Selfish “Christianity” 43

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.

The enmity that the natural man has toward God will lead the natural man to have an enmity toward the true Gospel of God and the Gospel of the glory of God. The true Gospel is not just a message of how man can be saved, but it is a message of how the true God of glory saves to His own glory and according to His own sovereign pleasure. The true Gospel is not that God has done everything He can and now waits upon man to make a choice, but that God must still do it all and that man waits upon God to work as He chooses.

The proud heart of man loves to hear how God earnestly desires his salvation and longs for him to be saved and is just patiently waiting for man to make a choice. The proud and selfish heart of man will believe that God loves him and cannot believe that God will send him to hell for his little miscalculations and misdeeds. But again, what man does not see when the true God is not set forth and the true Gospel is not proclaimed is that his heart is at enmity with God and the true Gospel. The “gospel” that the heart with enmity toward the true God is a “gospel” that the selfish heart will accept, is pleased with, and will allow a person to keep self.

Men believe that they are preaching the Gospel when they preach things about the Gospel. Men believe that they are preaching Christ when they are preaching things about Christ. Some seem to believe that they are preaching Christ when they use the word “Christ” in their sermons. Some seem to believe that they are preaching the Gospel because they use the words “Gospel” and “cross” in their sermons. What people seem to be blinded to in our day is that the true Gospel of Jesus Christ is always aimed at the true state of man and when the true state of man is not set out the true Gospel will also not be set out and proclaimed.

When man is approached as if he was neutral in the matter and all he has to do is make a decision or say a prayer, the true Gospel has not been preached. When a man sees something of his inability and something of his selfish heart that he needs to be delivered from, then the true Gospel can be preached. The true Gospel is that God saves by grace alone and not because of anything in man or anything man can or must do. It is by free-grace and free-grace alone. Man must be delivered from his selfish heart and his enmity toward God. This is why we see in Romans 5:10 that it is the enemies of God that are reconciled to God through the death of Christ. It is not for people who are neutral to God that Christ has died for, but He has died for the enemies of God and for those who hate Him. Christ came to die for sinners and not the righteous, which is to say that He gave Himself in the place of the enemies of God in order to reconcile them to God.

In the true Gospel we have a Gospel where all things are provided as a gift of God. Sinners cannot come up with true faith on their own, though they can be greatly deceived by a faith worked up by self, but instead part of the Gospel of grace alone is that faith is a gift of God and comes from a regenerate heart. Instead of putting the work of faith upon sinners, which indeed the selfish heart is willing to do, the work of faith (John 6:29) is the work of God. Instead of putting sinners upon the work of repentance, what sinners must see is that it is self that they must repent of and that is the work of God.

While this is something of a panoramic view of the Gospel, we must see just how self is involved in all of this and how it must be dealt with in order to deal with the true nature of sin and the true Gospel. It is not just that men commit acts of sin that are against the law and so they must be saved, but men sin because they have selfish hearts that are opposed to God and are at enmity with God. Sin is not just the acts that men commit, but instead it flows from a heart that hates God. Sin is not just a mistake; it is an act of enmity against the living God. The Gospel is not just to make up for little wrongs and mistakes, but it is to reconcile enemies and take the enmity (selfish hearts) away and gives men Christ as their life that they may love the true God.

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