Selfish “Christianity” 68

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.

What if someone contrived to cut one doctrine from the true Church and that one doctrine would change many other things or how other things were viewed. If that person made known what he was going to do, there would be a lot of opposition to him. What if a person decided to take the heart of the Gospel and remove it from the true churches? There would be a loud outcry. However, if this was done slowly and secretly so that people would not notice, there would be no outcry. If this happened over a long enough period, a new orthodoxy would come in and the old orthodoxy would be replaced with something that would have an outward appearance using the same words and yet the old truths would be gone. If this happened in the right way, the new orthodoxy would be arguing that it was the old orthodoxy and that the old orthodoxy (though not using that language) was something less than orthodox. I am arguing that this has happened in the professing Church. We are using the same old creeds and yet the old truths have been replaced.

While one may not be able to pinpoint all the doctrines and all the issues, it is clear that the sovereignty of God and the true nature of sin are under attack and perhaps have always been under attack. A version of Christianity that is not under the true sovereignty of God is not the same Christianity of the Bible. It is true that people are using the words and have differing ideas of it, but the truth of the concept appears to be way different than the concept described in the Bible and at the time of the Reformation. The concept of sovereignty is so vital that it changes our idea of God and of the Gospel. But of course the twin truth or the truth that runs parallel with sovereignty is the inability of man. While the depravity of man is talked about and the inability of man is mentioned (rarely), the total inability of man in the spiritual realm is not one that seems to be held in many places. When a person is serious about the inability of man, that person will see the selfishness of the human heart.

When the parallel truths of the selfishness of man (heart of man’s inability and descriptive of man’s depravity) and the sovereignty of God are removed from the true Church and as such the professing Church uses the words but the concepts are different, Christianity has changed. This was something that was understood in the Reformation, though the concept of selfishness was not as clearly set out by all as sovereignty was. The doctrine of justification by faith alone is not the same doctrine (far, far from it) when the sovereignty of grace is removed from it as a vital doctrine. The intent of justification by faith alone is to preserve and defend justification by sovereign grace alone. When we do not understand, teach, and defend the vital truth of the selfishness (true inability of man) of the human heart that absolutely must have the sovereign grace of God if it is to be saved, we are not propagating the truth of the heart of Christianity.

A selfish version of “Christianity” is precisely what is being taught today. A selfish version of “Christianity” is not biblical and is not Christianity. It takes away the total inability of man, the sovereignty of God, and thus the true God and the nature of true grace are cast out. It does not matter (in this sense) if this is done by professing Arminians or professing Calvinists, it is being done. It does not matter if this is done by professors at seminaries or Bible colleges or in Bible studies in the home, when the heart of Christianity is taken out it is no longer Christianity. A Gospel that has God and His sovereign grace at the center of it is not the same Gospel as those who do not teach a real sovereign grace though they use the same word. For some reason we will defend God against those who deny His holiness, yet we are squeamish when people deny His sovereignty. The truth of the matter, however, is that denying the sovereignty of God ends up in a denial of His holiness and true love as well.

The denial of the selfish heart of man (total inability) is not a small and insignificant thing. It is at the heart of the true nature of man and certainly at the heart of the true Gospel where the grace of God meets the sinfulness of man. When Calvinists (in name) in our day say that they are preaching the same Gospel as the Arminians, we can certainly agree. However, both are preaching an Arminian gospel if that is true. When sinners are encouraged to simply believe, we can know that the person is not preaching the Gospel of grace alone. It is God alone who can change a person’s heart and work the new birth in them. He will only do that by grace alone. It is God alone who can give dead sinners faith and so sinners should be encouraged to look to God for faith and all things. Sinners will either look to themselves or God for faith. One is in accordance with the doctrine of the inability of man and the sovereignty of the grace of the true God and one is in accordance with man as having some ability and of God as not being truly sovereign. It is not just left up to us to choose, it is declared by Scripture what is right. It does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who shows mercy as He pleases.

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