Not So Random Thoughts 39

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.

“God has surely promised His grace to the humbled: that is, to those who mourn over and despair of themselves. But a man cannot be thoroughly humbled till he realizes that salvation is utterly beyond his own powers, counsels, efforts, will and works, and depends absolutely on the will, counsel, pleasure and work of Another—God alone. As long as he is persuaded that he can make even the smallest contribution to his salvation, he remains self-confident and does not utterly despair of himself, and so is not humbled before God; but plans out for himself (or at least hopes and longs for) a position, an occasion, a work, which shall bring him final salvation. But he who is out of doubt that his destiny depends entirely on the will of God despairs entirely of himself, chooses nothing for himself, but waits for God to work in him; and such a man is very near to grace for his salvation. (Martin Luther, Bondage of the Will)

If we follow the quote from Luther just above, we see a logic that correlates with both Matthew 18:1-3 and Romans 9:15-16 (both quoted above). He tells us that the promise of God is grace to the humbled. The humbled are those who mourn over and despair of themselves. A person cannot be thoroughly humbled until that person realizes that salvation is beyond his own power and will and depends completely on the will and pleasure of God. As long as the person is persuaded that he can make the smallest contribution to his own salvation, that person is not despairing of himself and as such is not humbled. The non-humbled person plans a work or a way of bringing salvation to himself. Those who do not doubt that their eternal destiny depends entirely on the will of God (not their own “free-will”) will wait on God to work in them. Those are the people who are near to grace for salvation.

If what Luther wrote just above is the truth of the Scriptures, then we can easily see the danger of false prophets who do not teach a true Gospel. Surely it is clear why those who teach a false gospel are those that Jesus would teach us to beware of. If the truth of Scripture tells us that a person must be humbled in order to receive grace or even be ready to receive grace, then we can see that those who are opposed to that are dangerous to those who listen to them. If the soul must be brought to a place where it is in despair of any help from self and must look to God alone to be saved, then those who teach that salvation is for those who make a choice are false prophets. We must remember that the sovereignty of God was at the heart of the Reformation and it was at the heart of the doctrine of justification taught by the leaders of the Reformation.

We also know from other Scriptures that God gives grace to the humble (James 4:6; I Peter 5:5). When one takes just a little time to think of this, it should be obvious. The proud and selfish heart does not need true grace; it just needs a little boost to help it. The concept of grace is that it does not need or want any help from human beings, but in fact it is no longer grace when it a human tries to contribute or help it. It is an absolute necessity to grace alone that grace stands alone. Using different words to say the same thing, Jesus Christ does not need or want help in saving sinners. He is a full and sufficient Savior and will not accept the help of man. He came to save the lost instead of coming to help the lost help themselves. He came to actually save those who are beyond trying to help themselves but instead cry out to Him to save them by giving them a new heart in monergistic regeneration which includes a believing heart.

“Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Jesus in Matthew 18:3). The idea of being converted in this text is to be changed by another. The idea of being converted is in the passive and as such the one being converted is not helping at all but is being converted by another. One is converted from something to something and it is all the work of another. One must be changed by another so as to become like a little child or one will not enter the kingdom. This is simply profound and absolutely necessary according to Jesus. It is an absolute necessity that a person be changed by another and be like a little child to enter the kingdom. Do we hear that taught today? Do we hear that a person must be changed by another to become something the person is not at present in order to enter the kingdom? No, what we hear is a call for people to believe some facts in order to be saved. It is a call for a person to do something (believe) in order to be saved and it is not a call for a person to despair of himself and look to God who alone can save. Jesus told us to beware of false prophets.

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