Selfish “Christianity” 67

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 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.

It is hard to overstate the dangers of ignoring or being ignorant of selfishness within the realm of professing Christianity. It is also hard to overstate the damage that has been done to the state of the professing Church and the state of theology because of ignoring the dangers of the reality of selfishness. This is not just another intellectual doctrine (as some state), but instead it is at the heart of the doctrine of depravity and inability and is where the sovereign of the grace of God meets the depravity and inability of man. This doctrine is also inseparable from instructing us of the true nature of repentance and also something of the true nature of faith. It is to our own peril that we ignore or diminish this teaching.

At the risk of sounding like I am overstating the case, the doctrine of the selfishness of sin and of the human heart is also at the heart of the meaning of Calvinism and the biblical Gospel. If we do not understand the true nature of the depravity and inability of man, then to that degree we will not understand the workings of grace in response to that. If the Gospel is just a little good news to people who are sinners, but perhaps still have some ability, then we will not understand the true nature of the Gospel. If we do not understand the true nature of the inability of man because of his selfishness, then we will not understand how to evangelize men. We will appeal to their selfish motives in an effort to get them to make a decision rather than show them that the greatest thing they can do in religion by their selfish motives is still sin. A “gospel” based on selfish motivations is simply not a true Gospel at all.

Sinners who are guided and dragged around by the selfish heart may easily make a profession of faith and may easily become leaders in the professing churches by their strong morality and the amount of knowledge they have. However, those people are still guided by and driven by a selfish heart. All of their religion is from a selfish heart which is a proud heart and a heart driven by self-love. We know that God resists the proud and we know that there is no true religion apart from the love of God. There can be no religion that is powered by selfish hearts with a doctrine of God that has been conceived from hearts that love self rather than God. A selfish “Christianity” (which appears to be the vast majority in our day) is not Christianity at all but is a false Christianity that is very deceptive.

The nature of the selfish heart is such that without it Calvinism becomes closer to Pelagianism than Calvinism. We can see this in our day when the evangelism of professing Calvinists is no different than that of the standard and garden variety of professing Christians. Now, of course, the professing Calvinists will say that they have better theology and so that is the difference. It may be better, but it may also be more deceptive because something that is close to the truth can be more deceptive as it is less obviously wrong. When the Calvinism of the day is closer to Pelagianism than Calvinism, we know that there is a serious problem. Selfish “Christianity” is not Christianity at all and is opposite of true Christianity.

I am quite sure this will sound quite nuts to many people (if they read it), but it is still quite true. There is a corresponding truth to the selfish heart that sets this out. The selfish heart will only have a god that is man-centered, but the true God is God-centered and does all according to His own pleasure and glory. The God-centered God is a vital truth to the Gospel and to the grace of the Gospel. The God-centered God is at the heart of the five sola’s of the Reformation and of the Bible. It is a God-centered God who does all for His own glory that is at the heart of for His glory alone. It is a God-centered God who does all for the sake of His glory in and through Christ that is at the heart of Christ alone. It is a God-centered God who does all for the sake of His glory and for the sake of Christ that is at the heart of Christ alone. Thus we can easily see that a God-centered God is the God of the Bible. The selfish heart cannot stand that and will change that (at least in practice and love) to a God that is focused in self.

The selfish heart, then, is incredibly dangerous and destructive to biblical Christianity. It can sound so orthodox, but the heart of orthodoxy is removed by the selfish heart and the selfish heart may be blind to what it is doing. The selfish heart will not stand to have a sovereign God in reality, though indeed it may have one in its doctrinal standards because a selfish heart longs to be orthodox. That is simply one way orthodoxy in creed can be twisted to become something far from orthodoxy. The selfish heart will always be on the throne of self with desires to be on the throne of the universe. The selfish heart will twist away at the nature of the true God until it becomes one that the selfish heart can live with while self remains on the throne. This appears to me what we have in the modern day. It is a version of “Christianity” that has orthodox language and yet is but a deceptive shell of what Christianity really is. The selfish heart has conformed “Christianity” to its selfish desires and no longer has the true God who is God-centered and opposes selfishness, but instead we now have selfish hearts on the throne and God is man-centered (they think). Beyond that, however, what we really have is a sovereign God who is turning men over to their sinful hearts and a false version of Christianity.

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