Modern Version of Christianity 4

The whole evangelical world is to a large extent unfavorable to healthy Christianity. And I am not thinking of Modernism either. I mean rather the Bible-believing crowd that bears the name of orthodoxy. We may as well face it; the whole level of spirituality is low. We have measured ourselves by ourselves until the incentive to seek higher plateaus in the things of the Spirit is all but gone. Large and influential sections of the world of fundamental Christianity have gone overboard for practices wholly unscriptural, altogether unjustifiable in the light of historic Christian truth and deeply damaging to the inner life of the individual Christian. They have imitated the world, sought popular favor, manufactured delights to substitute for the joy of the Lord and produced a cheap and synthetic power to substitute for the power of the Holy Ghost. (A.W. Tozer)

Matthew 23:23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. 24 “You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! 25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. 26 “You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. 27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 “So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. 29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!… 32 “Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers. 33 “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?

Tozer wrote stirring works in the 1940’s and 50’s and died in 1963. What he wrote about the entire evangelical world being unfavorable to healthy Christianity back then has not gotten any better, but perhaps is far, far worse. This is, of course, a stunning statement in terms of its breadth and width. It takes in denominations and churches and seemingly about everything that is termed “evangelical.” He goes on to say that he was not speaking of anyone but the Bible-believing crowd that bore the name of orthodoxy.

Here is something for people to take to heart and seriously consider. The orthodox crowd in the time of Jesus thought that they were the elect of God, that they had the true set of beliefs, and that they had true holiness. Could it be that evangelical Christianity (in name), while claiming to use the Bible (as the Pharisees did) have in fact used their orthodoxy to twist and turn what the Bible actually teaches? Could it be that some of modern versions of orthodoxy is not really what the Bible teaches? Could it be that we have so trusted in academics to give us history, theology, and the teaching on the Bible that we have been turned from the Scriptures themselves? Have we substituted what people say the Bible teaches for what the Bible teaches?

We know that Jesus said several times that “you have heard that it was said, but I say to you.” Let us rephrase that to this: “The orthodox saying is this, but I say to you.” Do we really look to the Scriptures or do we look to others to tell us what the Scriptures say? Do we prefer to have historians teach us that others have said about the Bible and so we believe that or do we seek the truth from the mouth of God Himself? Just because Martin Luther said it does not make something true. If Luther said something was true and it was true, I should not believe it because Luther said it, but because the Bible teaches it. Just because Calvin said something does not make that something true either. Just because Turretin, or Hodge, or anyone else said something does not make that something true. It is only true if it is truly what Christ by His Spirit taught and teaches in Scripture.

The idea that the history of the Church is the standard of truth continues to sneak in upon us. It is very important to study the history of the Church and the theologians of the past, but it is far more important for people to study Scripture. Calvin, while a brilliant and godly man, does not determine what Scripture teaches. It is also true that we can agree with Calvin about what the Scriptures teach and yet not believe the truth as from Christ. Healthy Christianity feeds upon Christ Himself rather than what the historians teach. Healthy Christianity is also more than what the Bible teaches. Christ Himself is our wisdom and we cannot obtain that kind of wisdom from the Bible. While this may sound heretical to some people, let us know that while the Bible is vitally important, Christ is the real teacher and Christ is our life. The humble soul bows before Christ Himself and reads and studies the Scriptures with Christ as his or her wisdom and Christ as his or her Teacher. The evangelical world still trusts in itself to teach itself the Scriptures.

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