Not So Random Thoughts 33

Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. 15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 “So then, you will know them by their fruits. 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

Matthew 18:1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, 3 and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Romans 9:15 For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy
The doctrine of free justification by faith only, which became the storm-centre of so much controversy during the Reformation period, is often regarded as the heart of the Reformer’s theology, but this is hardly accurate. The truth is that their thinking was really centered upon the contention of Paul, echoed with varying degrees of adequacy by Augustine, and Gottschalk, and Bradwardine, and Wycliffe, that the sinner’s entire salvation is by free and sovereign grace only. The doctrine of justification by faith was important to them because it safeguarded the principle of sovereign grace; but it actually expressed for them only one aspect of this principle, and that not its deepest aspect. The sovereignty of grace found expression in their thinking at a profounder level still, in the doctrine of monergistic regeneration—the doctrine, that is, that the faith which receives Christ for justification is itself the free gift of a sovereign God, bestowed by spiritual regeneration in the act of effectual calling. (Johnson and Packer’s introduction to Luther’s Bondage of the Will).

It is the 500th anniversary period of what is thought of as the beginning of the Reformation. Some argue that the beginning was many years earlier with John Wycliffe and Luther was simply the one that God used to build on Wycliffe and others. However, the ones we think of as the Reformers would wonder what happened to the Reformation if they were allowed to walk around in our day. They would not recognize what they started when they observed the vast majority of Protestantism today. Luther would most likely call preachers in our day wolves in sheep’s clothing.
It is possible and it has happened and is happening for men to use the language of the Reformers and yet have an entirely different context. I recently heard two different professors from a seminary preach/teach on faith alone and grace alone. Each of them missed the mark widely. It is impossible to preach justification by grace alone through faith alone as the Reformers did unless we are defending the great truth “that the sinner’s entire salvation is by free and sovereign grace only.” If we preach justification by faith alone and preach it in a way that salvation is in any way dependent upon the free-will and choice of man, then we are far from what the Reformers taught.
Roman Catholicism made great efforts to use biblical language in a way where they could think of themselves as biblical and appear as biblical to the people. Their use of language to make them appear to conform to Scripture was quite successful, but not in the eyes of God. The same thing has happened in our day. People are using language in a way that makes them think that they are in line with the Reformers and yet they are not. Their language also makes them appear to others to be in line with the Reformers and yet they are not. There are many who are dressed in sheep’s clothing today who are in reality nothing but wolves. They may speak be well-spoken with nice accents (or not), they may hold to the ancient creeds in some way, and they may be the nicest and most helpful (in appearance) of men. However, a wolf is a wolf when it is disguised and when it is not. The Gospel is all about God and not about the ability of man. A wolf is always pointing to the responsibility or ability of man, the true preacher will point to the grace of God in Christ and the ability of God.

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