Is it repentance? Is it preaching? Is it prayer? NO!  It is only Christ. Christ keeps His people tethered to Him. There is no escape from His grasp. He is faithful, even when we are faithless. Praise the Lord Jesus!

When someone comes to believe in these false gospels they never have any true means of forgiveness. They never feel as if their salvation is effectual. They never experience the bold truths of Scripture that they are secure in God through Christ and that nothing can snatch them out of His hand. In turn, they hold to the work of their mind, their heart, and their hands while “saying” that Christ is their savior. They are sometimes cavalier and sometimes too broken and scared to know what to do. Christ alone has provided forgiveness through His blood, there is no other work that can be prepared. There is no other sacrifice for sin. Some may suggest, “what does it hurt to go the extra mile?” Well, beloved, the extra mile is a sentence of death. It is unbelief. It is taking a walk for the sake of salvation and righteousness that God does not prescribe. Paul said to the Galatians that they would forever be cut off from Christ if they began to adopt other means of grace. Grasping at these false hopes belittles the grace of Jesus Christ and produces a continual guilt or an opposing pride in the heart. These give birth to either a perpetual worthlessness, a fake righteousness, or a prideful arrogance that all end in the same place: spiritual death.

The false gospel of man keeps many from knowing and holding fast to the enormous truth of God’s everlasting love for us. I remember a time when I felt far removed from God because of my self-evaluation only to be driven to depression, hopelessness, and despair with nothing to do but throw myself at the mercy of God who lifts helpless sinners to glory. Where are you today? What has your faith? Is it you? Is it your church? Is it your religion? Is it your works? Is it your faith? OR is it the grand good news of Jesus Christ who took ALL OF YOUR SIN on Himself and was judged in your place? Trust in this Jesus. The God of the bible who loves you and gave Himself for you. Otherwise, you rest in vain.

Something to think about,

Pastor James

 

As another Christmas comes to a close, the effects of the flesh and fallenness of humanity are very visible. The very idea that the Christmas holiday centers on the advent of Jesus Christ into this world is a bit offputting for those who read his word often and are amazed by his glory, beauty, and grace. Laying all that aside, let’s suppose for a moment that we did indeed celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ as a culture. What is it that we are celebrating? What is it that we believe happened some 2000 years ago? Who is this Jesus? And why does it matter?

I could create a list of numerous ways that Christmas reveals a disregard for the teachings of the New Testament. The way the holiday is exercised and celebrated in our culture promotes materialism, breeds covetousness, expresses entitlement, harbors resentment, purveys a compulsion of reciprocation even when one has no resources to do so, and is often a reflection of one’s stewardship, affection, drive, and heart. A better use of a Christian’s time and resources would be to honor Christ by helping each other, sharing the gospel, and living with a divine purpose and power that could only come from Christ. For those who are in Christ Jesus, the celebration of his Advent includes the celebration of his living righteously before God. The life of Jesus Christ in obedience to the holy commands of Scripture is what gives his sacrifice the value of atonement. Jesus Christ can redeem his people because his death held power and value and worth that pleases God the Father and appeases his righteous wrath.

Jesus Christ was sent to earth so that he might save sinners. So, if Jesus is to save sinners, how he was conceived and born is just as essential as how he lived and died. Jesus birth is of the gravest importance because if he was not born sinless, he could not die sinless. If Jesus the Christ did not die pure, he was raised from the grave for nothing except to ascend into heaven only to face the judgment of God.  While many people would say that the virgin birth is a given, there are pastors, even this weekend who have refuted the validity and the importance of Jesus being born of a virgin and conceived of the spirit. Consider these few thoughts and do not seek a “medicine” for your religion by simply glazing over deep things of God that are plain in the Holy Writ.

BIBLICAL AUTHORITY

When the Things taught in Scripture are invalidated by those who stand in pulpits, what they do not realize is that they are undermining the very authority of God who speaks through Scripture. By doing this, they allow a listener to come to terms with whatever doctrine they do not like by dismissing it as myth. While things in Scripture can be difficult to believe because of their mystery, they are not up for consideration without calling into question every aspect of the Scriptures which include salvation. The very nature of God as revealed through his word becomes fair game, and a reader can now discern, based on his intellect, as to whether or not God’s revelation is through Scripture. God promised the “seed of a woman” would crush the head of the serpent and He who is able, not conditioned toward sin, is Jesus Christ. Dismissing the validity of the virgin birth creates havoc against ALL the promises found in scripture and eliminates all hope for the elect of God by argument.

ATONEMENT

The atonement is necessary because of the sinfulness of humanity. 1 John 1:7 teaches that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all unrighteousness. This cleansing is not a “mending” or a “betterment,” but it is a grand security that one who was once born of the flesh in Adam, dead in his trespasses and sins, has been made alive through Jesus Christ and are now At One with the Father. Man in the natural flesh cannot take away his brother’s sins. It is impossible. This idea is the heresy of absolution perpetrated by the Roman church for centuries. God promised the Messiah, who would be the victor of His people through the sufficient sacrifice. A part of such atoning worth is that Jesus Christ propitiated for us, that is He satisfied the wrath of God’s righteousness for us in full. If Christ was not born of God but had an Earthly Father, He could not satisfy God’s judgment, and He could not bring us to the Father.

TITLE OF JESUS

Jesus is His name, Christ is His title, Lord is His office! He is Jesus, the Holy Anointed One of God who is the Ruler of all things! If Jesus is a mere man infused with Spiritual power, then He is not the Christ, for He did not come from God. If He is just a man conceived in adultery, then He is worthy of damnation like the rest of humanity and is subject to the Law of God as a guilty person; thus He could not be the Lord of the Law. (Jesus said He was the Lord of the Sabbath) So the very name of Jesus, His very title is embroiled into the essence of His birth.

So just in a review of the Scripture, the Atoning power of Christ’s death and the name and title of Jesus we can see that the virgin birth is of grave importance. Think deeply how the teaching of the Bible would be moot if Jesus conception were not divine. Consider your justification. How can God declare us justified if there is no worthy sacrifice for sin? How are we to be made and matured to the “likeness of Christ” if He is just an excellent and highly moral man? What reconciliation is in effect toward God if Jesus needed His debt to paid as a sinner? (Hebrews 7:26-27) How can we be adopted as sons and daughters in Christ Jesus if Jesus is a brother in the lineage of Adam? How then can we have a High Priest who continues the work of advocacy if Jesus is just like all the other priests of man? How is God not a liar if He promised “Emmanuel” (God with us) through the Son and He sent a man to do the work of perfection?  What about John’s gospel that says, “These things are written that you may believe on the Son and have life in His name” if Jesus is not the Word of God made flesh?

People calmly and passively accept anything they hear with no discrimination (discernment), and it is the time to hope not with our eyes and ears. Jesus is the God of Heaven who created all the cosmos and who came to Earth through the womb HE created and took human form while remaining sinless.  Jesus had no sin, but He became sin by taking on the guilt of all who believe so that God would be JUST in forgiving them. So, as Satan acts out this grand play of deception in your presence as the scene downplays the necessity of the virgin birth, scream BLASPHEMY and with tears plead with those around you to hear the truth.  Who might purvey such a damnable lie? Many who sit in the most famous pulpits of our nation. 1 John 4:1-3 teaches that anyone who denies the truth of Christ deity and humanity is anti-christ. So those who preach such things are to avoided and rebuked as publicly as they spew such treacherous heresy. Lord have mercy.

Jesus is GOD, evidenced by Scripture and vindicated by His resurrection. Jesus is also MAN, evidenced by His birth, and His crucifixion. Know Him, Love Him, Worship Him… He is God become man so we might be made worthy of the presence of Father blameless.

…Pondering the ineffable glory until I see Him face to face!

Pastor James