Wednesday, April 27, 2011

How Does God Speak Today?

My wife and I have this friend. She is bright, in her 40's, but not formally educated in systematic theology or Biblical Studies. Yet, when in a woman's Bible study where she was asked, “How does God speak to you?” she responded correctly, “He speaks to me through His Word by means of the Holy Spirit.” Well, you would have thought from the responses she got that she had uttered absolute blasphemy. The participants proceeded to inform her that God speaks to them all the time and in various ways and that our friend should not be so “black and white.”

Of the many foundational truths of the Reformation, one that has to do with the above paragraph and the point of this article is that the Word of God is the absolute authority source for faith and practice.

“The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience, although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God and his will which is necessary unto salvation. Therefore it pleased the Lord at sundry times and in divers manners to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his church; and afterward for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan, and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which maketh the Holy Scriptures to be most necessary, those former ways of God's revealing his will unto his people being now ceased.
( 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Isaiah 8:20; Luke 16:29, 31; Ephesians 2:20; Romans 1:19-21; Romans 2:14,15; Psalms 19:1-3; Hebrews 1:1; Proverbs 22:19-21; Romans 15:4; ) ” (London Baptist Confession; Chapter 1; #1)

The above quote from the LBC has been one that has given definition to the Reformed movement for centuries and indeed has been a central component to professing Evangelicalism. But note I said “...indeed has been...”

Though the LBC represents my personal conviction regarding Divine revelation, there has been a change floating about in theological circles that has worked itself into the hearts and minds of professing Evangelical for some time now. Some are now offering a new understanding of the Word of God, which says God now speaks to believers apart from and in addition to the Bible. It is an attempt by some to change the historically orthodox view of the “sufficiency and finality of Holy Scripture (R. Fowler White).”

Even a former professor at Dallas Theological Seminary wrote:

“In order to fulfill God’s highest purposes for our lives we must be able to hear his voice both in the written word and in the word freshly spoken from heaven. . . ”

Don't miss this point here. If this former Dallas Theological Seminary professor is correct, then those of us who adhere to the theology of the Reformation that the Word of God is our one and only authority for faith and practice are not only wrong but are also quenching the Holy Spirit.

Essentially, what these folks are suggesting is that God speaks to His people as He always has when He would deliver Truth to the prophets in supernatural means and extra-written: Burning bushes, handwriting on the walls, and talking donkeys are some examples.

So, are these guys like our seminary professor friend right? I do not think so.

What these advocates fail to realize and acknowledge is that in the days in which God did speak to His people through supernatural and other means, it was done in a time when little, if any, of the will of God was in written form. In those days, God's elect were forced out of necessity to rely on what they did have of God's will in written form plus other means. However, today we have a closed canon of Scripture and agree with ages of orthodoxy and orthopraxy that what we have in written form, the Bible, is our sole source and therefore the only authority for faith and practice. And, how and why do we affirm this?

“But why does the church affirm that the canon is closed? The only demonstrable basis for this affirmation is that God’s giving of revelation, spoken and written, is always historically joined to and qualified by God’s work of redemption. Now that God has accomplished salvation once-for-all, in Christ, He has also spoken His word, once-for-all, in Christ and in those whom Christ authorized and empowered by His Spirit (Heb. 1:1-2; 2:3, 4; Matt. 16:15-19; John 14:26; Eph. 2:19, 20). With the completion of salvation in Christ comes the cessation of revelation. Consequently, the church now lives by a "Scripture only" principle of authority To tamper with this principle invites a host of theological and pastoral problems. The proof of this observation can be seen in the effect of these "prophecies" upon many who are being led far afield from the sufficiency of the gospel itself. Its finality and complete sufficiency is, in reality, subtly assaulted by these claims to modern prophecies. ” (R. Fowler White)

In addition, the Word of God itself gives us no indication that He speaks to His elect through anything other than the Holy Spirit illuminating our hearts and minds through the Bible. What those who believe otherwise do when they say that God speaks to them through supernatural and extra-biblical means is detract and distract from the all sufficiency of Holy Scripture and how exactly is that extra-orthodox position not “quenching the Spirit?” (R. Fowler White)

My opinion is that they are doing exactly that, “quenching the Spirit,” in their advocacy of extra-biblical revelation. That's just how serious this issue really is. It is God's Word, Holy Writ, in which God's elect hear His words and receive guidance by the illumination of the Holy Spirit through His written Word.

“The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man or church, but wholly upon God (who is truth itself), the author thereof; therefore it is to be received because it is the Word of God.”
( 2 Peter 1:19-21; 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 John 5:9 ) (London Baptist Confession; Chapter 1; #4)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Put To Death The Deeds of The Flesh

I received a phone call from a woman, a professing believer in Jesus Christ, who was going through some sort of tribulation that was vexing her soul. Her first words after explaining to me what was happening were,

God already knows I am a woman of great faith, so why is He bringing these trials and tribulations into my life?”

The only thing I can say in her favor is that she accurately understood the Biblical explanation for trials and tribulations in the lives of His people:

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1: 2-4; NKJV)

My acquaintance got the connection between how God brings into His elect's lives trials and tribulations to test their faith with the consequent result of patience, a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5: 22-23) being produced in the lives of Christians. She got that. A star for her.

What she so tragically did not get was that she was expressing to me on the phone that she believed she had arrived at such a place in her professed faith in Christ where she no longer needed God to produce patience in her life through the medium of trials and tribulation. In her mind, she had reached a level of perfect sanctification where it was, according to her, no longer a need that the Triune God keep perfecting or completing her.

Why more trials when I am already there? I've reached the goal. I've arrived!”

...being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;” (Philippians 1:6; NKJV)

You see, what the Bible teaches is that the good work of salvation, initiated by God in the lives of His elect, won't be completed until the day of Christ Jesus. In other words, the work of completing or perfecting believers will never end until the death of the believer or the second coming of Jesus Christ for His church.

Yet, like so many others with dubious professions of faith in Christ, there is a kind of pride. It is a sinful boasting of having been perfected in grace when in reality there is a total lack of Biblical grace in their lives.

People like that, if they are even Christians to begin with, actually think they have reached a goal while the rest of us sit around in anguish lamenting our pain and suffering. They either are ill taught or are not believers to not know that “until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil 1:6) means that a continual flow of the Grace of God must be constant in their lives to enable them to cope with the multitudinous tribulations that God will indeed providentially bring into their lives.

To deny this is directly from their sinful flesh. In the boast of having arrived at some falsely conceived level of perfection the rest of us are still waiting for, is to glory in one's carnal and base instincts. It is to glory in the self-aggrandized “I have already arrived” state of thinking instead of glorying in the Person and work of Christ and the strength only He can work into your life to enable you to cope with the trials and tribulations God has ordained for your life.

Put to death the deeds of your body and mind (Romans 8:13) to keep yourself from reaching such a prideful notion that you have arrived at a level of completion or perfection and no longer need to have your faith tested by the Loving, Providential, and Sovereign Hand of God. Glorify in the One who can supply you the strength to endure by:

Spend a protracted amount of time in prayer seeking the strength of God.

Spend more time in meditating on the wonders and care of God in His Word. Read the Scriptures diligently and carefully.

Glory in God's strength, the only One who can keep you from falling.

Live nearer to God by watching and praying lest you fall into the temptation of pride and arrogance.

Let your conversation in front of the people of the world ALWAYS be seasoned with the Grace of God.

Let your heart be scented with the aroma of Biblical love for the lost souls of the world.

Let the words of your mouth and the meditations of your heart be such that men want to know what is in your life that's not in theirs.

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12)

Monday, April 25, 2011

“Hold Thou me up, and I shall be safe.” (Spurgeon)

I blogged recently about this woman who called to ask me why God keeps testing her faith when she was sure that He knew that she had already become a woman of “great faith?” I can't get her out of my mind. Just how is it that someone can come to the conclusion that they had arrived at such a state of perfection that they no longer needed to be tested in their faith?

It is indeed a very dangerous thing to reach the conclusion of such a prideful and false notion that you have mastered such an important aspect of the Christian life, is it not? Never is the true believer in a more dangerous position than to be deceived into thinking he or she has mastered anything to do in the Christian life. One can never gloat that he or she has reached the point where there is no longer any need to have trials and tribulations in his or her daily life. The path of anyone's life is not so pristine so as to stop dirtying one’s clothes. To keep one’s hands clean in such a defiling, filth-ridden world, there has to be much watching and praying lest one fall into temptation (Mark 14:38).

At every turn, corner, or juncture in life's road is something just waiting to steal away joy, peace, patience, and contentment. Everything we encounter in life has within it the potential of taking away joy and peace. If we survive trials and sufferings, it is only due to the Sovereign working of God in preserving us that the fruit of the Spirit would be seen in the midst of seeming impossibilities. In this God is glorified.

When the believer stops watching and praying lest he or she fall into temptation is exactly when the fall comes, and great is the fall thereof. Just like a man who walks around with a stick of dynamite in his hand and has to watch lest he venture too close to an open flame so the fuse doesn't ignite, so the Christian can never give up watching and praying lest the fuse of temptation is ignited and the explosion of iniquity occurs.

Everyday affairs in life must be considered as potential land mines for nothing in this life and in this world works to foster any God-glorifying godliness in the life of the Christian. Nothing must be assumed to be safe enough to stop watching and praying lest we fall into temptation. The world system seeks to offer death and destruction to the life of joy and peace.

Instead of false and arrogant protestations of not needing trials and tribulations any longer in your life, there should be supplications directed heavenward desperately seeking God's sustaining Grace through the pain and sufferings of life. You should pray,

Hold Thou me up, and I shall be safe.” (Spurgeon)

That and that alone should be your prayer when you are tempted to think you have arrived at spiritual perfection of not needing the testing of your faith.

And, having expressed your anxious need for God's help, you must watch diligently and vigilantly taking every word, thought, and deed captive to Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).

And when required to venture into a situation where temptation is most intense, never go forth without the Full Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18).

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easy-Believism: Who Gets The Glory?

In thinking more about Decisionalism or Easy-Believism salvation, the plague that has infected Evangelicalism, I began to wonder just who do these proponents of this error think they are glorifying in teaching that “God has done His part, now it is up to you to do your part?”

With the Bible being crystal clear that salvation is “not of yourself lest any man boast,” just how do they explain this? Are these Easy-Believism advocates saying that when you get down to brass tacks, it is man's fallen volition, a will that is dead and enslaved to sin, that is the final determiner in bridging the gulf that separates God and man?

I would suggest that this is straight from the fallen will of man. It is a direct response from man's hideous total depravity to say, much less think, that man has some island or spark of righteousness left in him that enables him to respond favorably to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is an attempt to glorify himself. It is taking away from God the glory when He acts to save His people or His elect.

In discussions with Easy-Believism proponents, I have actually been told that the reason someone is saved while his neighbor is not is that the saved one made the right decision. If that is so, then is it not of works that a professing believer comes to faith and trust in Christ? Is it not then the result of a good work that the professing Christian is saved? To believe unto salvation certainly is not a non-work or a bad work, is it? Therefore, in the minds of those who believe this error, that which makes the difference between them and their lost neighbor is that they make the good and right decision whereas their lost and hell-bound neighbor did not.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast."(Ephesians 2:8,9)

I can't begin to count how many people have told me they are “born-again Christians” and yet they are very publicly ensconced in lives that would, in some cases, make the Devil cringe. A young man who is on his second or third sexual lover told me he is a born-again Christian. His mother told me the same thing about herself, that she is “born again,” and she lies every time she opens her mouth, pirates satellite signals for free, and makes sexual advances toward men other than her husband. A woman in our church is 44 or 45 years old and tells everyone she is 27. She makes no connection between her profession of the Gospel and telling the truth.

This horrid and damnable false doctrine creates the idea in the heads of its advocates that to have forgiveness of sin they think their volition wrought for them means that there is no obligation to obey the commandments of God. This horror creates in their minds a license to sin and to sin freely.

I was listening to a YouTube video in which a famous Reformed Baptist preacher was telling the story of one of his parishioners who admitted to him in a counseling session that she was involved in a long-term sexual affair with a married man. She herself was also married. She saw nothing wrong with this. The preacher told her she would go to hell if she did not stop this. Her response was that she was heaven-bound and that God had to forgive her of this sin because of the decision she made twenty years prior. “Once saved, always saved” is what she chanted to him.

Some take 1 John 1:9 as a kind of permission to sin and get away with it. They have chronic sin practices in their lives but believe as long as they confess it they can get it forgiven and get by with it.

In the Bible, to know someone includes close communion and love. To “know Christ” means to keep His commandments. This knowledge of Christ is called a “perfected” love of God (v.5), not because it makes us perfectly sinless, because it is irrevocably established in those who live by it. Anyone who presumes to have received forgiveness from God but spurns the gift of obedient love as unnecessary is a “liar.” Instead of receiving “Jesus Christ the righteous” as Savior, such a person manufactures a false christ , a savior who is indifferent to righteousness.”1

Easy-Believism glorifies man's totally and absolutely depraved nature. This theological system is man-centered and makes man's fallen will the final determiner in salvation. It is not the salvation of the Bible and is, in the long run, rank and file heresy.

New Geneva Study Bible; NKJV; Nelson Publishing; pg. 1987; 1 John 2:1-6 footnote

Immutability: God Never Changes

The thing that sustains me through the trials and tribulations of life is the fact that my Lord and Savior never changes. No matter what horribleness is thrown into the path of my life, no matter how hard life is and gets, no matter how painful it seems, the one unmovable constant in my life is that His immutability is there for me to cling to.

I hate change. Some people actually like it, I know. However, I am talking about the death of loved ones, getting fired from a job, or the car breaking down. That is what I am talking about: the many things that can go wrong and rock you from your secure little perch. I know I can spend so much time trying to get my life on a tranquil plane of existence and just when I think I have made it, boom! The rug is pulled out from underneath me and my prideful self takes a heavy fall.

But, everything eventually changes, does it not? Disease strikes you or a loved one and death is sometimes the result. Loved ones grow old and die. Friends and family have tragic events and accidents. Creation itself, its very existence, is not forever without decay reaching its doorstep eventually. There is only One who is immune to the inevitable change of mortality.

It is that One to whom we must cling in this tribulation-filled world as the only unchangeable Anchor for our lives on this earth and for our souls in eternity. His forever-unchangeable person is where we have to rest when changes vex us so.

With Christ there is not nor ever can be any rotating or changing variables. Eternally constant, He is the anchor in which our souls find stability, comfort, and peace in the stormy seas of change. His eternal attributes dwell not just in the heavenly realm but are also here now in the weary hearts of His chosen to sustain us today with His eternal unchanging (immutable) power, wisdom, love, comfort, and peace.

The unchangeable Christ is the irrepressible and invincible fortress to shelter His elect in the day of changing problems and trials.

I am the Lord; I change not,” (Malachi 3:6)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Of Repentance Unto Life and Salvation - 1689 LBC - 2

This saving repentance is an evangelical grace, whereby a person, being by the Holy Spirit made sensible of the manifold evils of his sin, doth, by faith in Christ, humble himself for it with godly sorrow, detestation of it, and self-abhorrency, praying for pardon and strength of grace, with a purpose and endeavour, by supplies of the Spirit, to walk before God unto all well-pleasing in all things.
( Zechariah 12:10; Acts 11:18; Ezekiel 36:31; 2 Corinthians 7:11; Psalms 119:6; Psalms 119:128 )

  As repentance is to be continued through the whole course of our lives, upon the account of the body of death, and the motions thereof, so it is every man's duty to repent of his particular known sins particularly.
( Luke 19:8; 1 Timothy 1:13, 15 )

Such is the provision which God hath made through Christ in the covenant of grace for the preservation of believers unto salvation; that although there is no sin so small but it deserves damnation; yet there is no sin so great that it shall bring damnation on them that repent; which makes the constant preaching of repentance necessary.
( Romans 6:23; Isaiah 1:16-18 Isaiah 55:7 )

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Of Repentance Unto Life and Salvation - 1689 LBC - 1

Such of the elect as are converted at riper years, having sometime lived in the state of nature, and therein served divers lusts and pleasures, God in their effectual calling giveth them repentance unto life. ( Titus 3:2-5 )

Whereas there is none that doth good and sinneth not, and the best of men may, through the power and deceitfulness of their corruption dwelling in them, with the prevalency of temptation, fall into great sins and provocations; God hath, in the covenant of grace, mercifully provided that believers so sinning and falling be renewed through repentance unto salvation.
( Ecclesiastes 7:20; Luke 22:31, 32

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Of Saving Faith - 1689 LBC - 3

This faith, although it be different in degrees, and may be weak or strong, yet it is in the least degree of it different in the kind or nature of it, as is all other saving grace, from the faith and common grace of temporary believers; and therefore, though it may be many times assailed and weakened, yet it gets the victory, growing up in many to the attainment of a full assurance through Christ, who is both the author and finisher of our faith.
( Hebrews 5:13, 14; Matthew 6:30; Romans 4:19, 20; 2 Peter 1:1; Ephesians 6:16; 1 John 5:4, 5; Hebrews 6:11, 12; Colossians 2:2; Hebrews 12:2 )

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Of Saving Faith - 1689 LBC - 2

By this faith a Christian believeth to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word for the authority of God himself, and also apprehendeth an excellency therein above all other writings and all things in the world, as it bears forth the glory of God in his attributes, the excellency of Christ in his nature and offices, and the power and fullness of the Holy Spirit in his workings and operations: and so is enabled to cast his soul upon the truth thus believed; and also acteth differently upon that which each particular passage thereof containeth; yielding obedience to the commands, trembling at the threatenings, and embracing the promises of God for this life and that which is to come; but the principal acts of saving faith have immediate relation to Christ, accepting, receiving, and resting upon him alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace.
( Acts 24:14; Psalms 27:7-10; Psalms 119:72; 2 Timothy 1:12; John 14:14; Isaiah 66:2; Hebrews 11:13; John 1:12; Acts 16:31; Galatians 2:20; Acts 15:11 )

Monday, April 18, 2011

Of Saving Faith - 1689 LBC - 1

The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word; by which also, and by the administration of baptism and the Lord's supper, prayer, and other means appointed of God, it is increased and strengthened. ( 2 Corinthians 4:13; Ephesians 2:8; Romans 10:14, 17; Luke 17:5; 1 Peter 2:2; Acts 20:32 )

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A.W. Pink

Many… are willing for Christ to save them from Hell, but are not willing for Him to save them from self. They want to be delivered from the wrath to come, but they wish to retain their self-will and self-pleasing. But He will not be dictated unto: you must be saved on His terms, or not at all. When Christ saves, He saves from sin—from its power and pollution, and therefore from its guilt. And the very essence of sin is the determination to have my own way (Isaiah 53:6). Where Christ saves, He subdues the spirit of self-will, and implants a genuine, a powerful, a lasting desire and determination to please Him.

Again; many are never saved because they wish to divide Christ; they want to take Him as a Savior, but are unwilling to subject themselves unto Him as their Lord. Or, if they are prepared to own Him as Lord, it is not as an absolute Lord. But this cannot be: Christ will be either Lord of all, or He will not be Lord at all. (from: Studies on Saving Faith, A.W. Pink)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Particular, Definite, or Limited?

In the theological acrostic, TULIP, the “L” seems to give a lot of people the most trouble. What this acrostic stand for is, Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, and the Perseverance of the saints. Tulip is a simple way of recalling what is known as “The Doctrines of Grace.” And, it is this, a “Limited” atonement, which gives many fits. The word, “limited” is an unfortunate choice of words. But then how would one spell the word, “TULIP” if the “L” was eliminated and something else used instead?

What the “L” in this acrostic was originally meant to convey was a Particular Redemption or Atonement. Another way of putting it is a Definite Redemption or Atonement.

To avoid boring you with theological jargon, let me cut to the chase: Does the Bible teach that Christ in His death died for the sins of all people without exception or did the atonement Christ made on the cross, with His substitutionary death, die for those whom God the Father elected from before the foundations of the world (Ephesians 1: 3-13)?

In other words, did Christ's substitutionary death effect a potential atonement or did it effect a definite, particular, or limited atonement?

Those who reject a definite or particular atonement are in essence saying that what Christ purchased with His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension is an eternal potentiality. Christ indeed endured the cross but rather than purchasing with his shed blood an atonement for God's elect, He rather made an atonement deposit in God's bank of salvation waiting for clients to come along and decide to go in and make a withdrawal of eternal life. This makes man in his absolute depraved nature the deciding factor in salvation when the Bible is all too clear that to have atonement for your sin, it is “not of yourself” but totally and absolutely of God (See Ephesians 2:1-10).

I mean really, think about, if salvation according to Ephesians chapter 2 is true in its assertion that salvation is by unmerited favor and not “of ourselves”, it is the “gift of God and not of works lest anyone boasts,” then how can the Atonement be a potential atonement just waiting for some depraved sinner to come along and make a withdrawal of eternal life?

To throw you another curve ball, let me ask this: What is atonement and when exactly were our sins atoned for?

Atonement is “the reconciliation of alien parties the restoration of a broken relationship (J.I. Packer).”

When Jehovah brought the Jews out of their Egyptian captivity, He set up a way in which to atone for their sins through animal sacrifice. Some say this was at the core of their relationship with God. They made an atonement for their souls through the shedding of blood of animals (Lev. 17:11). These sacrifices were, however, a “type” of what was to come.

“Typology is a special kind of symbolism. (A symbol is something which represents something else.) We can define a type as a “prophetic symbol” because all types are representations of something yet future. More specifically, a type in scripture is a person or thing in the Old Testament which foreshadows a person or thing in the New Testament. For example, the flood of Noah’s day (Genesis 6-7) is used as a type of baptism in 1 Peter 3:20-21. The word for type that Peter uses is figure.” (

The sacrifices in the Old Testament pointed forward to something permanent and more worthwhile, to something that was to come. But, note this: sins were atoned for when the sacrifice was made or offered. Of course, the blood of animals could not atone for sins in any permanent sense. It was the blood of Him who would fulfill the type, The Messiah, who would once for all blot out sin (see Hebrews 10).

Let me repeat from the above paragraph: “Sins were atoned for when the sacrifice was made or offered.”

Christ did not make a potential atonement for someone who would decide negatively or positively towards the Gospel message in the future. Redemption was not waiting for the decision of man whether to take advantage of the bank account of eternal life to make a withdrawal or pass it by. The Atonement was made two thousand years ago for those whom God chose before the foundation of the world.

“...just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will...” (Ephesians 1: 4,5)

Christ, our Great and Eternal High Priest, atoned for our sins when He offered Himself on the cross more than two thousand years ago. Just as in the case of the typological Old Testament sacrifices, atonement was made when the sacrifice was offered or made, so was Christ's atonement for His people made when He offered Himself as The Sacrifice for sin two thousand years ago.

It was not a potential redemption but a definite and particular one.

If you are a believer today, it was not you in your corrupted, depraved nature that chose yourself unto salvation. It was God who chose you before the foundation of the world, in eternity past, that in due time you would, by His grace, be made alive together with Christ being saved by His Grace (Ephesians 2:1-10).

“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 unto 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. (Romans 8:30; Romans 11:7; Ephesians 1:10, 11; 2 Thessalonians 2:13, 14; Ephesians 2:1-6; Acts 26:18; Ephesians 1:17, 18; Ezekiel 36:26; Deuteronomy 30:6; Ezekiel 36:27; Ephesians 1:19; Psalm 110:3; Song of Solomon 1:4)” (THE BAPTIST CONFESSION OF FAITH)  (

“What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.” (Romans 9:14-16)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Christ in You: Prophet, Priest, King

"There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness" (Prov. 30:12).

There is a paradigm that exists in today's evangelicalism that amounts to a corruption of the doctrine of “justification by faith alone.” The advocates of this corruption do not permit in their thinking that this doctrinal corruption they promote creates in the objects of their evangelism a faith that is disingenuous, insincere, and spurious. They refuse to acknowledge the difference between true and insincere believers, which the Bible speaks to loudly and clearly:

”Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.” (2 Cor. 13:5; NKJV)

And though the church today is full of those who think they are believers based on a prior experience and give no biblical proof in their lives of true salvation in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the purveyors of this paradigm offer little more than a faith based on a mental assent, an intellectual grasp of some gospel history, to the detriment of souls.

"There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Prov. 14:12; KJV).

In the simplest of terms, mere professing believers want a salvation in Jesus Christ to save them from hell but they do not want all of Christ. They want assurance they will be saved from hellfire and brimstone but they don't want what comes with the real deal: Lordship. They want the mercy of Christ but not His dominion and rule in their lives. Another way of saying it is that this paradigm offers a salvation from the consequences of sin but not from sin's dominion. The problem is that if one is “in Christ and Christ is in them,” the Bible says this of the true believer:

“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” (Romans 6:12-14)

In the context of Romans 6, earlier in the text, Paul writes that those who are in Christ by faith alone are “baptized into the likeness of Christ's death and resurrection” and therefore cannot continue to have sin reigning in his or her life.

“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:1-4; NKJV)

A true believer does not continue in sin but rather walks in newness of life. A true and genuine faith wants Christ not only as Savior but also as the One who rules his or her life so that he or she walks in newness of life, showing the fruit of repentance in daily life.

What I am saying here is that if someone professes to be a Christian, there can be no continuance in sin in the life of that professor.

The verses contained in Romans 6 have often been called the “Identification Truths.” What this means is that among many wonderful and marvelous things that happen at the moment God regenerates us, makes us alive together in Christ, the Holy Spirit baptizes us into the likeness of Christ's death and resurrection. The death Christ died He died to sin once for all, the Romans 6 text says, but the resurrection life He lives He lives to God. It is in both of those acts, death and resurrection, into which we have been baptized or identified that we too might be free from sin's consequence and rule. Christ's death to sin is our death to sin. Christ's resurrection becomes our resurrection. His death and resurrection bought for us freedom from the penalty of sin, death (hell), and freedom from sin's evil rule in our lives.

Someone who professes Christ and yet has sin ruling over his or her life betrays the person’s profession of faith. This person cannot be a Christian.

The sickening implication of this is that churches are full to overflowing with those who want fire insurance from eternal burning in hell and yet they don't want the rule of Christ in their lives. They come to church each week for an emotional experience or to do their Christian duty of once a week church attendance and then live like the rest of the world Monday through Saturday. These are shallow and empty professions of faith that do not save.

The problem boils down to this: The massive doctrinal corruption that has infected Evangelicalism is that the message preached in churches today is how one can “receive Christ” with no mentioning of sin, freedom from its dominion, and that you must, as Romans 6 teaches, by virtue of your baptism into the likeness of Christ's death and resurrection, walk in newness of life with sin having no dominion over you.

When one receives Christ, Christ enters that person's life as Prophet, Priest, and King.

When Christ is received as Prophet in the believer's life, He is absolute prudence, He is the supreme instructor in all spiritual things, and He is the ultimate advocate in the believer's life.

When Christ is received as Priest, He is received as the One who offered himself as the atonement for the penalty of sin and lives forever to make intercession for us as our Eternal Great High Priest.

When Christ is received as King, He is received as the One who is the Sovereign Ruler in and through that true believer's life.

It is impossible to call oneself a Christian if one has not received Christ in His completeness. This false salvation paradigm wants to offer sinners Christ as the mediator that bridges the unrighteous gap between God the Father and sinful man. But, as that Mediator between God and man, Christ is Prophet, Priest, and King.

It is all three or it is nothing at all.