Musings 131

But who is sufficient for these things? Is all this change a small matter? And is it in the power of man thus to renew his heart, and change the whole bent of his affections—i.e. to new make himself? No, no more than it was to make himself at the first. And therefore the Scripture tells us plainly, “that it is God who works in us both to will and to do;” that “without him:–without Christ, “the wisdom of God, and the power of God,” enlightening our understandings, and renewing our wills; “we can do nothing.” And those who think they can do great things for themselves, either never tried, or else they are ignorant of their case, and do not know the work that is before them. Dear brethren, if we mistake here, we lost all. We expect light where there is nothing but darkness; strength from weakness; and look for health and salvation where there is nothing but corruption and death. We are self-sufficient, and can only be self-saved, i.e. miserable, and left to perish by the work of our own hands. (Thomas Adam, 1701-1784)

This point is so important and yet so unknown and ignored in our day that it is necessary to go over and over it. For some reason the Puritan approach to this was set aside and the teaching of Finney took over and in our day the basic teaching of Finney is rampant. Not only did Finney think that man had the power to choose and be saved as he pleased, but Finney thought he had the power to convince men to believe. In this we see a denial of the doctrine of man as dead in sin and the doctrines of total depravity and inability. In this we see that man is given the power to apply salvation to himself and thus man was able to overcome his own sinful heart and do what was needed to finish saving himself. Underneath the modern teaching and evangelism of conversion and of spiritual growth, we see the teaching of Charles Finney and his Pelagianism. The teaching of sovereign grace (grace alone, free-grace) have been changed and adapted so that Pelagianism lurks and even controls the thinking and practice at this point.

“This false idea of ‘free-will’ is a real threat to salvation, and a delusion fraught with the most perilous consequences” (Luther).

“So these truths are published for the sake of the elect, that they may be humbled and brought down to nothing, and so saved. The rest of men resist this humiliation; indeed, they condemn the teaching of self-despair; they want a little something left that they can do for themselves. Secretly they continue proud, and enemies of the grace of God” (Luther).

“Again, ‘tis a disposition of soul natural to all men to have a high thought of their own righteousness. And hence, they are pone to reject those doctrines that teach man’s absolute dependence on the free and sovereign grace of God and salvation by the righteousness of Christ” (J. Edwards).

“Till you feel yourself in this extremity of weakness, you are not in a condition (if I may say so) to receive the heavenly help. Your idea of remaining ability is the very thing that repels the help of the Spirit, just as any idea of remaining goodness thrusts away the propitiation of the Savior. It is your not seeing that you have no strength that is keeping you from believing” (Pink).

Luther said so clearly in the first quote of his above that this false idea of free-will “is a real threat to salvation, and a delusion fraught with the most perilous consequences.” Why should people read on this and think on this so much? It is because this is a real threat to salvation. It is because this is a delusion that is fraught with the most perilous of consequences. It is not just that the thought of free-will is such a threat to salvation and such a delusion that it is fraught with the most perilous consequences, but even the teachings that deny free-will in this and yet depend on it in the way evangelism is done and the way sanctification is to be sought. If this is so dangerous then we must flee from it and all forms of it and all the things that it touches.

People want to leave something for themselves to do which is really resisting that broken heart and deep humiliation of the soul that God must work in the heart for it to trust in Christ alone. How can one trust in Christ alone while one still trusts in self? How easy it is for Reformed preachers not to stress these things and so they reject the doctrines of grace in practice while they speak highly of them in words. This is not just a teaching that must reach the mind, this is a teaching that must sink into the heart and God must work them in the heart.

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