Selfish “Christianity” 42

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.

In this little series on the enormous topic of selfishness I hope it is clear that a selfish heart stands opposite of each of the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer and stands against each of the Ten Commandments when the Ten Commandments are seen as displaying God and His own glory as the core and center of them. It is also the selfish heart that stands in opposition and with enmity to all the attributes and rights of God. The selfish heart wants to use God for self and will twist and attribute of God to make it like the selfish heart wants it to be so that the selfish heart can think that it loves God.

The sovereignty of God is perhaps the clearest example of this. Since the Bible uses the word “sovereign” in terms of God then all religious people who hold to Scripture will agree that God is sovereign. However, the selfish heart cannot stand the fact that God is really and truly sovereign and so it opposes the truth of that and settles for a diminished idea of sovereignty that is more suited to allowing the selfish heart remain selfish. People will seek for Christ as long as they can seek Him for something that will suit their selfish hearts. People will be very religious and seek religiosity and the ministry and yet they will do that in seeking their own interests rather than the interests of Christ.

The selfish heart can love a so-called Gospel as long as it is a gospel that is suited to the selfish heart. When the “Gospel” is preached in such a way that it suits the selfish heart, the selfish heart will hear it gladly and perhaps accept it as far as a selfish heart can do so. When the selfish heart thinks that God loves it and longs for and desires for its salvation, it will love that God of its own imagination. When the selfish heart hears of a “Gospel” that is within its own power to accept or reject, it will love that “Gospel” as well. When the selfish heart thinks that all it takes is a decision for it to make in order to be saved, the selfish heart will make that decision (it thinks).

However, when the true Gospel is preached the selfish heart will hate it because the true Gospel is the glory of God shining in Christ Jesus. The true Gospel is that God saves sinners as He pleases and He saves them according to His glory. The true Gospel is that God saves sinners quite apart from anything in them or that they can do and only saves them because of Himself. The true Gospel clearly teaches us that it is not of those who will or those who run, but it is all of the mercy and grace of God according to His mere pleasure. When the true Gospel of God is preached the selfish sinner will hate it because the true Gospel is all about the truth of God Himself.

It may be that some people will accept the fact of the attributes of God and even teach about them, but they do not love the truth of those attributes when they begin to find application to selfish hearts. People love to hear of God saving them and others, though what they love to hear is of themselves not going to hell (they think). True salvation is being saved from love to self and given the love of God in the soul. True salvation is not just a message about salvation; it is of the living God really and truly changing hearts and giving them the life of God in the soul. The selfish heart is at enmity with God, at enmity with the Gospel of God, and at enmity with the application of the Gospel of God to the selfish heart.

The “Gospel” that pleases the selfish heart is not the true Gospel of the true God. This is one of the huge differences between the gospel that the Arminian preaches (and practical Arminians) and the Gospel that the God-centered preacher of God preaches. Note that the issue is not just between a professing Arminian and a professing Calvinist, but it is about whether the preacher is truly God-centered in his preaching and preaches a true free and sovereign grace.

The Arminian and the Calvinist (in theory) can join together and preach the same “Gospel” as long as it is a selfish “Gospel” that leaves the self intact. The theoretical Calvinist becomes an Arminian at the point of the application of the Gospel to the selfish heart. The theoretical Calvinist is an Arminian when it comes to the distinction between selfishness and non-selfishness. The theoretical Calvinist is an Arminian when it comes to how helpless sinners are in the hands of the living God. As long as God must be watered down to make Him acceptable to the choice of selfish sinners the true Gospel will not be preached and it is Arminian at best. This is why there is no such thing as a selfish “Christianity.” Selfishness changes the Gospel to a non-gospel and the true God to an idol that is acceptable to the selfish heart.

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