Selfish “Christianity” 4

John 6:26 Jesus answered them and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.

Philippians 2:19 But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition. 20 For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus.

John 7:7 “The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil.

John 15:24 “If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well.

Romans 5:10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

And when, in addition to these measures, the general strain of what is said to sinners is adapted to work upon their selfish feelings and animal passions, as most of what I have heard has been, and some of it extremely well adapted to work up those feelings to a high pitch, it would be strange if some affections were not excited which they might readily mistake for true religion. When God is represented as desiring their salvation, without the least qualification, and that his desire for it is infinitely strong, what impenitent sinner, that has the least seriousness of mind, is not prepared to be pleased? If ” sinners love those that love them,” as our Lord assures us, they can love such a being as God is represented to be, without any change of heart. A God of all mercy, is just such a God as sinners desire. Will it be said that his justice is also brought into view, and that the terrors of hell are exhibited? True; but in what light are they exhibited? Is it not commonly in a light to which the selfish heart will as readily accord? WILLIAM R. WEEKS.

Imagine a religious person having a dream and that person (in the dream) discovered that the religion that s/he has been involved in was false. Imagine this person finding out that over a period of many years things were changed and despite using the same words for the most part the very religion that this person had been part of was a false religion. Imagine that this person came to realize with horror that the very religion that this person was practicing was actually being used to delude people and deceive them. Imagine that this person then awakened from this dream and over a period of years found out that the dream was in fact reality.

Other than the dream, this is somewhat a true story. It is a true story regarding myself. Approximately 30 years ago I was confronted with a sovereign God in the pages of Scripture. I thought to myself that if that is true, then that changes everything. Worship should be different and evangelism should be different. However, things were not different in the professing churches that I attended. Many years later I was confronted with the idea that a selfish version of Christianity had taken over and that was opposed to the Bible and the true God. While God opened my eyes to that idea years ago, of late it has been driven into my heart deeper and deeper. I do not hear the God of the Bible being spoken of and I do not hear sinners being treated as sinners. Invitations are given to sinners as if they were already reconciled to God and all they needed to do was accept Him. Invitations are given to sinners as if they were not dead in sin and still have all the ability in the world to do all that is needed to be saved.

Perhaps the most sinking feeling that is driving me to despair is to hear nothing but selfish motivations given to sinners regarding salvation, sanctification, and life in general. The only motives that are presented to people are based on the self-love of the person rather than telling them that the only proper motivation is love for God. A person does not need a new heart or grace (these days) to respond and pray a prayer. A person does not need a new heart or grace to live the Christian life. It would appear that God has provided them all they need and now is nothing more than a Divine cheerleader for them. This is true in professing “Reformed” groups as well as the others, but it seems to matter little. Jesus said that apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:4-5), yet in the modern day it appears that it is taught that apart from us God can do nothing.

When people are approached as selfish beings and given nothing but selfish motives to come to Christ or to live the Christian religion, that is very American and very much like the commercials we see and hear. But that is not Christianity. In the time of Jesus the established religion was not the truth of God, but instead the Pharisees had taken over and orthodoxy looked a lot different than Scripture. In the 1500’s Luther discovered a version of Christianity that was far different than the New Testament in the doctrines and practices of Roman Catholicism. In the 1800’s men like William Weeks and Asahel Nettleton found that men like Finney and his followers had deviated from the old paths. One of the major ways those men had deviated from the old ways was that they had turned from biblical Christianity which is God-centered in all ways and had made it into a man-centered and selfish religion. Now, to them, religion was all about giving people the proper motivations (which were selfish) and having them make decisions. Salvation (according to that scheme) was in the hands of men.

The Pharisees had a selfish system of religion, Roman Catholicism had a selfish system of religion, and Finney had a selfish system of religion. All three of those systems attributed to men ability and tried to get them to use that ability by using selfish motivations rather than proclaiming to men that God alone could save them and that they should seek Him to give them a new heart so that they could love Him and have true motivations of love for Him. All three of those systems used the Bible and used biblical language. All three of those systems were focused on men and their selfish interests and were limited to selifsh motivations. All three of those systems were categorically false and taught false gospels.

The ways of Finney have not left us, but instead they have taken over. The threat to biblical Christianity is real, even very real. However, the threat is no longer from the outside, it is from the inside. This threat is perhaps far more dangerous than Roman Catholicism (in a sense) because it more subtle. It uses biblical language and biblical categories, but it has changed the meaning of them. Justification by faith alone no longer means anything like the Bible teaches or what Luther taught, but instead faith is nothing but a work and justification just means something like being saved. The Bible teaches us that God is at enmity with non-reconciled sinners, but men now say that God loves them all and wishes them the best. The Bible teaches that grace is a sovereign work of God, but men now say it is available to all who will choose it for themselves. The Bible teaches that men are selfish and that their hearts need to be changed, but men now give selfish reasons for men to make choices in all things. These things are not a dream, they are a living nightmare. The Trojan horse of selfishness has entered the gates of Christianity and what was once true is now false. What was once evil is now good and what was once good is now evil. Where is God? He is not absent; He is hardening our hearts and giving us over to our selfish desires.

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